Adios, 2016!

Or “Good riddance!”, as so many of my friends have shrieked at the top of their lungs, or typed IN ALL CAPS on social media, whichever the case may be. Okay, yeah, I get it, sort of. Your favorite celebrity died, your preferred politician didn’t win, or your team lost their Big Game!  It’s HORRIBLE! It’s the end of the world as we know it! Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

I could go off on everything that was bad about 2016 easily enough. I could sob over still not finding a ‘traditional’ publisher for my novels. I could bemoan the fact that online sales suck and that I’ve typed my fingers to bloody stumps asking for folks to at least post reviews. I could go off on a tangent about how unfair it is that people who have held a very good paying job for 5+ years can’t afford to buy a house while other people who haven’t worked a lick in that same period of time get all these special treatments when it comes to housing. There’s a rant out there about a-hole bosses who take advantage of their employees to the point that they are driven to physical illness and end up having to quit a job they otherwise loved. I could cry over the deaths of a myriad of celebrities that I liked. I could cuss and stomp my feet over the unfairness of our elections. I could begrudge how the Carolina Panthers lost the Super Bowl and that the Cleveland Indians didn’t win the World Series. But, I’m not going to do that, because I’m an optimist and I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing the “Apocalypse Is Nigh” from every other person on Facebook. I refuse to be one of ‘those people’.

Instead, I’m going to look at 2016 as the year I made more progress on my writing career, with or without the advantages a publishing house could give me. I’d love to have help with advertising and promotions and setting up signings, readings, and sales. I could be a lot further ahead of the game if I had all that, sure, but I don’t. I did the best I could with what I DO have. I did a Book Club talk and I had three signing events where turnout was good and sales were more than I’d actually imagined they’d be. That’s more than I’ve ever had before and I’m truly grateful. I made some new friends and got some great advice and some much appreciated help from far more successful writers than I.

I got remarried! That’s pretty darned awesome. I met a man against a whole lot of odds who was willing to pretty much give up his whole life 1400+ miles away and move up to this Arctic Backwoods Wasteland so we could be together. After living together for almost three years, we tied the knot on a beautiful day in August down by my parent’s pond with an amazing view of the valley below. It was small, only forty people, simple, and very casual and laid back. I’m not even going to mention those few things that didn’t happened perfectly as planned because they don’t matter. The end result is the same.

Life has been very good to me and mine in 2016. Most of the time things went how we hoped. Sometimes, not so much, but at the end of it all, we are happy. We have a place to live, food to eat, and warm clothes for winter. We have family and friends that love us, support us, and encourage us with our dreams. We have love. We have happiness. We have hope.

That’s how I’m ending 2016 and that’s how I’m going to enter 2017.

Thank you to everyone who helped make 2016 so amazing! May you all have a wonderful and prosperous new year!

It’s That Time Of The Month!

No, no, no. Not *THAT* time of the month, the other one. The one where I encourage you all to visit me over on Facebook and give me a like. Or, at least that’s what I’ve been doing over on Facebook the past year. Time to expand my horizons, me thinks.

It’s really my go-to place for quick writing updates and announcements. My blogging efforts aren’t always up to snuff. Twitter forces me to keep it short. Facebook is my happy Social Media middle.

So, yeah… c’mon over and join the fun.

Pamela Morris Books On Facebook!

 

A Blessed Day.

It’s the kind of tired you have at the end of a very good day. It’s a tired that leaves you smiling and satisfied and grateful for all that you have been blessed with. You’ve been up and going almost non-stop for the past twelve hours; visiting with family and friends, eating more food in one day than some people see in a month, receiving wonderful gifts, seeing the smiles of joy on the faces of the people you love as they open their gifts, everything just seemed to go right, and laughing, laughing until tears stream down your cheeks and your stomach hurts.

It’s the kind of tired when all you want to do is cuddle down in comfy pajamas, but knowing that when you go to sleep, that wonderful day is going to be gone when you wake up again. Yet, you yawn and know eventually you’re going to have to do it. You’re going to have to say, “Goodbye and good night,” to that wonderful day and hold on to everything that is was and meant to you.

