The End Is Nigh.

The end is nigh.

In less than 18 hours, 2018 will be over. Thanks be to God.

Looking back on what has been for the past 364 days, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed in what I’ve been able to accomplish. Maybe I ask too much of myself. What I consider my best novel to-date, “Dark Hollow Road”, came out this past spring. Yes, I know to complete a novel is considered a huge accomplishment and I’m not saying that it isn’t. I’m super proud of that book, yet I’m still disappointed. Sales have been horrible for all my titles this year – absolutely abysmal – and I think that’s where my mood truly lies. Not in “Dark Hollow Road” specifically, but the overall feeling of not being good enough, yet again. So few sales, even fewer reviews. Artists can be so self deprecating, so full of doubts and insecurities that we often don’t recognize the greatness of what we’ve accomplished. Instead, we look at how we’ve failed. Case in point …

In 2018, I completed Part 2 of The Witch’s Backbone and had all intentions of getting it out there in the fall. Instead, I submitted it with a great deal of encouragement by a fellow writer to a publisher on the threadbare hopes that it, along with Part 1, would be good enough. It wasn’t. Fail.

In 2018, I started to write another book in the Barnesville Chronicles – “312 Seymour Drive”. Twenty chapters or so in, I lost all control of the thing as it spiraled into something I couldn’t give a direction to. My focus was lost. The story is rambling with too much going on and I’ve still no idea how or where to pull it back so I can get on with it.  Fail.

In 2018, after the disaster of 312 Seymour Drive, I decided to finally get my shit together and work on that collection of short stories and poems I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. I had some new short stories floating around. There was one I wrote some 20+ years ago I really wanted to give a spit-shine to. I was super excited about the whole project and was thinking how great it would be to have a little something out before Christmas. Nope, didn’t happen. Oh, it’s done – more or less – I do need to go through a printed copy and edit and was never able to get a cover concept that I really liked, so… there it sits. Fail.

In 2018, one of ‘my’ sweet crows mysteriously died in the neighbor’s yard. We’ve had no real neighbors on that side for about three years due to a house fire. It’s being renovated very, very slowly, so it was nothing anyone did over there. Will never know what happened, but the end result is that the small murder of 5-6 birds that used to come around daily for peanuts and crow chow, has vanished – POOF! – I’ve not seen them since. It’s been three months. I’m told this is typical behavior and to be patient and all sorts of advice from other corvid enthusiasts. So, three years of work and yup – feels like another fail to me.

In 2018, we made an epic journey way out to southwest Texas to be part of the Day of the Dead celebration in Terlingua Ghost Town. I needed to go there as part of my research for yet another book idea. I was inspired beyond my wildest dreams. I took tons of pictures and wrote page after page of notes. I was all gung-ho for weeks after we got back and then … it all came to a screeching halt when a Christmas-themed short story hit me. Which, by the way, I’ve not finished yet, either. Double fail.

In 2018, I did manage to get out ten author interviews and write up some book reviews. I was even interviewed once myself. I watched a few movies, but not as many as I would have liked. I read a lot, too. Recently, I picked up a paintbrush again – something I’ve not done in a good ten years – and completed two small paintings. That’s something, I suppose. I’ve been dubbed ‘Queen of Horror Cults’ by none other than, Monster Man & Final Guy, Horror author Hunter Shea.  Pretty sure nobody else out there can say that. I’ve also managed to keep not just one, but two, succulent gardens not just merely alive, but thriving. That’s pretty mind-blowing if you know my history with houseplants. It’s not good, people. It’s not good at all.

Needless to say, the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to 2018. I wish I could look back at it all and somehow view it in a more positive light. If I could see it as laying groundwork for the potential greatness of 2019 instead of merely a series of failures, that sure would help.

I know this isn’t the usual upbeat end of year review most people write, but I’m just being honest here. I’d love to end of a happy note, but to quote Eeyore, “We can’t all and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”

The end if nigh.

In less than 18 hours, 2018 will be over. Thanks be to God.

P.S. – After I finished writing this, I went out to the kitchen in search of my missing, now cold, cup of coffee. While I waited the minute it took to heat it back up in the microwave, I went to the window over the sink – and almost immediately found myself in tears. Guess who was out there noshing on the peanuts, crow chow, and bits of leftover Cornish game hen I’d tossed out before I sat down to write? Three of my beloved crows. Yes, I’m taking this as a sign that 2019 will be so much better! 😀

 

Top Ten Reads Of 2018

Top 10 Reads of 2018

Managed to squeeze in nearly 30 books for the 2018 reading season. Now, as the year comes to a close, it’s time to whittle those down to my Top 10. It wasn’t easy. I read a lot of great books, some mediocre ones, and frankly, some crap. We’re going to skip the crap and get right to the good stuff.

