Tag Archives: children

Haiku Friday – Trill & Final

29 Jan

It’s Haiku Friday! I hope everyone is enjoying their day. Today’s prompt words were provided by RonovanWrites Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge and they are Trill and Final. These words conjured up images of horror and the paranormal for some reason, so I went with it.


Ronovan hosts this challenge every Monday and you have until Sunday to create a post featuring your haiku poem. He is a writer and poet and he also does author interviews and much more on his blog. Be sure to check it out. Anyone can participate in this challenge. Read his Haiku Prompt Challenge Guidelines for more information.


No Place for Children

by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Haunted orphanage

Trills of children’s laughter heard

Babies’ final stand

Abandoned and lost

In a world of phantasm

Evil orphanage

ghosts_children_The Writer Next Door_horror

Have a great weekend!

Q & A with Zee

17 Mar

I’m so excited today! I get to introduce you to one of my favorite people on the web, Zee Southcombe.


Author Z.R. Southcombe

Z.R. Southcombe is a teacher, children’s fantasy writer, surrealist painter, and all-around cool person. She is the author of recently released picture book What Stars Are Made Of and upcoming chapter book The Caretaker of Imagination.


About her books

What Stars Are Made Of was released December 17, 2014. Print will be available soon but is currently on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords etc. as an eBook. Click on the book cover below to get a copy for your kindle.

Zee-Southcombe-art-blog-Vashti-Quiroz-Vegaart-zee southcombe-vashti quiroz-vega's-blog

amazon-book-Z.R. Southcombe


The Caretaker of Imagination – Will be released 21 March 2015 (The Caretaker of Imagination is available now for pre-orders)


Click on image to pre-order this book


Lucy’s Story: The End of the World – Will be released July 2015

Z.R. Southcombe-Vashti Quiroz-Vega's-Blog

And here’s a sneak peek of the illustration for Lucy’s Story (this may be the cover art).


Z.R. Southcombe usually has a few creative projects on the go, including a personal blog, and is always inspired by the young people she meets in her teaching job. No matter what project she is currently working on, Zee is usually accompanied by a cup of tea.

Z.R. Southcombe-teacher-artist-writer

Q & A

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
This is a two-part answer. I realised I wanted to be a writer when I was very young, probably about seven years old I think. However, I only actually decided to pursue it a couple of years ago, when I was 24.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
In terms of my writing process, perhaps my quirk is that I’m not a coffee nut but rather an *ahem* ‘tea connoisseur’.
As for my actual writing, although I write books for children, I don’t shy away from deeper ideas and themes that are usually reserved for adults. There were a few things that cropped up from my beta readers – concepts such as mindfulness, and deep loss – that were pointed out as aspects that children might not understand. There’s also a lot of big words in there (e.g. luscious, delectable, scrumptious… apparently I talk about food a lot!) but I see it as a teaching point for children.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing or drawing?
As you well know, being a writer involves a lot more than writing! I enjoy most of the other aspects of my writing life, and most of my day is doing something towards my writing career.
Outside of that completely, I play ukulele & guitar, love hiking (though I haven’t been for a while) and enjoy my teaching day job. Obviously, I enjoy reading, and a typical Saturday night is takeouts and watching some sort of Sci-Fi series with my partner.

What do you enjoy more, writing or drawing?
Yeah, no fair. Can I pass?
I enjoy them both equally, for different reasons. I find it easier to express emotion and self through my painting. I am also more practiced at painting, and therefore more confident. This makes my work more freeing.
Writing is more of a challenge, but one that I am thoroughly enjoying. I feel like I’ve had to play catch-up with you guys who have spent years knowing you wanted to write and actually doing so. I’ve devoured books and podcasts and blogs to get to a place where I can write with some confidence. One thing I enjoy more about writing is that it is more easily shared, and lends itself to a wider audience.

How did you come up with the titles of your books?
 ‘The Caretaker of Imagination’ is who the story is all about – he’s the man of mystery, and it simply made sense to title the book in this way.
For my wordless book, I did consider calling it ‘The Star Maker’ for this same reason, but I went with ‘What Stars Are Made Of’ because the story is not about the man who makes them, but about the fact that it is our darkness that helps us shine.

What inspired What Stars Are Made of?

