Category Archives: writing
One of the search terms used to find this site is fairy tale story ideas. I’ve been using fairy tales as inspiration for many years. I like using the formula: fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale. Sometimes I even give myself an extra challenge to help inspire me; a certain genre, a picture, fairy tale moral, etc.
Some years ago (about 7) I started a blog called Supernatural Fairy Tales. One of the things I used it for was to challenge myself. At the beginning of the month I would announce my supernatural fairy tale challenge, and by the end of the month, I had my short story posted. As a result I have two fairy tale novels (which were based on my short stories) and over 20 short stories – 9 of which I loved and published as a collection, and lots of poems.
I thought it might be fun to share these story starters with others who are interested in a writing challenge. And where better than where my fairy tale journey began – on my blog, Supernatural Fairy Tales - which has sat patiently awaiting my return.
There are three number generators: one to pick your fairy tale, one to pick your paranormal element, and one to pick an extra little challenge – just follow the links to your picks and then let your imagination take it from there.
I used it myself and this is my story starter: Fairy Tale: The Fisherman and His Wife – Paranormal Element: Witch/Warlock – Extra Challenge: Genre Steampunk. This ought to be interesting…
Love and Laughter,
There is no secret as to how you finish a novel, you just steadily work on it: page by page, chapter by chapter, day by day.
I write 4-5 days a week. And I pretty much follow the same ritual. I write in the mornings when it’s quiet. I drink 1-2 cups of very strong coffee with half & half. I open the file and go to the page where I left off. For several years, I haven’t had a daily word count nor a time goal. I know I’m finished for the day when I’m finished, when I just can’t focus and my mind shuts down. I don’t force myself to keep going. I’m done.
To me, taking a break and writer’s block are two different creatures. I purposely take a break by not even opening the file. I take breaks all the time, but when I’m ready to sit back down and write, it’s business as usual.
One morning, not too long ago, I sat down at my computer with my cup of very strong coffee with half & half, opened my book file, and got that feeling I get when I’m finished writing for the day. Um … what? This went on for a couple of days until I decided to “take a break.”
I have my suspicions as to why this happened, and I’m sure every writer has different reasons for writer’s block. But for whatever reason my brain had for not wanting to write, I didn’t like it. For goodness sakes, I’m almost finished with my second draft!
So here are a few things I did to get back to writing:
- I sat at my computer at night, when everyone was home and it was noisy, with a glass of Pinot Grigio – So Instead of: morning, coffee, and quiet, it was: night, wine, and noise.
- I told myself I was just going to read over a chapter – I started changing a word here and there and eventually I was reconstructing sentences.
- I have the rough draft, but there are some major changes that I want to make, and I haven’t actually wrote those down, they’re just in my head. I told myself I needed to make notes on the chapters so I wouldn’t forget during this non-writing time – thankfully, I never got to those notes, instead I started working on the book.
- Instead of my usual start where I left off, I went to the end of the book and worked on the very last chapter of the novel.
You get the idea. So my conclusion: lies and deceit are the best solution to writer’s block.
I’m still not at pre-writer’s block, but the story is not at a standstill either. Because there is no secret as to how you finish a novel, you just steadily work on it: page by page, chapter by chapter, day by day.
Love and Laughter,
I wanted to let you know that Jaclyn’s Ghost eBook will be free Dec 23-25. Merry Christmas!
Jaclyn’s Ghost by Dorlana Vann
Supernatural Mystery, Romantic Comedy
Can this diva solve her own murder, or will she be stuck in limbo forever?
After recovering from the shock of seeing her own dead body, (still dressed to kill from last night’s party) fashion model, Jaclyn Jade, discovers she’s a ghost with a choice. She can either immediately go back to Hell, do nothing and stay in limbo, or find the reason she fell short of grace and advance to Heaven.
Because she was murdered, Jaclyn hopes that finding her killer will unravel this mystery. With the help of a timid closet-psychic who can speak to the dead, and a handsome, yet arrogant, ghost of a man from the roaring 20s, her search for answers initiates a quirky journey of self-discovery. Personalities, eras, and worlds collide as this mismatched trio race against time to solve the mystery of Jaclyn’s Ghost.
