Friday, August 30, 2013

Banned Book Month

September 22-28th marks Banned Book Week this year. Banned Book Week was started to counteract the surging numbers of books that are challenged or banned. I am a firm believer that there are certain truths and realities to which children do not need to be exposed via literature, especially at the ages at which exposure commonly takes place nowadays. That is why, when I write for children, I write material that I feel is age appropriate. I also feel that there is some writing which contributes nothing positive to society and that I don't even find particularly well-done or entertaining (erhem "Twilight" and "50 Shades of Gray" come to mind). That being said, I despise the banning of books.  I think that the job of censorship falls to oneself and, in the case of children, to their parents.  After all, we know what we like and what we can handle.  (However, I do suggest that you read books, often, outside of your comfort zone. They can open you up to a world of great conversation and discussion, and occasionally a new perspective.) However, when books start being pulled off of library and bookstore shelves, we start a slippery slope in which we rob our culture of so many things of value.  Travel with me this month, and you will see what I mean.
Every day in the month of September, I will be writing a post about one of the Top 100 Challenged Books, giving a synopsis of the book and reasons that it is challenged.  I will then be posting a writing prompt encouraging you to write your own short story that contains some of the offensive elements. Post a link to your blog or website in the comments, so we can read your contributions, and please share this event.  I hope you will join me in this challenge celebrating the right to read!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Ronnie's Birthday, but you get the presents!

Hello, everyone! First of all, I want to thank K.A.! for having me on her blog today. I realize celebrating a character's birthday is not normally done, but doing something different is usually what gets us noticed. So, thank you for having me here today!

Not only is Ronnie celebrating a birthday, her novel, Into the Spiral, is just 99 cents for these three days, August 27-29 (Tuesday-Thursday). That's a steal compared to the normal price of $3.99! Go here to grab your copy today:

School hallway About the Book:

Fifteen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.
Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.

You can also check out Michelle Nicole's blog during these three days to join in the celebration and enter to win an autographed paperback of Into the Spiral, a bunch of swag, beautiful silver-plated triple spiral earrings, and a tote to carry it all in!

Happy Birthday, Ronnie! Thank you everyone for celebrating such a fun day!

~ Erin Danzer

It's Ronnie's Birthday, but YOU get the presents!

<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;">Hello, everyone! First of all, I want to thank K.A.! for having me on her blog today. I realize celebrating a character's birthday is not normally done, but doing something different is usually what gets us noticed. So, thank you for having me here today!</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;">Not only is Ronnie celebrating a birthday, her novel, Into the Spiral, is just 99 cents for these three days, August 27-29 (Tuesday-Thursday). That's a steal compared to the normal price of $3.99! Go here to grab your copy today:</span> <a href=""></a></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-646"><img class="size-medium wp-image-646 alignleft" style="margin: 5px;" alt="School hallway" src="" width="200" height="300" /></a> <span style="color: #000000;">About the Book:</span></p>

<div id="postBodyPS"><em><span style="color: #000000;">Fifteen-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Lambert wants to get out from under her older brother’s shadow. When Ronnie gets a tattoo and then is struck by lightning, she suddenly finds herself able to see and hear things in shadows that don’t appear to others. Then Ronnie meets Gavin Clearwater, the hot new guy in all of her classes and finds out he can see and hear the same things she can.</span></em></div>
<div><em><span style="color: #000000;">Gavin tells her about the Spiral Defenders, a group of warriors that travels through space and time to defend the planets of the Spiral. After meeting the Commander of the Spiral Defenders and realizing his intentions might not be pure, Ronnie struggles between following her destiny to become a Spiral Defender and trying to regain the life she had before being struck by lightning.</span></em></div>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;">You can also check out Michelle Nicole's <a href="" target="_blank">blog</a> during these three days to join in the celebration and enter to win an autographed paperback of Into the Spiral, a bunch of swag, beautiful silver-plated triple spiral earrings, and a tote to carry it all in!</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;">Happy Birthday, Ronnie! Thank you everyone for celebrating such a fun day!</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #000000;">~ Erin Danzer</span></p>

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


My lovely friend Marian Allen occasionally hosts The Six Word Story Challenge, in which we are given a topic and invited to write a story in six words or less.  The directions are taken from her  website, my story is below.

Write a tiny little story in only six words (not counting the title).


Everything starts small — a seed becomes a plant, an egg becomes an ostrich, a look becomes a quarrel, a slight becomes a war.
The most wonderful things, the most terrible things, the most powerful things, the most vulnerable things — all begin small and grow. Or they might begin big and grow smaller, which is a very funny thing to say, when you think about it!
Here’s a Six Word Story by Ernest Hemingway.
Such an impact and unseen images in only six words…

Not all growth is good.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Excerpt from H.M.S Irene

I've been chattering quite a bit on Facebook, twitter, and the rest about the kraken story I am attempting.  I have to admit, it's a bit of a challenge; a steampunk themed tale including a kraken and based on the horrible prideful mentalities that lead to such tragedies as the events surrounding the downed Blackhawks in Mogadishu and the sinking of the Titanic, all taking place on a submersible modeled after the Hunley. This story was intended to be a part of, Brink, my upcoming collection of short stories that take place on the edge of an event horizon (You can read more here and here).  I'm not sure if that's where it's supposed to live, though.  We will see.  At any rate, I think it's been way too long since I've posted some writing on here.  So, here's a bit of my newest short story: HMS Irene.  I hope you enjoy. 

