Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: October 2014 Page 1 of 2

Happy Halloween! Here are some link treats.

Happy Halloween!

It’s finally here! I still need to clean up our front walk and string up a giant yarn spider web on the front porch before popping out to pick up some last minute ingredients for Matt’s Halloween menu. Then it’ll be time to slaughter some pumpkins and kick off our festivities. Here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween. Here are some links to help you while away the hours until sundown.

And before I forget, congratulations to the winners of our Midnight Snacks/Dead Ends giveaway, which officially closed for entries last night. It turns out everyone who entered is a winner! You’ll be receiving notification and your free books soon, so watch your e-mail!

Now for the links…

  • I’ve been working a ghost-blogging gig for the Libib book app blog for a couple of months now, and my last several posts there have been Halloween-themed, including some last-minute costume ideas for book nerds and some of the nation’s most haunted libraries. Check them out!
  • Lex Wahl’s Anything Ghost podcast is always a special Halloween treat. He has a ton of real-life ghost stories and spooky encounters to share this year, so you’ll need to carve out a few hours to hear them all.
  • If you’re in more of a hurry to be scared, this short horror film, Lights Out, is completely terrifying and under three minutes.
  • Finally, this Horror Movie Kid Daycare video from College Humor is definitely worth a few minutes of your time (and an excellent antidote if the above video left you too petrified to get on with your day).

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WTkJHHF4B4]

It’s Halloween week and Nano prep week and there is so much to do.

This is a post to loosen the gears and prime the writing pump. I haven’t written anything since Thursday, unless you count blogging about the book giveaway contest (still going on, by the way, so be sure to enter!).

I did pretty well growing my word count on Ghost of a Chance last week, almost getting back up to where I was before throwing out most of what I’d written. But then Friday was busy and full of errands, which lead into a busy Saturday of cleaning house before my mom and aunt came for dinner, and by Sunday I was ready to veg and not much else.

This is shaping up to be a busy and short week, too. My freelancing load is light this week (…thankfully? Although this is certainly a trend that I hope is short-lived), but we’ve got a lot of errands to run, including taking our Chihuahua, Pete, back to the vet tomorrow to check his thyroid and liver enzyme levels. I also want to get as much housework and yard work squared away as possible before Nanowrimo begins on Saturday. So I probably won’t get a ton of writing done this week. My main goal is to do enough to keep it fresh in my mind so I can hit the ground running on Saturday. I’m actually feeling pretty good right now about the possibility of finishing the first draft of Ghost by the end of November.

And then there’s Halloween on Friday, which is an all-day celebration at our house, hence the short work week. Which as far as I’m concerned makes up for not getting to take Labor Day off like everybody else. We still need to pick out our pumpkins, stock up on seasonal ale (I think Matt’s planning some brand of pumpkin ale we haven’t yet tried, along with some Newcastle Werewolf Blood Red), decorate the front porch, and make sure we haven’t eaten so much of our candy stash that we still have enough for trick-or-treaters.

Oy. I’m already exhausted just from listing all of that. I guess I’d best get to it, then. What are your Halloween plans this year, dear readers? And if you’re doing Nanowrimo, what are you doing this week to get ready?

Halloween Horror Book Giveaway! Enter to Win TWO Spook-tastic Horror Collections!

Who’s up for some free books? I hope you are, because author Scott Roche and I have teamed up to give away not one, but TWO collections of frightening tales to not one, but THREE lucky winners for Halloween!

