Writer Work Weekend!

20150523_223934It’s my dream come true – a whole day to work to catch up on my writing projects. I have four main things I’d like to accomplish: finish The Braid, start The Injustice League Misfortunes (yes, the same Injustice League that first appeared in Mr. BoneJangles), finish my rewrite of End of Mae’s second chapter and get it up for beta readers, and start a new project that I won’t reveal for now.

There’s also format a book cover, send some interview questions, laundry, sort my closet, balance bank accounts, wash the car, water the garden… it’s a busy day as always, the only difference is IT’S ALL MINE!

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StokerCon Registration Begins!

UPDATE: StokerCon tickets are now for sale and the official website is LIVE! Tickets are just $99 until June 5th. I predict StokerCon will sell out. Details at StokerCon2016.org!

StokerCon

Remember when I talked about the stunning news of the first ever StokerCon coming next year? Today it was announced on the Horror Writer’s Association Facebook page that registration will begin this weekend! From the page:

For those who missed the announcement, our Guest of Honor Authors so far for StokerCon2016 are: Jack Ketchum, Daniel Knauf, R.L. Stine, Leslie S Klinger, and our toastmaster is Stephen Jones-Editor. Expect Q&As with these guests, as well as readings, workshops, contests, critiques, pitch sessions, parties and the annual Bram Stoker Awards banquet! All of Vegas to entertain you and 500 of your closest friends in the horror business! Mark your calendars now: May 12th-15th, 2016 at The Flamingo!

Watch the StokerCon page for details, save your money and pack your bags – we’re going to Vegas!

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Rough Draft: The Braid

StairThe month has been so busy and stressful I haven’t gotten any of my own writing done until tonight. I’ve started a short story I’ve been thinking about since last month. This is just the beginning, but feel free to share thoughts and suggestions to make it better. I’m looking forward to a long weekend and, finally, some time to work.

Before I share some of my new story, I’d like to thank people and friends who take time to visit and read. The other day a friend brought up that she had been reading my blog. Inside I was ecstatic and flattered, but outside I played nonchalant. I apologize. If you are reading this, thank you. Knowing someone is reading is the biggest compliment. I just get shy when I know someone’s paying attention :)

And now, here’s the beginning of my rough draft, more to come. Comments and critiques welcome.

The Braid

Nine o’clock—time to put the brat to bed. Cambria yawned, stretched and groped for the remote. Clicking off the television, she listened to the quiet house. It seemed too quiet.

“Hey Brat!” she called out. “What are you destroying now?” Silence. Cambria felt a shiver go through her bowels. “You better answer me…” Her voice trailed off as her ears picked up a gargling sound from upstairs. She dropped the remote and ran to the staircase. She rounded the corner to see Missy, the kid she was babysitting, on the top step, her eyes bulging out of her head, face blue. The five year old’s tongue protruded from her mouth and she gave a guttural, gargling cry.

“Oh my God!” Cambria yelled out as she took the stairs three at a time. “Oh my God!” she yelled again and she grabbed Missy and shook her. “What is wrong with you?” She stuck her fingers in Missy’s mouth to search for whatever she was choking on.

“Merph… stop it,” Missy said around the invasive fingers. Cambria pulled her fingers out while the little girl pushed her away. “What the Hell are you doing? You scared me to death,” she scolded. Missy giggled. “Your fingers taste like butt,” she said.

“You are such a brat,” said Cambria. “I’m going to tell your parents I can never babysit for you again because you’re so bad. They’ll probably spank you.” She pushed the girl to one side and sat down. “I guess you better go to bed so you don’t piss me off anymore.”

“No!” Missy protested. “I’ll be better. I was just pretending I was like the woman with the braid.” Her chin trembled as she looked up at Cambria. “She was making funny faces.” The little girl turned her face away from Cambria and looked up into the empty air above the stairwell and Cambria followed her gaze.

The ceiling was high enough to be slightly in shadow with a dark wooden beam crossing over the stairwell for decoration. The beam creaked slightly as the house shifted and Cambria felt thick silence stuff itself into the empty rooms around them. “What woman,” she asked in a low voice.

Missy pointed to the beam, creaking softly with the invisible movement of the house. It was regular, rhythmic and Cambria wondered why she’d never noticed the sound before. She swallowed. “There’s no one there, stupid.” Cambria shook off the trembling feeling that was settling into her stomach.

“C’mon,” she said said, standing up. Her voice seemed to ring through the house. “Let’s get you to bed.” Missy was still staring at the shadows over the stairs. Cambria tried again. “C’mon now and I’ll give you a braid your like hers.” Missy looked up at her babysitter, blue eyes wide with shock.

“No!” she cried. “No Cambria, don’t give me a braid like hers. That’s why she makes funny faces.” To demonstrate, Missy cocked her head at an unnatural angle, and let her jaw go slack. She rolled her eyes up as she held her breath and stuck out her tongue again. Realization washed through Cambria’s mind and her chest tightened. Missy gargled and choked before taking a breath.