The story was inspired by Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’ and the theme was inspired by my own journey to self-acceptance. I have spent a lot of time over the course of my life wallowing in lowness and self-pity, and I am sure that without the experience of depression, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.

I hope that this can help other people realise the beauty in themselves.
Briefly tell us what your upcoming book, The Caretaker of Imagination is about.
 It’s a chapter book about a grown-up who realises his life is boring, so runs away (with his cat in tow) in search of adventure. He discovers a real, magical world and is challenged to become magic’s hero.


How would your best friend describe you?
Wise, pretty and intelligent. I don’t claim to agree with her.

What are your favorite books for a child?
Anything by Roald Dahl, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Tolkein’s ‘The Hobbit’. Also Dr Seuss, but we all know his books aren’t really for children!
What is the most shocking thing one of your students ever said/done in your classroom?
Well, the most shocking thing is something that should not be repeated. Ever.
The most personally insulting was having a child seriously not believe that I was under forty. I was twenty-four at the time. Thanks mate.


Oddball Questions

What songs best describes your work ethic?
I’ve come to realise the importance of self-belief. It is only when I believe that I am and will continue to be successful (in my own way) that I get anywhere with my writing and illustration. On that premise, it’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from Disney’s ‘The Lion King’.

What do you think about when you are alone in your car?
I think the better question would be ‘what don’t you think about when you are alone in the car?’ (the answer would be ‘nothing’).
Here’s a list of the most popular thought-patterns:
• Hmmm, what can I make for dinner?
• It’s not that hard to use your indicator!
• Story ideas (I wrote the first chapter of The Caretaker in my head while on the way to work, then got there and had to write it all down before I forgot it!).
• Discussing whatever’s on my mind with the imaginary person next to me.
• I wonder if I’ve got time to stop at a café for a bit?
• Do I need to fill up petrol? Nahh…. It’ll last.
• My current WiP (in this case, nutting out ‘Lucy’s Story’ and thinking of funny things animals could be doing for my illustration job).
• Are we out of milk / eggs / bread? Oops, passed the supermarket. Too late now.



Connect with Zee on Facebook, Twitter, website, or on Instagram.

Z.R. Southcombe-Vashti Quiroz-Vega-blog-author-interview


Hell’s Half Acre

11 Oct

Hell's Half Acre - Wyoming

Hello! I had said in my last post that for the rest of the month of October my posts will be of the spooky variety. I believe I am definitely delivering on that today. The following story is based on true facts as witnessed by a friend of mine that prefers to remain anonymous. Now I have to warn you, this true story is not for the faint of heart. My friend claims this story is true and since the incident occurred he and his friends had not spoken of it…until now.





Here is his story…

Between the scraggly Florida bushes and the misting rain, Kit could barely make out the two small tire tracks where the remains of a road used to be. She was sitting in the backseat of the pickup truck, behind the guy she was trying so hard to be brave for and his best friend beside him. She chose the backseat because she felt that if she were behind him, he wouldn’t let anything get her. Kit’s best friend was sitting beside her as the four of them slowly made their way down the winding path, farther and farther into the woods.
In a voice as brave as she could muster, trying to hide the trembling from the shivers running up and down her spine, she said, “Why do they call this place Hell’s Half Acre?”

creepy woods

Johnny looked at her in the rearview mirror. The lights from the dashboard reflected ever so elegantly in her already bright green baby doll eyes. He could see she had her light brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, exposing the soft curves of her face.
With a smile he replied, “The story goes that in the 1930’s, a schoolteacher took her class out to the old sawmill on a field trip. That sawmill is where her husband had worked. One day while she was teaching at school, he disappeared, along with their three children. She didn’t know what had happened to them, and the unknowing was said to have driven her insane. That day at the mill, she killed all the children in her class before committing suicide. They say sometimes at night, you can still hear the old mill running, even though it was completely abandoned in the 60’s. There hasn’t been any power out here since it closed. They also say she has been seen walking down the road at night in a white dress stained with the blood of the children she murdered.”

