Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cthulhu, Books, Pet Shop Santa, and Irish Stout

It's been a long time since I've read one of the greats -- H.P. Lovecraft. The thought of reading one of his horror stories sounded quite cozy given the weather, so I just started reading The Lurker At The Threshold. I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN! Lovecraft really has a way of getting in your head and staying there. As I'm writing this, I'm rushing so I can get back to the book. If you enjoy watching horror movies, pretty much any movie that's based on an H.P. Lovecraft story is awesome (I've seen them all). My favorites are In The Mouth of Madness, Dagon, and Re-Animator. In case you're wondering, Cthulhu is my favorite monster :)   

Xmas came early! A 5 Star review of Strange Luck from Readers' Favorite certainly made my day. Please check it out and comment.

Loki visited Santa for the first time. He'll do anything for food and attention, so sitting on the sled with a strange man in a red suit wasn't the least bit difficult. Don't know if that's a good or bad thing...

My husband and I just started brewing our own beer today! We are using the True Brew Irish Stout ingredient kit and are planning to call our beer "Winters' Brew." When we are done, we'll have 5 GALLONS OF BEER! Hopefully it'll be worth it ;)

Wishing you a happy holiday season and Happy New Year!  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

TBT Writer - A Nine-Year-Old's First Horror Story

Throwback Thursday (TBT) is awesome! It's fun, and often hilarious, to see what people used to look like and who they were. But, for this TBT let's mix it up a bit...

Wouldn't it be kinda neat if writers shared their old pics? Maybe holding a pen for the first time or even writing in a journal? Wouldn't it be cool if your favorite authors shared some of their very first when they were in grade school? 

If you're a writer, I invite you to share something you wrote way back when and/or a pic of yourself. Don't forget to use #tbtwriter when you post. If you're a reader, let's see how many of your favorite authors we can get to share. I would personally love to see Neil Gaiman back in the day. :) 

To kick off #tbtwriter, I present mini-me and my very first horror story I wrote when I was nine (which has been edited for ubiquitous typos). Enjoy!

The House Was Old and Abandoned 

As I was walking down the street, I turned into a court. I walked to the middle house, then stopped. I saw an ugly, broken house. It was blackish and grayish, and the house had a gate circling around it that was yellowish. I stepped inside the yard. I saw an old rotted oak tree and a tire was leaning against it. The grass, well it wasn't really grass, it was a few dozen weeds. Also, I saw concrete steps that had been covered by weeds that were leading to the house. I followed the steps to the porch, then I saw a weird creature looking at me. I almost screamed cause I thought it was real, but it wasn't, it was just a statue. After that, I saw a huge door. It had a giant knocker. I knew no one was there so I entered. The door handle almost fell off in my hand, then I encouraged myself to be brave and go in, so I did.

I saw a bunch of wood chips scattered everywhere, and spiders that had made homes out of it. I also saw a Persian rug that had lost some of its color. I walked over to the staircase. It was long and twisted, with a carpet that covered the staircase. The carpet had lost its color and turned gray. I climbed up the stairs. When I got to the top I had counted 45 stairs. Where I was standing I saw hundreds of doors that were an ugly red color. I went to the second door on the right and opened it. I saw all kinds of old-fashioned furniture that was torn up and the stuffing was coming out. The floor was made out of wood that was missing a few boards. I turned my head. On the wall I saw a picture of someone that was bald and a huge Indian head dress. The wall paper had strange designs that looked like a triangle stacked on a square, stacked on an ant shape. Then I saw a table missing a leg. On it was a book. I walked over to it. It was a picture book of the people that used to live there long ago. It was weird. I even saw a bald guy.

I decided I wanted to leave and find some other interesting things, then I heard a strange noise. It scared me half-to-death (in the original I wrote half-to-deaf). I ran out the door, came to the stairs. I thought it was too long to walk, so I slid down the rail. "Boom!" I reached the bottom, hopped up, and ran out the strange door. I almost tripped going down the stairs, but I managed to keep my balance. I ran out the gate and started to walk home cause I was out of breath. Then, as I was leaving, I saw a strange thing look at me through the window and gosh, I think it was bald!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Wanted: Meaningful Gifts for the Holidays

The holidays are a time to share with family and friends, but also a time to reflect on those who have less. To help those in need I plan to donate all of my December book royalties to Oxfam.

What's your favorite charity and what will you do to support them this winter?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Strange Luck Giveaway

I have the giveaway itch...Enter this Amazon Giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Strange Luck. Lucky number 500 will win.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cabinet of Curiosities - How I got Into Antiques

My antiquing addiction started with garage sales. Growing up, my parents took me every weekend, and every so often, we’d go to a big antique fair. From then on, my insatiable love for antiques spiraled into several collections of oddities and an idea for a book (Strange Luck).

If you’re ever in the car with me during a road trip, be forewarned that I will force you to stop at antique stores. Some of my best finds are from random mom-and-pop shops in the middle of nowhere. I like antiquing because I never know what I’m going to find and it’s a free history lesson. Even if I don’t end up buying anything, I usually walk away having learned more about a particular era, culture, artist, etc. 

