Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year...ahem...Tomorrow, Anyway

Okay, so I know it's a little early to say Happy New Year, but I'll be busy tomorrow, so you get it today.  Plus, I was part of engineering the end of the world on the 21st, so I figured I'd make up for it by ushering in 2013.  You do know, of course, that there is an apocalypse predicted to happen before tomorrow, right?  Wait, this blog isn't just about apocalypses...

Anywho, speaking of the new year, I don't really do resolutions, but I can't help but look at past goals and see where I am with them, and what I'd like to accomplish in the next year.  So I guess I sort of do resolutions, but not in the same sense as some?

As part of this, and before I mention next year's goals, I thought I'd revisit my Project 52 goals.  You can't see that tab right now, because I can't get the darned tabs/pages to wrap around and make a second row, so I can only have a couple visible at a time.  But, I will pass along what else I've achieved recently and the total numbers of finished goals.

13. Complete skinwalker short story
22. Journal
25. Write 1000 words daily for a week (excluding weekends) (did this one, INCLUDING weekends, yeah, baby!)
37. Don't forget to enjoy writing - if something becomes no fun, take a break and try something new (while this was meant more as a reminder, I've done it!  I haven't hated writing or felt pressured to do it so much as before)

I have some that were partially finished, but I decided they couldn't be listed.  Darn it.

So, my total for the year of finished over total was: 19/52

Yikes!  But I tell you what, I look at some of those goals now and go...meh.  And I accomplished things I hadn't listed, such as several more short stories, a couple submissions, presented workshops at two different events, booked at least one more for next year, and doing my very first blog hop that wasn't someone else's idea!  So, guess what?  I'm good with what I've accomplished this year.

For next year, I'll be updating my Project 52 list, and I hope to try to keep some track of books I read.  I'd also like to try to submit something each month, whether that be a short story, flash fiction, an article, a poem or a photograph  (or, by all means, a novel).  For my Project 52 list, I will be putting non-writing related goals on it this time, as last year I padded it with things I didn't necessarily really want to do, which is no way to create goals.  If I don't care about them, or they don't make sense for this year, what's the point?  So I'll look at modifying that, OR I'll reduce the number of goals I have to begin with, and simply add things as I go along.  A year is a long time, though sometimes it doesn't feel like it, and I know that my goals and ideals changed throughout the year in 2012, mutating as things progressed, and I came up with plenty of new goals that never found their way onto the list, but would have been crossed off had I done so.

Despite that, this year was a rather amazing year, and one I'll never forget, for many reasons.  I learned a lot, stretched myself outside my comfort levels on multiple occasions, became a part of some new things (another element of putting myself out of my comfort levels), took on some big jobs, and changed the way I saw certain things.  I survived the Waldo Canyon Fire.  I successfully took my kids on adventures this summer.  I started volunteering at the school.  

It has, overall, been a good year.

And for that, I'm thankful.

Have a wonderful 2013, everyone!

What are your goals or resolutions?  Did you achieve any of what you hoped to over the last year?  

May you find your Muse.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Giveaway Winners - The Marquis

Hi there!

I wanted to congratulate the winners of Christine Rains' giveaway in celebration of the release of The Marquis:

As the first place winner, Lynda has won a digital copy of The Marquis, an ARC of The Alpha, and a signed copy of Fearless.

As the second place winner, Rosemary has won a digital copy of The Marquis and an ARC of The Alpha.

Finally, as the third place winner, Trisha as won a digital copy of The Marquis.

Congratulations to all of you!  What cool prizes!  If you didn't win, you can always purchase Christine's ebooks.  Look at the sidebar of her blog: Christine Rains - Writer.  You won't regret it - she's a wonderful storyteller.

Thank you for the opportunity to help out with this, Christine!

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Over-Decorators! & A Couple Links

Today's post will be brief, due to so many being on holiday vacation.  If you read Christine's guest post the other day, you know about the Over-Decorators.  Well, as I told Christine, that's us.  Well, my hubby, rather.  I resist it as long as I can.  I refuse to let him decorate until after Thanksgiving.  Thus, he writes "PUT UP LIGHTS" on the calendar for the day after Thanksgiving...

He loves Christmas, and he changes the light arrangement each year.  And in his defense, the lights are all LED's (except Yoda...see him there in front of the door?  He will be re-wired for next year with LED's).  In other words, one less weapon I can use against the Light Brigade each year.

Now, just a couple links:

Blog Hop:

The My Favorite Martian Blog Hop will be going down January 14, courtesy of The Geek Twins.  Just post about who your favorite martian/alien was, and why.  Easy!

Open for Submissions:

Tony Laplume's Mouldwarp Press is putting out an anthology of micro-fiction, 250 words or less.  Open for submissions through January.  Any topic of genre you want!

Free Books!  Today Only:

EJ Wesley's Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1 is free today on Kindle.

Christine Rains' Fearless is free today on Kindle.

Andrew Leon has several books for free on Kindle today, including "Christmas on the Corner."  THIS LINK will take you to a listing of his books, rather than just a specific one.

