I’m Gonna Ride On, Ride On, Ride On…

As I was driving home tonight, glancing in the rear view mirror every now and then as one does – I had a bit of an epiphany. We don’t drive down the highway looking in the rear view mirror all the time. There’s a reason for that. It’s not in the least bit safe. We can see where we’re going briefly, but doing it all the time won’t work. Our main focus needs to be on the vehicles on either side as well as what’s ahead.

That’s how we should also be living life. Yes, check out what’s back there, in the past, every now and then. Remember what you saw, what you did, what you may have learned going through all that, but don’t make it your main focus. What was, was. It’s all behind you.

Pay attention to what’s going on around you in the moment, the present, just like you would the cars around you in traffic. Work with that, do what you need to do in the now to make it through one block, one mile at a time.

Look ahead. Pay attention to what’s coming up and how you can get there in the most efficient, safest way possible. Adjust your speed and prepare to change your route – detours happen – but that’s all they are. If you are truly intent on getting to your destination, a detour is only a temporary slowing down of the traffic, annoying, but in the grand scheme of the journey, a minor incident. It’s not the end of the journey. Work with it – do what you have to do, but there’s no reason to pull over and stop because of one setback.

Life is full of detours. Sometimes traffic barely moves at all and we feel like we’re going nowhere fast. It’s maddening.  We have to adjust and change our plans. Sometimes it takes a lot longer to get there than we hoped, but as long as we look ahead, focus on the destination not the rear view mirror, we’ll get there. We’ll find our way eventually. No one has been stuck in traffic so long that they’ve died – well, not that I know of anyway. Eventually, things get moving again and we can get on our way.

I’ve been a published author since 2006. I’m still not doing it fulltime. I’m still not even close to making a living at it, but I’m still behind the wheel and on the road. Sometimes it feels like I’m getting nowhere and I wonder why I ever even started up the car to begin with. There are times I feel like shutting off the engine and chucking the keys into a fast-moving river.

But then, I take a glance in the rear view mirror and realize how far I’ve come in the past dozen years. I look around me at the wonderful friends and mentors I’ve made in the writing business. I’ve grown. I’ve hit a couple of detours and a pot hole or two, but I keep on going. The road still stretches out in front of me and my journey isn’t even close to being over with yet.

No matter what your dream is, just keep your eyes focused on that road ahead. You’ve already made it through some traffic jams and detours. They are done and over with and there’s no sense in dwelling on them anymore. You’ll get through any of the others that are headed your way, too, I guarantee.

Write on! Or in this case, Ride on!

Review – Amazon’s KDP Help Desk

Let’s face it, we like to joke and yes, mostly complain, about all the many customer service jobs that have gone overseas, mainly to India. They aren’t helpful. We can’t understand their accents. All they do is repeat verbatim what we’ve already read on the initial Help Screen of whatever company we are dealing with. This leaves us angry and frustrated and vowing never to do business with those people ever again!

This review is no such thing!

A couple months ago I decided to move a couple of my paperbacks from CreateSpace to Kindle Direct Publishing. There’s been rumor that CreateSpace is on the way out and, though nothing firm has yet to be released, it may not be a terrible idea to make the switch sooner rather than later. It’s all the same company, Amazon, and the directions appeared easy enough, so off I went.

The first title made the transition with no problems whatsoever. I waited a couple days to make sure all was well before setting out to move the second title. That’s when a roadblock smacked me in the face. I got the error message that the ISBN-13 number I was trying to use was already assigned to by another title. What the what? I looked back through everything and couldn’t see where this was happening. Desperate, I sent a message to KDP’s Help and crossed my fingers.

Archana got back to me a couple days later. He (or she) told me I needed to remove the ISBN-13 from a previously created version of the book in question. After that was done, I should be able to delete that version and move on with putting the ISBN to the new one. Off I went, following directions, finding the error and happily deleting, then waiting the needed 72 hours before trying again.

And … it didn’t work.

The same error message was still there. I wrote back to KDP to let them know it still wasn’t working.

Someone named Karthikeyan replied to my message and said she (or he) would look further into the matter and get back to me and could I send screen shots of what I was seeing so they could be passed on to the IT guys. I did, crossed my fingers, and waited.

