Friday, November 2, 2012

Fingers Flying Adeptly Over My Keyboard...

Ookay. The blank page is filled. Half an hour in and I'm up to 492 words. You can track my progress by clicking the image to the left.

Here's a little teaser for you:

The Used Muse
In the storefront window lay the body of a crumpled unicorn, its throat a red grinning gash, ruby droplets cascaded down its pure white coat. A tiny pair of hooves stained red, poked out from the unicorn’s tussled mane and in the dark, the cat could make out a tiny piece of red wax on lying on its shiny, muscular flank. The black cat paused under the streetlight, green eyes intent upon the crime scene in the dirty window. His whiskers twitched as he crept closer, his mouth watering at the thick scent of blood emanating from the open door. He placed one dainty paw in a viscous puddle of blood. From the taste he could tell the victim had been dead only a few hours. There was no trace of anything bitter or burnt, so he doubted magic had been involved in the homicide. The tang of iron filings in the back of his throat warmed him barely as the cold October mist clung to his fur and he bristled his back...

Happy NaNoWriMo, demon hunters! Please share your own links in comments and good luck!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Novel Writing Month Partcitipant!

I'm back after a long recovery period. I'm not 100%, but getting there. Hope to have my final surgery after Thankgiving and before the new year comes and then put this all behind me. To celebrate my new lease on life I have signed up for National Novel Writing Month to write my long mused urban fantasy tale, The Used Muse. Follow me here or at the official site for novel excerpts. Wish me luck! I'm plunging in a day behind with a 50k completion goal by the end of the month. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Click the image to the left and read more about my novel.

Good to be back, demon hunters. Thanks for following me on Facebook and keeping me sane.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Having Surgery Tomorrow ...

Dear Demon Hunters,

Tomorrow morning I am at the hospital. I'll be away for up to a week, depending on how my recovery goes. I am battling some serious health issues at the moment and the doctors have deemed it necessary to remove my large colon in order to save my life. This has been an ongoing issue I've been treating for seven years, unsuccessfully. I spent most of June in the hospital with a colon perforation that was quite painful and now here I am ...

Wish me luck and please check back. I hope to be up and writing on a normal schedule as soon I can.


Your Friendly Neighborhood Demon Huntress
A.K.A. Nora B. Peevy

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Musings #12 - What Character Wears This Shirt?

Yesterday, I picked up this nifty shirt. Even when I'm not reading zombie stories, I have zombies on the brain! This morning I wondered what fictional character would wear this shirt. In 200 words or less, give me your best character profile.

Here's mine:

Curt James is 65 years old. A retired army officer and a Korean War veteran, he likes to build military dioramas. Six one and wiry, with tortoise shell glasses, he still catches the ladies’, even though he walks with a slight limp from a skiing accident years ago. Who can resist his dreamy Elvis eyes? Well, his ex-wife Marjorie could, but you can’t blame him for that; twenty years of marriage and she’d walk out the door this last June, suspecting him of having an affair. Really, he was training at a secret government facility to head back to Korea where he’d been stationed during the first war. Curt knows the terrible, dark secret the government has been hiding from the public and he doesn’t like it – not one bit. But when his country calls him to duty, he answers, even though the idea of cleaning up the army’s mess leaves a sour taste in his mouth; he didn’t like hunting zoms the first time in Korea and he wasn’t going to like it now.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Little Elm Library - Small Place/Big Heart

The Little Elm Library may be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in small town charm. When I moved here, I checked out the library the first week and got my family's new library cards. I am keeping my card active for the Dallas library system because as you all know, I'm a voracious bookworm; it quickly became apparent I was going to have to do some of my reading elsewhere because the library is so small. However, this year they are adding on to the collection about 17,000 titles, which is amazing and the new wing of the library, which shares the same building as Town Hall, is under construction as I type.
I got almost half of the library in this photo! It is really tiny, but they assured me they are working on expanding the sci-fi, horror, and fantasy collections, which are sorely misrepresented. Of course, when you only have 26,000 people in your town, you buy what patrons are reading. In this case -- mysteries, nonfiction, history, and romance.

They do have the lovely sculpture featured below, located near the new fiction section, which is the bookshelf on the left. (Yes, it really is a tiny library, but even I, The Grand Puba Bookworm, can find a book I haven't read.)

They are charming. So charming in fact, I couldn't believe it. They don't collect library fines on overdue books! They just ask you to bring them back. They won't let you renew or check out any other books until you return them or pay for their loss. And when I spent the last month in the hospital, they kindly renewed my books over the phone for me and told me to get better.

And the library recently added a webcam for patrons to use, which was announced in the Little Elm Community Newsletter. I love this quaint place! If you're ever in Little Elm, stop by and say hello! :)

Outside the library/town hall building is a memorial dedicated to those who serve/served our country by the local American Legion Post. The eagle statues remind me of my father, who loves all raptors.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Between the Covers - Book Review #14

There's been a lot of reading going on lately in my house and sadly, not much writing while I recover from my many stays at the hospital recently! :(

I have five selections for you, my faithful demon hunters.

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern proved to be an envious debut novel. I don't really know what so many of the "critics" were talking about on Goodreads and other review sites; this book wasn't all description without plot. If you read enough reviews yourself, you will find that people either loved or hated the book because of her descriptions, which some readers found too lengthy and distracting. I found her writing to be wonderful. This is a beautiful fantasy love story involving two dueling magicians at a circus I wish to attend! (And that's saying something for me, since I don't approve of circuses because of their use of animals.) Do not miss this series and if you're a writer, have tissues handy, for you will probably be crying with envy!

