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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Author Beth Woodward: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel + giveaway

Felt Up by a Dead Prostitute: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel 

One of the more common questions I get as a writer of fantasy and paranormal is, “Do you actually believe in this stuff?” I consider myself a hopeful skeptic. I don’t really believe, but I’m willing to be convinced. After all, nothing really strange had ever happened to me…

That is until I got felt up by a dead prostitute two nights before my wedding.

My husband and I got married outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, several hundred miles from our Washington, DC, home. When we were visiting our wedding venue months earlier, we’d gone on a ghost tour of Greensboro, and we learned about the Biltmore Hotel—the most haunted hotel in Greensboro.

There are, according to our ghost tour, two well-known resident ghosts at the Biltmore Hotel. One is an accountant named Phillip who was strangled to death with piano wire before being thrown out a window, and has an affinity for inappropriate behavior with the female guests. (Even murder and death wasn’t enough to kill Phillip’s libido.) The other is a prostitute named Lydia who was thrown down the stairs by a drunken customer.

Upon hearing this, my future husband immediately turned to me and said, “We have to stay there next time we’re here.”

Yeah. Because staying in a poltergeisted hotel is exactly what you want to do two days before your wedding.

But stay there we did. I put my foot down at Pervy Phillip. So we ended up in room 223—Lydia’s room.

When we checked in, the clerk looked at us through her owlish glasses. “Oh, you’re staying in Lydia’s room. Well, there’s a few things you need to know first.”

Among these tidbits:
· Always speak nicely to and about Lydia. Apparently, being nice to Lydia is the difference between whether your experience is more Casper or Poltergeist.

· She really likes pink things, and she’s been known to move or steal pink items belonging to guests. But never fear, she said—the hotel has painted the entire room pink, which seems to have assuaged her pink-o-philia. (The only pink item I had on me were my glasses. Since I am effectively blind without glasses or contact lenses, I really hoped Lydia would choose not to steal them.)

· The door to room 223 is the only door in the hotel that won’t stay open. But if we ask nicely, Lydia will keep the door open for you. (The door, in fact, would not stay open. Sadly, we did not test whether asking Lydia for assistance would change that. I think we both would have felt a little ridiculous if we’d tried. Unless it had worked…)

· Housekeeping staff often finds long, red hair in the sink and tub—even when no one has been staying in the room. (Since I was, in fact, a long-haired redhead, I assured her that if hair was found the next morning, it was much more likely to belong to me than any noncorporeal entity. She looked skeptical.)

· Oh, and don’t worry too much if you hear loud thumping noises coming from outside the room. Poor Lydia met her demise on the staircase right outside the room, so sometimes you’ll hear the echoes of it at night. (Grrrreeeeat.)

With all that in mind, my soon-to-be husband and I went to our room. The scariest part of the journey, much to my fiancé’s disappointment, was the elevator ride to the second floor. The Biltmore Hotel added one of the very first unmanned electric elevators in Greensboro in 1920. I’m fairly certain that it was the very same elevator we rode to the 2nd floor that night in 2016. It was old, it was rickety, and it was terrifying. It was one of those old cage elevators, which I had never seen in real life before, but it looked something like this:

But thankfully, my fiancé and I made to our (very pink, possibly haunted) room unscathed. It had been a long day, so we quickly retreated to bed—without saying goodnight to Lydia.

I had drifted into that liminal state between sleep and wakefulness when I felt something on my shoulder.

Tap, tap, tap…

Being the intrepid ghost hunter that I was, my mind immediately drifted to the obvious solution: that my fiancé had grown amorous and wanted a little pre-wedding quickie. But one glance over my shoulder verified that my fiancé was fast asleep. So I chalked it up to an overactive imagination, and closed my eyes again.

Tap, tap, tap…

This time, I couldn’t open my eyes. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t pull myself back to full wakefulness, and my mind remained foggy and sleep-drunk. And then it—whatever it was—became more insistent.

Shake, shake, shake…

If I just moved, just turned on the light, I knew the phantasm would go away. But in that not-quite-dreaming place, my limbs felt like they were covered in quicksand.

Shake shakeshake shakeshakeshake…

And then somewhere, somehow, my brain kicked in. Be nice to Lydia, and she’ll be nice to you, the clerk had said. So I took a breath and said, “Lydia, would you please stop? I have to go to my wedding rehearsal tomorrow, and I need to sleep.”

And it stopped.

And then I took another breath. “Also, please don’t steal my glasses.”

