My UFO Encounter

I’ve believed in a lot of very different things in my lifetime. Some I still believe in, others, not so much. Some of these beliefs would be considered pretty normal, like, you know, believing in God and angels, astrology (that’s normal right?), that the earth is round like a ball, that gravity works, the evolution of animals – including us humans. Other things could be described as weird by your run of the mill ‘man in the street’, New-age things, crystals, ghosts, Ouija boards and Tarot cards, and, of course, aliens and their celestial vehicles, UFOs.

With the recent release of a US Government document pertaining to UFO\UAP and said government’s inability to identify the unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) in many cases, I thought it was time I release my own official document about the matter and my personal (and shared) experience with what I believe was an extraterrestrial craft.

There was a report in the Binghamton Press back in July 1964 about several UFO sightings in Tioga County, NY, of which my hometown of Berkshire is part of. This vehicle, as reported was, “very bright” and of a pointed nature. It was also described as “quite large” and was seen flying at tree-top level. Those reporting the incident said no sound came from the object, which gave off a blueish-type light. The main witness to the event was an off-duty village police officer. Later, the two officers who had been called in to report the incident also saw, “two objects moving across the sky in an irregular pattern. The deputies stated that these objects did not appear to be any known aircraft.” The craft seen by the off-duty officer sure does sound a lot like the one my friends and I witnessed 25 or so years later – at least its ‘pointed nature’ and ‘no sound’ aspects. There was another much more famous sighting in 1964 that described the craft as egg-shaped. An account of this can be easily found here: 1964 UFO Landing – Gary Wilcox.

Going even further back to 1934, there was another Tioga County incident in which a 6-year-old by the name of Edith saw what she thought at first was a Greyhound bus parked in a cow pasture just outside of Owego, NY near Lounsberry. Her parents and she were returning home on Thanksgiving night of that year after spending the day with her grandparents. Edith’s father pulled the car over at the child’s excitement and both he and Edith got out of the car and saw a, “long, grey and round on the ends but she remembers that the windows weren’t like a regular bus. These windows were darkened and bulbous; she could even see some shadowy forms moving around inside.” Shortly after, an 85-year-old Edith recounted, the object suddenly rose up, hovered briefly over the pasture and, as she put it, “It just melted away.”

It wasn’t until very recently that I had a specific date to go with my personal encounter. For decades I couldn’t remember what year, let alone the specific date, this took place. One would think that in all the decades I’ve been keeping a journal, since 1977, I’d have written this event down, but searching through book after book has revealed nothing, no mention, not a word about it. I knew it was between 1988 and 1994 because I wasn’t living with my parents, I’d moved out in the summer of 1988, nor had I moved to my current home which happened in February 1995. However, thanks to a Facebook message I put out, a swarm of other witnesses stepped forward, publicly and in private DMs to let me know they too had seen this same craft that same night, Saturday, 13 May 1989. One childhood friend even had a newspaper clipping from our local paper, The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, which was feeble at best when describing what so many of us in my hometown and nearby towns actually saw that night.

It was a warm, Spring night when we saw it. Nobody was wearing a coat or even a light jacket and I remember the leaves on the trees being full and green. It was a cloudy, overcast night, too, as I recall it. Myself, boyfriend, and best friend had been at my parent’s house in Berkshire, NY, a small town about halfway between Ithaca, located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake and Binghamton, NY. Whatever business or social gathering we’d been taking part in together, most likely wedding plans, we three were walking to our cars, shouting our good nights to my parents who stood on the front porch and saying our goodbyes to my childhood friend, when someone happened to cast their eyes towards the southeastern sky, towards Binghamton, and said, “What’s that?”

The craft was massive, at least as wide as a football field is long, and moving very slowly towards us from above. I’m no good at measuring distances visually, but it was flying low, much lower than any of the more familiar planes I’d ever seen go by. The craft flew directly over our heads at a steady pace in a perfectly straight line. Its triangular shape blocked out the dark clouds high above. A singular light glowed at the underside pointed tip of the vehicle. More lights could be seen along each branch of the V-shaped vessel. Nothing but darkness appeared along the narrow sides. I don’t remember the lights having a color to them, just white. Others have said the front light was red. It was silent. There was no humming sound or buzz, no low-rumbling, no pulsing whir, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Perhaps that was the creepiest part of it all, this lack of sound. We stood there, utterly stunned at what we were all seeing.

Whatever this craft was, it was in no hurry. It passed overhead, continuing in its slow, steady, silent pace towards the northwest, maintaining its same elevation and speed the entire time. We stood and watched as long as we could, five to ten minutes. I’m not sure if the lights went out or if it simply got too far away for us to see them anymore, but eventually it was gone. Once it was out of sight, we all just looked at each other, verifying what we’d witnessed. My parents must have seen it too, but to be honest, I don’t remember them coming down off the porch and into the driveway with us to witness it. Furthermore, neither of them has ever mentioned the event in later years. My friend would later report that when she got home, which was less than a mile’s walk from my parents’ house, that her sister, who lived next door to her, reported to have also seen the craft.

