Friday Links: Weeping Women, Horror-Writing Robots, and Ghostly Novels

I had wanted to write an actual blog post for the back half of this week, but it turns out that after a week of writing and pitching freelance articles, I just don’t have the brain power for anything too thinky. Normally when that happens I would just update you on how the book is coming along, but refer to the previous sentence re: freelance articles, which meant that not a lot of novel writing got done this week.

But I don’t want to leave y’all totally bereft of content (because, as we all know, it falls entirely upon ME to entertain you. What on earth would you do with yourselves if I didn’t serve up content on the regular? Rest of the Internet, you say? What? Pffft!), I’m falling back on that good old standby, aka what blogs were invented for in the first place: the link post.

Like probably a lot of people, I first learned about La Llorona, the Mexican version of the Woman in White ghost legend, from Supernatural. Since this type of ghost features prominently in Bound Spirits, I’ve been brushing up on them. Here are 13 things to know about the legend of La Llorona.

I was going to do a thinky deep dive on Woman in White legends but then I thought why do that when I can just link you to the Wikipedia Page on White Lady ghosts?

Child ghosts are probably the only thing more ubiquitous than Women in White, which brings to mind the ongoing saga of Dear David. Is it real? The Ghost in My Machine examines the veracity of the latest unsettling turn of events.

Do you prefer your spooky stories to be firmly and unquestioningly fictional? Then let Shelley, the world’s first AI horror writer, spin you a story.

And if you missed the prequel chapter from Dominion of the Damned that I sent to my newsletter subscribers last weekend, you can head here to read it (and then head here to subscribe so you don’t miss that sort of thing again!).

This band fueled a lot of the writing of Kindred Spirits, and they’re continuing to help me power through Bound Spirits. I particularly love this album.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time on Goodreads, reviewing some of my recent favorites. Here’s what I thought of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, and here’s my review of Brimstone by Cherie Priest.

Currently reading: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

And finally, a list post wouldn’t be complete without a little self-promotion, so here’s a friendly reminder that my haunted amusement park novella Eucha Falls is still free. Here’s the Kindle link, but it’s also available just about everywhere ebooks are sold.


2016: A Year In Books

Happy New Year, book fans!

2016 was a pretty big year for me professionally, as I had my first book come out via traditional publishing and also wrote a sequel for it (which, as far a I know, should come out sometime later this year). But it was also a busy year for me as a reader. I read (or listened to) a whopping 46 books this year, not counting books I edited. That might not be a whopping big number to some avid readers, but it’s a pretty big number for me. So I thought I’d do a reading retrospective and look back at the best (and worst) of what I read in 2016. (If you’d like to see my entire 2016 reading list, here you go.)

All-Around Favorite of 2016: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train Riverhead Books I might be a bit biased because I just finished this recently and it’s still fresh. But this book is a pretty great example of gripping storytelling with a deeply flawed protagonist and interesting use of unreliable narrators. As a writer there’s a lot to learn from this novel. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m curious as to how well it stacks up.

(Runner up: Outlander – Diana Gabaldon)

Best Series: The Silo Series by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5) (Silo series) by Hugh H…I dipped my toe into a couple of other series this year, but this is the only complete series that I read. I had to. Each book was hard to put down and when I got to the end I couldn’t wait for the next entry (it also helped that I could read each one free thanks to Amazon Prime). This was a fun read that was full of thrills and surprising twists and turns while also having a lot to say about human nature. The good guys were believably flawed while the bad guys were believably human and sympathetic. This will most likely be a re-read some day.

(Runner up: The Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig, of which I’ve only read the first volume, Blackbirds.)

Best Delightful Surprise by an Author Previously Unknown To Me:  The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter

The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter…: I made it a goal this year to expand my horizons and take chances on authors I’d never heard of, and I’m glad I did, or I’d have missed this gem. Sadly, this book was published posthumously, so this is Jane Lotter’s one and only novel. But it’s a witty, grown-up chick lit with yet another struggling and deeply flawed heroine you can’t help but fall in love with and root for. Plus it’s a road trip story, and those are always fun.

