Monday, November 15, 2010

American Dog - A Reflection on Dogs and the Media

Dogs are the best friends of men? A boy and his dog? We take them as pets, we love them, feed them, give them shelter. Their lives are in our hands.

As a dog owner, I get weepy when I see those darned ASPCA commercials. You know the ones I mean. Labs stuffed into overrunning cages, poodles half starved and covered with mange. Those commercials are emotional. It's horrible what we do to our charges.

Speaking of television, let's think about another little something you may have possibly seen. Flashing ambulance lights and hysteric people. Little Jimmy Doe from two towns over was attacked by two dogs.

When you see the news next, it's reported that Jimmy is now in stable condition and the two snarling pit bulls have been picked up by the local humane society or dog pound.

Now let me paint you a picture that you don't see on the news or any television special.

Big man doesn't just want any dog, he wants one he knows people fear on sight. So he goes to this guy whose name he heard through the grapevine or read in the local trading journal. Big man takes a look at what's offered, but of course he only wants the biggest of the litter. Money is exchanged, sometimes authenticity of breed papers, and Big man goes home with a sweet, cuddly little puppy. But puppy is raised in one lone room of the house, shouted at for approaching outsiders other than those it shares the house with; praised when it snarls or growls at strangers.

Yes, dog is a man's best friend, but that doesn't mean it should only have one friend.

Here's another picture you won't see on the news.

Little man's been raising dogs for years. The new round of pups is going into training, over thirty in all. They're given growth hormone shots, fed massive amounts of dog food daily, weights attached to their legs as they run, tires (one, sometimes two and three and four) tied to their chains when they are outside. Then one day they are left hungry, and the next day... and the next. Then, in a small area out back, little man throws two of the pups together with a piece of meat. They fight, not until death but just until one eats. Both are praised, given treats. This becomes part of their weekly training. Eventually fighting another dog becomes natural to them.

That doesn't mean it is their nature.

My friend and fellow horror writer, Damien Walter Grintalis, has recently posted this Quiet Plea to Writers on Behalf of Her Dogs, and I echo that plea. For far too long has the media (and that means all media... news, music, art) portrayed the American Pit Bull Terrier as some ferocious and uncontrollable beast that preys on mankind whenever given a chance. Most of these dogs you see are not the standard of the breed. It was indeed not even two decades ago that Spudz McKenzie was the most well known pit bull in the country. And well loved. The Budweiser dog was t-shirt famous.

I own pit bulls... I rescue pits when I can manage to. Damien is a pit bull owner and if I'm not mistaken, both her pits are rescues as well. We know that these dogs are gentle and loving and loyal pets. We know they can live alongside other dogs in happiness with nothing more than the general dog squabble that happens with any breed of dog if there are more than one in residence.

I'm asking that we change the standard. What these dogs get from the general public is fear. They don't ask for it... it's their standard. And they don't fucking deserve it.

One final note: Read Damien's post. Read this one. Know that you're hearing from better experts than Suzie Day on Channel 9. We own these dogs. I own these dogs still, even after my daughter was attacked by a dog of the very same breed two years ago on Halloween. Because I know that anything with teeth will bite. Our children do, but we raise them to know that they shouldn't bite. Why shouldn't we raise our dogs the same? Teach them better, they will be better.

I'm asking for those who know and write to write about this. If you own pits and know they aren't what the media makes them, write about it. If you are afraid of them because of what you've seen, please read with an open heart. If you're one of those that perpetrate this awful outlook on pit bulls, consider what you're doing. You're making them monsters... and they're just dogs. We're responsible for our children.. and for our dogs. Teach them better, and let them be pets.

We raise our kids... and we raise our dogs. Think about it.


Friday, October 29, 2010

And soon it shall pass...

So, it is time for my return to the woefully neglected world of Little Bits and Pieces. Soon enough, regular postings shall happen. Sporadic silliness, constant craziness and the unfailing barrage of foul language that is... well, me.

I know y'all have missed me. Admit it.

So, what has Miss Effie been up to? Stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Some hard, some painful, some enraging. Some I'd just rather not talk about. It might not be behind me, but I have a little breathing room.

I hate some damn drama, you know that? Drama pisses me slap the fuck off and I just want to throttle someone. I am not, by nature, an extremely violent person, but drama makes me very, very violent - in feeling even if not in practice.

My life, over the last several months, has been constant drama. And no, I have not killed anyone yet. Aren't you proud of me? I feel positively smug, my friends, smug indeed.

So, it is nice to return to the old blog and get it going again. I have missed blogging my little bits of insanity and pieces of me. I have missed abusing you all.

As you were.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Strange Men in Pinstriped Suits Blog Award

So, my blog has been deemed strange enough for a pinstriped suit award by the wonderfully odd K.M. McElhinny (clickable).

The Rules!

1. Add the logo of the award to your blog post.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (the strange ones will come after you if you don't...well, not really, but it sounds good).

3. Nominate seven other blogs telling us why you think the recipient is strange enough to deserve the award.

4. Leave a message for those nominated on their blogs.

5. And, if you email catephoenix(at)gmail(dot)com and tell her you've received the award for your strangeness, she'll enter you in the biggest kick-ass Strange Men competition ever. Details over at (click on the award link on the home page)

Firstly, my nominees:

1) Miss Alexia for her delicious blog, My Muse is a Zombie.

2) Miss Damien Grintalis for her blog, Damien Walters Grintalis.

3) Next is Miss Stacy Graham for her blog, Betwixt and Between.

4) Has to be Mr. K. Allen Wood. They just don't make them stranger than the guy behind The Eyesore Times.

5) I love this strange little undead doggie over at What do you mean I should start a blog?

6) Adam Slade is a great writer and just strange enough over at his Editing Hat.

7) And last but not least, Matt over at Pensive Sarcasm is just great.

And that's that. Check out these excellent blogs and congratulations to everyone. I love reading your posts, so keep posting!


New poem up at Every Day Poets

Hello there! I have a poem up at Every Day Poets called "What Round the Corner Waits" (clickable). If you have a moment, give it a look-see. And please, leave a comment there on EDP or here. I'd love to hear from you.

Peace & Love,

Monday, July 19, 2010


So, I hate summer time. I know it sounds awful, but I do. It's so damned hot. Give me spring or fall, but keep your fucking summer. I don't want it.

I find myself very irritable lately, and with that comes this feel of dripping, nasty sarcasm in my writings. I don't like the tone, so I'm not getting very much done, production wise. Not many words get kept. I can't even manage to keep that tone out of a shared project between me and another writer. And it is completely unsuited for that particular work. So, little worth keeping in the last two - four weeks.

So, why am I irritable? I dunno. Worries, commitments [familial and otherwise], stress. It's nothing out of the norm. If you've followed my blog for a while, you might remember me talking about the long silences.

This is the long silence.

I've written only two or three new stories since The beginning of July, which isn't a lot for me. I'm usually more prolific. I've gotten some work done on the "Sister" project, but that's slow moving. Rewrites are, from what I hear.

Mostly though, it's my kids. It's not that they're bad kids, because they aren't. They're just normal kids. But they're home all the time and that means distractions. Distractions and writing don't mix well.

Especially those distractions that come in the form of: "Mom! Come and look, it's so frigging cool. I just chopped a snake in half and it's still trying to bite me! And there are baby ones crawling out of the bottom half. Bro, grab that shovel and kill those little fuc... uhh... I mean... boogers."

Oh yes, that happened.

