• True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The Craft of Writing on the Strange and Sinister

    In addition to writing about true crime here, I’ve also shared my story of honing the craft over at WOW! Women on Writing. Here are a just a few of the posts I’ve written on the topic, and it’s fun to see my progression go from just a spark to a fully-developed project or idea. How to Write Compelling True Crime. In this post I share how I came up with the idea to start up Missing in the Carolinas, and how it evolved from being just a missing persons podcast to one that mixes in solved cases and reviews of other true crime shows and books. I also used this content to…

  • Creative Writing

    Review of Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Class

    When WOW! Women on Writing asked me if I’d like to review the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course I jumped at the chance. I have several novels in need of revision and thought a more structured program might give me the help I’ve been needing, plus I have a copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody and it’s one of my most treasured writing tools. See below for more information on the course and my review. First, what is Save the Cat!®?  Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily…

  • Mystery,  True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: Who Was Mecklenburg Jane Doe?

    Did you know Mecklenburg County in North Carolina has a cold case featuring an unidentified deceased woman whose loved ones may be missing her? Investigators with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have given her the name of “Mecklenburg County Doe.” On March 17, 2011, the incomplete skeletal remains of a female were found in a wooded area on Statesville Avenue in Charlotte. The woman, who was estimated to be between the ages of 20-30 years old, was white or Hispanic. She weighed around 110 pounds when she died. The manner and cause of death have not been released at this time. She was wearing a small white t-shirt with the words “Virginia Beach, Virginia”…

  • True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: What Happened to Bruce Ruffin of Charlotte, N.C.?

    The murder of Bruce Ruffin remains an open cold case for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Although he went missing on April 19, 1986, investigators assumed pretty early on that the 50-year-old had met with foul play. Ruffin was a resident of Midland, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. At the time of his disappearance he was a married father of four who owned Dart Enterprise, a real estate firm located in uptown Charlotte. Ruffin had moved to Charlotte from Greensboro in the mid 1960s. He was a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and had started out his career running a construction company with his brothers. While he was in college,…

  • Lifestyle

    Living in a College Town

    This letter originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. The other day I was sitting at my desk when a realization hit me like a ton of bricks. My oldest child is registering for classes for her senior year of high school. My time with her is limited. I started to panic. How can she almost be 18 years old?  Where did those years go? Did I spend too much time stressing over working and how to pay the bills each month and not enough time helping her prepare for life after high school? As a parent, it’s hard to know the right answers to these questions. I can…

  • Lifestyle

    Love Thy Neighbor

    This letter originally appeared in the February issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS. There are many different ways to show love. While we all know Feb. 14 is a boon for the chocolate and greeting card industry, I had another revelation come to me as I’ve worked on putting together this issue. It’s been almost a year since a global pandemic affected almost every aspect of our lives, from our job security, our health and wellness, our children’s education, to our eating and shopping habits, travel plans, etc. The list goes on and on. But through it all, we’ve had to keep moving, to continue putting one foot in front of another even though…

  • Mystery

    Is Clyde A. Erwin High School Haunted?

    If the classic 1980s horror film “Poltergeist” scared you, you may want to scroll past this blog post. According to multiple published reports and interviews, a high school in North Carolina is often visited by spirits, and they may be the spirits of people who were disturbed from their graves on the property the school was built on. Clyde A. Erwin High is located in Asheville, N.C., which in my personal experience, seems to be a hotbed of supernatural activity. Here’s the backstory on this high school and why many think the school is home to multiple spirits. Back in 1973, the Buncombe County Board of Education decided they wanted to upgrade and…

  • Mystery,  True Crime

    True Crime Wednesday: The 5 Minutes of True Crime Series

    I’ll be perfectly honest. I have a hard time watching myself on video. Is that really what I look like talking to people in person? You don’t want to know the thoughts that race through my head when I see myself on camera! But I also know so many people who are trying to promote themselves or a product they’ve created venture into places like IGTV and YouTube with videos designed to raise awareness for their work. With deep trepidation, I began this process slowly. First, I created a YouTube channel but only put one teaser trailer video on it. Then I began realizing how much content I write that people may never…

  • Mystery,  Travel

    Update: “Mostly Harmless” Hiker Identified

    Back in November, I shared a post about an unidentified hiker who passed away in the summer of 2018 in the Big Cypress Yellow Preserve in south Florida. His case was mysterious because many people had encountered him on The Appalachian Trail during his journey and described him as friendly, but reserved. He told people to call him “Denim” and “Mostly Harmless” and also used the alias “Bill Bilemy.” When discovered, he appeared to have died of starvation and had more than $3,000 cash on him. What he didn’t have in his possession was any identification, a cell phone or credit cards. His story gained national media attention and internet sleuths were determined…

  • Book Review

    Book Review: Last Act by Christopher Pike

    One of my most treasured possessions as a teen was my collection of well-worn paperbacks from the author Christopher Pike. I considered them my “comfort” books, or books I could read in one sitting and escape to a world of thrills, unknowns, suspense and supernatural occurrences. Sometime after college, I either lost that collection (20 or so books) in a move or donated it. Christopher Pike was the pen name of a man named Kevin McFadden, and I recently came across this interview a fan girl turned adult writer such as myself conducted. If you were ever a reader of Christopher Pike’s YA literature, this is a great deep dive into how the…