2) Sherrilyn Kenyon's Bad Moon Rising is a pleasing addition to her Dark-Hunter series, but don't expect a very complicated plot. Do expect a light, entertaining love story between two different Were species and some action/fight scenes. No big plot twists here, but it's a good escape, though I could have done without the detailed sex scenes. At least, they were mostly plot oriented and not gratuitous.

3) Dean Koontz's 77th Shadow Street left me with a sour taste in my mouth. What promised to be a unique story about an apartment building with a dark history fell flat. The characters are interesting and unique, but Koontz's delivery falls apart in the last few chapters, in which I finally learned the origin of the malevolent being targeting tenants and was disappointed. It's a great explanation, but too little and too late.

4) Patricia Cornwell's The Scarpetta Factor is another great addition to the Scarpetta forensic series, with a few good turns. However, towards the end, a few chapters cut would speed things up nicely. Dr. Kay Scarpetta is one of my all-time favorite female characters from a crime/suspense series. In this story, the suspects include an actor accused of a sex crime and a former, secret billionairess lover of Lucy's.

5) In Kathy Reichs's 206 Bones, Temperance Brenan is kidnapped and trapped in an underground tomb. The story works backwards in time, which is refreshing, though if you watch the TV series, Bones, like most beasts, the books are an entirely different animal from the TV series, of which, I actually enjoy both. In this novel, Brenan solves the murders of a few elderly women and discovers someone in her forensic lab is sabotaging her work and her reputation. This is a quick read, but worth it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dear Demon Hunters...

Dear Demon Hunters and New Arrivals,

I apologize for being absent from my blog. Since this spring, I have spent about a month in the hospital on four separate visits. Right after the New Year, I broke my left foot and tore a tendon. The cast caused a blood clot in my leg which traveled to my lungs (pulmonary emboli) and landed me in the hospital twice. Then in the past month on an unrelated issue, I was hospitalized twice for a colon perforation. No idea how that happened, though the doctors assure me it happens more than one would think! (I'm meeting with a surgeon in a few weeks, so wish me luck. Hopefully, I escape the scalpel.)

In the meantime, I've been getting in a lot of reading while I rest. I will have another book review ready shortly, so stay tuned.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!


Nora B. Peevy
A.K.A. Your Friendly Neighborhood Demon Hunter

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bryan Hall on His Novellette: The Vagrant

Bryan Hall is a fiction writer living in a one hundred year old farmhouse deep in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and three children. Growing up in the Appalachias, he's soaked up decades of fact and fiction from the area, bits and pieces of which usually weave their way into his writing whether he realizes it at the time or not. He's the author of the sci-fi horror novel Containment Room 7, collection Whispers from the Dark, and the upcoming Southern Hauntings Saga. You can find him online at

I've gotten asked about this a few times as the release of The Vagrant approached, so I figure it's time that I talked a little bit more about the series' central character.  Without him, this saga would just be a series of stories set in the south with only their location to bind them together, so he deserves a closer look.

Creighton Northgate lives out of his truck, moving from town to town as he needs to.  You could call him a paranormal investigator, but he would never use the term himself.  He helps people, and he's developed quite a reputation for doing so.  Word travels fast in small towns, and when you're providing something that nobody else can you quickly find that word of mouth is better than any business card.   People hear about the guy who can see the dead; the guy who tracked down a Sasquatch in the Linville Gorge; the fella who figured out why the walls of a church in Alabama bled thick blood every Thursday night.  People hear about him, and they call him for help.  And Crate carries on, travelling to wherever his cellphone calls take him. 

He's not perfect.  No interesting character is.  His brother's death, and subsequent reappearance as a spirit almost every night, makes it hard for him to sleep.  He self-medicates with booze, and what started as a sleep aid has become alcoholism pure and simple.  Knowing that there's more after this life – along with the rough hand he's been dealt – makes it hard for him to empathize with those who are grieving.  And the fact that he deals with those who are grieving constantly, makes that a little bit harder to manage, when you get right down to it. 

And he's afraid.  His brother's constant presence, following him everywhere, is a reminder of a past that he's trying to forget.  One that's cloaked in as much mystery and confusion for him as it is for the readers.  As he starts to peel back the layers of shadow covering his past, as his brother's spirit and his own desire to be rid of his demons keeps growing, he'll be led back to where he came from.  And what's waiting for him there will change him forever. 

A story's only as good as the people in it, and I hope you find that Crate's someone you want to spend a little bit of time with.  Truth is, things are only going to get worse for the poor guy.
Creighton Northgate is a man shrouded in mystery and on the run from a past he doesn't even fully understand. Blurring the lines between vagabond, enigma, drunkard, and savior, he spends his days staring into the southern legends and paranormal events that most only speak of in hushed, half-believing whispers.
In the midst of a sweltering southern day, he attempts to help a homeless man who seems to share his curse; a man haunted by a silent figure from beyond this world who pursues his every step. By the end of the day, Crate discovers that some things are best left alone; some truths best left in the dark. 
This novellette serves as an introduction to the Southern Hauntings Saga and its central character Crate Northgate, a man whose shadowy past is slowly catching up to him. The first novella in the series will be released late summer 2012. 
To find out more about Crate visit

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unique Gifts for Writing Dads

Father's Day is coming up in a few weeks and I've been brainstorming ideas. Maybe, you're a writing dad yourself, have one in the family, or know one at work. Here are some great gift ideas for writing dads everywhere.

