Friday, October 30, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-October 30, 2015

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

Happy Halloween everyone!  My kids are so excited for trick-or-treating, which we plan on doing both tonight and tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the kids will be able to get enough candy that my husband and I can share some with them! :)

We carved pumpkins on Sunday night.  Jude did his by himself for the first time.  he cleaned it out, designed the face, and cut it out (with close supervision, of course).  The picture below shows all of our pumpkins.  Jude's masterpiece is on the bottom.

Editing on my novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family is going well.  The editing process can be a bit mind-numbing, but hopefully it'll all be worth it in the end.

I still need people to help me with the cover reveal and blog tour for my upcoming release.  If you're interested in helping me out, please check out this post for all of the relevant details.  I'd also like to thank everyone who has volunteered to help me so far.

What would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Self-Help 101 Cover Reveal and Blog Tour Information

Work on my Christmas novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family is going well.  I'm about to start going through it for the fourth time to polish things up and make sure it's in the best shape it can be for release on December 1st.  I also have a cover ready to go, and you all know what that means.  I need to do a cover reveal.

I'm planning to do my cover reveal on Monday, November 9th.  Mondays seem to work out well for these sorts of things, after all.  Anyone who wants to help out can sign up using the linky below, and I'll get the necessary information sent out soon.

Now I'd like to talk a little about what I'd like to do for the blog tour.  I'd like to have twelve blog tour stops to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas.  For each stop, I'd like to share a brief celebration of something related to Christmas, along with a small snippet from my novella.  Here's the schedule I'd like to follow along with the celebration I have planned for that day.

Tuesday, December 1st: ugly sweaters
Wednesday, December 2nd: exchanging gifts
Thursday, December 3rd: egg nog (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
Friday, December 4th: overly large meals
Monday, December 7th: Christmas caroling
Tuesday, December 8th: Christmas trees
Wednesday, December 9th: outdoor lighting displays
Thursday, December 10th: fruit cake
Friday, December 11th: candy canes
Monday, December 14th: hot chocolate
Tuesday, December 15th: Santa hats
Wednesday, December 16th: mistletoe

I'll also be holding a giveaway over the course of the blog tour where I'll be giving away twelve free e-copies of the book.  I hope this will make for a fun blog tour and a good way to get into the Christmas mood.

If you'd like to host one of my blog tour stops, please sign up using the linky below. Also leave me a comment about which day you'd prefer to host me.  Feel free to select multiple possible days if you're flexible, because that will make it easier for me to arrange the schedule.

Thanks to all of you for your support!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bish Denham's Listing Hop!

Bish Denham is celebrating eight years of blogging.  That is an impressive feat, and she's marking the occasion by hosting The Listing Hop along with the always cool Alex J, Cavanaugh!  

We've all made lists at some time or another, and that's what you need to do here. The list can be anything, provided that you avoid adult content.  The list should be between 5 and 25 items long.  Simple, right?

As a writer, I find myself coming up with excuses about why I didn't manage to get any writing done.  I think most writers have been there at one time or another.  With that in mind, I thought I'd make a list that my fellow writers can refer to if you ever need an excuse as to why you didn't get any writing done.  Some are quite believable, while others are rather off the wall.

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Couldn't Write Today

#1: My family had constant issues that demanded all of my time.
#2: After weeks of avoiding the dirty laundry and dishes, I had no choice but to do them.  Now I am suffering from a housework-related stress disorder.
#3: My kids thought it would be fun to use my notebook, which contained my outline and various other notes related to my WIP, as a coloring book.  This forced me to spend the rest of my day as a mime since I can't use bad language around children.
#4: My coffee pot was sabotaged by villainous trolls.  My inability to imbibe my daily dose of caffeine forced my brain to shut down.
#5: My dog ate my WIP.
#6: My computer became self-aware and decided to break down in order to prevent me from getting any writing done.
#7: I hit my head on my desk in frustration, and the impact made me temporarily forget that I'm a writer.  I instead spent the afternoon convinced that my sole mission in life is to rid the world of wine by drinking it all.
#8: The government recruited me to go on a top secret mission to save the world. This clearly took up a good portion of my spare time.
#9: An alien spacecraft crash landed in my backyard.  I had to help the craft's occupants scavenge for spare parts to repair it.
#10: I spent so much time making lists that I ran out of time.  It's called procrastination.

There's my list!  Be sure to visit some of the other participants!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Spooktoberfest 2015

It's that time of year again!  Spooktoberfest is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

This year the task was to write a piece of flash fiction 400 words or less and incorporate 13 Scattergory items.  This was no easy task, but here's my attempt at it.