Now, I'm a country kinda chick and have no problems with snakes if they are minding their own business. But my children and snakes that are still trying to bite? Oh but no. Nope, no way, not happening. I live 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. I'd have a dead kid if one of them got bitten by something like a copper head or a cotton mouth moccasin.

Anyhow, summer is moving along and trying to work itself to fall. I'll be ready for the cooler temperatures, and my kids are already ready to go back to school (although they would never admit it). They miss their friends that they don't get to see and what not.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Black Rainbow Finale

The final part of Black Rainbow is up at The Piker Press. Have a read.

Black Rainbow Finale (clickable)


Peace & Love,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Things Every Writer Should Know....

10 things every writer should know before they start writing.

1) Basic plot. You need a beginning, a middle and an end. And basically, that is all you need to have. You can fill in the gaps later. Right now, there are more important things than plot to worry about.

2) Characters. I don't mean knowing the names, ages and what they look like. You gotta know how old your female MC was when she got her period, or how old your male MC was when he got his first stiffy. You need to know their grandmother's mother's maiden name. You gotta know how often they have sex. You gotta know if their mother has a skin condition of unknown origin, and if she does... exactly why is the origin of that skin condition unknown? These aren't just dolls! They are fucking people. If you're gonna pen down their story, you better know them better than their mothers do.

3) Genre. I know, I know. But you don't want to start a story as a romance, venture into erotica, then become a suspense/thriller, then sci-fi before finally settling into horror... just before it turns into a western, complete with "Well howdy there partner." Know what you're writing, please.

4) Setting. A story has to have a place to happen. Sure, the characters can travel, if need be, but they need a definite, central place for the story to focus on. Having fifty different places in one story makes for hectic reading.

5) Timeline. Some stories span hours, some days, some months and some even span lifetimes. You got to know how long this shit is gonna take so you can write accordingly.

6) Conflict. Gotta know who or what your characters are up against. There must be conflict, be it internal or external. Know the conflict. Make it fucking impossible to overcome. Then... have your characters overcome it anyway. "Protags must protag... and antags must antag." (Cathyfreeze said that on Absolute Write Water Cooler forums oh so long ago.)

7) Who is gonna win. Bad guy? Good guy? You decide, but you had better make sure that decision means something and isn't just because that is how you want it. No: it doesn't matter if it makes no sense in the story if all the other people die, I just want this one little girl to live, alone in the world with nothing but chain grocery store leavings to feed her for as long as her lonely lifespan lasts, which if I had my way would be forever and ever and ever and... shut up. Make your decisions count. Don't just do some stupid shit cause you want to. The story isn't really yours. You may create it, but it isn't your story. It is the story of the characters. Make sure it stays that way.

8) Will the winner of said conflict come away basically the same? If so... stop. Rethink. This is not so the character just goes on about his merry way like he or she never even went to Duggard Academy and got ass-raped by a baboon. It doesn't work that way. This shit changes people when it happens to them in real life and so, it must change your characters. They are, after all, people too.

9) How will this conflict change the world for your characters? This is not the change within the characters themselves, as is listed in #8 of this post. This is how things around them change. Do others feel the change this subtle conflict resolution has brought? If not, why not? If so... how... and why?

10) This is the absolute most important thing any writer should know before they start. Writing is fun. Writing is therapeutic. Writing is a great way to kill off a certain someone time and time again... all while being perfectly legal for you to do so because it is fiction and has no affect on the person in reality. They needn't even know you've killed them (or how often). If you aren't having fun, you aren't doing it right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing Without Thinking: My Way

Okay. So, a little silence on the blog front from me for a while, other than my novelette pimpage, so I suppose I owe you guys a real post.

So, a few years ago, I was in between writing projects and had no new ideas forthcoming. But I felt the need to write. Those of you who write as well, you know that need. Those of you that read... well, it's inexplicable. I'd say it's almost like a need to scratch something you can't reach, but pleasant.

As I had no new ideas frothing in mine tiny brain, I decided to go with something old and borrowed. But what? I couldn't think of anything that interested me to write about. That's one thing about writing... the writer has to be interested too.

So, I'm looking around my house, looking for inspiration. I didn't find it, but I did find my DVD shelf and a thought occurred that tried to be inspiration.

I would pick four DVDs from my collection and have a day-long marathon. Thusly armed, I would sit down that night and just write a mash up of the plots. Just something for myself, something to do for the fun of it.

Instead of picking them all myself, I decided to enlist my kids to close their eyes and pick at random... one DVD from each of us.

First pick was mine. I picked Message in a Bottle.

My oldest son picked next... Sexy Housewife Orgy or some such thing. (Remember that we picked with our eyes closed, so he didn't intentionally pick the porn).

My Daughter picked... The Parent Trap (the original).

My youngest son picked The Silence of the Lambs.

Deeming the porn unsuitable for daytime watching, I re-placed it on my shelves and had my son pick another film, though I decided that I would keep the erotic aspect because it was originally picked.

His replacement pick was Exit Wounds.

Looking over these titles, I thought to myself, "Shit a brick. What am I even supposed to DO with this??" But, I stuck with my plan, watched the movie-marathon and sat down that evening to write.

I kept writing for months on that story. It was nuts, it was wildly unbelievable & cliched.

It. Was. Awesome.

I had so much fucking fun writing that story. It was seriously stupid in the storyline department, but it was some of my best writing. Because I didn't have to think about it too much. It was already there, I had the basic lines of my plot... cannibals, twins, sex, cops and romance. I dug it so hard.

Basically, though, this exercise taught me not to think about my writing too much. Get thee the basics and write the fruition of thy sullied mind. Don't think about it until it dies.

My writing has gone through many, many changes and grown by leaps and bounds. I tried several genres before settling down to horror. My mash-up story occurred just before I came to my horrible home. It is no longer my favorite bad story (because it really was awful) but to this day it remains the one I had the most fun writing. And writing should be fun, shouldn't it?

Peace & Love

Monday, June 21, 2010

And It's Black Rainbow Pt. 2

So, I just noticed that Part Two of my novelette Black Rainbow (clickables!) is up over at The Piker Press. If you read part one, go on and read part two. See what is up with Fox Thomas, Emma and Percy. You don't want to miss it.

Blurb: Fox and Emma try to forget what they both want, and can never be ... but even as they push away their thoughts, something else is listening ...


Monday, June 14, 2010

What Could Possibly Be Over a Black Rainbow?

My novelette, Black Rainbow (clickable), is being published by The Piker Press, and Part One is available today. Go and have a read.

Blurb: Years pass, and what seemed would be unending tedium, a habit of living suddenly changes. It feels good, but only as long as Emma and Fox don't think about it too much ...

Black Rainbow: Part One of Four, by Effie Collins.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Hisotry of Effie: The Girl You Think You Want to Know

It is the end of the school year here and the flurry has descended. Today was the very last day of school and the kids are home. Arguments have ensued and I am wishing heartily for the biggest Xanax they ever made.

Sometimes those cravings just refuse to stay gone.

There have been questions as to what kind of person I am... some people don't believe that my picture and I are the same person, or that my pictures are me in some other form of self that doesn't exist except in the land of photos and that I am hiding the true me. This has come up in more than one internet venue, so I'm making an effort and addressing it.

I've said it before that I am who I am and I'm not going to pander to anyone for anything. If you don't like how I look, don't look. If you don't like what I say, don't listen. If you don't like what I write, don't read it. It's not MY problem. But for those that do like what they see, hear, and read, and still doubt that the simple and plain looking girl in the picture has those dark and strange things in her head, here's a history of Effie. It's what defined me as a person and what makes me tick. This is far better directly from me to you, with no editing or filters as it's just me, and that's exactly how I like it.

