Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Horroraddicts, Dust Bunnies, & Novel Noctule

I had it in my head that this was the first week of August, which I guess it technically is, BUT it is not time for IWSG yet, so...well, I don't know what I want to write about. I'm unprepared!

But I do have some news!

My story "Dearest" is featured on Horroraddicts.net. And, hey, I get to say a little snippet to introduce the podcast as the guest author.

Along with the podcast, Naching T. Kassa interviewed me with some fun questions.

Finally, my story "Dust Bunnies" is in Issue 7 of Novel Noctule and is FREE to read! Check out my story and read the other great fiction and non-fiction featured in this issue. You'll never look at dust the same way again.


That's all for today, folks! I hope you get a chance to check out the podcast, the interview, and the story. I'll see you next week for IWSG!

What do you think of the cover? Have you read Novel Noctule? Have you listened to the Horroraddicts podcast before? If you listen to the podcast or read the magazine, what did you think of my stories?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sometimes a Break is Necessary

As writers, we tend to make ourselves push through the hard times. We often beat ourselves up if we're not productive enough (in our own eyes). Rather than taking a break, we push through. We tell ourselves it's a job, that we have to work the job no matter what else is happening.

I did that last year. Through surgery, diagnosis of a disorder of my central nervous system, my dad's death, experimenting with medications to treat the disorder, hours upon hours put into my day job and volunteer job, etc.

Why?

I didn't further my career during that time. I didn't make more of a name for myself. I didn't progress any further than I already had. As far as I can see, no benefit came from it.

Now that I relaxed and gave myself a smidge of time off, I'm starting to make progress. My creativity is flowing. I'm writing and submitting. I'm not pushing myself if I don't feel like writing.

None of this came from pushing through.



I say all this just to point out that sometimes maybe we really do need a break. If you're pushing yourself too hard, not feeling that creative spark, beating yourself up, not enjoying any of the process, then maybe it's time to take a period of time off.

When I say off, I mean off. Don't plan, don't outline, don't do anything you have to force yourself to do. If you get a story idea, but don't feel like writing it then, jot it down. You'll be able to revisit it after you've taken a break. Read, hike, sit on your back porch, watch TV or movies, talk to friends, play games. Take a break when your mind says it's time.

How much faster might I have hit this point if I didn't push and make myself miserable instead? Probably significantly faster.



Be sure to listen to yourself and do what you need for your own self care. Especially right now. Many of us are finding that we're struggling more than usual. People who've never experienced depression before are now dealing with it. So if you need a break, take it.

If you haven't seen it on my Facebook page, my husband and I have put in an offer on a house on 25+ acres in southern Colorado. It's a basic structure, with a cistern for water, but it's plumbed, has septic, and is set up to use a generator. We'll be putting in solar power eventually. Cross your fingers and squeeze your thumbs that it goes through for us! It's part of our dream together.

View from the front porch

Side view of the house as we approach from the drive

Wood stove inside--does it look familiar?

Media Moment


Book


Little Creeping Things, by Chelsea Ichaso


This is a YA thriller with an unreliable narrator. Lots of twists and turns. The main character is ridiculed and avoided because of a fire she accidentally set as a child that killed her best friend at the time. But she's the last person to hear the voice of one of her bullies before that bully disappears. She figures they'll pin it on the Fire Girl if she doesn't figure out who really did it first. The book isn't perfect, but it's an engaging read that will keep you guessing.

MOVIES


I got on a Kathleen Turner kick for a few days, so I watched some old familiar favorites.






Random Kathleen Turner facts:


Body Heat was her first film role (she'd been in a TV show.)

During the filming of Body Heat, it was actually freezing cold, so they sprayed the actors with water to get the appearance of sweat and made them suck on ice cubes before scenes so their breath wouldn't show in the air.

Kathleen Turner was a gymnast.

During the filming of Serial Mom, she was finally announced her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which had been causing her severe chronic pain for several years. The medical treatments caused her gain weight and changed her voice, which is why she was largely absent from films and TV for a spell. She has been in remission since 2006.

Kathleen Turner taught Matthew Lillard that one of the first things you do is memorize everyone's names from the call sheets.

She's often been compared to Lauren Bacall, and introduced herself as "the younger you" when they met.

Some Writing Facts:


Michael Douglas optioned the script for Romancing the Stone from Diane Thomas, then a waitress, for $250,000. During the filming of Jewel of the Nile, she died in a car accident in the Porsche Douglas had gifted her (her boyfriend was driving).