This was my blessed day and for it I am truly grateful.

 

And the winners are….

CONGRATULATIONS to Timothy Hall, Breanna Harchuck, Stephanie Martorana!

Santa was pretty busy last night delivering toys, but I’m sure his little elf will get those mailed out ASAP!

We had 915 entries this time around. More giveaways will be coming your way in 2017.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

How Crow Stole The Sun – A Retelling

In the beginning the world was in total darkness.

Crow, a beautiful white bird that lived high on a remote mountain top, and who had existed in this darkness from the beginning, grew very tired of walking and flying around running into things all the time.

whitecrow

One day, Crow found his way to the home of an old man medicine man named Grey Hawk who lived alone with his daughter. Grey Hawk was not a very friendly man. He hated people and permitted no visitors. However, his daughter was very pretty and Crow, feeling sorry for her solitude, decided to introduce himself.

They quickly became the best of friends for Crow could talk as well as any person and the daughter was grateful to have his company. During one of their chats, Crow learned that the girl’s father had a great treasure. Hidden somewhere in the house, the old man had a tiny box concealed within many other boxes that held the light of all the universe within.

nestedboxes

Immediately, Crow vowed he would steal this box and the light within.

Crow thought long and hard on how he would steal the box. He watched Gray Hawk day in and day out, learning his habits, where he went, and for how long. Finally when he was certain he’d not be caught, he flew into Gray Hawk’s house. He looked and looked and found a box tucked under a pile of Buffalo hides. Being very clever, Crow opened one box after another, each one smaller than the last.

The smallest box sparkled from the inside out, unable to entirely hold all the light within. Crow knew then he’d found the one.  With it tucked in his beak, Crow flew as high into the sky as he could from the home, tiny sparks of light streaming from the box as he went, until he reached the secret mountain where he lived.

Looking back, Crow noticed that the pieces of light he’d spilled had risen high into the once totally black sky. Crow named them Stars. This was the first light.

Crow rested for the night and when he woke, he opened the box. Inside he found a glowing ball of fire. It was from this Crow believed the sparks now called Stars had come. Crow grasped the ball in his beak and once more flew up as high as he could go to place the ball in the sky among the Stars. Because it was so much bigger, brighter and heavier than the sparks that had fallen from it, Crow wasn’t able to get is as far. This he named the Sun.

By the time Crow returned home, the day had passed and the Sun had sunk below the horizon and the world was dark again save for the Stars. Crow returned to the box and found a second ball. This one was much smaller and not as bright. He took the ball into his beak and flew as high as he could. He placed it in on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun so that it could be seen at night with the Stars. This he named the Moon.

sunmoonstars

Satisfied, Crow went home and rested.

The next day when the Sun rose, Crow peaked into the box one more time. It still wasn’t empty. Inside was a stick that had been set on fire by the great heat of the Sun. Beside it, was a bulging water skin.

Remembering Grey Hawk’s daughter and how hard she worked to draw water up from the well, Crow took the water skin and flew out from his mountain. As he went, water from the skin fell to the earth, filling the rivers, lakes, and oceans. All the People and animals that had once wandered in darkness and dug for water were grateful to Crow for all he’d done. Grey Hawk was not.

Grey Hawk was furious and had a plan of his own to get rid of thieving Crow once and for all. He couldn’t return the Stars, Moon, Sun, or Waters to the box, but he hoped he’d still be able to take Fire back. As Crow flew overhead to return to his mountain, Grey Hawk secretly followed him on foot. It was a long, hard journey for the Medicine Man, but he still had one more trick up his sleeve.

When night fell and Grey Hawk knew Crow would be sleeping, the Medicine Man climbed the great mountain where the bird lived. Near sunrise, he found Crow in a huge nest at the very top. In the middle of the nest sat the box from which glowed the light and heat of Fire. Crow lay with his white wings wrapped protectively around it.