I hope you're having a wonderful week, and that your Christmas was, indeed, merry.  We got snow here, which is rare for Christmas in these parts.  The photo above was taken on Christmas Eve, when the snow was just starting to fall.  It was a lovely white morning!

Anything to share?  Do you decorate?  Simple or over the top?

May you find your Muse.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Successful Apocalypse and Giveaway Ongoing

Hi there!  I'm keeping it brief today, as it's the holidays and a lot of people are taking a break.  This will serve as my Monday post since I'm going to be doing a WHOLE lotta' cooking on Monday.

First, if you survived the apocalypse and participated in the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest on Friday, the 21st, here's your survivor badge:

Congratulations!  You're still alive!

A great big thank you out to Chuck, my charming and positively apocalyptic co-host, and to each of you who participated.  I had such a good time reading everyone's posts on Friday.  Had the world ended, I would have been too distracted to notice.

Second, Christine Rains' giveaway is ongoing.  There are great prizes, and you can enter below.  Easy peasy!

Giveaway Prizes:
1st Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis, ARC of The Alpha, signed copy of Fearless
2nd Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis, ARC of The Alpha
3rd Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, have a Merry Christmas!  I'll see you back here for at least a brief post on Wednesday, as I do have some links to share and at least one of them is only good for a couple days.

May you find your Muse.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest

It started with the sniffles.

Whatever this bug is, it was spreading well before today, mutating with each new virus, each bacteria, each batch of antibiotics.

As it mutated, it became more severe, more easily spread, more resistant to any sort of treatment.

"Take Vitamin C," they said.

"Suck on some zinc," they said.

"Practice good hand-washing techniques," they said.

None of it did any good.  Nothing could touch the saligia virus, not once it really got going.

The sniffles turned into burning fevers.  Hemorrhaging from the eyes, nose and ears.  Internal bleeding.  Vomiting.  Open sores on the skin.  Hair loss.  Gangrene.

Nurse, by OCAL at

Some people were lucky.  They only suffered the physical torments.  Then they died.

Others were not so lucky.  The physical ailments were the least of their worries. They suffered intense nightmares, slipping into a state that brought their subconscious minds to the forefront, causing them to act on their dreams and fantasies.  They were increasingly affected by seizures and blackouts.

Sometimes they awoke from these blackouts to find they'd done horrific things. Violent, bloody things.

Germ, by OCAL at
Each new iteration of the saligia virus spread faster.  At first, it was spread by drops of saliva, say when someone sneezed or coughed.  Then it was blood-born.  Ultimately, like strep, it became something that could be picked up on surfaces, and it lived longer and longer on these surfaces.

Then came the holiday season.

Packages.  Shoppers.  Craft events.  Group dinners and celebrations.  Parties.

The turning point was Thanksgiving.  Families spread what they thought were simple colds as they gathered to give their thanks.

The family that sneezes together, dies together.

Black Friday took all of these now tainted folks into the public arena, in what would be an explosion of germ sharing, and the catalyst necessary to trigger this pandemic.

Those who worked in public service of any sort were exposed.  They, in turn, exposed their friends and family, and anyone who came into contact with them. More and more people reported a mystery bug that just wouldn't go away.

That was during the sniffles phase, of course.  After that, it was obvious this was no cold.

Packages and holiday cards were shipped out, exposing the mail carriers, employees of FedEx & UPS, recipients across the globe.  Others had already been exposed by people on international trips.

Saligia had gone global.

Northern Hemisphere Globe, by OCAL,
Each region the virus met changed it that much more, as exposure to that area's viruses and bacteria modified it at the basic level, causing it to metamorphose into a different mutant illness for each place.  The CDC had no way to connect such different symptomologies, therefore missing that it was the same virus on a global scale.

They figured it out today, with their official notice going out:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) and localized health departments on a global scale, is investigating a widespread illness, exhibiting varied symptoms and morbidity rates.  If you are ill at all, even just a runny nose, please remain in your home to limit exposure.  If you do not have to go out of your home, well or infected, it's best if you don't.  The origins of this illness are unknown at this time. The various illnesses that appear to be tied together at the basic level are now being considered under the umbrella of the saligia virus.  This virus is highly contagious, via saliva, blood and contact of any sort.  There is no known cure or vaccine, though experts are hard at work to find one.  Due to the speed of viral mutation, this is proving to be a challenge.  Do not panic.  Take proper precautions to reduce your exposure.  A global pandemic has been declared.

This is the news that greets us today, as home after home falls victim to one form or another of the saligia virus.  If you have duct tape, seal your windows.  Wear a mask when you must venture out into the open air, especially if you will be going near other people.  The virus is strong enough to float on the wind for a significant period of time, and is able to survive harsh temperatures of both heat and cold. Reports are coming in that different species of animals are beginning to be affected, and with that will come further mutation of the virus, itself.  Nowhere is safe aside from your home.  Water sources may also be infected, as filtration systems don't appear to have any effect on the virus, and exposure would have been achieved in multiple ways.