HMS Irene
      The docks were crowded, as was the air above, thick with everything from dirigibles to their humble cousins the balloon.  Waitresses clad in skin tight mockeries of sailor's uniforms circled the crowd with plates of delicacies, squid featured heavily, much to the delight of the crowd.  Even the band was there, majestic and miserable in their full dress regalia, and almost able to mask the din of the factories up the street.  Lieutenant Dominique Brusad eyed their sweaty, flushed faces with a combination of empathy and jealousy.  Dressed in her deep water gear, Dominique was sweating as much as they.  They, however, would get to return to base once this was over.  If it ever did get over.  Dominique glanced surreptitiously at the intricate dials and gears that made up the face of her watch, a gift from her mother and father when she graduation from the Academy. What was taking so long?
     On board the HMS Irene three large men were crammed into the cabin of the submersible.  Their shoulders were hunched and their proud, out thrust chests nearly brushed one another, medal on metal as it were.  The cabin had been designed to hold only two, and two navigators at that.  Navigators were selected partially because of their petite frames, elected officials and Generals were not.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Sell Your Stuff

I have spent many hours lately trying to sell my book.  I have spent a similar number of hours listening to (or reading about) writers who are disgruntled at their lack of sales.  I've heard one million excuses.  "People just weren't buying."  "I had a bad spot."  "Such and such just hates the lit track."  Okay.  Maybe.  We do not live in a bubble and are therefore affected by extenuating circumstances.  That being said, I've also seen a lot of mistakes made by people whose living depends on the whims of others.  We are, none of us, selling anything someone NEEDS after all.  I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I will admit my sales have been above average.  Also,  I grew up watching my Dad as he made sales for the carbonated beverage company for which he worked for many years as well as traveling to various specialty shows with my mother.  I'd like to take a moment to share what I've learned, and what is working very well for me.

This is a 3 tier process.  The first tier is called "Grooming."

1:  Groom yourself.  Try to look nice.  I've been given a bit of flack because I wear costumes.  I don't recommend that for everyone, however I can't tell you how many salespeople are talking to me with woolly teeth or holey clothes or body odor like a wall. Take a shower, brush your teeth. and wear something nice,

2. Make your table or booth look nice.  This does not take much money.  Clean up your trash, make sure banners and signs are hung straight.  Make sure the table is not too crowded and that the items are lined up neatly.  A bunch of fresh flowers can make all of the difference in the world.

Once you have done that, its time to move on to tier 2, "Presence."  Remember, you are likely one attraction among many.  You have to show that you are present and engaged. So. . .

1. Stand up.  There is nothing attractive or eye-catching about a bunch of people slouching in chairs behind a table.  You look uninvolved and uninterested.  It is difficult to make eye contact.  It looks sloppy.  I understand that some people have physical limitations that prohibit this.  In that case, do what you need to do for your health.  But, if you are able, stand up.  I don't even take chairs to shows.  And I do it in 5 inch heels. It may hurt, but it works.  So, as I tell my children, get off of your boom-boom and DO something.

2.  Stop talking to each other; talk to the visitors instead.  Listen, I get it.  We are geeks.  Social interaction is not our favorite thing nor, for many of us, our strong point.  Also, we are spending time with like-minded people who we actually know and may not see as much as we like.  They are also people who are not likely to buy your book.  Also, regardless of your intention, what you are doing is rude.  Rude does not make people want to buy something from you.  So, face front and talk to the people who have money to potentially spend on you.  Chat with your friends later.

3. Get the "marks" attention.  Again, there is a lot going on all around us.  Many people are going to avoid eye contact because either they are afraid that we are going to try to sell us something and they will feel weird saying "no" (and let's be honest, we are, and we are going to try to make that 'no' a 'yes'), or they feel awkward talking to people they don't know.   We have to overcome that.  I've heard of people using a bicycle horn.  I'm sure that works.  I chose a different tack, though.  I choose freebies.  I have vampire fangs and glow sticks that I give out for free.  Once they have approached me and taken their gift, I start talking about their book.  You can get little gifts that emphasize some of the themes in your book for very little money and they are, frankly, invaluable.  NOTE:  Business cards are not freebies. No. Don't argue.  They're not.  Postcards of you or your book might be if they are a) well done and b) are actually postcards that someone could theoretically mail.  Pens are also a bad idea.  Promo pens rarely function unless they are from pharmaceutical companies who can afford the REALLY nice pens.

So, you're looking spiffy.  There are people at your table.  Now, you move onto tier 3 - The Pitch.

1.  You have to be excited about what you are selling.  More than that, you have to be able to emote or convey that excitement.  I'm going to use books as an example because, well, I sell books. If someone asks about your fabulous new Yeti book and you don't make eye contact and mutter something like, "Well, I wrote this 'cause it's about yetis but it's not really about yetis I just thought yetis would help me sell books but I guess nobody likes yetis anymore 'cause I haven't sold hardly anything but anyway, um, it's not really about yetis it's about this um main character named um McIntyre who is a drummer for an Irish rock band and um yeah," you are likely not going to sell any books.  After all, this is YOUR baby.  If you don't think your baby is pretty, no one else is going to.  Have a pitch.  Practice it so you can say it in your sleep.  Make it exciting and fun.  Then, when the nerves or the exhaustion kick in, the excited pitch is etched permanently into your memory.

2.  Finally, sweeten the deal.  Everyone wants to believe that they are getting something for nothing.  So, find another freebie that you will kick in if someone buys your books.  Passes to a local event, CDs, a code to access special items on your website, any little something to help the deal get sweeter.  Again, with a little bit of research this can be done cheaply and will help you make a good deal of money.