An owl is hooting when the limo pulls up.  I take a sip from my Styrofoam cup.  It’s bizarre that I can do something as mundane as drinking coffee on a night like this.
The back door opens and Lucian appears.  Delicate pale fingers are wrapped around his upper arm.  The jealousy flares red-hot in my veins, but I tamp it down.  She won’t be touching him much longer.
“Who’s she?” she asks.  Her wispy blond locks glow in the moonlight, and her dress shimmers in various shades of blue.
“My cousin.  She’s here to make our evening special.”  The lie falls easily from Lucian’s lips.
I turn on the CD player that’s set up on a foldout table.  The sounds of “Crimson and Clover” fill the night.  Then I gesture to the snack table.  There are potato chips and a bowl of frothy pink punch.  “Help yourselves.  The punch is to die for.”
The girl still regards me with open suspicion.  Typical jealousy.
When Lucian hands her a glass of punch, she takes a long drink.
The drug works fast.  Within a minute, the girl’s emerald eyes flutter and close as she goes limp.  Lucian catches her, and pulling out the steampunk-style pocket watch he stole off a random kid, he says, “We have an hour.”
I won’t need more time than that.
After lowering the girl to the ground, he pulls a tin filled with wriggling worms from his pocket and begins to snack on them while I work.
Once the girl is positioned the way I need her, I flay the fish I caught earlier and spread the entrails over her pale form.  This is not the first virgin sacrifice I’ve done, and I’m glad I lost my virginity early enough to avoid this fate.
 The ceremony requires a focus for my power, and the aquamarine stone in my necklace works well for the task.  I grasp it in one hand and reach out to Lucian.  He places a chunk of pink coral in my palm.  One quick slice of his palm, and he’s rubbing his blood on it.  I’ll get him a Band-Aid later.
Lucian, once to be king of the mermen, will soon be fully human.  Just like he wanted.  I might have forgotten to mention that, since I performed the ritual, he’ll be bound to me for life.

Word Count: 398

I hope you enjoyed it!  Be sure to check out the rest of the entries!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-October 23, 2015

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain.  Tonja Drecker and I are her co-hosts.

It's been an eventful week.  I submitted my story for the IWSG Anthology Contest.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment to put my work out there.  If anyone is interested in entering and hasn't yet done so, you have until November 1st!  

I am now focusing on the edits for my Christmas novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family.  I think the remaining edits should be fairly minor, so I'm not worried.  I'll soon be announcing a cover reveal for that one, so keep an eye out.  I'm also planning on doing a Christmas-themed blog tour, but I'll talk more about that soon.

I did have some bad luck this week.  My laptop broke on Monday.  Not cool.  The computer itself works well, but something seems to have come loose where the power cord plugs in.  I don't know any of the technical terms for what happened exactly, but I can tell you this much.  It lost the ability to charge, which means after the battery runs down, the functional laptop becomes a nice paperweight.  My sister-in-law was nice enough to lend me her laptop so I wouldn't fall behind on my writing, so I owe her big time for that.  Then, Wednesday night, my husband fiddled with it and got it to work using electrical tape, and he told me that if it stops working again, I should tip the computer on its side.  I got a good laugh picturing myself sitting at an angle to make that work.  The good news is that hubby says he knows someone who should be able to fix it properly.  Fingers crossed.  One way or another, I won't let computer issues stop me from getting things done.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WEP Halloween Challenge: Youthful Frights vs. Adult Fears

It's time for the WEP Halloween Challenge!  This challenge is all about Childhood Frights vs. Adult Fears.  The goal is to show how a childhood fear can turn into an adult one, whether real or imagined.

To start the fun you can:
1.    share a favorite frightening tale, movie, novel, photograph or painting that will leave us quaking in our boots
2.    in a short paragraph describe how it scared you, and why it did and or still does today
3.    then you can:
a.    submit your own scary piece, 1000 words or less, in any format or
b.    share a photograph or painting that captures the horror you've felt.

Not many movies scare me, but one that I watched recently certainly had me on edge the whole way through.

The Babadook kept me uncomfortable.  I don't want to give too much away for those who haven't seen it, but I started out worrying that the little boy was going to hurt himself or someone else.  He insists he sees this monster that no one else can see, and he acts out in frightening ways.  That fear switches when his mom visibly starts to lose her mind, and I spent the rest of the movie terrified that she was going to hurt her son. The tension was killer, and I think the fact that I have kids of my own made it more intense.  The atmosphere of the movie was also perfect for the story it was telling.

Okay, on to the second part of the challenge.  I hope you enjoy this little piece of flash fiction I wrote!  Or, more accurately, I hope it scares the daylights out of you.  I'm not a horror writer, but I did my best.