This just in: Various types of livestock are already infected, and it appears they have been for weeks now, despite being asymptomatic.  Your meat may be infected.  Do not eat meat purchased after November 15th.   Discard it somewhere outside your home.  Eat only canned food, as produce has been exposed to possibly infected water sources.

I'm running out of plastic sheeting and tape here, and we have only five small bottles of water for hydration.  We'll have to chance the water we poured into the tubs before they declared it off limits or else we'll die of dehydration before we can possibly get sick.  Our canned and frozen goods are minimal, but we're eating the frozen produce first now that the power's gone out.

Our neighbors had a gas generator and were able to siphon gas out of their vehicles, but they were attacked this morning, the generator stolen.  We went over to check when we heard a ruckus from next door, but we were too late.  They were dead, all of them slaughtered for a generator.  Their pantry stripped clean.

Gunshots have been sounding from all around us for most of the day.  For now, we've got all windows and doors blocked, but from the sounds outside, it may not be good enough.  Their ranks are swelling.  As they say, nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.

We've only the one gun, and just 15 bullets.

Somewhere out there, fires are burning.  The smoke has begun to infiltrate our home.

Sirens sound, but last time it wasn't even real firefighters, just some guys who had taken over the fire station and were driving around in the ladder truck for kicks. They ran over some people in the road, hooting and hollering the whole time, chucking beer cans at their bodies as they drove over them.

Oh, what's that?

I feel a sniffle coming on.

You can still join until midnight tonight.  How did you foresee the apocalypse?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

13th Floor Blog Tour - Wicked Neighbors

I'd like to welcome Christine Rains for the final day of her 13th Floor Blog Tour! Today, she's going to discuss 13 neighbors worse than those on the 13th floor. After you read her post and check out The Marquis, be sure to enter the big Final Day Giveaway at the end of this post!  The giveaway is open internationally, and you can win some great prizes.  It closes on the 27th.

Christine is a fellow mom and blogger, and someone I find to be inspiring to those of us in the writing world.  The fantasies she creates suck you in, seamlessly blending with the "real world" you and I know.  I can't wait to meet the characters of the 13th floor!

And now, without further ado, Christine Rains:


In my world, the neighbors are a little unusual. A retired demon will come fix your toilet if it breaks. A werewolf paces her apartment, howling with want to run free. A vampire stalks the halls waiting to find the young woman who haunts his every waking thought. And a banshee screams with the visions of death that plague her.

A little noisy. A bit frightening. But all in all, nowhere near as bad as some neighbors. Here are 13 neighbors worse than those on the 13th floor.

10    The nosy neighbor. She's always peering out the window and knows everything that's happening on the block. You open your mailbox and she's suddenly there, peering over your shoulder to see what's in your hand. You've caught her going through someone else's garbage and catch the glint of binoculars from her bedroom. This is a neighbor that takes away your privacy and you never know exactly how many of your secrets she knows.
20    The lazy slobs. These neighbors never clean their yard. It's overgrown and there's an old tire left baking in the sun. Maybe even a dented car with one wheel becomes a lawn ornament. Then there's the smell. Garbage? Dog droppings? More than that. You're never sure exactly what that stench is.
30    The zookeeper. A dozen dogs barking at all hours of the night and getting loose in the neighborhood. A houseful of cats and a chicken coop with a rooster that crows at dawn for every single time zone.
40    The negligent parents. Their children run wild and undisciplined. The brats are outside at all hours, stealing stuff from your yard, and tormenting the neighborhood pets.
50    The partying frat boys. Arrogant jerks playing loud music all night and pulling pranks. Call the cops on them once and they'll toilet paper your house.
60    The creepy quiet guy. Seemingly the perfect neighbor. He's clean, quiet, and polite, but there's just something about him that isn't right. No friends, but too much garbage for one man.
70    The nudists. Again, quiet and clean, but they walk around in broad daylight without a stitch of clothing. You want to look away, but it's like a train wreck. You can't help but stare.
80    The gaudy over-decorators. At Christmas, their house and yard looks like a reindeer threw up every Christmas past. Every holiday, they have inflatable giants and more lights than the Eiffel Tower.
90    The neighborhood association self-appointed representative. The one out there measuring the length of your grass to make sure it's regulation or following you around as you walk your dog to make sure you pick up any leavings.
100 The mad scientist. Strange explosions in the middle of the night and a rabid robot dog. It might seem like he'd be a cool neighbor, but unless you're Marty McFly, you're not getting a time machine.
110 The old lady the kids in the neighborhood call a witch that turns out to really be a witch. Not all witches are good. She isn't going to take kindly to all those brats tormenting her.
120 The hillbilly feuders. Somehow you're always caught in the middle as they take each other on, spray painting property, video taping each other, stealing each other's goats, screaming, fighting, and putting up nasty signs.  And those dueling banjos!  
130 The Homer Simpson. We'd all be Ned Flanderses in that situation.

Title: 1301 The Marquis
Author: Christine Rains
Genre: paranormal romance
Release Date: December 13th, 2012

Life after Hell isn't more exciting than watching football and fixing a busted pipe. Once a powerful demon, Marc enjoys his quiet existence and a good cup of coffee. With big ambitions to gain his master's favor, a trickster demon named Vetis shatters Marc's peace and vows to deliver Marc's head to the fires of Hell. Not before he destroys everything Marc cares about, of course.