The actress who played her sister in Romancing the Stone, Mary Ellen Trainor, was also a writer on the film.



Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:


Denver Horror Collective is seeking horror stories involving the Wendigo for Consumed, an anthology. 3000 to 12000 words. Pays $20 for the first 3000 words + 1/2 cent per word after that. Deadline August 15. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of DHC.)

The Ghastling is seeking "literary fiction and illustration devoted to psychological horror, folklore, ghost stories, and the macabre." Current anthology theme is Strange Signs/Ritual Protection Marks. Up to 3500 words. Paying magazine. Deadline August 23.

Have you ever denied yourself a break? Have you ever taken one when you felt it was necessary? Did either help you? What's your favorite Kathleen Turner movie? How are you doing right now?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - Determination

I swear, it was just the first Wednesday of June last week. Gah!

But since it's the first Wednesday of July now (one week later...for real), it's time again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!


Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to give us insecure writers a place to post about our insecurities and/or to encourage other insecure writers. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and add your blog to the linky list.

The co-hosts this month are:

This month is all about determination.

I am determined to get more writing done.

I am determined to get more submissions out there.

I am determined to get all pending stories edited.

I am determined to get podcast plans finalized.

I am determined to complete pending research.

I am determined to update all my social media/websites.

I am determined to make some life changes.

I am determined to flip this frown upside down.

I am determined.

***

Submission stats for the month of June:

1 submission
1 acceptance
3 rejections (all with a request to send something else in the future)
6 currently on submission

***

Media I've Enjoyed This Week


A Bad Day for Sunshine, by Darynda Jones


A witty mystery with some well written and intriguing characters. Small town life isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's hard to keep secrets, especially when teenagers are involved. There's mystery, romance, intrigue, and laughs (real, genuine, out loud ones). There's also heartbreak and disjointed memories that make me eager for the October 2020 release of book 2.

Hannibal (Netflix)


I don't know why I didn't watch when it first came on, but I think it was after we'd cancelled cable, but before we had Netflix. I'm watching the first season now. Dark, gritty, and a mental labyrinth. The mood is oddly calm, yet tense. There's so much going on. Hannibal is fascinating and misleading.



You know what's funny? A room full of stand up comedians, locked together and being monitored by Rebel Wilson, while they try to make the others laugh and try not to laugh themselves, so they can be the last comic standing. That's right. They're not allowed to laugh. But they have to make everyone else in the room laugh in they want to win. This one is ongoing, so if you don't want to wait for the next episode, wait until the season's over to start watching it. I'd forgotten how hard it was to wait for the next episode of something!

What media have you been enjoying this week? What are your current goals? What are you determined to do this month? What are your insecurities? Have you submitted this month?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

You're More Qualified Than You Think

An intersection occurred yesterday that I wanted to address. I finished the book "Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There When You'd Rather Stay Home," by Morra Aarons-Mele. While it's applicable to any introvert, it's mostly addressing women in business who aren't big on rubbing elbows and would rather do anything than try to court customers or other business people.



The other item was a post by a local podcaster, who has discovered that the female experts he contacts for his podcast tend to feel they're not qualified to speak on the subject and often refer him to someone else who they feel can speak more accurately on the issue (4 of the last 6). The majority of males invited accepted his invitation, and as far as I know, none of the ones who turned him down did so because they felt they weren't qualified.

This is reflected in the aforementioned book, and I've seen it myself when inviting women to speak for Pikes Peak Writers.

Women tend to diminish themselves and doubt their abilities, while men will put forward confidence even if they don't feel it. Basically, they embrace where they want to be in order to get there, and women hold themselves back out of fear of looking bad or failing and letting someone down.

I'm not going to summarize the book, but I highly recommend it for those who struggle with getting themselves out there. She has helpful tips to help you not only look at what you need to do from different angles, but also how to be successful while still holding true to yourself, which is something I don't often see in these recommendations. Usually, it's all about how to act like a man, make deals like a man, etc. But as Aarons-Mele points out, being someone other than yourself isn't going to help you progress in life. Instead, it's going to cause you additional stress.

I decided awhile ago that I would say yes to things that scared me (courtesy of Shonda Rhimes "Year of Yes," which I also recommend.) I've since done it many times, including accepting teaching opportunities, a job, and anthology invitations outside my normal realm of experience. So far, I haven't regretted it once (though I've repeatedly feared it would be shown just how underqualified I was, so believe me, the fears exist in me.) What I have regretted are the missed opportunities that spun away from me for various reasons over the years.



