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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings: Creepy Coincidences!

Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

Happy Halloween!!! Here's a row of Jack o'Lanterns to set the mood!

I thought I'd share a creepy story—something from this last weekend which I'm shoving into the strange category.

Our neighbors (which means three other households in the mile radius)  got together for a hot dog roast. Lots of food, lots of chatting, a bonfire, lovely weather, cows peeking over from the other pasture wondering why they weren't invited...

In other words, fun!

I asked one of my neighbors how her trip to New Orleans went.

"Wonderful," she said, but then leaned in and continued, "Except for our stay in the French Quarter."

They stayed in one of those shotgun hotels, the ones where the opposite side of the street is close enough to shoot at with a shot gun. She had a connecting room to her daughter and granddaughter. The first evening, the door between the rooms would suddenly open, although it'd been closed tightly. She didn't think too much about it because drafts aren't rare in older buildings. But she constantly had the feeling someone was watching her.

Nothing amazing happened the first night, but the second was an entirely different story.

She'd agreed to stay in and watch her granddaughter (a pre-schooler) while the rest of the girls had a night on the town. When she went into the room to check on her, the little girl lay stiff in the bed and stared at the wall with wide eyes.

"Grandma, ask him what he's doing here."

My neighbor immediately freaked but swallowed it down. "There's no one there."

"The little boy! He's standing there, staring at me. He climbed through my window and won't go away. I don't want him in here."

My neighbor closed the window, snatched her granddaughter, raced to her room and locked the door tight. Later, when everyone had returned and my neighbor was finally getting ready to sleep, she went to the bathroom. She heard the door between the two rooms open again. Since her daughter was now there sleeping with her granddaughter, she assumed it must be her. But this, time the door to the bathroom opened too. She turned around, feeling that someone was watching her, but no one was there. When she turned back toward the mirror, she refused to look at the reflection, knowing that in ghost stories, the people often claim to see the ghost. Instead, she felt breathing along the back of her neck. She ran to the bed and pulled the blankets over her head. She would have left that night, but it was 1 am, she was tired and was afraid that driving into the night like that would be worse. Especially, since nothing had really happened. She didn't sleep a wink, and they left the next morning.

My neighbor made her daughter stop at a gas station just before they crossed the state border and bribed her grandchild into giving her a little stone the owner of the hotel and given her as a trinket. Then, my neighbor dug salt packages (from fast food places) out of her purse, set the stone on the pavement, and poured a circle of salt around it. She didn't want to risk anything from the ghost sticking to it and following them home.

My neighbor was upset when she told me this story. She truly believes they saw a ghost and swears she'll never go back.

Ready for another strange coincidence????

I received a book from Bearport Publishing about 4 weeks ago—Spooky New Orleans. It's one in a series of eight books which tell ghost stories found in several cities. I hadn't looked at it at the time my neighbor told her story yet but picked it up Sunday evening. Obviously, I was thinking of her when I started to read it. But then, I ran across something that made me go 'huh'.

The last 'story' in the book tells not only a very, very similar tale to the one she told me, it's the exact same one.

As said, I'm certain she wasn't making anything up. And I'm not sure what her reaction will be when I show it to her.

As they say, reality is often the best fiction.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Lists, My Frenemy

Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

One thing, I've always avoided is writing lists.

Me and lists aren't best friends. Not in the least.

It starts with locating a paper and pen. Let the search begin! Every drawer in the house turns suspect. Even though I have lots of notebooks, it's those silly pens which keep disappearing. Dozens of them, all within an hour or two. The pen monster puts the sock monster (the one who lives in the laundry machine) to shame.

Then, there's the problem to remember where I put the list, remembering to look at it (I do forget I even made one), or remembering to take it along to the store...oh, and let's not forget the new search once inside the store. Where did that list go? I'm not sure why my clothes always has so many pockets. 

With my book release coming up—it still is around 4 months away—I'm forced to keep not only one list but several. I have two calendars running, one for my book blog (I gave up on trying to keep track of all of those posts years ago) and one for the marketing things. But those lists...what to do with them?

A list of who to email.
A list of who has been emailed.
A list of possible emails.
A list of who reviewed.
A list of who to ask to review.
A list of who agreed to review.
A list of blog posts and when.
A list of interviews and when.
A list of visitations and when.
A list of possible award sites.
A list of...

A bit of an exaggeration? Probably. But only a little bit.

At times, I wonder if I'm going to get buried under lists. Maybe, I should keep a white flag with me, so I can stick that up through the pile and beg to surrender. I'm definitely going to get confused about which lists I have and how to locate them, even if I make the stack nice and tidy.

Or I'll figure this entire list thing out and become a list heroine!

