An Island and a Saddistic Doctor

If you are like me, and the hopes of visiting a real life haunted house, or haunted town, go to Savannah, Ga or even Charleston, SC. I for one, even if it weren’t abandoned, or forbidden, would not go to Poveglia. It is actually up for auction the last I heard, may have even been sold by now.

Either way, makes for a great story, so grab your coffee, curl up in your favorite chair and enjoy.

Poveglia is a cursed and mysterios island, where strange historical events have shaped its reputation as the darkest place of the Venice Lagoon and labeled this island the most haunted in the world.

Poveglia had been a thriving and populated island, however with the outbreak of the war of Chioggiain 1378-the fourth and last conflict between Genoa and Venice- its inhabitants were moved to the island of Giudecca. From that very moment this island remained deserted for three hundred years.

Since 1645, it was then employed as an outpost to control the transit of ships in the lagoon with aim of protecting Venice. Proveglia’s darkest moments will date back to more recent years, when due to the 1700 Black Death, the island became a lazaretto (an open-air cemetary), where quarantined people-even those with the slightest signs of sickness were sent to die.

I ask you, what if they had done this to us when COVID hit?

But to continue…Bodies were left on the island’s streets to decompose. Then they were burnt and their ashes were thrown in mass graves. It is said that more than 160,000 people died in agony during the bubonic plague. Today, strata of bone can be found beneath the surface, which is made up of 60% of human ashes.

Historical reconstructions were done, and during that time, in that period, the island was also the scene of the execution of criminals, who were usually killed by drowning. But believe me, this isn’t the scariest part of the story, at least not for me.

In 1922, the buildings hosted a home for the elderly. The furniture still present today witnesses that the building was actually an asylum. From the moment a person was diagnosed with a mental illness and taken to Poveglia, there was no possibility of redemption or rehabilitation. (What does that say for you or me? Those we love?) The only aim of the new use of the island was to isolate these people, and separate them from society. It’s important to remember, in the past, any uncommon way of thinking and behavior different from the socio-cultural norms of the time, was considered mental disorders. Anyone could be identified as mentally ill and locked up.

Local legend has it that the patients of Poveglia asylum reported that they saw strange shadows-probably belonging to the ghosts of the plague victims- and that they could not sleep at night because of the wails of the suffering spirits. Of coarse, the doctors did not believe them. Patients were subjected to tortures, sometimes death. It is believed that a sadistic doctor did evil experiments on them, even performed labotomies, as he believed that this cruel practice was a great way to treat and cure mental illness. This procedure was incredibly wicked and painful, as the doctor used hammers, chisels and drills without anesthesia or any concern for sanitation.

Because of the doctor’s practices, he was tormented by the ghosts who drove him crazy to the point where he jumped (or was thrown) from the clock tower that stands out on the lagoon. The legend tells that he did not die from the fall, but that he was chocked before by a mysterious fog. In some silent and calm nights you can still hear the bell tolling across the bay, despite being removed years ago.

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To Jump or Not

In a day and age, where there is war, there are rising prices, there is isolation due to the Coronavirus, and we all have our eyes glued to social media; In a time when our mental health is being challenged I offer you this:

THE GROUP OF FROGS (ENCOURAGEMENT)

As a group of frogs was traveling through the woods, two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, the told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them. However the two frogs decided to ignore whatthe others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit. Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out.

Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said,

“Did you not hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

I offer you the moral of this story:

People’s words can have a big effect on other’s lives. Think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth. It might just be the difference between life and death.

Encourage those around you to fight for their life. To embrace that which gives them light and hope. As a community it is our job to lift those who otherwise may give up and let defeat and death take hold.

When Castles Speak

If you are looking for a most sinister place in which to set your story, why not choose that of Moosham Castle. It is considered one of the most haunted castles as well as the administrative center of the Zauberarjackl witch trials and the site for werewolf hunts in the 1800’s.