Grey Hawk inched his way in, closer and closer, and was just about to snatch the glowing twig when the Sun rose full and bright. Crow opened his eyes and immediately saw the old man and knew what he was after. The bird snatched the burning stick from the box and took to the sky as fast as he could. It was then that Grey Hawk revealed his final secret. He transformed into an actual Hawk and flew after Crow as fast as his great wings would take him.

crowNhawk

Crow was shocked! Grey Hawk was much bigger than him, but not as agile. Crow rose and fell, darting left and right, doing all in his power to out maneuver his enemy. As he flew, smoke from the twig blew back, coating his once white wings until they were completely black. Crow didn’t care.

Hawk chased him still, snapping at the fiery twig and Crow every chance he got. Crow darted down between some rocks and accidentally dropped the twig. Fire fell even faster than Hawk or Crow could fly to catch it. It struck a pile of rocks, darkening them instantly then was snuffed out, seemingly lost forever.

The two birds screamed, squawked, and cawed at each other in rage! On seeing how the once beautiful white Crow was now as black as the sky had once been before stealing the treasure, Hawk laughed. “Now you are a black and ugly thing of darkness. No one will ever love you again!” the Medicine Man shouted. And that, he figure, was punishment enough. He flew away, thinking that no one would ever admire Crow for his beautiful plumage again.

Crow didn’t care. He’d given the People the Sun, Moon, and Stars. He’d given them the Oceans, River, and Lakes. But he was sad he’d not been able to give them Fire, too.

Many long days and nights passed and eventually Crow began to miss the old man’s daughter. He hadn’t dared to visit her in all this time, fearing the Medicine Man would try to kill him. But, one day he could stand it no more and flew from the mountain, down into the valley, and came to rest in a tree by a sparkling stream near where she lived.

As luck would have it, she was just coming from the cottage with a large kettle full of water in her hand. Crow waited and watched as she carried the kettle to a pile of sticks stacked nearby. Next, she pulled out her dagger and a shiny black stone. The daughter crouched, scraped the steel edge of the dagger to the stone and sparks flew into the dry tinder. Within minutes, there was a fine fire for cooking.

Too curious to stay away any longer, he swooped down.

The daughter was delighted and surprised to see Crow as Grey Hawk had told her Crow had been killed. Crow told her all that had happened and then about how he’d lost Fire among the rocks. The daughter laughed and said, “No, it wasn’t lost at all.” She showed him the rock and knife and how when the two were rubbed together, they made fire. “So you see, you gave us Fire, too!”

firecrow

To this day, Crow and Hawk remain enemies and you can still see and hear them fighting in the sky. And despite having lost his white feathers, Crow is much beloved by the People for it was he who brought them so many good things.

Author’s Note: I make no claims to the originality of this tale, only in the creation of this particular version. I’ve based it on several other pre-existing stories.

Title Image from: Deviant Art – Sackofwetrabbits – “Crow Steals The Sun”

Book Giveaway – FINAL COUNTDOWN!

There are only 10 days left of the book giveaway going on over at Goodreads!

People have this to say about No Rest For The Wicked

Hunter Shea (author of Island of the Damned & The Jersey Devil) – “If you’re looking for a chilling ghost story filled with mystery and escalating tension, look no further. No Rest for the Wicked is the real deal – an expansive, unfolding riddle between the living and the dead. It’s a true haunted house tale with a delightful twist.”

J. Williams – “It’s hard to scare me, but all three books I’ve read by this Author have managed to give me nightmares.”

S. Cobb – “I couldn’t read it at night….It picks you up from the very beginning and you don’t want to put it down until the end.”

Click Here To Enter: NO REST FOR THE WICKED GIVEAWAY!

 

 

Creating An Urban Legend

With Dark Hollow Road out of my hair for the next couple of months, I’ve been working on The Witch’s Backbone. Thanks to NaNoWriMo last month, I was able to buckle down and decide on the opening scene and yesterday wrapped up Chapter 10. Many of you will be happy to hear that we’ve moved back to Barnesville and surrounding areas for this one. The big difference is, we’ve taken a step back in time to the summer of 1980, where Nell’s knowledge of the macabre, magic, and witchcraft probably isn’t going to be of much use.