Threading_PalmatierNumber 10:
Threading the Needle by Joshua Palmatier –

“Second book in Joshua Palmatier’s epic fantasy trilogy, set in a sprawling city of light and magic fueled by a ley line network.”

These are thick, serious, epic Fantasy tomes, kids, with a somewhat Sci-Fi feel to them – neither of which is really my favored genre. However, Palmatier has a knack for drawing me in and making me forget that. Being such hearty books, Book 2 comes in at 487 pages, there are also a lot of characters which I sometimes had a hard time keeping track of. Josh does get a bit rambling in this series, which is why it didn’t make it higher on the list, but still a compelling series of story lines and characters to move those plots along just fine. Those who are into Fantasy will certainly enjoy this and the other two books – (I’m currently reading Book 3) – along with Palmatier’s other titles and trilogies.

WarTruth_NugentNumber 9:
The War For Truth by Jason J. Nugent –

“The situation grows dire. Queen Anastasia orders the destruction of the Forgotten and turns her attention to the colonies. They must be forced into submission. Her reign depends on it.”

The final book in Jason’s YA The Forgotten Chronicles series wraps up the storyline perfectly. Again, another author who has really helped me to appreciate the Sci-Fi genre in ways I never imagined possible. Though there’s future tech, Jason keeps it simple enough so I don’t get lost in the jargon, and focuses on the characters, their relationships, and their trials and tribulations – as any good book should. This is a YA series, so it may not be for more hardcore readers of the genre, but for me, a novice, I truly enjoyed the ride Nugent took me on with these books.

SkyWoman_JDMoyerNumber 8:
The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer –

“Car-En, a ringstation anthropologist on her first Earth field assignment, observes a Viking-like village in the Harz mountains. As Car-En secretly observes the Happdal villagers, she begins to see them as more than research subjects (especially Esper, a handsome bowhunter).”

This will round up my 2018 foray into the Sci-Fi genre.
Another great, character driven read mingled with a touch of fantasy. I loved that there was a well-rounded, strong, female lead in this. She really carried the story through. I do have to admit that when it came to the more technological aspects of the book, I did a touch more skimming than I normally do, but I wanted to get back to what was happening on Future Earth! Very well written and the most enjoyable Sci-Fi book I read all year.

SevenMasterpiecesNumber 7:
Seven Masterpieces of Gothic Horror : Clara Reeve, Matthew Lewis, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mary Shelley, Horace Walpole, and Sheridan Le Fanu. –

As a Horror writer, I think it’s important to know from where my preferred genre arose. I’ve been a fan of Poe, Stoker, and Collins for years, but hadn’t gone to the very beginning.  Horace Walpole and Clara Reeve are considered the creators of Gothic Horror, publishing within twenty years of each other, Walpole in 1764 with The Castle of Otranto in 1764 and Reeve in 1778 with The Old English Baron (both included in this anthology). Some of the stories I was less than impressed with, while others really kept me engaged all the way through. I’d consider this essential reading for any fan of Gothic Horror.

mouthdark_waggonerNumber 6:
The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner –

“Jayce’s 20-year-old daughter, Emory, is missing, lost in a dark, dangerous realm called Shadow that exists alongside our own reality. An enigmatic woman named Nicola guides Jayce through this bizarre world, and together, they search for Emory, facing deadly dog-eaters, crazed killers, homicidal sex toys, and – worst of all – a monstrous being known as the Harvest Man.“

A desperate father’s search for his missing daughter takes him into a bizarre underworld that isn’t too far removed from our own. I loved this book. It’s dark, suspenseful and fast-paced, unique and delightfully original. This one was of those books I went to bed thinking about and woke up eager to dive back into.

Shoel_BrantNumber 5:
Sheol (West of Hell #3) by Jason Brant –

“After escaping the decimated town of Gehenna and the mighty Tartarus River, Karen finds herself trapped in a prison in the city of Sheol. Knowing that an army of the dead is marching across the desert behind her, Karen must find a way to escape the sadistic Evans, and rally the citizens of Sheol for one last stand against an enemy of biblical proportions.”

It’s the Wild West with all the usual dangers plus zombies. LOTS of zombies. I guess this was the year of trilogies for me as this is the final book in Jason’s West of Hell series. Very quick and enjoyable reads – along with a bit of humor tossed in to help lighten the flesh-eating mood. Looking forward to getting into another Brant series next year.

MailOrder_SheaNumber 4:
Mail Order Massacres by Hunter Shea –

“Sea monkeys. 3-D specs. Hypno-coins. Ant farms. Kryptonite rocks. Miniature submarines made from cardboard. All available for a buck or less from the back page of comic books. And we blew our weekly allowance on these rip-offs, only to be disappointed when they turned out to be total crap.”