In the days that followed there was a very brief TV news report of the event and the above article in the local paper appeared. That was the last I ever heard any ‘official’ reports on it. Years later people who hadn’t actually been witnesses told me that they’d read it was just some Japanese paper lanterns set aloft, or some said, helicopters flying in formation, to which I call, “Bullshit.” Japanese lanterns don’t fly in formation and helicopters aren’t silent. What we saw was a craft, of this world or another, I don’t know, but still a huge, silent, solid, airship – perhaps even an updated version, the latest model – if you will – of the one spotted all those years prior in 1964 in the same area. If anyone out there reading this also saw this same unknown vehicle flying in the skies between Binghamton and Ithaca, New York in May of 1989, post your story in the comments below, or contact me in a PM if you’d rather not go public with your experience. I’d love to hear about your encounter.

Horror WIP Update!

I’ve not posted about my Horror WIP (Work-In-Progress) in quite some time, mainly because nothing has been happening – in fact, just the opposite.

Let’s start with the premise of what will be Barnesville Chronicle book #5 (I hope). With it, I will be returning to the Murder-Mystery\Horror blend which in and of itself takes a lot longer to write than just straight up Horror. I have to pre-plan a lot. Not only do I have to know who the killer is, their motive, and how the murder was committed; I have to know who all the other suspects are, their motives, alibis, and the secrets they are trying to keep hidden. Plus, add in that Horror element and figure out where our beloved small town librarian and witches coven high priestess, Nell Miller, fits into the plot.

This time around a murder takes place in an abandoned stripper club on a hill just west of Owen known locally as The Devil’s Elbow, a name and place that will ring a bell with those of you who are familiar with the real-life setting that all things Barnesville is based on. Due to the nature of the murder scene, Nell is called in to add her occult-educated expertise to what and who might have committed such a heinous crime. 

Though progress was slow, the story was going along reasonably well. I started it just before Covid-19 appeared and gradually found myself having a hard time focusing on it. My brain didn’t want to deal with Horror, there was enough of that going on in the real world. But, I still needed to create and escape all that. I turned my focus on my first Children’s book, “Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away” instead. It was a godsend! It was released in November 2020. I still wasn’t feeling up to immersing myself back into Horror and had already started a second Bill The Worm book. I did work on the Devil’s Elbow book here and there, but my main focus was keeping things positive and drawing pictures of a happy-go-lucky worm and his friends was a lot more appealing.

Without the focus I needed, the Devil’s Elbow book suffered greatly. Over a year into it and I’d barely gotten 30,000 words done – a mere 15 chapters. There were too many characters, too many perspectives, too much this and that. The plot was going too slow, sometimes it felt like it was going nowhere at all. Scenes felt meaningless. I pushed on knowing I could always go back and fix the mess some of it was once I at least had a first draft done. And then…. Disaster.

While taking some time to save my work in more than one place, I accidentally did a complete overwrite instead of just a mere save. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, except I overwrote\saved a version of the manuscript that was a month old instead of the newest one I’d just been working on. Had I known in the moment what I’d done and how to undo it, it likely could have been rescued, but by the time I realized my error, it was too late. I lost a month-plus of work, five chapters, 1/3 of what had taken me over a year to complete. Devastated is putting it mildly. I’ve not opened the file since. That was almost three months ago. I’ve been working on another Bill the Worm book instead – unable to bring myself to get back into the Horror.

But, over the past week – my brain has been nudging me again. It’s been reworking some of the errors I’d made on that first go. It’s improving what I’d previously screwed up, removing characters, changing scenes and doing all around good things to make the story better. My interest in writing all these new and improved ideas down is growing and I’m hopeful that I’ll be diving back into the dark and gory underbelly of the quaint and quiet surface that makes up another Barnesville Chronicle.

Too Much Stuff, & Then Some

As the time draws near for another chapter of my life to begin, I’ve been doing a lot of sorting through my things. When you’ve lived in the same place and raised two kids in a house the size of mine since 1995, you accumulate a lot of stuff. A lot! When my then-husband and our two kids moved in, we were coming from a single-wide trailer. The rooms in the new house literally echoed with emptiness. Four big bedrooms, a huge living room, dining room, den, kitchen, and bathroom, plus an additional large backroom and a two-car garage holds way more than is really needed and having so much space kind of discourages you from getting rid of a lot of things you probably should.

I read an article last week written by a woman whose son, daughter-in-law, and new baby grand-daughter just moved into a new bigger house. The author had grand ideas of passing on some family heirlooms to her son and his wife. She dove into her attic space and closets, pulled out hidden valuables, and had high hopes of handing down some treasured memories to the next generation. Turns out, the next generation didn’t want much of any of it and certainly not the things she valued the most.

