Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guest Post at Blogging From A to Z Challenge Blog

Happy New Year!

I guest posted at the Blogging From A to Z Challenge Blog on the 29th and failed to mention it here! (Life sort of went insane this week, so it's lucky I had pre-written this week's posts, which is usually something I don't manage to do, or there would have been no posts!)

You can still check out my post, as well as the posts of fellow past A to Z participants by clicking on the blog title above. Follow that blog to stay updated on the upcoming challenge.

Also, be sure to check back on January 6th to meet my fellow co-hosts of the 2012 A to Z Challenge. Signups begin January 30th. Are you up to the challenge?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giveaways & Flash Fiction Contest: Helpful Links

Before I get into the helpful links for today, don't forget the flash fiction contest I'm chairing! It is now open and accepting flash fiction pieces with the theme "Are You Devious at Heart?" This is micro-flash, 100 words or less, with a deadline of May 1, 2012. First prize is $100. For more information, click here.

Like giveaways? There's a big one at The Grinches Who Gave Away Christmas. This giveaway ends with December, so check it out right away!

Medeia Sharif is also hosting a giveaway. You must be a follower of her blog to enter, but believe me, it's no hardship to follow her blog!

Finally, Chuffed Buff Books is accepting submissions of flash fiction and short stories for an anthology. Submission information can be found here.

Any helpful links you want to pass along? Contests, giveaways, submission guidelines? If you post a link for something that will still be active next Thursday, I will re-post with credit to you.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Now, That's How You Sign a Book!

I had the good fortune to meet illustrator Michael Hague and get his signature on a couple of his books at Imagination Space in the Citadel Mall, here in Colorado Springs.

Tell me that isn't an excellent way to sign a book! You see those drawings? Each book he signed, he did a quick (and spectacular) illustration. The fairy book is for my daughter, and signed to her, The Velveteen Rabbit is for my son, and The Hobbit is mine, my preciousssss. Oh, sorry, the geek in me came out for a minute. I read The Hobbit for the first time in fifth grade, and have since read it a few times. Now I have a wonderfully illustrated copy to read with my children!

What's the best or most exciting signature you've ever gotten in a book (or other object)?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: An Old Favorite-Grafton

I hope everyone had a great weekend and wonderful holidays!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am still reading the same Kindle book as last week, but have a new physical book; it's a series I started reading as a teen. The current book is V is for Vengeance, by Sue Grafton:

"A black Mercedes sedan accelerated out of the slot, swung sharply, and careened backward in my direction. The younger woman had an arm over the front seat, zeroing in on me, the car zigzagging as she corrected her aim." p. 32

This series by Sue Grafton follows a female private investigator, an ex-cop. She was one of the first major female protagonists I remember reading. Even now, she's a stronger female character, who doesn't do the stupid things some of the current female protagonists do.

One interesting thing about this author is that she sets her books sequentially, setting the entire series in order and fairly close in time. This means that the book I picked up this month, though published this year, is still set in the 80's. She keeps her details accurate for the time (so no cell phones!). I haven't run into anyone else who does this (not to say no one else does, just that I'm not aware of them), and I think it's quite interesting. It's fun to get lost in the scenery of the 80's. The end of the series is drawing near, and I'll be sad to see it go.

What are you reading? Have you read a series that stays true to a different time? Would you ever consider writing one in this fashion?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Helpful Link: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest Worth It?

I had planned to take today off, but since I passed along the link to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest last Thursday, I felt I should also pass along this additional information posted by The Passive Voice. (Thanks out to Ian Healy for passing this along).

It seems there is some fine print for this contest that you might want to review before deciding whether or not to enter (entries begin January 23). There are some restrictions that may be of concern, including giving Penguin first and last option to publish, whether you're a winner or not; not being allowed to have an agent shop your manuscript until the contest is finished, whether you're a finalist or not; and, the big one, any contract for the winner is non-negotiable, and you will not get to know the terms until you've won. There are other concerns, as well. Check them out on The Passive Voice.

This is a great reminder that one should always read the fine print before entering anything. This includes any time you hand over your manuscript to someone, which is also why you should research agents and publishers. A highly recommended place to do this is Preditors and Editors. For those who aren't writers, this site is also for artists and composers, and is a truly fabulous resource to have.

Those are your helpful links for Thursday! Anything to share or other recommendations on researching agents, editors, publishing houses, etc.?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: Santa's...Moose?

Hey! That's not a reindeer!

I've never seen a moose in the wild, but apparently they wander through here sometimes. Followed by five billion cameras, including ones from all the local news stations. Next time one wanders through I'm totally stalking the poor thing, too! Okay, I won't really, but you can bet your sweet bippy I'm taking a picture if I happen across one.

This big guy is from our local zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

How about you? Do moose wander through your neck of the woods?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Fantasy and Horror Make Good Bedfellows

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

On my Kindle this week: Woman of Honor: Kingdom of Arnhem, Book 1 by Nicole Zoltack. (Cover image from her website.

"Aislinn raised her chin and faced the knight. Although sitting, she knew Sir Variek was a tall man with broad shoulders. He had a white goatee and piercing gray eyes that roamed over Aislinn's form. 'You're the girl who wants to be a knight.' 'Aye,' Aislinn breathed the word." p. 27, or 16% of the way through.

In hard copy, I'm reading The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #21, edited by Stephen Jones.

"She had the sweet smell of faded roses that I associate with polite mortality in decay. I would have preferred talking to someone else at the Selwoods' lunch party - after all, buffets are designed to shuffle sheep and goats - but she held me with deep-set eyes that might almost have been blind, or perhaps they were focused upon something beyond me or the house." p. 274, taken from John Gaskin's Party Talk.

And for another small taste from the anthology:

"They rode west from the slaughter, through the painted desert, and did not stop until they were a hundred miles away.", p. 108, taken from Throttle, by Joe Hill and Stephen King.

What are you reading?

Happy Birthday, Miz B!

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Multiple Blogs: Worth It?

Having a blog is fun, but it's also work. You have to try to keep up with your own schedule, find the time to write your posts, think of content, search for images and do research when necessary. You also must find the time to do your own blog surfing, visiting the blogs you enjoy reading, including those who have been nice enough to visit you.