Another One Bites the Dust
Jaclyn Jade felt the sensation of a trillion tiny needles prickling just beneath the surface of her skin. She opened her eyes to darkness. “Why am I standing on my bed?” Gradually, the tingling faded, but the overwhelming contentment made it difficult for her to shake the suspicion that something was terribly different. She squinted and blinked her eyes as she searched her bedroom for answers.
The room seemed normal. Even the earliest of the morning brought an orange glow through her sheer curtains; so obviously, she had woken up in the middle of night. Jaclyn’s scan stopped abruptly when she spotted an unfamiliar six-foot silhouette in the shape of a man. It moved, causing an involuntary shriek to burst out of her mouth. As she attempted to run, she stumbled over a huge lump in her bed and fell, face first, onto the floor. She recovered to her feet in a flash, turned to see what she had tripped over, and then dashed out the door.
She stopped in the hallway, right outside the bedroom door, already doubting what she had seen. No one followed her out. “Stupid.” After a moment, she put her hand on her chest trying to regain her composure. Oh man, I slept in my party dress. “Keten’s going to kill me.”
“I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Jaclyn looked up to see a man standing right across from her. She sucked in a deep breath and responded appropriately with another piercing scream and ran back into her room.
“I know you’re confused,” the man said from behind her. “If you will give me a moment, I can explain everything.”
She looked for something to use as a weapon. “If you don’t get the hell out of my house this instant,” she cried and turned around, “you’ll be explaining everything to the police.”
The intruder stood in the doorway, his face covered by the shadow of his hat.
If I can just get over to the table by the bed, I can get my phone. However, as soon as her focus drifted toward the bed, the heap that had caused her to trip earlier grabbed her attention. Is someone under there?
“What’s the last thing you remember?” the man asked from the doorway. “Give yourself a moment. It’ll come back to you.”
She had to force herself to concentrate. Frustration and fear made it difficult for her to rummage through her memory. I feel so strange. “Why can’t I remember anything?”
All of a sudden, as if someone had smacked them into the back of her head, her memories of the night before emerged. “The party,” she blurted. “That’s it, the champagne.” She nodded her head in satisfied realization. “I just partied a little more than I should have. Keten must have brought me home and just stayed over. He does that all the time. I must have been sleepwalking and caught you in the middle of, who knows what. I suggest you disappear before I wake up my boyfriend and he—”
“Pretty shoes,” the man said and nodded toward the bed.
“I say, your boyfriend sure has pretty shoes.”
Jaclyn stared at the foot that stuck out from under the blankets. When she recognized the shoe, she looked down at her own feet. She wore the same exact pair of pink, pointy-toed sling-backs. Not Keten. Did a friend, who was wearing the same exact shoes, come home with me? She would have noticed that before. She would have remembered shoe duplicity.
“OK,” she said. “That’s it. I’ve got to get this over with.” She took a small step toward the bed.
“Poor bunny, are you sure you want to go over there?”
Jaclyn stared at the stranger. Nothing made sense. He wore a black jacket over a double-breasted vest and dress pants. Clearly it had been bought off the rack, but still, it was a bit much for a burglar. She also wondered why he hadn’t left when he had the chance. If he wanted to hurt her, why hadn’t he even tried? The way he leaned against the door frame, his arms crossed, he almost seemed to be amused by her chaos. “Did someone hire you to pull a prank on me? Is that it? Are you an actor? Just tell me what’s going on and who’s in that bed, and maybe I’ll tell the cops to go easy on you.”
“If that’s truly what you want.” He held up his hands and took a couple of steps inside the room.
“Now you’re starting to piss me off. Just tell me who is in my bed!”
He grinned. “It’s you. Well, the former you. You see, now you’re you, and that’s just a body.”
The man stood a handshake away. Jaclyn tried to ignore the hazy luster around him—too much to think about at that moment—but she couldn’t disregard his attractive face, his square jaw, and his deep black eyes, which at that moment seemed insanely sincere. “Oh… my… goodness.”
“I know… it’s really crazy.”
“No. You’re psychotic.” Without giving herself another chance to chicken out, Jaclyn marched over to her bed and tossed back the bedspread.
Her mouth fell open as she took a step back. It’s just a trick. It’s just someone who looks a lot like me and went to a lot of trouble to play a joke. She had the same long dark hair, the same skin tone, the same nose and the same… everything.
