A Look Back at 2015

Now that the ball has dropped for the new year and all the confetti has fallen, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. 2015 was filled with a bunch of amazing new experiences, new friends, and new stories. Here are a few life-changing events from last year, some good, some bad, everything memorable.

Plenty of Trips

We were fortunate last year to have the World Horror Convention be hosted in Atlanta, GA. It was the first time it had been there since the early 1990s when it was first getting started. I had never been to a writing convention before, let alone one dedicated specifically to horror, so this was a very new experience for me. It had a huge impact on my writing. For the first time I felt more comfortable in the genres that I work in and with how difficult my writing can sometimes be to categorize. [May 2015]

In June I went on a family trip down to the beach, introducing them to a quiet little island I love to visit near the border of Florida known as Amelia Island. I got to see my nephew, who wasn’t quite a year old at the time, get to see sand and the ocean for the first time. It was really hard to get him out of the water! Even though the temperatures were unusually high (over 100ºF every day), everyone had a blast. [June 2015]

September was quite a busy month for us. We decided to go to DragonCon for a single day last year since we couldn’t book a room for the whole weekend. (Every major hotel sells out typically in a matter of minutes each year.) Still I love going, and this time I even tried doing a cosplay. We took Marta up, which saved us the headache of trying to find parking, but we did end up standing in line for over an hour to get tickets. Atlanta is damn hot in September, so I did somewhat regret my Victorian gown, but it was still lots of fun. We also found a new friend and then got asked to pose for *so many photos*. The rest of our evening was put on hold because we found ourselves getting interviewed by a news group and then had to pry ourselves away from fans to grab some food. I think that was when I started to love cosplay. We’ve already booked rooms and bought tickets for next year by the way, and we may even be putting together a panel. [early September 2015]

Later that month, our awesome new friend convinced us to go to AWACon, just north of Atlanta. We were dubious at first, because the only fan convention we had been to was DragonCon, and this one was much lower key. However we had worked on our cosplays a bit more by then, and even attended some group photography sessions while we were there. That was so much fun, that we’re already planning to go next year as well with even more updated cosplays. [late September 2015]

The following month, we were off again on another family trip, this time down to Disney World to enjoy the Halloween event. We had never been during Halloween before, but this was such a surprisingly good time that again, we’re planning to go next year as well. Their musical number this year featured the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus (they change it up each year), and it was such a blast!

They had a special parade and fireworks displays and we even got pictures with Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. On top of that, we ran into some friends completely by accident. They had to move across the country a few years back. We ended up spending a whole day with them in Magic Kingdom. Obviously that trip was meant to be. [October 2015]

New Stories

I was so inspired after going to the World Horror Convention in May, that I went into Camp NaNoWriMo with an attack plan. I outlined 4 weird horror stories and then set about writing them. I finished them all. Three of them I got edited and shipped out to publishers, and one of them was picked up almost immediately (“Tiny Necks” due out in February). Another horror story, one I had almost given up on, also got picked up too (“A Slippery Customer” due out in January). Both of these stories made it so I could get membership into the Horror Writer’s Association as an Affiliate. Honestly, it’s all been going so well, I’m still rather shocked. I also finished up a fantasy story recently that had some very high praise from several critters on Scribophile. If you’ve been on that site much, you know that positive feedback must be earned haha.

On top of these shorts, I also finished up a very dark YA werewolf novella that I’ve been struggling with for years and started shipping that around. I also finished up the final draft for Beyond the Treehouse (aka. Madam Cloom’s Garden) which has been a work in progress for at least two years. It too has started making the rounds, and I’m pleased with how far it’s come.

Friends Lost and New Ones Made


Salem 9/29/2009 – 12/4/2015

Last year wasn’t all cheerful though. I had made a post back in September about my sweet kitty Salem’s declining health and how worried we were about him. We thought he would get better, but that didn’t happen. His health only went downhill, and throughout several of our trips he had some worrisome issues.

I got a call from the vet while standing outside of Pirates of the Carribean with my friends who I hadn’t seen in ages. In a corner beside plastic swords and jolly rogers plaques, I talked with a vet about whether it was time to put him down or not. Thank goodness I was in the Happiest Place on Earth, otherwise I probably would have broken down into tears that moment. While my friends went to go ride on a roller coaster, I watched a parade pass by and had some time to do some thinking. Sometimes being away from home helps you analyze what needs to be done.