“The braid’s around her neck,” she said. Cambria turned her head to look back up at the dark ceiling and the beam that still creaked softly, under the weight of nothing.

To be continued…

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Horror Hooligans Are Coming!

Horror HooligansJust saw a new ezine that’s coming – Horror Hooligans will be released June 1 for just 99 cents. Some of the best new authors as well as some seasoned purveyors of darkness will be showcased in this new publication, and I can’t wait to read it. This is going to be fantastic!

This is a project out of Forsaken, an imprint under BookTrope. Keep watch here June 1 for the big release!

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Meeting Jack Ketchum

girl-next-door-ketchum-warner-1989Tonight I was poking around online looking for something interesting when I came across a list of the top 100 scariest books. The number one book by Horror Novel Reviews was Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door.

“I met him at HWC!” is all I could think of. Walking around the convention, Jack Ketchum had the air of a rock star. I had a chance to speak with him outside the hotel as we stood outside watching the cars pass and we talked about cats. Nothing stellar, just how we both liked cats.

Of course, I’ve added The Girl Next Door to my reading list. Next year, if I see Ketchum at StokerCon in Las Vegas I might have some amazing questions to ask about his books and his “writer’s process,” but in the end I will probably still just talk about cats.

Who doesn’t like cats?

 

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Terror Versus Horror

Expression_of_the_Emotions_Figure_21

Figure 21 from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Caption reads “FIG. 21.—Horror and Agony, copied from a photograph by Dr. Duchenne.”

There was an interesting discussion made during one of the workshops at the recent HWC – horror versus terror.

It was pointed out that the horror genre, which includes Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and Ray Bradbury, is generally confused with the slash and gore associated with films like Friday the 13th, and what was referred to as the ‘terror genre.’

There’s a distinct difference between terror and horror that is often confused. In a frightening situation, terror comes first as the precursor to horror. Terror is hearing something breathe in the shadows just out of sight. Horror would be the monster stepping into the light.

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Caption reads "FIG. 20.—Terror, from a photograph by Dr. Duchenne."

Figure 20 from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Caption reads “FIG. 20.—Terror, from a photograph by Dr. Duchenne.”

Ideally, an effective work would elicit both emotions in a reader—terror and dread as the plot elements fall into place, building suspense, until the tension peaks into horror.

Terror creates hyper awareness. Every tick of the clock and creak of the stair seems amplified and nerves are taut and ready for action.

Horror, on the other hand, immobilizes. The ghost materializes and the scream freezes in the back of the throat. The reflection in the mirror transforms and the viewer stands transfixed and unable to react while the brain struggles to process. Terror is the build up, horror is the punchline.

Devendra Varma, a scholar of vampire lore and English Gothic tales, wrote of this in The Gothic Flame:

The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.

Maybe the real distinction isn’t horror versus terror but well written versus badly written horror. Every genre suffers from the cheap trick authors who read that vampires-zombies-aliens are “in” and try to take advantage by churning out similarly themed fictional pulp.

In any genre, imaginative, well edited writing will still be standing on the shelf while the pretenders have long fallen off the map, disheartened. Instead of dividing forces, scribblers with spooky tendencies might do well to recognize horror and terror as two sides of the same coin and play both to their advantage.

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Food 4 Thought: Glass Half…

inspir4

Glass Half-Empty… Glass Half-Full… 

Either way, you won’t be going thirsty…

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Thanksgiving dinner’s sad and thankless
Christmas dinner’s dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey’s point of view.

Sunday dinner isn’t sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
‘Til I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner’s point of view.

– Shel Silverstein

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5 Tips for Eating at a Fast Food Restaurant

fastfoodtips

1. A “Section Temporarily Closed” sign does not mean “A Private Section just for YOU!”

If your cashier is staring at you with the look of utter annoyance as you sit down… I wouldn’t drink that milkshake.

2. If you’re going to order $300 worth of food…

Call ahead… instead of holding up the line in drive-thru.

3. Don’t leave your table looking like a hurricane just passed through when it’s 5 minutes until closing…

They don’t go to your home and throw trash all over the house before you’re about to go to bed.

4. If it’s been discontinued…

…No amount of crying, yelling or begging is going to magically make the ingredients appear in the kitchen.

5. If you don’t want a bun…

…or pickles, lettuce, mayonnaise or salt… why didn’t you just order a slab of meat with tomatoes?

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Why Do Dogs Leave Earth First?

cute-story-dogs-cancer

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The Original

Many times I believe we as humans are to harsh on ourselves. Nothing we will ever do is good enough… We measure our progress based on the actions of our betters instead of actually viewing how much we have truly gained since we began.

I’ve done illustrations for a few years now, not professionally but as a side hobby and I will be the first to admit that I have spent time looking at the art of others and thinking ‘Why can’t mine look like that?’. 03light

 

 

Well today I stumbled upon a drawing I did when I was in 6th grade (around the time I decided I wanted to be an artist) and when I look at where I was then to how I’ve grown as a person now… there really is a measurable distance. 1love_finished

There will always be those better than us. Strive to be the best but also don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. You deserve it!

 

 

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