I was born in West Virginia and have lived here for most of my life. By most of my life, I mean pretty much all of it. As a kid, I was bright and creative, with an imagination far too big for the little girl that contained it. I was never really a pretty girl--as a kid I had this awkward and strange face that could have belonged to either a boy or a girl, eyes that were far too dark to be real and gapped and horrid teeth. I have always been cursed with stupidly long legs that are impossible to buy jeans or trousers for. I was a thin kid and did cheer leading, karate, choir, band. Straight A student. I had promise.

But what is all that, really? Surface shit. It's what you would have seen twenty-some years ago, before the real world showed itself to me in all its ugliness.

15 years ago, you'd have seen an awkward, if mildly pretty teen girl who didn't know who she wanted to be. She wrote constantly and listened to music, sang songs and took long, lonely walks. She hand only enough friends to count on one hand with fingers left over, but that was okay with her. She'd have rather had two true friends than a hundred pretenders. And she wanted to be loved. It never occured to her that she had two very good parents who loved her more than anything. This girl wanted that one love, and you know what I mean.

Well, that girl found it. To her everlasting sorrow.

About 8-10 years ago, you'd have seen a teenage girl trying desperately to balance a baby on each hip while her toddler held onto her belt loop or back pocket of jeans that didn't fit and had holes everywhere, with a diaper bag over one shoulder and pacifiers over several of her fingers. One for each kid's mouth. This girl was too skinny, rarely if ever brushed her hair or her teeth; there just wasn't time. Her eyes were constantly circled in purplish-grey because she never slept and those same eyes were almost always red and dry because every chance she got, she lit up a doobie just to feel sane. This was a sad, desperate, angry girl who wanted to be anyone or anything other than the failure she was. Because I was a failure. I'd quit school, popped out babies every year from my 16th to my 19th and while those babies slept, I scribbled in notebooks, pretending I was a writer and not just another drug addicted teen mom with less than a glimmer of talent.

Her boyfriend-turned-husband is an asshole, mean and cruel. He never has a kind word for her; she is lazy and a lousy housekeeper, a terrible mother, she smokes too many cigarettes and does too much of the dope that he pays for.

She gets a job.

She works her ass off for a little bit of nothing and hands him her paychecks to pay for her cigarettes, pot, and cocaine, or pills, or whatever it is he has that week. Her children are now all toddlers, and she sings to them every night, reads them books, does flashcards and teaches them to read and write simple words, all before they are even school age. But she is a terrible mother. I hated my husband for daring to say that because I never beat my children. Back then, not beating them was equated with not so bad. Showing them how to read and write was that extra step toward good to this poor, stupid girl who didn't know better.

But one day she loses her temper at work, a famous franchise of restaurants that will stay nameless, and throws a full pan of freshly baked potatoes at her boss, clocks out and walks the seven miles between work and her house.

So now she's home, all the time, with nothing to do but take care of kids and snort more blow, smoke another doobie, crush another Xanax or hell even take a handful of them.

I do not exaggerate when I say I was high for more than 8 years. There may have been days when I had nothing to get high on, but on those days, I was so dope sick I was just as useless. Puking, shitting out the foulest stuff you can imagine, shoving Cheetos, a cup of milk and peanut butter crackers at my kids and calling it dinner so I could run back to the bathroom. And when my husband finally came home with some dope, I was waiting at the door, hand out.

Until he stopped coming to the door where I lived and started going to someone else's door. Then I was all alone with my kids and my habits in a place I didn't know. I called my parents and came back home. He came back, of course he did... but that's another story for another time.

That was a sad, lost girl. That was me.

I have dark things in my head because I've been dark places, the darkest places you can imagine. When you have an imagination like mine, it's dangerous to combine that with drugs, especially hard drugs. I tried to kill my husband not once, not twice, but four different times. I tried to kill myself far more. I never ate because I was never hungry--the pills fed the only hunger I felt--and there were times I remember eating five or six hydro tens and then waiting until it all went away, the blue or the green ones only... the pink Vicodin never did a damn thing for me unless I had more than eight. Percocet slowly became my drug of choice, but even it faded to coke.

That was in 2005... when my father died.

By then sleep had become a far away thing I barely remembered and I walked around in a constant stupor... a breathing vegetable just waiting for her next rail. A dope eating and snorting machine. If I didn't have a line to toot I was a class A raw bitch and no one wanted to even talk to me. Except my kids. My anger never extended to them. I know that sounds like a lie, but it isn't.

I never grieved for my father and have never visited his grave. I guess to me, seeing where he is would make it real. I think I'll go soon. It's time, I think. Maybe. Soon.

So, we have the now Effie to look at I suppose. I still smoke pot, but the other drugs are behind me. I can't go back there... if I do, I'll die. I no longer play with my writing, about two years ago, I stopped with the coke, though the pills took longer to give up, I think quitting coke was harder. I got my first computer and started typing my stories up. I started looking at publishing and realized just how badly my stories sucked. I was writing everything with nothing more than my imagination and a tenth grade education, plus GED, and I was horrified to find that what I was writing wasn't even close to good.

But writing was the only thing in my life that had been constant. And when I sat down to write, I was real. I knew I was real. Writing became something like a job and I started to be serious. I started to really want something beyond my walls and kids.

I want this. I want to write, I want people to read what I write and find the little truths in my words and worlds. They may be dark and twisted and disturbing, but they are mine and they are real and they are true. Just because they come from a place of imagination doesn't mean they are all fiction. My words come from a true place most of you could never face without pissing your pants.

Those places are still inside of me and all I have to do is remember to know what I don't want.

I have my kids to care for, my mother to care for. I have my writing and am working hard for the few publishing credits I have. I have my life and I am grateful for it because there was a time that I wasn't even human. That is what molded the woman people think should look differently than she does simply because of what she likes to read and write. I am cynical and I am bitter. I am dark and brooding and rarely happy in the most accepted sense of the word. I look "sweet", as some people say, but how many of you knew the truth of me before this? Do you like it? Is it interesting?

Do you think I'm pretty? All of me, inside and out? The ugly things inside me are the truths and the almost pretty face and decent enough body shape is the lie. I know what I am. I know what kind of monsters I have in my heart and head. I know what I can be, good and bad, I know my capabilities.

When it comes down to it, it's my choices that brought me to this place. And I chose to be better. I may never be completely drug free, I may never be completely whole or wholesome. But I am what I am. Aren't you so very glad you know me now?

Peace & Love

PS: As an added note, I'm taking a little break from the blog for a week or two to deal with some real life issues. I keep getting my posts in later and later and not on time and I am having to take time to deal with one thing and then another in my life that can't be put off. I will be posting still, but very sporadically.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hold me to it Pt. 6

This week's word count is good stuff, people.

The grand total is 4011 words on various short stories. I've done no work on the novel rewrite, but there are reasons for that. Real life sometimes only leaves so much room for writing time.

I did have a poem accepted for publication though, so that's something.

I have not been setting goals for this and I think that's best. I do well with a deadline, but not a self-set deadline. But, knowing I have to have word count every week to report to my followers is enough of a goal.

So, that's it. Till next time.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Necrotic Tissue

Necrotic Tissue: Issue 10: 04/2010.

Cover work is something that can grab you as you pass it by on the shelf. Strategically placed, the cover of a novel, or a magazine, can make you stop, pick it up, browse. Maybe buy.

