Monday, October 16, 2017

Story #3: #HorrorWeek

It's #HorrorWeek, and Goodreads is challenging authors to come up with their best two-sentence horror stories. This is my offering...based on a close, personal fear of mine:

Lying in bed alone, I hear a knock at my window and roll over to see a man peering through the glass at me. I live on the eighteenth floor.

Share your two-sentence horror stories below! And if you’re interested in longer spooky reads for the Halloween season, my books are available on Amazon, Barnes &, Google Play, and through your local bookstore.

Copyright 2017 Amelia Cotter

Monday, September 25, 2017

Apparitions: Last Call for Submissions

So far, I've received more than 35 submissions from 14 people in two countries! Submissions have included the statements I originally asked for (see below), but I have also been receiving and am now welcoming haiku and haibun, along with other short form poetry and prose. I will continue to accept submissions through December 31, 2017. Thanks and Happy Hauntings!

From my post on March 1: "Exciting news! I am working on a new book, tentatively titled Apparitions. My artist statement for the book describes it as 'an array of haunting emotional landscapes, amidst Chicago's haunted landscapes, in this collection of poems, stories, and black and white photography.' For this project, my haiku and other short form poetry and prose will take center stage. My husband, Jonathan Montgomery Pollock, will provide photos of abandoned, historic, and haunted Chicagoland, bridging the project to my previous books about the supernatural and providing a long-needed Chicago tie-in with my writing.

"I am looking for people to contribute original statements of one to two sentences, to be featured in the book as quotes that will stand alone on a page or be accompanied by a photo or text. These statements should reflect honest, personal thoughts, ideas, or experiences about topics such as addiction, anxiety, mental illness, the nature of life and death, hope, spirituality, survival, and what makes life worth living.

"You may submit an unlimited number of statements and, if accepted, you may choose how you would like your name to be attributed in the book (including remaining anonymous). Please contact me at if you are interested or would like more information. Thanks and Happy Hauntings!"

Friday, September 1, 2017

#GiveBackGetInvolved: Resources for Activism and Community Involvement

(UPDATED/Monday, September 11, 2017) I reached out to friends and followers for help in creating a list of resources for activism and community involvement. I received a variety of suggestions, including a few that are specific to Chicago or Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief. If there is an event, organization, or volunteer opportunity you would like to see featured in a future post, please contact me at

Armed Forces Veterans: organization providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families

Build Chicago: organization engaging at-risk youth in schools and on the streets, helping them realize their educational and career potential and contribute to the stability, safety, and well being of Chicago communities

Charity Navigator: the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities

Conversation Chicago: monthly conversation series at Women & Children First Bookstore, pairing out-of-town authors with local writers, artists, and musicians

Countable: app that streamlines the process of contacting lawmakers and telling them how you would like them to vote on bills that are under consideration

"Helping Out After Hurricane Harvey: Where, What & How to Donate": article at

"How you can help people affected by Hurricane Irma": article at

"Hurricane Irma: How to Help Storm Victims": article at

Issue Voter: service that makes civic engagement accessible, efficient, and impactful through customizable email alerts on issues that matter to you

Project PSI: a team of remote viewers searching for missing persons and advocating for victims of human trafficking and child exploitation

Supportive Listening: website dedicated to practical tips, insights, and information on the skill and technique of supportive listening

"The Secret to Happiness is Helping Others": article at

United Way: international coalition of charitable organizations aiming to strengthen communities by working to improve health, education, and financial stability

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Guest Post: Thirty, by Onicia Muller

Note from Amelia: Welcome Onicia Muller, writer, comedian, fellow storyteller, and friend. The complexity of this evocative flash fiction piece unfolds with each subsequent read:

Is despair haunting?

She hoped for some petrol so she could make it to an interview. She left home with a busted ride that she hoped would take her to Progeny. Another day. Another gig. Her tank was dangerously near empty.

Thirty for thirty. Thirty miles in thirty minutes. If she got that job on the thirtieth floor, would she make it? Sadly, working for thirty days and barely earning enough to live for twenty...

