Dottie Daniels’ Affliction is Infectiously Entertaining!

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affliction

Back to my Summer of Great Reads!

The minute I saw the cover of Affliction by Dottie Daniels I knew I wanted to read it! I love a good zombie romp and enjoy seeing how different authors attack *get it?* the subject. Most all have a unique spin, but this one was one of my favorites!

The main character, Seanna, is a twenty-something paramedic that we meet just as a mysterious and violent outbreak is gripping her city. She’s smart and strong like other female leads in the genre, but make no mistake, she’s quite different! The story is told from her POV and Ms. Daniels does an excellent job of bringing us into Seanna’s head and body…you have to read to see what I mean! I don’t want to give too much away because it is such a cool twist that I want you to discover it yourself!

It’s tense and funny and terrifying and moving in all the right measures. The characters are diverse and well developed, I got really invested in what was happening to them right from the start. When I hit the last page I scrolled back several times to be sure it was over because I was so into it!

As with my other summer reads I am so lucky to have actually been able to chat with Dottie about her book!

Hey there Dottie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate it! I’m a thirty-something zombie genre-loving woman who works in a busy surgical services department at a local area hospital by day and has aspirations of writing many books in the future. I enjoy traveling and also getting to know my other fellow writers.

What led or inspired you to become a writer?

A little over ten years ago I survived a brain aneurysm. After the surgery and coma and everything else that entails, I struggled with memory loss and it took me a while to recover. I feared I would never be able to retain information. While everyone assumed I would write about surviving that experience, once I was able- I began to write about another type of harrowing experience; the zombie apocalypse. I don’t know if I felt it was more interesting or what, it was what piqued my interest at the time. I never thought I’d want to write when I was younger, in fact, I was always intimidated by huge writing assignments in school.

Oh my! Dottie, we are so glad that you survived! What an ordeal! I think your experience enhanced your storytelling. There were many passages in Affliction where the feelings of distress was real I had to take a breather!

Why do you write in the horror/zombie genre?

For me, as a writer, there’s something special about the horror genre, zombies in particular. There’s a certain feeling of overwhelming desperation that can really draw a reader’s attention if written properly. I guess it would be the equivalent to a character vying for someone’s affection in a romance novel or the amount of adventure required in a fictional bank heist. The desperation of surviving (or not) in the world of the undead is what does it for me. It holds my attention the longest whenever I read someone else’s work or when I’m writing my own.

Well put!

Speaking of harrowing experiences and desperation, I don’t suppose much scares you, but is there anything that gives you pause?

Honestly, it’s indecent and uncaring people. You know, the alive ones. Seriously. I was told as a kid it’s never the dead you have to worry about- be wary of the people walking around.

I was told the same thing. Sadly, it’s true.

People, myself included, are always fascinated by the creative process. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

I don’t really have many rituals anymore other than I write whenever I have time and I’m always in need of more time. I prefer to write in the middle of the night or early morning when all is quiet. My thoughts seem to be more clear then. A lot of times I’ll light a candle too. Oh, and sometimes I’ll have classical music playing in the background. I have to sit in my office chair too because it’s comfortable and have a cool, sweet beverage and the ceiling fan on low. Yeah, so I guess I have a few rituals- ha!

I like the candle!

Your book Affliction has a very cool POV and twist on the zombie tale. Where did you get the idea for your story?

Up until then, I hadn’t read many books in the genre with a female main character. There are some out there but then I hadn’t come across any that were biracial or of color. I wanted to challenge myself and bring a few of those attributes into the story and see how well it all plays in a typical apocalyptic storyline. I wanted to write the kind of book I would expect to read and enjoy. A lot of the writing and style is intentional and I feel plays very well into the details of the story. The flashbacks the first-person writing, almost as if she’s explaining to you herself. It was all a challenge for me to entertain my readers.

Challenge met! I was deeply entertained. Being bi-racial myself, I appreciate seeing more characters with diverse backgrounds in all media, but horror in particular. Nice work, Dottie!