From Scott Roche, you’ll be getting the horror anthology Dead Ends, featuring Scott along with six other horror authors:

Dead Ends Horror AnthologyFor this anthology I’ve assembled seven bloody, stark horror stories by myself and six other talented writers of horror and suspense. A sinister power in “In The Deep Dark” by Justin R. Macumber is overtaking men at the bottom of a West Virginia coal mine. A golden liquid sur-rounds a boy’s treehouse in Edward Lorn’s “Morning Dew” and its taste for human flesh is standing between the boys and safety. Reggie in Scott Roche’s “Power in the Blood” discovers that his thirst for blood can give him strength, but may cost him his soul. Philip Carroll brings us a tale of “Getting Even” where the wealthy Mr. Hasbrook must pay for his sins of greed and murder. Paul E. Cooley’s “Breakers” remove the broken ‘cogs’ from society’s machinery as ruth-lessly as possible. In J.R. Murdock’s “Breakup”, Ruby wants to leave her boyfriend Victor, but he wants eternity or nothing. Finally, Jake Bible reminds us in “Blister” that going to the doctor early is a good idea, particularly if your affliction makes you a happy little psychopath.

And if you missed out on getting my horror collection Midnight Snacks for only .99 cents during last week’s sale, now’s your chance to win a free copy!

Midnight Snacks by Jean Marie BauhausFrom the author of Dominion of the Damned and Restless Spirits come four bite-sized tales of terror. Jean Marie Bauhaus spins a mesmerizing and haunting world in which monsters roam the post-apocalyptic streets of New York, scavenging for their next meal, vengeance finds room for compassion in surprising places, and even the vending machine down the hall begins acting shifty.
Also features the novelette Eucha Falls, a spellbinding tale of Lovecraftian horror. It’s been a year since Melanie Fisher’s little brother Scottie disappeared without a trace, and investigators are no closer to learning what happened to him. Determined to get answers, Melanie and her boyfriend, Shane Campbell, journey to the site where Scottie’s car was found abandoned and burned — a strip of gravel road leading to the long abandoned theme park once known as Eucha Falls.
Melanie and Shane’s explorations lead them to a lost video camera. What they find on the camera is shocking evidence that not only was Scottie there, but that he had succumbed to some sort of inexplicable madness. As Melanie and Shane dig deeper, they find that the madness is catching. But is it really madness, or evidence of something much more real, and much more sinister than they ever could have imagined?

To enter, just leave a comment on this post to grab two entries and unlock opportunities for NINE MORE entries on the Rafflecopter widget below! Thanks for spreading the word and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How the Satanic Panic Almost Ruined Halloween

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Junie_HarperOne of our favorite things to watch this time of year is the “Hilloween” episode of King of the Hill. In this episode, traditional Halloween-related activities come under assault from hyper-conservative religious (and litigious) types who assert that Halloween is a satanic holiday. Soon, satanic panic pervades the whole town and Halloween is called off and trick-or-treating is banned. Children are instead sent to the “Hallelujah House,” where they’re allowed to wear costumes as long as they’re “Christian” in nature and are subjected to a spook house display of real-life “horrors” like teen pregnancy before being thoroughly evangelized.

Refusing to bow down to the hysteria, Hank Hill and friends protest by marching through town in their Halloween costumes, violating the trick-or-treat ban and the citywide curfew and in the process reminding everybody what Halloween’s really all about in our culture: candy and good, clean, innocent fun. Pretty soon, the whole town is marching with them, and they march right up to the Hallelujah House to collect their children and give them a proper Halloween.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that one of the things I appreciate about this episode is that it’s not presented as “those crazy Christians” vs. more level-headed non-believers. Anyone who watched this show with any regularity would know that Hank Hill and company are church-going Methodists with a love of God, Country and Texas. So it’s more like ONE overzealous Christian against a whole town of Christians who are usually more level-headed but nevertheless get caught up in the hysteria.

Anyone born after, say, 1985 might watch this episode and find it funny because it seems so absurd and over the top. But to anyone who grew up in the Bible Belt and lived through the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, it’s funny because it’s true.