I’ve always had an interest in old legends and folklore, especially ones that relate to a specific location or things like Bloody Mary, where you stand in front of a mirror and say her name three times to summon the spirit of Mary Worth, a woman who is reputed to have been hung for witchcraft. What happens after that, I’ve no idea. We tried it as kids. Nothing happened. There’s one about a phantom hitchhiker who vanishes from the back seat of the car of anyone who dares pick her up. Usually she’s found walking some lonely stretch of highway in the rain. Where I come from, she’s wandering around Devil’s Elbow.

Folklore takes me back to the dark old days where fairy tales are born and stories of vampire, werewolves, and witches capturing children with houses made of candy to entice them in for a sweet snack. Things like the Scottish Kelpie that normally looks like a sort of water horse, but has the ability to shape shift to fool its victims, are pretty cool. There’s Black Shuck, a ghost dog, who roams the wilds of England and the Strigoi that you might know better as a vampire. And who doesn’t love to hear the eerie and lonesome scream of the Banshee at night? Ah, what beautiful music she makes!

I toyed with the Shadow Man (or the Hat Man, as he’s also called), in my murder-mystery, That’s What Shadows Are Made Of. While doing research on that, I chanced on The Night Hag or simple just The Hag and something called Old Hag Syndrome. The name of the phenomenon comes from the superstitious belief that a witch – or an old hag – sits on the chest of the victims, rendering them immobile. Old Hag Syndrome is often used as a way to explain a medical condition called Sleep Paralysis, which is reported to also happen when The Hat Man is paying a visit.

This poem also came to mind. I can’t say who wrote it, but judging by the wording, it seems pretty old.

If at night ye dare t’roam,
along the twisted, witch’s backbone,
avert thy gaze, meet not her eye,
or cursed thy life and soon t’die.

Thee won’t find her flying o’er the trees,
but lurking amongst the molded leaves,
and crawling in the stony crags,
in the stagnant filth, this loathsome Hag.

She’ll seek you out forever after,
making thy death her cruelest laughter
as sits she upon thy sleeping chest,
to draw from thee thy final breath.

Avoid the dangerous paths she treads.
Stay safe and sound within thy bed,
for ‘tis always best to neither walk nor ride,
along the witch’s backbone at night.

I liked the whole idea of The Hag and having had some firsthand experience with Sleep Paralysis as a teenager, thus knowing the amount of terror it can generate, decided I needed to put my spin on that piece of ancient folklore in the form of a small town urban legend. Thus was born The Witch’s Backbone.

Every kid in the area knows the rhyme associated with the witch and when twelve-year-old Tara Fielding finds herself staring back into the eyes of what she believes to be that loathsome hag, she freaks out. She and her friends decide the only way to know if the legend is true or not, (and to learn if Tara is about to meet an early death) is to spend the night camping near where she claims to have made eye contact with the creature. It’s an area in the woods, halfway between the county dump and the rocky ravine the witch is reported to haunt known as The Witch’s Backbone.

Good times, my friends, freaky good times!

Write On!

That Boy Needs To Build Some Character!

Not so long ago a friend asked how I go about creating characters. Her son is an aspiring writer and she’s noticed he puts a little bit of himself into at least one character in everything he writes. It’s not always a main character, but he’s in there. I told her I do the same thing.

In a sense, my stories are my children and as such, the characters are natural extensions of myself.  Why wouldn’t I put part of who I am into everything? With some characters it’s very obvious. For others, it may not be detectable to anyone but me. There are, of course, the characters that do not resemble me in the slightest but may be based on family and friends or no one at all. None of them are exactly like the real people. A look is borrowed from one, an attitude from another, a fear, a past, or a quirk may come from yet a third.  I don’t go into a book knowing everything there is to know about my characters any more than you would know everything there is to know about someone you meet on the street. Who they are unfolds page by page, moment by moment. But how, exactly, is a character, especially a totally fictional one, created? To be honest, I don’t have a real cut and dry answer for that, but I can give you an idea of the process that I go through.