I get asked a lot about the haunted antiques in Strange Luck and whether or not they are real. Unfortunately, the oddities are all a figment of my imagination, except for a few back-stories inspired by accounts of so-called haunted items and how they behaved. The show, Oddities, was also inspirational for ideas about bizarre, yet realistic items. In general, I used one rule of thumb - would I think that the item was interesting, weird, or creepy if I actually saw it in a shop somewhere? My favorite item I write about is the German mantle clock made by a mad puppeteer and how it emits phantom smells of apple pie and cinnamon. I would love to own something like that!

So, now that you know that I’m a fan of odd antiques, it should be of no surprise that I have my very own curiosity hutch. It’s a great conversation piece when guests come over and a fun little hobby. Here are some of my favorite things inside:

Prairie Dog Skull: Back in the day, I wanted to be an archaeologist and even went to an archaeology field school. As a career, it wasn’t for me, but every now and then I get the urge to excavate. When I lived in Colorado, my backyard opened to a wildlife reserve, which included a massive prairie dog colony. There were huge pieces of quartz and other cool rocks everywhere, so one day I thought I’d do a little digging. In the process, I unearthed tons of prairie dog bones, including this skull, but just kept the skull because it was in amazing condition. It’s such a weird thing to have in my house and that’s exactly why I like it.

The Strange Luck Cricket: Growing up, my parents always had a little cricket statue in our living room. When I got older, I asked where it had come from and my mom told me she didn’t know exactly, only that it was given to her by my great grandma who said it would bring their home good luck. I always thought that was neat, so when it came time for me to live in a house of my own, my mom gave me the cricket. Since then, it's traveled across the country with me. While writing Strange Luck, I got the idea of incorporating the cricket as a good luck charm and decided to research its origin. I was surprised to learn that I possess a "hearth cricket" - a symbol of good luck dating back thousands of years (there's even a Dickens story about one). There are tons of accounts as to why crickets are lucky, but the one I found most interesting comes from Asia where crickets were used to detect danger because they would stop chirping. Whether my cricket brings me luck or not, I like to look at his happy face each day.

Vanity: One of my favorite pictures of all time! Depending on how you focus your eyes, you’ll see a woman sitting at a mirror or a big skull encompassing the entire picture. It’s a very haunting and creepy picture that I purchased from a street vendor in Paris. 

Vintage Tarot Deck: This was given to me by my mother-in-law. I love the beautiful illustrations.

I’m also a fan of anything having to deal with dark circuses, which is why my upcoming book, The Nightmare Birds, takes place in one. Here’s a pic of me at Cirque Du Soleil. 

Although this next item isn’t in my curiosity hutch, it sits next to my writing desk in my office. My husband got this as a birthday card for me years ago. I love it because it’s a real Victorian picture that I find both creepy and hilarious (a tough combo to find!). The word Menschfeind (enemy of humans) is written beneath it, which makes the picture even more satirical.  

If you’re ever in these areas, check out some of my favorite places:

California - Alameda Pointe Antiques Faire: My absolute favorite antique fair of all time! It’s one of the largest in CA and takes place outside on a naval base. The vendors are always changing and they have awesome food trucks. Score! Plan to be there for at least a half day. If you’re further north, check out Vintage Bank Antiques in Petaluma. 

Colorado – Wise Buys Antiques: Niwot is a quirky little town just outside of Boulder—a perfect setting for a cute little shop like this.

Florida – Dysfunctional Grace Art Company: Reminiscent of Obscura (the shop in Oddities), this place features really interesting and weird oddities, art, and some cool antiques. Located in Ybor City.

North Carolina – Antique Tobacco Barn: Get lost here for hours! I got my awesome Phrenology skull here.

What’s your favorite place to antique? I'd love to hear your suggestions. Please comment below :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Guaranteed to Brighten Your Day

I love animals, especially funny animals, so I present my favorite videos that have made me laugh so hard I cried. They are guaranteed to brighten your day! Enjoy :) Oh, and make sure that your speakers are on.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Indie 50 - Vote for Strange Luck

Great news! Strange Luck made it onto the top 50 Best Indie Books of 2015 List! I need your help to make it #1. Please take a moment to vote.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Puppy Preschool, Writing Fuel, Krampus, and Masterpiece Theater

So much happened this week, so I thought I'd share some highlights. 

My puppy, Loki, graduated puppy preschool. He'll be starting puppy kindergarten on Monday, followed by a therapy dog class. I'm a proud parent :)

We got our first snow flurries of season. Yay! Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who loves the snow. Keep in mind, I haven't seen snow in over 5 years.

I finished writing Chapter 6 of my new novel, The Nightmare Birds. I couldn't have done it without my best friends - chocolate and caffeine. My new book is part of the Strange Luck series. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing to already have your cover design picked out when you haven't even finished writing the book. :)

Two of my latest interviews went live this week with Awesome Gang and Book Goodies. You can learn more about what I'm currently working on, my writing quirks, and advice to aspiring authors.

So I guess they make Krampus ornaments now.

Lastly, if you haven't watched Mr. Selfridge yet on Masterpiece Theater, you're missing out on the new Downton Abbey!