Halloween took a weird, dark turn during the ‘80s. When I was a little kid during most of the ‘70s and the very early ‘80s, Halloween was one of the best times of the year. My neighborhood at the time was a true community, with a volunteer fire house that acted as a meeting place and a Ladies’ Auxiliary that organized neighborhood events. One of those events was an annual Halloween party at the firehouse. They set up a spook house for the older kids, and had costume contests and candy for the younger kids. Once it was over, everybody went trick-or-treating through the neighborhood. It was safe, and fun, and nobody gave a single thought to Satan.

Then one year my mom decided we weren’t putting up any Halloween decorations. Why? Because Satan. By this point, the county had installed a government-run fire department a few miles from our neighborhood, and the volunteer firehouse had been shut down and the Ladies’ Auxiliary disbanded, so the yearly parties were already a thing of the past. But trick-or-treating was still a big deal, so thankfully our mom backed down from forbidding us to dress up or trick-or-treat. She was one of the only mom’s who did, though. I had a hard time finding friends to go out with me on Halloween night that year because they were all being taken to “Hallelujah parties” at their churches.

This went on for a number of years. My mom continued to forbid us to put out Halloween decorations, although she still let us dress up and have our fun. I sat through a lot of sermons and lectures from youth group pastors about the evil origins of Halloween. At some point, nights out trick-or-treating started to end with a trip to the emergency room to get our candy x-rayed to make sure it didn’t contain needles or razor blades. Giving out baked goods or anything unwrapped or homemade became verboten because they might be laced with poison. We made sure to keep our black lab put up because Satanists apparently loved to sacrifice animals with black fur. Walking around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat became deemed unsafe because we were all targets for satanic kidnappers, so we started seeing station-wagons and minivans full of kids being shuttled from house to house.

 

http://img.youtube.com/vi/Ce_rXR3tdqQ/0.jpg

Somehow, this…

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches%27_Sabbath_-_WGA10007.jpg

… was supposed to be a gateway to this. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Through it all, I remained stubborn like Hank Hill. I refused to stop trick-or-treating or dressing up. For me, Halloween was about dress-up and make-believe and fun, safe scares and getting a sugar high. I failed to see how any of that glorified Satan. I still do.

I’m happy to see that, for the most part, all of the fear around Halloween has abated, and the holiday is a lot more like what it was when I was a kid. I still hear grumblings from time to time about Satan and Druids and pagan origins — but I also hear that stuff about modern Christmas and Easter traditions — and one local mega-church has a big-budget version of Junie Harper’s Hallelujah House that draws a big crowd every year.

But overall, it seems like everyone’s relaxed, and Halloween is more popular than ever. I drive around town and see churches advertising pumpkin patches and trunk-or-treat events. Walking through my neighborhood, I see plenty of houses and yards that have been spookified for the occasion. Even my mom has her grandkids and great-grandkids out for hot dogs and trick-or-treating every year.

Matt and I have our own Halloween traditions, which involve carving pumpkins, munching on popcorn and candy and watching John Carpenter movies in between handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. And you can bet our house is covered in Halloween decorations (although we still need to do something with the front porch).

What about you guys? Is Halloween one of your favorite holidays, or do you have reservations about it? Are you old enough to remember the Satanic Panic, and did it ruin your Halloweens, too? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

And if you haven’t seen it, try to spare 25 minutes or so to watch “Hilloween.” You’ll be glad you did.

 

Book sale aftermath and killing a significant number of darlings for the greater good.

So the big October sale is over and everything is back to regular price. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it still gave me a boost in sales, and I gave away a respectable number of books that will hopefully translate to some loyal readers down the road.

One thing I learned is that putting everything on sale to coincide with my book launch was not a good idea. It drew attention away from the new book, which is the opposite of what you want to happen during a book launch week. So… won’t be doing that again.

As for my new WIP, Ghost of a Chance, this morning I trashed all but the first two scenes. The scenes I deleted were meandering all over the place, so I’m going to chalk that up as a discovery draft and example of why I’m not a good pantser. Now I’ve got a partial outline and a better idea of where I’m going and what needs to happen to get there.