Marc's power has diminished over the years. Heaven will never grant him absolution, and he refuses to return to Hell. Running isn't an option. The city of Carmine is his territory. It's also home to his favorite cafe owner, Mae Hopkins. The dame has a lovely smile, but it's her heart and soul that shine bright.

While his city burns and his love is captured, Marc must decide to surrender or let hate and anger fuel him to become the fearsome beast he so loathes: The Marquis. If the Marquis rises, Vetis can be defeated and Mae saved, but Marc would be lost to his demon forever.

1301 – The Marquis on Goodreads:

You can get your copies of The Marquis at the following places (click on the store names and the link will open in a new window):

Barnes & Noble

Author Bio:
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not writing or reading, she's having adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of S.C.I.F.I. The 13th Floor series is her first self-published series. She also has two novellas and sixteen short stories published.


Thank you for stopping by on your tour, Christine!  Sorry about all the giant candy canes and lights.  I should have warned you that we're the over-decorators.  Whoops!

Giveaway Prizes:
1st Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis, ARC of The Alpha, signed copy of Fearless
2nd Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis, ARC of The Alpha
3rd Prize - Digital copy of The Marquis

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Ents? Or Trees? & Links

Happy Hump Day!  Today I figured I'd share a couple interesting trees from my trip up Seven Falls.  I love interesting trees, and while we lack some cool types of trees (for instance, weeping willows), we do have a few that stand out for their own reasons.

One thing I see a lot of around here are trees that make me think of the Ents in The Hobbit, not because they are giant or even the same sort described, but because erosion of the soil on inclines exposes the roots and makes it look like they will uproot themselves and start walking at any moment.  And sometimes the roots grow in quite interesting ways.

Here are a couple that caught my attention on our walk.

This guy met us at the top of the stairs.

I just liked that the root on this one had scampered across a boulder, then stretched across the pathway.

It's always fun when trees, shrubs or plants grow out of  a boulder.

Another tree that has grown through a boulder, leaving a giant crack.

"Start spreading the news...I'm leaving today...I want to be a part of it...!"
Come by tomorrow for a visit from Christine Rains on her 13th Floor Blog Tour!

Now for links!

Disclaimer: I do not research, nor do I necessarily have experience with, these companies/publications.  Please do your research and check into any publication before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Aletheia Writing & Art Magazine is looking for fiction, non-fiction, interviews, photographs and artwork.  Mostly geared to teens.  Does not appear to be a paying market.

Indigo Mosaic Publishing is open for submissions on multiple anthologies, including Chocolate Dreams.  Each anthology pays in royalties.

World Weaver Press is seeking submissions for an anthology entitled Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures.  Pays $.01 per word.  Open January 1 through March 31, 2013.

M. Bennardo is putting together a short anthology of one-sentence stories.  Pays $15 per story.


The Delizon Annual Short Story Competition is on for 2013.  Cash prizes for 1st through 10th place, with 1st being $1200.  Deadline April 15, 2013.  $25 entry fee.

Blog Hops/Fests: 

L.G. Keltner, of Writing off the Edge, is hosting the Beginnings Blogfest in celebration of her 1 year blogoversary.  You simply blog about a beginning that's important to you, any beginning.  January 9, 2013.

Don't forget the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest this coming Friday, the 21st!  How do you think the world will end?

Anything to share?  Seen any really cool trees?  What's your favorite type of tree to see photographed?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scaring Myself

Do you ever get so lost in your fantasy world that you freak yourself out?

I do.

When I was a teenager, my family loaded up in the Pickle Mobile (our 8-seater Dodge van), all seven of us, and we took a road trip from Colorado Springs to California, then up the Pacific Coast Highway to Oregon.

The Pacific Coast Highway is gorgeous, at least the parts I remember (it's been awhile, other than just a stretch in Oregon).  However, at night it's dark, and much of it is enclosed by trees.  Small, privately owned businesses used to line it (can't speak for now), and their empty black eyes stared at us, reflecting our headlights before absorbing them and going dark once again.

Flickr, Axel Hartmann 

We believed in driving through the night, and the hour was late enough that there was no one else on the road for long stretches.  The isolation closed in on us as the younger kids fell asleep, leaving only my parents and I awake.  The van was massive, and the empty spaces surrounding my sleeping siblings yawned behind me.  A car came up behind us, matching our speed, never altering from the pace we set.

I began to spin a tale of who might be in that car behind us, and what they planned for us when they got us to just the right spot.

At first, my parents laughed.  Gosh, wasn't I funny?  But at some point the laughter stopped, and silence reigned in the front seats of the van.  My dad's foot pressed down on the gas in an unconscious gesture of unease.  My mom's hand clutched the door handle.

And in the back, all alone in that yawning darkness, I began to believe my own tall tale.  A sensation of electric unease worked its way up my spine, and I wanted desperately to undo my seatbelt and crawl up into the space between my parents.

