By the time you read this…

…to quote the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. It’s nothing alarming, but it is an attention-getter, isn’t it?

Then again, maybe it is alarming – if your understanding of the world is based on certain elements of the universe behaving just-so. In that case, you probably shouldn’t have based your status quo on me. That was bad form. But I digress…

By the time you read this, I’ll have ventured forward on one of the last great adventures any being can have. By my calculation, there are only two or three great adventures left in this lifetime – lots of lesser adventures to be sure, and all completely worthwhile – but this is an adventure long overdue.

And even though I’m running out of great adventures, I’m a long way from the end. In fact, this is a brand new… chapter? Book? Whatever your analogy, today is the day that new part begins.

Today is the day that I say “I do” to my first-thing-every-morning, my last-thing-every-night, my ever-vigilant editor… my pretty-much-everything.

Today is the first day of possibly the best chapter of my life. Maybe because it’s no longer my life, but our life, officially. And no, this isn’t where we stop being solitary entities and become one of those congealed couples that cannot separate from one another. She has her solo missions, and I have my own. But we have many more together – because we like each other and want to have these adventures together. It’s part of the reason for the whole marriage thing getting done.

Anyway, sometime in your running around today – maybe even right now because it’ll be easiest, do me a favor:

Take three seconds out of your day, raise a glass, and wish us luck. It’s not that we need it, but I really want this to be an amazing adventure, so I’ll take all the luck we can get.


Photo by Watership Photography

Blooded and Bashed…

This past weekend, I participated in an event that was a number of firsts, even as I was starting to consider myself a “regular” as this event game…

  • This was my first convention as an author. I’ve been to other events where I wasn’t sure how books would be received, but never an actual convention. Fun fact: this won’t be my last convention this year, either. 😉
  • This was my first horror convention ever. Shocking as it might sound, I’ve never actually made it to a horror convention before.
  • This was the first convention I’ve attended on my own turf. Certainly not my first local event, but I’ll tell you: it’s nice to hear other people complain about the morning commute for once. Short drives could grow on me.

So what is Blood Bash? It’s an annual horror convention organized by the awesome people at MeggaXP that brings together fans, films, filmmakers, vendors, and a bunch of costumed (and plain-clothes) crazies for a day of celebrating the genre. In short: it’s a day of bloody good fun! (get it?)

The biggest difference between ALL of my previous shows and this one? Tone. Most of the time, people will walk by my table, take one look at my books and say, “That’s creepy.” They said it just as much at Blood Bash, but it was with more excitement than revulsion. It was a pleasant change.

Not that I’m opposed to bringing out such reactions in people. It’s amusing. It’s definitely what I signed up for when I decided I was going to write horror. But sometimes, it’s nice to be appreciated instead of just feared, you know? I definitely was not feared at Blood Bash.

There was a surprising number of authors roaming the convention – on both sides of the tables – including plenty of folks from the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

But here’s the thing about a horror convention – or at least my take on this one:

I have honestly never been surrounded by such a great group of people in my life. Everyone was nice, friendly, courteous, and just having a great time. There were smiles and laughter aplenty. More than I’ve experienced at any other function, and easily matching any other convention I’ve been to.

Horror fans are the best fans, if I can be so bold (and I can).

Seriously. The people who put on Blood Bash have so much passion for this stuff. All of the folks were appreciative of each other, regardless of your function at the convention. Whether you were an attendee, or a vendor, or an artist, or a volunteer, the energy in the room was delightfully positive and, long a day as it was, it was a good time right up until the end.

You can definitely expect to see me at next year’s Blood Bash. You may see me at other horror conventions, but I hesitate… this experience set a pretty high bar. I might be a little disappointed trying to compare this experience to another.

Besides, it’s not every day you get to feed your bookmark to a shark wandering the aisles…


…and to All a Good Night.

I hope you give all the gifts you wanted to and receive all the gifts you deserve.

I hope you are warm, and well, and loved.

I hope you keep goodwill in your mind, and brotherly love in your heart.

And most of all, I hope you spend Christmas (or your chosen holiday) with those who make you happy and make you feel loved.

Christmas is a special time of year for me. It’s when I feel the gravity of the end of the year. It’s when the people seem to stress more and to care less, so I try to care more and stress less – and share that sentiment onward.

I thrive in the winter. I enjoy the cold, the dark, and especially the snow. It’s particularly easy for me to be cheery around Christmas, even easier when you throw all the holiday magic on top of my already delightful temperament.

But I know it’s not easy for everyone. And I know it can be a bear this time of year.

