The Music of the Muse

Back when I was a kid, all the really cool movies had accompanying soundtracks. I was in love with these things. There was a section of my record collection devoted to Jesus Christ Superstar, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Dunwich Horror, The Hunger, and The Shining, just to name a few. With the black light on and the incense smoke swirling in the room, I listened to these just as much as I did all that screaming 80s hair band music and loved them just as much, if not more, because of the moods they would create. I can’t help but wonder if my parents thought maybe I was conjuring up old Beelzebub when some of these albums were playing … talk about your Devil Music!

While I was writing my first novel, an epic fantasy adventure called “The Pride”, I listened to a lot of Enya. She was big back in the 1990s. I even made a soundtrack for the novel, basing each selection on a certain scene and putting them in chronological order on the cassette tape. Good times.

I didn’t write much of anything but short stories and poetry in the ten years following “The Pride”. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of other author’s being asked if music plays a role in their writing. Most seemed to choose music of a similar genre to whatever they were writing in, to set a certain mood, I guess. The horror writers leaned towards dark, gothic stuff and metal. Romance writers seemed to linger in the Classical section. You get the idea.

For a long time, I needed near total silence in order to focus on my writing. Anything with words in it was completely distracting. I’d sing along instead of working. For a while, I’d use Mozart or Chopin for that simple reason, no singing! And then, for no recallable reason whatsoever, I had my headphones on listening to the Blues as I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. My fingers danced over the keyboard. One scene after another rolled out of me in thousands upon thousands of words. I was thrilled! What had I just discovered? Was this a fluke or had I stumbled upon my Muse’s music? The Blues seems a very odd choice to write Horror to.

In the years since this revelation, the effect has remained the same. BB King, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Stevie Ray Vaughn along with so many others would rock and croon their way into my writer’s brain, waking up that little Muse and sending her into action. It’s almost a fool proof way of smashing writer’s block. And if I can’t get any writing done even then, I know it’s time to save, close, and go do something else for a while, cuz if it isn’t happened then, it ain’t gonna happen.

How about you? Is there certain music that helps you progress with your chosen craft, be it writing, painting, scrap booking, or even housework? What kind of music inspires you and your Muse into motion?

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.

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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.

Dusting Off The Cobwebs

I admit, I’ve been a lazy blogger as of late. It’s not that I don’t have anything to blog about. I have a regular weekly schedule that I try to keep on top of, but sometimes I just can’t get into it. My brain gets covered in cobwebs and there I sit, coated in them. I’ve got book and movie reviews I should be writing up and getting out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trapped in editing mode for so long. I have been working on projects, trying to get several things wrapped up all at once for a new release. I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs entirely.

All that aside, I do have something to share! Last week I was asked by author Jason J. Nugent if I’d be interested in participating in his “Author Spotlight” blog feature. Of course, I said yes. There’s even a except from the soon-to-be released third book in the Barnesville Chronicles here!

FOLLOW THIS LINK over to Jason’s page and enjoy!

I’ll be writing up more reviews this week – at least that’s the plan – along with another installment of “The Horrors That Grew Me” and silently pecking away at the keyboard as I journey back to Barnesville and Meyer’s Knob in the year 1980!

 

The Horrors The Grew Me – Roddy McDowall

Actors like Robert Englund who played Freddie Kruger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s Misery and her various creepy roles in the American Horror Story series, Vincent Price or Lon Chaney, and Linda Blair in her unforgettable performance as the possessed Regan McNeil in The Exorcist, are well known for their roles or series of roles in classic horror movies. Someone that most people don’t think of as being a horror actor, however, is British actor, Roddy McDowall.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t totally in love with Roddy McDowall, nor do I remember the first of his films I saw. All I really knew is that save for one, who is still my bestie to this day, most of my friends had no idea who he was other than the guy who played Cornelius in The Planet of the Apes movies. He also played Galen in the TV series, by the way. But, oh, he did so very much more than that. As a fan of horror and thrillers from a very young age, his work within those genres is what I was most drawn to. For the sake of brevity and the purpose of this blog series, that is also where my focus will be.