Roadside. She used to hope for hope. Now she wished that she never had. This mad dash to Progeny. Her poverty was like starting this journey on a tank dangerously near empty, hoping for a petrol station. But like every opportunity, the stations were closed. She was so close to another station, fighting against logic and desire.

The motivational morphine pushers said the universe would conspire to help her. If only she'd hoped for no hope, then she wouldn't be a failure on the super highway.

Onicia Muller is a Caribbean writer and comedian. Her weekly humor column "Just Being Funny" is published in The Daily Herald's

"Thirty," copyright 2017 Onicia Muller

Monday, July 3, 2017

Poem #2: I Seek

A poem reminiscent of summers past. This is another simple self-reflection exercise that anyone can do, using the five senses for inspiration:

I taste the heat.
I smell sometimes flowers, sometimes trash.
I hear barking and a hose running.
Dogs play in kiddie pools, and I reach out to them as they run by, happily chasing each other.
I see brightly colored murals along the El tracks.
I walk home, where it's cool inside and I'm alone.

"I Seek," copyright 2017 Amelia Cotter

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ghost Story #3: Rose Marie

While I was writing Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State, my Uncle Bernie sent me more than 30 stories from throughout his life in the form of hand-written letters. After Maryland Ghosts was first published in 2012, and featured most of his Maryland stories, we turned his remaining letters into an unpublished collection to share with family and friends called The Haunted Letters: True Tales from a Ghost-Storied Life. Here is another one of my favorite stories from that collection:

Altoona, Pennsylvania (Blair County), 2003

Debra and I had just returned from a trip to Chatham, Virginia to share time with our Chatham family. It was the next morning, and Debra and I were having hot coffee in our living room.

Debra sat across from me on a sofa, and I across from her on another sofa, reliving our most recent Chatham visit.

The white form of a lady suddenly entered our living room from the front foyer of the home, approximately three feet off of the floor. Her form hovered, not in between us, but just to my right and Debra's left. The lady was dressed all in white and seemed to radiate/pulsate white light.

I did not look directly at her but kept her in the periphery of my vision. Debra continued to look straight at me and I asked her if she was observing what I was seeing. Her response was, "No. What do you see?"

I responded, as this lady in white stood there, "I am seeing the ghost of my cousin, Rose Marie Meadows!"

She was killed in 1955 in a tragic auto accident when I was eight years old. I told Debra that I believed Rose Marie had come home with us from our trip to Chatham. Her form hovered there for about another 20 seconds, then abruptly turned, heading back toward the foyer, and vanished from sight.

We had actually been to the Chatham family cemetery during our visit, which holds the grave site of seven of my Meadows relatives, Rose Marie's grave being the oldest. When she was killed in 1955, I wasn't allowed to go the funeral. She was 17, and like I said, I was eight. The summer before her death, she had visited and stayed with us on Valleywood Drive in Wheaton, Maryland, for a week. She was kind, caring, and thoughtful, and much appreciated by our family.

Her brother Bill had been driving the car. He was taking her and her date to the prom. She and her boyfriend were both killed in the accident. Her brother, to this day, says he doesn't remember anything that happened. Shortly after her funeral, Bill enlisted in the Air Force and went away for four years. In my opinion, a good thing.

Rose Marie would have been 73 today had she lived. Her death tore a hole in our family's heart that still hasn't healed. I hope she rests in peace.

"Rose Marie," copyright 2017 Bernard W. Masino and Amelia Cotter (first appeared in The Haunted Letters: True Tales from a Ghost-Storied Life, 2013)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Haiku #4: itch

In continuation of a month of surprises, I was named Haiku Master of the Week by Haiku Masters on NHK World! My husband, Jonathan Montgomery Pollock, took the photo below inside the Rosehill Cemetery Mausoleum in Chicago, Illinois. This photo, along with the haiku below (edited for the show to fit three lines), comprised last week's winning submission and are viewable at the website's Gallery with accompanying video and judges' commentary. See my post from May 8 for more details about this and our other photo haiku featured this month on the show:

of old wounds
I pick myself

Rosehill Cemetery Mausoleum in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Jonathan Montgomery Pollock.

"itch," copyright 2017 Amelia Cotter (first published with Jonathan's photo in East on Central Volume 14: 2015-2016, 2015)