What’s next for you?

Well, Affliction is definitely set up for a sequel. I’m aiming to get it completed this year. As a published author you too understand the many hats you wear (writing, promoting, actually selling) and then everything else that life itself requires. I hope to pull the strings together again and get back in the routine of getting the sequel ready. It can mean less promoting and less selling but then again nearly every author has to make that sacrifice if they want more book titles on those shelves.

Too many hats at times! I’m looking forward to the next book, I have to know what happens!!!

Where can we find out more about you and your writing and keep tabs on that sequel?

I’m on most of the larger social media outlets that are older than 5 years. Twitter, Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.21.18 AMFacebook, Goodreads, and WordPress. I enjoy interacting with other writers and readers. In fact, I purchased a couple of copies of your novel Dread that I’m going to include in a giveaway this Fall as we near the Halloween season! I always follow back (unless it appears Spammish). Thanks again Joy for the opportunity let others know I exist! 🙂

 

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/authorddaniels/
Twitter       https://twitter.com/AuthorDottie
WordPress https://dottiedaniels.wordpress.com/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34209033-affliction

Thanks so much, Dottie! It was totally my pleasure. Hear that kids? Follow Dottie for the chance to win a copy of my novel Dread! Check out her book Affliction for an entertaining and zomberific read!

By the way, look for more opportunities to win a signed paperback copy of Dread from me in the coming weeks! If you can’t wait and want to get your Halloween scares started early, the eBook version is on sale from now until midnight October 31!

Until next time, keep your survival instinct on high, and Never Turn Off the Lights!

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Is Mothman Trying to Warn Us, Again?

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It feels like our world is unprecedented turmoil. Every day there is a new piece of alarming news, from the weather to terrorist attacks to social unrest and violence to nuclear testing. In uncertain times people tend to look for meaning in the terrible, it has to mean more than just being, well, terrible. We examine the incident to see if there was any fore-warning or another way to avoid it, or perhaps, all of these happenings are warnings of worse things to come, and we must uncover their meaning before it is too late.

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By Tim Bertelink (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Perhaps the most recognized harbinger of doom is the Mothman. He’s been described as a large black, red-eyed, winged humanoid. The movie “Mothman Prophesies” fictionalized the Mothman sightings in West Virginia from 1966-67 directly before the collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967, killing 46 people. The creature was seen in various areas by credible witnesses and many claim to have seen the Mothman near the bridge directly before it fell into the river. The sightings were covered by various newspapers at the time, and it was speculated that it was possibly a large owl, a previously unknown species of animal, or an alien being.

People began seeing him again, twenty years later, far away from West Virginia in the area of Pripyat in what was then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR). Did you guess that Pripyat is near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? In April of 1986 people began reporting sightings of a giant winged humanoid with no head and piercing red lights that could be eyes in the neck area. The people reported having terrible nightmares after seeing the creature. On the morning of April 26, 1986, the No. 4 reactor at the nuclear power plant exploded killing at least 30 people directly with more than 9,000 deaths related to the subsequent radiation. Workers who survived the initial blast reported seeing a large black bird-like creature flying through the smoke of the resulting fires. It was never described again after the Chernobyl disaster and although it was dubbed “The Black Bird of Chernobyl” many believe it was indeed the Mothman.

Now, a winged humanoid has been spotted near Chicago. Since 2011 there have been almost 50 sightings of something that looks a large black bat between six and eight feet tall with a twelve feet wingspan flying around Chicago. One even jumped from the Sears Tower and flew away as reported by a man who claimed to be a police officer. A group of people reported seeing two of the creatures perform aerial acrobatics near the planetarium.

Could it be just that? Large bats? After all, megabats or flying foxes can have wingspans up to 5 feet. However, they are not indigenous to West Virginia, Ukraine, or Chicago. A costumed drone? Drones were not a thing in 1967 and maybe not even in 1986. A guy in a flight suit? I’ve only seen those coast on the air, not do acrobatics.