The boogeyman is real, and he’s standing outside my house.
Creak!  Creak!  Creak!  The wood protests as the stranger paces back and forth on our porch.  The sound sends chills down my spine.
Tap.  Tap.  Tap.  He raps on the door each time he passes.
“Daddy, why is he doing that?” Emily whispers in my ear.  Her thin arms are wrapped around my neck, and she’s trembling so hard she can barely hold on.
“I don’t know, sweetheart.”  I hold her close as I’m transported back in time to the days of my childhood when I feared the boogeyman was coming for me.  I used to cling to my mother and father the exact same way.  Now I’m supposed to be the protector, and I can’t escape the fear that I’m going to fail.
This faceless stalker has been after my family for weeks.  It started with notes slipped into the mailbox and under the door.  The messages were only vaguely menacing in the beginning.  “I’ve seen you around.”  “You have a lovely family.”  Things that seemed creepy mostly due to the anonymity of them.  They soon grew more aggressive.  “I’ll make you scream.”  “I want to know your family from the inside out.”
The police didn’t seem all that concerned.  “It’s probably just a prank,” the officer told me.  “There’s no specific threat, so there’s only so much we can do.”
They might believe the disemboweled cat I found on my porch when I got home from work today is a more tangible threat, but I have yet to report it.
I should have reported it.
Now I feel helpless.  I am a child all over again.  My older sister Courtney used to tell me horror stories about the boogeyman who came in the night to collect frightened children.  “Mark, I know that you broke my roller skates,” she said.  “You know what that means.  The boogeyman is going to come get you.”  Or “Mark, you threw your peas in the trash and told Mom you ate them.  You know what that means, don’t you?”
The things I told myself as a trembling child, huddled in the dark, come right back to me.  The boogeyman is coming to get you.  You deserve all the bad things he’s going to do to you.  Mom and Dad are upset, and they won’t protect you.
What did I do wrong now?  How did I bring this upon my family?
The thought is ludicrous, of course, but it burrows its way under my skin and makes a home there.
Tap.  Tap.  Tap.
“Hello.  911?  Yes, there’s someone outside our house, and they’re threatening us!”  My wife Caroline’s voice is higher in pitch than normal, but she’s holding herself together.  She crouches down beside us, and Emily lets go of me to cling to her instead.
I stand and scan the area.  There are no guns in the house, but I need to find some way of defending us.  That’s my job.  If I can’t protect my family, what good am I?
I find my old baseball bat in a closet and go to stand near the door.  All the while, I’m running through possible courses of action.  Should we go out the back door, or are we safer here?  Should we hole up in a hidden room?  That might eliminate our hope of escaping.  So many options, and none of them feel right.  There’s too much uncertainty.  One wrong decision and I doom us all.
As a child, I felt certain that my parents could protect me from anything.  Now I wish that fiction had been true.  I wish I could live up to it.
Tap.  Tap.  Tap.
“Mommy!”  Emily is sobbing even harder.
Caroline shushes her softly, then says something to the operator.
Creak.  Creak.  Creak.
As the dark-clothed boogeyman passes the window, I see the glint of some kind of weapon.  Though I don’t know what it is, my heart speeds up even more at the sight of it.
I take a deep breath.  My fingernails dig into the wood of the bat.  My breaths come shallow and quick.
Tap.  Tap.  Tap.
“It’s going to be just fine.”  I don’t know if the words are meant more for them or for me.  It doesn’t matter, because they have no substance.  They’re nothing but tissue paper.  Pleasant enough at first glance, but translucent and easily shredded.
Creak.  Creak.  Creak.
“Please tell them to hurry,” Caroline begs.
Another glint seen through the window.
Tap.  Tap.  Tap.
My heart pounds in my ears.  I wish it were loud enough to drown out all the other sounds.  I wish I were brave enough to go out there and put a stop to the nightmare.  I wish I had someone to comfort me and convince me everything will be all right.
Creak.  Creak.  Creak.
I’m losing my mind.  I imagine my family being torn to pieces.  I can see the blood on the floor.  If that happens, it’ll be my fault.  My failure.
Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
Tap!  Tap!  Tap!
The change in pattern jars me.  That isn’t good.  Not good at all.
“Daddy!  Make it stop!” Emily screams.
I have to do something.  I can’t let it end like this.
Then I hear the sirens.  The red and blue flashing lights filter in through the curtains.  I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.
The sound of pounding footsteps tells me our terrorizer has fled.
“It’s okay,” I say, dropping the bat and running to embrace my family.  “We’re fine.  It’s over.”
I don’t know how much time passes, but I haven’t yet let go of my wife and daughter.  One of the officers is standing in our living room, and I must still be out of it, because I don’t recall letting him in.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hanson.  The guy got away, but we’ll do what we can to protect your family.”
It isn’t over after all.