My current husband and I are planning on downsizing very soon. From this big old 1886 home of nearly 3000 square feet to a modern apartment with half the space. Insert panic mode here. Like the author mentioned above, I too have been digging into all the storage spaces, room by room, closet by closet, box by box. Some of the boxes haven’t been opened in at least ten years, some twice that. I’m finding things I’d forgotten even existed. Doing so has brought an important question to mind time after time – why am I keeping this? Do I really need it? If I’d forgotten it existed in the first place, why should I keep it now? Should I keep it for one of my kids?

So far, neither one seems too interested (if at all interested) in the items I personally value. They barely remember their great grandmothers from whom I got most of the larger pieces that mean so much to me. Nobody cares about my international collection of thimbles or the old dolls I grew up playing with on the farm and why should they? Boxes of toys from their childhood? Most of the time they just shrug and say, “Nah.” Neither has children of their own and I’m sure if/when they do, they’ll want new toys and bedding and the like – not their own old hand-me-downs. Do I really need to keep that large plastic storage bin full of Winnie-the-Pooh crib bedding and room decorations? Probably not. But that’s one of the things I’m struggling to part with. My original Winnie the Pooh I got in 1972 at Disneyland? Of course, I’m keeping that! Silly old bear! But the rest? Really? I mean, I could use that bin for something else a whole lot more important like, say – all that KISS memorabilia I have from the late 70s – early 80s; albums, 45s, dolls, concert shirts and programs, Pez dispensers, a Tyvek jacket, belt buckles, necklaces, photo albums, etc. etc. You get the idea.

My desire to downsize started long before the need to really do so. It began with my books, specifically the collection of over 200 vampire novels I once had. I’d read them all, some of them more than once, and crammed them all in a bookcase. I loved those vampire books! Then, for whatever reasons, I didn’t read so many vampire novels anymore. That does not reflect on my love of all things vampire – just found other topics to read, I guess. The books sat and sat, collecting dust and cobwebs year after year. Until one day I made the decision. All but a select few would go – my first (but far from only) copy of Dracula by Bram Stoker would remain, for example. Although I’d part with nearly all the novels over the course of a few weeks, I kept all my research and non-fiction titles. Now, I very seldom keep the books I read, unless they are particularly amazing or are signed by the author – or both. Instead, I donate them to a library or pass them on to someone else. The book collection continues to grow, sans that fevered pitch it once did. Quality over quantity and I’m very happy with that.

I’ve stopped collecting dolls, teapots, teacups and saucers, teddy bears, too. What I have is enough – more than enough – thank you. Going to antique and thrift stores has lost a lot of its charm for the time being. I still love to go, but I am constantly reminding myself while in those places that my goal is to get rid of things – not bring more into the house. (Unless it’s crow and/or raven related then all bets are off … ahem.)

And for as difficult as it is at times, at the end of the day when I look at the three piles I have created: keep, donate, or throw-away, I feel good about my progress. As the saying goes, the best things in life aren’t things. I don’t need all those broken things, the forgotten things, those things that should have seen the inside of a trash bag years ago. Those items don’t make me who I am and though I have enjoyed finding things and remembering moments I had long ago forgotten – I can’t and I won’t keep everything.

I can only hold on to the items that have meant the very most to me and hope that one day when it’s time for my kids to sort through all that I’ve saved, that they’ll find something meaningful to treasure out of it all. That at least some of items I have loved will continue to be loved, that they will make someone smile or, yes, maybe even cry a little too, as the memories long forgotten bubble back to the surface anew. For even as I downsize my physical holdings, my life becomes fuller and richer with memories of what was, acknowledging what’s important in the here and now, and looking forward to what I hope will be.

The Devil, A Worm, & A Crow

As I begin to write this, the rising sun is shining directly in my eyes, but I refuse to cross the room and move the drapes slightly to the left. Why? Because I live in the Northeast United States and haven’t seen much sunshine since November. It seems a sacrilege to close the drapes and block out what I miss so much. It’s March now and I can hear birds chirping this morning instead of cold winds whipping around the corner of the house making the evergreen shrub thrash against the old clapboard siding. The Weather People say it’s supposed to get up to 60F later this week. That should wipe out all but the most stubborn of snow piles, at least until next November rolls around anyway.

The end of February found me going under the knife again – hopefully for the last time ever – to have the hardware taken out of my left clavicle that was put in there back in November of 2019. I’m nine days post-op and ready to get these damned stitches out on March 10th. Despite the discomfort, I can honestly say, it hurts a whole lot less now than it did on the 26th when I went in! And no, the motorcycle still isn’t fixed or fit to drive. Poor thing.