Take my husband—he's a true list buddy and hangs them all over the house. A list for shopping...a list for things to do that weekend...a list for parts he needs to order... But I've noticed, he forgets where he put his lists too. Constantly.

The solution—to write a list for the lists! Ugh. And that sounds like the search is going to start all over again.

Now, where did my pens go???

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Wandering Mind

Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

This morning, I'm sitting around waiting for the chimney sweep. 


And I'm throwing in a picture my husband snapped the other day... (see the carriage far away)?

While writing a guest post the other day, I learned that there are over 6,500 spoken languages. Wow. And I only know two.

These are my random thoughts this morning. Completely unconnected and all over the place.

My writing isn't any different. I have three...actually four...WIPs I could work on, and tons of plot bunnies nesting in all corners of the brain. 

Where to start? Where to go next? 

I'm currently editing a story....again...that I've been working on for years. It needs some TLC, but should be ready to be sent out in a few months.  This is science fiction pure with lots of fun and adventure and shoots off into a trilogy...for middle graders.

November is going to be my time to finally tackle a series, also for the middle grade, which involves mystery and science—geeks rule in this one. It's been outlined to a certain degree, has characters researched and will hopefully roll smoothly along. 

Or maybe not.

But just to show how bouncy my mind is lately in the story world...

I ran across an amazing profession - a cosplay artist!!! (I honestly had no clue this existed-thanks to Christine Rains) This man makes his living by creating costumes and portraying video game heroes. Talk about a fun job!  His name is Leon Chiro and can be found on Facebook here.

When one of his photos appeared on my feed, a new plot bunny bounced in my head—a completely new direction for a story...new genre...new audience. 

And there goes my mind, hopping off to another world, plot and characters.

If only I could write as fast as the brain switches, flows and stumbles.

And did you know that the Peacock Mantis Shrimp can punch water so fast with its claws that the water around it starts to boil?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Whittleings - Book Bloggers

Wednesdays are my day to randomly babble. Sometimes about children books, others about writing, and usually about whatever strikes my mind. Random thoughts...random whittleings.

This week on Twitter, there was quite the storm in the book blogging world. Okay, it was more like a mini-dust devil with bite. A publisher (and others) made comments which criticized the book blogging community as being unnecessary, at best. The criticism claims that book bloggers not only lack influence and don't really contribute to book sales, but are a group of individuals who simply seek free reads or a way to make themselves feel important......  

This last statement made me laugh. Actually, I'm still laughing.

The rest of the book o' sphere a la Twitter was not laughing but took offense, and as this awesome community always is... immediately came to the defense of all of us book bloggers out there. Gosh, I love this community.

But offense here or there, my thoughts took on all sorts of strings.

Free books - Ready to gasp? Yes, I started book blogging for free books.

Do I hang my head in shame? No way!

I lived in Europe and was so sick of never finding any good reads in English at the library. Buying books grows expensive, especially when your reading speed puts you at a book a night...and book prices are/were controlled in Germany, making sudden deals not as easy to find. But this grand idea of free books lost its glittery sparkle fast when as a new book blogger, I wasn't able to get my hands on any 'great' books. Almost all books available to little ole' me came from the self-publishing world. Now, this statement might sound offensive, but please remember that at that time (yes, this was a few years ago), self-publishing was just gaining ground. Today, there are so many awesome reads among self-publishers and so many amazing gems to discover. Back then, too many people still didn't understand how important it was to hire an editor. 

Side note: Always hire an editor...a good one.

After years of book blogging (and a much smarter and established self-publishing realm), I get amazing books and can pick and choose. And yes, I get all giddy every time our postwoman brings me another package. Mini-Christmas a few times every week!

But do I blog for free books? As said, that idea disappeared shortly after I started my blog. My bank account sure wishes that dream had worked, though! The longer I've blogged, the more and more money I've given out for books. Books are addictive.... do I have to say that? Plus, the reads I drool over I need to have in hardback for my every growing shelves. And those which suddenly catch my eye...Kindle can be so cruel with the simple tap and buy.

Lack influence on Sales - This thought is simply short-sighted in so many ways. (This publisher needs to go back to those basic business classes at college). Sure, one post won't immediately set off a dozen sales. When you see a billboard, do you immediately exit the highway and pull out that wallet? While immediate sales are generated to a certain extent (usually very small), book blogging is about wide spread informing and reinforcement. The more people who see the book the better. If no one knows a book exists, they can't consider buying it. The more a book appears in front of their eyes, the more it sticks in the mind. People see the book, remember the book and will begin to recognize the book when flipping through Amazon or at the book store or when searching for their next read.

Marketing 101.