Does this mean something terrible is going to happen in Chicago, aside from the gun violence (as if that isn’t horrible enough)? I don’t know. There is a debate regarding whether the Mothman is simply a warning or does the creature actually cause the destruction. It’s the same for the Black Eyed Kids in my novel DREAD, and we may never know the answer.

Fortean researcher and author Lon Strickler has an interactive map of sighting reports on his website Phantoms and Monsters if you want to check out the reports for yourself. It’s quite astonishing to see the visual of how many sightings there are and their close proximity to one another.

A few years ago, someone that I trust who lives in a Denver, Colorado, told me the following story:

I was coming home with both dogs, kind of late in the evening. The sun was almost down but still light enough. I got the dogs out, and we started walking up the front walk to the house. I just happened to glance up at the sky and flying right over me was a dark shape. All I could say is that it looked like a giant bat with a dog’s head. Its wings were stretched out and were probably over six feet across. It just silently glided away. I watched it until it disappeared behind some trees. My dogs didn’t notice it all. For the next several weeks I was scared to look up, afraid I might see it again. It really freaked me out to know that something like that could live around here.

Nothing terrible happened, and he never saw it again. It does sound like it could be a flying fox. If it is, why and how did it get to Colorado? Why hasn’t anyone reported seeing them or found a dead one? Just what is going on? Weird. I’m keeping tabs on this story.

Got your own encounter or sighting? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time, keep looking up (or not) and Never Turn Off the Lights.

Author Richard Klu Delivering Moments of Awe One Story at a Time

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KluOver on GoodReads I joined the 2017 Reading Challenge and pledged to read 30 books this year. So far I’ve read 14. A bit behind the pace of two books a month to reach the goal, but many of those books were read this summer. It was a very good season of reading and as promised, here is one of my summer reads.

I picked up Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories by Richard Klu after I saw a review by an author that I like and a recommendation in a Facebook group I belong to. It’s a collection of short stories so I thought it would be a great poolside read. Well. Let’s just say my neighbors who were at the pool with me may now think I’m a little nuts.

I couldn’t help it. At the end of most of the stories I sighed, ooowed, aaawed, and said things like, no freaking way and good one. I know you are thinking, that’s fine it’s a good story, but I said it all out loud. I caught some of my good neighbors from the corner of my eye, and I was getting some weird looks, but I don’t really care!

Some of these stories are so darkly beautiful and written more like prose that I thought about printing them out, framing them, and hanging them on the wall. Reading this book was like those nights when a nightmare or strange dream wakes you, and then you fall back asleep right into another one. I love when I finish reading a book, and the story (in this case – stories) keep popping into my thoughts long after I close the covers (or swipe to the end in this case).

I got to chat with Mr. Klu about his writing and wanted to share with you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Richard Klu, and I am from western Michigan. Always an artist at heart I write to explore. You can find 3 of my free shorts here.

I grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan and still reside there with my 3 dogs, 3 cats, 23 fish, and 1 wife. Yes, it’s a lot of animals in our little 2 bedroom house, but it keeps things interesting. Blame my wife, they were all her idea.

I have been a Store Manager, a Cook, and various kinds of Salesmen as well as having owned my own business for a little over a year. All the while I’d neglected one of the few constants in my life, writing. Actually, I can thank my wife for that. As much as she hates me ignoring her for hours on end as I type away, she did encourage me to make an attempt at writing enough books to make a living.

On my blog I am sharing stories and what I’ve learned to better help other writers and to keep myself motivated. I primarily write cosmic horror. Similar to the style of HP Lovecraft although I am in the process of creating my own world starting with a short story collection called “Cabals of Blood” which focuses on cults around the world praising ancient deities long lost to modern society. This collection will include 3 planned book series which will be released between 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for the gifts! I’ll be checking those out!

You said writing has been the one constant in your life, why do you find it so attractive?

I like writing because it exercises creativity and gives my mind something to work on. Writing makes me happy even when it ends badly for the characters.