Necrotic Tissue (clickable) has stellar cover art, they have stellar stories, they are, to be frank, an awesome magazine. Sadly, you might not find them on your local store's shelves... but that is what reviews are for. We get to pow-wow about these little gems you have to hunt.

Basically put, editor R. S. McCoy knows good horror. The stories chosen for each issue have a depth that many writers (including this one) hope to have in their work.

There's only one true downside to this magazine, and that's the advertising. But, they have to be able to pay their writers semi-pro and pro rates (pay scale differs for type of short stories see their submission guidelines, found on the site linked above, for details). The stories contained in each issue are worth that, so I don't mind scanning the ads while I thumb through for stories.

One thing I love about a printed magazine is the feel of the page. I don't know why, but I love the paper Necrotic Tissue uses to print on. It has substance and a certain feel to it.

Another thing I love about this magazine is their 100 word "bites" - little stories that are really just a glimpse that tells it all. In issue 10, I'd recommend the one entitled "Express Checkout Lane" by Bob Eccles. If you don't laugh, you're insane. So it is written and blah blah.

Pick up a copy of Necrotic Tissue from their site. It might cost you a bit more than some of the other magazines I've talked about so far, but I somehow don't think you'll mind.

Oh, and since you're here and all...

I have a poem out with SNM Horror Magazine's Dark Poetry section. Go and read Brothel of Wicked Fantasy (clickable) by me.

Peace & Love

Monday, May 31, 2010


No Spotlight Weird Today, people, that will be tomorrow, featuring Necrotic Tissue. Check back then.

As most of us know, we in the U.S. are having a holiday today; Memorial Day. For those that have died fighting for the U.S. in wars spanning centuries. We honor our dead; for they truly are ours and we are proud.

Though many members of my family are and have been military, there have been none lost and I am grateful for that. I am grateful to those who have borne that grief, while still devastated that they had to do so. My family is fortunate, and I am grateful.

Illi quisnam intereo, nos gratias ago vos. Nos memor.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hold Me To It Pt. 5

A day late, yes oh yes, I know. I am babysitting this weekend and am typing this post as my little nephew naps. So, it shall be super quick.

Word count for this week: 2873.

That is all.

Peace & Love

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

About a Boy...

His name is Captain Jackson Pharaoh, Jax for short (I do not claim responsibility for that name. I blame the kids. They wanted to name him Jack Sparrow of Caribbean fame, but I objected strenuously. I prevailed, but, as you can see, just barely) . He sails the world of under-birdcage for now, in a huge home made terrarium, complete with a pond for his wading pleasure.

He is my turtle.

Now I know that you, little readers, did not know of my precious Jax. I've been saving him, see. I love animals of all types; my dogs, Sarrow and Chancey, are very near and dear to me, my cats, Mufasa and White Chocolate, are simply a joy, the bird not so much a joy (he's a mean ass, Gemini is), the fish are... well, fish. They just swim there in the corner and act fish-like.

Ah, but Jax. Jax is a little love.

See, when I was 6, my daddy brought me a turtle. And I have a way with the little critters. I can't explain it... turtles just like me. I can pick up any turtle I see, wild or in a pet store, and be petting its head within a minute. I shit you not. Anyhow, that particular turtle my father brought to me was a female, whom I named Georgia. She was the best frigging pet in the world. She'd stretch out her neck and rub her little beak on my cheeks, she'd sit with me and watch TV. I could let Georgia loose in the house to run around and play, and she always came to find me after she'd gotten her tired on. Then she'd follow me around until I put her back in the terrarium to sleep.

Eventually, I let Georgia go. I didn't want to, but I had to. I'd kept her for two years and it started to feel wrong to keep her for reasons I didn't understand. Even back then, I had a sense of it being wrong.

Oh, but Georgia came back. In fact, she came back every fucking year until I was 15 years old. I'd be walking to the bus stop and there she'd be, beside the road, boogieing her little hard-shell ass back to the house. It was funny, because when she saw me, she'd start running towards me. Every time. It was like she missed me.

Turtles are highly intelligent, believe it or not. Especially the North American Box Turtle, of the Eastern variety, not the ornate kind thank you so very much, and I firmly believe that Georgia understood that I loved her very much, in a turtle-like kind of reasoning, of course. Why would she come back year after year if she didn't get it at least a little bit?

But of course, Jax is not Georgia. I'm getting to him, I promise.

Anyhow, one year Georgia didn't come back. I was heart-broken when July came around and still no orange and black shell came boogieing up the street for a visit.

Zip forward several years, seven to be exact, and all three of my children are going out of the toddler stage. I am twenty-two, my youngest child is three.

And my husband brings home a tiny little Box Turtle he'd found at work. The poor thing was so light--positively hollow--and she was barely more than a baby in turtledom. He brought the little girl home for our children.

But she, like Georgia, was mine from the minute we met. And she, also like Georgia, attached to me just as much as I did her. Her name was Serafina.

Now, you may be asking how in blue-fuck did I know the gender of the turtles. No, there are no pink and blue ribbons tied to their ankles, they don't wear skirts or lipstick. A box turtle can be sexed by their eye color. Red eyes means male, brown/amber means female. Not rocket science, huh?

Anyhow, I didn't keep Serafina for very long. She became depressed (yes, turtles get depressed) and her stress levels went through the roof. My kids were just too young, see. They wanted to constantly hold/play/run around waving the turtle in the air. And for a very young turtle who has had no taming or handling, it's extremely stressful.

Zip forward another few years. I'm walking down the road with my husband and, lo and behold, a box turtle scooting its way alongside the street, just like Georgia used to do but no where near as quickly. My husband likes to poke fun at me over my turtle obsession (I have a jade turtle necklace I will share the story about one day, but not today) and told me: "Go get it, baby. Maybe it's your Georgia reincarnated." I almost hated him for that because I still miss Georgia. But see, he knows how turtles take to me. He saw it with Serafina and a couple other females I'd picked up, but never kept, throughout the years.

Anyhow, I go over and take a quick gander at the turtle and it draws up into its shell. The great thing about box turtles is that they can close their shell entirely, unlike others of the same species. It makes them unique in turtledom, you know?

Anyway, I start talking to it. (Yes, I talk to turtles. So what?) I ask it what it's doing, so close to the road like that. Don't it know it could get hurt? After all, a great big truck is heavy enough to crack even as good a shell as this one.

My husband behind me chuckles and laughs, as he so often does at my antics.

But the shell opens up and a little head pokes out. I don't know if it's the way I talk to them or what, but I've always been able to talk a turtle into coming out for a pow-wow. True, I do all the talking, even the incredible box turtle isn't much of a conversationalist, but they respond to my voice.

Anyhow, I am delighted to see a bright pair of red eyes looking at me. A boy! It's my very first boy turtle and I couldn't be more thrilled.

See, I don't keep the females because they need to lay eggs. Box turtles are getting rarer and rarer all the time, and a female turtle can produce many offspring throughout her twenty-five year lifespan. So, I don't keep female turtles. Turtledom needs the eggs and baby turtles to keep Turtledom alive and going. Without turtles, there would be no Turtledom of the wild. I didn't know why I felt bad for keeping Georgia when I was a child, but as I grew up, I understood my feelings of guilt.

After a second or two, I reach down to pick up this red-eyed miracle in a shell and he doesn't draw in. And as I go back to my husband's side, I'm already scratching the top of this boy turtle's head. Minutes later, I'm rubbing under his chin and he's loving it.