(Runner up: The Smart One by Ellen Meister)

Best Book I Finally Read After Seeing the Movie Like a Million Times: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) Reprint Edition…: The movie (the Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet version) is wonderful. The book is even better. So it now sits as my third favorite JA novel, after Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion.

(Runner up: Emma. I think I might have actually liked Clueless better. 😉

Best Re-read: Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich

A Little Ray Of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich…: Lani is keyed into my sense of humor and I think she and I have pretty similar writing styles. This is my favorite of her novels and it pretty well epitomizes the type of fiction I most want to write: women’s fiction/romance that’s about so much more than the romance, is both humorous and poignant, with a strong and snarky heroine who has a lot of self-discovery and growing up to do.

(Runner up: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein, which I am not quite finished with as I write this.)

Best Stephen King Book: The Shining

 I only read two SK books this year (way, way down from last year when I read so much King I got a little burned out). The other was Four Past Midnight, which goes to the runner-up position by default. It was pretty uneven–it had a couple of stories I liked and the other two were just meh. But that’s also kind of how I felt about The Shining. You know how they say the book is always better than the movie? I’m not so sure that’s the case here, but then again, that’s kind of comparing apples and oranges. I think there are some things the book does better than the film, but what the film does better, it does way, WAY better. At any rate, I’m glad I read it, and the newly-written sequel, Doctor Sleep, is on my must-read list for the new year.

Best Horror Novel Not Written by Stephen King: The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

The Family Plot: A Novel, This novel was actually a contender for all-around favorite until I thought up another category for it. I would describe it as a contemporary Southern Gothic ghost story. It’s creepy and atmospheric, with well-drawn characters, including a snarky, no-nonsense female protagonist that seems to be the sort of thing I go for these days. I think fans of Restless Spirits (or at least those who aren’t offended by some cussin’) will really dig this book.

(Runner up: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson)

Best YA: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson…: I’ve long been a follower of MoJo on Twitter and YouTube, and I kind of felt terrible that I’d never read any of her books (confession: I haven’t read any John Green either), so when I saw this book on sale I decided it was a perfect time to change that. I’m glad I did. It was a fun, quirky adventure with enough romance to almost make me wish I was 17 again. Almost.

(Runner up: Angelhood by A.J. Cattapan)

Best Adult Novel by a YA Author: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume…Y’all, Judy Blume is as genius at writing for grown-ups as she is for pre-teen girls. This pseudo-autobiographical novel is about a teenage girl who comes of age in the 1950s in a New Jersey suburb situated next to the Newark airport during a stretch of time when planes keep crashing all over the place. The actual crashes are gutting, even as they serve as a backdrop for the residents’ lives crashing down around them. I believe Ms. Blume has written one or two other novels for adult audiences and all I know is I’ve got to get me some of that in the new year.

Best Christian Non-fiction: Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving Worl…This was a tough call. I read quite a few entries in this category this year, and they all ministered to me on some level. But Ms. Freeman just gets me in a way I don’t encounter very often, and this book set the tone for my 2016, helping me slow down, shift my focus to what really matters, and stop wearing myself out trying to prove myself or earn my place in the world. It was a game changer for me.

(Runner up: A Million Little Ways, also by Emily Freeman.)

Best Secular Non-Fiction: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art o…: Okay, yeah, I got Konmari’d. And so did my closets. This book was another game changer. I haven’t yet gone through my whole house and de-cluttered, but it definitely changed my relationship to my stuff and set me in the direction of simplifying my life.

(Runner up: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain)

Best Book I Didn’t Finish: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I think life is too short to stick with a book that’s just not doing it for me. There were two books this year that I couldn’t bring myself to finish. One I actually kind of hated and I can’t even tell you the name of it because I’ve apparently blocked most of it from my memory. But Me Before You is probably a really good book for people who go for that sort of thing. I enjoyed the first third of it well enough, when I thought it was a chick lit, something of which it had all the trappings to lure me in. But then I cottoned to what this book is really about and said NOPE. According to my Facebook community, a lot of people feel the same way, and felt pretty betrayed by the turn the story takes. So, keeping in mind that I didn’t finish it but I did get spoiled to see if I’d guessed right about where it was headed, this is NOT a romance or a chick lit. Don’t let the marketing fool you into thinking it’s such.