HeartDark The earliest film of his that I’ve seen is based on the Joseph Conrad book of the same name, Heart of Darkness written in 1899. The film was presented by Playhouse 90, a television show that ran from 1956-1961, in 1958 and starred Roddy as the lead character of Charles Marlow alongside a man whose name is nearly synonymous with Horror, Boris Karloff, as Mr. Kurtz. Eartha Kitt did an amazing job as The Queen. Though not technically labeled a horror film, Heart of Darkness does, as the name suggests, delve into the very dark corners of man’s psyche and the corruption of the soul when given a taste of power.

Roddy made numerous appearances in popular paranormal or unexplained-themed television programs as well. McDowall starred in a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone titled People Are Alike All Over, as well as appearing on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1964 in episodes The Gentleman Caller and See The Monkey Dance. In 1980 and 1981 episodes of Fantasy Island, Roddy played the ultimate entity of horror and evil, the very devil himself, Mephistopheles.

My all-time favorite, however, was his role as Jeremy Evans in another Rod Serling NightGalleryseries, Night Gallery, which first aired in 1969. In this first episode of the first season titled The Cemetery, McDowall plays a heartless and greedy nephew who’s chomping at the bit to get at the inheritance. In fact, Jeremy flawlessly orchestrates the uncle’s death and quickly steps in as heir apparent before his uncle’s body has even begun to cool. All is well and good until Jeremy realizes one of the painting his uncle did years before is different. It’s a view of the family cemetery located near the house. Suddenly, there’s a freshly dug grave in the painting that wasn’t there before and Jeremy is convinced he’s hearing footsteps from beyond the grave.

Roddy also starred as comic-book villain The Bookworm in the Batman series in 1966 and was the voice of The Mad Hatter in the Batman cartoon series. Not exactly horror, but another example of the actor’s versatility as playing the bad guy. In 1964 Roddy appeared as Martin Ashely, a murderous gardener, in Shock Treatment and had the leading role as Arthur Primm in the creature-feature IT! (1967). Both of which I have already reviewed.

HellHouse One of my all-time favorite Roddy McDowall movies is The Legend of Hell House (1973) based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson. Here Roddy plays the role of physical medium Benjamin Franklin Fischer, the sole survivor of a previous group of investigators into the house of Emeric Belasco, a sexual deviant of Satanic proportions. Fischer and three others are hired by millionaire William Deutche, the home’s current owner, to investigate the house and prove or disprove life after death. Known as Hell House, the Belasco home got its name from the various perversions that took place there during Emeric’s lifetime and lays claim to the title as most haunted house in the world. Amazing, amazing movie!

You can’t discuss the subject of horror movies and Roddy McDowall without mentioning his portrayal of vampire slayer, Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985) and Fright Night II (1988). In all honesty, the world probably could have done without the sequel, but the first movie is another huge favorite of mine. I mentioned it last month when I discussed that other horror that grew me, vampires. If you missed that post, here’s a quick link back to it – The Horrors That Grew Me – Vampires.

DeadWinter In 1987 the movie Dead of Winter came out. It starred Mary Steenburgen as Katie McGovern, a struggling actress who answers an ad placed for open-call auditions. When Katie walks into the room, the man conducting the interviews, Mr. Murray played by McDowall, pays her little mind until he looks up. She’s hired instantly. The role will involve Katie traveling with Murray to an isolated location where she will study the role and replace another actress who suffered a nervous breakdown some time earlier. Katie was hired because of her striking resemblance to this other woman, Julie Rose. However, there’s a lot more to all this than just replacing a fellow actress. A lose remake of the 1945 film My Name Is Julia Rose, Dead of Winter takes some remarkably dark twists and turns, not the least of which involves Katie finding a notebook full of Polaroids of Julie’s corpse!

On October 3, 1998 Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall died of cancer at the age of 70. I was devastated and heartbroken. Maybe he wasn’t a heart throb actor to the rest of the world, but for me, he was a huge and deeply loved part of my childhood. He was the one and only actor I ever wrote to requesting from, and later receiving, an autographed picture of. That picture is now safely tucked away with other important papers like my marriage license and property survey, in a locked, fireproof box. It’s simply that precious to me.