These three short stories were a riot! Hunter is an ace at injecting humor into the most dreadful and horrific of scenarios. People of a certain age, who grew up reading comic books and longing for those novelty items advertised at the end, will find these especially fun. This book was my husband’s first foray into the demented world of Shea. Hunter twists those innocent days into living nightmares while laughing all the way to the often deadly end.

SecondChild_SaulNumber 3:
Second Child by John Saul –

“This lush, secluded Maine seaside resort is the summer playground of the super rich, but one hundred years ago, something disturbed their play. Horror came to this village. And though no one knows it yet, the horror has never left.”

I read quite a few John Saul books back in my teenage years and this is my second revisit to his writing this year. Though a bit disappointed in the first book, Second Child was a super compelling read. It’s really a YA book and not overly scary, but the weird behaviors of the characters and their circumstances kept my attention like few other books have done in 2018. Once I started, I just had to keep going. I had to know what was going on and how it would all end.

Sharkwater_MeyerNumber 2:
Sharkwater Beach by Tim Meyer –

“Beneath the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest predator on the planet hunts, craving the flesh and blood of every creature it can sink its teeth into.”

You may think you’re reading a book about killer sharks, you may be right – but you’re also very wrong. These are no ordinary ginormous, human-chomping creatures of the deep. Great, gory, sometimes humorous adventure awaits you if you decide to dive into this one. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give the twist away but you’re in for a big surprise when you get to it.

creature-coverNumber 1:
Creature by Hunter Shea –

“The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal. But they are not alone.”

Hunter has quickly risen to become one of my favorite modern-day Horror authors. I can’t say enough good things about his work. He tackles ghosts and demons along with a myriad of crytids that want nothing more than to rip out the throats of those who dare seek them out and hunt them down. “Creature” – though written with the same enthusiasm and excellence as Shea’s other books – is different.  The story and characters brought me to tears at the end, literally. The usual Shea humor is held in check. This is serious and I was reeling when I got to the final pages while simultaneously reaching for a box of tissues. AMAZING book. I can’t recommend it and the author enough. READ IT! You’ll have zero regrets.

That wraps it up for this year. I’m already over 150 pages into another Joshua Palmatier novel and I see Jason Brant in the TBR pile for 2019 from here.

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season and that the new year fills your life with more good books than bad. Keep it Horror-able, folks!

Planning Adventures.

As I write this Sunday afternoon in December, the SUN IS SHINING! It’s something we haven’t seen much of  in the past few weeks so after this little blurb, I plan on going outside for a bit to enjoy it while it’s there. It’s freakin’ cold for too long and the days are so short this time of year, every drop of sunlight counts to get me through the darkness.

Some of you may be aware of the plans my husband and I have of moving out to Texas after I reach 55. That’s a lot closer than I care to admit. I’d be a liar if I said I’m not scared at the idea at all. Frankly, I’m pretty terrified! I’ve never lived more than thirty miles from the small town I grew up in. My family has been in this area since the late 1700s. My roots are very, very deep in this little pocket of the world and the fear of becoming homesick runs pretty high.  BUT … it’s one of those things in life my Heart tells me I want to experience. I have to try! I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t.

JohnsonCityTX

LBJ Ranch in Johnson City, TX

My first trip was in January 2013 when I bought a one-way ticket to Austin! We did all the tourist things! Visiting the capital building, checking out Luckenbach, Waco, The Dr. Pepper Museum, the Texas Ranger Museum, and me just being amazed it’s not all desert! This was also the year that marked my not-yet-husband moving to New York so we could be together.

SaladoCreekHouse

Salado Creek House, Salado, TX

We went twice in 2014. Once in July then again in October. These were not the happiest of times as my husband’s father was very ill and we were going to see him while we still could. The second trip was actually for the funeral. Despite that, we did our best to keep the trip positive and went out exploring, finding this little gem of an abandoned house by the creek one afternoon.

WSMR

Down there is where my life story began, White Sands, NM

A third trip in 2015 included Oklahoma and New Mexico. This was the dream trip of a lifetime. My dad was in the Army and stationed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico when I was born, but the family moved back east when I was only six months old. Growing up I always talked about going back. I wanted more than just pictures of the place and myself as an infant. I wanted my own memories. In some strange way, I have always thought of the place as being home just as much as where I’ve spent the majority of my life living. Meeting a man who spent all his high school years and then some living there, too, was not a coincidence. So, off we went!