Yes. Things ended badly for some of your characters!

Why do you write in the horror genre?

I didn’t know I was writing horror until someone told me. It’s just kind of where I landed and how I think. To me, a lot of what I write isn’t horror until I am editing it. Then I realize where the story landed. I aim to write things that are interesting. They happen to end up being horror.

I think most people reading this blog would agree that many interesting things are horror related.

Some of the stories in Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories are quite scary. What kinds of things scare you?

Drowning, cancer, and being trapped underneath a weight or buried alive. I used to have a nightmare that I couldn’t move and was in an empty space with no gravity. Almost like space without the stars. In this place, I had something burrowing into my back and up my spine. Thankfully that nightmare has been gone for some years.

Wow! I knew I liked you!

You said that you blog to keep yourself motivated. I struggle in that area, and some fellow writers have suggested a writing ritual to keep things moving. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

No. I write whenever there is free time. Rituals would slow that down.

Hooray! Someone in my camp! I’d love to sit down with my favorite beverage and listen to great music to write, but I have to grab it when I get a chance.

Your book Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories has a broad range of stories: disturbing, interesting, shocking, and spooky! Where did you, or do you, get the ideas for your stories?

Most of them came to me while I was in college and day dreaming during math class.

You should send your Math professor a copy of your book just to show that you were productive in his or her class!

You already mapped out some of the things you have in the works. What can we look for next?

Cabals of Blood is my next collection. It is a group of short stories. Cosmic horror similar to H.P. Lovecraft. I also have 3 books, 1 a trilogy mapped out in the same world.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

https://richardklu.com/

On Twitter https://twitter.com/Richard_Klu_  @richard_klu_

and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RichardKluAuthor/

Excellent!

Thank you for your time and darkly wonderful stories! I look forward to more.

Readers, I finished this book several weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it! Grab a copy and check it out for yourself! Until next time Never Turn off the Lights!

 

Edmund Kelly and the End of the World

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I haven’t spent much time writing this summer, but I have spent a good deal of time reading. I’ve tried to pick up books that were Indie published, and I’m so pleased that I did. I found several gems that I’ll highlight over the next few weeks.

When I was younger I had an uncle that studied the Bible, he was interested in Eschatology, which is the study of the end times. He used to tell us how the tribulation period might play out and what the symbolism of the Book of Revelation could mean in practical terms. It both intrigued me and scared the hell out of me. My dear uncle passed away several years ago, and I haven’t had any in-depth chats about it with anyone else.

Along comes this book with what looks like a beautiful fantasy cover.  I was not sure what to expect going into Edmund Kelley’s Addiction & Pestilence (Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell). At first, I thought it was going to be a zombie apocalypse tale, but then I got to the end of the first chapter, and my blood literally ran cold.

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Edmund has a vision of how the end will start that dredged up all those feelings of terror from so long ago. It. Was. Awesome.

His characters are so multi-faceted and real that they practically leap off the page. I felt like I was peeping and eavesdropping into people’s lives. He hints at an idea that I have long held: that our choices in the physical world can open up doors in the spiritual that may or may not benefit us. *Thinks of all the bad things I’ve ever done and shivers*

I reached out to Mr. Kelly, and he agreed to share some insights with us about himself and his book!

This is your debut novel. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to introduce readers to you?

Hi, my name is Edmund, but I go by Ed. I grew up in a small town south of Boston. I come from an Irish family and was raised Catholic. I’m married to a wonderful woman who has endured all of my bullshit and has stayed by my side. We have a daughter together, and I have a step-daughter.

That’s great! Behind most successful writers is a spouse who has a big shovel for all the BS! 

Most of us writers come to writing on our own unique pathway. What led you to become a writer?

I’ve always read since I was a little boy. My mom encouraged me to read and every Saturday morning she would take my sister and me to our public library. We’d browse looking for books that seemed interesting. She would always ask me about the book and what I liked about it once I had finished. I enjoyed writing at a young age, but I never did much until now.