If someone invites you to do something, to speak or submit, it's likely because they feel you're qualified for the thing they've invited you to do. Consider saying "yes" and figuring out how to make it happen, no matter how scared you are.



Media I've Enjoyed Lately


Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost



"Enjoy" is a weird word to use when talking about a documentary that examines the Jonestown cult deaths, but I did learn some things I wasn't aware of, and having actual survivors talk about their experiences is powerful. I feel like it could have gone more in-depth on some of the stories, but it was still a fascinating documentary.

What We Do in the Shadows



I liked the movie okay when it came out, but wasn't blown away, so I hadn't bothered watching the TV show version of it. I finally did, because it came up as a recommendation, and now I'm hooked. I'm finding the show more entertaining than the movie. The actors are hysterical, and their foibles are endearing and ridiculous. The cast of the movie make an appearance, along with several other surprising and amusing guests (Wesley Snipes as the Day Walker--familiar to fans of Blade) in one episode. One of the vampires is familiar to me from IT Crowd, and I've found him funny in everything I've seen him in.

Key & Peele




In the history of great comedy skit shows, this is one of the best. They're both genuinely good actors, and hints of Jordan Peele's dark side reveal themselves in some of the comedy skits. Their Halloween shows are the best, with hints of horror. I'm rewatching the series on Hulu right now. My favorite skits tend to involve classrooms with Key as a teacher and ones where Peele takes on a female persona. And don't forget Obama and his anger translator! I laughed myself into tears last night at one episode involving a flight attendant arguing with a passenger that really wants to use the bathroom. Of course, as any good comedy does, modern issues are addressed in some of the skits in a humorous way, and it shows a clear repetition of issues taking the spotlight right now.


What has made you laugh lately? What entertainment have you most enjoyed? Have you said yes to something that frightened you lately? Have you said no to an opportunity because you thought you weren't qualified enough?

May you find your Muse.

**Buddy Frightened Clip Art, clker.com, OCAL
**Yes Button Clip Art, clker.com, Chris

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WEP Challenge - Urban Nightmare



The Widow
998 words

Stamped concrete and steel grew from the ground as man-made mountains. Far above the sidewalks, the urban fortresses stared down blankly, anonymous witnesses to the drunken fumblings and crimes below. Four in the morning was a quiet time downtown. Businesses were closed, lights off.

Kasey drew her coat tighter to combat the icy wind. She approached an unmarked metal door and knocked. A scrawny man in jeans, t-shirt, and a vest looked out at her with bloodshot eyes and sweat-greased hair. "What do you want?"

"I'm here to see Milo."

"Milo's not taking visitors."

"Tell him the widow's here."

The door shut in her face. Kasey waited patiently until the door opened again. The same man as before gestured her inside.

"Arms out," he said. Once finished with a quick pat down, he led her down a dark, narrow hallway to a large office full of framed comics. It smelled of old alcohol and cigarettes. An over-sized desk stood in the center of the room, a squat, bald man seated behind it.

"Kasey," he said.

"Hello, Milo."

"Leave, Carter." The other man left quickly, and Milo leaned back in his chair. "So you've finally come to confront me. What's your plan?"

"No plan. Can I sit down?"

Milo waved toward a chair in front of his desk. "Sit."

She settled into the chair and leaned forward. "Why do you think I'm here?"

"Revenge, of course."

"For what?"

Milo raised an eyebrow.

"I know what I'm angry about, but do you? Do you even feel you did anything wrong?"

Milo chuckled and pulled out a bottle of cognac. He held up two glasses and looked a question at Kasey, who shook her head in the negative. He poured himself three fingers-worth and put the bottle away.

"Well?" she asked.

He watched her as he took a drink. "I know what you think I did."

Rage boiled through her entire body, and it took everything in her not to shoot out of her chair. Instead, she kept her face blank. "You don't seem afraid of any reprisals."

"I may be old, but I can still defend myself against the likes of you."

Kasey nodded. "It's easier to believe that, I'm sure." She reached under her shirt and pulled the gun from her bra holster.

His face blanched at the sight of the weapon. He slid a hand beneath his desk.

With a laugh, Kasey put the gun on the desk. "It's not loaded. Why would I go against someone like you with a gun? You really need to train your people better, though." She looked pointedly at his arm. "You can let go of your weapon now."

He did so.

"You know, I'd go away and never bother you again if you'd just admit what you did. I'm not recording it. There's no way it could come back to bite you in the ass. I'll even prove I'm not wearing a recording device."