I've been considering starting a second blog for awhile. It would have nothing to do with writing. Instead, it would talk about Colorado, both history and tourism, so to speak.

I like exploring and discovering the state I live in, and I've gained a new appreciation for Colorado since opening myself up to learning more about the area. This new love of my home really began when I was constantly faced with possibly having to move either out of state or out of country for my husband's job. While we've managed to stay here for this long, the message has been received that some day it might not be the best thing for us, and we'll have to consider moving. If that day comes, I want to be able to leave without the regret of knowing that I missed out on so many opportunities that I had constant access to. Unfortunately, I know that feeling well, as that's how I feel when I consider the year I lived in Oregon as an adult without exploring anywhere, because I was always working.

As it is, you get little tastes of my fascination with Colorado on [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday and occasionally other days, such as when I go on a "field trip." So why not make it permanent in another forum?

I look at those of you who have multiple blogs, though, and I wonder how exactly you do it while keeping up with the rest of your life. Are you able to keep up with writing, housekeeping, parenting, jobs and anything else you have to do? Is it stressful? Is it worth the stress? Do you regret making the decision to start a new blog?

I suspect I need to look at how often those of you with multiple blogs post on each. Whether you criss cross days or have specific days you post to each blog. Whether you ever share content between the two.

Those questions I can look at on my own, but I'd love to hear feedback and advice from those of you that have already ventured into this multi-blog world. Do each of your blogs address the same audience or different ones? What other advice might you offer someone pondering a second blog?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Interview With Indie Author James Hutchings

Today, I’m pleased to introduce James Hutchings, self-published author of The New Death and Others, an anthology of short stories and poems available in e-book format. Please help me welcome him to The Warrior Muse!

Death gets a roommate...

An electronic Pope faces a difficult theological question...

A wicked vizier makes a terrible bargain...

44 stories. 19 poems. No sparkly vampires. There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and James Hutchings has just crossed it - but from which direction?

He had me at “no sparkly vampires!” James Hutchings’ stories and poems are a great mix of whimsy and darkness, with many of them set in the fictional world of Teleleli/Telelee.

I was intrigued by the world of Teleleli that you created and it made me wonder if you have a background in mythology and what inspired you to create this world?

When I was young we had a copy of 'Bullfinch's Mythology', which I read a lot. The world of Teleleli or Telelee is influenced by it in that the gods have much more of a presence, like Greek mythology but unlike most fantasy fiction. Teleleli is also a 'loveably evil' fantasy city, which is quite common. Terry Pratchett's Ankh-Morpork is a famous example, but Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar is probably where that idea started. Before I wrote any stories I had an online game called Age of Fable, and I carried a lot of ideas over from that.

Interesting. I've never read those, but am betting I would like them. I like the mix of mythology and the “’lovably evil’ fantasy city.”

Your mix of story types shook things up, so the next piece was always a mystery to the reader. For instance, a short mythological/dark fantasy story followed by a jaunty humor poem. Of the types of pieces, do you have a favorite to write? Humor vs. Mythology/Dark Fantasy; Poem vs. Short Story.

I like writing flash fiction (stories under 1000 words) because they're the quickest to finish, and so I get the satisfaction of adding another story to my collection sooner.

There appears to be a political theme throughout your book, as well. Did you set out to make a political statement, or is it something that just tends to come out when you're writing?

I didn't set out to make a statement or have a 'message'. Like anyone else's writing, my writing is a reflection of the things I'm interested in or thinking about at the time. A lot of people would think of fantasy as being all about escaping the real world, but it's surprising how much of it makes the author's views obvious. CS Lewis, Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, Robert E Howard and Ursula Le Guin are famous examples.

Good point. No matter the story, we'll often see a little bit of the author peeking out.

Some of your stories seemed reminiscent of HP Lovecraft. Did he influence your work? Who else do you feel may have influenced your writing style (if anyone)?

I think HP Lovecraft's story ideas had an influence on me, but not his writing style.

JRR Tolkien and Jack Vance for the elaborate dialogue. Robert E Howard for the general atmosphere. Terry Pratchett for the humour. Lord Dunsany for the use of Fame, Time and so on as characters.

Switching gears, why did you make the decision to self-publish? Did you attempt traditional publishing first or did you know from the start that self-publishing was the direction you preferred?

I've never tried to be traditionally published. It seems like traditional publishers expect most of their authors to do their own promotion anyway, so what are they giving in return? Also, of course, it's very difficult to get a contract, and bloggers like JA Konrath argue that it's going to get more and more difficult, because publishers will respond to loss of income by cutting their 'mid-list', or paying them less, to concentrate on a few authors who can make them a lot of money. I was also influenced by not wanting to waste paper. There are publishers who only publish electronically, but I was skeptical about what they'd do for me that I couldn't do for myself.

I never really looked at it that way, but you're right. Traditional publishing or not, right now authors are having to do an awful lot of running around and promoting.

What, if anything, has been your biggest obstacle to publication?

If you're fairly computer-literate and internet-savvy, there aren't any real obstacles to publication any more. The downside of that is that, if your work isn't ready to be published, no one's going to stop you. That's why I put a lot of effort into getting critiques of my work.

I think nowadays it isn't so much "how do I get published?", but "how do I make sure I don't publish something bad?" and "how do I get anyone to notice my work among the thousands of other writers?"

How long did you hold off on publishing before deciding you were ready, and what was the process leading up to it? (How did you get critiques, how many, how did you ultimately decide it was time)?

I classed everything I wrote as 'good enough to publish' or 'not good enough', and kept writing until I had at least 40,000 words of 'good enough'. I chose 40,000 words as my target because that's generally considered the minimum length for a novel.

I think I got at least one critique for all 63 pieces. I have a face-to-face critique group that meets once a week, as well as being on two websites ( and, and an email list for stories under 1000 words (the flashfiction-w list).

I hadn't heard of those sites; they seem like great resources. I may have to check them out!

For those stories that weren't good enough, are you still working on them or do you typically shelve them?

I've turned some stories that either I didn't finish, or weren't very good, into poems. Otherwise I just keep them. Maybe I'll go back to them in a year or so.

What is your next big project?