A couple days passed when I heard back from the next person to handle my difficult case, Nithinesh. Nithinesh let me know their tech support people had restored three other versions of the title that I’d apparently created in error and that they also needed deleting. This in mind, I logged into KDP yet again, found the titles and deleted those as well. After another 72 hours, I tried to move the new version and lo … it still didn’t work. Ugh!

I’d pretty much given up on this whole process. I then heard back from Nithinesh who asked if I’d had any luck. I told him (or her) that I had not. It still refused to accept the ISBN-13. He said he’d have a look at it and get back to me. I waited. A couple days later, Nithinesh let me know that it looked like I’d only deleted the errant titles but had NOT removed the ISBN-13s first. Okay, my error in misreading the directions. She (or he) said they’d ask the IT Team to restore the old ones again (if possible) and that this time, to be sure I deleted the ISBNs before going all delete crazy. (My wording there.)

On Tuesday, word arrived from my fourth KDP Helpful Assistant, Siyam. Siyam informed me that they had restored the other versions again and reposted my directions. He (or she) also said to not delete the others entirely until AFTER I’d been able to convert (or not) the ISBN-13 to the latest paperback version. Good thinking there, Siyam!

I’ve gone in and deleted the ISBN-13s from the three older version. ((What puzzles me is why was I allowed to create these three others version at all? Shouldn’t I have gotten an error message when foolishly attempting to create this thing a second time? Let alone a third!))  This morning I took the next step and entered the ISBN-13 for the version I want used. And LO!!!! IT WORKED! The process when through smooth as buttah!

I am SO grateful to Siyam, Nithinesh, Karthikeyan, Archana, and all the KDP IT people who helped get me through this issue. Super, super happy and yes, very surprised that this story has a happy ending. Thanks KDP Help Desk … you’ve gotten a great big gold star from me!

FIVE STAR RAVEN RATING!

A Summer of Shenanigans

It’s been ages since I’ve posted a personal update. I’ve been busy. That’s a good thing. Even though that busy-ness caused some stress, it was a good kind of stress, a stress born of progress and meeting deadlines.

NRFTW_HBB_coverHellBound Books and I were able to get the new edition of No Rest For The Wicked out in time for my signing event in July. This was my second time taking part in Berkshire’s Blueberries & Books Festival. What a pleasure it was to have twice as many titles this year, too. I really enjoy this event. Not only do I get to talk about my own work, but I get to talk with other writers about their work. This year I was seated next to a lady who wrote a children’s book about NOT being afraid of the dark. We had fun with that all day, telling people I was trying to scare people while she was trying to get folks over their fears. I got a lot of repeat customers from last year, too. That’s always a good sign. I made my podcast debut over at The Unofficial Panic Room Radio Show to help promote NRFTW, as well.

AngryAircraftIn August we took some vacation time. Our first wedding anniversary was on the 27th (and people said it wouldn’t last). Actually, no one said that, but … anyway. We managed to find our way to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY. Planes, trains, motorcycles, and automobiles, plus some really cool items from fictional space travel to be seen (Star Trek, Lost In Space, etc.) Stopped for lunch in Hammondsport proper and went down to the lake front for a while, too. Very relaxing.

serlinggraveEven though we got slightly off track on our way to the museum that delayed us an hour, it was still early enough in the day to head over to Interlaken to see if we could find the grave of one of my writing idols, Rod Serling. We did. It was a lot more emotional than I ever imagined. We ended the day stopping for ice cream. Vacation also included putting some flashing on the front porch, but mostly just relaxing around the homestead, sleeping in, and having time together.

signingThroughout August and September we worked on getting The Witch’s Backbone 1: The Curse ready for release along with some minor updates on the covers for the other two Barnesville Chronicles, Secrets of The Scarecrow Moon and That’s What Shadows Are Made Of. And this is where the majority of my stress was generated. I desperately wanted TWB1-TC to be ready for my signing event on October 6th  for Owego’s First Friday Art Walk. The covers were just not turning out over and over again. Time was running very short, but it did happen and I had copies in hand barely in time. *phew* The turnout at Riverow Bookshop was pretty good, too. Also in October, there was an attempt at another podcast appearance, this time over at Experiences Within The Light, but my phone died all of 15 minutes into our chat. We’re going to reschedule as soon as possible!