God Bless the moms who love reading and the library. I don’t know of a better combination for kids.

I’m curious to know why you write in the horror genre.

It’s kind of funny because I didn’t set out to write horror. I thought my writing would be more sci-fi or action/adventure. My favorite top three authors are Lee Child (I love the Jack Reacher series), Dan Brown and Stephen King. Clearly, King has influenced my writing the most. At first, I didn’t like that my book fell into the horror classification, but it’s kind of hard to ignore the horror aspects of my writing.

Besides King being an influence, I’d have to blame my sister and mother as well. My mom loved watching the Creature Double Feature on Saturdays back in the early 80’s when I was a young boy. My sister loves horror. She watches every horror movie that comes out. When I was a kid, she made me watch movie after movie. Now back in the 80’s, there was a ton of horror movies, most of them B movies. My sister is five years older than me, so she was forced to watch me as my dad was in and out of the picture and my mom worked a lot to support us. To this day, I still vividly remember my sister taking me to see The Night of the Comet back in 1984. I was petrified. It was the first horror movie I had seen in a darkened theater. I remember telling my sister I was scared and I wanted to leave. Well, she had just used her birthday money to purchase the tickets, so she wasn’t leaving. I ended up leaving the theater and hanging out in the lobby waiting for the movie to end. That was my first real scare from a horror movie.

I’ve since seen The Night of the Comet all the way through and question as to why I was so scared.

I think I read that Stephen King doesn’t consider his stuff horror either! Pretty good company to have. I’d say your book falls easily into sci-fi and action as well. I loved your book, so I’ll just say a big thank you to your mom and sister.

What kind of things scare you now?

Sharks, they scare the shit out of me. And heights.

All wise things to be scared of, and I’ll file them away in my ‘ways to freak out readers’ database!

Your book Addiction & Pestilence (Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell) created a terrifying and realistic account of what could happen when the apocalypse hits. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I’ve always been fascinated with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I started writing about ten years ago and toyed around a little each year, but I just felt like I was missing that something special. The beginning of chapter 3 is pulled directly from my life. It was difficult to admit, but I’m an alcoholic.  I’m sober today.

After that scene took place in real life, I joined AA. While sitting in AA and listening to all these different people from all walks of life talk about their addiction, the idea hit me. What if every character has some form of addiction they must overcome while trying to survive the end of the world. I went home and started writing. I finished the first draft in three months.

There are a lot of characters in my book and I wanted to introduce them all to the reader from day one. Each character will play an important role throughout the series. I didn’t want to introduce main characters later on in the story and have to provide back story for the reader as to what happened to them and how they survived up until that point. I’m not fond of flashbacks when used to introduce a main character as I feel it slows the momentum of the story. Of course, there will be new characters introduced, but they won’t require a flashback. I thought it would be great to see all of these different characters in their normal life when the apocalypse first started.

Congratulations on your sobriety! The aspect of every character having an addiction was brilliant. Your characters are really diverse but that one unifying aspect gives the separate stories a cohesiveness, and a feeling of, these guys are either going to be exquisitely redeemed or epically damned.

People, myself included, are always curious about how writers do what they do. Do you have any unique writing rituals or habits?

I get up at 5:00 am every morning and some days depending if I’m tired or not I will try and do a little writing. I don’t like being up against the clock to get ready for work. For the most part, I write at night once my wife and daughter have gone to bed. So, I start around 10:00 pm and write until I’m tired which is usually around midnight or 1:00 am. I do have a little ritual. I find a song that reminds me of the character I’m working on and I listen to that song over and over again. It helps keep that original thought of the character in my head and stay focused on them.

It works because the thing that most impressed me about your book was the characters. I feel invested in their lives now and can’t wait for more.

Speaking of more, what is next for you?

I’m currently working on the second book in the series titled, Demons & War. Just wait until you see what I have in store! Fear quantified.

Well, get to work, Ed! I have to know how this plays out for everyone! Just kidding, sort of.