It should be noted that the vehicle behind us kept up with the speed, even when my dad accelerated.

There were no open gas stations, no 24 hour restaurants.  Even private residences were darkened, closed up.  There was no one that would know if something unimaginable were to occur on that mostly deserted stretch of highway.

Then the car turned off, and we all chuckled uneasily.  Phew, escaped that homicidal maniac.

The thing is, we all knew there was no psycho behind us.  But the setting was right, and I was so intent on my story that our reptile brains kicked in and took us into fight or flight mode.

I do this all the time.  Especially when I'm writing horror, or when the lights are out and there's a sound in my bedroom I don't recognize.  When my husband is out of town, and I'm all alone in bed, I run through every possible scenario as I try to drift off to sleep.  I run through what I'll do if the alarm goes off.  I terrify myself thinking that someone may have entered the house when I was out with the kids, and they're just waiting for my breathing to relax before they creep out of my closet.  I fear that someone can take my babies out of their rooms without my hearing it.

Flickr, Luc Viatour © GFDL,
Hubby just got back from a business trip to Australia, and the week was a rough one.  There was not one night I got a full night's sleep, due to various crazy things happening.  Two nights ago, the power went out for an hour and a half, starting at half past midnight.  Go check a moon calendar to see how much moon there was out there...I think a sliver that night!  As I crept through the house to get to the one place I knew we had a working flashlight, I first looked out the front door to be sure it wasn't just my house that had lost power.  After all, I read and watch horror/thrillers all the time.  I know what happens when they're coming for you.  THEY SHUT OFF YOUR POWER!

After I saw that our entire neighborhood was pitch black, I needed reassurance that someone HAD power.  After all, I live near NORAD, and an EMP isn't out of the question, right?  Would that violate the stone walls of Cheyenne Mountain?  I don't know.

Happily, up on one of the burned hills stood a lit up Christmas tree.  Someone had power!

Okay, not terrorists then.  Not unless they had it out for my little suburban neighborhood.

My flashlight only reached so far; it was just a tiny one.  I shivered my way through the house, hunting down candles and a lighter.  The darkness seemed to be alive, constantly moving and changing in my peripheral vision.  We have a big open area with vaulted ceilings, and the open space around me was somehow creepier than when I was in the regular layout of the living room.  I couldn't see or feel what was above me or around me.  I began to imagine more than just shadows coming up on me.  The hair on my neck stood up.  A shiver worked its way up my spine.  My heart pounded.  My throat filled with the sands of the Sahara.

Did I mention I was watching American Horror Story when the power went out?  I don't find the show at all scary while watching it, but apparently a power outage was just the thing to add a slight edge to its frightfulness.  A man in a freaky leather sex suit would blend in perfectly in the shadows.  And what about creepy mutant babies?  What about all the things NOT in American Horror Story?  Things with tentacles, gaping maws, razor sharp teeth, talons.  What about that dude waiting in my closet?  The monster under the bed?

Once I had candles lit, things were much improved.  A warm glow surrounded me, and I could see the entire room, though the hallway was all the blacker for the light around me.  As long as I kept it in view and had my back to the wall, I was fine.

Flickr, Brenda Starr
Except for the silence.  When they say silence is deafening, they're right.  I kept feeling the need to pop my ears, because the silence was a pressure against them.  All the things that make electronic noise and mask the creaks are gone.  No snoring refrigerator.  No buzzing television set.  No humming machinery.  Silence.  Deep and awful.  And out of that silence arose sound after sound, creak after creak.  It was windy out, and somewhere the air whistled and whispered in vague and terrifying ways.  Branches scratched along the side of the house.  The back porch shifted, and it was so black outside that, even sitting in a darkened room, I could not make out whether there was something out there.


One of the endless nights before that, as I lay in bed with the lights out, I made the mistake of dangling a foot off the bed.  I was perfectly fine until a single thought crossed my mind.  You know that thought you get when your foot is exposed from beneath the covers.  I could almost feel something reaching for me, scuttling about under my bed, saliva trailing down its chin as it prepared to yank me under into its hellish lair.

Of course, I yanked my foot back under the covers, but the darkness had won.  It had filtered into my brain, taking root while I was otherwise occupied.  A scuffing sound became a grotesque creature crawling toward me along the carpeting.  That clicking was someone, or something, at my window.  What was that in the corner?  Was that pressure on the bed?  Was something in here with me?

I'd been working on a zombie tale involving children during the day, and my daughter, all of five itty bitty years old, burst into my room around 3 in the morning.  At first, she didn't say anything, just exploded through the door and shuffled over to the side of the bed, her hair in disarray, her outline the only thing visible to me.  Thank goodness she didn't groan at me.

Just as in the van all those years ago, I knew none of this was real, that not a single one of these fears would come to life.  I knew my daughter was no zombie, that there was nothing under my bed.  There was no one in my closet (hell, I'd checked).  That didn't stop the thoughts from occurring to me, flitting through my head until I latched onto them.