Jaclyn decided to wake the imposter and tell her to take her boyfriend and get the hell out of her apartment. But when she reached down to shake the woman, her hand went smooth through the shoulder like it was made of smoke. She jerked her hand back immediately and took an apprehensive breath.
“It’s screwy seeing yourself like that.” She heard the man say.
She stood there, examining her body in the bed as a calm embraced her. “Why am I not freaking out? Shouldn’t I be upset, screaming, and freaking out?”
“When you die, the psychological need for your physical body ends. You instinctively know that you don’t need that body anymore.”
“I look really pitiful,” she said. “What happened? I’m not sick or anything.”
She looked around to see if she noticed any hints as to what took place. She eyed the phone, close enough now that she could grab it and call someone if she wanted, and laughed to herself. Who? What could she say? She noticed a container of pills and a bottle of champagne beside the phone on the nightstand. She tried to pick up the pills. Yet again, her hand had no substance and went through the bottle. “Ahh, this is driving me crazy. Can you pick those up?”
The man stared at her blankly, and then a small, concerned expression seemed to grow across his face. “What?”
“Something’s wrong with me. Would you mind?” She moved out of the man’s way so he could get to the table. He inched his hand really close to the bottle and then snatched it back again.
“Oh, just forget it,” she said.
“No, it’s no problem.” He grabbed the bottle and studied it, turning it one way and then the other.
“Well? Does it say what they are?”
“There’s no marking of any kind. The torpedo must have left them. I apologize. By the time I arrived—”
“Hit man, assassin, hired gun… torpedo.”
“Hit man? That’s ridiculous. I’ve accepted every ludicrous thing you’ve said so far, but now you’re actually trying to tell me… what? That I was murdered?”
“You must have your share of enemies.” The man nodded as he looked down at the body in the bed.
Jaclyn stared at the man, not believing his gall. “Wait… who are you, and why are you in my house?”
“The name is Logan Smith.”
“OK… and why are you here?”
“I live here.” Logan crossed his arms as he leaned back against the wall. An arrogant smile appeared on his lips as well as in his eyes. “Just your friendly resident ghost.”
“As in boo?”
She ran her hands through her hair and exhaled in defeat. “Well, that would explain your glow.”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Does that mean I’m a ghost, too?” Jaclyn looked down at her hands. “I look the same.”
“But you’re not.”
Jaclyn thought about it for a moment. OK… I’m a ghost. This warranted sitting down, but when she went to sit on the edge of the bed, she fell through to the floor. She just stayed there with her head poking up through the mattress. She crossed her legs under the poof of her cream-colored gown and sighed as she considered her demise. “You’re wrong,” Jaclyn finally said. “I don’t have any enemies. At least not ones who would want to kill me.”
Logan sat on the bed. “Then, it’s a mystery.”
Jaclyn glared at him. “How did you do that? How come you can sit on the bed?”
“There are things you’ll have to—”
“And where the hell is my light… and tunnel and stairway to Heaven?”
“It’s complicated,” Logan said. “Well… not really. Some people go straight to Heaven and others, for some reason or another, are rejected.”
She stood up and faced him. “Rejected? You’re telling me I didn’t make it into Heaven. What then? You can’t seriously be saying I’m going to—”
“Hello,” a man’s voice spoke from behind her.
Jaclyn shook her head and turned around. What now? She had her hands on her hips, ready for combat, but was ambushed by the new man’s appearance. His beauty rivaled Logan’s masculinity. What is this? An audition for a Calvin Klein ad? She opened her mouth to protest his intrusion, but her voice turned out to be just as flabbergasted.
“Give her a break,” Logan said. “She just bit the dust.” He stepped beside Jaclyn and then gestured to the new arrival. “May I introduce Charles Charles.”
“Charles Charles?” Jaclyn said, coming out of her trance.
“I’m taking her now,” the man said.
“Taking me? Taking me where?” Panic caught in her throat. She had just found out about this rejection thing and needed more time to process what had happened.
“Exactly where you should be, Butterfly… Hell.”