I made some good progress on the next Barnesville Chronicle last month. Death at the Devil’s Elbow is set in Owen and will see the return of everyone’s favorite witchy librarian, Nell Miller and her favorite niece, Angela Jennings Bishop. This time around Nell and Angie are helping investigate the local haunted hot-spot, the Devil’s Elbow, where a grisly and ritualistic murder has taken place. The isolated hilltop location has been home to a variety of failed businesses, the last of which was a stripper club called Naked Truths. Being as the settings for the Barnesville books are all taken directly from the small town and villages around where I grew up, a mere thirty-five miles from where I now sit, this may be the last Barnesville Chronicle written so close to the real-life scene of the crime. The times they are a’changin’ soon – but we’ll talk about that in a later post.

I managed to read two books by female authors in February for Women in Horror Fiction Month, Horror, She Wrote and The Hag Witch of Tripp Creek. You can check out my reviews over on Goodreads. I also wiggled my way into an interview at Rebbie Reviews for those keen on possibly learning more about me than you already do.

Celebrating Women In Horror – Interview with Pamela Morris

My March reading has kicked off with House of Skin by Jonathan Janz. So far, so good. This will be followed by Hunter Shea’s Slash.

March also means spring, though some of our worse snowstorms have been known to strike in March, I’m going to say it’s not going to happen this year and hope for the best. My dad, my grandmother (you know – the one who selected and bought me a Ouija board for my 13th birthday in addition to the vampire books I had initially picked out), and my daughter were all born in March. It’s a good month. Adding to the good things March has going for it, my second Children’s Book, Bill The Worm Meets Carl Crow, was released last week on March 1st.

Bill The Worm Meets Carl Crow : Trailer

I’ve already finished the illustrations for the next Bill the Worm book that comes out in late September of this year. Of course, me being me, I just had to have Bill love Halloween! Bill the Worm has an important decision to make about all that! I’ve also started writing the story for the fourth Bill the Worm book. Once the weather is warmer, I’ll be more in the mood for writing and creating.

Bill the Worm and The Devil are both nudging me in the Writing Wribs equally as hard these days. Should be an interesting battle over the summer! LOL.

A brief blog post to be sure, but it’s better than nothing!

In the meantime, I hope you all are doing well out there, staying safe, staying healthy, and hopefully looking forward to a much more normal year ahead.

My First & Last Political Post

A very wise man stated over 60 years ago, “As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”

Sadly, these words seem to have fallen on a lot of deaf ears back then and likely will continue to do so today.

Messages of hatred that point blame on everyone and everything except those in your own backyard only accomplish one thing, the perpetuation of more hatred. But he said, but she said, but he called me a name first, but she started it. It feels like America has turned into a damn kindergarten playground, a nation where if one group or one person can’t get their own way all the time, they have to hurt and belittle the others. There is no compromise. It’s our way or no way. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

But we as a nation do have common goals, common interests, common loves. We all want a better country for our children. We all want to be able to practice our own faith regardless of what that faith is (or no faith at all). We all want to have a health care system everyone can afford. We want to be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm. Everyone who wants a college education should be able to get one without going broke in the process.

Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit of Happiness applies to ALL People, all Americans – including the ones we don’t agree with. It also applies to the people who come here from other countries, likely your very own ancestors who sought those same simple dreams, and the People who were here long before the Europeans arrived. We are a nation of diversity and that diversity should be what makes us stronger, better, and more accepting of one another – not more hurtful, not more hateful, not more violent and childish. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.”

Let’s remove ourselves from the playground, not in the mindset of taking the ball home because no one will play by our rules, but because the game is over with. One team won, the other team lost but all the players still remain friends when the streetlights come on and it’s time to go home. We’re older now and it’s beyond time to grow-up and be the united nation we all want to be.

I do not consider myself a Christian nor do I believe the United States was founded as a Christian nation, but I do believe there is wisdom to be found in the Bible and the teachings attributed to Christ. 1st First Corinthians 13:4-8 is often quoted at weddings, but its principle applies just as well to a nation as it does a marriage regarding how we should be treating each other. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

Generally, political posts have no place on any of my social media platform, but I guess it’s time I made a rare exception to that rule. It wasn’t my intention to make this so long. In fact, it started out as a brief post on Facebook, but the more I wrote, the more important and more meaningful it started to become. This is where I stand. This is who I am. I’m an American who loves her country and who is tired to tears of all the in-fighting, bickering, and hatred that she sees being put out there by people who should be loving each other, who should be holding each other up, who should be united and strong together as a Nation. It shouldn’t be Us vs. Them, R vs. D, Black vs. White vs. Red vs. Yellow. It should just be US, the UNITED STATES. If we can’t make peace within our own borders, how can we expect to make it with the other countries of the world?

Apart from the Scripture verse, I have quoted but one man. He also said, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.” His name is Martin Luther King, Jr.

My final quote is attributed to Mother Theresa of Calcutta. You may be familiar with it.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God,
It was never between you and them anyway.