Although no traces of the earlier structure remain, Moosham Castle is believed to have been built on the foundations of a Roman castrum fortress.

If we travel back from 1675 and 1690, the administrative center was responsible for all: trial, sentencing, and execution during the Salzburg witch trial. 139 people were killed during this time. A horrific number of 39 children between the ages of 10 and 14 were accused and executed for witchcraft. This is where 53 teenagers also met a bloody end to their life.

As we look for stories to tell, they ly everywhere. All we need to do is look. An unusually large number of those killed were male (113). The records named every single victim. They youngest, a boy named Hannerl. He had just turned 10. The eldest was Margarethe Reinberg, 80 years old.

The methods of execution were brutal, even for this time period. The sadistic authorities preferred a process of slow torture. Only when an individual was close to death would they be offered the small mercy of a hanging or decapitation. Children were made an example of. They would chop their hands off and mark their chests with a burning iron, then kept alive and paraded in front of the locals as a warning.

As we look into our stories of the past, it is inevitable that we should hear the Voices of the Past, echoing their stories back to us.

During the late 18th century Moosham Castle would experience another troubling period after the witch trials had ended. Reports of deer and cattle were being found dead on the castle grounds. Bloodthirsty locals would immediately jump to the conclusion that in their minds seemed “logical” , that werewolves were at the castle. The residents of Moosham would be rounded up and murdered for their nocturnal predilections leaving Moosham abandoned for several decades afterwad.

Moosham Castle has made a name for itself especially for believers of the supernatural looking for the castle’s many ghosts. It is rumored that the many screams of witch trial victims can be heard at night, as well as werewolves who apparently still prowl the grounds .

There are other tales and legends to be told of Moosham Castle. One such being that of a bailiff named Anton. He ruled Moosham Castle in the mid 1900’s. Nicknamed Schorgen-Toni, known for his cruelty. He had taken pleasure in torturing his prisoners in the most horrible ways and had even mistreated his own parents. His behavior was well known throught the region, but he was never punished for his crimes. The locals had started to believe that he had sold his soul to the devil.

As the story continues, one night a storm swept over the land. He had made his final round in the dungeon, enjoying seeing the wounds and pain he had inflicted during that day. Once he was satisfied he went to his apartments. He heard this storm and an uncomfortable thought popped into his mind. Needing to shake the feeling from him, he takes a drink and settles into his chair. In the meantime, a carriage drawn by four shiny, black horses came closer to the castle’s gate. The gates open for this unknown guest as if done by magic. The carriage stops in the castle’s courtyard and a figure dressed in black gets out. The bailiff, Toni, nearly dozed off, suddenly hears a knock at the door. Toni opens the door and the figure in black is there. The stranger speaks to him. Toni begins to plead, knowing this day would come eventually, but he was not ready to face his fate. The dark figure is ruthless. It dragged Toni along in his carriage and took him down to Hell, for eternity.

Throughout the years Moosham Castle has been open to the public and many reports of paranormal incidents have been claimed. Some people feel as if they are being watched, touched even, especially in the torture chamber. Others feel as if they are being breathed on. A strange white mist and shadow figures have been seen in the corridors. During EVP sessions, dismbodied voices have been heard and a dark presence is often felt in Toni’s room where doors tend to open and close on their own. Other claims have been of people hearing footsteps, but once they turn around, nothing is there.

While these stories are creepy, they are still one’s that should be told. As we look for that one detail that could make or break our story, the tale in which we choose to write, it may be here, in the depths of these places and voices speaking out.

Leap Castle

As the flu ravages my home and everyone in it; as it takes my back and my knees and my arms, and creates an undescribable ache; as it takes my head and composes a solo on the drums; I have had time to thing creatively, form thoughts, look at many of your posts, and let intrigue and fascination at what you have to say, fill me as I lay in the bed with books to read, my notebook for my ideas, and my computer, tablet, and phone, in case my fever breaks and work can yet resume.