1) The most obvious choice is a special edition of his favorite book or even one signed by his favorite author. You can find both of these for reasonable prices if you shop around online or at stores like Half Price Books.

2) If you're crafty, you could personalize a writing journal for your dad. I've done these as gifts. They're inexpensive, but thoughtful and easy to make. Just buy a notebook or a blank journal and decoupage the cover or cover it with a nice piece of decorative wrapping paper, instead, if you're not as artsy. You can even paint your own book designs to paste on or work with rubber stamps, practically anything you can find in your local craft store in the scrap booking section will work. Even  stickers from The Dollar Store.

3) If you have the time, one of my favorite gifts to give is a book of letters from me, since I live across country. I usually give myself at least a month, so I have time to write about thirty letters, if I'm diligent, before gift time comes around. I buy a nice journal and I write letters to the person it's for, reflecting on my favorite memories or thanking them for things they've done for me that meant a lot.

4) A writing dad can always use a digital voice recorder, if they don't have one. They're handier than a notebook when sleep interrupts you and cheaper than they used to be.

5) If you have a more traditional writing dad, perhaps, a nice pen engraved with their initials is the perfect gift. Places in the mall that sell engraved gifts generally have pens starting at around $35-$40 plus engraving costs. I've gotten two pens as gifts. I cherish both.

6) Perhaps, your dad is like me and enjoys more than a desk toy or two in their writing space. If so, get them a brainteaser, a stress reliever toy, or something silly to make them laugh.

7) Another crafty idea is to make your own pen holder or decorate office organizers for his. Just pick a theme he likes and go hunting at your craft store for decorating supplies and organizers.

8) Perhaps, your dad likes to listen to music while he writes. Why not make him a mixed CD of songs to inspire his writing or buy him an instrumental collection. (I suggest instrumental because many people find words distracting in the background when they write.)

9) Does dad need a new office chair? I bought my father one for his painting room one year and he loved it!

10) If you have a lot of dough, you can go the route of an eReader or a new computer, but these aren't as personal. I'm a fan of more thoughtful and personal gifts.

11) Maybe, your dad doesn't have a designated writing space. If you have permission from mom, you can create one for him. You don't even need a full room. You can get or make a room divider or choose not to use one. All you really need is a quiet place with a desk and a chair.

12) Dragon Speak is a great voice activated program is a very thoughtful gift for people with arthritis or people who are not computer friendly, but still creatively inclined. Now they can write too! (This is a pricier gift, though.)

13) If your dad is a fan of letter writing, you could order or make your own personalized stationary with stamps from the craft store. You can also order photo cards online pretty cheap at places like Winkflash.

14) I like to drink hot tea while I write, but it often gets cold on my desk while I write. My mom got a great gift one year for the office, a mug warmer. This is perfect for a nice cup of coffee or any hot beverage and doesn't take up a lot of room on your desk.

15) Is dad missing that perfect family album and there's no space on his desk for anything bulky? Well, get him a digital photo frame and load it up with his favorite family pics. These frames can be hung on the wall or propped up on a desk or bookshelf, without taking up too much room.

16) Maybe, all of his office walls are blank. Why not paint a picture and have it framed? Brighten up his office and give him a little color or a touch of horror. (Whichever suits hims.)

17) I'm also a fan of plants over flowers because they last forever and brighten up your home. If dad has a green thumb and great window lighting in his office, you might try a nice houseplant, instead of a bouquet this year.

18)And last, but not least, bookplates and book embossers personalize any book lover's library with a touch of class. There are many places to order these items online as well.

Hope I've offered you some affordable and fun ideas for Father's Day, if you haven't already done your shopping. Happy gifting, my demon hunters!

And as always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Does Your Home Art Reflect Your Writing?

I've blogged before about my carnaval mask collection, so you're familiar with it by now. This is my newest addition to the family; my husband named him "Pablo." Pablo is a reproduction mask made in Mexico. We stumbled upon him at an antique gallery in Denton, Texas last weekend. My husband and I swore we weren't going to buy anything, just window shop, but as always, that's when we find something we just HAVE to have. Pablo is now hanging above the fireplace with his other friends and is quite happy, as you can see.

My mother recently came to stay with me and help out, since I've been recovering from two hospital visits and dealing with some pretty serious medical issues in the past six months. (I'm going to be having another surgery soon, but it's not scheduled, yet.) We moved at the end of April due to my health issues and it's been a slow process of unpacking, since the move wasn't planned, we hired a company to pack and move us, and my husband works long hours. I'm still living out of boxes as I type. My mother helped with some asked me one night while she was here, "How come you have so many decorations that are different mythical creatures and gods and goddesses?"

I hadn't really thought about my house being a multicultural/mythical endeavor before, until she mentioned it. Good question, mom!

The answer: Because I like pieces that speak to me. Every piece of art I display in my home reminds me of a story I read or a conversation about a story I'm going to write that I've had with my husband in the wee hours of the morning when we should both be sleeping. I believe art tells a story and my photos do as well. That's why I fell in love with photography, because photos hold emotion and tell a story I can escape into through the lens. So naturally, as a storyteller, I'd want to surround myself with stories in art. Wouldn't you?