Not everyone has a family that makes them feel welcome and loved. Not everyone can handle the long, cold dark of winter. Not all appreciate the bustle of the holiday season.

To you most of all, I send my hope that you might end the year on a better note.

It’s not much, but I have a present for you. Plural, actually.

The first is a sentiment. Admittedly, it’s late in the season for it, but, as Bill Murray says, “It’s not too late.” Enjoy:

The second is amusement and cheer. A few friends and I exchange CD compilations periodically through the year. This time around, a Christmas compilation was in order. I have been enjoying it so much, that it didn’t feel right to limit the playlist to just the group. Without further ado:

Lastly, I share with you the secret of Christmas cheer:

If you still can’t find your Christmas spirit, hang in there. The new year is coming. In the meantime, please reach out for help. The holidays are not a time to be alone, especially if you are suffering or depressed.

Merry Christmas, from me to you.

No one talks about the research…

Actually, they do. Lots of them do. I tend to avoid those conversations because I don’t like to be distracted by research. A lot of my stories tend to be based on anecdotal experience and not proven facts, because that is how I live. My experiences are my own, even when other people have them as well.

In fact, there’s been more than one time in my life where I have that “I thought it was just me” moment. Sometimes it is a blessing, sometimes it is a bummer. Depends on the situation.

But research is both. I hate having to take the time away from the flow of my writing to look up that one word or object or something that I *need* for this part of the story. But it usually isn’t something I can just skip over, either. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a pantser (as in they who fly by the seat of) and not a prepper. I don’t do the research ahead of time. I brew stories in my head, and when they start boiling over, they go onto the paper.

I’ve tried to explain this to more than a few people over the years and often, I’ve gotten that same look from people. You know the one, it says, “That seems like an awful way to do things.” And maybe they are right, but this is how it has always worked for me.

I don’t say that as in “this is how it’s always been, why should i change?” I have tried many different ways of writing. This process works best for me. But I digress…

I just finished the first draft on an 8k story submission and thought I would share the things I bothered to stop and look up. Mostly because I find it fascinating all the things that come together in a story:

  • Population density in cities
  • Average square space of a city
  • Emergency first aid
  • Symptoms of blood loss
  • Handyman tasks
  • Storefronts (pictures of)
  • Blinds
  • Leaded glass
  • Grip tape
  • Firefighter’s helmet
  • Fire ax
  • Ax or axe
  • Work shirts
  • Padlocks
  • a host of synonyms and antonyms after the fact

…and I’ll be honest, a majority of this research was all for minute details for a single scene. A ridiculous amount of detail that most people will simply move past as the tension builds. I’m not offended, it’s what has to happen.

Writing, like filmmaking, is supposed to look easy. You want the audience to think about the story, not the amount of work you put into it. If they’ve been thinking about how much research you did to come up with that one object a secondary character is holding, then they’ve lost the story and you’ve lost them.

Anyway, I hope to have more news on this story in the near future. For now, you’ll have to be entertained by your own imagination.


But not really. Or at least, not in the actual definition of the word, but the etymological breakdown of it. A humble brag. Because I cannot possibly fathom not sharing this with you all, as it is equal parts amazing and wonderful, but it is still a humbling experience.

So, the long story short is that a friend bought my book for her cousin, an avid reader. Sometime after that, the word comes to me that not only did she like the book, but she has a YouTube channel and is going to do a video review of my book. (At this point, news of such things is as terrifying as it is exciting, as you might imagine.) Time goes by and I hear nothing. Then, all at once, there is a link in my email. “Book Reviews #40: House of Thirteen” it says.

It’s another couple of days before I can bring myself to click the link.

Reviews are scary. They can build you up, or demolish you. Sometimes both at the same time. What you hope the readers will love is sometimes built up too much in your head and they need to point that out to you. Sometimes I rush into reviews like a masochist, but those are always just words. As I learned long ago, “words can never hurt me.” Yeah, right.

This is not just words, though. This is video. This is words with pictures. 1000 words for every picture. 29.97 pictures every second of the video. It adds up to a mountain of intimidation.

But I finally suck it up and click the link, bracing myself for the ugly truth… and what waits there for me is not the reason I will quit writing, but the reason I will persevere. There’s an excitement in her voice that we’ve all heard before: that sound we make when we are excited and want to share this amazing thing we’ve discovered. Except she’s not talking about some random interest – she’s talking about my book!

It’s a walking-on-clouds kind of feeling, and it will last until I realize that I have to somehow raise the stakes in House of Thirteen, Book Two in order to meet expectations.