I'm working on a verse version of 'A Princess of Mars'. This is a science fiction adventure story, now in the public domain, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who's more famous for Tarzan. Disney is also doing a movie of it, called 'John Carter', but that's not why I chose it. I generally work on several things at the same time, so I'm also in the middle of a few short stories and poems. I've been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting of a few of the stories in 'The New Death and others'. I have a lot of background for this world, because I blog every day ( and most of it is setting detail. I also have a half-finished novel called 'All-American Detectives', which is a combination of a detective story and a story about superheroes, which I'll probably come back to in the future.

You sound very busy. It's great that you're thinking of doing a novel about Telelee; you definitely appear to have built up a multi-dimensional world there that could support a novel.

As we near the end of the interview, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Nowdays anyone can self-publish. If you can make a Word document, you can have an e-book on Smashwords or Amazon. However that means that if your work is no good, no one's going to stop you. I'd recommend that people get into a critique group (either online or face-to-face), and listen to what people tell you. Don't 'defend' your work against people's 'attacks'. They aren't attacks, they're helping you. I've found that the people who defend their work have a strong tendency to have the worst writing, I suppose because they're not making the changes they need to make.

My next point doesn't matter if you're going to self-publish, but it is important if you want to be published by a regular publisher, or if you want to submit stories to magazines. Most places won't publish work that's already been published. And most places count putting a story on the internet as publishing it. In my opinion that's silly, but that's what they do. Scribophile and Critique Circle are exceptions, because Google doesn't index them and you can't see any stories without logging on. However there are writing group websites out there where, if you put a story on the site, that counts as the story being published. That seems like a really terrible way to set things up, but they're out there.

I'd also say that getting a book out isn't the final step. It's just the start of the work of self-promotion. This is true even if you're not self-publishing: I'm told that authors are expected to pretty much arrange their own book signings and so on (if you just want to have a book out to show family and friends then this doesn't matter, of course).

There are a lot of sharks out there, who make their money from authors and not from readers. They will make all sorts of promises about how they're going to promote you and help you, but these are lies. Authors do not pay publishers, ever, and if they're asking you to pay then it's a scam. Of course if you're self-publishing you might end up paying someone to design a cover for you, or you might pay for internet advertising, but those are different things. You might also pay a printer to print your books if you want to get physical books rather than e-books - but in this age of the kindle and print-on-demand I don't know why you'd want to. Preditors and Editors ( is a good website to look at, and you can get good advice at the forums of Critique Circle.

Finally, I'd suggest learning to touch-type if you can't already. You're going to be doing a lot of typing, and every hour you spend getting faster at typing will save you ten in the long run.

Thank you so much for your helpful advice and for the opportunity to interview you. You’ve given us some great resources, both in the links and in your words.

For everyone else, you can find The New Death and Others at Amazon on Kindle format, and at Smashwords in multiple formats. You can also download a sample of the book at Smashwords. This book is available now; I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for joining us here today.

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Helpful Links: Big Contests (Amazon & Writer's Digest) & More!

I don't typically blog on Thursdays, but I figured I could pass along a few interesting/helpful links from now on (when I have them).

Did you know Amazon has a Breakthrough Novel Award? I didn't until this week, so I definitely wanted to spread the word for those interested. You can enter if you are an author with an unpublished OR previously self-published novel. They start accepting entries on January 23, 2012. Will you be entering? Has anyone entered this contest before?

Before we get to the next contest, which Indie writers may be particularly interested in, did you know the Blogging From A To Z April Challenge Blog was the Blog of Note this past week on the 12th? If you hop by the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Blog, you can catch a series of reflections posts about the 2011 A-to-Z, as well as some new posts about it. Mine's coming at the end of the month, so stay tuned! Are you getting geared up for the A-To-Z? Participating this year?

Okay, for the second contest, Writer's Digest has an annual Self-Published Book Awards Competition. I was shocked to see this is their 20th year of honoring self-published authors. It's a great reminder that self-publishing is by no means a new thing. Deadline is April 20, 2012, to submit your self-published work. I'd love to see one of our Indie bloggers win this thing! Anyone considering entering this? Entered it before?

Those are the links for today! Come back tomorrow for an interview with James Hutchings.

Any interesting links you'd like to share?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday: My Own Personal Clark Griswold

Have you ever seen Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase? If we had lights on our roof, I think my husband would have him beat.

I can't do it any justice. You should know there's also a side yard, and the lights look much brighter in person. There's a sleigh behind all those reindeer. Oh, and there's music...

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Would You Like Some Terror With Your Romance?

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

For the first teaser, I've got Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich.

"New Jersey was 40,000 feet below me, obscured by cloud cover. Heaven was above me, beyond the thin skin of the plane. And hell was sitting four rows back." p.3

The book I'm reading on e-reader this week is fellow blogger Aric Mitchell's The Congregation.

"At first Marco thought he would have to kill it. But upon closer examination, he could see that it was, in fact, a woman, and that at one time she had been very beautiful." 31% progress in Kindle.

These are two incredibly different books. One is comedy and romance, while the other is pure horror. Both, as it turns out, are quite good.

Come back Wednesday for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, Thursday for some helpful links (contests and a blog hop), and Friday for an interview with James Hutchings.

What are you reading this week?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 12, 2011

First Impressions Matter: Choosing Titles

A book can be wonderfully written, yet a terrible title will keep readers away. Looking at this from the other end, a magnificent title can pull people into a terribly written book, though one would hope they wouldn't make it all the way through. Still, in terms of book sales, which of these methods works best? The magnificent title and lackluster writing. Sad, but true.

Obviously, the intent should be to focus on both the writing and the title, making both so spectacular that you bring in readers and keep them. This is true of any sort of entertainment media. A movie with a bad title may not get the viewers it deserves.

For all you bloggers out there, you know this principle applies to blog titles, as well. Sometimes it's easy to forget that your blog title still has to pull in readers or they'll skip over your post, whether they happen across it in a search engine, are linked to it from another blog, or get notices from their preexisting subscription.

This is mostly common sense. What isn't is how to choose that perfect title. Firstly, what is a title there to do? What do you want it to accomplish? You want it to titillate, to pull a person's attention to it and make them buy/click. At the very least, you want it to interest them enough that they read your description or a teaser, maybe the first paragraph. In addition, you want it to be descriptive. It should let the reader know what the topic is about, both today and in the future. For instance, a blog will have archives. One should be able to look through the archives and see what each article or post may be about. This gives you future business and helps one find important references later on.