BigBend

In Big Bend National Park

There was a wedding to fund in 2016 which postponed another trip until just this past October-November. Each time I grow to love the landscape more and more. The more wild and desolate and desert-y it is, the more I seem to like it. I’m totally in love with the west Texas desert and were I a rich woman, you’d bet I’d have a home out there. Full time living, maybe not, but a couple months out of the year, you bet!

Terlingua

Terlingua, Texas

What is it about this place that inspires the artist in me so much? Story ideas come to me constantly. I want to set up an art studio and paint! I want to take up basket weaving and try my hand at making pottery. The colors are so vibrant that if I didn’t think it would drive everyone else in the house mad, it would all be bursting at the seams here. It’s already infiltrating my New York home, but I want more!!

And then … The Fear comes rolling in, the thoughts of swapping out the home I’ve always known for the one I dream of.  I don’t know where this journey is taking me, but I know I can’t back away from it. It’s there. It’s nagged me for over fifty years. The adventure is waiting. I need to take it and see what happens despite the terror that wells up inside me every time I think about it. Facing fears in the past has always led me down some pretty awesome paths and once in motion, things were NEVER has scary as I imagined them to be.

And so, as the furnace kicks on to keep away the cold and the sun is still shining, I’m thinking of the warmth and the future and facing another of life’s fears with the promise of dreams coming true. They certainly won’t if I don’t give them a shot, will they? Here’s to the fast-approaching new year and each day that pulls me ever closer to another of my life’s greatest adventures!

Be well, all – or should I say y’all to get myself into the habit?

Author Interview – Brian Rathbone

Twitter’s been a great venue for me to find fellow writers and share our unique senses of humor. One of the funniest I’ve come across is Fantasy author, Brian Rathbone. His quick one-liners always crack me up and made me very curious about the man lurking behind all those dragon jokes. And so, without further delay, here’s what I was able to find out. 

Hi, everybody! I’m Brian and I’m weird but it’s okay. I promise.

Some writers come to writing later in life, almost accidentally, while others have been honing their skills from a very young age. How did your journey as a writer begin? What were some of your favorite books as a child and can you tell me a bit more about your children’s book, “The Silliest Dragon”?

As a kid, I hated reading. It was a forced act lumped in my mind with homework and making my bed—things to avoid at all cost! Then I read a Wrinkle in Time. It was unlike anything else I had read, and I was able to get lost in it. My tastes soon shifted to fantasy and series like Dragonlance, The Belgariad, Incarnations of Immortality, and other requisite fantasy reading of the 1980’s and 1990’s. I knew from that point that I would someday write my own stories, it was something I told my wife of 25 years on our first date, but it took some time and a couple false starts before the magic could happen.

May, 2005, in the Atlanta Airport, I inherently knew my time with my current employer would soon end. I flipped open my laptop and started writing a story I’d been thinking about for 15 years. It took another five years to have any success, and more than a decade to produce the twelve books that currently make up the World of Godsland fantasy series.

SILLY_cover-gpThe Silliest Dragon was also the result of workplace drama. After a meeting that left me so angry I could barely contain myself, I drove home and somehow managed to channel my rage and disgust into a message of hope, laughter, silliness, and love (I really have no idea how or why that works.) My friend Matt Ostrom is the one who really brought The Silliest Dragon to life in two dimensions, three dimensions, and even augmented reality. The 3D printed Silliest Dragon is the first of my characters I can hold in my hand. How cool is that? And the Silliest Dragon AR app lets The Silliest Dragon come to life whenever the camera is aimed at a print copy of the Silliest Dragon.

The little purple guy has become very popular in the India as well as the US, and now he has two more books coming out.

The Silliest Dragon Goes to School
The Silliest Dragon Goes to the Zoo

Speaking of dragons – you Tweet about them a lot! Clearly they are your favorite mythical beast. But, what about unicorns? I hear you spend a great deal of time thinking about them, too. Where do they stand in the Brian Rathbone Universe?

Unicorns are a dangerous subject. Very pointy… In all honesty, I find dragons easier to write in a credible way, although my horse training experience would seem more relevant there than with dragons, but that’s not how it has worked out. I may find a way to work the magical creatures into my fiction at some point, but mixing them with dragons just seems like a vet bill waiting to happen.

My tweets, while inspired by my fiction, have a flavor and personality all their own. When throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, unicorn jokes almost always stick. This is why so many of them end up as short-order cooks in little “hole-in-the-wall” places. It’s just physics.

Setting a mood for a story is one of the most important parts of writing, but what about setting the mood for yourself as you sit down to write? Do you have a special time and place, or maybe some music you like to put on to get your creative juices flowing for a good session?