Ask yourself the same question: Does your home art reflect your writing? If not, you might want to immerse yourself in your local art museum and see what pieces speak to you. You might be surprised about the stories they have to share and the writing journey your friends may take you on. And if you're suffering from writer's block, a trip to your local library or a bookstore for a collection of paintings or photos might just be the inspiration you need. Or perhaps, you already have your muse hanging on your wall right in front of you and you don't know it! If not, you should find one and put it up. My first royalty sale ever was generated from a piece of art hanging up in my house. It's been a good luck charm for me ever since. Find yours and use it. And good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Response to Horror Writers against Happy Endings

Stant Litore, a blogger and indie horror author, started the group, Horror Writers against Happy Endings. He's asking horror writers if they feel a horror story should have a happy ending. In his opinion, they shouldn't. I participated in the discussion, but found this question so intriguing, I'm asking what you, my precious demon hunters think.

My nickel, as Stant asked for it: I have to be true to the story. I never know where a tale will take me. Each one is a new journey and I'm not one to plot ahead of time, so I'm as surprised as you are by what pops up on my keyboard the first time around. If a story calls for a happy ending, then one will be provided, but if it doesn't, I won't cave just to satisfy my readers. I write the stories I want to read. If I can't entertain myself, then it's not worthy of being read by you. Sometimes my characters deserve happy endings. Sometimes they don't.

What about you demon hunters? Do you think a horror story should NEVER have a happy ending? Feel free to post a response here and then hop on by Stant Litore's  Zombie Bible to see what others have to say.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Backyard Beasts & Blooms - A Photo Essay

Between my recent health issues and the move, I haven't written much lately, but I've been taking stock of my surroundings, unpacking my writing office/library and doing a bit of reading and photography. My doctors would like me to be on bed rest more than I have, but I'm getting a little antsy. LOL

Anyway, here are a few picks of blooms and beasties to inspire your own tales or help you escape your own nightmares for a bit. I've found my camera very comforting since my recent brush with death.

Enjoy! (How fitting that as I finished typing this, a tiny spider crawled across my arm in my writing office.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You Might Be A Self-Confessed Bibliophile ...

You might be a self-confessed bibliophile like me if you:

1) Judge the purchase of a new purse based on whether or not you can fit a paperback in it.

2) Take a book with you, when you know you're going to be away from home for more than two hours.

3) Find yourself regretting a very bad movie or television program and say, "And I could have been reading a good book right now."

4) Have judged all your past dates, including your current husband, on how well read they were.

5) Have made discussing books a current date topic, even though you know the other person hasn't read the same books as you.

6) Find your family wandering disgusted through Half Price Books as you are happily meandering in the aisles for waaaaay longer than they thought they'd be there, while your cell phone rings in your purse, neglected as you try to balance an armful of books you can't even see over. (Should have gotten a basket. LOL)

7) Can never think of anything you need or want when someone asks you what to get you for your birthday. Your automatic response is a gift card to buy books.

8) You can remember where you purchased every book on your shelves at home and who gave you what as a gift.

9) Your spouse complains he needs to get you a book light so he can sleep at night.

10) Your stepson thinks you're the smartest person he knows because you're always reading.

11) You weigh library options when deciding to move again.

12) You own library cards to more than one library system.

13) You inevitably check out more books at the library than you can possibly read in three weeks.

14) You know that most libraries give you three weeks to return a book.

15) You even own a designated book bag for the library.

16) Going to the library makes you giddy.

17) Every room in your house has at least one book in it.

18) You scold people who leave books lying face down because it ruins the spine.

19) You remind your stepson to wash his hands before picking up a book.

20) And finally, you'd rather be reading than doing anything else besides writing!

What makes you a bibliophile, reader?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Between the Covers - Book Review #13

This book review brought to you by the late wizard, Tatsu!

Still slogging through the backlogs of books I've read on bed rest while recovering at home and in the hospital ... Here's another installment from your friendly neighborhood demon writer.

1) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith was waaaaay more entertaining for me than his Pride and Prejudice zombies novel. In fact, I confess on never finishing that one. This one I finished, though! I read it in two days. It was very amusing and well worth a read. A good blend of history and vamps, if ever the two should meet. Don't expect a really complicated plot, but expect to laugh.

2) From the Teeth of Angels by Jonathan Carroll. This is one of his earlier books and a lot of people reviewed it as
not "mature writing." I'm not sure what those reviewers meant. The subject matter discussed was death, a very mature topic, and having just had a brush with death myself, I found his insight poignant and downright hilarious in a rdeliciously dark way, which is just what I like. If you like reading magic realism or cross genre fantasy, then check out this interesting view on death for yourself. It's good, really good. I swear, you will find yourself wishing you'd written the darn thing yourself!

3) Black Swan, White Raven edited by Ellen Datlow. A great fairy tale collection. One of her earlier collections, but all the authors are stellar and the fairy tale twists are entertaining. If you like the other fairy tale collections she's edited, then read this one!

4) Wicca: the Complete Craft by D.J. Conway. This book covers the basics of Wicca for beginners. Like Ellen Dugan's books, it's written in a friendly tone. The material is helpful, but I didn't like think the order it was presented in was the most logical. I also thought some of the material needed to be discussed a little more in depth, though for beginners or for research material, this book is a good starting point.

As always, happy reading and happy writing to all!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Between the Covers - Book Review #12

Well, another hospital visit for continued health issues has led to more bed rest, pain meds, and me falling further behind in my blogging. I have Godzilla size stack of books to review and while my eyes are half-open tonight, I think I'll get one of these installments out for you, my constant demon hunter/reader.  These three selections are all good, so choose and enjoy!