If this were NaNoWriMo, I’d have just made some notes about what needed to happen and kept going from there as if I’d already written it that way, and waited until I finished the draft to go back and redo the beginning. But since I’m not (yet) racing to meet a crazy word quota by a certain deadline, going back and writing the correct scenes seemed more likely make the rest of the story flow better.

I will be attempting Nano this year, albeit I’ll be cheating by working on this WIP. I’m going to do my ever-lovin’ best to finish the first draft by the end of November, but a lot depends on my freelancing schedule and workload, so it’s hard to say how that will go. I wanted to try something new in an effort to carve more time out of my schedule for working on the draft. My plan was to keep the little laptop I write on by my bed, and read over what I wrote that day before I turn out my light, and then make myself wake up and start writing in bed when my husband gets up in the morning. But then this morning, which was supposed to be day one of this new endeavor, he woke up WAY too dang early, and I fell back to sleep before I could even remember that I was supposed to write. Then when he came in and woke me up it was time for us to do our morning Bible study together. So… maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow morning.

Nanowrimo participant 2014

If you’re planning to do Nano this year, Kristen Lamb’s blog has several excellent posts on how to do well in that challenge. This post in particular is a must-read for anyone taking on creative endeavors in general.

And now I’m going to join my husband in an off-schedule weeknight cheat night, because the weekend was too short and we have way to much pumpkin and Halloween-related goodies and entertainment options that need to be consumed, and we were both really craving some pumpkin ale (as I write this I’m sipping on a positively delightful Red Hook pumpkin porter). I’m sure I’m going to regret this tomorrow.

Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? Are you playing by the rules or are you going to be a rebel? Let’s talk about your Nano plans in the comments!

Oh! And if you’d like to read occasional excerpts from the WIP, I’ll be posting them on Ello. Be sure to friend me if you’re there already. If not, I’ve got two invitations and nobody to give them to, so holler in the comments if you’d like one.

Annual October Supersale! Now through this Sunday — All titles 99 cents or FREE!

october-sale-square-bannerIt’s on! From now through Sunday, ALL books by yours truly are discounted in the Kindle store in ALL global marketplaces. All titles that are regularly $2.99 or up are discounted to .99 cents/pence in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia (and also significantly reduced in non-English-speaking markets as well) — this includes Restless Spirits, Dominion of the Damned, and my brand new release, Midnight Snacks!

As for my shorter works? Those are all FREE! So grab ’em while they’re hot! And don’t forget to tell your friends!

On coping with fear. And zombies.

I was planning to write something this week about clowns and why they’re so dang disturbing; but the truth is, I’m too distracted by real-life horrors this week to be much into the fun kind.

Yesterday, Matt and I learned of the passing of a Facebook friend, who was killed in a motor scooter accident. Apart from making us both really sad, it’s also made me hyper-aware of my own mortality and how there are no guarantees that we’ll reach old age. This is coming at a time when I’ve already been managing a certain amount of anxiety about the state of the world, which seems to be getting scarier by the minute.

The thing about living in Oklahoma is that all of the scariest threats seem far away. We’ve always felt insulated by virtue of the fact that we’re well inland and we’re a state that not many people outside of Oklahoma care about or even give much thought to. Of course, we have tornadoes, and those are scary, but that type of weather doesn’t occur here all year long. Tulsa has its fair share of violent crime, but we take reasonable precautions to help ensure that we won’t become victims. But when we watch things like terrorism and deadly epidemics on the news, we feel horrible for the people who are living with it, but also thankful that it’s all so far away an not part of our daily lives.

Except that these things have started to encroach on our own back yard. Recently, down in Moore, only about two hours away, a woman was beheaded by a recent convert to Islam. And now Ebola is starting to make the rounds down in Dallas, only a six-hour drive from here. And a 30-minute flight, which seems much more significant in light of the fact that the second nurse who’s been diagnosed with Ebola took a flight from Cleveland back to Dallas the day before she began showing symptoms. Dallas is a hub through which at least half of the flights from the Tulsa International Airport pass through, so there’s a high probability that there were people bound for Tulsa on that plane with her.