Going one step further, you should know whether you want your title to titillate via topic, humor, mystery, fear or any other means. A funny title will bring in people looking for a fun read, but a fear-based one will grab a different audience. Consider who your audience is. Do they want just the facts? Lay it out for them in all seriousness, avoiding the humor. Will a question grab their attention more readily than the answer? Your audience should dictate every facet of your medium, including the title.

Once you've figured out your purpose and your audience, it's time to pick that title. First, consider what your piece is about. The title should reflect some important, or at least meaningful, aspect of your work. It's okay if the connection isn't readily available right from the start. Some of the best titles inspire that "ah-ha" moment during the read, and can be the most fun. This may not be appropriate in more serious pieces, though, as a serious piece should be more straight-forward in order to engender trust and gain the appropriate audience.

Another important factor is title length. A title that is too long may be a turn-off. It's also harder for someone to remember if they hear about the work in passing or want to recommend it to another. Don't shoot yourself in the foot that way! Choose a title that gets the point across with some measure of brevity. In this age of short attention spans, you want someone to read your entire title before deciding whether or not to move on.

If at all possible, make the title something that touches someone in some way. Whether this means eliciting a reaction or an emotion, there should be a connection there. It may make them question what it means. It may make someone nod in agreement and read on. Perhaps it will touch off a sense of fear within them, or even delight. Chances are, if it touches you in some way, it will do the same for them.

It's obvious to me that I don't have the market on titles cornered. It was this fact that made me want to talk about it and look into it a bit further. Setting aside blog titles (which I'm going to try to work on), I'm still not entirely certain I'm happy with the title of my YA novel. You see, I either come up with a great title and work from that, or come up with a great story and struggle (at least sometimes) to find the title that fits it and gets it across to others in the way I would like. As someone guilty of having a weekly dated title ([Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, ahem), I feel I need to work on bettering my titles. I'll try to start with those [Mostly] Wordless Wednesdays!

What do you think makes an excellent title? Can you think of any titles that have really stood out for you over the years? What was it about them that touched you or caught your attention?

Please return Wednesday for the photo of the week, and Friday for an interview with James Hutchings, independently published author of The New Death and Others.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 12/7/11

Since they've been quite far from wordless recently, I give you...


How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Mish Mash, Including Flash Fiction Contest

First, I'm delighted to tell you that the Flash Fiction Contest, hosted by the Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, and chaired by Yours Truly, is now open! This is micro-flash, so 100 words maximum. It can be found at the Pen Women website:

The theme is: "Are You Devious at Heart?" You can take that in any direction you want to, horror, romance, mystery. I think it's a topic you can have a lot of fun with. You can enter by mail or email. Details are on the website, but feel free to ask questions of me directly on here, as well.

If you didn't see my guest post at Nikki's blog, authorinprogress, check it out!

For those that did the A to Z Challenge and/or the Follow-up Challenge this past year, Arlee is revving up the A to Z engines in preparation for the 2012 A to Z! It now has a dedicated website where you can track progress, read reflections posts and be a part of the discussion for the upcoming challenge: Blogging From A to Z April Challenge Blog.

If you signed up for the Follow-up Challenge here on my blog or on my partner's sites, it's still ongoing! You've got until the next A to Z Challenge to visit everyone (and then we start all over)!

I owe Jennifer at Jen's Bookshelf an apology. I don't believe I ever properly thanked her for the "One Lovely Blog" Award, and it's been nearly a month since she posted it. Thank you for thinking of me, Jen!

Finally, how about an update on the final week of ShaNoEdWriMo since I never did that? I got more than my goal of five chapters edited for that last week, which was awesome! As far as words written, I got over 5000 words written for the week!! Yay! It was the only week I met both goals entirely, but I'm happy with it, anyway.

That's more than enough for a mishmash, eh?

Any news to share? How did you do if you did any version of NaNo? Even if you didn't do NaNo, did you meet your writing/editing goals for the week/month?

May you find your Muse.

That's more than enough for now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest Post at Author in Progress

I guest posted about finding time to write when you're a parent over at Nikki's blog, Author in Progress. Come by and check it out!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 11/30/11 & PPW Event

I've been wanting to post this little guy for awhile. He's an Asiatic Black Bear, and I think he's adorable.

These guys are sort of hidden at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but it's fun to visit them. The Asiatic Black Bears climb trees in their habitat, and the zoo does enrichment where they send a snack down in a paper bag on a zipline, which is always fun to watch, because the bears love it. You can visit the bears at the zoo or HERE.

These guys are found in, gasp, Asia! They like honey, just like Pooh Bear. Some interesting bear facts (not just Asiatic): A male is called a boar, a female a sow, and a group of bears is called a sloth or sleuth, which otherwise have entirely different meanings, of course. More info on bears HERE.

I'm a bit behind on responding to comments and visiting, but will catch up this week.

Also, I wanted to let people know about an event for kids and teens at the Citadel Mall, here in Colorado Springs, put on by Pikes Peak Writers in partnership with other groups. There will be crafts and creative activities for smaller kids, Hunger Games activities for teens, and visits from Santa and The Fairy Godmother. More information can be found HERE.

Lastly, I will be posting about a Flash Fiction Contest within the next couple days (Monday, at the latest). Keep an eye out! I'm excited to be helming this project for the Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. The contest will be open to non-members, male and female alike, which is my favorite part! I'm not a fan of excluding any gender from events.

Any fun activities in your neck of the woods? Ever seen an Asiatic Black Bear? Aren't they the cutest?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter Length: Does it Really Matter? And Other Nitpicky Fears.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend, got the deals of their lives and didn't get trampled at Walmart (or pepper sprayed)! To you NaNo'ers out there, good luck in the final stretch!

One thing conferences and writer's groups are good for is making a person even more insecure about their writing. What? Yes, it's me, the person who is typically speaking about how great it is to talk to other authors. The person who encourages everyone to do the same. However, it cannot be denied that the inspiration brought on by being around other artistic types sometimes brings with it a sense of failure or panic on your part when you begin to compare yourself to them.