Where can we find out more about you and your writing?

You can find more about me here:

Twitter: @edkell99

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/edmundkellyslayingdragons

Website http://www.edmundkelly.com

Thanks so much, Ed. I will be waiting with bated breath for the next installment.

I highly recommend Addiction & Pestilence (Slaying Dragons: A Journey Through Hell) by Edmund Kelly. I’ll just warn you ahead of time, you will be hooked…and scared!

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.

Tales from the Ghost Town Writers Retreat

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15493618_10154899107475972_7094799763006043672_oI have had a difficult time writing this past year. I have a novel that I have started and stopped more times than I care to admit and a Christmas project that I decided to postpone from the planned November publish date. I had amazing momentum coming into this year, but it fizzled quickly, and I’m not sure why.

I decided many months ago to attend the Ghost Town Writers Retreat at the beginning of August to see if I could get my groove back, then my Grandma passed away a few weeks ago, and I almost canceled. Losing her hit me harder than I expected and I just wanted to hide out. My darling husband took time off from work to go with me and said it would give us some time away from the kids together, I suspect he knew I needed him to give me an extra push.

The retreat was held in the small mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. I’m a Colorado native but can say I’ve never hung out in Georgetown for anything more than a bathroom break, fill up, or to get to the pass to go to Clear Lake. I remember when I was little my parents looked at buying a piece of property there. The day they went to look at the property they dropped me, my two siblings, and my grandparents off at the little park in town to eat lunch so they could speak to the realtor without distraction. My sister would not play or leave the bench she sat on. It wasn’t until I told her where I was going that she said the park was full of spooks and they demanded to know why she was there. It scared the hell out of her, and that’s why she wouldn’t play. Weird story, I know, but totally normal in my family.

Georgetown is only about an hour from our house on I-70, but the ride up was hairy. The retreat needed to borrow some grills for the Grill and Greet, so I volunteered ours. Since my husband was coming along, we took his truck and loaded our old gas grill into the bed. The day was overcast, and the wind was picking up. Just as I inquired if the grill was safely tethered a huge bang shook us. The grill had fallen over but not out of the bed. Sadly, the handle didn’t survive. After readjusting the bungee cords, we journeyed on. We drove through dense fog, drenching rain, and pounding hail. It didn’t help that I woke up that morning with a nagging headache. Maybe it was a sign to go home, I thought.

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I-70 Westbound

 

When we got to the hotel we discovered that it would be some time before for our room would be ready and we were a little confused about where to check in for the conference, but we did figure out where to take the grill. After an uninvited cloud burst, my husband helped cook up some buffalo hot dogs and burgers, and we had a tasty little dinner with some fascinating folks.

One of the things I really wanted to do was check out the park. I still had a headache, but the next morning I grabbed my camera and off we went. The moment I entered the park through the iron archway my headache was joined by a turbulent stomach. No one demanded to know why I was there, but it felt heavy and strange. My husband asked if it used to be a cemetery because it gave that kind of vibe. As a side note, I got a terrible headache working on this piece, and I kept getting an error message when I tried to upload the photos of the park, it took several tries. Coincidence? Maybe, but my husband says I should quit messing around with this subject!

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The Park Entrance

Even though my head and tummy were very unhappy, I continued to hit up all the sessions I could. Every single session was terrific, and the presenters (some first timers) were great. When we got home and were describing some of the things we learned my daughter laughed and said it sounded like a murders’ convention! Most of the sessions were held in the historic Heritage Center, the old school house. The building restoration was fabulous!

The marketing sessions were beneficial, as that is the area I dislike the most about this author thing and find the most challenging. I’m a quiet, shy, introverted person which is a huge hindrance to my marketing efforts. I made a commitment to myself to move way out of my comfort zone in the coming months regarding this.

I also had an epiphany. I believe my difficulty in writing has come because I know the marketing will come after. Yes. I hate it that much. I think I got some tools and resources at the retreat that will help me, though.

