My Experience at the Most Haunted Hotel in America: The Crescent

My mom, my sister, and I took an awesome girls’ weekend to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. First of all, I don’t know how they built that town, because it’s literally perched on a mountain with streets that are nearly straight up and down. Driving through the skinny, switchback streets I definitely prayed to the god of effective brakes.

We stayed at “the most haunted hotel in America,” The Crescent Hotel, which has gotten publicity in recent years from paranormal investigation shows like TAPS. The building is beautiful yet creepy, a la the hotel from the movie The Shining.

The Crescent opened in the late 1800s as a lavish resort for VIPS in the Midwest. As the years passed, it served as a college for young women. Then as a “cancer-curing” hospital which pulled in millions of dollars in just three short years in the 1930s. (Many of the ghosts probably came from Dr. Baker’s failed attempts to save people with his “miracle cure”).

The Crescent Ghost Tour (well worth the twenty bucks per person) gets you a good historical account of the hotel with plenty of ghost stories and even some demonstrations (ghost photos, paranormal video evidence, and a beeping ghost meter).

 

Creepy Carving on Fireplace at The Crescent

The most haunted room, 218, gets visits from Michael, an Irish mason who helped build the hotel. Supposedly, he fell to his death during construction in the area outside the door to 218. Michael likes the ladies and will sometimes touch them while they sleep–or push men out of bed (Ha!). Here I am with my pregnant self, wearing my rosary for spiritual protection and posing by the famous spot.

We did not stay in 218, but did stay down the hall where my mother heard a rhythmic thudding in the hallway right outside our door. When the hotel was a women’s college, the dean’s young boy fell fatally ill and sometimes he’ll bounce his ball down the hallway.

Room 3500 seems the creepiest to me–especially after seeing the picture that our guide provided. A woman will stand at the foot of your bed and stare at you, but most times only women can see her. So if your hubby’s in bed with you, he may think you’re crazy.

Room 419 is Theodora’s space. She was a tiny woman (we’re talking four feet tall) who worked at The Crescent and when you stay in her room, make sure to clean up after yourself…or she will. Some guests report that they’ll come back to their room after being out for the day and find their bags packed by the door.

 

Orb of Morris the Cat?

After the ghost tour, I decided to take some pictures of my sister who was petting one of the two resident cats. But there is also a resident ghost cat, Morris, whose framed picture hangs above this couch. I got this cool orb that I am quite proud of. Plus, in the making of this post, every time I viewed the picture it was positioned correctly. But each time I downloaded it to Blogger, it showed up rotated! I’ll take it to mean that the ghosts approve of this post.

Originally posted on www.camillefaye.com.

Read more about my haunting experiences at America’s most haunted house, The Myrtles Plantation, and in haunted New Orleans.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Kindergarten and Mommy's Existential Crisis

I wrote this blog post when my son started Kindergarten. It's been some years now, but the sentiment is still the same. My kiddos are my greatest creation and here's a little reflection on what it has meant to me to be a WAHM (write at home mom):


My big boy starts Kindergarten today. Whooooppppeeee! Did I just write that? Oh yes I did. I am not one of those moms who will suffer from separation anxiety, but [sigh] I will probably cry because this is a big step. Since becoming a mom nearly six years ago, I have experienced the full spectrum of human emotion on the roller coaster called motherhood.

Things I’ve given up:
A typical career
Adult interaction
Romance (just kidding, but kind of not)

Things I’ve had to do:
Clean up all manner of bodily fluids
Learn how to cook deceptively healthy meals
Multi-task (my lists have lists…it’s ridiculous)
Survive newborn insomnia (twice)

Things we’ve gotten to do:

 

Explore the World

 

Wrangle Snakes

 

Be Elvis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Baseball–Go Cards!

 

Wrestle Alligators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I’ve learned:

Compassion
Appreciation (thanks Mom…this is so hard)
Patience
Baby wrangling
The perfect tickle technique
Surrender
LOVE

From an existential perspective, I’m raising two kids alongside of a writing career (and when I say writing career, I mean I work in the basement, stringing together bits of writing time like seed beads on a string).