Are these goals something we can all agree on instead of allowing ourselves to continue to spiral into the destruction of hatred and darkness that has held this nation in its grip for far too long?

The Crow Report : Part 7 – On A Black Wing & A Whistled Prayer

You can’t imagine the shame I felt when I realized I’d not posted a Crow Report since December of 2019! I knew that needed to be fixed as quickly as possible. You can read my last report HERE. The Crow Report : Part 6.

As with so many other things, I’m going to blame my lack of a report on the arrival of Covid-19 in the months that fell on the heels of my last writing. I’m also going to blame (happily) Covid-19 for the progress that’s been made with my lovely black beauties!

Between mid-March and early September of 2020, I had the joy of working from home for the first time in my life! Oh, what a GLORIOUS summer it was despite the mayhem of masks and hand-sanitizer and half expecting the arrival of the first zombies and not being able to go out to eat for months or travel much of anywhere. After about six weeks of taking various work-related classes, bumbling my blind way through such things as learning something about Excel spread sheets, technical writing, and beginner HTML to name a few, I found a niche project to work on, Audio/Visual Transcription. It’s not for everyone, but I love it – more or less – and through it have learned more about home economics, modern architecture, 4-H, philosophy, Alex Haley, religious iconography, homosexuality in Ancient Greece and more, than I ever would have otherwise, or maybe ever wanted to. It’s been fascinating either way.

The work requires sitting at the computer listening to lectures and talks on the above-mentioned topics and documenting what’s being said by whom and when, sometimes with a few visual cues as to what’s going on should the audio be accompanied by video. Sitting inside as April turned into May and June and with the arrival of summer heat, simply was not going to happen. I took to my laptop as soon as I could and as often as I could outside to the back deck. Under the umbrella with my cup of morning coffee & breakfast, remaining out there throughout the afternoon where the coffee was replaced by iced tea or a soda and lunch was served, I’d work and listen and watch for the crows and the ravens all at the same time.

Once a day, usually around 9-10 in the morning, I’d toss the peanuts into the side lawn, whistle, and wait. It never took long for the crows to arrive. I didn’t go inside. They’d have to get used to the fact I was going to be there, even if out of sight around the back of the house. It took time, but they got used to the idea of it though they’d still fly to the safety of the trees should I dare rise and peek around the corner of the house. Silly birds.

They and the ravens seem to have gotten their territories and living arrangements worked out this past year. I never saw or heard any more aerial warfare as I had the previous summer. The ravens are still heard far more than they are seen, but one or two (I’ve spotted as many as six at once) do occasionally fly over the house casual as you please.

By summer’s end, the crows had gotten into the habit of sending their scout ahead at around eight or nine in the morning to caw for breakfast from the maple tree just outside my front door or the pine tree within sight of the back porch where I would sit should the day be warm enough by then to enjoy. Despite that, still, they retreated high into the treetops when I appear.

Fall arrived. The same pattern continued. I returned to work on-site three days a week and worried that my birdies would miss me and stop coming every morning to call me out to breakfast. There’d be no lady with disheveled hair in her bathrobe and slippers to whistle in greeting and wish them a, “Good morning, birdies!” I feared they’d give up and abandon me.

But, when I was home on Thursdays and Fridays, Scout would continue to show up, earlier or later, let me know he (or she) was there with a, “Caw, caw, caw” and sit in the tree until I poked my head out, whistled, wished her a, “Good morning, birdie,” and announced breakfast was coming up and that I’d be right back. Scout would wait. Scout would watch me toss out the treats for the day. Scout would call to its Murder partners and watch me go back inside. Sometimes mere minutes would pass before the other five would arrive. Sometimes, Scout would fly off and return hours later with the rest, but they did always come back.

When winter comes, they roost somewhere else for the night. I suspect in Ithaca with their other family members and friends, and there is a very narrow window of time that they are around. Days would go by without a note or sighting. I hated not seeing or hearing them, not knowing when they’d be back or for how long. Would they even stop to visit me? They don’t know the days of the week after all. Monday means as much to them as Friday or Saturday. And, of course, by now I could no longer work outside so they could spot me easily and my car would remain hidden in the garage. How would they know I was home, waiting and hoping?

On December 29th, which just happened to be my 55th birthday (and the day of the full moon) and I was home on Winter Break from work, they came. They not only caw-caw-cawed for my attention, they ALL waited in the tree together as I threw out the peanuts and the leftover chicken bones and whatever else I’d been saving up for them. And, as if that were not enough – they let me watch them from inside the kitchen, behind the closed doors and windows and… I was able to video them happily walking and flying and nibbling away on my offerings. NEVER have I been able to do that before. The mere sight of my camera aimed in their direction at this close proximity (ten – fifteen feet) would send them into a cacophony of fright and flight. Not that day. It was, after all, my birthday and I like to believe they knew that and that this was their birthday present to me. Later, I’d take my footage, edit it down to under 15 minutes, and share it on my YouTube channel. You can find it here. A Birthday Murder. It may be a bit long for some, but crow lovers will be amused.