Inspired by The Ghost of Christmas Past from the novel, “A Christmas Carol” This one was one of my favorites because I wrote the entire story backwards – line by line – It was my daughter’s idea to write it that way because I was stuck. I also like it because it is my first and only western – and it has a touch of steampunk and ghosts.
by Dorlana Vann
Paris, TX 1873
At first Cynthia was afraid to look out the window. She was afraid she would see the ghostly figure out by the horses again, stirring them up, making them run and complain. But she was expecting someone; she had to look.
The speck of hope that the person riding up the path was her husband immediately died away. The man hunched over and rode at a steady pace, like he had all the time in the world. The sudden ominous sorrow she felt was overwhelming.
Cynthia moved away from the window and began removing the supper dishes from the table. As soon as she had set them down, a loud knocking erupted. She smoothed her dress and touched her hair, wishing she had put it up instead of the bowls, and opened the door.
The stranger’s head was down, showing the top of his brown hat. He was tall and broad shouldered and dirty. Pistols hung on both sides of his hips. When he raised his head, the smell of whiskey came with each noisy breath. He squinted into the light. “Ma’am, I’m looking for Tommy Two Shot.”
“Thomas isn’t here.”
The man frowned and then spit out the side of his mouth, saliva hitting the porch. “Is that so? Well then, when ya expecting him?”
The only reason she didn’t reconsider her decision to ask for his help was because she was more afraid of the ghost than she was of the stranger. Besides, no one who knew Tommy would dare harm his wife. “Mr. Stockton? I’m Mrs. Thomas Garrison. I’m the one who sent for you. Please, come in.”
He wiped his feet, removed his hat and walked into the house but didn’t stop very far past the door. He cautiously examined the room, looking to the fireplace, table, and chairs.
“Daddy! Daddy!” Mary and Annie ran into the room but stopped when they saw the stranger.
A flush of embarrassment raced up Cynthia’s face. “No girls. It’s a friend of your Father’s.”
Mr. Stockton asked, “Where is ol’ Tommy Two—”
“We don’t use that name in our home,” Cynthia said quickly.
He glanced at the girls and nodded. “My mistake ma’am. I mean, where is Mr. Garrison?”
“Girls… go on back to bed now. Annie, help your sister.”
The girls did as they were told and soon Cynthia was alone with the stranger. “Please have a seat.”
When the man sat down, his guns clanked against the chair.
“I’m going to get straight to the point, Mr. Stockton.” She placed a kettle into the fire, moving a stocking that hung from the mantle out of her way. “I have a problem. You see, after my husband left on a business trip…”
“… I’ve had a visitor that I need to get rid of.”
“Killin’ ain’t my specialty.”
“I know.” She turned around and peered at the filthy man who sat across from her. She considered her words carefully, but at the last minute decided it wasn’t the time to beat around the bush. “I don’t need a killer. My husband told me what you do. I need someone who can get rid of a ghost.”
“He told you about that, huh?”
“He told me you had a special ability of some kind.”
“Are you sure it’s a ghost and not some coyote or raccoon? That’s happened before.”
“I’ve seen it out by the horses. It ain’t no coyote. It’s shaped like a man, but I can see right through it. It rattles the horses, scares them silly, and just as it turns its head to look at me… I turn away and hide. I’m afraid if it sees me it’ll come inside. I don’t want it coming inside, Mr. Stockton.” The kettle whistled, and she jumped.
“I’m not sure what your husband told you, ma’am, but I can’t get rid of the devil if that’s what you got. I’ve had a lot of folks wanting me to get rid of the devil.” He laughed and shook his head. “You see, I’m kind of what you call an interpreter. All’s I can do is listen.”
She poured him a cup of coffee and carried it to him, the coffee spilling a little from her shaky hands.
“You have a mighty fine home, Mrs. Garrison.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Real clean.”
The compliment made her feel uncomfortable. The way they lived, always on the move, they didn’t have things like other people, so there was nothing to make things untidy. Sometimes they lived in hotels in town, but it was worse when they had to stay with “friends.” She was grateful that this time they had found an old abandoned house out on the prairie—at least that was what her husband had told her. She didn’t question why it had furniture and a nice fence.
He looked around, nodding. He pointed to the fireplace with his hat. “February is a little late to still have your Christmas up.”