3.  No matter the answer, say "thank you."  These people gave you their time and attention; they are supporting the events that support you, so chirp a cheery "thank you" as they meander away.

So, here are my tips.  I hope they help!

Monday, August 12, 2013


I have had the good fortune to make a new friend recently; an amazingly talented gentleman by the name of Thomas.  Thomas is, among other things, a freelance photographer and an aspiring writer.  His work can be found at  Recently, I challenged him to post some pictures from one of his shoots on Facebook, and we would each use said picture as inspiration for a short story.  Both stories as well as the picture are below.  Please take a moment to read them and then leave a comment stating which is your favorite.  Thanks!

Now for the stories.


     Brother Geordino ranked as one of the lower scribes in the monastery and he was comfortable with that. He lacked ambition, he did not feel a higher calling, and he saw no reason to put extra effort behind any of the tasks assigned to him by Father Pascale. His superiors had tried to motivate him, punish him, even plead with him that his work was for God and not just the monastery, but it had no effect. Brother Geordino was happy with who he was and there was no point in changing.His latest task – a necessary chore, but assigned to him as punishment – was to transcribe one of the smaller tomes given to the monks by the local landowner upon his death. The estate had been sizable, but most of the old duke’s library had been copies of copies and nothing that required the monk’s attentions beyond cataloguing and storage. A few, however, were one-of-a-kind esoteric texts with dubious authors and histories. So-called spell books and questionable bestiaries of impossible creatures filled a small trunk which was given to Geordino for safekeeping. When the other monks realized he simply was not making any progress, harsher measures were taken. 
     The trunk now sat behind the young monk. It was the only thing in this room beside his chamber pot, a 
small cot, the desk at which he wrote and the chair upon which he sat. All other distractions had been removed. All other activities as well. Brother Geordino was left locked in this tower room with a narrow window overlooking the courtyard and a single door barred from the outside. At the base of the door was a swinging flap of wood on hinges – an ingenious design by the always eager blacksmith, Brother Hamilton. The chamber pot was pushed out, cleaned, and returned to him. Twice a day, meals were pushed through on a small covered tray. The other monks would see this as horrible, perhaps cruel, punishment. Geordino felt it was a fair arrangement. All he was required to do was write what he saw in the old book, and all his needs were cared for. They would release him when he was done – so Brother Geordino took his time.
     To make the task last as long as possible, the young monk would often bow his black-haired head over 
the other cracked and fading books in the trunk left in his room. While the sounds of life rose from the courtyard, he would be silently sliding his fingers over old parchment pages and sometimes mouthing the words of the secular and sometimes heretical texts. Knowledge was knowledge, and so the monks had often copied and stored documents and tomes that were even sacrilegious – a sort of ‘know thy enemy’ mentality. It was not that the information was a transgression, it was the fact that it was new that pulled at Brother Geordino’s attention. It was highly likely that these books were one-of-a-kind original writings; and the authors had to have been mad. 
     Visions of leopards with wings, vines that encircled the globe, and clouds that crashed into mountains with the weight and solidity of granite, swirled from the old scratchmark handwriting. And the handwriting was different from book to book, which took some effort for Brother Geordino to decipher. Besides the complete strangeness of the creatures and places described in the stories, there was nothing to connect these books one to another. Nothing except one name, and it may have been the name of a person or an animal or simply a power. It was treated with the reverence and casual understanding one would use for ‘sunshine’. None of the various authors described or explained the name, but it was mentioned at odd intervals as though to give credence to all else.
      It was always used without real context, as though expecting any reader would automatically know full-well what or who ‘Irvati’ was, and it was obviously something to be held in awe. But without any explanation or background, Geordino ignored it in favor of the more imaginative (if just as inexplicable) descriptions of madness.
     Gradually, between idle daydreaming, lazily reading the other stories and attempting to pronounce the ridiculous nonsense from ‘spell books’, Brother Geordino made progress in his assignment. The chickenscratch writing made the transcription tedious, and, though he was content to take his time with the work, he was as carefully exacting as his he had been trained. Each word, indeed each strange spelling of each unusual word, was transcribed with care onto fresh and sturdier paper in a heavy book of standard size. When completed, it would fit on a shelf with other copied texts and there be safe for more learned scholars to study and interpret. And this one would take some studying, Brother Geordino decided. When actually at work, one’s mind often did not focus on the words or meanings of the copy – all attention to detail was on the letters themselves and ensuring that penmanship was exact (though he sometimes took liberty in illustrating the margins or capitals at the beginning of chapters). Once every few days he would allow himself to read back through what he had transcribed and found it made no sense. It was difficult to even remember the sequence of events in the book, such was the strangeness.His puzzlement was interrupted as another tray of food scratched across the stone floor and the swinging hatch fell back into place on the door with a squeak of hinges. Brother Geordino looked at the metal dome through half-lidded eyes, barely seeing it. He was no longer even curious what meal would be hidden beneath. He realized he was bored, and it took some effort for him to care enough about the food to push his chair back and rise from his position at the desk. His robes whispered against his ankles and he took the few steps to the tray, cradled it on one hand and lifted the cover. Soup. Perhaps broth would be a more apt description. Some stale bread beside the old bowl. 
     As the young monk sat back down and lifted his spoon to dip into the almost clear liquid, some thought 
