Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Books that give you nightmares?

Have you ever read a book that gave you nightmares?

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I grew up watching Creature Features. I loved Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein and The Mummy, et. al. Some of my favorite movies are the old black and whites with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and Boris Karloff and let's not forget Vincent Price. Did you know Jack Nicholson got his start in a horror movie? Back in the day, The Haunting sent chills up my spine when the door to the room the researchers had locked themselves in began to breathe. Or when Stella Meredith came down the steps in The Uninvited. Those were the "real" scary movies, the ones that flirted with your imagination. Much scarier than the slasher movies, in my opinion (although Halloween ranks up there with me). But scary books?

I read Dracula, but I can't say it frightened me. It was a good read, by the way. And, of course, I've read my share of Stephen King books. The one book that scared me the most? The one I couldn't have in the same room with me after I'd finished it? The Amityville Horror. That one creeped me out. Big Time. The movie, not so much, but the book... It's that imagination thing again.

As Halloween lurks around the corner, are there any scary movies you're planning to watch? A Halloween tradition? Or books that you pull out, maybe Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? (or the Horseless Headsman, if you're hungry...) I'll send swag (a pen and a tube of lip balm) to the first ten people who comment with their favorite fright night favorites.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Changing seasons, the colors of fall

Summer is officially over, and nothing demonstrates that more than the changing colors of the trees. From lush, vibrant green, the leaves are changing to golden yellows, burnished bronze, fiery reds, and decaying brown. It's the time of year Mother Nature pulls out her paint brush. I thought I'd take you on a walk with me through my neighborhood.

I'm working toward the end of my first draft of Epitaph 2, and hopefully I'll have some exciting news to share with you next week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blogger Tag

There are days its difficult to come up with something to write, and sometimes things just strike me and make it more fun. Today, I'm going with something fun. I'm perpetuating a game of tag I read at You Write FictionHere are the tag rules, copy + pasted.

  • Tag the Blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions you were given.
  •  Nominate 10 bloggers.
  •  Let them know they’ve been tagged.
I won’t tag anyone specific because I don’t know who has or hasn’t been tagged yet. If you want to answer some fun questions about yourself, consider yourself tagged by me! These are the questions Nate tagged forward:


Favorite fiction genre to read.
     Probably safe to say romance. I am a sucker for happily ever after.

Free weekend: would you rather stay at home and relax (alone or with a select few) or go out and make big plans?
     This is a mood of the day answer, but generally speaking, I'm a stay at home type.

Favorite season? (Of the year, you Netflix addict).
    Spring, hands down. I love watching the world come to life.

Best thing to do on a rainy day?

Hardcover books or paperback books? (Don’t even try “but kindle…?” My post, my rules).
    Hardcover, simply from a longevity standpoint. They're harder to find these days, but I secretly rejoice when I find a new one that I love!

Favorite speculative (fantasy, sci-fic, etc.) film
    This one is tough! I'm going old school here and sticking with Dracula. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing. 

You’re stranded in a forest (no way out). What’s your best shot at getting food?
    Oh man. Keep Bear Grylls away from me! But I will hunt down berries or edible plant life and I have learned a thing or two from watching Running Wild that could help me to survive, but I foresee losing A LOT of weight in this scenario.

Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or have camouflaging abilities?
    This question pinches one of my personality defects (no, I'm not going to tell you how stupid I am). I'm going to vote for breathing under water.

Name an animal that you’re terrified of, for whatever reason.
    Terrified is a strong word. Run the other direction scared? Maybe a bear... If the animal is bigger than me, they make me very nervous. This includes cows and horses. (No laughing!) 

Hugs: the solution to most of life’s problems, or a space-invading nuisance?
    Solution to life's problems! Without question. 

And now its your turn! Consider yourself tagged, and these are my questions for you:
  1. Early bird or night owl?
  2. The last song you listened to?
  3. Your favorite word (this can include foreign-not your native language-words).
  4. Vampires, werewolves, or ghosts?
  5. Favorite fairy tale (and this can include Disney movies)
  6. Favorite snack food
  7. You're going out for your favorite dinner! Where are you going?
  8. If your fairy godmother could grant you one special power, what would it be?
  9. If you could pick a best friend from the books you've read, who would it be?
  10. Your favorite line from a movie
Have fun! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Yes, I am still working on the next book. Epitaph is still with the publisher for approval, and yes, I am anxiously awaiting their thoughts. Epitaph 2 is more than half finished. As most authors do, I'm suffering from writer's angst at the moment. Will the publisher like Epitaph enough to buy the series? Should I keep going with the third book once I finish book 2? Should I take a break from haunted houses and make a return trip to Hoffman Grove?  DOES MY WRITING SUCK?