To end on a light note, I can’t help but share this wonderful video put together by fellow Roddy McDowall fan, Melanie Hall called Roddy Gets His Sexy On. Again, not horror at all, but a wonderful tribute to a man who acted and smiled his way into my Horror-loving heart.

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.

 

Into The Mansion

Somewhere, once upon a time, I learned an interesting theory about dreams. That theory stated that certain rooms represented certain aspects of the dreamer’s psyche. If you dream of a bedroom, for instance, that’s believed to have something to do with sexuality and intimacy. If you dream of a kitchen, that’s your domestic side, a living room was considered your social, public self … and so on. That, in part is what Into The Mansion is about.

Not long ago in Facebook Land, I shared that I was working on something somewhat different than my usual Horror novel fare. Oh, it’s still about a big, creepy, old house, but instead of prose – it’s poetry. It’s not a new poem. It was written in 1995, though parts of it existed long before that in the world of my dreams.

Instead of just posting it here and forcing you all to read, I’ve created a 7-minute video of the poem that I narrate. It took more times than I care to mention to get a recording I was happy with and though it’s still not perfection – it will do.

And so, without further delay – I extend a hand and say, “Come with me …

INTO THE MANSION

 

Why I Love Horror

How can you watch that stuff? Don’t those books give you nightmares? I’ve been hearing these questions for as long as I can remember. That’s what happens when you’re a horror fan. I recently put up a link on my Facebook page directing people to Lyndon Johnson’s blog where he explains why he loves horror. It’s a great answer to a question millions of us have posed to us as Horror fans.

Looking back, I’m going to have to guess that this horror madness all started with Nancy Drew. No, the series isn’t known as one of horror, but it’s certainly chock full of spooky settings, mysteries, and possible paranormal activities. A lot like Scooby-Do without the hippie van.

Following Saturday morning cartoons, we were treated to a show called “Monster Movie Matinee” broadcast out of Syracuse, NY. They featured all manner of horror movies, mainly creature features like Godzilla or Creature from the Black Lagoon.

As I entered my teens, my reading and movie choices got a little bit darker. By high school I was reading Stephen King, Anne Rice, along with the truly bizarre world of Tanith Lee, and ANY vampire novel I could get my hands on. I graduated to watching Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Kolchek: That Night Stalker, and Night Gallery along with the late night horror movies brought to me courtesy of “EIVOM” that tended to favor Hammer Films or such fantastic movies as The Other, The Legend of Hell House, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, or my all-time favorite horror movie, The Haunting of Hill House.  The arrival of cable TV to our little town in the early 1980s was mind-blowing! Horror movies I wasn’t old enough to see in the theater were brought to me through HBO or Cinemax, not to mention the craze that was sweeping the nation … Blockbuster movie rentals!

But, all this doesn’t really answer the question of WHY I love horror so much. Why horror instead of Science Fiction or Romance, for example?

Romance novels were in a word, yawn. My grandmother read them by the hundreds. She’d come home from work every now and then with a big box full of Harlequins. Sometimes there’d be a few Westerns in there that she’d give to my grandfather. I did read a few of the Harlequins, but very quickly I realized they all followed a very set plot. Oh, there was some variations, but not much and they became SO predictable I lost interest after only a handful.

And maybe that’s part of answer, in a way, predictability.

Every now and then, in that big old box of books, there’d be a horror novel. I still have two of those books from those days, The Owlsfane Horror by Duffy Stein which was the first (and I think only) book that ever scared me so much I had to stop reading it at night. The other is Edmond Hamilton’s sci-fi novel, City At World’s End. Both made lasting impressions, but I definitely enjoyed the fear created by Owlsfane more. Why?

Apart from the Planet of the Apes series, I’ve never been able to really get into the Sci-Fi scene. Though, I do love aliens and anything to do with UFOs (as long as they’re real-life accounts) and was a huge fan of Logan’s Run, they never thrilled or chilled me like the scary movies did.  They didn’t make me wonder what was going on. Was it something real that would be explained away at the end, like the Nancy Drew books and Scooby-Do cartoons? Or would it be something paranormal like a haunting?