Since leaving my teaching job in 2009, I’ve decided to focus on what is most important to me: being the heart of my family. At times, I get all charged up to go back to work, thinking “I’m smart, I’m driven, I’m not a Stepford wife, I’m not Mrs. Cleaver.” Many days I am completely out of my head BORED, but then I look at these two kids and wonder, “Who will if not me?” And it’s an existential question, not a practical one. Yes, I can find a good sitter, but I know that deep down–for me–I HAVE to do this. When I think of the big picture of my life, I want to stay home with my kids until they are in school. Then, I want a career that allows me to be available for them if they get sick or have a school holiday.

I wasn’t always that way. I was the uber-independent woman who never had a relationship that lasted longer than two months. Before meeting my husband, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have kids. Then the right man made his way into my life, we birthed two little ones, and now here we are. This change has not been smooth for me. In fact, it’s reached dark night of the soul status a few times.

On a regular basis, I ask myself tough meaning-of-life questions like: Who am I? What am I doing? Sometimes it’s not for philosophical reasons either. Sometimes I’m just so frazzled or exhausted that I literally roam around my house trying to figure out what it is that I’m trying to do. Oh yeah. There’s my cup of coffee.

There is no singular way to raise a family; my way is a work in progress. Even though I may not have much time or energy to craft the great American novel, I know that I’ve dedicated this small piece of my life to my two best creations. Eventually, my little pieces of immortality will go out into the wide world and be my little ambassadors, representing all the love and care (and time outs) I’ve given them. And that’s my bigger picture.

To all the mommies of kindergartners: good job and try not to cry too much.

To Xavier: Have a good first day at school. I love you.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Our Malaysian Indian American Dream

My husband, though now Christian, was raised Hindu in the Muslim country of Malaysia. Ha! Does that make your head spin? In this week’s post, I’m going to take you with me to the foreign land of Malaysia. To the country where my husband lived before pursuing his American Dream with me.

Malaysia is a modern country and an amazing place to visit. The food is INCREDIBLE...just ask Anthony Bourdain. The scenery is diverse with its fair share of jungles, beaches, and temperate highlands. The capital of Kuala Lumpur is a bustling metropolis with impressive architecture like the Petronas Twin Towers.

In Malaysia, families choose between schools that are taught primarily in one of three languages: Tamil (an Indian dialect), Chinese, or Malay (the native language). All schools still teach their students Malay and English (because Malaysia was an English colony and is still a part of the Commonwealth).

Even though Sudhagar is Indian, he attended Malay school for his primary and secondary education, and then went to junior college (which is like American community college). In all of these places, he met many Malay students, along with some Chinese and some other Indians.

This is where the post gets political. Gasp! Here we go…

The native Malays, or Bumiputera, are the majority group and their interests have been represented by the same governing party since Malaysia’s independence in the 1950s. The reason why so many Malays got to go to college while my husband was going through the education system (in the late 90s and early 2000s) is because the Malays get preferential treatment by the government. Even currently in the 2013-2014 school year, of the 41,573 openings at Malaysian colleges, only 19% were filled by ethnic Chinese and only 4% by ethnic Indians. When Sudhagar went through college, even fewer minorities were accepted, much less given the opportunity of a scholarship. Even though Sudhagar was very smart, he was still an Indian and there just weren’t enough scholarships available for “someone like him.”

I’m too young to have lived through the Civil Rights Movement, but the treatment of minorities in Malaysia definitely stirs up things in me. The words of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech really hit home when I realize that my husband does not get treated equally by the government of his homeland.

Not only did Sudhagar miss out on equal opportunity for education, but other preferential policies include quotas for the following: housing, positions in government, and ownership of businesses.

Sudhagar came to America in 1997 with the simple dream of pursuing a better education than the one he could get in Malaysia. He had every hope of returning to his homeland after his studies.

But then he met me. When he started looking for his first job out of graduate school, we seriously considered moving to Malaysia to be near his family (who all still live there) and I was ready for the adventure of it.

How cool would it be to live in a land where monkeys can wander into your house? I’ve actually seen that! Or you can trek through the jungle. Check. Or be thisclose to a snake charmer with a cobra. Seen that too–twice.

But when we went to visit Malaysia for the first time together, many of Sudhagar’s friends and family members told him to never come back. “There’s no opportunity for Indians here,” they said. Even his high school teacher (also ethnic Indian) told him, “You’re better off in America or Australia. That’s where my sons went to work.”