And that brings us back to terrified, because that’s what I’m trying to write now.

I thought this was a nice segue to announcing the follow-up to House of Thirteen. Book Two will continue the story, and take us further into the mysteries that revolved around out beloved Delaneys. I’m looking very forward to figuring out what kind of trouble Ren and Joe are getting themselves into, as well as what sisters we’ll be introduced to next. And I hope that it will fulfill my expectations, and surpass those of my readers.

To answer Gabby’s one question that I am able to (but not really) in a bit of detail: I do plan on addressing what and why the Delaneys are what they are in more detail. I hope to answer every question I have threaded into the story before I end the series. Unfortunately, there are going to be more questions that answers for the time being, but I’ll get to them all in time. If I don’t, feel free to ask me again.

You can view the House of Thirteen review below. You can follow Gabby on Facebook and Twitter.

If you haven’t reviewed House of Thirteen (or any of my other stories) yourself, please do.

Finally, thank you, Gabby. This means a lot to me.curiousowl


Silver Linings…

It’s been an interesting year.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about 2016, be it good or bad. Political turmoil and celebrity tragedy aside, I have found that a number of these moments have kind of tainted my year end. With that came a skewed view of the year, retroactively. It became a dark cloud that threatened to envelope the last three hundred sixty-five days when in reality, it’s been a pretty good year.

Truly, it’s not an epiphany I came to on my own – no emotional realization is ever my own doing. It’s the work of a lot of different sources talking me off a lot of simultaneous (and metaphorical) ledges. But eventually, I usually come around.

Like always, when I finally do, I strap on the optimism and redouble my efforts to be a positive influence. Really, that is my favorite thing about this time of year. The unbridled love and kinship for our fellow man, even and especially in the face of adversity. It’s so easy to be bleak, but to cling to optimism and look with blind hope toward the coming year, that is magic. It’s a wonder we haven’t found a way to manufacture this sense of togetherness and optimism at other points of the year. It really is something we should work on.

Obviously, that ball drop at midnight is not some magical eraser. The new year doesn’t come as a clean slate that forgives and forgets. Pain and loss will still be there, depleted savings will still be depleted. But there is hope. There is always hope. And like last year and many years before it, here I am again, ready to draw back the curtain on a coming year.

I wish that you have all the best things happen to you this next year.
I hope that you find joy in all things, no matter how small.
I pray that you not only feel the goodness in the world around you, but that you push that goodness forward into all those around you.
And I hope that even if none of this happens to you, if nothing good happens to you at all, I hope that you still have a silver lining to gaze upon.

I wanted to track down some sort of inspirational quote to sign off the year with, but I kept thinking back to something I wrote myself. It’s self-serving, yes, but it’s also something I mean with all my heart. It was the first taste of holiday goodness to reach out to me this year, and I hope it instills you with the same fire that possessed me to write it in the first place.


Thank you all for a wonderful 2016.

Happy New Year.

An End of Things…

Happy Halloween!

We’re quickly tying up a number of things around here: October, At Calendar’s End, the year itself… and with October drawing to a close today, there is often another event right on its heels: NaNoWriMo.

The usual 30 days of writing madness has been a staple in my life for many years. Most notably, the last four years have presented me with manuscripts for my published works. It has been a thrilling and fulfilling event.

And though this is the part where I should tell you that I am anticipating the stroke of midnight, when November 1 begins and my fingers start their furious pace into the manuscript of my next novel…

I have decided instead to not participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

I almost titled this post “Why I am Quitting Nano This Year…” but that’s completely sensational and totally inaccurate. I’m not quitting. I’ll almost certainly be back next year. This is more of an early sabbatical.

The truth is, this year, especially the last couple of months, have been excruciatingly busy and stressful and the last thing I want right now is another stressful month. Also, I’ve proudly gotten to the point where I am writing quite a bit during the rest of the year, so Nano is not my only writing time during the year.

I will still be writing in November, and I may find, by some miracle, that I still crank out fifty thousand words. I won’t complain if that happens. But I’m taking an official break from NaNoWriMo this year so that I can concentrate on all the other things on my docket.

Tomorrow, by the way, is not only the start of NaNoWriMo but the next installment of At Calendar’s End. And when NaNoWriMo ends, I’ll be finishing off the series. I can’t tell you how satisfying that will be… maybe more for me than the readers.

I should also be receiving the results from NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Round Two soon. Fingers crossed that I will be moving into Round Three for another fast-paced writing adventure.

See? Still plenty in the works.

Happy Halloween. You’ll hear more from me as November starts to upumpkin_gifnfold.