To wrap-up the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour, we have a guest post by contributing author, S.L. Kretschmer about the inspiration behind her story, “The Final Portrait”. I hope you all have enjoyed following this tour with us. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Every comment at each stop earns an entry into a random drawing for a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger.
Guest post by S.L. Kretschmer, author of The Final Portrait
The Final Portrait evolved from prompts I received in round 1 of the 2020 NYC Midnight Short Story Competition – Ghost story, a monument, deodorant. My mind immediately flew to the Western Front of World War I and the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Northern France. I was fortunate to have visited the memorial in 2011, boarding a bus in the French town of Lille, and travelling south towards the battlefields. Little could prepare me for the emotion I felt on the trip. The scars across the landscape, now lush and green, could be easily identified, and it was not difficult to imagine the horrific scenes of trench warfare.
I began to research World War I paintings and came across a particularly moving one by the Irish artist William Orpen. Orpen was an official World War I Artist, and his depiction of a soldier, bloodied and lying in an alien landscape, devoid of nature and pitted with craters and pools of fetid water, was confronting. Orpen struggled with the brutality and grisly sights he documented for those back home and claimed to have been struck by a phantom force while painting in an abandoned field.
These nuggets of information were gelling into a thought. What would those painted in death have thought of the depiction? Of family and friends who might recognize their loved one? Of who they were, compared to how they are remembered in this final rendering? The Final Portrait.
S. L. Kretschmer is a born and bred South Australian, recently embracing both a tree change and becoming an empty nester in the beautiful wine region of the Barossa Valley. She has a BA in Creative Writing, and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Her stories have been featured in the anthologies A Flash of Brilliance and Tales from the Upper Room, and have also been published by Haunted Waters Press, Two Sisters Publishing, 101 Words, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Bluing the Blade and inScribe Literary Journal.
Thanks for joining us today! And if you missed any of the blog stops along the way, you can find them at the links below. Drop by and catch the ones you missed, and leave a comment to let us know you were there and get a chance for the free didgital copy of Where Spirits Linger.
Sept. 20 – Intro./Enid’s promo – Writing to be Read/Review – Undawnted
Sept. 21 – Guest Post – Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Review – The Showers of Blessings
Sept. 22 – Guest Post – Kaye Lynne Booth – Patty’s World
Sept. 23 – Interview with Christa – Roberta Writes
Sept. 24 – Guest Post – Stevie Turner/ Review – Zigler’s News
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Exciting news! The 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Anthology, Where Spirits Linger, was released today! And we’re launching a six-day blog tour to send this delightfully eerie anthology off to a great start. Each blog tour stop will feature a guest post by one of the authors about their story, and there will also be an interview of Christa Planko, author of the winning story in the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, “Olde-Tyme Village”. So, I hope you will stay with us and follow the tour this week to learn more about this wonderful anthology and its featured stories. Many thanks to the wonderful bloggers who have graciously agreed to host for this tour.
This is Day 1 of the WordCrafter Where Spirits Linger Book Blog Tour, so let me tell you just a little about the stories featured in this anthology and their authors. Since I published this wonderful anthology, I can’t really offer a review, but you can find a review by D.L. Mullen on her blog, Undawnted, here: http://www.undawnted.com/2021/09/wordcrafter-blog-tour-where-spirits.html
The winning story in the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest was Christa Planko with her story of ghostly encounters, “Olde-Tyme Village”. Robbie Cheadle will be interviewing Christa about her winning story on Thursday on her blog, Roberta Writes.
In Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s story, “Listen to Instructions”, a greedy man misses the message a ghost is trying to convey. You can find out more about this story in Roberta’s guest post tomorrow on, The Showers of Blessings, along with a review by Miriam Hurdle.
In my story, “The People Upstairs”, when a young girl inherits her housekeeper and long time friend’s house, she finds out that her friend may not have been crazy after all, when strange things start happening to her. You will find my guest post about the inspiration behind this story on Patty Fletcher’s Patty’s World on Wednesday.
Stevie Turner’s spirit gets his takes out his revenge from the ethereal regions in “David’s Revenge”. Her guest post will be featured on Friday on Zigler’s News along with a review by Victoria Zigler.
And on Saturday, we will finish off the tour right here, on Writing to be Read with a guest post by S.L. Kretschmer about her story, “The Final Portrait”, in which her character releases a spirit with a phantom image.
Unfortunately, Enid Holden was not able to participate in the tour and tell you about her story, “The Chosen Few”. But, I can tell you that it is a delightful paranormal charactered by some very colorful spirits whose co-existance with their home’s living inhabitants will surprise and delight you. This light and humorous story is sure to evoke a chuckle or two. I will include the excerpt from her story here.
I’m pleased with the selection of stories we eneded up with in Where Spirits Linger. We have some great contributing authors and some wonderful short stories. I hope you will stay with us and follow the tour to each blog stop to learn more about the stories within to picque your interest. Of course, I hope you buy the book, but each comment you make along the way earns an entry into a random drawing for a free digital copy of Where Spirits Linger, so you could be our next lucky winner!