Salem had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even jump up on the couch without stopping to breathe hard for a long time. His lungs just couldn’t take in oxygen easily, and you could tell he was suffering. On December 4th, we made an appointment to euthanize him. That was such a difficult decision. Our parents were there, surprising us as we were about to walk out the door, and their presence really helped us get through it. Our kind vet, who helped us from the very beginning, said that at least we can choose to end his suffering. That was a long and difficult two weeks afterwards for us while work wound down and the Christmas holidays approached.


Quickster — Adopted 12/19/2015

Knowing what we would have to do, and having a second kitty at home who would be very lonely without his friend, we had already been in touch with a family who needed to rehome their deaf cat. They were worried about putting her up for adoption with her disability, and we were happy to step in and help. So we now have an adorable little deaf kitty, named Quickster, running wildly around the house. It took about a week to get her and Watson used to each other, and now they play regularly. She can get rather cranky when she doesn’t get her wet food in time, but she loves to snuggle and is such a sweetie. Since she’s deaf, she tries to look at everything all at once (as you can see from the picture), which I think is a pretty smart way to do anything.

All in all, 2015 was a heck of a year with lots of ups, but some very deep lows. I’m hoping 2016 is full of even more high peaks as well. I know I’ve been absent for a while, but life’s been a little chaotic. To get back on the blogging wagon, I’ve signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101 event this year, so you’ll likely see me posting a lot more often. Especially since I’ve got two anthologies coming out soon!

Watch out for Werewolves

The nights are getting longer, the temperature is dropping, and the air is crisp with dying leaves. That means Halloween is right around the corner, and you can bet I’ve been busy. Between craziness at work and throwing our annual Halloween bash last weekend, I’m afraid I’ve had little time for blogging. To make up for my prolonged departure, I thought I’d bring a few fun horrific, Halloween themed videos that have certainly give me a good laugh.

First we have a music video posted by a friend’s favorite band. It’s gory, it’s over the top, and it’s got a werewolf in it. What’s not to love? Plus the song is quite catchy!


Next up we have a video that you’ll probably be sharing with your friends, a Rob Cantor song performed with an ensemble, a chorus, and amazing dancers. Just don’t be turned away by the title.


Finally here’s a performance test for the creature in Mama, which I’m told is ten times more frightening here than it actually was in the film. I can’t really say since I haven’t seen it, but I don’t recommend watching this in the dark.


On the writing front, I’ve been working on getting a werewolf novella completed. The goal is to have it done by the end of the month so I can focus my time in November on Nanowrimo. I’m going to use it as an excuse to get the second draft of my YA Fantasy novel completed.

Anyway here’s the progress my dystopian YA werewolf novella featuring Mercy, who works with her father to trap werewolves, a mill that relies on cheap werewolf labor, and a crazy inventor with metallic arms. A simple werewolf capture leads to a violent escape, and suddenly the werewolves in the forest are the least of Mercy’s worries.

Project: Survive for me
Current Word Count: 16,389
Word Count Goal: 20,000

Halloween Parties and Suspicious Phantoms

I love October mostly because I love Halloween, and this year was no exception. Despite our trip earlier in the month, we still had our annual Halloween party, complete with a visit from the police. No, it wasn’t because of loud music or angering the neighbors or anything so obvious.

We live in an unfinished neighborhood, a subdivision with about half the homes it should. We have a tiny driveway which can quickly fill up come party time, so we recommend folks park along the street in one of the empty cul-de-sacs. We have maybe three or four of these on our street.

PhantomMaskI guess when one of our neighbors saw the Phantom of the Opera park in one of them, and hop out bearing a cooler, they freaked out and called the police. The reasoning the officer gave us was that sometimes firetrucks have to use cul-de-sacs to turn around in, so be careful when you park there. I have to say that I’m pleased we live in a neighborhood where people feel comfortable calling the police on *any* suspicion, but it was the first time we had a police visit in the five years we’ve had the parties.

Of course it probably didn’t help that we were all drinking at the time. Just imagine how my tipsy zombie friend reacted when he answered the door.

Police: *knock-knock-knock*
Zombie: *knock-knock-knock*
Police: This is the ___Police.
Zombie: Do you have cookies? *Opens the door slowly to a smiling officer*

Needless to say my zombie friend figured it was a party guest messing with him. We have an awesome police force out here, so they were probably just amused as we were. When I told him that we hadn’t had a problem in the 5 years we’ve been throwing these things, he said, “Then we don’t have a problem either.”