So Sudhagar and I have opted for the American dream, not because Malaysia’s a terrible place, simply because it will not offer us equal opportunity due to the color of Sudhagar’s skin. And, I guess, the color of my skin, too.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Family Closeness: How Do You Bridge Two Continents?

Six. Weeks. My in-laws visited for six weeks!

 

My two reactions:

1) Yay! I’ll have extra help and I can, thank you God, actually leave the house without a kid and an infant. Which equals freedom to write, freedom to visit friends, freedom to go grocery shopping without a million requests for snacks or toys.

2) Oh. That means I’m in charge of anticipating and fulfilling the needs of two extra people. And I don’t want to take advantage of them by leaving them with the kids too much. Okay, now I’m stressed.

So I oscillated back and forth between these two viewpoints, but for the most part existed somewhere in a balanced place.

Long visits like that aren’t really common in the US of A, but when you have an international family (and traveling between opposite sides of the world takes 36 hours PLUS plane tickets cost thousands of dollars) they are necessary. When I visited my sister in Australia, we visited for five weeks, with a two-week jaunt to Malaysia and Bali. Whenever we visit Malaysia, we go for three weeks because that’s the max vacation time Sudhagar can get.

So what do you do for six weeks to keep the entire family happy?

Amah and Ayah (Telegu for Mom and Dad) never visited America, so we decided to show them our home state of Missouri, exploring:

 

Above: Columbia–The Quad at University of Missouri

 

Above: Kansas City–Union Station

 

Above: Saint Louis–Botanical Gardens

What really occurred during these six weeks is we got to connect as a family: laughing, playing, loving, talking, crying (when we said our good-byes). And we don’t get to do that on the same continent very often. Overall, it was a good trip.

 

Now the house is very quiet. Ari cries from separation anxiety whenever I leave the room because she’s used to two extra sets of arms to hold her. Xavier starts Kindergarten next week and he’ll have to tell Mama and Thathaya (Grandma and Grandpa) about his five-year-old adventures via Skype. Sudhagar and I have been inundated with housework, because–as Joni Mitchell says–you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

We miss you guys. We love you guys. Until next time, we’ll Skype.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Stress Busters for Moms and Writers: Spirit

In this series I’ve covered ways to deal with stress in your  body and mind, so this week we’ll finish up with de-stressing your spiritual side. It doesn’t really matter what your religious background is or even if you have a religion at all. We, as humans, have a spirit/soul/something that makes us more than just biological tissues with a brain. If you don’t feed your soul, all kinds of nasty emotions surface and the result is an unhappy person. So here are some ways to reconnect with the inner you.

Spirit Lady’s Top Tips for a Healthy Mind

  1. Find your passion. Oprah would say that we should ultimately choose a job that we’re passionate about, but not all of us have the luxury of doing that exact thing right now. For example, I’m passionate about writing, but I’m currently aSAHM and spend most of my day caring for my two kids, housekeeping, and making meals. But! I schedule a one hour window before the baby wakes up to dedicate to writing tasks. If I don’t take the time for myself, I become one crabby mama.
  2. Connect to something greater. Pray or go to church. Meditate. Hug a tree. I don’t care what you do as long as you’re pondering the vastness of our universe. Now I can hear you groaning, “Ugh! Meditation is really hard,” so I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t just sit and meditate. Gasp! I can’t because my kids are running around and I can’t just leave the baby unsupervised. However, I can follow along with a guided meditation in the car, then if I get distracted, I just come back to the person’s voice. Dr. Doreen Virtue is one of my favorites. Or I listen to meditation music while I write or take a walk.
  3. FREEDOM! Remember when you were a kid and you had absolutely no responsibilities and you could play outside with the neighbor kids for hours? Give yourself a window of freedom in your schedule where you can do anything. Or nothing. I love to watch TV, read, or go for walks during my free time.
  4. Deal with burnout. We’ve all experienced it, but just ignoring burnout will make things much worse. Burnout happens to me sometimes as a mom, because I’m just so tired of feeling like Cinderella and the Little Old Woman in the Shoe combined. And–ha!–I only have two kids. So here’s how I deal. First of all, embrace the crashing and burning phase where you feel absolutely awful, need to talk it out, scream, cry, whatever. We are humans and must deal with emotion, so give yourself a full day for a pity party. Then change it up. Make your life different even if it’s in a small way. Enroll in a funk dance class, try a new route to work or the grocery store, or rearrange your furniture.

