Friday, October 30, 2015

Share a Scare Blog Hop with Wittegen Press

Happy Halloween! I'm so excited this day is finally here! (Not because I'm going to dress up or anything, but because I've survived the week! Two writing deadlines--met. One sick daughter--on the mend.)

Okay, enough about me. Today's blog hop, hosted by Wittegen Press, is an opportunity for bloggers, authors, and artists to share something scary--for free! Since I belong to two of these groups, this is a great hop for me. You can join too. Go here for details and a link list of participants

To start the ball rolling, I will share a true story:

Once upon a time, when I was about eight, I was lying in bed, when all of a sudden, I had the terrible feeling that I had left the basement door unlocked. It was the middle of the night, but I didn't want my dad (who got up early) to find out I hadn't locked the door. He would not be happy with me even though we lived in a safe neighborhood with woods all around the back and sides. 

I got out of bed, crept all the way down into the basement where I heard our dog, Benji, barking like mad, like there was somebody or something in the yard. Since there was a window right by the basement door, I didn't dare turn on the light, because I knew if someone was out there, they would be able to see me. 

So I crept up to the door, and just as I was turning the tab to lock it (yes, I had indeed left it unlocked), the knob started to turn back and forth, back and forth--from the outside! 

Did I go running to my parents, screaming like a banshee? I don't think I did. In fact, I don't remember what happened after that. But there you go.

And next, I have a piece of flash fiction. This story was entered in a contest held by a blogger who had just reached 100 followers. She wanted us to write something scary. I wasn't in the mood to write about vampires or ghosts, so I took a jog to think about what really, truly frightened me. Two things came to mind. One of them is mental illness. If you read Hush, you'll easily guess the second.

Be warned! This is not a light-hearted piece. (But it did win the contest. Strong language advisory.)


Eileen was okay until the crying started. Her neck tensed as the tiny whimpers grew into strident shrieks. Growling under her breath, Eileen pulled into a parking lot by the city park. It was two a.m.

“Godnadit will you shut up!” She wanted to yell but that would only evoke louder screams. The baby heard her anyway and doubled its efforts.

Eileen’s jaw clenched as a sharp stab of pain shot through her temple, landing in her right eye—a precursor to a migraine. Now she was screwed, having swallowed her last Zomig two days ago in a different town. Getting another prescription would be a tit, especially if she couldn’t drive.

Then it started. First one spot, then two. Like a computer screen with missing pixels, black spots took root in her field of vision and grew, fusing into one big splotch. Eileen slammed her head down onto the steering wheel. Take that, you fucking migraine!

The sudden thud vanquished the crying from the backseat. Eileen dragged herself out of the car and opened the left rear passenger door. Leaning over the infant seat, her nose wrinkled.

“Whew!” Eileen waved her hand as if that would help. She returned to the driver’s seat and popped the trunk. Standing up, she spied someone by the lamppost, smoking a cigarette. A black hoodie obscured the figure’s face. Eileen wondered if she would be mugged. Or murdered.

“Go to a head,” she mumbled, releasing the car seat buckles. Make my day. If that guy wanted to do her in, so be it. At least it would stop the pounding in her head.

Eileen took her little bundle back to the trunk. Inside was a soft blanket, an open pack of Pampers, size one, and a plastic tub of wipes for sensitive skin. She laid him on the stained blanket and made sure to breathe through her mouth during the change. God, it stunk!

The baby was gearing up for another audio assault. Eileen picked it up and felt the world tilt to the left. She almost lost her balance, but managed to fall towards the car. Something small and soft hit the pavement. She was too far gone to care. If the kid lost its teddy, that was too fuckin’ bad, Freddy.

Eileen staggered to the front seat, praying she wouldn’t drop the kid, and plopped down. That did it. The wailing recommenced. Eileen reached across the gearshift and grabbed the nursing pillow. The foul cushion brushed against the twenty or so air fresheners dangling in a cloying clump from the rearview mirror as Eileen popped it under the baby. She was in a hurry. If the kid didn’t start sucking soon, Eileen’s head would explode.

While the baby nursed, Eileen scanned the park through the bug-specked windshield. There was no one under the lamppost now. She checked her rearview mirror. Nothing. Then she looked in the side view mirror and gasped.

The hooded figure skittered forward, filling the mirror with a lightening quick speed, too fast to be human. Eileen squeezed her eyes shut and tightened her grip on the baby. He squawked.

When Eileen opened her eyes again, all was still. There was no figure, and the migraine seemed to have backed off. Her vision was clear and the throbbing had settled into a bearable pressure behind her right eye.

It wasn’t very smart, she realized, stopping here to nurse at this hour. Eileen put the baby back into its car seat and decided she was okay to drive after all.

The next morning, retired bank manager Jerry Brandt plunked his wide ass on a park bench for a breather and unleashed his dog, Goodfella. No one else was around this early, so Jerry felt safe letting the chow have a moment of freedom. The big mutt started sniffing and snuffling, tail wagging to beat the band. When Goodfella returned he had something in his mouth. At first Jerry thought it was an old, maggoty chicken leg. Then the dog placed its muzzle into Jerry’s lap and dropped his prize.

Jerry screamed.
Philadelphia (AP): The search for Eileen Conrad and her infant son enters its third week with little hope. With Eileen’s history of schizophrenia, mother and child are feared dead.


Yep, mental illness and the death of a child. Scary, scary stuff. Want more? It's not free, but on November 1, I'm releasing a collections of three spooky tales. The title story, Heartstopper, is about a father, his seriously ill daughter, and the mysterious disappearance of several household objects right before Halloween. Visit my publication page for more information.