Outer space, the future, or beings from another world confuse me. Even though I’m fascinated by UFOs, have SEEN a UFO, and accept the probability of there being others out there, I can’t relate to it on a personal level. My smart phone all too often bewilders me so how can I even begin to try and comprehend or visualize something that describes technology of the future? It’s interesting, but not enthralling.

Horror enthralls me. It captures my known senses of fear, apprehension, and profound curiosity. It ignites in my imagination the questions of what may or may not be dwelling beside me at any given moment in any given place. Are the spirits of the dead beside me? Can we really talk to them? Photograph them? Do some people possess supernatural powers and the abilities to manipulate their surroundings? What other beings, considered paranormal, exist right here on this very earth we call home and why can’t we all see them?

Horror piques my curiosity. It makes me wonder. It inspires me to delve deeper into the history of unexplained events that have been happening on Earth for hundreds of years. It gives me goosebumps and it makes me feel alive. It’s not predictable, it doesn’t make me yawn, and because of personal experiences, I can totally related to it.

That’s why I love Horror.

To find out why Lyndon Johnson loves horror  CLICK HERE

My First Ghost Story

Author’s Note: Written when I was the ripe, old age of eleven, The Strange Well was my first ghost story.  The original hand-written manuscript survives to this day thanks to my father. He saved a lot of my writing from back then and for that I am eternally grateful.  In typing it, I’ve left it as written, spelling and punctuation mistakes included. I felt correcting them would take away some of the childhood charm. It’s a very simple tale and certainly has more than its share of flaws. Some of it doesn’t make sense at all, but it, along with the fully illustrated and adventurous story of Bill, The Worm Who Ran Away, written that same year, sets the stage for what would grow into a life-long passion for writing.

                     And so, without further adieu – the World debut of … The Strange Well.

The Strange Well

Copyright © 1977 Pamela A. Morris

“You’ll have lots of fun at your Aunt Martha’s,” said my grandfather. The reason I was going to my aunts because my mother and father had gotten into a car accident and died. I had to go to my aunts, even though I didn’t like her very much.

“But, Grampa, I don’t want to go, theres nothing to do there, all you do is sit around and watch television,” I said.

“Well, it’s too late now, we’re already here,” he said. “You know I’ll miss you, Corry, don’t you?”

“Yes, sir, I know,” I said. “Oh, Grampa. I don’t want to go, please oh please, don’t let me go!!”

“I’m sorry, Corry, but I can’t help you. I love you,” he said.

Well I finally got into the house. I didn’t see anyone, so I figured that she might be either upstairs or in the garden out back. I went upstairs, looked in all the rooms but she wasn’t there. So I went back down and out the garden. I looked around, there she was picking tulips next to the summer house. I ran down the hill to where she was.

“Aunt Martha,” I said in a quiet voice.

“Corry, my dear, don’t sneak up on me so,” she said, in a sort of startled voice.

Aunt Martha had sort of a musical voice. Nothing like mine, but everyone said I looked like her, same color hair and eyes that’s all.

“Well dear, you better get in the house. You’re probably very tired after that long ride,” she said. “I have a room all ready for you. It was my grandaughters room when she came to visit me.”

“What was her name?”

“Miranda Lee,” she replied, “come on lets get to your room.”

That night I couldn’t stop thinking about Miranda Lee. I couldn’t get to sleep at all that night. I worried about making friends and school. What would it be like? Would I make friends or not? I must of fallen asleep, because the next think I knew it was time to get up.

That afternoon while I was walking down the street and I happened to bump into a girl about my age. “Hi,” I said. “Who are you?”

“I’m Sheala, who are you,” she said.

“I’m Corry,” I said.

“Hay, are you new around here, I never saw you here before?” she said.

“Ya, I just moved in with my Aunt Martha. Do you think that you could come up to my house for a little while?” I asked.