1) Herb Magic for Beginners: Down-to-Earth-Enchantment by Ellen Dugan was not as good as her other books I've read, but still one for the witchy library. I wish the book had gone into a little more detail on a few topics, but it did broadly cover herbs for beginner magical purposes. And what I really liked -- the herbs she discussed are very common and easy to grow or find at your local health store/metaphysical shop. She uses her by now familiar humorous and conversational tone to discuss herb growing, proper tools and gathering times, and a slew of herbal spells for any practical situation. If you're looking for an in depth read, though, skip this one. But if you're looking for a non stuffy beginner primer, than this one's for you!

2) Naked City is one of Ellen Datlow's latest urban fantasy short story collections. As usual, an entertaining read with lots of my faves in the business, including Holly Black, Patricia Briggs, and Kit Reed. This collection breathes new life into the Fair Folk and I discovered some new authors. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy story, the urban fantasy genre, or is looking for something new.

3) Hedgewitch: Spells, Crafts, & Rituals for Natural Magick by Silver Ravenwolf is written in the same style as her classic To Ride a Silver Broomstick. However, I found this one more conversational and approachable -- basically, less stuffy. The book is intended to be used as a course over two short weeks, but you can pace yourself and take as long as you need. I just read the book. I haven't actually participated, yet, but all the materials needed are easily attainable and not too expensive. This book is also in my opinion, less about ceremony and more about getting in touch with your own witchy self and the earth around you, which I liked. You could easily adapt this for a coven or a grove as well, if you are not a solitary practitioner. It also makes great research for any fantasy writer.

4) The Fairy Godmother, the first Five Hundred Kingdoms fantasy novel, by Mercedes Lackey does not disappoint. I will be reading every single book in the series. The great thing about is this series is that the books stand alone; you can read them out of order and you don't really miss integral plot points. This first one explains how all the fairy godmothers in the kingdoms are selected and trained. There's romance and intrigue and everything a great fantasy novel should have. I recommend it for a good escape. Better yet, it sets gender stereotypes on their head and gives feminine power more oomph!

As always, happy reading and happy writing!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thank You, Librarians!

Dear Librarians,

Thank you for all the years of enjoyment you’ve brought me. Thank you for being the refuge for a shy tomboy. Thank you for dragons, unicorns, and wizards. Thank you for taking me to faraway places while I was home sick in bed and couldn’t play outside. Thank you for helping me escape during my divorce. Thank you for all the long hours of entertainment in the hospital and at home recovering in the past few years. But most of all, thank you for supporting literacy programs and promoting the love of reading!
I remember how proud I was the day I learned to write my name and could get my very own library card. It was orange. My mother kept it in her wallet and over the years, it became well worn. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to get an adult library card. I felt truly grown up then, but mostly, I felt really lucky because even though my family didn’t go on fancy vacations in the summer or have a summer home, I always had the library and I could go a million places in my imagination.
So thank you for that!
Nora B. Peevy
AKA Your friendly neighborhood demon writer

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Letter to My Readers

Dear Readers,

First, let me start by saying this is NOT a farewell letter and The Demon Stole My Pencil WILL be continuing. In the past month or so, I've been back and forth to the hospital dealing with some serious health issues resulting from my broken foot and a blood clot in my leg that broke off and went into my lungs. On my doctor's advice, I have been on strict bed rest and moved out of my two-story home into a ranch home. There've been a lot of changes for me lately.

While in hospital, I had a lot of time to evaluate my life in between the blood vamp visits (the constant blood drawing wore on me) and all the tests and doctors and a nice long, drug induced nap. LOL There were only two things I really thought about: my family and my writing. Everything else in my life I was pretty much okay with, but I figured I still had a lot of stories in me and I wanted to see them in print. I also wanted to see my family again. Thankfully, it looks like both of those things are possible, since I survived my ordeal. I have a long recovery ahead of me at home, but I'm still here, baby!

I hope you'll keep reading and join me tomorrow for my letter to librarians, in honor of National Library Week.

Thank you to everyone who has been checking on me.

I am still in need of some guest bloggers to fill in as I'm mending, so if anyone's interested, please contact me.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Demon Writer,


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Between the Covers - Book Review #11

Four new picks for you this week: Charles de Lint's Onion Girl, Deborah Blake's Circle, Coven, and Grove, Phil Rickman's The Bones of Avalon, and Terry Pratchett's Snuff.

1) The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint is my new favorite Newford novel, even though it's an older one. de Lint does a remarkable job explaining the origins of the character, Jilly Coppercorn, the beloved fae artist of his fictional town. As usual, de Lint blends world mythology into a modern tale seamlessly. I personally related to Jilly as the proverbial onion girl, as I am sure all of us can. We have all overcome painful obstacles throughout our lives. And it is how we deal with those challenges that shape our hearts and souls. Jilly Coppercorn has a beautiful soul, as do all her friends that live in Newford. If you love art, the fae, and a tale from the heart, this one is for you.

2) Circle, Coven, and Grove by Deborah Blake is the first coven witchcraft book I have read. Her book is written in a conversational and entertaining style, which makes learning fun. And surprisingly, all of the rituals and work included in each chapter are easily adapted to solitary witches' needs as well. The book follows a year of rituals, discusses circle etiquette, how to set up a group of your own, and also includes a very comprehensive suggested reading list worth checking out. This book is recommended for any witch or those looking for a good research book on the subject of witchcraft.

3) The Bones of Avalon is the first Phil Rickman I have read and it did not disappoint. I love a good Elizabethan book and this murder mystery was well researched. In 1560, Queen Elizabeth commissions Dr. John Dee to return King Arthur's bones to England. But upon arrival in the legendary town of Glastonbury, Dr. John Dee becomes entwined in a plot of murder, intrigue, legend, and romance. And is someone out to kill the queen? Do not miss this one!

