Thursday, March 15, 2018

Blue Sludge Blues or Why You Should Hold It

blu eyes

Today, I am helping celebrate the release of a horror story collection titled Blue Sludge Blues and Other Abominations by Shannon Lawrence. What's more terrifying than a rest stop toilet? I can't wait to find out. But first, a little tale of terror from my past.

Many years ago, I took up jogging to get a break from the insanity that is staying at home with two toddlers who hate each other's guts at least 50% of the time. How bad was it? Well, let's just say I preferred dragging my butt through the dark, snowy streets of our neighborhood with temps dipping into the 20s to dealing with another minute of "She hit me first. No, she hit me first!" 

Standard question my husband would ask before I left: "Are you running away from home?"

Me: "Yes." 

Husband: "Are you coming back?"

Me: "Maybe."

Snow and Christmas Lights in HDR

In the months leading up to Christmas, it was kind of fun with all the different lights, inflatables, and even music ushering me along my slippery route.

Then one night, with the snow dulling the streetlights' glow to a dim blue, I saw movement about thirty yards ahead. At first, I couldn't understand what I was seeing. My first impression was legs. Lots of legs, long and not human. Too many for a single dog, I slowed down, worried I had run afoul of a pack. Which was ridiculous, right? Then the long, thin legs made me wonder if they were greyhounds. Equally ridiculous. But the bodies were too large. I stopped in my tracks. OMG, were they wolves!? 

Walla Walla wolf
Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?

Then the critters trotted under a streetlamp and I realized they were not dogs at all, but a family of deer. Oh, dear!

Without further ado, let me present: Blue Sludge Blues:

Blue Sludge Blues And Other Abominations
by Shannon Lawrence

Release Date: March 15, 2018
Horror short story collection

A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how much we have to fear: A creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection.


From Know Thy Neighbor:

"She could tell he enjoyed her pain, and she grew determined to not show him anymore. She would bear this quietly, staring directly into his eyes."

Buy the Book

Also available from Apple and other countries through Amazon

About the Author

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes mostly fantasy and horror. Her stories can be found in magazines and anthologies, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. When she's not writing, she's hiking the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster.

Social Media Links

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Insecure Writers Support Group and Celebrate the Small Things

Happy March! Are you still shivering in winter or are you enjoying spring flowers yet? Whatever the weather, is always fun to check in with fellow writers. Thanks to our host, Alex. J. Cavanaugh and his outstanding co-hosts this month: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.

This month's question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

Sadly, I feel great for about two seconds and then start worrying about the next goal. Should the story be edited further? If it's a short story, where will I submit it? If it's a novel, am I ready to deal with the stress of querying? For me, the journey is truly the reward.

Which of these images would you or your characters pick to experience a journey? 

Lydia's Baptistery ... HDR

Image: Emil Athanasiou

Anaga Mountains

Image: Nico Trinkhaus, Anaga Mountains

Just before sundown at Bagan. Love this Topaz Labs effect.

Image: Neville Wooton


What happened to February? I know it's the shortest month of the year, but I think someone hit high speed on time again. In any case, it's high time for me to thank our host, Lexa Cain, and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker. 

Winter Wonderland

Snow Day_dec09_0045-48
Image: David Torres

1. Friday, March 2 was a snow day!

The phone rang at 5 a.m. and I knew, just knew, it was the school district calling to cancel school. I remember being a kid, listening to the radio on rare snowy mornings, crossing my fingers that my district would be cancelled. Since I lived in S.C. at the time, that hardly every happened. But Friday was our day. I guess I got a little too excited about shoveling, because I couldn't fall back asleep, but I got an excellent work-out shoveling for 2 hours. Eight inches of heavy, wet snow. Squee!

And wouldn't you know it? My neighbor, who has a snow plow, knocked down the impossible wall of ice that the city plows had left at the bottom of the driveway. That's the second time a truck with plow attached saved me from the hardest part of the job.

Open Sesame!