Sounds good to me!

Happy Halloween!

It’s definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Amazing costumes, spooky buildings, and a butt-load of candy – what’s not to love? We had our Halloween bash last weekend and even though it was epic, I admit I’m still a little worn down from it. Just so you know, Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D is one of the funniest horror films I’ve seen in a while if only for the cheesy 3D effects. Popcorn in the face? Check. Joint being passed to the screen? Check. Do I even have to mention it was made in the 80s?

Even though we never seem to have many Trick or Treaters in our neighborhood since we moved in three years back, I always still hope for the occasional few to drop in. We’ve got a bag of candy all set to go. We’ll probably be enjoying a good Halloween flick like Grave Encounters or Trick ‘r Treat while we wait around tonight, but I’m still not expecting much of a turn out. With the temperatures piddling around between the 40s and 50s overnight, I don’t think many kids will want to be out when it’s so cold. But you never know, we may be surprised.

Tomorrow NaNo begins, and I think I’m ready to tackle my latest project. I’ll probably disregard my failed starts and begin again fresh. Feels like I got all the so-so openings out of my system so I can actually get to the heart of the book. Yesterday I filled out a 12-point quick outline in the style Theresa Hupp mentioned on her blog. Couldn’t remember how many points it was supposed to have when I worked on it, but it really helped me get a feel for the direction the novel needs to take. It also gave me some ideas for how to work in subplots and, most importantly, it got me brainstorming on the villain. I needed to get a handle on her before I sat down to write. I figured out what her short-term goal is at least which is way more than I had before. I think I like Theresa’s method because I hate to be boxed in with my writing. This outline is flexible enough to change at any time and structured enough to give me direction with the story.

What are you planning for Halloween? If you’re gearing up for NaNo, what are you doing to prepare?


Next Year’s Halloween & Publishing Choices

After a fun-filled weekend partying with friends dressed up in clown costumes, necromancer gowns, and how could I forget the horse wizard, business rhino, and Mexican Alien Fart-o-Meter — how can I already be thinking of next year’s Halloween bash? Well there’s two reasons actually.

One, I’ve almost perfected my Steampunk outfit and I’ve worn it consistently for the last two years. With Dragon*Con at the beginning of September followed closely by Halloween, I have a feeling I’ll want to liven up my wardrobe a little bit next year. I’ve got some goggles I want to make still for it, get some fingerless gloves, and find a better way to attach my freaking topper hat, but still! It’s fairly close to being done, and so I’m getting the urge to add a new get-up to my choices.

Two, my sister has been showing The Birds in her English 1101 classes. Yes, I know – the fabulous Alfred Hitchcock version that I adore. I admit I would have loved to watch Hitchcock’s work in my freshmen college years, though our dystopia films were just as fun come to think of it. Anyway, it makes me think of what Melanie Daniels wears in the film (played exquisitely by Tippi Hedren of course). I’m sure you’ve seen it around. It’s really a neat concept even though the fabric for the outfit is a little wanting.

So after a little browsing, I found this unique rendition of it. You know, anything involving blood, gore, and a ripped out eye is just going to be creepily fun! What a way to turn this simplistic outfit into a grotesque study in avian phobias! And then on top of that, I found a wonderful “shopping list” posted up on etsy listing parts and pieces to create your own Tippi outfit. How fun!

So yeah — Tippi may just be my next big costume attempt. And since I’m a big fan of Tippi Hedren anyway (did you know she runs a conservatory for lions in Florida now?), it might just give me an excuse to practice my sewing some more.

In writing news, I read this insightful post comparing E-Pub with Traditional Publishing. It’s very useful for writers like me – writers who are about to have their first book ready to publish – to see what the market looks like at the moment. It’s changing so dramatically now that it’s difficult to keep up with what direction you should approach. I tried explaining to a friend of mine the other day how E-Publishing is now a respected form of publication to little avail. Apparently if you’re not keeping up with all the news going back and forth on this topic, it’s easy to fall behind. Of course I’m still undecided, and probably won’t be ready to make my decision until the very end. Some folks are suggesting that you wait around a few years until all the scam groups get weeded out, but honestly, I feel like I’ve already waited a year on my novel getting it prepared. And now that I’m going to be devoting all my time on the sequel during NaNoWriMo next month, I’m even more determined to get the first book finished up.