Layered in with that was a request for me to write a foreword for another writer (I said yes), being asked to write a blog for another author’s website (I said yes), and being asked if I’d be interested in writing movie and/or book reviews for another site (I said yes). Plus, I still wanted keep posting on my own website once a week and had interviews to send out, process, and post. Yes, indeed, stress that was pretty much of my own creation, but if I want to kick this writing gig into gear, I have to get out there and get my name and work known as much as I can. More details on all that once they come into fruition. They are all works-in-progress at the moment.

TWB_Barnesville_FrontIn the past couple of days, fellow writer and friend Thomas S. Gunther put me in the spotlight. I had no idea what he was up to when he messaged me and asked for some biographical info. I sure didn’t expect what he posted. Wow. It certainly made my day with his feature Writers In Review post. Today, Becky Narron of Roadie Notes posted an interview I did for her late last week.

Amongst it all, I still try to get on with the writing of The Witch’s Backbone 2: The Murder. I’ve signed up to do NaNoWriMo again starting November 1st and am hoping it will push me a bit harder to get more of it done. I’ve already jumped the 37K word count on it, but I can use all the help I can get to get it done in a timely manner. I’m hoping for around 100K words on it.

Even though we’re not yet into November, I’m already starting to reach out to some fellow authors to get them on my list of interviewees for 2018. The long-awaited release of Dark Hollow Road is coming in 2018, too. It’s a psychological horror that made even me question where the material was arising from in my psyche. If you like your horror more on the taboo side, where the monster is all-together human, you’re going to love this one. We’re going to explore a seemingly-empty old house in the Pennsylvania countryside and learn all about the last person who lived there. It may just change your mind about urban spelunking. I know it did mine! Keep an eye out for future announcements on this one.

And there you have it, all the updating that’s fit to print. Like I said, I’ve been busy. The stress may not have been enjoyable at the time, but it’s worth it once I have an end result I can be proud of enough to share with others.

Be well, all, and thanks for reading!

The Horrors That Grew Me – Rod Serling

It was late summer as my husband and I traipsed around in a small, quiet, and isolated cemetery in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. We’d come to visit a grave, which was quite a normal thing to do in a cemetery. I’d only ever seen pictures of the headstone. I had never met the man buried there, but his influences on the mind of the young girl I once was and the woman I’d grow up to become, are immeasurable.

I’d hoped there would be some sort of map directing us to the grave. There wasn’t. Frustrated, I feared we’d come all this way for nothing. Although it wasn’t a big place, it was big enough to be intimidating at the thought of finding such an unimpressive headstone. We walked in different directions. Maybe ten minutes later, my husband’s voice beckoned. “Sweetheart? I think I found it.” My heart leaped as I surrendered my futile search and headed in his direction instead.

On Christmas Day 1924, in Syracuse, New York, Rodman E. Serling was born to Samuel and Esther Serling. When Rod was two, the family moved to Binghamton, New York where he would spend the remainder of his youth and graduate from high school in 1943. Binghamton is a mere 40 miles from the small town I grew up in and I’m currently only a dozen or so more miles further away. By the time I came into being, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone had been cancelled for over a year. Lucky for me, re-runs of the program were very popular during my early, impressionable years and I ate them up like nobody’s business. I couldn’t then, and I still can’t, get enough of The Twilight Zone. If it’s New Year’s Eve\Day, you can be certain The Twilight Zone marathon is playing on my television.

I feel very at home with Rod Serling’s work and in his world. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because we grew up so very close to each other, in the same REAL world – give or take a few decades. It’s entirely possible he passed through my small hometown and knew the same streets, sights, and sounds of towns near me. Maybe his mother took him shopping at J.J. Newberry’s in Owego. It’s possible he enjoyed a beer or two at The John Barleycorn. It’s been there long enough. He most certainly knew the mighty Susquehanna River and the C.F.J. Carousel in Johnson City, and I dare even say he rode on it as a child, just as I did. Rod Serling feels almost like kin, even if it’s some distant, never-met cousin.