4) Terry Pratchett's Snuff is a solid entry in the Discworld series, but not his funniest. I loved that the book paralleled the issues of slavery and the treatment of goblins. And of course, who doesn't enjoy a good Commander Vimes solved murder, but I felt that the last four chapters could have been cut without the plot suffering. However, I enjoyed learning more about goblin culture and all the fascinating poo references were very entertaining. If you love Discworld, then you will like this book, but don't make it your first introduction into the series. It will be disappointing, otherwise.

Happy reading, folks!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Between the Covers - Book Review #10

Two new picks for you, Lena Coakley's Witchlanders and Ellen Dugan's Natural Witchery: Intuitive, Personal & Practical Magick.
1) Lena Coakley's Witchlanders is a great YA novel that kept my interest. Set in a wonderful fantasy where witches and Baen live in a divided land seeded with hatred after the last war, in which the witches won and forced the Baen to the wastelands and poverty, one young man, Ryder, must face his mother's coven heritage and set out to save his family and their way of life from destruction. The characters are wonderfully developed and the plot has a few twists and turns you won't expect. I will be reading more from this author.

2) Ellen Dugan's Natural Witchery fell a little flat for me, compared to her other books on witchcraft. This book focuses on honing in on your psychic gifts in coordination with the practice of magic. It is written in her pleasant, conversational tone and includes information such as how to incorporate your personal power into your own spells and enchantments, the psychic phases of the moon, and how to identify what psychic powers you possess. This book just didn't hold my interest as much. She included her usual amount of spellwork and background information, which was useful, but I felt this topic didn't really warrant an entire book. Though, I am still a fan of her work and recommend her other titles.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Be A Writer by Author Terri Morgan

Terri Morgan is a freelance journalist who's work has appeared in dozens of different magazines and newspapers. She is the author of four sports biographies for young adults, and the co-author of two others. She is the co-author of two books on photography: Photography, Take Your Best Shot and Capturing Childhood Memories, The Complete Photography Guide for Parents. Playing the Genetic Lottery is her first novel. She lives in Soquel, California.
As an avid reader, and a person who is fortunate enough to live in a book-loving community with bookstores that regularly host writer talks, I know a lot about the kinds of questions readers ask. I've been thinking about that recently, as I hope to start giving book talks myself once my novel, which I self published as an e-book in November, is out in paperback later this spring.

One of the first questions to come up is one that I've been asked numerous times during my 30-plus year career as a freelance non-fiction writer. People want to know if a writer has a particular schedule or routine. Over the years I've come to realize that while people are asking if a writer, say, gets up every morning at 5, brews a big pot of coffee, and is at their desk at 6 and toils faithfully away in longhand in black ink on legal pads until noon, they really want to know something else. I suspect they're looking for the secret formula that turns everyday people into authors.

I was guilty of the same thing in my teens. I thought writers needed a special gift that enabled them to turn ordinary words into magical prose that captured a reader's imagination. I used to wonder, when I was scribbling out my early attempts at fiction, how I could find that magic myself by emulating the writing schedule and habits of a famous author. I discovered, much to my surprise, that there is no magic bullet. To quote the Nike slogan all one needs is to Just Do It.

To become a writer, all one has to do is write. That's it. There's no secret, there's no short cut, there's no magic. All it takes is time, energy and a willingness to put words on paper, and the perseverance to keep writing and honing your skills. Does this mean I think writing is easy? No. Writing, especially writing well is hard work. It takes time and a lot of effort. And it takes a lot of thought. Think about what you want to write, whether it's a diary entry, a love letter, an angry retort to a newspaper article, a magazine piece, a bulletin for your bird watchers club newsletter, or a novel. Then start putting your thoughts onto paper. A good grasp of grammar and spelling is helpful, but those skills can be taught. A love of language is certainly helpful, so is a love of reading. I couldn't imagine ever becoming a writer if I hadn't been addicted to reading from an early age. Other than that, the only other criteria is a desire to communicate your thoughts via the written word. Once you've captured the essence on paper you can edit your work and polish your prose if necessary.

As for myself, no, I don't have a writing schedule. Most of my work for magazines, newspapers and businesses is deadline driven. I've found the pressure of an upcoming deadline is a good incentive to turn on the computer and start producing. For projects that don't have a deadline, like my novel, I work on them when time allows. I wrote Playing the Genetic Lottery while caring for my husband during his 18 months of life. When Gary was napping, and I wasn't driving him to and from doctor's appointments, medical tests or visiting him during hospital stays; I turned on my computer and wrote. When he woke up, and needed me, I printed out the day's work and turned off the computer. Somehow, even without a schedule or special work habits; I managed to write a book. If I can do it, so can anyone else who wants to share their thoughts, stories or imagination with others.   

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings # 11 - What Character is This?

While in Gun Barrel, Steve Anderson gifted us with his artwork. This piece will soon be framed and hanging proudly in my collection at home. It's rare that Steve gives any of his artwork away and my husband and I were pleased to get an original.

Art tells a story when I look at it. This pencil drawing immediately conjured up a complete character for me. The image is so striking; I thought it might inspire you to write as well. So I'm asking for you to share a character profile. Who is this crazy man in the sketch? I'd love to hear from you on here.