Most Tedious Work of Classical Lit: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens…: Last Christmas I finally read A Christmas Carol for the first time and I loved it. Then I remembered that I had an unread copy of Great Expectations sitting on my shelf and hoped I’d be equally entertained. Reader, I was not. It had some good bits, but mostly Pip was just someone I continually wanted to punch in the face.

(Runner up: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, which could be vastly improved by a ruthless trimming of the flashback scenes.)

There you have it — my stand-out reads of 2016. This year I might get crazy and try to push myself to read an even 50; but then again, I have a LOT of writing to do this year, so that might not be too likely to happen.

What were your favorite and least-favorite reads of 2016, dear readers? And do you have any can’t-miss recommendations for what I should read this year? Tell us about it in the comments!

PS – Did you catch my new book trailer for Restless Spirits? Here it is for those who missed it!


Get Midnight Snacks FREE for Kindle!

midnight-snacks-coverMidnight Snacks, my collection of horror shorts, is FREE for the Kindle today through Sunday!

From 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.

Click here to grab your free copy for the Kindle!



Dominion of the Damned is on sale for the Kindle this week! Starting today, Cyber Monday, you can get it for only 99 cents! This is a Countdown Sale, which means in three days it will go up to $2.99 and stay there for the next few days until it returns to its regular price of $4.99. So get the best deal while it lasts!

Dominion of the Damned by Jean Marie BauhausBUFFY meets THE WALKING DEAD in this tale of post-apocalyptic survival.

Nursing student Hannah Jordan knows things are bad when her mother dies while giving birth to a son. She knows things can’t get much worse when her mother gets back up and tries to have the baby for breakfast. When she’s forced to put her mother down like a rabid animal, only one certainty remains: Hannah will do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her baby brother.

The only survivors out of a family of survivalists, Hannah and the baby ride out the zombie apocalypse in their family’s backyard bunker, emerging months later to find a world taken over by the newly self-appointed saviors of humanity: a race of vampires hellbent on preventing the extinction of their only food supply.

Grab your copy here!


*This post contains Amazon Associate links.

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

Rediscovering Stephen King

I’m still in an odd place where I don’t really know what to write about here. I think it might help remedy that if I can stop thinking of this as my “author blog” and just see it as my blog. I also think the creative part of my brain largely went into hibernation for the winter. It seems to be starting to awaken, as gradually and as grumpily as my box turtle, Matilda, as I try to prod her out of the hole she’s burrowed in and into the light.

My creative mind hasn’t been in total hibernation — and neither has Matilda; she wakes up a couple times a week to eat and bang around her terrarium before burying herself again. Similarly, my imagination has woken up a few times a week, long enough for me to bang out a few hundred words on my current novel before it slips back into slumber. I started in in January, hoping to have the first draft done by my birthday, but eking out time to write my fiction is as difficult as mustering up the energy has been. As of now, I’ve got about 5 chapters done, just short of 10,000 words.

What it is, by the by, is the follow up to Restless Spirits, tentatively titled Intruder. If you’re signed up to my mailing list, then you’ve already been shown the first chapter.

So as my creative brain is trying it’s best to drag its crusty self into the sunshine, I’ve been trying to feed and water it and give it vitamins and exercise to get it energized again. I’ve been doing this mainly by reading, and what I’ve mainly been reading is Stephen King novels.

I was a huge fan of Stephen King when I was a kid. We’re talking teen years, probably 13 or 14 to about 18, the ages they market YA to now, which is why I can’t get too bent out of shape when somebody complains about a YA novel having content that might be too mature for their 15 year old. I mean, I was reading The Stand at that age. The unabridged version, even. I loved many books before my Stephen King phase, and I’d done some creative writing by then (I actually think I wrote my first short story in first grade — it was about a sentient, anthropomorphic football, I think), but I think it’s safe to say that King was the author who made me decide I wanted to be an author, too.