My process is to walk and work on the scene in my mind until it plays smoothly, taking hand-written notes along the way. I will often listen to classic and progressive rock to set the mood. The Wind Blew Them All Away by Transatlantic is a particular favorite. When scene plays like a movie in my mind, I sit down and try to get the scene to go from my brain, through my fingers, and into keyboard. That never works. I muddle through anyway leaving a trail of typos and errant tildes just for flavor. I then go back through my hand-written notes and make sure I didn’t miss any gems. Repeat this process four to five times per writing day, and I can complete a rough draft in three weeks. I then bask in the glory of being a writer for a week or two before knocking myself back down a few pegs during the editing process.

Despite all the memes that keep screaming at authors to be writing during every waking moment, all occupations require some downtime. When you’re not writing, what activities allow you to relax and regroup?

I’m weird. Have I mentioned that? I haven’t written fiction in three years. When I write, I tend to binge write. I fight and scrape to find dedicated blocks of time where I can concentrate and write more cohesive novels. In some ways, writing fiction is how I regroup from the other things I do, and vice versa. Professionally, I am a technology generalist, programmer, inventor, tinkerer, and computer networking jack-of-all-trades. I’ve written software that manages the manufacturing of sofas, fruit salads, and car mirrors. Sometimes I get them mixed up. If your sofa tastes funny, don’t blame me, it’s closer than it appears.

I also write technical non-fiction, mostly for state and federal agencies regarding the mapping and expansion of broadband internet access in underserved areas. Telling dragon jokes on Twitter is like a vacation from it all, and I don’t get to spend nearly as much time interacting these days as I would like.

When I’m not doing those things, I really enjoy online auto racing—the more realistic the better. I’ve been known to take a car with dragons painted on it to victory lane. You should see the burnouts!

Godsland-Bundle-webI know there must be several works in progress going on. Can you tell me what’s up next for you and about any recent releases? Where can people learn more about your work?

I’m so excited to begin the fourth trilogy in the main Godsland story line. This trilogy will complete the primary story line. I also have a sequel to Dragon Airways to write, and I have an idea I’ve been honing for a couple years now for a stand-alone fantasy novel that is more suitable for traditional publication. While I haven’t written any fiction for years, I have continued to hone the characters and stories in my mind. It’s always fun when I get to brain dump a nearly completed novel.

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share a bit of yourself with my readers and me.

Thanks to you and your readers for playing along.

Brian is stalkable on Twitter as Fantasy Author @BrianRathbone. You can find Brian’s work on his website www.brianrathbone.com or visit his Google Play Store.

Book Review – “Creature” by Hunter Shea (2018) Flame Tree Press

I started reading Shea’s work several years ago and have been Hooked On Hunter ever since. From ghost stories to crazy, blood-thirsty cryptids, he packs it all into a fast-paced read that I don’t seem able to get enough of. But, I’d hear that if you’re a fan of Shea’s monster books, you’re in for something very different with “Creature” – and you won’t be disappointed.

Andrew Woodson rents an idyllic lakeside cabin in the woods of Maine as a place for his chronically ill wife Kate and he to get away from all the doctors, hospitals and medical procedures – if only for a few months. But, it doesn’t take long before they realize there’s something in the woods beyond happily twittering birds and a chattering squirrels. There’s something big out there, really big and really, really pissed off.  At first they think maybe it’s just a moose or a bear and briefly convince themselves it’s a deer. But, can any of those creatures throw huge rocks onto the roof or slam so hard into the walls of their vacation home as to knock items off shelves? When Kate’s brother and sister-in-law arrive for a visit, things only get worse.

As mentioned, this isn’t your ordinary Hunter Shea novel. Oh, there’s monster mayhem, but what that monster is and why it’s gone completely insane remains a mystery until the agonizing end. There’s a lot of pain in this book, physically and emotionally. It’s a story of fighting for your life, be it against a possibly terminal illness or a mysterious monster stalking you and your family. How do you fight back against something you can’t see, or when you don’t even know what that something is?

I was warned, but didn’t believe, that I’d be crying at the end of this one. I was.

5 out of 5 Ravens

The Raven Scale
1 Raven: Ew. Yuck. Don’t Eat That.
2 Ravens: Bread Crumbs, A Bit Dry & Flavorless, But It’ll Keep Us Alive.
3 Ravens: Peanuts, Popcorn, And Cat Kibble! Nom-nom.
4 Ravens: Pizza Place Dumpster After Lunch! Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit! Fresh Road Kill, Dudes!

Author Interview – Kasey Hill

For the month of October, we’re stepping into the wonderfully witchy & macabre world of author Kasey Hill who’s been writing since Kindergarten!