With spring finally arriving (thank God), I hope we can all put our winter blues aside for several months. Hope you enjoyed this series on eliminating stress from your life.

You can find the stress busters for body here.

And the stress busters for mind here.

I’m Spirit Lady. Enjoy the journey 


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Stress Busters for Moms and Writers: Mind

Most of my friends would say I’m pretty zen but I definitely have my bad days. Or, ahem, weeks. This winter the weather has been terrible and I’m dealing with my own bout of the winter blahs so this post is a good reminder of what I need to do too. Here are my top tips for recharging your mind and getting your zen back.

Spirit Lady’s Top Tips for a Healthy Mind

  1. Quiet time. We live in a world where we have any kind of diversion available at our fingertips 24/7. In between raising our families and working full time, we can watch Dancing with the Stars, play Candy Crush, search Pinterest, get on Facebook, or catch episodes of The Turtle Man on Netflix (Live Action!). However…our minds don’t ever get a rest. So every day, take some time out. If you can spare it, an hour is great, but 10 or 15 minutes will do. Pray, meditate, lay in a hammock and watch the clouds float across the sky. Even our kids need quiet time, so don’t feel bad setting a 30 minute or one hour quiet time where everyone goes to their rooms to play/read/sleep. But no electronics!
  2. Unwind. If it’s been a particularly rough day, you need to let go. Everyone has their own preferences, but for me, I like to go for a walk, take a bath, enjoy a glass of wine. A note about alcohol though: alcohol can keep you from sleeping deeply, so if you’re sleep deprived, skip the wine (I know, I know, I know) and opt for something else that helps you unwind.
  3. Socialize. I’m a writer and a SAHM, both of which are lonely occupations. To “get out there” more and get my socializing fix, I belong to a couple of writer groups and a mommy group. I meet with these three groups throughout the month as well as interacting with the other members on our Facebook group pages. If you don’t love big groups, then join one for the sole purpose of finding a few friends. Or even one really good friend. Find your tribe, your support group, or–as I like to call them–your peeps.
  4. Eliminate chaos. If something in your life is becoming a source of chaos, you HAVE to get rid of it. Maybe it’s certain friends who are bringing you down, maybe there’s a dynamic in your family that is not working. For me it’s keeping up with my housework because if I look around my house and it’s a big mess I just think, “Well, if I let it get much worse, it’s gonna be worse for me. Because who’s gonna clean it up? ME.” My hubby will help but he works full time and I don’t want him to have to do everything. And the kiddos are one and six, so the baby can barely talk and walk and the big boy is just learning to help out. Plus getting the big boy to help is like pulling teeth, so sometimes it’s just easier to do it myself. So coming back around to my point, a clean house makes me feel good and a clutter-filled, chaotic house makes me feel stressed.
  5. Set goals, but more importantly keep track of them. The Lit Ladies set yearly writing goals every January and even if I don’t reach every single one (deep breath–it’s okay), I can reassess. Just like anything else in life, there’s a natural ebb and flow to goals. If you’re feeling mentally blocked by something in your life, jot down a list of mini-goals to get you where you want to be. Check in every few months and see which goals you can cross off (and pat yourselves on the back, baby!) and see what you have left to work toward. It’s a fun challenge to see where you’re at.

PS–As of this writing, I’m recovering from a horrendous stomach flu that the entire family got. I could definitely use #1-4 on my list right now.

PSS–It will be okay. LOL. In my next post, we’ll talk stress-busting our spiritual side.

Click here to see my last post, Stress Busters for Moms and Writers: Body.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Stress Busters for Moms and Writers: Body

Have the planets aligned in a certain dysfunctional pattern or is the winter blahs just hitting everyone harder this year? My peeps are seriously stressed. I swear if I hear “polar vortex” one more time I’m gonna karate chop the TV. Whatever the reason for everyone’s depression, lack of energy, and overall bad mood, I thought it would be the perfect time to pep you up with some of my favorite ways to de-stress.

To balance things out, I’ll break this information into three separate posts dealing with each aspect of our complete wellness: body, mind, and spirit. I can attest to the importance of these things in my own life–as a writer and as a mother–because I’ve encountered serious specific problems (like postpartum depression and spinal degeneration) in both of these occupations that absolutely had to be addressed or I’d be chronically unwell. Most of the tips I have here will work whether you’re a mom, a writer, or both.