“Shhh. I’m waiting on Thomas so that we can have Christmas as a family,” she whispered. “The girls don’t know Christmas is over. They shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Thomas will be back any minute now.” After the stranger nodded, his eyebrow up, and clicked his tongue, Cynthia stared down at the floor—She knew he didn’t believe her, and she didn’t really have a choice but be straight with him. “I really don’t know when he’ll be back. I don’t have any money. I swear as soon as he does return…”
“A hot meal would do fine.”
Cynthia cooked. Even though she had to use the remainder of the breakfast food, she wasn’t too worried. Thomas had played it close before but always returned right before all the supplies were depleted. She smiled and thought maybe this was a sign that he would be home soon.
After Cynthia put a plate on the table in front of Mr. Stockton, he dug in like he hadn’t had a meal in a while. She turned away when he started sopping up the eggs with the biscuits, the yellow dripping down his chin as he talked. “I was given this machine by a feller down in San Francisco. Sorta payment for a debt he owed me. I’ve had it for twenty-some-odd years. It’s never failed me. It brings ‘em out all right, and I can hear ‘em. I can’t talk to ‘em, but I can hear ‘em through that machine. Don’t ask me how the dang thing works, cause I don’t know.”
Cynthia wanted to believe that he would be able to help. But what he was saying seemed impossible. Perhaps it had been a mistake. Perhaps Mr. Stockton was crazier than a mad dog and what Thomas had told her about him that night had been a joke, maybe just drunk talk. She shook her head for being such a hypocrite. Most folks would probably think she was crazy, too, for seeing a ghost.
After Mr. Stockton finished his meal and after Cynthia checked on the girls, they walked outside and stood on the front porch.
Mr. Stockton walked from his horse, which was hitched to the porch, to the steps carrying a strange apparatus in his hands. It was round and made of a shiny metal. It reminded Cynthia of a compass. He pulled at a thin stick that came out of the top of it, and it seemed to grow. A strange noise resounded from the thing: a mix of frogs and unknown insects after a heavy rain.
He held it in the palm of his hand and put his arm way up high in the air, walking out into the sandy yard. “If there’s a ghost out here, this will detect it.”
She eased her way down the steps and followed him toward the fenced-in horses.
“Over here, right?” Mr. Stockton asked. “You saw it over here?”
The little machine lit up. Cynthia put her hand over her mouth and looked at Mr. Stockton.
Mr. Stockton nodded, acknowledging her unspoken question.
Like a flash of lightning on a black night, a sudden bright light shook Cynthia to the core. The figure of a man she had watched night after night through her window stood directly in front of her, but this time it was close enough that if she were to reach out, she could have touch him… and close enough that she couldn’t deny what she saw. Cynthia whimpered and her head swooned.
It was Thomas, her husband. He hadn’t come home for Christmas because he wasn’t coming home at all. He was dead.
Thomas didn’t seem to notice them. He walked by and through the gate, as if it didn’t exist. The horses began to move about. He looked over at the house and sighed. The little needle on the machine started twitching and then madly rotated around and around. His faint voice came out of the machine. “I hope this will be the last time I gotta leave y’all.” In the next instant, the ghost of Thomas (Tommy Two Shot) Garrison disappeared.
Cynthia’s body shook, her worst fear realized in that second. How many times had she worried he wouldn’t come back home? How many times had she worried he would be killed? However, mourning would have to wait. She was now the only one responsible for her family. She wiped hard at her tears, and stood tall. She pressed her lips together before clearing her throat, and through a restrained sob said, “Good bye, Thomas.”
“Are y’all going to be okay?”
“We’ll be fine.” Cynthia gave a confident nod, even though she knew living without a husband would be more difficult than living on the run with an outlaw. “Thank you, Mr. Stockton.”
Mr. Stockton climbed on his horse and tipped his hat. “Ma’am.” He rode away toward the moon, his saddlebags carrying the same as when he arrived and a trail of dust the only thing he left behind.
Cynthia knew she wouldn’t be afraid if she saw her husband’s ghost again. However, she had a feeling he had left for good, that he’d only come home long enough to give her a Christmas gift: she could stop waiting for him to return. Even though it was one a.m., she went to the room and gently shook Annie and Mary. “Wake up,” she whispered. “It’s Christmas.”
The Gift is one of the short stories in my collection
The eBook only .99 cents on Amazon
fairy tale + paranormal element = supernatural fairy tale.
These 9 Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.