Old, abandoned haunted Mill

Old, abandoned haunted Mill

Even though Kit usually found Johnny’s voice soft and soothing, the longer he talked, the more his words swept through her like a cold winter wind, chilling her to the bone. She had been raised in a church that believed in heaven and hell, demons and angels. Maybe that was one of the reasons she decided to come out here tonight—to see if everything she had been taught was true. Maybe she could bring some reality to match the faith she was told was so necessary.
Now Johnny was talking with Cody. Kit couldn’t really hear what they were saying, nor did she care. She focused on the schoolteacher’s story and on the old Live Oak trees that reached out above the grass-covered road as though they were trying to suck all the light out of the world.

Old live oak trees
“Kit, you gonna make it girl?” Shelley was leaning across the seat looking at her.
Her real name was Kathleen, but her friends called her Kit, short for Kit Kat. She turned from the window and looked at Shelley, who was such a great friend. When Kit first moved to town, Shelley was the first person she met, and for some reason, they just clicked.
“Yeah, I’m good.” That was the best lie she could come up with at the moment.
As the last of the light faded from the day, the rain started to fall more vigorously. Lightning lit up the sky, which only made the Live Oaks’ reaching arms seem that much creepier.
Johnny looked back over his shoulder. “Around this next corner, there should be a sign that says ‘Entering Hell’s Half Acre.’ Help me look for it, alright? They say not to drive your truck past the sign. Said it pisses the woman off!”
As they rounded the corner, Cody hollered. Johnny, who was still looking over his shoulder, spun back around and hit the brakes all in one motion. With no warning, the engine died. Without its constant hum, there was nothing to hide the thumping of Kit’s heart.

A loud clap of thunder shook the truck. The four friends stared out the front windshield. Kit’s fingers gripped the door handle of the truck so hard, she could no longer feel her fingers. At the right front quarter panel of the truck, covered in small green and brown vines, was the old sign: ‘Entering Hell’s Half Acre’.
A woman stood in front of the truck, peering back at them through long, wet, pitch-black hair and with eyes red from the tears of blood she had been crying.

Ghost of crazy teacher that murdered the children

Ghost of crazy teacher that murdered the children

Another flash of lightning and a loud clap of thunder. Kit’s heart raced faster and faster. She was frozen. Everything in her wanted to scream, but her chest was so tight that she couldn’t even make herself breathe.

Kit staring at the unbelievable!

Kit staring at the unbelievable!

Underneath the wind-driven raindrops that crashed against the windows of the truck floated the whir of large saws starting up and the screams of horrified children. Kit could see Johnny desperately trying to restart the truck. The engine was dead!

The wind blew harder, as though this hell storm was solely concentrated on that one horrid half acre of the world forgotten by God. Another loud scream from a child—so much pain and fear in the sound that it penetrated Kit’s soul. For the first time in her life, she felt like she had been totally isolated from God. All she wanted to do was leave, but fear ripped through her body, leaving her paralyzed.

Terrified child
The next bolt of lightning was so bright that Kit was sure it hit the truck. For a moment she lost focus, like someone had just taken her picture with an oversized flash from a camera in a pitch-black room. The truck rocked back and forth as thunder bellowed its way through the four corners of hell.

Scary ghost
When the roar of thunder subsided, Kit’s eyes focused once again beyond the windshield—but the woman was gone. Soft raindrops tapping on the window and the comforting purr of the engine were the only noises she could hear.
Johnny instinctively slammed the truck in reverse. As they made their way back down that long, dark, empty road from the place nobody should ever go, not one of them spoke a word. The absolute truth of the children’s cries on the wind and the woman, cold as the grave, standing in the road just past the sign were evidence enough for Kit that if there was a devil that could hold such a place on this Earth, then there must be a God to protect us from him.

What the four of them had seen and heard was never spoken of that night — or any other time since. But if you ever find yourself in need of evidence of what lies beyond, there is a small grass road out in the country that will take you under the old Live Oak trees to the end of the vision of God, and you will find what is truly unholy….



5 Apr

Verbal Abuse


Hello! If you’re like me you can’t tolerate any kind of abuse. Verbal abuse is a serious type of abuse. Yet, I feel it is the most tolerated and less reported. Why? Maybe because verbal abuse does not leave marks on your body like physical or sexual abuse. But don’t be fooled by the lack of physical evidence. Verbal abuse is just as damaging and could lead to death––even if it is by the victim’s own hand. Choose your words carefully. Especially when talking to a child. 




by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.





What would you do if you witnessed a child being verbally abused? What would you do if you saw a child being physically abused? Would you intervene? Call the police?