My husband says (on that day) that I'm the only person he knows that can find, pick up, and begin petting a turtle within minutes. Sometimes even tame turtles draw up and away from people they don't know.

As I said, I have a way with the critters.

So, Captain Jackson Pharaoh comes home with me. I build him a temporary terrarium until I can make the turtle alcove outside habitable again.

I still have my Turtledom sign. It goes up when the outdoor alcove is reopened.

Jax is a great turtle. He's moody, and can be grumpy if he hasn't had a little tomato or strawberry every week, but he's an awesome pet. He climbs all over me, all over his little area with its rocks and logs. He loves to soak in his little pond and I swear, I can almost hear him purring when I rub his chin (not literally, but turtles are so expressive! You can see that if he could purr when I rub his chin, he would). His claws get sharp every once in a while, but they wear down on the rocks in his little area soon enough.

Who knows? Now that I have a boy turtle, maybe I'll find another girl turtle someday to bring home and give him a friend. And if we have baby turtles, then I can release them at proper age and help replenish some of the box turtle populace.

I love them so much, these turtles. It's sad to see their numbers dwindle. Destruction of their natural habitats, roadways, and of course, their natural predators, have their way with these little creatures. But in my Turtledom, the babies would be safe from predators and other dangers, at least until they are old enough to make it on their own. And it very much mimics their natural habitat, with their natural foods of slugs, worms and other creepy-crawlies, as well as the tasty treats of melon, strawberry and tomato I buy for them.

So, that's my about a boy. About my little love, my turtle Jax. In my own life, there have been many pets. Turtles will always be welcome at my house, in Turtledom. I have a strange and wondrous love for these reptiles that I can't explain. But we get it, the turtles and me. Isn't that the only thing that matters?

Peace & Love

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Clarkesworld Magazine

Ah man. Absolutely the best online magazine I have ever read. This is not to downplay the other magazines featured in Spotlight Weird, but Clarkesworld Magazine (clickable) has, simply put, incredible fiction in several formats for your reading pleasure. They feature stories in text format and as audio podcasts.

I remember the very first story I read on Clarkesworld. I'd only just found my place in the horror world, deviating from my jaunt in thriller/suspense, and was looking for markets. I stumbled upon Clarkesworld and thought it might be someplace I could send some of my short stories in to. Now, Clarkesworld is a Science Fiction magazine, but some very dark Sci-Fi could be mistaken for horror. It just depends on the delivery. I had a story or two that I thought would have been right at home there.

Well, I was wrong. Wronger than wrong. I started reading this magazine and, at the time, I was admittedly daunted. Where the hell do they even find stories this good? I've read novels by established writers that have it all, fame, fortune and a good reader base they can depend on, that aren't as good as a single short story I've read on Clarkesworld.

In a nutshell, if you don't read Clarkesworld Magazine, you should. It's incredible, it's wonderful, it's awesome. But don't take my word for it. Go read for yourself.

Till next Monday in the weirdest spotlight...

Peace & Love

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Story as a Podcast and Hold Me To It Pt. 4

You simply must go and hear Jason Warden reading my story, Deadly Heirloom (clickable), on the Shadowcast Audio Anthology. Mr. Warden does a fine job reading it, and I'm so proud to have been a part of his podcast.

Now, for this week's progress. Not as much as I'd like, but 2385 words on the novel rewrites and another 322 on a short story.

Okay. So, I'm excited about my very first podcast and I'm going to go make other people listen to my story, haha!

Peace & Love

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!

Hello there.

As I talked about last Friday, I have decided to rewrite my novella and turn it into a novel. Well, I am proud to announce that the rewrite has begun. All other projects, save one collaboration with another writer and of course my short stories, will be on hold until this rewrite is done.

From here on, this project will be called "Sister" for the sake of the blog, although that is not the true title of the work. If you have been a follower of my blog for a while, and have read my posts, then you know which project this is. After months upon months of putting it off, I have finally started rewriting it. It is a rather big undertaking. The novella has its moments that are extremely good, but for the most part, the writing skill is so varied that I am forced to just rewrite the entire thing and use the great parts in the new manuscript.

So this begs a question. Of course it does, do you not know me by now? There is always a question.

In rewrites, what kind of goal do you set? Me, I am hoping to get a chapter of writing rewritten a day, which means this project will be done within thirty days, give or take a few. Maybe forty days, as I have some extending to do.

When rewriting, do you take it as it comes, or do you make goals? This is my first major novel rewrite. I had a novel that I revised and revised and revised in, but never a total rewrite. The revise, revise, revise did not work for me. I ended up with jilted scenes and chapters that seemed unrelated to the true story even though they were... THAT novel is a total mess and it will take a lot of work to make it "doable" again. That novel, I am afraid, is one of those epic tales that spans generations and will be much larger than the 80,000 words it is now. But that is another topic altogether.

Rewriting a novel or novella is largely different than short story rewrites. I can write, rewrite, revise, edit and submit a short story in a single day. In hours, if I am really cooking. A novel... totally different story.

To be fair, even though "Sister" has been a long going on (read as years) project, it was written in a matter of months. It was simply that those months were spanned out over several years. So, I have some work ahead of me. The story arc is fairly consistent, but there are monsters around every corner, no redemption for my protagonist (how is that for fucked up?), and of course, tons of people die throughout the story. I admit that I like to kill main and or major characters. But that need not happen in all of my stories.

I am growing, people! It is a frigging miracle.

So, can I write a horror novel without killing loads of people? Sure I can. I can leave people alive. Does that mean no one will die?

Say it is not so!

Well, it is not so, people. I will kill someone... just not quite so many someones.

So, tell me a bit about rewriting the novels. It is a new experience for me and I would like some other takes on the experience.

And on Friday, along with my word counts, look for some news from me with... clickable linkage (haha, not clickable this time).

Bet you are really curious now huh?

Till then...

Peace & Love,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Everyday Weirdness

Everybody loves flash fiction, right? A quick little tid bit that often sticks in the brain and comes back later to taunt your happy head. Flash fiction is great.

Flash fiction is becoming more and more popular among writers, and among magazines. With that in mind, in this week's weirdest spotlight, I present Everyday Weirdness (clickable), an online magazine dedicated to bringing you the weirdest, most tightly woven stories they can lay hands on. Flash fiction, poetry... all quick reads that will entertain at the very least.

Well, what more can I say about the magazine? If I ramble too much... my post will be longer than their stories. I'll let their little tid bit stories do their own talking.

For now, though...

Peace & Love

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hold Me To It!! Pt. 3

So, this week was pretty productive. I finished my short stories from last week, totaling 3600 words. Wrote an entirely new short story for another 1500 words. And started another with about 800 words in on it. Not a bad week. Could be better. No new poetry this week.

So, now I'm pondering starting the rewrite on my novella. I'm turning it into a novel, as it's almost a novel anyhow, and I think it will be a good one. I don't know if I'll do it yet or wait some more, but I think the time has come. I've procrastinated for far too long.

See the thing about it is, it's been my inbetween things project. I'd work on it between working on other stuff. Which means the skill level throughout is varied greatly. Thus, a total rewrite is in order. Same characters, same story... back to the original antagonist I chickened out on, changing some stuff and bringing it up to speed with my writing ability now, as compared to years ago.

But anyway. That's it for this week. Until next time...

Peace & Love

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Funny Things About a Note from the Teacher

So, no blog post yesterday, so you get the extra one on Tuesday and this one too. I think scheduling blog time helps keep me posting regularly. I always work better with a deadline. I was just very worn yesterday and I was a bit busy too. Hence, today's post.