bubbled up in the back of his mind. For a moment he paused there, spoon in hand like a lost man would 
hold a candle in a strange and dark room. The thought was troubling Brother Geordino, but he couldn’t 
place just what it was. There was something familiar, but bothersome. He almost shrugged and let it go, but then his mind grasped hold of the concerning doubt. He had eaten soup earlier today. And yesterday. The bread, too. Not the same soup, perhaps. Certainly not the same bread. This was not some idle feeling of déjà-vu. He had been eating soup for quite a while, now, and it had never really occurred to him to think anything of it. How long ago had it been that he’d been given a chicken bone with greasy meat on it? How long before that was the roast pork? And the greens? Surely just last week – but no, he remembered soup then.
     His brow furrowed, but after a moment it ceased to bother him. He finally allowed the shrug and began 
to slurp at his meal. He forgot about his concern until the next morning.
     Upon awaking, Brother Geordino performed his usual toilet and pushed the chamber pot out through the hatch and into the hall, followed by the tray with its empty soup bowl. He felt no compunction to get back to the book just yet, so returned to his cot and leaned his back against the cool stone wall. Resting uncomfortably under his backside, he felt one of the other tomes he had been idly flipping through in the days before. He reached for it, now, and opened it to the middle and started to lose himself in the description of a city covered in dust. It would help distract him from the morning sounds of the other monks performing their chores in the courtyard below.Three pages later, he paused with his finger against the word ‘Irvati’ and frowned. Something was bothering him again. He remembered the evening prior and felt his frown deepen. These lapses in his comfortable routine were starting to irritate him in ways he’d never experienced before. Almost against his will, he tried to chase down what the bother was this time. It had nothing to do with food, for his meal would not arrive for some hours. It wasn’t the book, because he had read this one before, many 
times in fact, and it had never given him anything but pleasure and amusement in its strangeness. Geordino rolled his eyes and let out a loud sigh that echoed in the silence.That’s when it felt like someone punched him just below the ribs. It was utterly silent in his room. Of course it normally was silent IN his room, but there was not even the sound of movement outside. No clang of metal from Brother Hamilton’s forge, no muttered conversation of monks passing below his tower. Even the bustle from the small stables and chicken roost was missing. Ridiculously, Geordino feared he had gone deaf and loudly cleared his throat just to hear some sound in the stillness. That sound, too, echoed and seemed to hang on the early morning dust.
     This was no longer the niggling doubt of memory. The monk threw down the book and jumped to his feet. Even now he expected all the familiar noises of the monastery to come back like hearing does after the deafening peal of thunder. This silence was so total as to make his chest feel tight – or maybe it was the fear. He moved toward the door, hesitated, then knocked. The was usually one of the brothers near enough to come answer through the heavy wood. He had long ago stopped asking for news or gossip – he hadn’t cared then, but thought it polite. They brought him ink on a regular basis, so he had no other needs beyond the chamber pot and tray of food. Now, though, he needed to hear the slap of sandals and a hushed voice on the other side.
     There was nothing.
     Geordino stepped back from the door, lips pursed. He realized he was trying to hold back a – what? A 
cry for help? A scream? Steeling himself against such a ridiculous notion, he returned to the door and brought his fist up. Using the heel of his hand, he gave it a few good hits. As soon as he did, the door rattled gently, then slowly creaked on its hinges. Dust fell from the lock. Looking closer, he realized that wasn’t the case at all. The dust that fell WAS the lock. It had been rusted through and apparently crumbled at the strike of his hand. Beyond that was the truly odd sight, however. Sitting in a chair in the hall, currently catching a sunbeam from the rising sun peeking over the window, was an old man in a monk’s robe. His arm hung down by his side. When he started to approach, Brother Geordino gagged. The hand that was visible below the sleeve was decrepit and bony. Skeletal. Leaning down to see beneath the hood, he realized that the face of the old man matched. It was not an old man – it was an ancient corpse with its chin resting on its sunken chest, mummified from the passage of time. Geordino gave the cadaver a wide berth and hastily went down the stairs at the end of the hall. He did not cry out. Somehow he knew what he’d find.
     In each room, in most halls, and in the courtyard, there were the corpses of his brothers. They were all mummified, and they were all comfortable. Most were in chairs, though a few looked like they had slumped against a wall and slid to the floor. A couple of the monks were still in their cots. The chicken roost was full of dust. The pigs and cow were unspeakable mounds of leather and bone, half buried in the rock and rubble that had been the front wall of the monastery. Now the main gate was a heap of broken down stone.
     The monastery was in ruins. 
     Brother Geordino’s shoulders slumped. He did not feel fear or confusion. Of course he did not understand, but yet he felt like this was as it should be. This was what had to happen. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, a piece of himself screamed that he had done this, that it was his fault, and that it wasn’t normal at all. But like the guttering flame of an untended candle, that quiet voice soon winked out. The monk turned away from the remains of the monastery gate and began slowly plodding back to his tower. There was nothing left to do but write. He didn’t feel like doing anything else, anyway. When he returned to his room, he thoughtlessly closed the door behind him again. The chair screeched offensively as he pulled it back from the desk and sat down. He brought the pen to paper and began transcribing the book once more. When he was done, he would begin on the next. And then the next. There was nothing else to do, and he was comfortable. He didn’t feel like doing anything else.A tray slid through the hatch in his door, causing the hinges to squeak. It was followed by a clean chamber pot.
     Brother Geordino began to write.