I’m not trying to scare-monger. My point is that these are anxiety-inducing times we live in, especially if you have an over-active imagination, as most writers tend to have. It’s important to have a way to deal with that anxiety and channel it in a healthy direction instead of becoming paralyzed with fear. One way I deal with it is to turn my focus to make-believe horrors. It’s much more fun to think about how I’d survive a zombie uprising than to think about how to avoid catching scary contagious diseases that make you bleed out of your face-holes.

Zombie plan

(via Infocult)

Of course, as a person of faith, the primary way I deal is to give it all to God. After confessing my fears and meditating on the promises of scripture, my anxiety invariably gives way to peace. But it’s easy to forget to do that, and to get wrapped up in the moment and fixated on what I could be doing to mitigate perceived threats. It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in these moments. Ultimately, though, I trust that my life and the lives of those I love are in God’s hands, and that I don’t need to be afraid.

What about you, dear reader? What’s pushing your anxiety buttons lately? How do you manage anxiety and fear? Do you have a zombie plan? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Updates: On the book launch, the new WIP, the new diet, and new TV

I’m working backwards today. I had a light freelancing load today (though it’ll get heavier as the week goes on), so I knocked that stuff out first, and I’ll get my word count in after I’m done blogging.

Actually, the first thing I did was make a new Amazon listing for Midnight Snacks. Apparently I missed the deadline to get my final ebook file uploaded by a few hours, so they cancelled the pre-order listing and took the book down. It’s back up now, at a different URL, and available to purchase outright instead of pre-order, but it doesn’t officially launch until Wednesday, when the price will drop to .99 cents. But if you just can’t wait, you’re welcome to go grab your Kindle copy now.

I’ve settled on a tentative title for the Restless Spirits sequel: Ghost of a Chance. Or GoaC when I’m feeling too lazy to type that out. I’m hoping to make it to at least 10K words this week, although that might be a bit overambitious considering I’m looking at a full workload and a book launch this week. At any rate, you can read a rough excerpt here.

In PCOS-diet news, I’m at the start of Week 3 and still feeling great, despite cheating over the weekend (we had pizza and beer and Chex mix and Halloween candy. I may have also had a few slices of pumpkin bread and some ice cream). I could definitely feel the after-effects of all that gluten and dairy in my system yesterday, but today I’m back to feeling energetic and clear-headed. It’s pretty awesome.

In TV news, I’m caught up on everything from last week. I have not yet watched last night’s Once Upon a Time, Walking Dead or Downton Abbey. Avoiding Walking Dead spoilers is already proving to be a challenge, so hopefully I’ll be able to get that watched tonight.

Some quick thoughts…

I’m a bit miffed that Doctor Who has finally managed to make Clara so likeable and relatable just as it’s becoming clear that she’s about done. I’m still working out my feelings for Twelve, though. At this point I think I want to like him more than I actually do, although there are moments when I love him. I guess that’s pretty close to how Clara’s feeling.

I’m not sure I care if Dean Winchester is kind of evil if he can keep singing karaoke and being besties with Crowley. If “saving” him will put an end to all of that, I don’t think I want him to be saved. Also, I am so beyond caring anymore about angel politics, but I guess they have to give Castiel something to do.

Dean Winchester Karaoke

More of this, please. (Image via Pinterest)

Matt and I were talking the other day about Sleepy Hollow and how likeable that show is, and how it would be even more likeable if it realized it’s a character-driven show and not a plot-driven show. The crack-addled supernatural plots are fun and make for some neat visuals, but really, I’d watch this show if it’s just an hour of Ichabod throwing snit fits about the decline of Western culture and Abby trying to get him to wear skinny jeans. I wish they’d look to the Whedonverse — especially Buffy — for cues on how to put the main focus on characters and relationships while still having entertaining monster plots to drive the action.

