Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Haunted Mansion Writer's Retreat 2012

It was Thursday, September 27th, exactly one week after my birthday, and still recovering from KillerCon Convention in Las Vegas, when I was met at the luggage carousel at SFO by Lisa Morton who was all smiles. Despite all of our reported delays and texting them to one another, we all seemed to land around the same time and didn't have to wait too long for anyone. As soon as I retrieved my luggage, we were off to find Chris Marrs, which thanks to Lisa, who actually reads the signs in airports, we were able to do without taking a shuttle to the other side of the airport. After a harrowing taxi ride we finally made it to the mansion and were met by Weston Ochse. Inside, we had our pictures taken and pinned above the fireplace which reminded me of players in a murder mystery.
Our lovely hostess, Rain Graves, showed us to our rooms and gave us a tour of the house. The interior was beautiful. Creaky stairs, dark woodwork, stained glass. Just lovely. During the tour Rain pointed out "hot spots" in the house for paranormal activity. I'll admit I'm not so into that kind of thing. I've always thought along the lines of letting sleeping dogs lie. But when Rain told me that my roommate wasn't coming, I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous about sleeping alone and thankful I brought  Prince Valium to help me out with that.
Not long after the tour, we were forced by the wonderful Eunice Magill to take a walk of the grounds. And oh, what a walk that was. If the house didn't give you the creeps, the pathwalk most certainly would. When I saw the old swimming pool, I immediately thought of the "baby bog" from Matheson's, Hell House. There are old twisted trees, stone and stick totems reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, a cave, a burnt hollowed out tree, and lots of steep steps that led up and up and up. Trying to walk at night without a flashlight would surely result in a broken neck or in the least, a sprained ankle. I took a picture of what to me looked like a wood nymph.
Then the dinner bell rang! The food was beyond delicious and we were never left hungry. I can't even list a favorite dish because they were all so tasty.
At night we'd sit on the porch and talk. Sometimes three deer would show up then take off when they heard rustling in the trees. Someone talked about mountain lions and after that I stayed close to the house at night. Ghosts are one thing, but an animal attack is well, a whole other animal. (Yeah, cheesy.)
The second night, the lovely and talented Fran Friel came down from the very "active" 3rd floor and roomed with me. Definitely the best roommate I've ever had and she never complained that I was in the bigger bed. HA! Gotta love her for that. A real sweetheart. And super bonus, I got a signed copy of Mama's Boy, which I can't wait to start reading.

During the day, many of us hung out in the library and worked on our individual projects. One of which was a rug. LOL! Loren Rhoads. I got a lot done while I was there, so if you think it's all fun and games, it's not. I completed five chapters of rewrites and edited a short story.

S.G. Browne, Weston and Sephera Giron would walk around the house with one of those handheld "ghost reader thingies" and a tape recorder. They came back excited about a recording, but no one believed them because it sounded like Darth Vader taking a breath. But after some cleaning up of the recordings by the very talented William Gilchrist, voices both male and female were heard speaking  clear words. I was sitting next to them as they sorted through the recordings and it made the hairs on my arms and neck stand up. Reminded me of the scene in the movie, The Changeling, (the best ghost story ever,) when George C. Scott's character first heard the haunting child's voice on the recording. C-R-E-E-P-Y. That night I was real glad Fran was with me.

A few other ghostly moments went down, and I actually did feel changes in the house that made me uncomfortable at times, but overall, I never felt like anything bad was out to get me. Then again, I choose to ignore things like I said before - let sleeping dogs lie.

It was a great experience and the camraderie couldn't be beat. I tend to feel a little awkward in large groups, but The Haunted Mansion Writer's Retreat 2014 will be something I look forward to in the future. For those of you who might be thinking about it. Do it. Book early, you won't regret it.

1 comment:

  1. You, my dear, are a super-honey, and also THE best roommate ever!