Here's my profile in stream of consciousness unedited:

Faralel is The Keeper of the Snowflakes. He lives in the far north in the Caves of Montralla where no human sets foot, cursed to live as a nomad until his true love comes calling. After living alone for a decade, he's not used to hearing his own voice. His ears have become attuned to the subtle intonations of melting icicles as spring approaches. He wears the mother crystal used to create all snowflakes. It hangs around his neck, a tiny snowflake pressed into a dried brown leaf preserved in clear resin that hangs on a cold, silver chain. Not having much use for appearances, Faralel is a practical elderly curmudgeon. He collects scraps of cloth discarded by pilgrims on their soul-searching journeys into the mountains and sews them together with great white rabbit sinew scavenged from his meals. At night, he plays the tunes of the mountain folk on a small rabbit bone whistle beside his fire. On one particularly cold eve, an injured and frightened young maiden stumbles into his dwelling, drawn by the smell of roasting rabbit, the light of the fire, and a faint jolly jig. His life will never be the same again.

And what will you write, demon hunter? Share with me!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Serial Sunday, The Telling Place, Part II.

Read Part I.

Ms. Sinclair sensed Logan’s fears quivering in his stomach like green jelly. She pushed past the grinning, goofy image of the idiot dog not even fit to carry fleas and searched deeper into Logan’s mind. She saw a blue painted room with plaid clad bunk beds and a spaceship nightlight. Her tongue flicked over her lips and her fingertips itched with anticipation as she honed in on a secondhand desk strewn with tubes of colored paint, model glue, and assorted paintbrushes held in an old Jiffy peanut butter jar.

She grasped her bird whistle until Logan saw her knuckles turn gray and he closed his eyes, trying to hold onto Shep’s face. He wanted so bad to pull his hand away from hers, but something primordial told him it was better to remain still, not to wake whatever beast lay slumbering behind Ms. Sinclair’s eyes if he wanted to be eating mom’s meatloaf for dinner that night. Logan concentrated on fluffy garlic mashed potatoes and meatloaf while Ms. Sinclair talked. Her hand felt oddly uncorpselike, which puzzled him. Maybe, it was just nerves last time, as mom said.

Ms. Sinclair stroked the whistle, feeling the warm bone stir beneath her fingertips. She peered closer at the modeling table in Logan’s room. “Now, Logan, you know that you need good grades to get a good job someday, right?”


She saw a tiny zombie miniature on the table, its face drawn back in snarled agony, a miniscule dagger in its fist. She smiled. “And you know you have to obey your parents and that your mom wants you to get good grades, right?"


Ms. Sinclair focused on the graveyard model displayed on the desk, the undead locked in limbs with the living, creeping, sneaking from clawed graves, shuffling out of the rusty cemetery gate, staggering around toppled gravestones, their lips pulled back in menacing howls, blood feast in their eyes. And she stroked her whistle. “Then you’ll work harder to better at your homework, right? To do your homework before your models?”

“Yes.” Logan felt something viscous and slippery crawling up his arm into his mouth, probing with its wet tongue. He spat and opened his eyes, startled. Yanking away his hand, he noticed nothing was there, but tasted vile brine in his mouth. “Sorry.” He wiped the palms of his hands on the front of his Star Wars shirt. “I thought a bug flew into my mouth.” He blushed, realizing how foolish he sounded with the window closed.

“That’s quite alright, Logan.” Ms. Sinclair glanced out the window. “Your mother’s back.”

The red door opened and Logan heard the faint tinkle of the ice cream truck outside.


“Yes.” He hugged his mom.

“Did everything go okay, Ms. Sinclair?”

“Yes, it did. I’ll see you at the same time next week.”

“Thank you, Ms. Sinclair.” Mrs. Martin winked at her.

“Goodbye, Logan.”


Ms. Sinclair waited until their tomato red Toyota Camry turned the corner on Wabash at the light before she raised her whistle to her lips.

* * *

Mrs. Hammond, I assure you that hypnotism is a widely accepted form of therapy proven to show significant results almost overnight.” Clarice smiled at young Johnny who sat on the floor repeatedly crashing two Hot Wheels® on the braided rug.

“You’re going to die in a fiery pit of burning hell,” the eight year old screamed. “Burn, burn, and die!”
“See what I mean, Ms. Sinclair? It’s just not normal, the aggression he displays. And the fighting with his sister at home has escalated.” Mrs. Hammond rubbed her weary face. “I just don’t know what to do any more. And I’m working such long hours at the hospital now that I can’t even begin to think of putting him in an afterschool program with his behavior like this.”

“I’m sure I’ll be able to help you out, Mrs. Hammond. It’s a good idea you brought him in. If you’ll give me a half hour alone with Johnny, I promise you’ll see results before his next session.”

“Fine.” Mrs. Hammond was almost out the door already, needing no prodding to escape for a half hour from her son.

“Mrs. Hammond, if you don’t mind my asking, where did you hear about my services,” Clarice stopped her in the vestibule.  

“From Logan’s mother.”

“Oh.” Ms. Sinclair smiled. “Enjoy your time alone, now. Most mothers do.” She winked.

As Ms. Sinclair closed the door, Mrs. Hammond thought she saw the old woman’s small bird talisman squirm against her purple blouse. But no, it couldn’t have been. It was just her imagination.

“In a pit of fiery burning hell!”

“Yes, Johnny, some day we will all die in a fiery pit of burning hell. But in the mean time, why don’t you come over here and talk to me for a minute.” Clarice stared at the black boy on the rug, following his gaze to a brightly painted wooden chest on the opposite wall. Well, if he won’t listen to me, we’ll just get his attention, won’t we? The little maggot. Clarice glowered as her feeble fingers stroked the bone bird whistle hanging from her waddled neck.