Being the very first Ghost Town Writers Retreat, there were some hiccups and places where there is room for improvement. I thought Georgetown was a great location and I had the best burger ever (after my tummy finally settled down) at Round About Burgers. The waffles at The Happy Cooker were amazing, and the Family Dollar is stocked better than a full sized Walmart! It turned out to be more of a conference than retreat, however. I would have liked more opportunities to meet up and write with other writers. And coffee! Coffee at the venue for morning sessions, please!

I wasn’t sure where or how to sign up for editor/agent sessions, but since I didn’t feel well, I opted not to pursue it. Maybe for next year,  the signup and location information could be available a few days before the event begins.

There was a walking ghost tour that I would have loved to attend, but it happened on Sunday evening, and I was already jonesing for my kids. We opted for the train, mine tour, and of course, the cemetery.

We really didn’t need a ghost tour anyway. I drug my husband around the town late on Saturday night, just to see what we might see. He always warns that I better not get him arrested, but I’ve been doing this to him for years, and so far we are arrest free, knock on wood!

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Haunted Hamill House After Dark

 

Even though I didn’t feel well for the first three days, I feel like I got out of it what I wanted. I have a strategy to push through my writing wall, and I got to spend some time with my husband. He got a better idea of what it is I do and struggle with and ended up getting into it himself! I said we should just write spooky books together and forget everything else!

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My Handsome Husband – It Looks Good on Him!

 

I can only imagine what it takes to organize a thing like this. The speakers and moderators were great. The movie screening of Dead Awake was fun, and I wanted to ask Jeffery Riddick (Dead Awake, Final Destination) what led them to cast Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black), she was great by the way, but my head was killing me.

How you go about contacting all these folks and getting them to come to a retreat in a tiny Colorado mountain town is beyond me. I’m grateful for the opportunity and that I ignored my headache AND did not go back home. I am already looking forward to next year, but I think I’ll stay away from the park…or not!

roy and joy

The Binding Chord of Stories

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mourning-360500_1920Today I am tired to the bone. There is not one inch of me that doesn’t hurt. My eyes are scratchy and bloated. I feel like a ran a marathon or spent the last two days in drunken bar fights. In a way, I wish either of those things are what is wrong with me.

I have no desire to read, promote, edit, or write. I don’t even want to look at my laptop. There is a piece of me that never wants to write another word or utter any kind of story. I’m forcing myself to write this because I think it will be good for me and no other reason.

You see, yesterday I returned to the place that we laid my mom to rest, almost to the day, forty years ago. This time I buried my second mother, my maternal grandmother, Rose Lovato. If you read my bio in my book you would know that she is one of the reasons that I love spooky stuff. Our culture and our family have always had a unique connection to the supernatural and no-one could convey that better than Rosie.

When I was little and my mom was missing to go to chemo my Grandma Rose would stay with us. We would cuddle on the bottom bunk bed and she would tell us stories. Some funny, some scary. I would beg to hear the scary ones over and over, so much so that I earned the nickname Spooky.

I didn’t care if it wasn’t cuddle time either. I remember being in her kitchen and she was making tortillas, rolling dough into balls, placing them in the galvanized pot and covering them with a red and white tea towel to rise. Her bright red finger nail polish flashed as she rolled out and worked the dough. I begged her to tell me a story. I think she was annoyed that I wouldn’t let her get her work done, but she told me a story anyway.

The day before she went into hospice she was telling us stories. Beautiful stories about answered prayers and angels she saw. I tucked these away in that secret place in my heart reserved for my most private thoughts and memories.

At her memorial service, we shared stories about her. Her devotion to prayer and middle of the day phone calls, no she did not care if you were at work. How she won $6000 at her favorite casino. The time she had to go to the tavern to find our grandpa and when a man made a lewd comment to her she beat the hell out of him with her purse. How they lost everything in a big fire when they lived in Utah and she took her two tiny babies on the train back to Colorado that very night in nothing but her nightgown. How much she liked a good party, and good music, and to sing. And tell stories.