Each day, each fleeting encounter since then seems to finally be paying off. This very morning, in fact, I heard Scout’s caw and replied. He was about halfway up the Maple tree. I went onto the front porch and looked up, “Good morning, birdie,” I said. He not only remained where he was but after I did a much gentler version of my calling whistle, he flew down closer! Shock and awe! Not wanting to press my luck, I went back in to fetch the vittles, keeping to the idea of offering them in the front yard instead of the usual side yard location.

Less than an hour later… there they were. Skittish about the new spot, but there all the same, offering me the continued hope on a black wing and a whistled prayer that one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, my wish will come true and they’ll know me and trust me as much as I want them to. I even managed to get a picture through the window.

Top Five Read of 2020

As usual, I’m behind in posting a list of my top reads for the past year. I read 17. That’s not a lot compared to what some people I know read, dozens, if not hundreds! Don’t know how they do it, frankly. Maybe they are reading books a lot shorter than the ones I gravitate towards. Either way, we’re all reading and that’s what counts! Because I read so few, I’m only going to do a Top 5 with a couple of honorable mentions. The list included two very different short story collections, one non-fiction, a children’s chapter book, 2 murder-mysteries, a YA novel, an old classic, something I can’t quite classify – fantasy-ish, I guess, and the rest, just good old modern Horror.

#5: By The Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie

This book sat on my parents’ bookshelf for as long as I can remember. When they sold their house and were getting rid of things, I snatched it up… and it sat on my bookshelf for another 25 years before I finally put it in the official TBR pile. Of course, it was awesome! Why didn’t I read this sooner? Every time I read a Christie book, I am reminded why she’s so beloved. The writing comes across as effortless. The characters are charming and witty. You can never go wrong with an Agatha Christie title!

#4: Good Boy by Thomas R. Clark

A novella and the shortest thing I read all year. Good Boy is the story of a zombie apocalypse told through the eyes of a little dog and his small pack of dog friends … and one bad ass cat. What a great concept! Loved it all the way through. Engaging with an endless supply of tension mixed with tenderness. I laughed. I cringed. I cried, damn it! I know there’s a sequel out there. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on it sooner rather than later.

BUY GOOD BOY HERE.

#3: Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy

This was just out and out fun! Loved that I wasn’t sure what kind of creatures the bikers were for a good stretch of the book and when I did find out, it was fantastic. Non-stop biker action, a lot of gore, a lot of violence – not what I’m usually into – but the author made me care so much about the lives of the humans involved, that I had to keep reading through all that carnage. If that’s what your into, you’ll probably like it even more than I did.

BUY BLACK GOAT MOTORCYCLE CLUB HERE.

#2: Hell House by Richard Matheson

This was something I’d read back in my high school days and loved. But, sometimes we read things in our youth and they’re a lot better the first time. When you go back and re-read it as an adult, you’re disappointed. This was not the case here. It was just as great as I remembered it being and by god the movie they made based on it follows the dialogue almost word for word in many instances. This book should be read by every haunted house fan out there. Loved, loved, loved it. I may just read it again!

#1: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I only started reading this because I signed up for an English Literature class that featured Horror and this was the first book we were required to read. I probably would never have picked it up otherwise and yet… look. It became my number one read of 2020! Whoda thunk it? There’s a reason this is a classic, folks. If you’re a fan of the movies, forget about them! They are practically two different stories! The creature isn’t some dumb brute and, in my opinion, isn’t the real monster here at all.

Honorable Mentions:

Wrath and Ruin by C.W. Briar & Shadows in the Witching Glass by Thomas S. Gunther

Two very different writers with very different story subject matter to share. Briar leans very much into dark fantasy and sci-fi while Gunther approaches with a much more twisted psychological horror angle. Both are very good, and I enjoyed the majority of the stories each presented in their collections. You can read my full reviews for both of these at the links below. Honestly, can’t pick one over the other due to the vast differences between the genre choice, but if forced into it, I’d have to go with Gunther’s work merely for the fact I prefer Horror over Fantasy-SciFi in general.

Wrath and Ruin by C.W. Briar: FULL REVIEW

Shadows in the Witching Glass by Thomas S. Gunther: FULL REVIEW

And A Little Worm Shall Lead Them

It’s taken forty-five years, but it’s finally here, the big news I’ve been waiting to share, the secret that’s taken decades to accomplish and reveal.

In May 1975, at the tender age of nine, either before or after a visit to the orthodontist, I crawled under a countertop in a library at Cornell University with some pieces of folded paper, a few colored pens, and a story to tell. As my mother worked at her job as a keypunch operator, I began to write and draw. When the workday was over and it was time to head home, I had finished my masterpiece. It was a simple tale with simple illustrations, but it meant the world to me and would, as the years went by, become an inspiration.  