You’ve Got The Look

First impressions are often based on physical appearance. Even without speaking to a person or knowing anything about them, you can see them. You can see the way they dress and move. There’s always body language to consider. You can hear their voice. You can smell the scents that waft around them, for good or bad. You may, if you get close enough, even be able to taste that individual. It’s no different when creating a fictional character. Sometimes looks mean absolutely nothing holding true that old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when writing you need to consider how a person comes across in these ways and the impression you want to give to your readers.

What’s Your Story?

Creating characters involves creating stories within your story. For my novel “No Rest For The Wicked”, I use the tagline, “Every ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told.” This may be true for ghosts, but when it comes to creating your characters, you better know their history if you want to give them any depth at all.  Why do they act like they do? Why does he walk with a limp? Why is that fifty-year-old man still afraid of the dark? What happened to this person before you came along to make them say and do the things they are saying and doing now? You can find Character Sheets online to help you sort all this out. These will ask you questions about your character that you may never have considered. I’ve only filled out a few of these that, in the end, I never referred back to once I got into the story. Some people swear by them and their use really can’t hurt. I tend to work a lot more organically.  Don’t think of your characters as just characters. Think of them as people. Listen to them. They’ll tell you everything you need to know… eventually.

Becoming An Environmentalist

The setting of the story plays a huge part in what sorts of people are going to populate your world. And those people will play a role in who your specific characters are.  Past, Present, or Future? Rural or Urban? Poverty, wealth, or somewhere in between? A loving home or one full of violence and pain?  Are they messy or a neat freak? What is your characters relationship to the other members of the family, their neighbors, and where do they fit in to the community as a whole? Are they native to the area or a newcomer? Does your character even like where he or she lives? If not, maybe that’s part of their problem and their motivation. Use those things to find out more and propel your plot forward. I do a fair amount of research on the settings in my books. I want my readers to BE THERE! I want them to see where all this is going on as vividly as I can.

Lastly, Show Don’t Tell

I’m told there are no rules when writing, but I firmly believe that “Show, Don’t Tell” is a rule and it’s something EVERY writer of fiction needs to understand and do. Years ago my daughter had to write something for English class and she came to me for help. Her story started out something like, “Ethan Havoc walked down the road. It was raining. He had headphones on listening to his favorite band. He sang every word of the song out loud not caring who heard him.” This is an example of TELLING the reader what’s happening. It doesn’t show me much. I asked her a few questions about Ethan, his appearance, posture, how he’s walking (body language).  Then I asked about the rain (environment). Is it raining hard or just misting?  Does he have an umbrella? Next, we moved on to what kind of music Ethan is listening to. It could be anything from Anthrax to Beethoven. We can’t tell from what is given and knowing a character’s choice of ‘favorite band’ is going help us understand him better (backstory). After our talk, she came up with this, “Aiden Havoc scuffed his feet as he walked home. Water dripped off the ends of his hair and soaked the back of his hoodie. School had just let out for the day and his headphones blared loud shreds of The Misfits in his ears. He sang every word of the song out loud not caring who heard him or saw him shake his greasy black hair to the music.”  Ah, ha! We know Ethan and his surroundings a WHOLE lot better now, don’t we?

So, there you have it, my take on character creation. There’s a lot more to it than this, but that’s something that I can’t explain in words without sounding certifiably insane. As the story moves along, the characters reveal more through their thoughts and actions based on whatever it is they are facing in their environment. It’s not always something I consciously decide. It just happens. And that’s when the real magic of writing takes place. I hope this has answered some questions for readers and if you’re a writer, I hope it helps you become a better one!

Write On!

Book Giveaway At Goodreads

Time’s a tickin’, my friends! There are only 20 days left for you to enter for a chance to win my newest releases, “No Rest For The Wicked”. It’s a cozy little tale about three ghosts hanging out in a Virginia plantation house. Two of them are quite chatty. The third, well, he’d rather you all just bugger off and leave him to his most unpleasant and sadistic business.

No Rest For The Wicked – Goodreads Book Giveaway

Every ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told.