Spirit Lady’s Top Tips for a Healthy Body

  1. Drink water. What? Now hear me out before you say “duh” and move onto tip #2. After I had my first child, I went into a health food store, seeking the holy grail of energy boosters. “Please,” I begged, “Give me a supplement, smoothie, or secret potion that will magically cure this bone-tiredness I’m feeling.” The lady asked me, “Are you drinking enough water?” And I responded, “Probably not.” She told me that I didn’t have to drop a bunch of money on all that stuff because a lot of people are just dehydrated. Every time I have a meal or a snack, I drink a pint of water (we’ll cover pints of beer in another post). And when I find myself dragging, I think about the last time I had a drink of water. Most times the answer is: it’s been too long.
  2. Get your nutrients! As a culture, we tend toward processed food instead of nutrient-rich food and some experts even say that our soil is so depleted of nutrients by modern farming practices, that even if we eat fresh whole foods, we still don’t get enough of what we need. To help me boost my normal intake of healthy food, I take a powerful multivitamin to provide me with the best wellness feeling (a.k.a. more mom energy). The one I take contains 8333% of my daily value of Vitamin B-12 and requires me to take four capsules a day. These are [dun-dun-DUN] super vitamins. These are a powder put into a capsule, so they actually break down in my stomach and the nutrients are delivered to my cells. Invest in this…mine run about $30 a month, but I feel a gazillion times better than if I popped a run-of-the-mill vitamin. Go talk to someone at a health food store or do some research online. I like Life Force Multiple Energy Activator and LifeEssence Vitamins by PURE. Sometimes I’ll also do juicing or green smoothies once a day to detox and boost my energy. I have tried–and liked–recipes by Green Smoothie Girl and JJ Virgin.
  3. Exercise 3-5 times a week. Some of you may be thinking, “Five days a week! Are you crazy?! That’s way too much of a time commitment.” But hear me out. I’ll agree with you that exercising for 1 hour or more five days a week is Cah-razy. In our short attention span world–in my mom world–we just don’t have the time, so I’ve found a good solution that won’t allow me to make excuses about not getting the exercise I need. I commit to 20 minutes a day and I can choose two days “off” a week. Really, I probably could do 20 minutes every day, because COME ON…it’s 20 minutes. Yoga is my favorite form of exercise and really helps with neck issues that I have from being a mommy and from being a writer. I go on YouTube and find short sessions (5 min, 10 min, 20 min) depending on what I need (flexibility, stretching, neck pain). It can be a quick way for you to re-center without having to dedicate a whole hour to it. Tara Stiles is my fave…she works with Livestrong on YouTube. And then a great neck routine from Chaz Rough at Yogamazing will help writers and moms with babies (carrying a twenty pound weight wears on your neck and shoulder area).
  4. Get out every day. Our ancestors lived and worked outside year round (farming or hunting and gathering). We need fresh air no matter what the weather is like outside. I’m bad about this one, especially in the winter because I hate the cold. I loathe it. I detest it. I probably need to move to a tropical locale, but since that’s not gonna happen anytime soon, I just need to force myself to get some fresh air.
  5. Sleep well. I’m not ashamed to admit that I need a good nine hours at night; chalk it up to my creative, busy brain that needs the extra zzz’s to come up with fabulous ideas. But seriously, we are a sleep-deprived society that doesn’t really need to be. As a mom, I understand the pressure to get your kids and family involved in all these different activities and organizations. Just say no. More rest will make your family so much happier and healthier.

These are my top five for a fabulous, healthy, energized body. These tips can be daunting to take on, so do one step at a time. Your body will thank you, your work will be better, and your family will have a happy mommy (or daddy). Stay tuned for my next post about having a healthy mind, which will be out the first Thursday of March. Happy writing and happy mothering!


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

Marketing Tips for Writers: Book Swag

Marketing Tips for Writers: Book Swag

By focusing your swag strategy, you will get cool items into the hands of more than the random person. You will get those items into the hands of your target audience. Your creative promotional items will plant the seed of your author brand into the minds of readers who will seek out your books in the future. And get readers talking to generate that magical force we call “word of mouth.”