Back then, it was all horror. I was a pretty big horror fan in general (that also went back to surprisingly (disturbingly?) early in my childhood), so King’s stories fit right in. In addition to The Stand, during those years I read It (or tried — I was too scared to finish it), Pet Semetary (ditto), ‘Salem’s Lot, Misery and, among others, Danse Macabre (not horror, but it was about horror, so that was alright; what wasn’t alright was my twelfth grade English teacher assigning us book reports on nonfiction and then sniffing haughtily when I turned in my paper, insisting that Stephen King never wrote any nonfiction and giving me an automatic F without even looking at the book). I devoured them every chance I got.

Once I got into college, I decided I needed to diversify my reading more, so I read less of Stephen King, and even less as I progressed through my twenties and into my thirties. The newer books I’d read, including Dolores Clayborne and Rose Madder, just didn’t pack the same punch for me, and I wasn’t sure whether I was just outgrowing him or he was losing his touch. At any rate, by the time I got around to picking up a beat-up copy of The Gunslinger at a used book store about four or five years ago, it had been years since I’d read any of his work, not counting On Writing.

I read it then, and I enjoyed it well enough, but as far as epic fantasy series go I was too mired down in one of my every-so-often rereads of  A Song of Ice and Fire to commit myself to another one. So it was another couple of years before I found the second book, The Drawing of the Three, at the same book store and gave it a read. Of course, that was around the time A Dance with Dragons finally came out, so I forgot about Roland and company for a while. Last year I picked up the third book, The Waste Lands, and added it to the big stack of paperbacks on my nightstand to wait until my life settled down enough to allow me time for leisure reading once again.

If you read my last book post, then you know getting through that big stack of books was one of my goals for the new year. I finally made my way through the stack to TWL last month. Since then, I’ve pretty much been on a Stephen King binge. I devoured The Waste Lands, and now I’m speeding my way through the fourth book, Wizard and Glass. In between (because I had to wait until the bookstore got a copy of book four in stock, and because it was already next in my big book stack anyway), I breezed through Stephen King Goes to the Movies, a collection of stories that have been adapted for the big screen. This includes 1408, The Mangler, Low Men in Yellow Coats, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Children of the Corn.

While I enjoyed the horror stories, particularly The Mangler (which reminded me a little of my short story Snack Machine), I’m finding that at this point of my life I much more enjoy his fantasy works and his more realistic dramas like Shawshank Redemption (in which the book’s narrator being described as a white, red-haired Irishman did not prevent me from hearing Morgan Freeman’s narration in my head as I read it). I particularly enjoyed Low Men in Yellow Coats, on which the movie Hearts in Atlantis is based, and which is part of the greater multiverse revolving around the Dark Tower.

I think what’s surprising me as I read these stories is the quality of the writing. I remember King being a great storyteller, but I don’t recall his prose being such a joy to read. It’s fairly straightforward, as he tends to get to the point and not linger more on description than he needs to, but at times it’s almost poetic without being flowery. The other thing is, although these stories still have their little moments of horror and squick and punches right to the gut, they’ve also got a lot of heart, and characters who are loveable despite being complex and complicated and at times downright despicable.

And that’s how, after a gap of more than a decade, I can go back to labeling myself a huge Stephen King fan. And now I’m going to go back to reading Wizard and Glass.

Book Review: When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

I originally posted this review in March of 2012. We’ve recently pulled this book out and started going through it again, mainly because it has a lot of good advice for staying warm in the event that all of these winter storms knock out our power. I stand by my original review — the info in this book really holds up. It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone on your list who might need some coaxing when it comes to adopting a preparedness mindset.

You might know Cody Lundin from The Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival. Or you might know him as that guy from Youtube with the sustainable underground house. But if you don’t know, Lundin is a survival instructor based in Arizona whose instruction focuses primarily on indigenous skills—in other words, surviving off the land the way the Native Americans used to do it.