1. Much like myself, I know you began reading and writing from an early age, elementary school. I’d love to know a little bit more about that. What were some of your favorite books as a child and do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

KaseyHillI was all over genres growing. I read the entire Babysitter’s Little Sister’s Club books when I was 8 in like 2 weeks. I loved science fiction, fantasy, any kind of books I devoured. The first story I remember writing was in Kindergarten. I wrote a 500 word story about a princess and a castle. The second one was in 4th grade and I wrote a mix of Freddy Krueger, Jason, and the Devil coming after me on Halloween. I then started writing more the next year. My mom bought a typewriter and I started writing stories on the typewriter. This was before computers were really affordable or used often. I would write stories and read them in class the next day. I remember having an Animorphs fan fiction story with vampires. This was before fan fiction was even a thing.

2. The occult and anything paranormal always piques my interest. What can you tell me about the work you’ve done with Nancy Chandler and Trinitarian Wicca?

Nancy Chandler and I have been working together for 10 years on a follow up book to her debut book “Christian Wicca: The Trinitarian Tradition”. She quickly realized that her book was taken out of context. We are currently working on rewriting that book and finishing up Book 2 about the Goddess. (Note from Pamela:  Due to the lengthy answer needed to explain Trinitarian Wicca, Kasey & I agreed to cut her replay a bit short. – If you are interested in learning more about the concepts behind Trinitarian Wicca check out the website: Trinitarian Wicca)

Haunting_Hill3. Setting a mood for a story is one of the most important parts of writing, but what about setting the mood for yourself as you sit down to write? Do you have a special time and place, or maybe some music you like to put on to get your creative juices flowing for a good session?

Actually, no. Unless my kids are misbehaving to the point it’s a distraction, I don’t really need anything to set the mood so to speak. The story just has to be there. The story paints a picture for me like a movie and I type as I see it in my head. The characters are very real to me and jump off the movie screen into the story.

I recently finished one book and published it under my maiden name Kasey Thompson, Surviving Sarah, which I did use music for but for a different reason than most would. The book centered on depression and suicide, and since it was very close to home, I used the music I listen to during dark days to get into character. I recently overcame a really bad bout of depression and it was harder getting back into character, so the music that aided me I used to write.

4. I recently had the pleasure of seeing the Wicked Witch of the West’s gazing ball used on the set of the original Wizard of Oz movie. I’m a HUGE fan of Oz. Tell us about your Return To Oz series and when can we expect to read more?

WastelandOzI decided to write the Return to Oz series because there really isn’t a continuation of the story. Dorothy is in Oz at the end of Baum’s books and will never grow old or die, or so they think. I wanted to make it more realistic and after the death of her aunt and uncle, she returns to the real world to start her life. It’s much later in years, but she has riches from the kingdom to sustain her new venture. She has a daughter that becomes the main focal point of the spinoff. I actually reassigned the stories to a pen name since my children are now in school. I didn’t want my young adult books tainted. So Isobel Ingram is the new penman of the series and I hoping to finish book 2 this year to release.

5. Speaking of reading more, what’s next on the agenda for you? Any works in progress you can tell us a teaser about and where can we find your work and learn more about you?

I have 4 series in progress right now. I recently started a ghost story series about the haunting of my land. I also have Books 3 through 4 pending writes for sequels to my Guardians of Light series (Firefly of Immortality). I have a coauthored book with Nancy Chandler about vampires that we are doing Book 2 for The House Sarkozy series as well as the Wicca books. I also have the sequel to Dombie: A Love Story to finish that I also gave to another pen name Girty Thompson. I counted up all the story ideas I have started and unfinished just the other day and have well over 50 to do before I die. I plan to get each one out. Don’t even ask me about my poetry books. LOL. I write poetry nonstop and have a poetic series I am launching called Tattered Wings.

You can follow me on social media I am EVERYWHERE! www.facebook.com/kasey.hill.author
www.twitter.com/kdt02201988
www.instagram.com/kaseyhillauthor
kaseyhillauthor.wordpress.com
kaseyhillauthor.tumblr.com

And you can find my books on Amazon or any book retailer outlet

When Death Comes Cawing

As anyone who follows me knows, there’s a sacred place in my heart for crows.

For the past three-plus years I have fed and even earned a small level of trust from a small murder. What started as two (dubbed Elvira and Edgar) grew to three (Sunny) with an occasional forth (Unnamed). This year, that number went up to six when two fledglings joined the group. They were quickly dubbed Ruckus and Rowdy because they were so darn noisy as they followed their parents around begging for food.

Sadly, today it went down to five. I found one of my beautiful friends dead in the neighbor’s yard. No marks of any kind on it. Not a feather out of place. Not a drop of blood. I wonder if maybe it simply died of old age. His/Her family flew over and circled several times, clearly very upset and cawing loudly.