He looked at her appraisingly. "While I wouldn't mind making you prove it, I don't believe you would record this. You're here for something different."

"It seems you've got me down pat. What do you say? Are you ready to tell me what you did?"

He took another drink, this one longer.

Kasey felt the burn of it in her own throat, thinking how much she'd love to be having a drink at home right now. While she was doing a good job of acting cool on the outside, her insides writhed with fear and anger. The permanent, seething rage that had lived within her these past months was the only thing holding the fear at bay, but it wasn't doing a great job of it. Sweat ran down her back and pooled under her breasts and underarms. Her heart beat like a drum solo, and she couldn't swallow through the dryness in her throat.

"Sweetheart, I didn't do anything wrong. It was your husband who screwed up, and he knew exactly what he was doing. Knew what the cost would be if got caught. It's him you should be mad at." Another drink, and this time he licked his lips as he set the glass down. "I know it's hard to be mad at a dead man, though."

"You're trying to get a rise out of me," she said. "It's not going to happen."

Milo coughed and pulled at his neckline. Spots of red crept up his face. His hands started to shake. He tried to laugh, but it quickly turned into a choking cough. He wheezed and took a drink.

Kasey smiled. "Do you want to hear my intentions now?"

His breathing came in labored pants. He slammed his hands on the desktop and struggled to stand. "What did you do?"

"Don't you know anything about how women kill, Milo? We don't shoot or stab." She reached a gloved hand across the desk and held the glass up. Only a trace remained in the bottom. "We plan. And we poison."

Milo gagged and fell to the floor. The sounds of his retching followed her through the door and down the hallway, where she nodded to Carter, took her coat, and left the building. The door slammed behind her. She didn't have long before Milo's goons figured it out and came after her.

She slipped down one of the alleys, heart in her throat. Movement occurred all around her. Kasey ran full out, winding through the labyrinth of alleys and behind buildings. It took a couple minutes to reach the right alley. When she did, she dissolved into the shadows just like her fellow street people. Her sleeping bag was where she'd left it, a warm pair of socks tucked in the bottom. She climbed in and snuggled up, seeking an escape from the cold wind.

Milo's people could look for her all they wanted, they'd never find her. They had no idea that she'd been living her own urban nightmare since they'd murdered her husband.

No critique, please! It just felt good to get something written.



Monday, June 15, 2020

Jemi Fraser Blog Tour - Bloo Moose Romances


Today I'm delighted to welcome Jemi Fraser to talk about her Bloo Moose Romance series!

***

Thanks so much for having my on your blog today, Shannon!

When I was a kid, I read Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. What a book! The story follows Mowat’s real-life experience in Canada’s north. He was hired by the government to find out why the wolves were indiscriminately slaughtering caribou. Of course, he found no such thing. The book is a fascinating account of Mowat’s year long study of the often-maligned wolves. They’ve also made a movie based on his book/experience.

In the book, we see the powerful prejudices people had against wolves and the assumptions made from rumours and non-scientific information. (Sadly we still see too many parallels in today’s world.)

One of the characters in Reaching For Normal is a former SEAL who is now helping track wolves for the people reintegrating the animals into Vermont.

Myla is an adventure writer who is experiencing winter for the first time. When they hear wolves howling, Myla is terrified and Sawyer is excited.

The crazy man was enthralled by wolf howls. How was she supposed to save a nutcase?

But, Myla is willing to learn…

“I was getting my information from Little Red and her pig buddies.”

The wolf aspect is out on the periphery of the story, but it’s an integral part to the growth of both characters.

How about you? Any other Mowat fans? Anyone interested in wolves?




Welcome to Bloo Moose, Vermont where love is worth the risk! Small-town contemporary romance with an element of suspense. Each book is a stand-alone.


Reaching For Normal
She’s no damsel in distress. He’s no Prince Charming. But if they don’t team up it won’t be only wolves that’ll be dying.
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.    Apple.     Kobo.    Google Play.

Reaching For Risks
One Reno List for the B&B. One Risk List for herself. One sexy retailer who should be the last one she wants.
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.    Apple.    Kobo.     Google Play

Reaching For Everything
Love means nothing in tennis. Can he prove to her that love means everything in life?
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.     Apple.     Kobo.     Google Play


Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

Website                  Facebook                Twitter        
Amazon                  BookBub                Goodreads
Just Jemi blog         

***

I love that you brought up Never Cry Wolf! I've never read the book, but I'd like to. It was a movie I used to watch with my dad, and I have such fond memories of it. I wish you much good luck with your launch!

May you find your Muse.