The latest insecurity I'd like to write about is chapter length. This is one of those things I never would have considered as being an issue until I started being active in the writing community. All of a sudden, people are talking about how your chapter lengths should be consistent for more fluidity in your book. Say what? Is that something ELSE I have to stress over while writing and editing? Do I now have to go through and pare down my chapters, or bulk them up, just so they can be a consistent length throughout the book?

You see, I now happen to have been part of several conversations on the topic. There are writers who write down the number of pages and words in each chapter to keep track. They journal the exact numbers in order to be able to edit them to where they need to be to be similar. Others go back through to check how well they kept to the same numbers, but don't necessarily keep track as they go. Still others set the goal for word count in a particular chapter before they even begin. Then, of course, there are those who just keep them consistent without even trying. You know...THOSE.

Where am I in this? I just write! When did that become obsolete? Some of my chapters are a bit longer, while others are shorter. If the scene is completed, why shouldn't I start a new chapter? Now, if it's too long, I'll split it into a separate chapter, so, yes, part of me does think there's something pleasant about there not being too massive a discrepancy, I suppose, or maybe I just don't like super long chapters. That actually sounds more like it.

I'm not just picking on chapter length here, but it's a symptom of something I see all around. We over-analyze when we should just be writing. We look at something someone else points out and begin to question ourselves because it never occurred to us before. Are we doing something wrong? Is our writing lacking something that other person's might not be? Is this something I need to change, to pay attention to, to address? Is this important? Will it cost me a book deal?



It's natural to examine the things you do. It's natural to doubt yourself, to question yourself. It's also natural to compare yourself to others, especially when they seem more accomplished or successful. However, we cannot allow this to get in the way of the important parts. Just create. Worry about the logistics later.

And when you're hanging out with others of your ilk, take what they say in the spirit they're giving it. Typically, they don't think they're better than you. They have doubts, too. They don't know if everything they're doing is perfectly correct, or even if it will work for others. So they talk about it with you. They throw it out there and see how you respond. Instead of internalizing it, discuss the merits and drawbacks with them, tell them how you do it, what you think about it. Have a dialog, but don't draw it inside you and let it eat away at you. What you're doing is right for you.

What about you? Do you think a book is best when the chapters are equal lengths? What do you nitpick about?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving out to those who celebrate it today! And to those who don't, Happy Thursday and Approaching Weekend!

May this be a weekend of inspiration, family and relaxation (well, for those who don't do Black Friday, anyway).

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 11/23/11

I'm mostly on vacation this week, so here's a wordy [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday entry for you. An image full of words (borrowed from Facebook), but no further commentary from me. You should be able to click on the image to enlarge it. Have a wonderful week!

Which ones really grab you? Any you don't agree with?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cool Places to Visit for Movie Fans

Since I'm currently visiting the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, the inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining, I thought I'd list a couple places movie fans might enjoy visiting.

First, of course, I must talk about the Stanley. Stephen King lived in Boulder, Colorado for a time, which is why some of his books are actually set in Colorado instead of Maine. He stayed in Room 217 of the Stanley, at one point, and was inspired to write The Shining, though he only developed the concept there. It has been rumored in the past that he wrote most of it there, but this isn't true. The Stanley was not used in Kubrick's film version of the book, but it was used in King's mini-series version for some of the scenes.

One can't mention filming locations and The Shining in the same post without also mentioning the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon. This is where the exterior shots of Kubrick's version of The Shining were filmed. Stephen King wasn't happy with this setting, but a lot of people have seen the film, so it's worth mentioning. The interior shots were done on sound stages, which Kubrick made to look like various hotels he had visited.

Playing a bit of Six Degrees here, I've mentioned the sign before, but you can visit various places in Oregon where One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was filmed. Jack Nicholson starred in both this film and Kubrick's version of The Shining. You can view the duck crossing sign in Salem, Oregon, as well as the Oregon State Mental Hospital it was filmed in. Depoe Bay, Oregon was also in the movie. It's a great little coastal city to visit along the Pacific Coast Highway, especially if you enjoy beaches, whale sightings and kite flying.

Also in Oregon, you can visit the neat little homes from The Goonies in Astoria, Oregon. Several other movies were filmed here, including Kindergarten Cop and Short Circuit ("No disassemble!") Getting back to The Goonies, you can view Mikey's house, still intact. The bridge from just about every movie filmed here is still standing and stretches across to Washington to give you a nice little jaunt across the bay.

Lastly, for you Harry Potter fans out there, how about a visit to Edinburgh, Scotland, where J.K. Rowling found inspiration for Hogwarts looking out the window of The Elephant House cafe. The photos are of The Elephant House and Edinburgh Castle, from one of hubby's business trips (No, I've never gotten to go there, but golly gee whiz, I did get a coffee cup from there! phlbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt!). They were taken by one of his co-workers. I had to edit the hubster out of the castle photo, and the Elephant House photo is the only one he wasn't in to begin with, so they aren't the best:

These are but a very few of the places you can visit to see visible remnants of the movies you love. Feel free to throw out any others you'd recommend!

What would you consider a great place for movie fans to visit?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 11/16/11 & ShaNoEdWriMo Update

First, the ShaNoEdWriMo update:

Out of 5 chapters to edit, I edited 5! Yay! I also edited those five over and over, because I submitted my novel for the Pikes Peak Writer's writing contest.

Out of 5000 words, I wrote...well, not 5000, I'm pretty sure. I think I'm in the neighborhood of 3547 unless I'm missing something, but I'm pretty sure I counted everything.

And I'm okay with that! Not only did I get a piece ready for a contest, but I did so with a nasty tooth ache that ended up requiring "emergency" oral surgery. I put emergency in quotes since they couldn't get me in right away and I got to go all weekend in intense pain when it had already been three days of pain before I went in (which is, of course, my fault). I would say that is not so bad!

And for [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, how about a beach photo?

This photo was taken at Beverly Beach in Oregon, north of Newport (where Keiko, better known as Willie of Free Willie fame resided) and south of Astoria (where the Goonies was filmed.) I regret to say that, despite a childhood spent in Oregon, I don't believe I've ever been to the Goonies beach in Astoria. Sad, I know.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing about anything interesting happening at Beverly Beach. You can see the Yaquina Head lighthouse when you look down the beach, and the beach, itself, is gorgeous. There is a camping area right outside the beach, surrounded by these giant ancient trees. I felt like I was walking with dinosaurs when I hiked through the trees, and I got a ton of photos, though they were all point-and-shoot camera photos. I hope to go back and photograph with my SLR in the next year.