So anyway, my daughter, who is eight-going-on-nine as she makes sure I know every time age is a topic of discussion (as if I had forgotten somehow when exactly it was I gave birth to her), and who is also in the third grade, has received a funny note from her teacher.

Being in third grade is apparently a big deal. This is the grade where cursive writing is required for all school-work. Cursive, my daughter mastered quickly. She writes with a very fine hand that is much better than mine is now. In time, her penmanship will be beautiful. (I love hand written things and pretty writing is so nice to see. You can tell a lot about a person by their handwriting.)

However, my daughter's handwriting is very small. Not tiny, you don't need a magnifying glass to see it. I can read it just fine. I might have to put my glasses on. Sometimes, I don't even have to.

The other day, in my daughter's backpack, attached to one of her spelling tests, was a little post it note. The test had quite a few answers marked as missed and the teacher had spelled the word out correctly beside it. The original grade was an F. Needless to say, the note got stickied to the table while I looked at the strangely graded spelling test. Some (not all) of the wrong answers had been marked through and counted correct, bringing her grade up to a nice, comfortable D.

Now what gets me, is the child can spell... verbally. But when she writes words out, sometimes she spells them phonetically. We're working on that aspect and she's picking it up slowly. I hate the phonetic system the schools use.

Anyway (see how I ramble? I apologize.), daughter and I talk a while about the D and how she can improve. We go through the words, she spells them to me and then writes them out a few times each. We've gotten reading down to an art, much like her penmanship, and now spelling is suffering.

While daughter is writing, I read the sticky note.


You must write a little larger. I can't see this. Old Teacher!! (this was underlined) If it would be better - you may print!

After months of having answers counted wrong if printed (encouraging the use of cursive, in other words), this struck me very funny. My poor kid.

I told her she needed to write her words slightly bigger and she laughed. I asked what was funny.

She said, very good naturedly and without even a hint of temper at having gotten a bad grade for writing too small: "Mom, I DID write bigger for that test. Mrs. Such and such is just blind!"

Oh my darling child. I love her so.

Peace & Love

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free Fiction!

My friend, Neil Colquhoun, has some fun stuff just for you. If you want some fiction for nothing, with no effort except to check your email, go here (clickable).

And there's even an extra blog post from me today. Woo hoo!

Peace & Love,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Horror Bound Magazine

This week in the weirdest spotlight, we're going to talk about Horror Bound Magazine (clickable). Horror Bound publishes fiction online of, well... you know what kind. Horror, dark fantasy, and the like.

Some very interesting tales to be found on this little site. Lots of horrifying eye candy for those of us who love the strange and scary. I enjoy this online mag very much.

Issue 12 features such authors as Paul Kane, Michael Robertson, John Prescott, Ray Prew and several others. I must say that this issue gave me quite a few of my favorite moments. You know the ones I mean. Stomach churning, palms sweating. You should go read a few for yourself. Ray Prew's "LET ME OUT" is a good spot to start if you've ever been queasy in the elevator. Just sayin'.

As well as some nice uneasy moments, there is, of course, opportunity at Horror Bound Magazine. A call for submissions for their new anthology can be found here (clickable) as well as their normal submissions guidelines here (clickable). Go check them out if you're a writer of the darkly.

And if you're a reader... go check them out too. You may be sorry. But you may not. I think not.

Peace & Love

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hold Me To It Pt. 2

This weeks word counts are much better than last week. I came in right at 5,800 words on various short stories, completing 2 and starting 3 more. Those 3 should be finished over the weekend. I also wrote 18 poems. A very, very productive week.

I am very satisfied with my progress. I think this word count tracking may work this time. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Well, this post would be longer, but today my youngest son is celebrating his birthday and I am busier than a one legged an in an ass kicking contest.

Peace & Love

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cordless Dummies

Ever notice how things without cord stop working more often than their corded counterparts? I have.

Power drill? The cordless stopped working about 8 months after I got it.

The corded power drill my father bought when I was a kid still works. That thing is over 20 years old!


Know how many cordless phones I have replaced? About 8.

I still have the same corded phone I got when I had the phone put in.

Electric razors. My brother goes through the cordless versions often enough that my sister and I both get him one every Christmas.

I bought him one with a cord three years ago.

He still uses it.

I could go on.

But... you get the point.

Peace & Love

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Shadowcast Audio Anthology

This week in the Spotlight for all things weird, I'm going to tell you about the Shadowcast Audio Anthology (clickable). Run by editor Jason Warden, Shadowcast has some of the most interesting dark fiction I've ever heard. The readers for the anthology are great and more than easy to listen to.

Each weekly episode brings you a new short story read by one of Shadowcast's great readers, which include Mr. Warden himself. You can listen to the podcast alone or read along with the text provided on site. Recent episodes include such titles as Black Lodge by T.H. Davis and Candy's Mother by C.T. Thieme. All podcast episodes are free to listen to or download directly from the site, or you can subscribe free with iTunes. My personal favorites, so far, are Help Wanted by Heather Web and The Demon by Joe Darnall. You can listen to back-episodes, which are found in the archive section.

Shadowcast Audio Anthology is a great place to find free fiction that entertains as well as gives that ever elusive chill we lovers of the dark are always seeking. You can get more information on the Shadowcast Blog (clickable). If you are a writer of the "darkly" fictions, then check out their submission guidelines and see if you think you have something for them. Who doesn't want a little free fiction, right? Check these guys out. Tell your friends, your family.

Until next week in the Spotlight...

Peace & Love.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hold me to it!!! P. 1

Okay, you guys. Here's the thing.

I only wrote a little bit this week. A very little bit.

A grand total of 2200 words.

I know, that sucks huh?

I have no defense except that I've been busy as hell. That's all I got, though. I'll make it up next week, I promise. Possibly over the weekend... who knows?

As I sit here, looking at that paltry number and scoff a bit at myself, I want something from you guys. Don't be nice to me. Make fun of my little numbers... kick my ass with words. Seriously. I need it for bringing up such small numbers. It's sad. I deserve to get my ass stomped.

But for now, I'm actually gonna go write some more. Those words will count towards next week.

Till then...

Peace & Love

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strange Beauty: Finding those things that strike hard

Our world is full of things we tend to think of as less significant than we are. But in truth, that tree you climbed as a kid has been important to this place for longer than you have. A humbling thought, isn't it?

Even with all our surroundings that we don't appreciate, there are beautiful things that we have to bring into being. In most cases, fire is one of them.

A few weeks ago, my family and I were burning brush and debris from the floods. It was a big fire, but well contained. I'm responsible, I promise.

But well... I ran inside for my camera. The fire was making some of the strangest and prettiest patterns I'd ever seen. I had to try about a hundred times, but I finally got a picture of it.

I haven't retouched this in any way, it is just as it came off my camera. Greens and blues and purples, with those little red squiggle flames... it's gorgeous, right?

Sometimes, things are just too beautiful. I know I have an odd sense of beauty, and that I find things interesting and pretty that others take for just another thing... but this isn't one of those things.

This picture strikes me and inspires me. It makes my chest ache, looking at it. I don't know why... it's just fire, right? But to me, it's special. There's a short story there. I can see it.

Can you?