Hob Nail
     It was an old, old, town; weary, battle-worn, decrepit. Fissures chased each other up and down the streets.  The houses bore broken shutters and flaking paint, cinder blocks instead of stairs. Once prosperous, the town had let time take its toll, had borne the helplessness of disease, the evils of man, and the battering of winds by growing bitter and hard.  Its fury sustained it.The old woman was the same.  Her mouth frowned around a set of mail-order dentures, smoking an endless stream of foul-smelling cigarettes that she rolled herself out of pipe tobacco, tamping the threads with cracked and yellowed nail.  She wore a series of stained and shapeless shifts from which her crepey arms protruded. Day and night, rain or shine she sat on her porch and rocked.  She rocked and stared through slitted, beady eyes at the old courthouse that lay across the street.
     The courthouse It had been abandoned decades before.  Every now and then someone would petition the city to knock it down, but still it stood, it's silent bell tower pointing an accusing finger at the heavens. In the evenings folks would pay to take tours, to see if they could find the ghost that was said to be haunting the crumbling halls.  One day a couple; young, fresh-faced, their nervous laughter trilling up and down the street walked up to the edifice. They pulled on the doors.  Nothing.  Undeterred, the young man jumped and grabbed a barred window, sputtering and pawing at his face as the rust flaked into his eyes.  After a brief, whispered conversation they crossed the street to where the crone sat looking.
"Excuse me, Ma'am," the young man said, "do you know the story of the ghost they say haunts over there," he gestured over his shoulder.  The old woman blew smoke in a thin stream, squinting through the haze.    
     "Ayuh," she said at last, "I knows it."
     The girl giggled again, shrilly, and the young man murmured something in her ear.
     "Would you mind telling us?" he asked.
     The old woman closed her eyes and her chin sunk into her chest.  The ash on her cigarette grew long and the couple was just about to leave when suddenly she looked up.
     "Why'nt you set down," she said.  She lit another cigarette and began.
     "The woman was named Elzabeth McLemore, 'n she was the daughter of one of the sharecroppers way out'n the middle of nowhere.  Nothin' but scrub pines and red clay on either side.  Her family had horses, 'n evver now and then the farrier would travel out that way to see if there was anythin' they needed.  Elzabeth grew into a fine lookin' woman. Cherokee blood runs strong in these parts and it showed in her.  She had long black hair that fell near to her waist, 'n black eyes that flashed.  The farriers wife died and soon he went lookin' for another and it was Elzabeth that he decided he wanted.  They got married an' he was as happy as could be but everbody in town knew that she was just miserable.  She hated livin' in town, said there was too many people about.  She missed her family and she faulted her husband for the hours he spent in the smithy. She took to spending time down there with him, not visitn' just staring off into space.  Folks said she was part addled.  Then she had her baby and it got even worse.
     The little girl was as purty as her Mama and as charmin' as her Daddy, but Elzabeth just pure hated the sight of her.  She wouldn't hold her, would hardly feed her, an' it got worse as the girl got older.  Her Mama passed stories, and carted that child to ever' preacher and doctor in town, sayin' that the girl was sick, or maybe possessed.  She said that the girl got the shakes sometimes that just wouldn't stop, that she talked words that no one could understand.  She swore the girl was evil, said her eyes glowed sometimes at night. Nobody took much stock in what she said,though. Some folks just figgured it was part of her strangeness, others thought that she was jealous.  'Cause her husband, he was just ate up with that little girl.  Took her with her everywhere he went and called her Hob Nail 'cause she was so short 'n sturdy. Strong.  That girl, as pretty and pampered as she was, was as strong as some grown men.  Lord but he was proud 'a that little girl, always kep' her dressed in the finest clothes an' would bring her dolls 'n such.  Soon Elzabeth wouldn't even look at the girl, shied away from her when the girl came up for a hug.  Still, what she did, folks never expected it."
     The women grew silent again for a long while, staring at the courthouse spire.  Suddenly she startled, looked wide eyed at the young couple as if she had forgotten who they were.  Her nostrils flared and her slipper clad feet scrabbled against the wood on the porch.  Then she calmed, began again.
     "The farrier came home one day after a long coupl'a days on the road.  As he started down the street, he noticed that there was no smoke comin' from his house or from the smithy.  That was passin' odd, 'cause the nights had started to grow cold.  He came to the top of the hill, that'n right there that runs through town, and saw there were no lanterns burnin' neither.  He started to ride faster.  He got to the house and sure enough it was dark, cold.  He went out to the forge 'n that was the same.  It was so dark by then that he didn't see Elzabeth 'til he nearly tripped over her.  She lay on the floor, covered in blood, her black eyes huge.  Her hands had been burned, so bad that they weren't nothin' but a melted mess.  Her daughter, though, little Hob Nail, was nowhere to be seen and Elzabeth wasn't talkin'.  Well her Daddy called out a search party and they spent days ridin' up and down the hills, knockin' on doors, while Elzabeth just sat and stared, her hands wrapped an' covered with a poultice.  It were three days before anyone thought to look in the big ol' fire pit in the forge, and that's when they found 'em.  The little girl's doll; her favorite one that her Daddy has brought her from two counties over, and a little leather shoe.  Somehow, they'd gotten kicked to the side an' the fire had spared them before it had burned itself out.  'N that's when they knew.  They knew what that woman had done.
      She was taken to the prison and set to be hanged; the first woman in Jackson County ever to be put in jail, let alone set to be executed. There were those who disagreed, who said that since they never found the body that somethin' else coulda happened.  Still, the law was the law and soon the time was a comin'.  A buncha men set to building some gallows out back.  It made ever'one in town a little scairt, listenin' to the hammerin and knowing what it was for.  They never got around to the deed, though.  One night someone or mebbe someones, they never knew who, broke into the jail.  They took to Elzabeth with a horse whip until she was done.  They said the jailer 'near passed out when he saw her and that the cell was covered in vomit from everyone who went in there to help bring her out.  Eventually they got her body out, but her spirit, that lives there still, screaming while the whip comes down over and over again.  Some folks think it's 'cause she's sorry for what she did, others think it's cause she wants folks to know she didn't do it at all."
     For the first time in over an hour, the young man spoke up, his voice rusty and cracked with disuse.  "What do you think?" he asked.
     The old woman looked up and for an instant they could have sworn her eyes flashed green.  "Those old stories," she said, eyeing the bell tower, "I reckon you can't never tell." 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Upcoming Events