NightGallery

But it wasn’t just The Twilight Zone that captured my imagination, but his other series The Night Gallery whose pilot episode stared my all-time favorite actor, Roddy McDowall. (Serling was also a contributor to some of the Planet of the Apes screenplays, btw.) The first episode aired in 1969 and whole thing would be cancelled in 1973. The Night Gallery leaned more towards horror and suspense than TZ had, something I quickly picked up on as a budding writer and student of the macabre. Each episode took place in a fictional museum gallery, of which Mr. Serling was the curator. He would present to us, usually three, sometimes only two, paintings. The painting depicted a scene that was sometimes horrifying, sometimes seemingly quite innocent. Behind every image was a dark tale to be told. The first episode of the first season was called The Cemetery.

DSCF3482 - Copy

I made quick work of finding my husband and approaching the grave he stood in front of. That was it, alright. Small, unassuming, level with the ground, and covered with offerings of pebbles, coins, pens, and a little green Army guy that had toppled off the back edge. I put the soldier back into place. Several of the stones had been painted on. “Best in Show RIP” one was marked. Another said, “Time At Last”. A third simply stated “Willoughby” after an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “A Stop At Willoughby”. It was this episode that Serling freely admitted to being his favorite of the first season. I looked down at the stone and said, with laughter on my lips, “Willoughby! Next stop, Willoughby!” Seeing the somewhat blank look in my husband’s face, I added, “You have no idea what that means, do you?” He admitted he didn’t.

A soft breath escaped me followed by a moment of silence as I looked back down at the grave, then the unexpected happened, the tears came. I was suddenly very sad and heartbroken, mourning a man I’d never met and only knew by his work I’d seen on television. I realized then how much I have always idolized Rod Serling and how hard I’d strived since day one of knowing that being a writer is what I wanted to be, to being even just a little, teensy-weensy bit, no matter how pale a shadow that may be, like him and his work.

DSCF3487 - CopyI pulled myself together as quickly as I could, wiped my tears, took some pictures and had my picture taken at the grave. The power of that visit has clung to me ever since, the emotions bubbling to the surface as the most unexpected times, and the gratitude I feel for all that Rod Serling brought into my world, felt through and through. On June 28th 1975, after two heart attacks and undergoing open heart surgery, Rodman E. Serling’s life succumbed to a third, fatal heart attack. He was fifty years old. Only a year younger than I am now. His funeral took place on July 2nd, followed by a memorial service at Cornell’s Sage Chapel on July 7th.

When we left that cemetery, I left a little piece of myself behind and took with me a much greater appreciation for the quiet, privacy in which one of my idols rests. I hope he’s found his way to Willoughby. RIP Mr. Serling, Rest In Peace.

The Horrors That Grew Me – Ghostly Encounters

I’m not sure how old I was when my grandmother told me the story about the time she saw a ghost at a friend’s house. I couldn’t have been a teenager yet. This was the same grandmother who bought and taught me how to work an Ouija board, instead of the getting me the vampire books I’d picked out, for my 13th birthday. Pretty awesome, grandma, huh?

Now, before someone gets all up in arms about the DANGER!DANGER!DANGER! of using an Ouija board, I was then and am now, fully aware of what some people say and truly believe. 99% of my experiences have been positive. Maybe it’s because I always approached it in a positive, respectful, and empowering way. I didn’t go in full of fear or anger or anything that might draw in the negative. I honestly don’t know. As for all the talk I’ve heard about demons and all that. Meh. Angry human spirits, absolutely. Demons? No. Maybe that’s something that was instilled in me by my grandmother during those early lessons.

Needless to say, this whole believing in ghosts thing has always existed in my life. I’ve never known what’s it’s like to not believe. Maybe that’s why I’ve had what might be considered an above-average amount of experiences with it. I can totally understand why others don’t feel this way and I’m fine with that. I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind. I’m here to tell you some stories.

My first experience, that I can remember, happened at a friend’s house. You can read all about it over at Thomas Gunther’s website where I answered his question, “What Scared The Hell Out Of You?”.