I want continue to bring to you stories of places around the world in which many of our settings and characters may generate from for the stories we choose to write. As a new writer, I look for inspiration where ever it may choose to be found.

Let’s travel to Leap Castle, Ireland. It is said that this castle alone has seen more gruesome deaths than a Game of Throne’s wedding has. Legend has it that within the O’Carroll clan, one brother plunged a sword into another, a priest, as he was holding mass in the castle’s chapel. The O’Carroll clan had a fondess for poisoning dinner guests. The room in which the brother, (the priest), died is now called “The Bloody Chapel”, and it is said that the priest haunts the church at night.

Please don’t think that the horror ends there. During the early 1900’s, the castle was undergoing renovations when workmen found a secret dungeon within The Bloody Chapel where so many human skeletons were found. They filled three cartloads when they were haulded away.

I ask you, what could you create from this? On the creativity level of your psyche, what stories can you imagine putting on paper? What art can you paint or draw? What poem rings true in your ears? What masterpiece lies in the wake?

Let’s continue… This dungeon was designed so that prisoners would fall through a trap door, have their lungs punctured by wooded spikes on the ground, and die a slow, horrific death within earshot of the sinister clan members above.

THE ELEMENTAL- is one of the most interesting spirits that reside at Leap Castle. The origin or exact nature of the Elemental is unknwn but there are many theories that have circulated over the years. An early belief is that the Elemental was put there by druids long before the castle was built. Its purpose was to protect the sacred site used for initiations and druid magic.

Another theory is that is was placed there by an invading force to burn the castle from the inside. The person thought to be responsible: Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare. He was a renowned magic practitioner and had attempted to take over the castle on several occasions.

As we dive deeper, local myths say that the Elemental is the spirit of an ancient O’Carroll who died in the castle from Leprocy. It is believed that this is the reasoning for the decomposing facial featured and the apalling stench that accompanies the presence of the spirit.

Other hauntings within the castle: A Red Lady; her ghost is reported to walk the halls holding a dagger. There were two little girls, Charlotte and Emily, they would run up and down the spiral staircase. Emily died after she fell from the battlements on the top of the castle’s tower and Charlotte can still be seen running around after her sister, calling her name.

On a Sunday, this isn’t quite the story that should be told, but in our creative minds, what if we were to take the two girls and turn this story into a haunting of the love of one sister for another? We could take any part of the history of Leap Castle and turn it into what ever we choose it to be. Maybe it’s the dilerium of my fever or just the mere hopes that you will join me in conversation of a creative aspect, that would create such a story as this.

Join me in the conversation and help others create. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Dundas Castle

When we imagine places, settings, and scenes, even characters for our characters, sometimes we need to drive down into the unknown, the eerie, and the abandoned places around the world to find just that one piece that’s missing from our story.

Join me as I take you into the Dundas Castle. It was built in the 1900’s. The owner died before it had been completed and his wife was rumored to have been locked away in one of the upper rooms of the Dundas Castle, until she was sent to a sanitarium (mental institution).

There are rumors and myths that this castle is haunted by the spirit of Josephine Dundas. One of the most mysterious claims, and maybe one of the most outrageous claims, is that one of the ponds around Dundas Castle turns blood red during full moons.

Looking like it had escaped fro the pages of a dark and grim fairy tale, this castle sits high on a dark hillside. It is complete with Gothic windows, turrets, towers, steep parapeted roofs, crumbling walls, and a courtyard that is overgrown with trees and shrubs. The Dundas castle has been a landmark and source of stories, both real and romanticized for almost 100 years.

The locals know and identify this castle as Craig-e-Clair. Almost a thousand acres of land surround this castle. The castle was built by Bradford L. Gilbert in the late 1880’s, he was a noted architect in New York City.

Originally Gilbert had built an estate that was known as “Beaverkill Lodge” on this property. It was the hamlet of the Craig-e-Clair. Gilberts’ wife was a native of Ireland and had chosen the name because the Catskill scenery had reminded her of hoome. The name translates as “Beautiful Mountainside”, named after an Irish fishing village. Wurts-Dundas purchased the land and buildings in 1907.