The funny thing is that when my hubby is here, I don't wake him up if I hear a noise; I investigate it myself.  I've always been that way, even as a teenager.  I guess there's something comforting in knowing there's someone around to hear you scream?  Someone that can do something about it?  That's all I can think of for the sudden fear that grips me when he's gone.

Not to say I don't freak myself out plenty when he's here.  I do.  Sometimes it's just a bit amplified when there's no other adult in the house.

So, yeah, I've got an active imagination, but I know I'm not the only one.


Don't forget the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blogfest, a little fun Chuck, of Apocalypse Now, and I have put together for the end of the Mayan calendar, this Friday, December 21.  Fifteen fun-loving, end-fearing souls have entered it already.  Join us!

Also, Brandon and Bryan are having a little shindig today to celebrate the release of their new book, The Sensationally Absurd Life and Times of Slim Dyson.  You can't sign up at this point, but I'm betting there will be some fun posts to read!  And check out their online store while you're there.  They've got some great books.

Do you have an overactive imagination?  Do you freak yourself out sometimes?  Any notable examples you'd like to share?  How will your apocalypse occur?  Are you familiar with Slim Dyson?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Choose Your Own Apocalypse & DL's Deja Vu Blogfest

Note: My entry for the Deja Vu Blogfest can be found below.  I missed that it was going on until late, so I'm adding it to the post that was already on here.  


Perhaps you've heard, or maybe not, but the world is ending Friday, December 21, 2012, or so say the Mayans (or at least the people who have decided this is what the Mayans had to say).  How am I preparing?  Why, by having a party! Come join Chuck, of Apocalypse Now, and myself for the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blog Fest, next Friday, December 21, 2012.

Assuming the world doesn't end until later in the day, it should be quite the party!

You see, while many people think the world really is going to end on Friday, the 21st, most of them can't agree on HOW.  Will it be an alien invasion?  Zombies? Collision with a mighty meteor?  The super flu?  Solar flares?  Oh my, there are so many ways the world could conceivably end, but what we want to know is how you, yes YOU, think it will happen.

The rules are simple:
1. Choose your apocalypse
2. Sign up on the linky below
3. Tell us how you prepared for your survival amongst everyone else's demise
4. Describe your apocalypse and how it's going down
5. Make sure the badge is displayed on your blog
6. Visit your fellow survivors and see how their world ended

Other than that, make it whatever you'd like!

We've only got a week before the world ends, so please help get the word out!


DL Hammons is running the Deja Vu Blogfest today, where we get to re-post our favorite post.  In a fun coincidence, my favorite happens to concern writing post-apocalyptic fiction.

Originally posted May 28, 2012

You've envisioned a world where some large-scale event has wiped out hordes of humanity.  Your characters are alive in your head, probably struggling to survive.  You can see the blighted landscape all around you.  What do you need to do now?

There are a few things that must be part of your post-apocalyptic story, or you have no story.  Let's take a peek.

#1. An apocalyptic event.  That's right, you can't have a post-apocalyptic world without something that got them there.  What will yours be?  Viral, bacterial, natural, man-made, space-related or nuclear?  These are all options, and there are probably plenty more.  Did the swine flu get out of hand?  Was it helped by humanity or just one of those things that happens in nature?  Did the Earth tilt too far off its axis?  Did nuclear Hell flame rain down upon the continents?  There must be a reason the people in your story are stuck in this particular landscape.

#2. A time frame.  Are they living through the event or has it already happened?  Is it fresh or decades down the line?  You have to know when it happened and what stage humanity is in to really tell your story.  If it happened decades ago, the landscape is going to be significantly different than if it just happened yesterday.  Quality of life will also probably be very different.  If they've been coping for decades, they probably aren't struggling to find food or water sources as much as if it just happened and everything is tainted or burning.  If it's a new problem, there will be mostly individuals and small groups, whereas a length of time may mean there are established towns/cities.

#3. A fully realized landscape.  World building is important in any story, but you need to build this post-apocalyptic world so that people see your vision of what it looks like.  They must know what your characters' reality looks like.  Are there fires raging?  Or is everything underwater?  Are there bodies everywhere?  Or has nature reclaimed what once was solely hers?  Let us know what it is your characters are looking at.  Make sure it makes sense for passage of time and the particular event that occurred.

#4. Strong characters.  We need to believe that these people can make it (or not, as the case may be).  It must be a real struggle.  We have to care whether they can survive, one way or another.  Maybe we hate this guy so much that we question why he survived, when better people died.  Maybe we love this character and desperately want to see her rebuild her life.  Whichever characters you have, we must believe in them, and they must have a mission, of sorts.  Does Evil Guy want to take over what remains of the world?  Find natural resources to survive?  Or just be left alone?  Does Lovely Heroine have a child to fend for?  Is she just trying to find a home she can call her own?  What drives them?  What are they trying to accomplish?  This is important in every single kind of story you may write, but don't get so intent on your world building that you forget your characters.

#5. A purpose.  Alright, we get it.  The world has ended.  The apocalypse has found us.  Whoopty-doo.  What is so important about this world that you just have to tell the story?  What are we going to take away from this?  I'm not talking about a moral (necessarily), but just a life story that means something to us when we read it.  A violent post-apocalyptic world, where survivors are constantly under siege, does us no good if we don't come out of the story feeling something.  Perhaps you want us to know that humanity will always find a way to thrive.  Or that love will always pull someone through.  Whatever it is, make it part of your story.