I will say, for those of you who like sea life, you can see whales, great white sharks, sea lions, and pools of sea urchins and starfish along this and adjacent Oregon beaches. I used to love watching the whales go by, though I've never seen a great white (fortunately or unfortunately?).

The photo's dark because it was night, but I liked how moody that formation was in the low light. Even though I can't see the water, I hear the waves, feel the breeze and smell the fresh sea air when I look at that picture. Those waves used to lull me to sleep at night when I stayed at my grandmother's house, and I wish I'd had the opportunity to go visit for awhile and write in the little loft to the the crashing of the waves and the the call of the seagulls.

The beaches in Oregon are unusual compared to beaches on the east coast (though my experience of each is limited to a few beaches). While there is fine sand at some of the Oregon beaches, there are also massive black rocks and large, rounded black pebbles at others. The water was always super cold, the wind a constant companion. Thanks to the heavily treed coastline, there were always bleached tree corpses littering the beach. You can see some less weathered trees in the photo above.

Ever been to Beverly Beach? Another Oregon beach? Do you enjoy the beach? Find it inspirational?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Photo Usage Legalities for Bloggers

For the longest time, I refused to post any photos here that had not been taken by myself. Then I decided that if I did a proper source attribution it must be fine, right? Wrong. In looking at the issue again, I've discovered that, without proper written consent from the owner of an image, even proper attribution will not protect me if someone decides they didn't want me to use their images. Which, of course, would be well within their rights.

Written consent is not required in cases where the photos are clearly labeled as public domain, such as if they mention a Creative Commons license. More information can be found at I've linked you to the FAQ page.

Since I don't want to merely be bursting people's bubbles, I thought I'd pass along a few sites that have free stock photos. You can also find sites that charge a small amount, if you would prefer going that route. You will typically find better photos there. However, I've used some of these sites for good, useful photos, as well. Here are the free sites I know of: (Which also has pay photos; be sure to read the requirements for photo usage from the site) (You must create an account, but it is free of charge)

You may also have luck by searching for "public domain images," "free digital images," "creative commons photos," or something similar. I have not yet used all of the above sites, but have come across them in searching for photos in the past.

I intend to go back through my posts this week and remove any images I used without first attaining permission or that I didn't get from a free stock photo site. I figure better safe than sorry.

Do you know of any other free photo sites, especially ones you have used personally? Any input on the photo rules for bloggers?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Feature Friday Features: "Cowboys and Dragons at the Cafe" & a Blog Fest

Feature Friday is a meme hosted by The Warrior Muse that encourages you to feature a blog of your choice each Friday to introduce others to blogs you enjoy. Anyone can participate. You can choose these blogs however you like and spotlight them in any way you please. Be sure you include a link in your post to the blog you wish to feature, copy the button above, and enter your blog on the linky list at the end of this post. I hope to see some others joining in so I can discover new bloggers!

Today, The Warrior Muse is featuring Cowboys and Dragons at the Cafe, a blog with multiple posters, all writers who belong to a critique group. If you live on the Western Slope in Colorado, they're holding NaNo writing meetings, as three of them are participating. Check out Mike and his fellow writers for varying viewpoints, genres and discussions on writing.

Also, a quick mention of a new blog fest coming up. Shelly, of The Life of a Novice Writer is hosting her first blog fest: The Crazy Alternate Reality Blogfest on December 3rd. While I can't participate on this one, it sounds like a lot of fun.

Any blogs you'd recommend? Blog Fests I haven't heard of?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 11/9/11, ShaNoEdWriMo Update & Contest

Before the [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday photo, I thought I'd do my penance and post an update on ShaNoEdWriMo really quickly. My current goal is 5000 words per week, 5 chapters edited. Of that, I got 0 chapters edited (I haven't even SEEN my office in the last week) and 2886 words written.


At least it wasn't zero words written, right? I intend to do better this week. I have to be home enough for that to be possible, considering all those words written were done so in snatches when I was somewhere other than home. Sigh.

I also wanted to remind people of the Pikes Peak Writers' Fiction Writing Contest. The final deadline is November 15. Details here. They are also holding weekly NaNo write-ins at the Citadel Mall, here in Colorado Springs. Check this page for more details.

Now, say hello to my little friend (said in a terrible fake Cuban accent because that's what I heard in my head a la Scarface).

This little guy is one of my backyard visitors. When I had cats he and his pals liked to harass them endlessly, throw things at them, taunt them with their tails, chatter at them about this and that, usually angrily. The magpies thought it was a ton of fun, too.

Did you know that, "relative to its size, the squirrel's jaws are the most powerful of any animal?" You can thank The White Squirrel for that factoid.

Did you know that, other than nuts and acorns squirrels eat "wheat, fruit, bird’s eggs, mushrooms, berries, oak buds, corn, insects, moths, nesting birds." That factoid is thanks to All About Squirrels. Did you read the nesting birds part twice? Because I did. Suddenly, they are not so cute!

How are your November writing goals going? Do you get squirrels around your place? Is that a good thing or a bad things?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shifters, Weres & Walkers, Oh My! Research & Field Trip No. 2

With the popularity of Urban Fantasy, we're seeing a lot of animal characters, usually in the form of weres/shifters, but skinwalkers are starting to trickle in, as well. Some of the presented characters are remarkably well done, the pureness of the beast brought across in stunning descriptions, while others are dull and uninspired. If you're going to write a character with animal traits, whatever the form may be, you will appeal to readers more if you've painted both sides of your character in equally vibrant hues.

An excellent way to do this is to observe the animals you're portraying in person. One good place for this is the zoo, which most people should have access to, though it may mean a day trip to another city. If the zoo is a good one, you should be able to observe the animal in an environment similar to their natural one, which should give you some insights.

An even better way to do it is to find a conservation site near you. This one is harder to come by, but extremely gratifying if you can find it. This year, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit two such places, and will hopefully visit another in the spring or summer. Most exciting about that future visit is that they have a black leopard, which is an animal I'll be writing about in my next novel. I can't wait!!