Wurts-Dundas was as many wealthy men of his time were, and wanted a mountain hideaway for his family and friends. So, in 1907, he purchased 964 acres of forestland with a view of the “Beaverkill”. This land had been a fishing retreat complete with a “Swiss” style country house. Wurts was not satisfied with the existing structure, so he set out to build the finest mansion he could that would incorporate the wooden country house. It is thought that his inspiration for this castle came from late nineteenth-century interpretations of medieval European castles that were constructed in Scotland.

One of the rumors that circulate about Josephine Wurts-Dundas , and please mind you that although it is a fun and entertaining tale to tell, there is no actual evidence for this tale, is that there was a section of the castle in which Josephine was kept a virtual prisoner because of her mental state. Another likely tale was that there were no inside doorknobs, so as to keep her in. Anther is that there were fingernail scratches in the woodwork, all in her effort to escape.

If you are in need of inspiration for a story to write this makes one heck of one indeed. Travel with me again as I tell of other mysterious abandoned places, stories yet to be told.

THE END

As I was adding to the short story I published here to my site yesterday, I was looking for advice, and trying to find a suitable ending before I submit today. I had to remind myself what a final ending should do for my readers

  • The story ending forms a readers’ final impression of what they have read.
  • An effective ending seals the readers’ satisfaction with my piece.
  • It leaves them thinking and maybe talking about it long after they have finished reading.
  • The story ending can either be happy or sad; it can leave the reader uplifted or pensive, even heartbroken. BUT it has to feel right!

I understand there are no black and white rules to follow, but there are a few helpful guidelines to help us write endings that will make our readers want to come back for more.

  • Make sure our conflict in the story is a problem that the main character has to solve.

Ex. Cinderella wants to go to the ball, but her stepmother wants to keep her scrubbing floors at home.

Ex. Rosa loves John, but John loves Amy.

Our reader keeps reading to find out if the character will solve the problem.

Ex. Will Rosa make John fall in love with her? OR Will John marry Amy?

Our original story conflict gives readers a reason to turn the pages. At the end, the reader expects a payoff! Our story has raised a question, and the reader deserves an answer.

As you write your story, keep this in mind. You are working towards giving your reader a PAYOFF, answer their question.

THE END!

Creativity

As a creative first time writer I don’t know exactly all the tools that are required to become a better writer or how to become more productive. What I do know is that the first thing that comes to mind is if I set a schedule or pressure myself to become more productive, my creative side decides it would rather be painting or drawing something. The pressure of trying to be more productive, short circuits  my writing mojo. It’s better if I don’t throw myself  at a project the way wrestlers do when they are battling eachother in the ring. If I do I end up creating page, after page, after page, (you get the drift), of nothing but dissatisfying material that I will probably never even use.

For me, if I’m under a deadline, I work hard to not still be writing two days before that deadline. Speed often generates a lower quality work that will need more rigorous editing, which in turn will eat up the time I thought I had gained.

A quote I recently read:

The hardest time to face is being alone with yourself. It is when you confront a storm of questions in your mind. Remember, it has a power that very few people can handle.

As a creative writer, time to myself generates all kinds of ideas that go into my book idea folder, or a scene that gets jotted down in my notebook I am using for that particular story. It is where some of your most creative inspirations can come from, if you apply the theory to write what you know.

Another quote I read:

If you really want to live up to your potential, you have to stop people pleasing and start setting some goals that scare the daylight out of you.

Writing scares the daylights out me. What if I’m not good enough? What if I do get published and no one reads it? These questions scare me because these questions are what holds me back from doing what I love.

The best advice I can offer anyone in the same boat as myself is, to just write. Let your creativity flow through your fingers and telll the story that you want to read. The more that you are true to yourself, the less you have to worry about whether your story is good enough.