Self-verification - Yeahhhhh. Right. Every time I think of this one, I chuckle. How can book blogging... and I mean for us small bloggers and not those with massive followings... do that? I get little to no feedback through my blog. Most comes from the publishers or authors, who I'm reviewing for. If that. Yes, I do a little happy dance when I see a snippet of my review suddenly appear somewhere. And an very occasional word comes in from a book lover out there. Oh, and I have managed to pull in a line of awards...this blows my mind every time! But if I'm doing this for self-verification, I'm going to shrivel and die at the pace those 'special' moments hit.

Sorry, there are so many better ways of getting this kick if you're the type of person who needs it.


Why do book bloggers blog?

I assume everyone has their own reasons. Love of books is a huge one. And for me...okay, outside of the ridiculous idea in the beginning that I'd get free best-sellers out of this—the one that got mega-squashed... it's simply a chance to help spread the word, especially for indie authors and those from small publishers.

I've mentioned on here before that children's books are a beast in the marketing end if an author doesn't go through a big publisher. Book blogging is my way of giving those authors/publishers a hand because there are some amazing books out there that won't be noticed otherwise. Do many people notice them because of my blog? Probably not. But without a spark, there can never be a fire...or even a smolder.

A side note:
I'm adding this to my original post because I just realized I forgot to mention it. Of course, all reviews on my blog are my honest opinion and thoughts. I don't even waste my time with reads I don't like, simply because I'm already on a tight schedule and that would be a silly waste. A book blogger who doesn't leave an honest review is only hurting themselves. Readers aren't dumb. They'll notice what's going on. Leaving good reviews to make authors and publishers happy is self-defeating for a blogger. So nope, I don't do that.

What do you think of book bloggers? Do you pay any attention to them? Have you ever bought a book you've seen on one of their sights? Do you ever read their reviews?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IWSG and so much more

It's IWSG time!

Every month on the first Wednesday of the month, us writers come together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to shed our frustrations and woes with each other. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group) then head on over here.

Special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts: Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!  Thanks guys!

This month's question is...

How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Major life events (and even less major) can completely murder my writing. Not only does time become a huge issue, but my mind refuses to switch into imagination gear. But that's fine.
My philosophy is that writing can only happen by living. Major life events mold, teach, and widen the horizon in different ways. It is these experiences which help determine who we are as writers and how we write. Without them, we aren't who we are and can't write what we write.

What about you? How do those major life events affect your muse?


I have two shout-outs today.... Gosh, I love to shout!

Happy Book Birthday week to one of my writing buds, Krystal Jane Ruin and her amazing
The House of Falling Embers!

I was lucky enough to read an ARC copy and LOVED it. 
Krystal thrives on the dark side of life, and this one is deliciously dark. Considering it's October...the month of dark and chilling reads...it's come out with perfect timing.

Once upon a time there was a witch. She was a kind witch, but that didn’t matter. The people were afraid, and fear often turns to hatred.
When Artemis was thirteen, her best friend Aris was swallowed by the crumbling house they found in the woods. Like a coward, she abandoned him to the horror within.
She moved away. She tried to forget. But when she finds herself back in her old neighborhood after college, the ghosts—and her guilt—are waiting. A charred figure stalks her dreams, and someone, or something, haunts her from the trees.
Going back into the woods might be the only way to save her sanity.
Because nine years later, the house is still there. Still waiting. Still restless.

One year anniversary!!! 
99 cent sale for October!!!

Need a creepy Halloween read?

To celebrate the first anniversary of
FULL DARK: An Anthology, we’ve
dropped the e-book price to just 99c
for the entire month of October!
And 100% of the proceeds benefit
veterans and first responders!

What happens in the dark will come to light.

Full Dark is a collection of eleven short works with impressive depth and range. Twisted tales of ghosts, villains, and the paranormal await you—mystery, heinous fantasy, and pure suspense. Acclaimed and award-winning authors as well as a few talented newcomers have joined forces to be your guide. Venture into the dark if you dare.

Just A Matter Of Time by Loni Townsend
Forerunner by David Powers King
Taking Care Of You by Carrie Butler
The Apartment by Lisa Buie-Collard
The Caricature by Nick Wilford
Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Seckman
Shadows Falling On Rainbows by Celeste Holloway
Meringue, Murder or Marzipan by Tonja Drecker
Haunted Lake by Michelle Athy
Soul Coin by Laura Rich
Retribution by Melissa Maygrove

FULL DARK is a benefit anthology. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation, an organization that does many wonderful things for our country's active military, its veterans, and the countless first responders who sacrifice so much to keep us safe.

Publisher: Obsidian Books
Release date: October 30, 2017
Rating: PG-13

Available for Amazon Kindle and Nook
(search ‘Full Dark Maygrove’)

Also in paperback at regular price.