But Lundin broadens his teaching focus for When All Hell Breaks Loose, his manual for urban survival in a SHTF situation. Whereas in his survival school Lundin primarily works with hikers, campers and other outdoor sports types who are at a greater risk of getting lost in the desert or wilderness for a stretch of days, his book is more concerned about long-term survival for the entire family, and it’s deliberately written in terms that even Grandma and Grandpa can understand. Continue reading “Book Review: When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes”

The Dresden Files: Ghost Story

Dresden Files Ghost Story

I FINALLY read this book (seriously, y’all, sometimes I almost want to quit writing just so I’ll have more time in my life for reading, which is not easy to come by as it is). It was an enjoyable read, as always, with lots of tugging at the heart strings and wanting to give Harry a big ol’ hug. The ending was pretty much exactly what I expected, although I kept wondering throughout the book how it was going to end up there, and although unsurprising it definitely set up some interesting dynamics for the continuation of the series. I don’t really have anything to add by way of review, just some fan-girl babble that I will place behind a cut because it is somewhat spoilery and also, fan-girl babble.

Continue reading “The Dresden Files: Ghost Story”

How George R. R. Martin Killed My Novel (except not really)

This is my least favorite time of year. Strike that — it’s my second least favorite, behind those long dreary (and occasionally icy) weeks of winter when the holidays are done and you just want it to be spring already. Now the summer holidays are done and I just want it to be fall already, but it’s not quite as bad as the winter doldrums, because that time of year is depressing, whereas this one is just irritating. And hot. I will never be a fan of Oklahoma summers.

But the writing is plugging along. I passed the 50,000 word mark on Dominion last week, which NaNoWriMo has trained me to see as this great milestone and feel like I should have a party or something, even though with this book that’s only the halfway mark. But it’s not as far along as it should be, mainly because I made the mistake of deciding it would be a good idea to re-read the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series so it would all be fresh in my mind when I read A Dance With Dragons.

BIG mistake, at least as far as my writing goes. It’s generally just not a good idea to read a book that you’re fannishly obsessive about while you’re in the middle of trying to write your own story. It’s especially not a good idea to engage in an entire series that you have such feelings about, and ESPECIALLY when the shortest book in said series weighs in at around 700 pages.

So now when I sit down to write, I find my mind wandering to George Martin’s characters instead of thinking about what my own should be doing, and instead of writing I want to go outside and sit in the shade with a tall glass of lemonade and lose myself in Westeros all day forever. It’s especially bad now that I’m up to the third book, which is my favorite (so far) and heavily features my three most favorite characters (who I can’t even mention by name because even that would be a spoiler to you TV show fans who are trying to stay pure). In fact, I would be reading it right now, but I promised myself I’d post a writing update today, so here we are.

Clearly, I need to get me some ASoIaF/Game of Thrones icons Got some.

But I am still forcing myself to write, and once I get going I remember how much I love my own characters and care what happens to them, so that’s good. I’m planning to have Dominion ready for publication by October, in time for Halloween–which seems fitting, seeing as how it began on a Halloween.

And now I’m off to read.

Starve Better

I spent most of last weekend devouring Starve Better (see what I did there?) by nihilistic_kid, aka Nick Mamatas, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make money writing. This book is along the same lines as John Scalzi’s …Coffee Shop, in that it’s made up of essays from Mamatas’s Livejournal and various other articles and essays he’s written over the years, but unlike Scalzi’s book, Starve Better is more focused on practical advice on how to sell your work.

It’s divided into two sections – The Book of Lies and The Book of Life – the first of which discusses writing and selling short stories. This section has inspired me to try selling my short stories before self-pubbing them, once I get around to having time to write some short stories after the novel is done, that is. The second section focuses on non-fiction writing and gives a good, unintimidating view of the query process, as well as good advice on which markets to target, coming up with article ideas to pitch, and other useful facts.

I have to say, my favorite part of the whole book was a chapter about Demand Studios. Well, content mills in general, but DS is held up as a prime example. If you know me, then you know I have a love-hate relationship with Demand Studios. I love that they’re a reliable paycheck when I need one, but I hate writing for them, and this chapter outlines a lot of the reasons why. It also confirmed my suspicions that I need to take some of the time and energy that I’ve been giving to DS and instead spend it trying to write for better paying markets who have more respect for their writers.

At any rate, if you’re in pursuit of a writing career, Starve Better is a must-read. So go read it.