What do you find most frightening these days? Zombies? Ebola? Or your bills?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Listing Blog Hop with Bish Denham

1. Welcome to this here blog, y'all (Yep, I grew up in the south).
2. This is a blog hop about lists to celebrate Bish Denham's eight years of blogging.
3. To participate, make a list of 5 to 25 things. No rules, it's whatever floats your boat.
4. Need the linky list? Go here.
5. This concludes my list. Bye.

Just kidding.

Is anyone else addicted to Netflix or the like? Do you sit down to watch one 40 minute show and then end up watching 3 or 4 because of those sneaky cliffhangers? Well, I will admit it. I am hooked and hooked good. Here is a list of the shows I've snarfed down so far:

1. The Walking Dead
2. Lost
3. Gilmore Girls
4. Grey's Anatomy
5. American Horror Story
6. Friday Night Lights

I'll be done with American Horror Story (Season 4) pretty soon. What would you recommend for my next binge? Mad Men? Glee? Has anyone watched James Patterson's Zoo?

Monday, October 19, 2015

#BooktagsBlogHop with Toi Thomas

Good morning. Today is the start of a new monthly blog hop whose purpose is to share and discuss books--ones you are either reading or writing. All the information about this bloghop can be found at The Toibox of Words. Care to join us? Go here.

I'm supposed to include an excerpt (500 words or less) along with an explanation of why I chose the book (300 words or less). I'm going to cheat and send you here for the excerpt, 'cause I've got a bit more than 300 words to share on this one.

Yesterday I finished The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz. This is an unusual book in that the characters created by Stieg Larsson (who sadly died before his Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series was published) became so freaking popular, that they spawned a number of successful films and now this new tale. I haven't seen this phenomenon since publishers continued to use the name V.C. Andrews to pump out incestuous tales for teen girls back in the day.

Is this a good idea? If the new author does a good job, it could be a great thing for the fans. But as a writer, would it bother you if someone else could duplicate your style enough to pull this off? If the author does a bad job, well, then the fans will feel cheated. Then again, if this monkey business is going on it won't matter much to you. You're toast in this scenario.

Okay, I'm digressing. Did I like this book? Yes and no. I thought Lagercrantz did a good job keeping the characters true to Larsson's version of them. The setting is cold, dark, and dreary. The overall plot has plenty of intrigue. Lagercrantz does a good job of weaving together the narrative from a large number of points of view. He's got to juggle swedish journalists, the police, bad guys, and even the United States' National Security Agency gets in the mix. Plus there's an autistic boy who is a savant in both mathematics and drawing who really drives the tale. His interaction with Salander is my favorite part of the story.

So what's the problem? Well, the cover has the words "A Lisbeth Salander Novel" in the top corner. This is the character fans can't let go of, right? So why do we have to wait until page 130 or so before she comes on stage? And she doesn't stick around much. Salander is hardly in the book at all compared to the other characters. 

Worse still, her trademark crazy, out-of-control violence is described second hand by other characters including the grand finale (which wasn't all that grand). 

I've got other nit-picks, but I'll leave it at that. Are you a fan of this trilogy? Have you or will you read the new novel?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group

Hi Everybody! Welcome to the show! Today I'm your cohost along with TB Markinson, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar and don't forget Kargrande-rustler, Alex Cavanaugh! (Insert raucous cheering.)

We're here to celebrate our victories and share the agonies of writing (hopefully you are experiencing more of the former and less of the later).

For the last month, I've had my nose (fingers?) to the grindstone, pumping out a short story, or novella if you want to get technical, due to hit the hallowed halls of next month. It wasn't a pretty process, but I met the first deadline and sent a (hopefully, please God), decent draft to my editor. This after I swore up and down never to let a deadline sneak up on me again. (Just like I swore not to touch that bag of M&Ms I bought for my daughter, but guess how that turned out?) I haven't heard back anything yet, which could mean the thing sucks eggs, my editor is busy, or it blew her mind so much she doesn't know how to respond. I'm guessing number 2.

Speaking of short stories and deadlines, the IWSG is having a short story contest (details here) with a deadline of Nov. 1. Some of the judges are literary agents. Hmm. Wouldn't you like to have one of your stories read by them? Of course! And here I am, fussing around with my 24K whopper (yeah, when I spew, I really let 'er rip) with a release date of . . . Nov. 1. Well, criminy.

And just to make it more painful, the contest's genre (alternate history, parallel universe) is right up my sci-fi writin' alley. GAH!! (Bang head on desk.)

Depending on when the final draft of my super-sized short is submitted, I might have to give this contest a go. The word limit (6K) won't be a problem, obviously, but it's not about the quantity, folks, it's about the quality.

So how's it going for you? Are you an overwriter or underwriter when it comes to word count? Entering the contest?

Need the IWSG link list? Click here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Michael D'Agostino's Question of the Month

“Who would play you in a movie of your life?”

Wow, that would be an extremely dull movie, which is probably a very good thing. You know the old curse, right? May you live in interesting times.

Not that things are always calm. Take this fine morning. My pinkie hurts. A lot. I've already dug into the nail bed with a set of clippers and a knife, convinced, absolutely sure, that the nail decided to grow sideways (because it happened on my toe this summer--a wicked little dagger of nail that was quite uncomfortable after running a 5K). Anyhoo, I've cut away all the nail that I possibly can and so far, no relief. 

So, maybe it's an infection. I'll have to go off to the doctor's and see what they think. But I've got stuff to do, man! My parents are coming on Friday for their annual visit and the house and garage and the yard are still a wreck. Oh, calamity.

I need an actress who can play someone tough, but neurotic, and not in her twenties. Hmmm, that last one eliminates Jennifer Lawrence. Too bad. She's so awesome. I'll have to go with . . . Jodie Foster.