Let Me Re-Introduce You to Restless Spirits; Going Silent for NaNoWriMo (Halloween Eve Update)

It’s hard to know how to categorize my first traditionally published novel (which is why I think my publisher still doesn’t really know what to do with it). It’s one part clean romance and one part legit horror. It’s a ghost story with heart. It’s also about the everlasting bond between sisters and the power of forgiveness. It’s got all the fun, flirtatious banter and kissing of a romantic comedy and all the chills and thrills of a haunted house.

Basically, it’s like if Dean Koontz wrote a rom-com.

If you enjoy a walk on the spooky side but like your horror like you like your romance — clean, comedic and with a happy ending — then check out Restless Spirits for your next great Halloween read. Click here to learn more, or click here to see where it’s sold.


In other news…

This week was a freelance writing week, so not a lot of progress happened on either of my WIPs. I’m using today to tie up some loose ends, and tomorrow my husband and I will be having our entirely grownup Halloween celebration that entails eating junk and watching scary movies all day until we can’t keep our eyes open.

Nanowrimo (that’s short for National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated) begins Sunday. And while I’m not participating in an official capacity, I am going to be taking a break from blogging and pulling way back on social media so I can hunker down and try to finish both of my novels-in-progress in November. Can I actually do it? That remains to be seen. But I’m going to give it my best shot.

I’ll still probably pop in from time to time on Instagram (although I’m really going to do my best to curtail the time I spend in that app), but here and everywhere else, expect me to be scarce until these novels are finished.

I hope you have a fabulous Halloween and may all of your candy be free of sharp objects and viruses. And since you probably won’t hear from me again before then, I also hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

See you on the other side!

♥ Jean

 

Happy Halloween! I Brought Treats!

 

 

halloween-963122_1280

Okay, confession: these treats are recycled. We’re in the middle of getting ready to move and I don’t have time to run to Target and pick up new bags of candy make new content. But these old treats are still yummy, I promise!

Here’s me last year doing a Halloween live reading of my short horror story, Snack Machine:

 

And here’s me narrating two creepy pieces of flash fiction:

 

 

These are all featured in my short story collection, Midnight Snacks. Click here to get your copy. It also includes my horror novella Eucha Falls, which is available as a free standalone wherever e-books are sold. And if you like those you’ll also like my creepy story about a witch’s ghost, Weather Witch. Get it here.

But wait, there’s more! Before you go, be sure to check out my Restless Oklahoma and Stuff I Think You’ll Like blog tags for more spooky reads and recommendations.

And finally, here’s a Halloween tip: If you’ve got more candy corn than you know what to do with, try mixing it into your popcorn. We tried this the other night and it was the perfect mix of sweet & salty — and I’m not even a fan of candy corn. But that was a big bag o’ deliciousness.

Happy Halloween, folks. I hope you’re enjoying it this year. As for me and mine, we’re going to take a break from packing and prepping to enjoy our favorite monster movies and candy. What Halloween traditions are you enjoying this year? Shout it out in the comments!

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).

 

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?

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.

 

https://i2.wp.com/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.

 

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.

It’s Saturday! Let’s all sing for joy.

This was kind of a stressful week on the work side. Let’s perk up and celebrate the weekend with a highway sing-along:

My plans for the next two days involve lots of yarn, Halloween crafts and putting up the decorations. Today will also be my last hurrah enjoying carbs and cheese as I eat up all the unhealthy stuff in the house that won’t keep. Tomorrow, the new PCOS-friendly diet plan begins.

How are you enjoying your weekend?

Free Story: Snack Machine

It’s the first day of fall! Hooray! To celebrate, here’s a free story to help get you in the mood for the Halloween season.

 

Snack Machine

 

You think strange thoughts sometimes when you work the night shift. Coming home in the dark late at night, it’s easy to imagine that something in the darkness is out to get you.

If your imagination is like Tina’s, you might think how creepy it would be if the thin, dark gap between the wall and the vending machine at the end of the hall was really a doorway to some otherworldly dimension.

And then you might laugh the thought away as you grab your chips and resist the urge to run back to your apartment.

She was tired when the thought occurred to her, after a long night on her feet at the diner, and it was a nice distraction from worrying about getting mugged on the way home. Or worse.

Tina liked having the machine there. It was her one consolation when her budget had forced her to settle on the tiny basement efficiency. She almost hadn’t been able to afford even that, what with the landlady wanting two month’s rent up front. Thankfully, she’d relented. “Had a lot of trouble with drifters sneaking out without paying their rent,” she’d said, “but I guess you don’t strike me as a drifter.”

Anyway, takeout places were usually closed when her shift ended, and a bag of chips was better than nothing when she felt too tired to cook. She kicked off her shoes and turned on The Late Late Show and munched on her bag of Sun Chips. At least she could pretend those were kind of healthy. When they were all gone, she brushed off the crumbs, crumpled up the bag and headed to bed.

Continue reading “Free Story: Snack Machine”

Happy Halloween! (Other Writer Wednesday Open Thread)

Happy costumes and free candy day, folks! In lieu of candy*, I’m still giving away free e-copies of my paranormal fantasy novel, Restless Spirits. This Halloween promotion ends at 11:59 PM PST tonight, so get it while it’s still free.

*Only on the Internet, not at my door, because I do not want my house to get TP’d.

This is also the last Wednesday of the month, and hence, OPEN PIMP THREAD. Have something to promote? Tell my readers about it in the  comments.

And to help celebrate the holiday, here are some relevant links.

The Anything Ghost Halloween Special

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The Halloween Blog Hop

Marble Hornets (It’s scary watch it!)

Spooky Encounters #3: Strange Things Afoot at the Cousins House

Reminder! Speaking of restless spirits, today is the last chance to snag your FREE copy of my novel, Restless Spirits, on Smashwords. Coupon code FU23M expires at midnight!

For the first two years of our marriage, Matt and I rented out the upstairs of my mom’s house. At the time, my mom basically ran a boarding house. After building her big dream house after my dad passed away, at some point she decided that it was too much house for her alone and started taking in boarders, mostly extended family and people from her church who needed a place to stay and couldn’t afford a lot of rent. During the time of this story, the house’s other residents included my mom’s sister and her grandson, and another guest who will remain nameless.

This last boarder was the sort of person who you never knew what sort of stuff she or her associates might be into. It was during the months that she stayed there that all of this went on.

Continue reading “Spooky Encounters #3: Strange Things Afoot at the Cousins House”