I knew I couldn’t just leave my dearly departed where it was to be ripped apart by some other creature or worse, have the neighbor get hold of it and just chuck it heartlessly into the nearby brush pile. (The house in question is actually vacant. A fire gutted it about five years ago and it has been in the process of being rebuilt ever since. However, there is a person who mows the lawn and construction workers do show up from time to time to work on the place.) I could all too clearly see one of these people not respecting ‘my’ bird and that was just unacceptable.

CrowDaddy

One of ‘my’ crows in their favorite pine tree.

With a heavy heart, I got the shovel from the garage and dug a hole under the pine tree where one of their numbers would often perch to call me out for peanuts and crow chow (aka high quality cat food). From this tree, too, they would wait and watch until the coast was clear before flying down to eat.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know which of ‘my’ birds I buried this afternoon. I was sorely tempted to pluck a feather from its wing as a bit of memento mori, but I simply couldn’t do it. Its life had already been taken. Taking even more felt wrong.

As I placed it in the ground, tears welling up, I looked into its eyes and told it how beautiful it was and how much joy it had brought me. I thanked it for trusting me even if only a little bit and how dearly it would be missed.

These birds are not my pets. They are wild and free to come and go as they please, but that doesn’t lessen the affection I’ve grown to have for them nor the sadness I feel at losing even a single one.

Good bye, dear winged friend.

To Learn More About Crow Funerals:

Book Review – The Siren and The Specter by Jonathan Janz (2018) Flame Tree Press

I love me a good ghost\haunted house story. This wasn’t good. It was GREAT!

Professional paranormal skeptic, researcher, and author, David Caine, is given the chance of a lifetime when his best friend from college invites him into the infamously haunted Alexander House. Chris and his wife Katherine have given David full access to the place for a month. David is positive he can squash all the rumors that the place is haunted by an 18th century maniac by the name of Judson Alexander. Numerous murders and suicides are the catalyst behind the supposed haunting. David has faced such presumed evils before and written several best-selling books on the subject, debunking one alleged haunting after another.

Almost immediately, the Alexander House starts to flex its muscles and even this total non-believers starts feeling, seeing, and hearing things he simply can’t explain no matter how hard he tries. His nearest neighbors aren’t much help. Ralph Hooper, a friendly old man who lives in a small house nearby, is convinced the place is cursed. While the Shelby family, further down, is far more interested in porn, kinky sex, child abuse, and booze than what’s going on in their local haunted mansion. The longer David stays, the more intense and maddening the situation becomes, driving him closer and closer to the brink of belief.

There are some pretty intense scenes here that pulled me deep into the book and made the characters relatable. I cringed when I met the Shelby parents! Great, well-written tale of the afterlife with an ending that made my jaw drop just a little bit.

5 out of 5 Ravens

The Raven Scale
1 Raven: Ew. Yuck. Don’t Eat That.
2 Ravens: Bread Crumbs, A Bit Dry & Flavorless, But It’ll Keep Us Alive.
3 Ravens: Peanuts, Popcorn, And Cat Kibble! Nom-nom.
4 Ravens: Pizza Place Dumpster After Lunch! Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit! Fresh Road Kill, Dudes!

Book Review – The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner (2018) Flame Tree Press

His mother did try to warn him that the world is a dangerous place.

Emory Lewis is missing and her estranged father Jayce means to find her. He’ll be the first to admit he’s never been the greatest father in the world, but it’s time to change that. Little does Jayce know that in order to find his only child, he’s going to have to enter a lecherous and disturbing underworld of inhuman creatures and madness where almost anything goes.

I loved this book! Waggoner sucked me in from page one and didn’t let go until I’d reached the end. There were so many weird, unexpected twists that I was forever wondering what could possibly be next. I hated having to put the book down and do other things. There was never a dull moment and never a time when I got lost or confused or didn’t understand motives or actions. Despite it all, Jayce pushes forward, desperate to find his daughter. I liked Jayce and found his struggle and desperation believable. Nicola, a woman who understands the dark realm Jayce had stumbled into and agrees to help him, was also likable. Waggoner did a great job of making you trust her and not trust her at the same time; the same could be said of all the characters we meet throughout Jayce’s adventure.

Highly recommend this book. These aren’t your typical monsters with the typical motives and Jayce Lewis is anything but your typical father.

5 out of 5 Ravens

The Raven Scale
1 Raven:  Ew. Yuck. Don’t Eat That.
2 Ravens: Bread Crumbs, A Bit Dry & Flavorless, But It’ll Keep Us Alive.
3 Ravens: Peanuts, Popcorn, And Cat Kibble! Nom-nom.
4 Ravens: Pizza Place Dumpster After Lunch! Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit! Fresh Road Kill, Dudes!