As I grew up, other stories came along. They were longer and more intricate. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Dodd, once gave us a weekend assignment to write a story, any story about anything, at least three pages long. I was thrilled. Oh, how I wish I still had that story. I’ve no idea what it was even about but when I handed in ten pages instead of three, the teacher looked quite surprised. “I just couldn’t stop,” I remember telling her apologetically. “The characters just took over.” I felt bad it was so long, afraid I’d done too much and not kept to the three-page rule. Mrs. Dodd assured me it was fine. The assignment needed to be AT LEAST 3-pages long so ten was perfectly alright.

I continued to write my own short stories, usually about vampires or witches or ghosts. Seldom were any of them shared unless it was for a school assignment. I took a correspondence course in Children’s Literature as well as a college class in Illustration, thinking one day I’d write Children’s books. That was the ORIGINAL plan anyway. I got a little sidetracked, obviously.

I’d go on to write those novels I’d dreamed of writing, and some I’d never imagined! And yet, there remained that one story, the one that had remained forever in my heart and soul, the one I’d written for and given to my dad that day in May 1975. At some point over the years, I found out that my dad had saved that little handwritten and hand drawn booklet all this time. He returned it to me along with several notebooks filled with those simple stories I’d written back in my school days. They made me laugh and cry all at the same time. They were so wonderfully terrible! In 2015 I decided to revise that 1975 story, fill it in a little more and to rework the illustrations, but remain as true as possible to the original. Working full time along with adult life in general provided plenty of distractions and delays. A fortieth anniversary version would be gifted to my dad! Great plans… that time and again got put aside, slightly forgotten, deemed not as important as the next Horror novel. I’d get to it eventually.

Then 2020 and Covid-19 happened. I started working from home full time. With no morning or evening commute, I had a couple more hours a day to work on my own things. It was a glorious summer to work outside on my back deck. I began in earnest to try and finish what I’d started to do in 2015. I rewrote and drew inspiration from the original illustrations done by a nine-year-old me tucked under a counter in her mother’s workplace, but I needed to be able to get these images digitized and had no scanner at home to do so. Maybe a drug store or office supply store would have what I needed. Would the new drawings even look good after they were scanned?

In September, after six months of working from home, I was able to return to campus 3-days a week, what has become the new normal — and a high-quality scanner at my office fingertips. I sent the scanned imaged to myself from work. Once home, they were reformatted and tweaked as quickly as I could. This project needed to be done in time for Christmas, a gift for my dad, a gift he and I had talked about on and off over the years since the day I’d first given it to him. “Someday, maybe, it can be a real book that everyone can read.”

It turned out the hardest part of the whole thing has been keeping it a secret from my parents! No mention could be made on my Facebook pages. No mention of it on my website or in my blog. No talking or telling anyone who might see my parents and accidentally slip on and spill the beans. No sending it to that same local library I spent so many hours in in my youth, no putting any copies in the local bookstore that carries my novels – lest someone who knows me should stumble upon it before I had a chance to give it to my dad. No Christmas sales to be made. A lost opportunity – but it would be worth it!

Christmas Day. Forty-five years of waiting was only moments away! Dad opened present after present and chatted in ignorant bliss. Finally, he picked up flat and slender gift. Mom shouted, “YES! I knew there was a reason I put off buying this one,” as I’d gifted her a copy of my latest novel, “The Inheritance”. Dad paused, looked at the book she’d received, then looked back at the gift he had in hand. I’d put no To – From tag on it. “This mine?”

“Yes… that’s…” I said, forcing myself to not get all weepy, “that’s the big secret you may have heard about…” “Oh,” Dad opened it, saw the back of the book first and said, “Oh, Bill the Worm, yeah… I remember him…” (Or words to that effect.) Mom saw what it was, eyebrows arching as she added, “Oh, wow! When did that get published?” As Dad re-read the story, I explained how I’d only sold about ten copies as I’d been keeping it pretty-hush hush until Dad could get his copy.

Bill The Man meets Bill The Worm all over again!

So, there you have it. The secret it out… the story of Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away is now an honest to goodness published children’s book available to one and all. I’m super excited about this new writing adventure! I’m not going to stop writing Horror, but I did need to take a break from it amidst the madness of 2020. Bill the Worm kept me writing (and drawing) and created a bright spot in a sometimes dark and frustrating world.

I hope you all will find a place for Bill The Worm into your lives and bid him welcome. He’s a hearty little dude and he’s got some fun adventures ahead of him. Stay tuned for more Bill The Worm announcements and updates in 2021.

You can purchase BILL, The Worm Who Ran Away here!

I’m Not Who I Think I Am, Or Am I?