The two sites I've gotten to visit were The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center and The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation, both of which are wonderful places that obviously care about their animals (one has all wolves and wolf-dogs, while the other also has foxes and coyotes). The place I went yesterday, the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation, actually allowed us several hours of visiting in the pens with the wolves. It was an amazing experience, and one I hope to repeat in the not-too-distant future. There is nothing like personal interaction to really get the feeling for an animal, especially one as misunderstood and maligned as wolves.

Another benefit to visiting one of these places is that you get to support the very animals you are writing about. Many of these places rely on donations, alone, such as the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation I visited. The owner, Mark Johnson, gives three hour tours (yes, every time I say it I hear Gilligan's Island theme music) where you get to interact with his wolves completely free. He never asked us for a donation, even. He is entirely dedicated to his wolves and they, in turn, are well cared for and loved. This is the type of place I like to support, and I'm glad that I'm able to do so while also getting the experience of a lifetime and possible research for future stories. Some photos will be posted at the end of this post.

I know that I am very lucky to live in a place that offers the kind of access I have to places where I can study wildlife. If you aren't in an area like this one, you can observe similar animals in person, such as cats or dogs. Though they aren't the same, they have similarities that can be conducive to your descriptions. Watch how they move, how they eat, how they react to things. Though they are domesticated, they still have much in common with their untamed brethren.

Lastly, there are animal documentaries galore! If you can't visit or observe animals in person, check out documentaries and do your research on their habits. You will still be able to watch them, and in fact, will more often get to see them in their wild settings, which is great information to have.

This may all seem like a lot of work, but I assure you that it's worth it to really get the correct characterizations down. Of course, if your shifter or were acts and moves like a hairy human, I suppose research isn't all that necessary, other than observing hairy humans in their natural habitats. If your character is supposed to take on an animal's attributes, your writing will truly come alive when you present them in vivid living color.

The following photos are from the wolves of Rocky Mountain Wildlife Foundation:

This is Baby; she is a sweetheart who likes kisses and belly rubs.

Baby again.


Baby howling back at Josie, a wolf-dog in another pen.

Apache (who I've posted pics of before); he was digging under their shared house.

I think this was Apache, as well, standing on top of their house.

Lakota, who I found just gorgeous (of course, they all were); he is Apache's brother.

Lakota doing a little snacking.

~nom, nom, nom~

Side view of Lakota

Merlin, who has never been touched by human hands.

Merlin, watching us closely.

Another of Merlin.

Zoya, a part-wolf, part-Siberian husky. She has one blue eye and one amber.

Zoya getting a belly rub (sort of amazing to have a wolf offer up their belly to you; several of them did so, all female, I believe).

Cherokee, Apache and Lakota's sister, who was also quite a fan of belly rubs.

Thanks for looking! As always, all photos are mine alone, and cannot be used or copied without my permission.

Aren't they gorgeous?! Have you had the opportunity to visit rescued wild animals at a conservation center? How do you research your animal characters?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feature Friday Features: "Timeout2 Blog"

Feature Friday is a meme hosted by The Warrior Muse that encourages you to feature a blog of your choice each Friday to introduce others to blogs you enjoy. Anyone can participate. You can choose these blogs however you like and spotlight them in any way you please. Be sure you include a link in your post to the blog you wish to feature, copy the button above, and enter your blog on the linky list at the end of this post. I hope to see some others joining in so I can discover new bloggers!

Today I'd like to feature a fellow Pen Woman, Doris Dembosky at Timeout2 Blog. She is a published and award winning author who writes about writing, the arts and life in small town Westcliffe, CO. She posts gorgeous photos of the Colorado landscape, which is always something I find enjoyable. She also posts a Writers' Trigger at the end of each of her posts and is listed on my tab for blogs that post prompts.

Any blogs you'd like to recommend this week? The linky stays open until Thursday of the following week.

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday 11/2/11

It may be two days after Halloween, but why not embrace it all year? Okay, okay, maybe just the week?

This [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday photo may not be creepy on its own merit, what with all the sunshine and blue sky, but if you look at it right there's plenty to see. I'd love to photograph this particular formation on a foggy day or with a storm in the background, something to properly set the scene.

I call this Gargoyle Rock. No, that's not its proper name, but if I'm playing tour guide I can call it whatever I want!! It is, of course, a rock formation at Garden of the Gods, here in Colorado Springs.

Though I call it Gargoyle Rock, it can be seen in other ways. You know the demon (devil?) from Fantasia? Some days it looks more like him, sitting on a rock, head turned away from me, one big leathery wing hanging down his side, back slightly hunched. He's having an intellectual pause, pondering his evil ways. Where did he go wrong? Would he be happier if he were good? Are wings in this year?

What do YOU see in this rock formation?

May you find your Muse.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ShaNoEdWriMo...Say What?!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!

After some thought on NaNoWriMo, I decided that starting a new novel right now would be quite the opposite of helpful, so instead of participating in NaNoWriMo, I've made my own:

ShaNoEdWriMo or Shannon's Novel Editing and Writing Month.

I didn't do NaNoWriMo last year, either, but it still helped me get moving and make progress on my novel. I set a different goal last year of 30,000 words completed on the novel I was already working on, and I met that goal! I'm aiming for that same sort of aid this year, so I'm once again making my own goals for the month.

My goals are as follows:
*5000 words written per week (can be fiction or non-fiction, and any medium)
*5 chapters edited on my Lonely Hollow novel per week

While I can set these goals at any time, November brings along with it the energy of NaNoWriMo. Other authors are either following the NaNo goals or making their own (I can't be the only one!). That energy can be infectious. In addition, there are support systems everywhere, thanks to NaNo. I can pop onto Facebook, Blogger, Twitter and various other places at any time and find someone else trying to meet their goals. I'm hoping this community energy is beneficial.

Having said that, I set goals regularly to help me through. These ones are maybe a little more stringent, but if they work, I'd love to be able to keep them going. If they don't work, I can tinker with them and find out what is possible and go with that from here on out. Lacking flexibility will get me nowhere.

On a side note, if you're in the Pikes Peak region, Pikes Peak Writers is hosting write-ins for NaNoWriMo (or their very own NaNoTryMo, which involves setting your own rules, as well) each Tuesday at the Citadel Mall. More information on that can be found HERE. You can participate in these write-ins whether you're participating in NaNo or not. I intend to make at least one, if not more, though I will be missing today's.

