Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Insight Into Conference Cancellations

First, thank you to everyone who participated in the blog hop on Friday, the 13th, and everyone who stopped by, and has so far purchased a copy of Bruised Souls & Other Torments! I just got my author copy today, so I was quite nervous, but everything looked great!

I know a lot of you are facing event cancellations, including writing conferences. I volunteer with Pikes Peak Writers, and we had to make the unfortunate choice to cancel this year's Pikes Peak Writers Conference. As one of the people who runs our monthly writing events, I'm also in the middle of scrambling to cancel and postpone events, and to figure out how to run them online for the next month. (If you have suggestions for how to run events where people can talk to each other online, I'd appreciate them! We're looking at Zoom and Facebook Live for different types of events.)

I thought some people might be curious as to why this string of cancellations may put various businesses and non-profits out of business and/or into bankruptcy. We were EXTREMELY lucky in that the event venue for our conference is willing to work with us. Had they shrugged and stuck to the contract, we would have had to claim bankruptcy, and our 501(c)(3) would have been no more. We would not have been able to recover.

Conferences put out a lot of money ahead of the event. Luckily, some of the costs are last minute, so that's money that doesn't go out until just before the event (some the week of) or after the event.

Advance Expenses (this isn't an exhaustive list--it's just to give an idea):
Airfare for faculty (this is a big one)
Registration/software/credit card fees (every transaction costs a certain amount in fees)
Percentage of the upcoming costs due to the hotel/venue in advance (massive chunk)
Bags/badge holders/printing/notebooks/pens/other giveaway shwag
Staff awards
Faculty shwag

Expenses Week of and Week After (again, not exhaustive):
Program printing/sign printing/other printing/printing supplies
Green room supplies
Faculty checks
Decorations for venue/ballroom
Final payment to hotel (includes hotel rooms for staff/faculty, food and beverage)(by far the largest chunk of money goes to this)
Books ordered for onsite bookstore
Consignment fees out to authors

I can't speak for other conferences, but for ours, money brought in for conference fees must cover the conference expenses, overhead for the annual costs of running a non-profit, expenses for monthly programming, etc. So having to refund conference fees to everyone means no money brought in to cover the annual expenses of the organization, on top of conference expenses already paid out and non-refundable. Plane tickets can be used within the next year, but unfortunately, the next conference is more than a year out, so we can't reuse those tickets. Anything paid out ahead of time is a loss.

I also work for a small business, a restaurant. At this time, our governor has shut down bars, restaurants, theaters, and similar businesses, except for takeout, drive-thru, or curbside. Each small business that cannot operate right now still has to pay their rent, utilities, etc. The big concern, of course, is the employees of these places. Most businesses appear to be adapting (as we have), and are providing takeout and curbside, which keeps their employees working and earning money. But bars can't do this, nor can many other types of businesses. If restaurants in your area are staying open, consider supporting local. Corporations have something to fall back on, and they will survive. Small businesses have nothing to keep them going.

We're living through interesting times right now. What it's shown is that humans (most, anyway) are quick to adapt and survive. I hope you're all doing well. If you've had an event canceled, please try to be kind to those responsible for running it. The decision to cancel an event is a hard one, and there are many factors people may not think about when it comes to following through. Bear in mind, also, that writers conferences and other types of conventions are often run by volunteers, so we're all doing this on top of day jobs and other life events, and we're doing so for free.

On a side note, if you have children home from school during this, you might want to ask them if they have friends who are in a bad situation at home and could use a break by coming to your house. Also, it helps if you can check if any of their friends need food or access (aka driving them) to places giving out lunches and breakfasts for those who are accustomed to getting them at school. Check with your elderly neighbors and immuno-compromised friends to see if you can do a grocery run or help with other errands. And if you have other ideas for how to help others, please feel free to leave your ideas in the comments.

Stay safe.

Has an event you were looking forward to been canceled? Has your town shut down yet? Do you know of an online format that might work to have meetings? Any ideas for how to help others during the quarantine?

May you find your Muse.

*Nosmoke Clip Art (dollar signs),, OCAL
*Hotel Icon Room Service Clip Art,, OCAL

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday the 13th Bruised Souls Blog Hop: Urban Legends and Old Wives Tales

Hello, my spooky friends. It's officially Friday, the 13th! Aside from being a horror movie extravaganza holiday for some of us, it's also the day my new collection, Bruised Souls & Other Torments, is available for sale!