Another incident happened while my first husband and I were exploring an abandoned brick house back in the late 1980s. We weren’t looking for ghosts at all, just wanted to check out this old place. While we were doing so, I heard what sounded like an old woman humming. The image of a woman sitting out on the front porch sitting in a rocking chair popped into my head. Just sitting there, humming to herself and rocking. It was a very peaceful, happy feeling.

While with a group of friends, again, exploring an empty house that was anything but empty, I walked into the dining room and it felt like my whole chest constricted and the air got very heavy and tight. As soon as I’d leave that room, the feeling would stop. Never saw or heard anything, but that sensation was enough for me to know something, or someone, was not happy about having their house invaded by strangers. I avoided that room as best I could during the rest of our visit.

In 1994, while looking for a house to buy, we found another old place. It had a For Sale sign out front so we stopped to see what we could see through the windows before calling the realtor. While standing at one corner of the property, I heard footsteps coming around from the other side. I assumed it was my husband so paid it no mind until I turned and looked. It wasn’t him. It was a woman dressed in an early 20th-century dress, white or some other light color, with her dark hair pulled up in a Gibson Girl-style. We made brief eye contact, she smiled just a little bit then was gone. It was that fast.

Although we ended up not getting that house, we did find one the following year that met all our criteria, including a resident ghost. Our first encounter with the man we’d later call Herman, happened only a month or so after moving in. It was late February or early March and we woke one morning to find the door between the kitchen and back room wide open. We thought nothing about it at the time. One or the other of us probably hadn’t closed it all the way. It was (and still is) a tricky door to get shut. The door was closed and checked that night and off we went to bed. The next morning, it was open again. Now we’re starting to wonder. That night the door was closed, locked, and tugged on to make extra sure it was completely latched and tight. Good to go, we headed upstairs to bed.

It wasn’t an hour later when we heard a click and a the familiar squeak of that kitchen door opening. In the darkness of the bedroom I said, “Did you hear that?” “Yeah.” “You going to go check?” “Nope.” Sure enough, the next morning the door was open yet again. It was creepy, but not overly scary for some reason. My husband went to the door and said, “Okay. We get it. We know you’re here and we’re okay with that. You are welcome to stay, but can you please stop opening this door?” Guess what? That door has NEVER opened on its own since and that was in 1995.

Other things have happened over the years. Electronics going on and off as they wish, the sound of the front door opening followed by footsteps through the dining room before continuing up the stairs, and various children’s toys rolling out of room where no child was present. During our first year at the house, a woman came to the door one Saturday afternoon.  Of course, the place was a mess. She said she’d heard someone had bought the place that had been empty for three years before we came along, and it was getting fixed up again. She told us she lived there in the 1970s and hadn’t been back since moving out in her late teens. As she reached the top of the stairs, she stopped and looked into the room we were using as a spare and said, “Oh… this is the room Daddy died in.” You guessed it, Daddy’s name was Herman.

So, there you have it, some of the ghostly encounters I’ve had that have certainly inspired me as a Horror writer and an overall lover of things that go bump in the night.

The Day I Wore Fangs

I seem normal enough on the surface. I don’t have crazy or colorful hair. I don’t dress in any shocking manner. The only piercings I have are in my ears and the few tattoos I have aren’t seen all that often. Yup, just a normal, everyday kind of gal …until you start asking around, that is.

If you were to approach some of my childhood friends, mainly from my high school days, you’d get the inkling that maybe this normal thing is all an act. Or maybe I’ve just outgrown the black fingernails, eyeliner, and lipstick. Maybe dressing all in black every day, muttering in Latin, and sitting in the corner of the school cafeteria at lunchtime alone with my nose buried in some sort of occult-themed novel or research book was all just a fad; something I’ve grown out of as my mother so fervently prayed I would.

Or maybe in my dotage, I’ve just toned those things down a bit, just a bit. I still have my moments, like the day I wore fangs.

It was about ten years ago, making me about forty years old at the time.