Peace & Love

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spotlight Weird: Shock Totem Magazine

Well, to kick off my new weekly feature, Spotlight Weird, I decided to start with my friends at Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted (clickable). As you can see by the picture of issue one, shown above, it's a beautiful magazine. However, there's a lot more to Shock Totem than wicked cover art and quality binding. The magazine is chock full of excellent stories, interviews, reviews and an interesting little nugget called "Howling Through the Keyhole", a section in which each author gives a little background to the fine stories published in the issue. These authors will literally blow your mind... they sure did mine. Even though only one issue has been released thus far, issue two is just around the corner and I kid you not, it's well worth going back and buying issue one as well as issue two. K. Allen Wood, editor of the magazine, is a great guy and he and the other "Totemites" have impeccable taste in fiction, art, and music. And they have great senses of humor, which is always a plus.

I'd recommend this magazine to any reader who loves horror, fantasy and all things weird. And if you happen to be a writer of those things... bring your A-game. Shock Totem might be new, but don't expect left-over-like stories. These tales are top-notch and are more than worth the cover price of the mag, $5.99 USD (plus shipping, of course); very low for a magazine of this quality. I've paid more for genre mags that look about half as good. Go visit the site, take a look around... buy issue one. Then buy issue two once it becomes available. You absolutely will not be sorry.

In addition to the magazine, there is also a nicely growing little community, Shock Totem Forums (clickable), where you can meet all the great people who work at the magazine and some who just hang out (like me). Also, Shock Totem hosts a themed flash fiction contest every two months and forum membership is required to take part, so if you're a writer who does a little flashing, keep it in mind. Just something fun to do, with possible publication as one of the prizes (the details are available on the forum). You can check out K. Allen Wood's blog, The Eyesore Times (clickable), for insight on the man behind the mag, for a good laugh (he is a funny, funny guy), or just to keep up with what's going on over at ST.

Now, as you may have noticed, this was not posted on Saturday. I decided to make "Spotlight Weird" a Monday event. So, check back next Monday for the next edition of "Spotlight Weird". Wednesdays will be a personal post from me, and Fridays I will join K. Allen Wood and Kara McElhinny, among many others, in posting weekly word counts so we can hold each other accountable. Thanks for reading and hey... as always...

Peace & Love

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Okay, time to kick butt and chew bubblegum

I'm so bad at this blogging thing. I have nothing to blog about. My life is fairly mundane... write, research, write, edit, revise, edit, revise, look for appropriate mag markets, write... feed my spawn at some point, write... almost write a blog post and then delete the draft because it's stupid.

I'm a fiction writer. Writing about myself is tough. Or even writing about my writing. I am selfish and don't want to talk about what I'm writing.

But, I'm going to make a conscious effort to blog more. Dunno how much more, or what it will be about, but I'm going to at least try.

One thing I'm hoping to do is a "Spotlight Weird" weekly post about an interesting horror/spec fic/darkish magazine for writers to have a look at... and hopefully readers too. I send stuff out to these guys... the least I can do is share the love, right? That starts Saturday.

So... I don't know what else I'll be blogging about in my "I'm going to blog three times a week" thing, but it'll be something.

But for now...

Peace & Love, y'all

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Contest! ...Umm... not mine, though.

My darling friend and fellow writer, Damien Grintalis, is holding a contest on her blog.

A Contest, you say?

Go, read the rules, do your thing. Win prizes! Yes, prizes! Bards & Sages Quarterly, features Miss Grintalis herself or a book. Go forth! Make that first sentence shine!

Peace & Love, y'all

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hometown Tragedy--The Montcoal Mine Explosion

It's 3:00 a.m. and the alarm is going off. You haven't seen daylight in years, but you do what you have to do. This is your livelihood. You get up and dress, pack a cold lunch and drive, maybe a few minutes, maybe hours. When you get to work, you put on a hardhat and lay down on a trolley--the man-car--that will take you deep into a mountain. Thousands of feet deep.

The hole you enter in only 20 or 30 inches high and the tunnel is no bigger. A thousand feet or more you ride down into the mountain. Thousands of pounds of dirt and rock are above you, held up only by columns of the same dirt and rock every twenty feet. You can crawl on your knees, but there is no standing up. The pitch blackness is unforgiving, even the light on your hardhat won't pierce it. You see only what your headlight shines directly on. The air is thick and full of dust and it's so hard to breathe. But you have to go into that hole in the mountain; and in this hole, you stay for ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Mining coal. For your family, for your life. For electricity that powers part of our country. And while inside that deep, dark hole, a blast. Heat.


I am the daughter of a coal miner and my husband once worked the mines. This is not fiction, my friends. This is absolute truth. My husband's father is a coal miner. This is the life they lead. Constant darkness, constant danger. Breathing god knows what for however long. They do it for you, for me, for themselves. It's not just a job. It's their entire life. A man who spends his life inside a black hole deserves respect, and they all have mine.

The county next to mine is suffering. 25 dead miners and 4 still unaccounted for. My state is in turmoil. That job was all some of those men had to provide for their families. 25 families. If there are four members in each of those families, that's 100 people affected by this mine explosion. And that may just be a wife and three kids. What if they had 4 kids? Or 6? This doesn't include mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandparents... grandchildren. Hundreds of people in anguish... and the coal company is non-union. They don't have to do anything for these people. They may... but they don't have to.

If you are willing to help those affected, and can, please visit The Red Cross Central WV website for information on what you can do. I'm sure everyone has seen the news reports. It's on the national media circuit. The Montcoal Mine Explosion (link to article on Newsweek) is the worst in years. My thoughts go out to the four still missing, and my heart aches for the family members of the 25 already found dead. If you can... please...


Monday, April 5, 2010

Flash Fiction Contests: Podcasting, anyone?

The people of Escape Artists are holding Flash Fiction contests, five hundred words or less, for each of the company's podcasts. Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Everything Masters of Horror is about, so I thought I'd share the info with you lovelies.

Join the forums here and find the rules here.

Each podcast zine has a different submission period so be sure to read when to send the different genre submissions. Good luck!

Peace & Love

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bunnies and Eggs

Just to say Happy Easter to my friends, fiends and fans who celebrate, religiously or otherwise.

Peace & Love, y'all

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Keepsake--short story up at SNM Horror Magazine

Hello, lovelies.

Want to have your breath taken away? Over at SNM Horror Magazine, 8 wonderful stories (including my own, The Keepsake) wait to suck the breath right out of you. And the lovely Diane Dooley has one up as well (After Happily Ever After). Check them out (check them ALL out please) and I promise, you won't go away disappointed. Both issues are excellent.

April Asphyxiations at SNM!

Give 'em some love, y'all.

Peace & Love

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spitting Out the Unnecessaries

Sometimes, writing is much like seeded grapes. You keep the good part and throw out the bitter seeds that you don't want or need.

Nasty buggers, those seeds.

When choosing what to throw out of your writing life, whether it be within a story or even in your "network" of writer-ish types, bear one thing in mind. You can't do everything for everyone, nor can you include every little thing. Sure helping people is great, doing things with other writers is great, but egads, it's draining.

I took a good, hard look at myself this morning and I don't even like what I see. There is absolutely no color in my face what-so-ever, the circles under my eyes seem to have doubled (even for a chick with chronic insomnia), and I have lost so much weight it's scary. Oh yes, I can count my ribs and cut people with my hip bones. Not good at all. I was sitting comfortably at about a buck forty (women all over are gasping in shame that someone told their weight on the evil interwebz) and I'm down almost thirty pounds from that. Hell, I feel unhealthy.

My point?

We writers try so hard to spread ourselves out--but a too thin layer of cheese on any cracker is useless. Might as well just let it slide off, yes?