You can purchase your copy of Where Spirits Linger here:
Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!
The winner of this contest was supposed to be announced by the end of May, but as I explained in my last post of the month, all contest submissions were asked to make some revisions and I couldn’t determine a winner until that was done, so I’d have the revised stories to choose from. However now, that has happened. I have all the stories back with revisions and the time has come to reveal the winner.
And the winner is…
I’m happy to announce that the winner of this year’s contest is Christa Planko for her story “Olde-Tyme Village“. The winning story will be featured in this year’s paranormal anthology, Where Spirits Linger and Christa will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
Since WordCrafter Press holds a paranormal short fiction contest each year, I’m always on the lookout for a good ghost story, and since this year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger, revolves around settings, haunted places have been of particular interest to me. According to paranormal investigator, Connor Randall, in his csindy.com inteview (May 12-18, 2021) with Heidi Beedle, “In terms of ghosts, liminal places are key,” he says. “A liminal place being a location that is in between… They’re places that are locations of transition…”, which “seem to attract more haunting energy.” Which is why hotels are common locations of ghost hunts. To my thinking, a hotel which was originally a hospital would be even more likely to be a liminal place.
Said to be one of the most haunted places in an old mining town that is reputed to have its fill of ghosts, my stay at the Hotel St. Nicholas, in Cripple Creek, Colorado featured a few occurances that may have been close encounters of the ghostly kind. There are rumors of hauntings all over Cripple Creek, but when I saw the 120 year old Victorian building perched on a hillside, I was convinced that ghosts roam its halls, just from looking at it. This is the kind of place where ghost stories are born. (You can read a full history of both Cripple Creek and the Hotel St. Nicholas on the Hotel St. Nicholas website.)
I’m not a professional ghost hunter, but I’ve had my share of ghostly encounters in my lifetime. I don’t have a bunch of fancy apps and special ghost finding equipment. Also, I didn’t want my experience to be influenced by the tales that went with the hotel, so I waited to do my research until after I had spent a night in Room 12.
The hotel itself has a quiet, relaxed atmosphere with many authentic Victorian furnishings throughout. I went there during the off-season, so there were only a handful of other guests and I was able to wander through the halls and peek into the unoccupied rooms, as each room is unique in this boutique B&B.
The building was originally a hospital run by The Catholic Sisters of Mercy, a group of nuns who offered medical care to the mining community, so many of the rooms have been converted to accomodate individual bed & bath. (There are actually two rooms that have private baths across the hall.)
On the lower level of this three story Inn, you’ll find The Boiler Room Tavern, which is open on weekends and sporadically during the week. The accompanying parlor area features a bar, a sitting area with table and chairs from the Victorian era, fireplace, piano and billiards table. I didn’t feel or smell or hear anything odd while enjoying this unique boutique atmosphere, but someone or something was helping me with billairds, because I kept winning.
The lights above the bar may have given of a few mysterious flickers that could easily have been written off as faulty wiring, but just looking up the back staircase, raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I later learned that this staircase area is where a ghost called “Stinky”, due to the raw sewage smell that accompanies his manifestation, is reported to be encountered the most. I believe that I met Stinky, although my room was on the third floor, and the back stairs only go to the second floor, as I smelled a rather rank smell several times throughout the night. (On a later date I stayed in Room 1, which is right at the top of the back stairway, on the second floor, but neither Stinky nor any other spirits came out to say, “Hello”, on that visit.) According to Legends of America, Stinky may also be seen as an old miner with no upper body, as well as the ghost of a small boy named Petey, who is often thought responsible for “stealing ciggarettes and moving objects about”. Good thing I quit smoking.
In addition to experiencing unexplainable olefactory encounters with Stinky, while lying in bed whispers were also heard outside the door of Room 12, accompanied by a feeling of shame, as if I’d been caught in a state of undress and told to cover myself, although the actual words could not be made out. When I later learned that the nuns occupied the third level of the building, with patient rooms on the lower floors, this experience seemed to make a lot more sense. In addition to its original use as a hospital, the building has been used as a boarding house or stood vacant until it was opened as the Hotel St. Nicholas.
Both of my visits to the Hotel St. Nicholas were enjoyable experiences, with or without the ghosts. But, keep in mind that I wasn’t really looking for ghosts when I decided to stay there, and I only connected any odd experiences to the ghosts reputed to haunt there after the fact, because I didn’t do any research until the following morning. Maybe that is why they made their presence known to me, because I had no expectations. It’s not surprising that I had no encounters on my second visit either, because my expectations had changed on that visit. I mean, think about it. If you were a ghost, would you want to appear on demand when ghost hunters show up with all their fancy apps and gadgets, like you were some sort of circus sideshow? I know I wouldn’t.
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