Today I feel like I will never publish an other thing. It takes confidence to put your work out into the world. I have what I consider a delicate balance of support from those around me. My insecurities regarding writing are legion and require specific support from specific people. Knowing somebody as tough and outspoken as Rosie was in my corner, no matter what drivel I put out, made me feel like I could do this. She’d be there with her big purse to wonk anyone that dissed me. Now there is a terrible void in that network of support.

Remember I told you my family has a unique connection to the supernatural? At her memorial, one of my cousins told me he talked to her and that she was ok and wanted us all to know that she was happy, she was where she wanted to be. Perfectly normal in my family, perfectly acceptable. My boy reminded me this morning as he came in to see me writing this and crying, that Grandma Rose is still there for us, not to worry. She may have come to him too, but he rarely speaks about the encounters he has.

Many elements or themes from stories Grandma Rose told me pop up in my writing. Stories, it would seem, are the binding chord from me to her, from this world to the next. I’ll keep telling them, for her. 

Until next time – Thank you for teaching me to be a good woman. Love you, Grandma Rose.rose-402671_1920

Beware the Garage Sale!

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It’s not like I need more stuff. We are drowning in stuff at my house, but I just can’t seem to resist a good garage sale. In my town, the various neighborhoods have community garage sale weekends where almost every house has junk in their driveway. Junk begging to come home with me.

My more sensitive relatives remind me to be careful bringing used stuff home, you never know what’s attached to it. Sorry, dear loved ones, but I am purposefully looking for weird objects.

johnI don’t mean that I want a museum of cursed objects in my basement like The Warrens, John Zaffis, or Zak Bagans, but I do want to figure out if this idea of haunted objects has any merit. Like with most paranormal topics, I want to know how it ticks. Is there a logical, organic, natural explanation? Or is it something else? If it is something else, what is it and what does that mean in a broader world-view sense?

peggySomeone I would consider an expert in such matters is Jayne Harris of HD Paranormal. She believes that sometimes it is something else. She explains it as an emotional or spiritual connection to an object, either through prior ownership or displacement (this is when energy is transferred or absorbed by an object in the location of trauma; a gun used to kill someone for instance). Many times her team finds other explanations, but not always.

What happens in the rare event that you bring a haunted item into your home? Some people report that the item will make them feel anxious, angry, sad, or cold. Odors, good and bad, can accompany the item. Most disturbingly, however, are items that purport to move on their own and voices that emanate from the piece. Worse yet are reports of bad luck or illness befalling the owner.

voodoo

99¢ start!

Hate garage sales? Thrift stores, not your thing? There is no shortage of haunted items that you can purchase on the internet. I did a quick search of haunted objects for sale and ran across several dolls, some priced as high as $2,000.00! That doll better do dishes and laundry for that price. A lot of haunted masks that would be creepy enough on their own are available in a wide price range. Voodoo dolls and haunted jewelry tend to be numerous and in my indie author price range!

In all my years of bringing home odd items, I can’t say any of them caused any of the above-mentioned symptoms. However, last year I was rummaging through an old barn that had been renovated into an antique store with my daughter. We entered an area on the second-floor hay loft and all the hair on my arms stood to attention. I can only describe the feeling as the heebie-jeebies. We left the area and I felt fine. I went back and the heebie-jeebies returned. I love that feeling. It makes me happy. I hung out there for several minutes. I thought about buying something. I thought about warnings from my family. I went home empty handed.

I figure it’s better to write about spooky stuff than forcing my family to live through it, I mean you never know. But someday all the kids will be grown and out of the house! Sorry, husband.

I went back to this antique store a couple weeks ago. No heebie-jeebies. Either it was my mind playing tricks, wishful thinking, OR the haunted item has been SOLD!

Been to any garage sales this summer? Been feeling a little under the weather? Feel any strong emotions you can’t explain? Smell something weird? Is that doll in a different place than you left her? Please. Please, invite me over!

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!