Word Count 997/FCA

Friday, October 16, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-October 16, 2015

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja and I are her co-hosts.

I had a pretty good birthday this past Sunday.  The weather was great, I got to spend some time with my husband and kids, and we went out to dinner with my dad.

I was one of the winners selected in Lexa's October Frights Giveaway!  Winning books is always amazing, and I'm looking forward to reading them.  I'd like to thank Lexa for hosting such an awesome giveaway!

I've had another good writing week, and I'm excited about everything I'm doing.  I'm hoping this lasts for a long time to come.  Who doesn't enjoy being productive?

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-October 9, 2015

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja and I are her co-hosts.

This has been a good writing week.  It's crazy that my writing has been going so well for so many weeks in a row.  I'm not used to that.  I'm more used to rough patches involving writers block followed by bursts of creativity.  Then again, I'm working with deadlines right now, and I've always done better when I have a deadline to motivate me.  It keeps me focused.  From now on I should try setting a deadline for myself for all my projects.

My birthday is on Sunday.  I'm turning 30.  The crazy part about that is the weather we're supposed to be having that day.  Right now the forecast is calling for it to be sunny and 84.  That's never happened for any birthday I can remember.  I've had birthdays with snow.  I've had birthdays with ice.  I've had birthdays with cool rain.  I live in Iowa, so this is the kind of weather you'd normally expect this time of year.  The thought that I might be able to comfortably wear shorts on my birthday is insane to me. Then again, the forecast can change without warning around here, so we'll see how it goes.  I really do hope it's accurate this time, though.  That would be amazing.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: October 2015

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Our esteemed leader is the enigmatic Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh.  This month his helpful co-hosting minions are TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar.

Be sure to stop by and visit the IWSG website!

This month is a big month for me in several ways.  One is that my birthday is this upcoming Sunday.  I'm turning 30.  I know that this in no way makes me old, but those milestone birthdays have a way of getting you to thinking about life.  Looking back, I can see that I had some lofty notions as a kid about where I'd be in life when I turned 30.  There is some insecurity in the fact that I haven't accomplished all that I wanted to accomplish by this age, but I'm not going to let that get to me.  I have a wonderful family, and I've done a lot this year in terms of writing.  That's enough for me.

I've decided that I want to release my Christmas-themed novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family on Tuesday, December 1st. That's a pretty tight deadline considering everything I've got going on, but I know it's doable.   I just have to remain disciplined and keep working.

Don't forget to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest!  I know I plan to.  I've been working on that along with all my other writing because I'm certifiably insane, but it's been a fun process. 

What are you feeling insecure about this month?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Express Yourself: Scary Place to Spend Halloween

The Express Yourself Weekly Meme is hosted by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

The question for this week is: Where would be the scariest place to spend Halloween?

The second I saw this question, I immediately thought of the Villisca Ax Murder House.  It's located in Iowa, and since I'm from Iowa, this place sticks out in my mind. On June 10, 1912, eight people were bludgeoned to death with an ax while they slept. This obviously shook the small town to its core.  There's been a ton of folklore surrounding the house ever since, and last I knew, small groups could pay to stay there overnight.  Imagine telling ghost stories in a house with that kind of brutal history. I'm not easily scared, but staying there with a group of friends on Halloween would definitely feel creepy.

If you're curious about the house and its history, you can read more HERE.

What do you think would be the scariest place to spend Halloween?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things-October 2. 2015

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  Tonja and I are her co-hosts.

I finished the first draft of my Christmas novella Self-Help 101 or: How I Learned to Take Over the World Through Tolerating My Family.  It's funny (at least I sure hope it is, since that was my intention), and the romantic subplot grew beyond what I originally intended it to be.  All in all, it still needs work, but I'm largely happy with it so far.  It's about 23,000 words right now.  I'll see how it stands after revision.

I'm also working on my story for the IWSG anthology contest right now.  The story is based on an idea I had awhile back, but I never sat down to write it before now.  Since the idea fit the theme of the contest, I decided this was the time to go for it.

I also signed up for a couple of Halloween challenges.  One is Spooktoberfest.  I sign up for this one every year, so even though I'm going to be particularly busy with writing this month, I just couldn't pass it up.  It's tradition!

I'm also signed up for the WEP Halloween challenge.  The theme for this one is Youthful Frights vs. Adult Fears.  I enjoyed WEP so much last time that I knew I had to do it again!

I'm glad that my writing has been keeping me so busy, and I hope I can stay on track with everything I've planned to do.

What would you like to celebrate?