Image: stratman

2. I still have skin on my fingers.

My older cat, Mr. Mistofellees, has hyperthyroidism. He's been taking medication in creme form applied to the inside of his ears for the past two years, but it's not working anymore. So we had to switch to pills. 

The last time I had to shove pills down his throat was during an ear infection so severe he couldn't walk two steps without falling down. He would claw my hands to shreds. 

This time I was more crafty. I hid the pills in port wine cheese, creme cheese, and even butter. At first, Mr. M ate the pills all by himself. But then he got sick of cheese. Rats! So I had to go back to "pilling" him. At least the pills are smaller than the humongous antibiotic capsules. And so far, I've only endured one small scratch. 

Can you hear me now? 

Image: Seth Goodman

3. I don't have to worry about charging my cell phone this week.

My husband called me Sunday morning from Boca Raton, Florida, where is he currently having a blast in the sunshine state with his folks while I deal with homework, early morning band practice, and doctor's appointments attending a math conference. He told me he had accidentally taken both of our cell phones. Really? I mean, here I am, on my own, trying to coordinate activities for two active middle schoolers. With. No. Cellphone. ARRRGH! This is so 1990s. 

Did the big storm Riley impact your area? Do you have to medicate your pets? How would you cope without a cell phone for 5 days?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Souper Blog Hop! Mmm Mmm Good.

Good Monday Morning, Everyone! Today, the amazing Chrys Fey is hosting a very special blog hop to introduce her mom's book, Pea Soup Disaster, A Gregory Green Adventure. In honor of this debut, we are celebrating our favorite soups. 

I don't know about you, but I love soup, especially in the winter. Here is the soup I've been chowing down on this winter:

It is sooo good, especially with crumbles of Tostitos corn chips thrown in. It's spicy, but not enough to cause one to breath fire, full of beans and rice to keep you full, plus nice, huge cubes of chicken. (The rectangular cubes are a little odd. I'm not sure what kind of chicken they're using. Must be some special breed of geometrically perfect bird. ;)

I do make several soups from scratch. My favorite is probably a variety of chicken vegetable soup. (No cubed chicken needed.)

First I saute 3 or so heaping tablespoons of minced garlic in a large soup pot. Then I toss in chopped celery and carrots (about a cup each). I like my vegetables a little crunchy, so I don't saute them too long before adding chicken broth (two 14.5 ounce cans of Swanson's reduced salt or one 32 ounce box).

Now for the yummy part. For spices, I like to add basil, thyme, and dill. Since I sprinkle from the spice containers directly, I'm not 100% sure of the amounts, but if you held a hot soup ladle to my head, I'd guess around a 1/2 teaspoon of basil, and maybe a 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme and dill. Basil you can go overboard with and nothing bad will happen. Thyme and dill make the soup something special, but you don't want to go crazy. 

Spice rack
Image: trollhare

I let this simmer for at least thirty minutes. Before serving, I add chopped beefsteak tomatoes (1 and a half cups) and 1/4 cup of chopped green onion-also known as chives. You don't want these two to simmer with the other ingredients because they'll turn to mush. 

I'll admit, vegetables and broth alone don't make the most hearty of soups. I used to add leftover pieces of chicken from whenever we had a roast chicken, but since the soup amount is large, if you don't eat it or freeze it, the chicken would go bad after a week. Eventually I realized I wasn't a huge fan of the chicken anyway and left it out. I tried adding pasta instead, but it gets mushy and kinda gross after a few days. A better option is a can of great northern (white) beans. No mush and they won't spoil. 

And now, here's Elaine Kaye's new book:

BLURB: Gregory Green loves his mom’s pea soup, but when he eats it at school, all of his friends make fun of how it looks. He doesn’t think it looks like bugs, and it tastes good! Then at recess, his friends run from him, screaming, “He’s a monster!” Gregory doesn’t know why his friends are being mean until he sees his skin is green. The teasing gets worse until an unlikely friend comes to the rescue—his teddy bear, Sammy. Sammy usually only comes to life for Gregory and his family, but Sammy has an important lesson to teach Gregory and his classmates.