Ever since I first began watching all those vampire movies, I’ve wanted a pair of realistic-looking fangs. I wondered how Hollywood did it. I considered talking to my dentist about it, but never did. Even if had dental insurance, I’m pretty sure they’d not cover something like that. I attempted to craft my own numerous times, adapting those cheap plastic things, buying different sorts every October hoping against hope that at last I’d found The Ones! I even tried to make some out of wax, but nothing had that real look I was striving for.

And then, the internet and online shopping happened. I found a site that looked promising, vampfang.com , but I didn’t get my hopes up too high. I’d been disappointed before. $30 seemed an awful lot for fake fangs, but my primal urges screamed out for satisfaction. I ordered them. They arrived in a little coffin-shaped case. I remained skeptical.

One day while I was home alone, I decided it was time to put that $30 to the test. The results? Amazing! I couldn’t have been happier! Not only did these fangs look real, they allowed me to drink (no, not blood – I’m not QUITE that off) as long as I was mindful and to eat, though somewhat awkwardly.

The following July, I bought them in October, I decided to step up my game. I was no longer satisfied to just wear them around the house and yard. It was time to go public and what better way than to just pop them in on a Friday morning after brushing my teeth while getting ready for work?

I don’t work with the public much, but I do have a few office mates. My goal was to just act natural and go about my day, not to flash the fangs at everyone I met or spoke to. Let’s see who notices! There’ not a lot of chit-chat in my office, but my boss did eventually take note. She rolled her eyes and laughed. “Only you, Pam,” she said. “Only you.” By the end of the day, half a dozen people were aware I was in vampire mode.

It being the Friday after payday, it was also grocery day! Directly after work I headed over to one of the bigger grocery stores in town. No one noticed as I picked out my fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, milk, butter, and eggs. I was paid no mind at the check-out as I unloaded the cart and helped bag things up. And then the cashier, a young man in his early-mid-20s, told me my total and glanced up. I gave him a slight smile as I opened my check book. There was a flicker of surprise in his eyes. His mouth dropped open for a fraction of a second, then he looked away and refused to make further eye contact.

A few minutes later, I pushed my packed cart out of the store and towards my car, wondering about the conversation that likely arose from the lad’s encounter with the normal-looking lady with fangs who had just exited the building.

I did this several more times, but the first time was the sweetest and most memorable. Now I just need to get some of those weird-colored contact lenses …maybe something along the lines of lizard eyes.

 

Adios, 2016!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Blessed Day.

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

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

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

 

Write What You Love: The Joys of Genre Hopping

Back in November of 2015, I blogged about The Horror of Women . It dealt with the difficulties women have getting published in the Horror Genre. Though I still struggle with the reality of that whole situation, I’d much rather write horror than what I was initially published in, erotica.

For centuries women have been viewed by the publishing world as inferior writers. For that reason they have used more masculine or gender neutral nom-de-plumes . What many people may not know is that some of their favorite female authors have also written in multiple genres.

Judy Bloom, known best for her “Fudge” series took a walk on the trampy side with her novel, “Wifey”. Anne Rice took a side trip from her witches and vampires to explore kink with the “Sleeping Beauty” trilogy.  Joyce Carol Oats wrote gothic horror, murder and crime fiction, romances, historic fiction, fantasy, realism and surrealistic novels. All these woman are successful writers who dared step outside of their comfort zones and explore beyond the old adage of “write what you know”. I’m more inclined to write what I enjoy writing and I’ve had several different loves.

As a young adult I dreamed of writing Children’s fiction and even took college level classes in Children’s Literature and Illustration to pursue that goal. Somewhere along the lines for reasons that are unclear to me, my first novel turned out to be in the Fantasy genre. Beyond what was require of me in high school and the reading of The Hobbit, fantasy’s not my thing. On an awkward dare from a friend, I began writing erotica. I never saw that one coming (pun intended). Five published novels later, I’d had enough.

Having always loved murder-mysteries, horror, and anything to do with the paranormal, that was my next genre pick. This, I feel, is where I truly belong. Witches, ghosts, and bogeymen, oh my! In 2013 I saw my first paranormal murder-mystery published and was on cloud nine until, about six months later, my publisher announced they were going out of business. Now what? I already had another novel done and in the editing process for these people. Heartbroken, but knowing this was where I wanted my writing to go, I carried on and finished the second book and began the whole query, query, query, submit, submit, submit, rejected, rejected, rejected process all over again.