Are you participating in NaNo? Are you following the proper rules or making your own? What are they? Is this your first year of doing some sort of WriMo?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Urban Legends for Halloween


To celebrate Halloween, I thought I'd throw out a few of the urban legends I remember hearing through the years. I'm betting these will be familiar to a lot of people. I'm also betting there are a lot of different versions out there, so I can't wait for the discussion!

Let's start with the one that made makeout point not such an alluring idea:

Escaped Criminal
Jennifer glanced shyly over at Sam as he pulled off the road into the gravel parking lot. Her heart pounded when he parked between two other cars, their windows fogged up. He turned the radio up and rubbed his hands down his pant legs as if to wipe his palms off.

Turning slightly in his chair, his eyes came up to meet Jennifer's. She smiled back at him, hand going to the jeweled cross hanging at her throat. She twiddled with it a moment before tucking it under her shirt. Jennifer adjusted her position in her seat, sliding closer to Sam, who cleared his throat and reached a hand toward her. His hand shakily clasped the back of her neck, pulling her face to his. Their lips met, hers soft and pliable, his firm and eager.

Her first kiss!

He pulled back, but she leaned further into him, kissing him back this time. His other hand slid onto her leg where hers met it, stopping it just above her knee.

"We interrupt this transmission with an important announcement. Police have asked us to alert the public to an escaped convict. He is mentally ill, armed and dangerous. You will recognize him by the orange prison uniform, a tattoo on the left side of his throat, and a hook on his right hand. Do not approach. Get somewhere safe and call the police immediately if you see him."

Jennifer pulled away, head turning as she looked through all the windows. She slapped the lock down on her door and asked Sam to do the same.

"Maybe we should go home," she said. "We're not that far from the penitentiary."

"Ah, he's long gone by now. We'll be fine. Come on."

He took her hand and pulled her toward him again. She hesitated, but he was so confident and calm that it calmed her, too. Finally, she let him bring her closer and returned his kiss.

She had just relaxed into it when she heard something scratching at her door. She broke away from him, turning toward the door and backpedaling toward him.

"What was that?"


"Didn't you hear that? It was a scratching sound."

"I didn't hear anything!"

"Well, I did. I wanna' go home."


With this, Sam threw the car into reverse, skidding on the gravel. They heard the sounds of tiny rocks pinging off the other cars, but that was overshadowed by a terrible screech, as of a rending of metal. Jennifer screamed and moved closer to Sam, straining against the seatbelt she had slid into place as he'd taken off.

As he steered the car around to get back on the road, Sam thought he saw a silhouette in the rearview mirror. He shook his head and sped toward Jennifer's house, holding himself firm, resisting her grip.

When they got to the house, Sam couldn't meet Jennifer's eyes. He put the car in park and waited for her to get out.

"I...I'm sorry, Sam. It was scary out there. I..."


Out of the corner of his eye, Sam watched as Jennifer slumped a bit and turned to get out. He sighed.

"Jennifer, it really is okay. I had a good time. I just wish we didn't have to leave so soon."

"I know. I'll see you later, Sam."

"Yeah," he said.

Jennifer got out and closed the door, turning to say one last thing. As she did, though, she looked down and saw something sticking out of her door. Leaning closer, she saw that it was metal, but with something dark and wet attached to it. She reached toward it, eyes widening. It was then she realized it was a hook. A remnant of flesh hung from it, dripping thick, red blood.


Oh, sorry, that was me.

How about the one that inspired me always to check the back of my vehicle before getting in, especially late at night when my car was the only one in the theater parking lot?

Look Behind You!

Mary fiddled with the radio, trying to find a good song. Heck, a song that didn't grate on her last nerve would be an improvement. It had been a long day and this drivel was just too much.

She settled on a rock station and leaned back into her seat, nodding her head in time to the beat.

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage!" she sang. Ah, Smashing Pumpkins.

The night enveloped her car, the headlights barely keeping it at bay. She flicked her brights on since she was alone on the road and continued singing along with the song until she saw headlights approaching around a bend ahead. She turned the lights back to normal long enough to pass then clicked them back to bright.

A few minutes later she winced as a pair of lights flooded her car from behind. She adjusted her rearview mirror to save her eyeballs from the glare and switched stations again, this time stopping on a R&B station.

Before she could start singing, though, she realized the car behind her was flashing its lights at her. She squinted and moved the mirror back where she could see behind her. Sure enough, the car was gaining on her, flashing its lights. When the driver started honking she threw her right hand up in the air.

"What the hell?!"

The crazed driver pulled up so close behind her she thought they were going to collide any minute. She pushed the gas pedal to the floor and shot forward, trying to trace the road before her far enough ahead to see the curves coming.

The horn blared, the driver holding it down, and the lights continued to flash.

"Pass me, why don't you?"

She slowed down when she hit a straightaway, hoping the driver would take the hint. "Come on, pass me!"

The driver simply slowed, continuing to ride her tail. The lights had stopped flashing, now permanently on bright.

As Mary approached her street, she grabbed her cell phone and hit speed dial.

"Dad? I need you to call the police and meet me in the driveway. There's some crazy person following me. I don't know what they want. I'm almost there!"

She jerked the wheel, not stopping at the stop sign, and sped toward her driveway. The front door burst open, warm light spilling out of her home onto the porch as her dad ran toward her. Her tires bumped over the end of the driveway and she threw the car into park and jumped out the door, not even bothering to turn off the car. She ran into her dad's arms, comforted by his embrace as he called out to the man who'd stepped out of the car behind her.

"The police are on their way. You need to leave. Now."

"Listen to me. There's someone in the back of your daughter's car."

"Bullshit. Too late, the cop's are here."

When the police pulled in, they took down the stranger. At his insistence, they checked the back of her car. Sure enough, there was a man in the back of her car, an axe hidden under a blanket beside him. The stranger had saved her life.

Yep, always check the back of your car. You just never know.

I had so many urban legends pop into my head, but I figure this is long enough. I'd only intended to describe the stories and list them, but this was more fun, and a good start to the beginning of NaNoWriMo. I'll talk about my version, ShaNoEdWriMo tomorrow.

What tales spring to mind when you think of urban legends? Have you heard different versions of the ones above?

May you find your Muse.