Johnny sat mesmerized by the chest, his arms poised over the rug with his cars suspended in mid-cataclysmic crash. The chest boasted a jungle scene carved in base relief and painted in electric blues, hot magentas, neon greens, and psychedelic yellows. Lions, giraffes, moneys, and parrots and long serpents capered and danced with the dark African figures under leafy umbrella palms. The greens were so lush Johnny could almost drink the sweet, cool water from their stems. As he reveled in the details of the scene, the silhouetted figures began to shiver and quake as one tall, lean man raised a machete and decapitated a giraffe. Its shiny yellow wooden body ran bright red with rivulets of blood. Johnny hurried away from the gruesome pandemonium scene as animals fled shrieking and squealing into the jungle. He clambered for the warm safety of the couch by Ms. Sinclair’s rocking chair and wrapped the granny square afghan around his quivering shoulders, hiding his blue “The Dog Ate My Homework shirt”. 

“You w-wanted to talk to me, Ms. Sinclair?” Why couldn’t Johnny see her pupils? It almost seemed she didn’t have any. Strange, like a witch. He shivered, pulling the afghan tighter around his body.

“Yes, I wanted to talk with you, Johnny. Just a friendly talk. Nothing bad. Give me your hand,” Ms. Sinclair beckoned, sliding her rocking chair closer to the couch.

Johnny knew that voice. It was the lying voice, the kind of voice Dr. Martin used when he told him the shot wouldn’t hurt much or the voice his sister used when she promised to take him to the park if he left her alone for awhile and then didn’t. It was a dark, bruised voice, the lying voice. Johnny didn’t want to disappoint his mother again. He really didn’t, so he gave Ms. Sinclair his left hand, palm up, and squeezed his tongue tight against the roof of his mouth to keep from screaming.    

“Close your eyes, Johnny.”

He closed his eyes.

Clarice put her bird whistle to her wizened lips and blew once. A piercing squawk hurt his ears. He winced. “Tell me about your sister, Johnny.”

Johnny’s voice hung wasp nest thin on the air, his eyelids fluttering like insect wings. “I don’t like her. She threatens to cut the heads off my G.I. Joes and steals my candy. And she tells on me and gives me purple nurples and stuff."

“I see.” As Clarice held the boy’s soft, clammy hand, she saw a long-legged girl with a slender coltish neck and a delicious mischievous grin. “Is that why you beat her up?”

“No,” he blurted. “She beats me up first.”

“I see. And how does that make you feel?"


“Keep talking.” Clarice pressed deeper into the boy’s nubile consciousness, searching, searching for … Ah yes, there it was. She wet her lips and stroked her bird talisman. It grew hot and malleable like the boy’s hand.

When Johnny was younger, two, maybe three, his mother had read him the story, Three Billy Goats Gruff. The long rickety bridge they had to cross didn’t frighten him and the troll with the nasty eyes didn’t frighten him, but for some reason he did not like the goats, even though they were the heroes of the story. Goats were vile and dirty. They stank at the petting zoo. They ate your nametags and slobbered slimy spit in your hand, leaving you all germy, while flies buzzed around them to bite their smelly legs. At night he’d gone to sleep and the goats plagued him with their malodorous odor and their red eyes like glowing pinpoints in the dark as they bared their brown stained teeth, their hooves tapping with anticipation. Click, click, click … Why was he thinking about this now?

The boy was strong -- almost too strong. He knew something was wrong. Clarice saw it written in his scrunched up face, his mouth tinier than a shriveled raisin. She tasted his fear in the air, alkaline and slippery. Continuing to stroke her bird whistle, she whispered, “Johnny, do you remember the goats?”

“Y-yes.” His grip on her hand could have crushed a drinking glass.

“When I say ‘hippopotamus’ and tell you to open your eyes you won’t remember me asking that question.”

“’Kay.” His lids fluttered and stilled. Johnny thought of the ballerina elephants in Fantasia now. It must be the mention of hippos. He grinned.

“Hippopotamus. Open your eyes, Johnny.” Clarice startled as her office door opened. Mrs. Hammond had a bag of Einstein Bros® bagels in her hand.

“Hi, Johnny. Did you have a good talk?”
“Y-yes, mom.” He really couldn’t remember. That was odd. He remembered something about a hippo or a dancing elephant. His tongue felt swollen and his head felt thick like he’d been sleeping.

“Well, Johnny, you’d best get out of here and make the most of what’s left of the daylight while you can. It’ll be dark before you know it.” Ms. Sinclair grinned.


“Johnny, why don’t you wait for me in the car? We’ll go get a Happy Meal after I finish talking with Ms. Sinclair.”

She waited until he safely rounded the corner. “Anything I should know about?”

End of Part Two

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Writer's Day Off - Photo Essay

On Thursday, my husband and I took the '66 mustang on the road to Gun Barrel, Texas to visit our friends, Steve and Paul. (The proverbial foot shot on the dashboard has been a standing inside joke for the past two years. It seems I have a habit of doing this without realizing it. LOL) Steve and Paul own a beautiful country property, complete with a goose pond and an artist studio. Steve is an artist and a magician. He and Paul collect an eclectic mixture of antiques and art, create their own pieces, garden, and rescue an assortment of wild and domestic animals on their property. You never know what you will find waiting for you at Steve Anderson's house. With my new camera in hand and hobbling around the property, I managed to score a few pics, though not as many as I, the crazy photo nut, you have come to know and love, would normally. Here's what I saw on my day off.