I won’t lie, I’ve had plenty of time to write a blog post over the past few months. I simply haven’t felt like it especially in the year that saw zero book signing events and abysmal sales in general. I prefer to write happy, positive, up-beat posts. Nobody, self included, wants to hear a disgruntled writer blathering about how pointless it all is and questioning why I even bother trying to make a name for myself in the endless sea of other Horror writers. The pool is deep and wide. There are far better writers out there than I.

And there’s a name for it, Imposter Syndrome.

I think it’s an affliction most creative people experience from time to time. I’ve seen writer after writer, even super famous ones you’ve probably heard of, remarking how unworthy they feel about their work and questioning if anyone will even like what they’ve spent so much time working on. For those famous folks, at least they have a hefty bank account created by royalty checks that speaks up and tells them they are good enough.

The vast majority of writers out there don’t have that affirmation. We get excited about a single sale! We latch on to any new review that crops up and read every single one. When someone shares or retweets something we’ve posted, it’s a tiny zap of hope. If Stephen King is Amazon, I’m a weekend yard sale and I’m an imposter.

Imposter Syndrome Hard At Work

Wikipedia defines Imposter Syndrome as, “…a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

In the past, I’ve compared Imposter Syndrome to the feeling one might get after spending all week preparing for a big party. You go out and do all the work. You gather the decorations. You select what you feel is the finest dinnerware. The menu is perfected, each recipe and ingredient scrutinized and analyzed. It just has to be perfect. This party is important! It could make or break you. That night, after you’ve spent the day cooking and cleaning, grooming yourself and your home impeccably, the guests arrive. They appear to enjoy the food, the company, the atmosphere. You’ve pulled it off. But, when the party is over and the guests leave, not a single one says, “Thank you.” Nobody shakes your hand. There are no compliments on the food, the table settings, the hours you spent toiling over a filthy toilet so it would be spotless for your guests. Nobody says, “Goodbye” let alone, “Good job.”

You haven’t succeeded at all. You’re an imposter. You’re fake. You have nothing to show for this event you’ve poured so much fervor and dedication into other than a big mess to clean up.

Imposter Syndrome asks why did you even bother? What was the point? Might as well give up. All the hard work isn’t worth the reward. What a fricken loser you are! Stop wasting your time. Stop creating. Stop being a fraud. Imposter Syndrome is serious. Its claws are sharp and painful and for some so debilitating that they never pick up the creative pen again. But, I’m stubborn (or completely delusional – or both). Yeah, sales suck and new reviews barely exist but I have stories to tell, damn it! Something needed to change – even if just a little bit.

After the release of my last most recent novel, “The Inheritance”, back in September, I decided to take a step away from the Horror for a while. There are more Horror books to come, don’t worry. But with 2020 being what is has been and what Covid-19 will continue to be in the unforeseeable future, the need to work on something more light-hearted and fun rose to the surface. A very old project, one near and dear to my heart and soul, needed to be done. Its creation has brought with it a breath of much needed fresh air. 2021 will bring something drastically different than what you’ve come to expect from me, even as I continue to work on murders and mysteries, ghosts and witches, maybe even an alien or two in the background.

In my next post, before the end of this month – promise, I’ll reveal the new genre I’ve been tackling the past six months and will continue to work with for as long as it continues to bring me joy. And, maybe by this time next year, I won’t feel like such an imposter do much of the time.

Book Review – Whispers From The Depths by C.W. Briar

Admittedly, I was skeptical at first. I always am when I start reading a genre that isn’t my usual fare. But, given a little time my skepticism began to wane and Whispers From The Depths became one of those books I had to get back to reading any chance I got.

Tosna, Betka, and Asi are Whisperers. They speak to and control the waters of their land, but enslavement by an invading force have made the three young women prisoners. Their powers can be used for something as minor as stirring a cup of tea to calming a raging storm at sea. They can be used for good, or for evil – but using them for evil will only bring enormous suffering to the Whisperer itself. This keeps them in check, a fact their captors use to every advantage.

When Betka is given the chance to find, and she hopes, to rescue her sister Tosna who was taken away when they were children, she finds herself aboard a ship with fellow Whisperer, Asi. All too soon things start to go horribly wrong. The water spirit seems both enraged and absent at the same time. They cannot hear it. They cannot control it. At their final destination, the castle were Betka’s sister was taken, they find death and destruction everywhere.

This started a bit slow for me, while Briar mapped out the backstory and led me through a series of odd place names and events that I couldn’t seem to link to each other. I had a hard time keeping the character names straight, who was good, who was bad, who was somewhere in the middle. But this was really the only distracting flaw. Briar’s writing is both complex and simple at the same time, descriptive without being overly so, moving the plot forward at a pace that started somewhat plodding and confusing, but ramped up page by page until I wasn’t able to read as quickly as I wanted to.

Well written, well edited, and well worth the time for any Fantasy reader.

Raven Rating: 4 out of 5 Caws.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!