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, and the day clerk asked if we had “experienced” anything in Lydia’s room the night before. My fiancé piped up immediately, “No, nothing at all. It’s too bad.” But the clerk slid his eyes to me, as if knowing my answer might be different. “I might have been dreaming, but…” and I told him everything. I don’t know what I experienced that night, but one thing was clear: every employee at the Biltmore Hotel believes the place is haunted.

Fast forward. My fiancé and I had the wedding of our dreams, with no poltergeists to be found, and our honeymoon hotel rooms seemed thankfully un-haunted.

My glasses remained, thankfully, unmolested.

Embracing the Demon (Dale Highland Book 2)
by Beth Woodward
June 19, 2018
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: California Coldblood Books
ISBN: 978-1945572845
Number of pages: 360
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Leonard Philbrick
Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon…but now she may be the only one who can save them all…

Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon, never wanted to go back to the supernatural world, but now she has no choice.

A militant anti-supernatural group called the Zeta Coalition is trying to kill Dale, and a mysterious illness ravages angels and demons throughout the world. As the death toll rises, and the Zetas get closer and closer to Dale, she starts to realize the two things are connected.

To save them all, Dale will have to team up with John Goodwin, the man she once loved. The man who destroyed her.

But by the time Dale and John figure out the Zetas’ real intentions, it may be too late…

He wore a gray suit with a dark shirt and a blue tie that fit him so perfectly I knew it must have been custom made for him. His dark blond hair had been combed and gelled into submission. Normally, it stood up in random spikes around his head—not as a stylistic choice, but because he had the tendency to run his fingers through it nervously until it went in about 14 different directions.

Until that moment, I hadn’t been convinced he’d survived the fall off the roof of Amara’s estate. Every night in my dreams, I stared at his broken body, tears running down my face. I wasn’t sure why I cried: because I had killed him, or because he had destroyed me.

But here was John, very much alive, looking like the fantasy of some billionaire boss about to have hot monkey sex with his secretary on the desk. He didn’t look like the John I remembered, who’d spent most of our time together wearing blood-covered t-shirts. Which one was the real John, I wondered, the suave businessman or the urban warrior? And then I noticed the pin on his lapel: a flaming angel that matched the ones on the others’ pendants. John had declared his allegiance, and it wasn’t to me.

“My apologies for the mess,” he said. “Ephraim, Leah, please clean that up. Make sure you dispose of the body well. I don’t want him coming back to haunt us one of these days.” A man and a woman jumped out of their seats and scooped up the body, leaving just a puddle of blood behind. Guess they’d be getting that later.

John turned to the rest of the group. “Let’s not forget why we’re here. This illness is already devastating our community, and it’s getting worse. The Zeta Coalition created it with the intent of wiping out supernaturals—angels and demons. And if we can’t cooperate, they will succeed.”

“She’s the daughter of our worst enemy!” someone shouted.

“Amara is dead. And Dale is not Amara.” He paused. “Covington is right. We need more information if we’re going to survive this, and Dale is our best hope of gaining access to their records containment facility.”

“What about taking an army and storming the compound, like we talked about a few weeks ago?” someone asked.

To my surprise, it was Tina who answered. “The compound is too heavily fortified, and its underground architecture would make it difficult to strong-arm. We’ve run the scenario many times, accounting for the different variables. The most likely outcome is that we’d end up trapped down there while the Zetas pick us off.”

“There must be another way,” a woman said.

“Maybe, but this is the best way,” John replied. “We all know Dale can do things that no one else can. Her return may have been a coincidence, but we should use that to our advantage.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet,” I managed to get out through gritted teeth.

About the Author:
Beth Woodward has always had a love for the dark, the mysterious, and all things macabre. She blames her mother for this one: while other kids were watching cartoons, Beth and her mother were watching Unsolved Mysteries together every week. She was doomed from the beginning. At 12, she discovered the wonders of science fiction and fantasy when she read A Wrinkle in Time, which remains the most influential book of her life. Growing up, she was Meg Murray with a dash of Oscar the Grouch. She’s been writing fiction since she was six years old; as a cantankerous kid whose family moved often, the fictional characters she created became her friends. As an adult, she’s slightly more well adjusted, but she still withdraws into her head more often than is probably healthy.

When she’s not writing, Beth volunteers at her local animal shelter, attends as many sci-fi/fantasy conventions as she can, and travels as much as time and money will allow. She lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and their three cats.

Tour Giveaway 
3 copies of The Demon Within (the first book in the Dale Highland series), available for US shipping only. 

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