Put yourself out there and let others read what you write and let a writing community give you advice that you can either take or not. You have no idea where, if you are ever stuck, that this community may help you have a break through.

Happy writing today!

Story of a Lifetime

I want to share with you, as the name of my site presents itself, a short story I have been working on, in hopes of entering a contest.

I had walked for hours, listening to the shuffle of shoes across the asphalt, the horns of vehicles, thinking this would be enough to nudge the traffic into more than a mere halt. I watched as the sidewalk became cluttered with people, appearing as if they were talking to themselves, as they pushed past one another, shoulders touching, yet no acknowledgment that they had made physical contact with someone. I could smell cinnamon and vanilla as I passed the bakery. My eyes closed as I let the smell envelop my senses. The sound of chewing and slurping seemed to echo down the streets. On almost every corner I could see a food cart; a man yelling, “Get your hot dogs!, Hot dogs!, Get your hot dogs!”

I passed the subway entrance, the sound of the train’s brakes screetching, the whirring of the wheels sliding to a halt, as it entered the station, pierced my ears. I listened for anything that I hadn’t heard before, that would drive my thoughts into the place I needed them to be. I couldn’t get the words to form in my head. I couldn’t see the setting of where it should be. The mundanness of my life wouldn’t let me see past the everyday. I had a deadline to meet and I had already pushed for a few more months to put something on paper. I had entered the dead zone.

I walked into the library, mere glances from behind their books. Each table covered in books, opened to a designated page. I assumed I wasn’t the only one who needed to get something on paper in time. The librarian, an old man, one who I hadn’t seen before, watched me from over his glasses that were resting across the bridge of his nose. He nodded at me as I walked in front of the checkout desk. I nodded in return, a polite, nonverbal, hello in return.

I walked over to the fiction section, pulled a book I had read many times from the shelf and settled into an armchair, in the corner, where I could observe everything, every noise. A round table full of magazines separated me from the chair on the other side of it, unoccupied.

The swift turn of worn, overused pages; the scratching of lead across paper. I had been familiar with these sounds. My notebook left behind in my apartment, unable to record my thoughts. The man, once behind the counter, staring from over his glasses, was now occupying the chair opposite me, and I hadn’t even noticed.

This man, librarian for the day I presumed, with freckles that cradled the outside edges of his eyes, leaned forward and handed me a folded piece of paper. He sat back in the chair and crossed one leg over the other, intertwining his fingers together, resting his hands over his knee, sat and just looked at me.

I unfolded the paper. Inside were the index numbers for a book. I looked up at him, “What’s this?”

“It’s what you came her for.”

Puzzled, I asked, “How do you know what I came here for?”

“It’s what we all come here for when we don’t know exactly what it is we are looking for.”

This odd, little man, let out a chuckle, rose from his chair, and left me sitting there with my thoughts, and the questions that begged to be asked. I had nothing to lose. I walked to the shelf that kept the book I was intending to look for. Inside the cover of the book was this man’s picture. He was an author of several books I noticed as I scanned the shelf for his name. When I looked down and read the inside jacket of the book, I noticed this man had been deceased for many years.

I walked to the edge of the isle and looked in the direction of the desk. A young woman had replaced this man, I was sure had been there. I walked to the desk, not wanting to sound crazy, but asked anyway, “Where is the old man that was here before?”

She turned around and scanned the area around her, “Sir, I am the only one here today.”

I checked out the book and left the library. He had indeed given me what I was looking for, the story of a lifetime.

Procrastination

Procrastination is about the internal belief that now isn’t the time and that later will be better. There are many versions of this belief but let’s be real, they all end up in the same place.

I for one, as a writer, try a lot of strategies that many say will help me finish my book, but actually have hurt my progress.

Disaster #1: Trying to force myself to write with more willpower.

Disaster #2 Learning about writing instead of actually writing.

Disaster #3: Thinking that I need to get away, a retreat, escape my normal life, in order to write.