Oh! Speaking of Buffy, another thing I’ve been doing on the weekends while I work on crafty things is listening to Dusted, a new BtVS podcast by Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens. They’re going through and recapping and analyzing each episode, beginning with the original movie, and it’s terrific. They’re only up to “Teacher’s Pet” so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up. It’s making me so nostalgic. I’m going to have to make time for a complete Buffy rewatch sometime in the near future.

And that’s it for me. It’s a lovely, rainy fall day, perfect for writing about haunted houses, so I’m going to go make some tea and get cracking on that word count goal. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about what you’re watching in the comments. Just remember if you spoil me on Walking Dead I’m going to have to send Liam Neeson over there.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve been watching a lot of Ghost Adventures-type shows lately, partly for novel research and inspiration, but also because I just get a hankering for that sort of thing around this time of year. But I always have to stop watching them at some point because they tend to give me nightmares. I don’t really mind bad dreams that much; they often turn out to be great story fodder. But my husband definitely seems to mind my tendency to scream and shout in my sleep when I’m dreaming that something is out to get me, so for his sake, I stop watching.

The fact that I write about ghosts and the paranormal inevitably means that from time to time I get asked what I actually believe about this stuff. Since it’s Halloween (Halloween being a month-long event at my house), it seems like a good time to answer that question on the record.

PCOS diet update, Halloween craft explosion, TV ramblings & other blather

After a full week on the new PCOS-friendly diet (no gluten, no dairy, mostly low-glycemic carbs), I can report that all week long I was more energetic and more clear-headed. I was also less moody (which, considering it was a PMS week, is really saying a lot), and by the end of the week I was sleeping better. I haven’t yet noticed any lessening of my external PCOS symptoms, but I figure that will probably take considerably more time than just a week. But if I can just keep all this energy and eliminate the brain fog for good, then that will make it all worth it.

I didn’t stick to it as diligently over the weekend. On Saturday Matt made bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers with cream cheese filling (a little overpoweringly spicy, but SO delicious), and then on Sunday he made brats, which I suppose I could have enjoyed sans hot dog buns, but I chose not to. And then since I was already in for a penny, I had ice cream. Oh, and that morning I had pumpkin spice bread for breakfast. Mmm. But I’m back on track today, and finding that the weekend indulgences didn’t derail me from feeling good like I worried they would.

I finally got out all of the Halloween decorations over the weekend, and got crafty and made a few additional items. You can see how all that turned out:

Halloween decorations 2014

For closeups, take a gander at my Instagram feed.

While I got my crochet on, I also caught up on all my shows, including Once Upon a Time, which was better than I expected. I appreciate that they’re basically telling a sequel to Frozen with those characters and not re-hashing the movie (which I still haven’t seen), and also that they haven’t completely derailed Regina’s pseudo-redemption arc. Although that show can’t do a decent redemption arc to save its life, so my expectation bar is set pretty low.

As for Castle, they’re just being mean, although I do like that they’re trying something new with (what I’m assuming will be) a season-long mystery to solve (and now watch them have it all tied up by the end of the second ep. Which I won’t see till next weekend, so don’t spoil me if you watch it tonight).

I didn’t get any writing done over the weekend, but I did meet my word count this morning, bringing the total on the untitled Restless Spirits sequel to 3,885.

I’ve (so far) got a fairly light week ahead of me as far as my freelance workload goes, so that should work out to give me the time I need to do the final edits on Midnight Snacks and get it ready for next week’s launch (you can pre-order it now for your Kindle, if you’re so inclined). I’m also hoping to get an official website up for my editing and self-publishing services.

So that’s how my week (and weekend) went. What about you? Did you watch anything that made you want to scream, or squee? Has Halloween exploded all over your house? How did you spend your weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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