As one might expect, these next few months are going to be busy for someone promoting their vampire novel.  Please consider coming to visit me at any of the following venues.

Blog Interview - - TOMORROW
Michigan Pirate Festival, Grand Haven, MI, Friday, August 9-Sunday, August 11
Dark Carnival Film Festival, Columbus, IN, Friday, August 30.
The Princess Bride Experience, Louisville, KY, Saturday, August 31.
Lorain County Zombie Outbreak, Lorain Co. OH, Saturday, September 7th.
The BucCornEar Festival, Helmburg IN, Friday, September 20-Saturday, September 21st.
Archon - St. Louis, MO, October 4-6
Trafalgar Branch, Johnson County Library - Thursday, October 10.
Columbus Branch, Bartholemew County Library - Friday, October 11, 6pm.
Boo At the Zoo - Mesker Park Zoo, Evansville, IN, October 19th-21st.
Goblins, Ghouls, and Goodies, - Community Center, Hope, IN, October 26th.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Gatlinburg, TN - October 31st.
North Carolina Comic-Con, Durham, NC - Saturday, November 9th.

I'll look forward to seeing you there!  Don't forget, if you'd like to see me somewhere, send me an email at

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tasty Reads Blog Hop

As you know, I spent last weekend with some amazing writers.  One of them, a woman on whom I have developed this strange fangirl crush, is named Marian Allen and is the author of the Sage series.  She tagged me to be a part of the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop.  To participate I am to post the answers to some "tasty" questions, an excerpt from my book, and a recipe.  So, without further ado. . .
Here is the blog hop general blurb:
Welcome to the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop! Each participant invites a number of others to answer five questions about a recent or forthcoming release, and a recipe that fits with it. Links to the participants I have invited may be found in a while, just above the extract and recipe. Their contributions should be in place soon after this, so check out their blogs over the next few days.
Now for the Random Tasty Questions:
1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty?
Yes I am a snacker.  I'm pretty much a snacker all of the time as I haven't had time to actually sit down for an entire meal in nearly seven years.  I am a salty snacker unless it is after 7pm in which case it is nearly always some kind of fruit or sugar laden, tasty, and nutritionally bereft cereal.  There is always something caffeinated nearby as well. 
2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? And are they real pants or jammies?
Oh gracious, outline.  When you have an outline it doesn't matter if the excitement, if your "muse" is present or not, you just have to follow the dots.  I am not a fan of "blue leg syndrome" so I am most likely in some sort of skirt. 
3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it?
I will follow the recipe the first time, alter it a bit the second, and do it entirely by feel from that point on.  I LOVE to cook, and so can make anything from cookies to curries.  I once made and served a seven course meal to fourteen people entirely by myself.  I don't care to ever do that again.
4) What is next for you after this book?
Yikes.  I have fourteen book related events scheduled between now and November.  In between those I will be finishing my collection of short stories called "Brink" that take place on a planet on the edge of an event horizon.  I will also be working on a dystopian zombie novel and the sequel to "Hunter the Horrible." 
5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book?
Negative 23.  I write children's novels and I'm very into letting kids remain kids.  So there's precious little violence and NO sex.  Even my vampires are the unsexy kind.
Here is an excerpt from my recently released, bestselling children's novel, Hunter the Horrible. 
Now for my recipe:
Laura's Garlic Roast (Great for keeping vampires away!)
Ingredients:  One beef roast 2-3lbs
                      12 cloves garlic
                       2 Tablespoons fresh parley, chopped
                       1 teaspoon black peppercorns
                        4 cups beef broth
                        4 Tablespoons olive oil
                        Splash of red wine
                         Salt to taste
Directions:  Place garlic, parsley, and peppercorns in a small skillet and cover with water.  Boil until the garlic and peppercorns are soft and most of the water has evaporated.  Pound into a mush.  Place roast into a large dish and pat dry.  Spread mush over the roast, cover and let rest for at least two hours.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle salt over roast and drizzle with oil.  Sear in oven for 30 minutes.  Add broth and wine and cover.  Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue to roast until appropriate doneness is achieved.  Carve against the grain and enjoy!
Here is an excerpt containing one of my favorite members of the adorkable Hunter crew, Peyton.  Peyton intended to stop while he was behind; he really did. He had given it his best shot, and all that he’d gotten was in trouble. The sight of Miss Hunter enraged had been fearsome enough that he didn’t care to make her angry again anytime soon. Besides, it was miserable being right up against the radiator, which had been stuck on high since the beginning of the school year and constantly belched out really hot air that smelled like burning hair. He probably could have stayed quiet, and therefore kept from making the situation worse, if only he could have held still. Sadly, something on Peyton always had to be moving. That afternoon, it was his feet. He swung his dingy, tattered sneakers back and forth, kicking the dusty radiator every now and then. He liked the sound it made, a deep, satisfying thunk that sent dust motes flying up into the air. Before long, every now and then became every swing. Thunk thunk – pause – thunk thunk – pause. Soon after that, Peyton began accompanying himself by knocking his knuckles on the desk. Thunk thunk – knockknock – thunk thunk – knockknock. Suddenly, Peyton had an idea. KnockKnock. Knock knock. Knock knock jokes! They were what he was best at, next to juggling. He had books and books full of them on his bookshelf at home. In fact, they were pretty much the only books on his bookshelf at home. Surely, that would make Miss Hunter smile, maybe even make her laugh. Peyton searched his memory for the perfect knock knock joke, and when he’d found it, leaned back from his desk triumphantly. Miss Hunter sat at her desk, grading papers with a thick red marker. “Oh Miss Hunter,” Peyton called out. “Knock, knock.” Miss Hunter didn’t answer. She also didn’t smile. After a moment, Peyton tried a second time. It was possible that she simply hadn’t heard him. “Knock Kno-ock,” he said in a sing song voice. She didn’t even look up. Well, the third time was the charm, that’s what they always said. So, Peyton tried once again. This time he “Knock knocked” with a couple of raps on his desk for emphasis. When several more seconds ticked by and Miss Hunter continued to say nothing, Peyton decided to go on as if she had replied appropriately. “Interrupting cow,” Peyton yelled, already starting to laugh. This was going to be great. He went straight for the punch line. “Moooooooo,” He bellowed. Nobody laughed. In fact, some kids were glancing nervously back and forth from teacher to student. Clearly, they didn’t get it. Peyton decided to help them. He leapt to his feet and then fell to his hands and knees. “Get it?” he said, laughing wildly, “Interrupting cow – mooooo!” He pawed at the ground with his hands, mooing over and over. “See, ‘cause you say who’s there and he interrupts. Mooo! Mooooo! MOOOOOOO!” At this point, Peyton lost all control. He ran around on all fours, bellowing and kicking out his back legs. He reared back and charged DeAnna’s desk so hard that it fell to one side. He snatched one of Clara’s unicorn drawings off the side of her desk and began chewing noisily. Suddenly, a sharp pain burst forth from the side of his head. Miss Hunter had his ear clamped between her bony, wrinkled forefinger and thumb and was lifting him to his feet. She bent over and put her face inches from his. It would have been a perfect time to examine her teeth, if Peyton had been clearheaded enough to think of it. Instead, he felt his eyes lock with hers: bloodshot whites, with irises so dark they were nearly black.“To the Principal’s office,” She hissed through clenched teeth. “And if you make so much as a peep on your way there you will wish you were in a graveyard without a stake.’
Here is the list of people who have participated to date, so far as I am aware:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Victory in Battle- A True Story