There are many elements that are important in a story, but these are just a few of the top ones to keep in mind when writing a post-apocalyptic tale.  Now that those stories are becoming more popular, it's important to keep them high quality.  Want to read a story that takes something familiar and turns it on its head, all the while showing us the strength of humanity and the power of good versus evil?  Read Stephen King's The Stand.  Watch Book of Eli for another viewpoint.  There's also The Road, Mad Max, Water World (hey, I'm not saying these are all good), The Postman, Jericho and The Walking Dead for movies/television shows.  For books, this link should take you to a comprehensive list of classic post-apocalyptic stories.  Of course, The Hunger Games and Forest of Hands and Teeth should be on there.  Also, I read Without Warning by John Birmingham recently, on a whim, and I enjoyed it.  It was more a political/government/military-type book that took on what happened in those facets, so different than I'm used to for this genre, but also quite good.  I don't know how The Marbury Lens and The Maze Runner are qualified, but I'd consider both to be sort of post-apocalyptic.  We really aren't sure with The Maze Runner, but we get a sense something big must have happened, and in The Marbury Lens, the alternative world he visits via the lens seems quite post-apocalyptic.  Both are excellent books, though be aware that The Marbury Lens can be graphic or disturbing, despite being Young Adult.

The short of it is, fully realize your story so we can be drawn into it, feel for your characters, smell the fires, feel a sniffle coming on as everyone dies of the Hulk of flu bugs.  Watch some of these movies or read some of the books (or both) and figure out what you like in them, so you can duplicate that, in a sense.

In your opinion, what are other important aspects of a post-apocalyptic tale?  What books or movies might you recommend?  How do you envision the apocalypse?  (Wait, don't tell me!  Save it for the Choose Your Own Apocalypse Blog Fest!)

May you find your Muse.

* Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887; Viktor Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
** Stalingrad after the battle; See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
***The aftermath of Hurrican Camille. Ruins of Texaco gas station with Rambler automobile, Biloxi, Mississippi, 17 August 1969

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

[Mostly] Wordless Wednesday - Santa's Cog & Links

This weekend I took my kids and my nephew up the side of Pikes Peak on the Manitou Cog so they could visit Santa up on a really cold frozen mountain.  It's something we've pondered doing for years, so I finally sucked it up and forked out the big bucks.  Totally worth it!  They have a great crew working to insure the kids have a good time while they're up there, and a fabulous Santa and Mrs. Claus.

We got a nice snowfall the night before, which made it perfection.  Everything was frosted in white, and the elves had a snowball fight, which the boys loved watching.  It distracted my nephew from his frozen toes.

The cog station

The side of our train 

The front of the cog, wreath and all

Some festive decorations

Santa's place!

Some scrawny winter-bald aspens, surrounded by lush pines

More festive decorations.  Really, what's more fun that decorations in nature?

Before I go onto the links, I'd like to mention that I will be starting Friday posts, likely after the 1st of January.  After the last A-to-Z, in which I had tons of fun researching Wild West figures and outlaws, I had considered doing Friday historical posts, but I was so burned out that I ended up not doing it.  However, people seemed to enjoy them, and I know I enjoyed doing the research, so even if no one reads them, it will get me back doing something I love to do.  I may have to start it earlier just to make up for all the blog hops/fests I've been doing.

Also, Christine Rains will be visiting The Warrior Muse Thursday, December 20 for her 13th Floor Blog Tour, promoting her new book, The Marquis, the first in her 13th Floor series.  We've got a great giveaway and a little fun planned, so come visit next Thursday (and Monday and Wednesday, of course!).

Without further ado, the links!

Taking Submissions:

Electric Spec is taking submissions of speculative fiction.  They prefer science fiction, fantasy and the macabre.  Paying market.

Carina Press is accepting submissions in multiple arenas.  They pay 40-50% royalties, digital first, print maybe.

Sylvan Dell is open to submissions of creative and educational books for kids, primarily in earth and physical science.  Paying market.

Blog Hops/Fests/Contests/Events:

Brandon and Bryan of A Beer for the Shower are throwing the Party Like Slim Dyson Contest, wherein you describe a party their character Slim Dyson might like.  You can view Slim Dyson's story on their blog (Check the sidebar).  You can win a signed manuscript.  Make the party anything you want!  December 17.

The Gifts Aren't Only From Santa Event will occur on December 14 and 15.  You will find games, giveaways, free YA novels and discounted novels, which will benefit Children's Hospital.

Of Interest/Other:

Steve Rosenbaum posted about "How to De-Risk Book Publishing."  He talked about the changing publishing world and how to build a modern platform.

Random House is launching three new digital imprints.

Anything to share?  Ever heard of the cog?  Or similar?  Have you visited Santa this holiday season?  What would you ask for?