“Sure, my mother wouldn’t care,” she replied. “Lets go. I’ve always wanted to go into that house.”

That day we played games and went down to the summer house. There was something about this place that was strange. Then I saw it. The old well was gone. Aunt Martha said thats where Miranda Lee died. She was playing on the egde, fell in and drown. Then the well was full of water, not it wasn’t it only had a little bit of water in it.

“You know Sheala, my aunt said that every Saturday night Miranda growns something but she can’t under stand her,” I said.

“Really, Wow, do you think we could come out here Tonight and try to see what she wants, and give it to her?” she said.

“Sure, meets ya tonight,” I said, “bye!”

“Ok bye, I’ll bring a flashlight,” she said.

That night we were both there, listening, waiting. Then right on time twelve midnight. The groans began. At first thats all it was, but then it became clear.

SHERRY MAY, SHERRY MAY

“Hay that’s the doll Aunt Martha said I could have. I’ll go get it,” I said.

When I came back, I threw the doll into the hole and the voice stopped.

“Well, I guess we did it,” said Sheala, “we won’t have to worry any more, right Corry?”

“Right Sheala.”

After that Sheala and I played and had fun. I want to her house. It was nice inside. School went fine. And I had a friend or two, or three. Miranda never bugged us again.

THE END

By. Pam Morris – 11

Resolving Into The New Year

The sun is slowly starting to brighten the sky on this cold, January morning. It’s a character-building 10F here in the my part of the Finger Lakes. I’ve downed half of my first cup of coffee, checked and replied to some emails, and tossed a load of laundry into the dryer.

It’s been a pretty busy week for writing. Not everything I did had to do with making progress on The Witch’s Backbone, but there’s some of that, too. My one and only New Year’s Resolution was to make more of an effort to reach out and get to know more authors. I don’t know many in-person so I decided to start with the long list of them I am connected to on Twitter. It started out by simply paying more attention to their Tweets instead of trying to be clever with my own. I started to ‘love’ more, to ‘comment’ more, and to ‘retweet’ more. I follow a good number of writers who blog, too. Again, time for me read more of their posts and learn about who they are and what they are about. And, of course, to comment if I enjoyed their posts. Both efforts have proven to be quite a nice experience and something worth continuing to do.

It wasn’t enough to just read and like and love and retweet and comment though. It was decided to do some interviews. Again, I turned to Twitter for ideas and names. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with this endeavor and figured one interview per month would be good. That, combined with any book and movie reviews I will get out, along with my random ramblings about events and working on my own writing should keep this blog pretty active for the year. I selected the authors (most of them of the Horror variety)  who most often interact with me on Twitter and sent them private messages. The response was swift and entirely positive. The calendar filled up in less than 24 hours! Not only that, I’ve already got back filled out interview questions for those who will be featured this and next month. If you’re a published or soon-to-be published author and I didn’t approach you, don’t feel bad. The list I had was long and I just couldn’t get everyone in. I didn’t expect everyone I asked to give me such a quick and positive response, but then, we’re writers and we do love to talk about our work, don’t we?

On top of this, I’m going to be a featured blogger next month for another writer and I’m waiting on a list of ’20 Questions’ to appear in my inbox for me to answer from a second author.

As if all this weren’t enough, the website is getting a complete makeover. As much as I liked the old version, I felt it was time to make a change. I sent my ideas to my web guy (aka The Husband) and off we went. He’s been working diligently all week on it and it’s shaping up very, very nicely. It still needs a bit more, but it shouldn’t be long until it’s all said and done and he can get back to being a Computer Gamer instead of a Graphics & Web Designer. I’ve no doubt he’ll be a happy man when I can stop saying, “Honey… can you change something else on there for me?”

This first week of the New Year has been pretty darn busy now that I look back, but it hasn’t for a moment felt like work. I like that.

And now, with a second cup of coffee fresh and hot by my side and the crows fed, I think it’s time to look at what I wrote yesterday on TWB, do some quick fixes as needed, and see what today holds for my five youngsters stuck in the woods at night with something not quite human.

Write on!

 

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!