I am going to tell you a story.  It is the kind of story I would never write.  It's not speculative fiction.  It's not a funny little read. The twist seems contrived; predictable. It's full of dates, medical information, and back story.  The religious aspect just too prominent.  I write it today, though, because this is not fiction; this is the amazing, wondrous, true story of how my Caedym Thomas came to be. 
First, though, I need to tell you the story about my Roland.  Roland Michael Manson Huntley was born on January 1st, 2006 and died the next day.  He was a beautiful, precious little fighter, born without some of the organs that we need to survive.  I love him and miss him every day.  I was admitted to the hospital to stop my labor and try to save him on December 29th. I tell you this because that date will become important again in a bit. 
I had, after decades of wanting to do so, finally started the adoption process and was far enough along that I had identified my daughter (I say identified, not selected because I'm convinced that she was always mine) from a list of waiting children, had submitted the first round of paperwork, and had received an email that had stated that I was approved.  The next day I realized that I hadn't eaten in, oh, say, days.  I knew what that meant, but walked upstairs to my midwifery kit and pulled out one of the pregnancy tests that I would buy in bulk for clients.  Sure enough, two pink lines emerged, and I immediately called an OB with whom I had worked in the past and asked him to get me in immediately.  I have a history of miscarriage, a miserable history that includes seven lost babies, and knew we had to be proactive.I also calculated my EDD (estimated date of delivery) and discovered that I would be welcoming a baby on or around August 10th.  Bear this date in mind; it's important.  A few days later I went into the ultrasound room and saw what I had seen so many, many times before.  Nothing.  No heartbeat.  No sign of heart vessels even.  No spine.  Just a sad little sac where that flashing light should be.  In most cases  this is a sign of two things, a very early pregnancy or a blighted ovum. My pregnancy was eight weeks along; there should have been a little flashing light.  I was devastated.  The tech didn't understand.  Obviously, she told me, I just had my conception date wrong.  She said it looked like a healthy two week old fetus. Here's the thing,though.  It wasn't.  I knew my conception date.  Our family was living in two different states and so there had only been one time in the preceding weeks in which conception could have happened.  I'm pretty sure I knew the conception minute.  
So I went home, devastated, so devastated that I didn't cry.  I didn't pray.  I just put my head down and pushed through the two weeks, weeks that included a Christmas spent in North Carolina with the in-laws, until my next appointment.  At the next appointment we would be scheduling my D and C.  The worst part of blighted ovums is that after the baby dies you have to carry it for up to three months while experiencing all of the symptoms of pregnancy.  Eventually, your body realizes that you are no longer pregnant.  Until then, it's hell.  So, we'd decided to go ahead and have the procedure, but were going to wait until I was CERTAIN that the baby was gone.  So on December 29th I went in to the doctor's office without any hope.  I was going through the motions.  We started the ultrasound and I didn't even look at first.  Why?  I didn't want to see the emptiness again.  But then I did.  Maybe part of me knew.  Maybe I wasn't really as hopeless as I felt.  So I looked and I saw the flash.  Then I heard it.  There was a heartbeat. A perfect, glorious little engine chugging along.  We looked some more and found that the heartbeat belonged to a TEN WEEK OLD baby.  In two weeks my baby had developed eight weeks.  We calculated the EDD and found it to be August 11th.  One day later than the original.