The life of a writer, especially one just starting in the publishing business, can be very isolating. More and more time gets spent on editing, writing new sections, rewriting this or that, reading for one writer friend, reading for another, trying to make sure you talk to everyone in the biz you know a few times a week at least. The writer forgets what the sun looks like, forgets what he or she looks like, what outside smells like. They forget to eat (just coffee and a cigarette, please!), forget to call their mother on her birthday, forget to pick up bread for lunch. Got to churn out more words.

We're not machines, okay guys? Yes, setting goals is great. As long as they are realistic goals and one doesn't forget to take care of themselves. You can't write shit if you're dead.

Writing needn't be an obsession. It should be fun, should be something you enjoy doing as much as you desire to do it. If it becomes a chore, what you put out turns to crap.

Writing crap is okay--after all there is nothing you can't fix and sometimes you have to write crap because it just won't leave you alone. But if it gets to the point of burning yourself out, I think it's time to reassess exactly what you are doing. No one's chosen career should kill them. And if you only put out crappy writing, you need to take a look at what caused the change and get back to you. A tired, burnt-out writer can't write for themselves, much less socialize with others and help them out.

Which brings us full circle.

How many of your "writer" friends only talk to you when they want help with something? Thankfully, this has happened very few times to me, and I've had no problem cutting them the fuck out of my circle of writerly friends. If I hadn't, I'd be in worse shape than I am now. This is taxing, guys. If all you do is take and take and take, with no reciprocal return for whom you take from, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. We should help each other, not be selfish and only get what we can out of each other. This business is tough enough and draining enough without selfishness added to the mix. Eventually, the takers will have taken all they can get from every writer whose path they have crossed and there will be no one to help them when they really need it.

And if you are one of those that only take, I say this. Shame on you, asshole.

Peace & Love, y'all

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time for Change!

So, now that things are moving along, I do believe it's time to make some changes to the blog. Over the next week or so, I'll be changing theme, my blog title, adding additional pages. Keep an eye out for other news from me, coming soon--hopefully all the changes will be made before then.

Peace & Love, y'all

Friday, March 12, 2010

So. What would you do, buddy?

I love what if situations. You can ask what if till the proverbial cows make their way back to the green pastures of their birth and/or origin. What if is great.

So, there's an idea. A little nugget of something squirming around in the back of thy sacred brain matter and it's half-formed. Half-baked. Still doughy in the middle.

As I said, what if is great. So is "What would you do, buddy?" Want to know why? Cause you're a person. If you ask it of yourself, and of those (family and friends) you know intimately to yourself [assuming you know them well enough to be able to guess what they would do], you can gauge a general concensus of what a normal person may do in that situation you've got going in the back of your head.

That is, you know... if you are indeed normal.

I have a quirky situation in the back of my head that I have no idea what I would do with, or what anyone would do with. It's quite strange, this. It's not a situation I've ever run across, in book, film, or that thing called life.

So. I can be creative with what a person might do with this... situation.

But is it right? That's the question. I could do this all day.

What if, what if.

Sometimes what if's a bitch too.

Peace & Love, y'all

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's a Flash of Shocking Proportions!!!!

Okay y'all. Listen up.

The incredibly awesome people at Shock Totem Magazine are hosting a Flash Fiction Contest every month, with the exception of two months during which the previous winning stories will compete for possible publication in the magazine. So, how hard does that rock?

Very hard, baby. Very, very hard.

You can get the rules on the ST forum. Every entrant must become a member of the forum in order to compete (as well as request access to the hidden contest sub-forum via a forum moderator or administrator), as all competitors must vote, and are encouraged (you don't have to critique each entry, but hey... there's no entry fee. All it costs is a little time and you have to read in order to vote anyway, right? Let the writers know a little something of your thoughts, you know?) to leave at least a quick sentence or two about each story submitted for the contest.

I competed in the very first contest which was held in January, and I have to say that the critiques and thoughts given about my story (which tied for the win with three others, all listed on Shock Totem's web site) were worth the time. More than worth it. I'll be competing again for the next contest, which starts March 1, 2010. This contest is prompted/themed, so make sure, if you plan to submit, you go through all the steps (register for the forum, read the rules, request access to the contest forum, and read the prompt on the first of each month) and do it right to have a better chance at getting votes. I'll be looking for you there.

Peace & Love, y'all

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Honest Scrap Crap

So, some lovely writer type people, K. Wood and the lovely Mercedes Yardley, have done an "Honest Scrap" [Mercedes] except to K. Wood it was "Honest Crap" [K. Wood] (click for linkage) so I'm jumping in.

So, here are ten true facts about me you didn't know (well, some of you did, but this is for everyone else, not you!)

  1. I'm filled with strange phobias and fears that seem irrational to "normal" people. IE: Drain holes, faucets, looking out a window after dark, standing water, being alone in a kitchen or bathroom and etc.
  2. I've never lost my children in a store or anywhere else for that matter. (A lot of mothers have this scare, yet I never have. I always know where my kids are. I guess all those fears and phobias have a purpose.)
  3. I'm a proud marijuana user. I smoke pot and am not ashamed of it. A true fact about marijuana? It treats over 200 symptoms, more than any man made drug on the market, prescription or otherwise, yet is still said to have no medicinal value. :-\
  4. I quit school in the tenth grade to have my oldest son: I later got my GED and earned the highest score for that year in my county, second highest in the state.
  5. I gave birth to all three of my children before I was twenty. And oddly enough, I might have some problems out of my sons (isn't that why they're sons?), but I never have to worry that my kids will forget their manners in public or at another person's home. My kids are well behaved, even if they do get into mischief on occasion. So much for stereotypes, huh?
  6. I can sing. I know it sounds self-centered and conceited as hell to admit that, and trust me, I had a hard time even typing it, but I actually can. As many musicians as there are in my family, I'd be an outcast if I couldn't. That doesn't mean I'm the greatest thing ever, cause, well... Ha!... but I do okay.
  7. When I speak (especially when I'm angry or excited because I do try to sound human most times), I'm probably one of the biggest hicks you'll ever hear. It's really rather sad.
  8. I love just about every type of music there is with the exception of gospel and new country. I love some old country music, Waylon, Hank Sr., Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins... oh yeah. Gimme, gimme baby. Hand me Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood and I'll just hope you got a receipt.
  9. I tend to be old fashioned when it comes to marriage and child rearing, but mostly I just take life as it comes. I make it up as I go along (see number 10 as well.) and so far it's worked out okay for me. Not great, cause if I said my life as great I'd be lying and this is supposed to be honest, but hey... I'm not dead, so that has to count for something.
  10. And lastly, I live my life to make other people happy. I believe that if a person exists, it is their responsibility to help others, even if it's just by giving a momentary smile. I don't have religion, but I have deep core beliefs that I live by. It's these beliefs that make me whole, that make me feel as though I live with a purpose.
And that's ten odd, honest things about me. This next part I stole from Mercedes and K. Wood (without K.'s changes).

Now let’s hear ten things about you! I tag YOU! Post the Honest Scrap picture on your blog and dish your dirt. Be sure to drop a comment here so that I know you’re doing it. I’d love to come and see what you have to say.

Peace & Love, y'all

Monday, February 15, 2010

In a Moment

Yeah, yeah I know, silence from me for so long and here I am, popping back to ask you to read more of my crap. But hey, if you're not busy and all and you want something to read (like who doesn't?) check out my article, In a Moment, a trio of poems that tell a very big story. At least I think they do...

Peace & Love, y'all