Available in Print:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Kaye got the idea for Pea Soup Disaster from her son who loved to eat her homemade pea soup. Pea Soup Disaster is the first of many fun stories featuring Gregory Green and his teddy bear, Sammy, as part of the Gregory Green Adventure series.

Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher's assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home. She is a grandmother of three boys.

Find Elaine:
Website / Instagram / Litsy - @ElaineKaye
Goodreads / Amazon

Do you eat a lot of soup? Have a favorite?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG and Celebrate the Small Things

Good Morning, Insecure Writers! Are you ready to spread the joy and/or anguish of our craft? Thank you always to our leader, Ninja Captain Alex. J. Cavanaugh and his merry cohosts: are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte.

Today's question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

Well, that's the thing. I don't have a genre I write in most often. I started with a paranormal thriller, followed by several short stories that were speculative, sci-fi, and/or suspense. Then I wrote a historical novel. And now I'm trying to write something contemporary. I don't think about the genre as much as the character. Maybe I'm edging into literary territory. Call me an up-market gal. That's what I'm aiming for anyway.

Regardless of the genre, there is one thing I love about all of them: the research. Back in my school days, I was a diligent student, but not a joyful one. I was a grade grubber, stuffing facts into my head like a kid cramming down their Brussels sprouts in order to get dessert. But now, knowledge has a purpose. 

brussels sprouts
Image: Mallory Dash

To write that historical novel, I dove into huge textbooks detailing everything that lead up to the American Civil War and couldn't get enough. For one of my sci-fi shorts, I scanned scientific papers on functional MRIs to mesh what was real with what might be possible in some not-too-distant future. And it was fun. Maybe we should turn all students into writers so learning isn't so dreary. 

622 pages of yummy historical goodness


I did not mean to take another long break between posts, but it's completely my husband's fault. But first, let me thank our hostLexa Cain, and her co-hosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker.

While I was taking care of our children, house, pets, and every critter within a 5-mile radius who might want something to nibble on in this frozen wasteland lovely Rochester winter, my husband tootled off to sunny San Diego for five days of sightseeing and visiting with his folks a math conference. He came back with a bucket of pens and the cold from hell a virus.

Thanks bunches! Achoo. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. 

So I've been busy coughing my brains out and filling Kleenex with snot. Good times. While I've been moaning and groaning, my kids have been up to some amazing stuff.

1. My daughter, the famous artist.

Like many teens, my older daughter enjoys posting on Instagram and getting likes and comments. Recently, she's been using drawing apps to make fan art of the pets of well-known "Youtubers" and other social media sensations. One of these pets was named Eddie the Lilac Lion, a senior rescued cat who had lost his ears, teeth, and was half-blind. After Eddie passed away, Sedona sent the above artwork to Eddie's owner, who loved the image and even posted it on their Instagram account. So far, this image has received 7851 likes and over 250 comments. You can check out more of Sedona's art at @creativecat_444.

2. I'm related to an outstanding violinist.

Image: Collapse the Light

My kids also caught my husband's horrible cold and missed some days of school right before dancing and singing in their school's production of Peter Pan. Talk about horrible timing! In the midst of all this insanity, my younger daughter, a violin player, had a solofest which involves playing a prepared piece before a judge along with scales and sight reading. Talk about pressure. 

Nothing was going right before this solofest. Micada had missed several practice sessions with her orchestra teacher. Her nose was completely stuffed up. Her performance time was at 7:10 p.m. after a long day of school followed by two hours of rehearsal for Peter Pan. 

I felt that if she played anything for that judge, even one note, I would be impressed. Instead, she came out after playing with a smile on her face. 

These performances are graded on a scale that runs from "needs work" to "good" to "excellent" to "outstanding". When we got Micada's score later that night, she had scored "outstanding"! Unbelievable. 


Do you write in one genre or several? Do you have an Instagram account? Play a musical instrument?