As of the time of this posting, the e-book is live on Amazon, but the paperback isn't yet. It should pop on there any time. I'll have it available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc. in the coming week.

You can buy it on Amazon by clicking this link.

Updating with the paperback link. It's now live on Amazon! 

Fear resides in the soul.

A welcoming widow with a twisted appetite; a war-time evil lurking behind the face of a child; a father’s love gone horribly wrong; a deadly government solution; a new job with a demonic pay scale; a woman trapped in a mysterious house with no memory of who she is or how she got there. These are a mere glimpse of the terrors that lie in wait in this collection of horror short stories, sure to grip the psyche and torment the soul.

To celebrate Friday, the 13th and Bruised Souls, the following people are participating in the blog hop. Stop by and visit them for a little creepy fun. They'll be posting either an urban legend, an old wives tale, or something scary that happened to them in real life.

Yolanda Renee - Basement Creepies
Juneta Key - Big Foot
Patricia Lynne - Vanishing Hitchhiker
Jemi Fraser - Walter's Ghost/Creepy Culvert
Tonja Drecker - Dvigrad
Kalpana - Delhi Djinns
Donna Hole - Sasquatch

Since I'm heading out to Oregon soon, here's an urban legend you may not have heard of before. In Portland, Oregon, a game called Polybius was in arcades. It was claimed that it caused psychoactive issues and was part of a secret government psychological experiment. The men in black even came into play, with people saying they saw men in black visiting the games to grab the data gathered there. It's said that it disappeared without a trace.

For a little more fun, here's a video about urban legends that are actually true.

What's your favorite urban legend or old wives tale? What's something scary that has happened to you? Do you believe any of the urban legends in the video? Have you nabbed your copy of Bruised Souls & Other Torments?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

St. Elmo & Cover Reveal!

I'm just going to have to apologize in advance for the kazillion photos on the rest of this post, but I finally got to go up to St. Elmo, a ghost town in the Colorado mountains that's one of the most preserved ghost towns in the U.S. In fact, it's so well preserved that some of the houses are still inhabited, and those inhabitants not only run a general store, but lovingly preserve the empty houses. I'm not going to lie, there's a part of me that would absolutely adore living in one of those houses. I'm a sucker for a ghost town and, basically, anything having to do with the old west.

St. Elmo was a mining town (gold and silver), founded in 1880. The railroad went up to it, and the population boomed to about 2000 at one point. The tracks were abandoned in 1922, and the last family (the Starks) left in 1958. I'm not sure when people started moving back in. You can take snowmobiles up to an even higher, older, less preserved town called Tin Cup in the winter, and take a 4WD vehicle up in summer. We didn't get to do that this time, but what I REALLY want is to go up there in the fall to get photos of St. Elmo with the aspens golden around the houses, and I'd like to take the Jeep up to Tin Cup, as well.

Before I post the bazillion photos of St. Elmo, I need to let you know that my second collection, Bruised Souls & Other Torments, is up for pre-order (Kindle) at Amazon, and will be be available in e-book and paperback this Friday, the 13th! Click on the title above to pre-order the e-book!

Fear resides in the soul.

A welcoming widow with a twisted appetite; a war-time evil lurking behind the face of a child; a father’s love gone horribly wrong; a deadly government solution; a new job with a demonic pay scale; a woman trapped in a mysterious house with no memory of who she is or how she got there. These are a mere glimpse of the terrors that lie in wait in this collection of horror short stories, sure to grip the psyche and torment the soul.

If you'd like to help spread the word, I'm holding a blog hop Friday the 13th for a little creepy fun. The sign up form and information can be found at the bottom of this post.

Finally, I was interviewed by the Functional Nerds (well, one of them, who is also a good friend). You can listen to the interview HERE.

Okay, back to the photos. One of the things that I found interesting was how deep the snow was. Of course, a snow plow goes through there now, but when you look at these photos, imagine what it would have been like before snow plows, to be up on top of this mountain with snow halfway up the doors, and have to get out to hit the store. Note that I also made sure to post a picture that included an outhouse. Pretty sure they were using chamber pots in the winter, because no way would I have wanted to walk through four feet of snow to go to the bathroom, especially in the middle of the night.