There is no medical reason this should have happened.  The conception date was correct.  I had known it was, and when that glorious flashing heartbeat showed up on the screen it belonged to a ten week old baby, not one who was four weeks along.  The tech did not just miss the heartbeat; I'd seen this before, it was a sad little black sac. No.  There was no life, and then there was.  In a time that I was too devastated, too hopeless to even pray a miracle was happening inside of me.  God reached in and created life where there had been none.  On August fourth I delivered a healthy, perfect baby boy and named him Caedym - Victory in Battle.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Seven Most Amazing Books of All Time

A month or so ago, motivated by yet another mournful discussion amongst friends regarding the end of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, I wrote a blog post entitled "The Six Most Disappointing Books of All Time."  It's true; those books were horrible disappointments and best set aside for kindling in the event that we find ourselves having to huddle around fires for heat.  However, for every disappointing book, there are at least three that leave me either curled on the couch in the bliss of time spent in good company, or turning back to the beginning in a voracious attempt for more.  In fact, it has been scientifically proven* that were I to generate a compendium of books that I've loved it would stretch around the Earth 4 and 4/5th times.  I have read everything to picture books to tomes whose weight nearly gave me carpal tunnel, from lauded pieces to Lit-Er-A-Tooooooore to mass-produced, hastily written, formulaic brain candy and have thoroughly enjoyed them all.  Even so, there are some that were able to achieve the Trifecta (Win: Wordsmithing, Place: Plot, Show: Characters) that leaves them walking from the Literary Derby with their purse strings bulging.  (Can you tell I spent last weekend in Louisville?)  They are, in no particular order:

Madame Margot: by  John Bennett
I found this tiny gem in an equally tiny bookstore in Charleston, South Carolina, easily one of my favorite places in the world.  It was under a hand-lettered sign that read "Local Works," and from the first line I was enraptured.  "Much has been said of Old Charleston," it reads, "of its antique beauty, patrician arrogance, and courtly hospitality, much written, in praise and blame, both false and true, and the warm charm of the commonplace harped on until frayed threadbare."  Delicious.  By the time the titular character had given into a soulless madness I was unable to tear myself from the page.  The rhythm and beauty of the language is hypnotic and the millinery based allegory is among the best I've read.  I hope to return to Charleston very soon for a sweet grass basket, some she-crab soup, a pint at the Blind Tiger, and another trip to that bookstore.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
To create a civilization and everything that goes with it; the language, the mythology, the social structures and rituals, takes an astute and creative mind.  to do so with a commonplace and incredibly familiar creature, in this case rabbits, and to do so with so deft a hand that the rabbits don't seem human but you start to feel like some woodland creature, is phenomenal.  Add to that Bigwig, one of the best literary characters ever created, and this is a masterpiece.

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I first read this book as a preteen, and have revisited it often in the decades that have passed since.  It has a different effect on my every time I read.  I am always mad at the scientists; sometimes I am mad at Charley. Sometimes I cry; sometimes I am nauseous at the horror that his knowledge must have brought about. It is often hard for me to read nowadays, as I parent a child who is aware enough to know that he is different but unable to figure out how to change. As I struggle with depression and the feeling of being pulled in myriad directions  I understand more how his situation affected his intimate desires.  I think as science progresses and the ability for human interaction is further degraded this book will become more and more relevant.

'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
This novel was Jack's last, and is a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche's older sister.  The emotions described and shown in this book are so familiar to each of us and are described in such a way that I found myself cheering, nodding, and hanging my head in shame.  The language is all Lewis, but a mature and uninhibited Lewis that we rarely see in his works of fiction.

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
I love Steinbeck.  I love what he has to say and how he uses rich but simple characters to say it.  They stop just short of caricature, and it is this restraint that makes them so effective.  However, I have never enjoyed a tale more than from the eyes and mouth of the ultimate character, Steinbeck himself, as he travels with his faithful companion.  I find especially interesting the predictions he made and seeing how very true they are in our world today.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
I have to admit that I enjoyed this book more before I spent as long immersed in Armed Forces protocol as I now have.  I find myself getting frustrated with the Lieutenant in this book to a degree that it distracts from my ability to enjoy the story.  That being said, this book is the most brilliant example of meta fiction I have ever read.  It also eloquently expresses so many of the things that were wrong with our country and the way the Vietnam War was handled, and brings to light some of the uncommon horrors and effects of a guerrilla war situation.

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
Again, the words in this novel are absolutely gorgeous and the twist on a familiar tale is haunting.  This novel was not released until long after Alcott's death, as it was considered far too scandalous for the times in which it was written.  It is, in fact, scandalous, with deceit, fornication, death, lust, and rage all fighting with one another.  Still it is a beautiful, intriguing piece that I think is far above that which was deemed suitable.

What are your favorites?