And then I get a nice review. And I get invited to do interviews and appear on blogs and I take a deep breath and remind myself that "this, too, shall pass," and I keep writing.

And reading.

Reading and reviewing 
How many of you are on That's where I keep my reading organized. When I add books to my TBR pile, I add them to my list on +Goodreads so I know where to find them-- they're either on my Kindle or on my bookshelf. Want to know what I'm reading? What books I liked and which ones I didn't? Hey, guess what? if you click on the Book Reviews tab up there at the top of the page, you'll see a lot of the books I've read and reviewed. I almost always review what I've read, because feedback is important to an author. If you tell them how much you loved their last book, they're likely to keep going with the one they're working on now instead of giving up when they hit that muddle in the middle, that angsty part of of the process. Or they might use that review to determine what works best. For instance, in my world, if my next book should be about haunted houses or go back to the "circle of friends" books in Hoffman Grove.

There are some "big name" authors who almost always "Like" my reviews when I leave them. Sometimes it's their "people" (and not actually them), but in either case, it's feedback. What works and what doesn't. Some reviews are way out there and off the wall -- I've had people make comments about my books that make me wonder what book they were actually reading (there wasn't anything like that in that book...). And there are some reviews where people leave a comment that it wasn't what they were expecting. That can be disappointing to some, or that can be a plus.

Not every book is going to strike a chord. I've read my share of clunkers from some of my favorite authors. It's okay to tell them that (in a nice way!). Chances are they already know. And this is where it's important to be constructive. What was it about that book that left you frowning instead of swooning?

Sharing and discovering
The aforementioned reviews also help when I'm looking for the next book to read. Statistics show that most of us buy books from newsletters. {raising my hand} I good blurb and a good cover go a long way in my decision. As far as the reviews go, if I'm on the fence about whether or not to buy it, I'll go to Goodreads and read some of the reviews. In fact, I'll often look at the WORST reviews to see what a reader didn't like. If the "bad" review isn't specific or constructive, I disregard it, but if it highlights something that I know I'll take exception to, I might pass on the book. On the other hand, if I'm not "on the fence" based on the blurb and cover, I'll buy it and NOT read the reviews until I'm done. Or until I reach a point where I'm wondering WHY I'm still reading that book. Then I'll check to see if I'm the only one who didn't enjoy the story. If that's the case, more often than not, I won't leave a "bad" review, but I'll "Like" the bad reviews if they have already commented on the things that strike discord with me.

I might also read the reviews to decide if I want to read related books by the same author, or others in that series. Have you all seen reviews that say "this wasn't her best work," or "I've enjoyed other books by him, but this one didn't work for me." When I've finished one book in a series that I've enjoyed, I might automatically look to others in that series (that's what a series is designed to do!). If I loved the book, the next book in the series is pretty close to a "one click" for me. If I liked it, but didn't love it, I'm going to check the reviews on those other books before I keep going.

Goodreads is very good at recommending books based on your list of books already read, or on your TBR list. While I have Go-To authors, I do like to venture out and discover new voices every now and then. Goodreads will look at themes that I select and present me with new options. They also give me the opportunity to recommend books to my friends. If I've just finished an outstanding book, I can click a button that tells my friends it's worth reading.

Goodreads helps me keep track of the books I've read/am reading. Yes, believe it or not, there are times I can't remember if I've read a book. I've tried LibraryThing and Shelfari as well, but for me, Goodreads remains my go-to reading website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bringing Inspiration Home

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about some of the research I've been doing. I actually went on a field trip to research a very rare type of wood, but the shop that might have carried it was selling off their fixed assets when I arrived - chairs and shelving. No stock left. So I mail-ordered. I am now the proud owner of a cat carved from palo santo wood.

Along with the cat, I received a free tree agate and some perfume. According to the card that accompanied the agate, it provides inspiration and wisdom. Sounds like it belongs right next to my computer, don't you think?

The point of this exercise was to smell the palo santo. It is supposed to have a unique fragrance, and the wood is regulated. It can't be harvested until after the tree has died and the wood is seasoned for a period of time (left lying "in state" outside).

My office is VERY smelly fragrant right now. The first couple of days, it made my eyes water! But now I have real-life experience with what this rare wood smells like, feels like, etc. What does it smell like? As advertised, the wood is something like pine/mint/lemon. I couldn't quite imagine those scents together, but each of them is present (or I smell them because someone told me I should). The agate is infused with "Druidess" perfume. It smells like perfume - I'd venture to say more along the floral spectrum.