Also mind blowing is the fact that some of these houses are inhabited. You'll notice which ones are updated with paint, outdoor furniture, and that sort of thing (one of the houses has a satellite dish--I don't believe I got a picture of that).

Part way through our time in St. Elmo it started to snow. It was so peaceful up there, even with a couple other tourists wandering around. A hush existed over everything. I could imagine the quiet of snow season up there. Then again, I could also imagine the cabin fever and other issues associated with heavy snowfall and having your access cut off from everywhere else.

Have you visited any neat ghost towns? Does your area have broken down homesteads scattered about? Will you be joining me on the blog hop? (Thank you to those who have signed up already!)

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG & Friday the 13th Blog Hop

Yay! It's the first Wednesday of March. Spring is coming! Is anyone else already over the winter? I love the changing of seasons, but our winter here has been drearier than usual. The way snow falls in Colorado is it dumps a bunch of snow on us, then the sun comes out the next day and all the snow melts. This year it's lingered, and the sun has stayed hidden for a week at a time, which does NOT help those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even though spring in Colorado still means snow, it also means surprisingly nice days, sun, and deep blue skies. It's 58 degrees today! In the dry air of Colorado, that means no coat for me, warm cars, and a warm house.

But while we wait for spring, why not enjoy another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves as a way for insecure writers (and who among us isn't) to get and give support. Anyone can sign up; just click on Alex's name and add your blog to the linky list. You can also participate on the Facebook page if you don't have a blog.

This month's co-hosts are:

The optional question is:
Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I'm sure I've inadvertently reflected customs in stories, but I can't think of a specific one. I admit, I have trouble answering these types of questions, because at this point I've written A LOT of short stories, and they're each their own universe. I start going through each one in my head before giving up.

My insecurities right now involve titles and book launches. My second collection of horror short stories is coming out this month, and I'm second guessing the title and trying to figure out if I should do a launch party at all. I did a poll for the title in a writing group I'm part of on Facebook, and the one that won was the one I already had, and was wondering about. So I'm probably sticking with that title, though it's different from my first collection in that part of the title is NOT named after one of the stories in the collection, which means I changed the rules on myself. But hey, it's a lot easier to not have to change everything already in the book, right?

As far as the book launch, I'm curious: how do you feel about book launch parties for second, third, fourth, etc. books? The first book is a big deal, but do people feel meh about going to launch parties/signings each time an author has a new book come out? Let's be honest. The reason I'm wondering about this is that I'm afraid of having a book launch that no one shows up to. I remember being so scared and prepared to be let down when I launched Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations. Then I was pleasantly surprised. But it's not my first release this time, so I have no idea if it's worth having a party.

I'll be having a blog hop on Friday the 13th to get the word out about my collection. If you'd like to participate, you can sign up via the form at the bottom of this post. I ask that you post on Friday, March 13 with one of the following:
1. Your favorite urban legend
2. Your favorite old wives' tale
3. Something scary that occurred in real life and taught you an important lesson

I'll send book information to everyone before the 13th.

Time for stats. I post my submission stats each month to keep myself accountable. My stats in February are:

4 submissions
2 rejections (one with a nice personal rejection and a request to submit something else)
1 anthology release including one of my short stories
0 acceptances

Currently reading: The Year's Best Horror and Dark Fantasy: 2015

Currently watching: Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23 (it's an oldie, but one that amuses me to no end, so I'm watching it again.) This is the show Kristen Ritter starred in before Jessica Jones. And though I never watched Dawson's Creek (so I'm sure there are in-jokes I'm missing somewhere), James Van Der Beek playing himself is hysterical.

Just finished watching: I may or may not be ashamed to say that the other day I binge watched the entire season of a new show called I Am Not Okay With This. It's a YA starring two of the kids from IT (Bev and Stanley). It's about a young woman hitting puberty while also gaining some scary super powers. On top of all of that, her dad committed suicide less than a year before, and she thinks she likes girls. Talk about a lot going on in your life at once.

Will you be signing up for the blog hop? What are your insecurities? Have you seen either of the TV shows I mentioned? How do you feel about book launches for books beyond the first one?

May you find your Muse.

*Swoosh Blue Clip Art images courtesy of, Victoria