May you find your Muse.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Day the Ninja Died aka Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest

The day has come to embarrass, I mean, cheer on Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the most giving bloggers around.  This blogfest is being put on by Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy, Stephen Tremp, and David Powers King, and runs December 10-12.

We're supposed to answer a handful of questions.  The first of which is "What does Alex look like?"  You see, he's an enigma.  No one knows what he looks like.  For me, ever since I watched his CassaFire book trailer he's sort of come to resemble his character in my head.

For some reason I picture him with lighter hair, though.  And a friendlier face.

"Who would play him in a documentary?"  I'm always sort of bad at this unless it's a fictional character.  The image in my head and the personality conflict, but I'm going to go with Tom Hanks, because he's the nice everyman.

"Who does Alex remind you of?"  Alex.  He is his own person.  I can't say he reminds me of anyone.

"Write Flash Fiction using these words: Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar."

Dream to Reality

Cavanaugh studied the Cosbolt in awe, taking in the sheen off its surface, the wicked curves.  He'd thought this day would never come, considering Cosbolts began as figments of the ninja's imagination, but his books had drawn the attention of a secret government group, the IWSG (Intergalactic Warfare in Space Group), who had been studying his books, fleshing out the details to the finest points.  What no one previously realized was that he had laid out the blueprints for a battalion designed to take world warfare to new heights.  Until then, he picked up his guitar, settling in. 

Soon.  Soon.


Before I close this post out, I received two awards from two different bloggers and have been remiss in thanking them here.  I'd like to do that now.

Sonnia, of Brownbugz, was sweet enough to give me the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Thanks again, Sonnia!

Randy Lindsay, who is kicking butt and taking names in getting short stories published, gave me the Addictive Blogger Award.

Thanks again, Randy!  I can't tell you how excited it makes me to see that Penumbra cover when I visit your blog.  So awesome!

Part of receiving the blog is that I briefly talk about why I blog and how I got started.  I got started because  I kept hearing writers needed to have a blog to get anywhere, because they needed to establish the "P" word (Platform, blech).  I set it up, but had absolutely no idea what to do with it, so it languished. 

Then the A-to-Z Challenge came along, and I decided to jump in and try it.  I had so much fun, met so many people, and I haven't looked back since.  Yeah, you can establish a blog for platform, but it's not going to do you any good unless you really care about your blog and the people you're reaching out to.  Platform became far less important to me, and my blog and all of you who visit me, and those I visit, mean far more than I knew could happen when I started.  Thus, the entire blogosphere is addictive, and you're all welcome to the award.  I just can't narrow it down to a handful of people as being the reason I stick around.

What blogs do you guys find awesome or addictive?  Why do you blog?  How do you see Alex J. Cavanaugh?  Are you part of the real IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group)?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG & Linkies

Today's the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Do you ever feel like the only thing holding you in the publishing rigmarole is that you've put yourself out there and declared yourself a writer, so you feel like you have to go through with it?  

I love writing, so that isn't the issue.  But there are days where I look at all the work that goes into publication and wonder if it's worth it.  Do I want to jump through all these hoops?  Is publication that important to me?  Is this what I want?  Did I kill the joy of it?

Then I stumble across a blog where someone's posting that they've been accepted, agented, published or optioned.  Or I pick up a new book at the store and I get a tingle of excitement that starts in my gut, and I think "Some day this could be me."

And then I remember what I want and why, and I get excited and inspired all over again.

Really quickly, before we get to the links, I've posted over at the A-to-Z Challenge Blog asking for feedback on questions you'd like the A-to-Z co-hosts to answer during our introductions when the new A-to-Z "season" begins.  Let us know!


Accepting Submissions:

Assent Publishing is accepting submissions at various imprints.  See the tabs along the top to check out the different types of stories they are seeking. 


Konstanz Silverbow of No Thought 2 Small is running a giveaway for those who help her cheer up her friend by commenting on her blog, as well as other fun duties that will earn you additional entries.

Jeremy Bates is giving away 20 free Kindle copies of his book The Taste of Fear to celebrate the holidays.  Stop by and enter!


Savvy Authors has tons of awesome workshops/classes online.  They appear to average about $15-20 per class.  If there's something you're struggling with, chances are they've got a class in the next year to cover it.  Great option if you can't attend in-person workshops.  


Need help getting your social media organized and linked together?  RebelMouse looks like an easy and interesting way to do it.  I haven't tried it yet, though.

Pretty sure I've passed this website along before, but they've got great resources, so I'm doing it again.  At FundsforWriters you can find submissions being accepted, grants, active markets and contests.

Duotrope is switching to a paid service, due to not having the funds to continue providing the data for free.  If you don't know what Duotrope is, it's a phenomenal resource for open markets of all kinds.  There will be some data available free, I believe, but it will be limited.  Cost will be $5 per month or $50 annually.

Jodi Renner at Crime Fiction Collective put together a great resource for writer's conferences.  The Pikes Peak Writers Conference is in there!

Anything to pass along?  Anyone tried RebelMouse?  Have experience with FundsforWriters?  How do you feel about Duotrope going paid? What makes you insecure as a writer?

May you find your Muse.