Author Interview – Tim Meyer

authorphoto1 (1)Getting to know Tim Meyer started on Twitter a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve discovered his warped wit with a crazy bunch of Horror Cvlt Live Chat members and enjoyed a little Fun In The Sun time with him just off the Mexican coast via his novel Sharkwater Beach. After reading that, I knew I just had to get an interview. Thankfully, Tim thought it was a good idea, too!

1. Stephen King is quoted as saying, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.” Every writer I know also spends a great amount of time reading. What was your favorite book as a kid and how have the books you read back then influenced you as a writer today?

Great question! Hard to pick just one, but Jurassic Park was a book I read a lot when it first came out. I was around eight at the time and I remember reading it over and over again. Still have that paperback copy and it has pretty much fallen apart since then. Also the GOOSEBUMPS series by R.L. Stine. I had every single book and read them constantly. Those really influenced me as a writer and were also my “gateway” into horror fiction – authors like Stephen King and Robert McCammon. I fell in love with the genre, hard. I think when you read my stuff today, you can definitely see the impression GOOSEBUMPS left. I always enjoyed how Stine took your average kid with real-life issues and threw them into these crazy situations – much like King does too. I think you can see a lot of that in my work.

2. For some writers quiet and solitude are paramount to a successful writing session. Others seem perfectly capable of writing in crowded and noisy coffee houses. Describe your writing space and what works best for you when it comes to writing productively.

I have my own office. It’s surrounded by horror movies, toys, and a giant bookcase with way too many books! I do most of my writing there. I try to wake up at 5 every morning, before my wife and three-year-old. Doesn’t always happen, but usually I can do that five days of the week. I’m most productive during those early hours. I listen to music and drink about 40oz of coffee an hour. Okay, maybe not that much. But, coffee. A good amount of that. I’ll also try to steal moments here and there. If my wife is working late, I’ll try to squeeze in 1,000 words before bed. I’m not opposed to writing in a coffee shop or in loud places. I’ve gotten pretty good at writing with Mickey Mouse on in the background. I also enjoy a good writing session at the local library, but that doesn’t happen too often.

khccover3. Earlier I asked about your favorite book growing up. When did you actually start writing stories for yourself? Was it something you’ve always been interested in or did it happen later in life? What was the very first story you can remember writing?

I’ve been interested in writing as early as the fourth grade. My fourth-grade teacher made us write a novel for a class project. It had to be ten pages or so with pictures. I, of course, wrote about me and my friends crash-landing on a deserted island populated by carnivorous dinosaurs. After that, I guess you can say I had been bitten by the story bug. I started writing stories, doodling comics, and making movies with friends. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, no matter the medium.

4. “A writer never takes a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing,” or so once said playwright Eugene Ionesco. I couldn’t agree with him more, but there are times when I’m not writing and pursuing other interests. What others activities or hobbies do you have that are totally unrelated to being an author?

Well, I love spending time with my wife and kid. That’s the best. I’m a big sports fan, so I enjoy watching and playing sports. Big into fantasy football. I enjoy craft beer, exploring different breweries and sampling their various concoctions. I’m a movie buff, so I watch a lot of them. I podcast, co-host the Aperture Hour Podcast on The Project Entertainment Network. We talk about movies and TV shows and have weekly trivia. It’s a lot of fun. I buy way too many horror t-shirts.

switchhouse2225. Tell us a bit about your latest release and what can we expect next? I know you must have something in the works! Where can readers learn more about what you already have available and keep up-to-date on all things Tim Meyer?

I recently had two books come out. The first is called THE SWITCH HOUSE. It’s about a husband and wife who come back home after going on a house-swapping reality television program, only to find their house not the way they left it – in the spiritual sense. They think it might be haunted or cursed, and that’s when the crazy stuff happens. It’s getting a lot of good reviews and I’m really proud of how it’s being received by readers. The other is a nasty novel titled KILL HILL CARNAGE. You can probably tell by the title that it’s about puppies and rainbows and happiness. Nah, it’s basically EVIL DEAD meets FROM BEYOND meets LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL. It’s my love letter to late 80s/early 90s horror.

I have a bunch of stuff in the works. Currently shopping a novel called DEAD DAUGHTERS. Just finished the first draft on a lost world/adventure horror novel involving inter-dimensional time travel and lots of dinosaurs. Recently wrapped up a novel I’m co-authoring – that one is about pirate ghosts and ancient sea monsters. Oh, and I’m also in the middle of plotting out the final two books of the SUNFALL series, which I co-author with Chad Scanlon and Pete Draper. Might have a new short story collection available next year. So, all that and a bunch of other projects that I can’t talk about yet. Best way to keep up with me is probably Twitter (@timmmeyer11) or over on Timmeyerwrites.com and sign up for the newsletter.