Now I can apply my real-life experience to my characters. I know that Jared (my hero in Epitaph 2), who is a finish carpenter and likes to work with wood, will be able to craft pieces of the wood and that those pieces will serve as a room freshener (among other things). I guess that means its time to get back to work!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


One of the toughest decisions today - what to read!

I work a day job, and then I work the night job-writing. Like most people, my life is BUSY, but there's always time for reading. In fact, reading is an essential part of my life. I am subscribed to several book newsletters that offer recommendations, and I have my go-to authors along with newsletters that I subscribe to. I have several books on my Kindle in several different genres, and in spite of having a long TBR list, I continue to comb through those newsletters and mailers and recommendations and frequently add more.

I'm currently reading Robyn Carr. I met her at the Chicago Spring Fling, and when I saw an anthology of her books come through on one of my newsletters, I jumped on it (and yes, I have books from her from the conference). I'm finding her writing style very different from most of the books I read, and at first it threw me for a loop. "This isn't normal." But it's very refreshing. I like her voice. I'm reading the Thunder Bay series, and each book touches on several different characters. It's a continuing saga, which doesn't mean you have to have read the previous one to pick it up, but if you do, it's almost like picking up where you left off. Like being the postmaster and everyone stops into the post office to gossip. Or they stop into the diner for a cup of coffee and to find out what's going on in town. And she does it well.


I really think this is my niche. I like reading small town books, where everybody knows your name, in any genre. Stephen King does that in his horror novels. Heck, going back to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Communities. Places where people "see" each other and know when something is wrong or someone is missing.

Do you prefer billionaires or small town life? What are you reading? Is there an underlying theme or a voice in a book that speaks to you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Three Stooges and Home Repairs

For the past couple of weeks, we've had workmen at our house doing home improvements. First, we had a new roof after our insurance guy found wind damage. I can't say enough good things about the roofers - Toby and his son, Nick. They did a great job, were friendly, cleaned up after themselves every night and honored all of DH's wishes in regard to protecting other parts of the house. We also had siding added, and the coordinator for those guys bothered Toby nearly every day to make sure he was on schedule and they'd be out of the way on the siding guys' schedule. Okay, a little irritating, but he wanted to keep things moving. The weather cooperated for the most part, and Toby finished the job on schedule.

Enter the three stooges. Now, I realize there is bound to be some inconvenience when people are working on your house, but these guys were like slaves with that coordinator holding a whip to their backs. They worked fast, and messy and were IN THE WAY a lot of the time. They blocked the driveway from 7am until 7pm (in fairness, Toby blocked the driveway, too, as he used his truck as a dumpster, but he wasn't there both before and after work hours). DH had some instructions for the siders as well, which they either didn't get or didn't pay attention to. One of the things involved fixing the outside water faucet they broke. Then, with all three of them crowded around the faucet, they made it worse. Wrenches on the driveway, they waved when DH drove in, and he had to point to their tools to get them to move them and make room for his car. Do you have to leave your tools in the middle of the driveway? So the scheduler sent out a plumber at DH's request since the stooges couldn't figure out how to fix the faucet. The plumber shows up and its "Let's Make a Deal." I told him the scheduler was paying for it since his stooges broke the faucet. Oh.


When they completed the job, Mr. Scheduler decides the roofer guy helped him out by leaving his protection on those parts of the house DH wanted covered and will throw him a couple of bucks to thank him (because if the roofer hadn't extended that courtesy, the stooges would have ruined more of the house). So he brings CASH, puts it in a baggie, and staples it to the tarp the roofer left OUTSIDE. "I told him it would be here and I told him to get over here and pick his stuff up now that we're done." (more whipping of the slaves, except the roofer isn't one of his slaves.)

I have never been so glad to have a project finished in all my life. They're done now, provided we don't find something they've screwed up. The roofer is coming back to repair the NEW ROOF where they scuffed it up, and being the good guy he is, he says this is pretty normal for siding guys.

Did they do a nice job? Overall, I'd say yes. They put in long hours so I don't want to criticize overmuch, but it sure would have been nice if they were more careful while they were working instead of letting things fall off the house, banging into things on the way down. For the most part, they cleaned up after themselves. The end product looks nice, but man, the stress of watching them work! If DH had been home, he would have been out there yelling for them to BE CAREFUL every five minutes. And then to have a plumber who wanted to barter with me? (he did a nice job, he did a nice job, he did a nice job)

This was one of those times that I kept siccing DH on them because Mr. Scheduler AND Mr. Plumber took one look at a woman and decided she was dumb. Period. End of Story. Ignore what she says or try to take advantage of her "lack of brains." Mr. Plumber learned quickly not to underestimate me, and Mr. Scheduler can just deal with the wrath of the Big Guy.

Did I mention I'm glad its done?