Disaster #4: Waiting to write later, when it’s easier.

Disaster #5: Quitting

Inspiration may be what we are lacking! Changing our mindset into that of a positive one instead of a negative one.

  • I may not feel ready, but I am.
  • I may not want to do this hard thing, but I will get started.
  • I may not beieve I can, but I will anyway.

Create a reason why NOW is the best time to write and not LATER. We need a reason why now is the best time, and set ourselves an attainable goal.

The psychological idea is to trick our minds into believing we can do this.

We have to remind ourself that every writer, the best of the best, has faced procrastination before. How long? That I can’t answer. I do know that procrastination won’t stop us.

There is an easy calculation process that we may use to help make writing that 80,000 word novel seem less daunting.

Step 1: Let’s pick a final deadline to finish our book.

Step 2: Calculate our weekly writing goal. Ex. Your weekly word count is the number of words you’ll need to write each week in order to finish by our deadline.

80,000 x 14.5 weeks= 5500 words per week, or little more than 1000 words per weekday.

Step 3: Put our writing goal on the calendar and stick to it.

If you would like to add to any of these tips, let us know here in my site, by leaving a comment. Share your writing strategies with others.

A Ghost of an Idea

When we think of ghosts, chances are we are going to imagine something ethereal and barely visible, a phantom-like creature that can pass through walls and knock books off shelves.

If we were to imagine a tale from an Edgar Allan Poe tale, in the 1800’s a strange phenomenon began to take place. Catelepsy; it’s a physical occurance that modern doctors believe is related to catatonic schizophrenia. This condition causes rigid muscles and gives the victim the appearance of death. In the 19th century, this ailment was not properly diagnosed and, as a result, many people were buried alive. Some managed to find their way out of their earthly tombs, once again giving rise to the belief that the dead can come back, not as wispy spirits, but rather as actual physical beings.

This viewpoint of spirits that come back from the dead, as wisps of smoke, didn’t become conventional until the Victorian Era. Before then, you didn’t have to go looking for the dead, they came looking for you and usually with a vengeance. They also didn’t come back as transparent pranksters, they came back n the flesh.

Now let me tell you the story of Constance Whitney, a woman who died in the 1800’s. She had been presumed dead while in a catatonic state. In an attempt to remove one of her rings while she lay in her casket, a man’s blade slipped and he cut off her finger. Constance sighed, woke up and for lack of a better term, “came back from the dead”, continuing her life above ground forseverall more years.

A similar story was set in Northern Ireland. It tells of grave robbers who dug up the remains of a rich woman, again like the other story, while trying to take one of the woman’s rings. This supposedly dead woman came back to life.

One version of the returning dead, as a physical being, was “revenant.” Stories during the middle ages in Great Britain and Western Europe tell of these creatures who return from the dead, usually for vengeance on friends of family. A written account from the 1190’s, one of William of Newburg’s, he tells of a man who feared his wife had been unfaithful and hides in the rafters to spy one her only to fall to his death accidentally. According to William, this is what happened:

“A Christian burial, indeed, he received, though unworthy of it; but it did not much benefit him; for issuing, by the handiwork of Satan, from his grave at night-time, and pursued by a pack of dogs with horrible barkings, he wandered through the courts and around the houses while all men made fast their doors, and did not dare to go abroad on any errand whaever from the beginning of the night until the sunrise, for fear of meeting and being beaten black and blue by this vagrant monster.”

William of Newburg

If you were to go a few centuries back in time to the country of Romania, you will discover the people had a different way of seeing the dead. They believed there were benevolent and malevolent spirits. The benign spirits of dead ancestors were often welcomed into homes and offered a meal. This was something that couldn’t be done unless the spirit had visited in corporeal form. Over time this evolved into what we now call vampires or zombies.

In much of what we write today, the beliefs and traditions are what aid us in our telling of tales. Much like King Arthur or Merlin has done for centuries. You never know where your next short story or novel may come from, so celebrate all that came before.

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