Had I messed up? Should I go back into the closet and return to the erotica where I was still seeing decent sales and a monthly royalty deposit in my account? Don’t get me wrong, the erotica was fun to write and I learned a great deal about some aspects of the publishing business, but my heart and writer’s soul wasn’t into it. No. I just couldn’t do it. I’ve never felt so creative and productive and pleased with my writing since making the genre hop. With fans of the first murder-mystery contacting me at least once a month over when I’d have another book out, I realized it was time to change tactics … again. The traditional publishing Gods were not with me. I was letting everyone down. I had to do something drastic and decided to self-publish.

Because of that, I had the pleasure of being invited to five author events in 2016. I’m hoping to do at least that many for 2017. It’s rather difficult to peddle your erotic-wares in public knowing your mother’s pastor is likely to walk by and say hello or you’re going to see old friends and teachers and try to explain how you know about “those sorts of things”.  It’s called research, people. As I’ve said before, I like vampire and murder-mysteries, too, but that doesn’t mean I believe I’m a vampire or that I’m going to go out and murder someone. Sex may sell, but not in a small town family-friendly community center or a privately owned bookstore. It’s a lot easier when it’s a murder-mystery or something about haunted houses or Shadow People or urban legends.

With three paranormal novels now out and another on the way later in 2017, I may not be raking in the dough as much as I one day hope to, but I’m having a lot more fun and I’m getting much needed exposure. I’m mingling, setting up displays, doing book talks and signing and, though I write under my maiden name, I’m not really hiding behind a pen-name anymore. I’m being myself and sharing my love of the macabre.

I’d still love to put out a Children’s book, too. Maybe I will one of these days.

If you’re considering writing something different than what you’d normally do, do it! Don’t limit your imagination to a single genre. You have a slew of successful female (and male) writers who have already dared to be different. Georgette Heyer, who is better known for her romance novels, has also dabbled in detective fiction. Children’s book author Sonya Hartnett wrote a rather sexually graphic novel that created a bit of a stir. You’re in good company no matter where you decide to let your writing take you, just don’t be afraid to explore.

Taking that step could very well lead you exactly where you want to go. Start walking!

In Search Of… Horror.

Visited our local *Buns & Noodles store this afternoon. As we wandered the aisles I came to realize something I’d never noticed before and frankly, I’m annoyed.

We always seem to gravitate towards the YA section first so Jim can see if Cousin Scott has come out with something new we’re unaware of. He’s sneaky like that. This time I wanted to check out Book #3 of the Peculiar Children series. I’m in the middle of #2. It’s only available in hardcover now so I’m going to wait for the paperback. Sorry, I’m cheap like that.

After the Young Adult section, we’re on our own. They have the Children’s section, the Romance, and the Sci-Fi sections. There’s History, Mysteries, Cooking, and Self-Help. Manga and Graphic Novels have their own section as does Religion, Travel, and Crafting.  All of these are nicely labeled with big, bold signs over the tops of the shelves making them oh-so-easy to find. What they do NOT have is Horror section. WTF B&N!? If I want to find Horror I have to search through the ‘Fiction & Literature’ section. How much more vague can you possibly get?

I’m aware of a good many Horror novelists, but I sure as heck don’t know them all and those that I am most aware of, like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub have been around for decades and are maybe considered a bit Old School. If I’m looking for something or someone new, I’m rather clueless. Directing me to the ‘Fiction & Literature’ section isn’t going to be very helpful. And for as much as I love to browse a bookstore or library, damn it, at least let me be in the section I am most interested in so that I know that every book I pick up is a Horror contender.

I ended up getting Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep” because I’ve heard of him, know he’s good, and know he mostly sticks to the Horror genre with a few exceptions. I’d love to have given a lesser-known writer some business, but pft … damned if I have the time to stand there reading every single back cover of very single book that looks like it might be what I’m interested in.

*Barnes & Noble and all you other bookstores, big and small, can you PLEASE create a Horror Section? I and so many others like me would truly appreciate it.