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Preview: Sean Harris Books

Sean Harris Books

Writing, publishing and what ever else might pop into my head

Updated: 2018-03-02T09:33:59.848-06:00


A Halloween Short Story


Remote ControlI awoke in total darkness. No light shone in the room through the window on the wall opposite my bed. The room was likewise shrouded in silence as if the lack of illumination had muffled even the slightest sound. Of course, that’s we went there. That’s why we bought the cabin in the woods. To leave the sights and sounds of the city behind us and “get back to our essential selves.” That was how Rhonda put it. She’d also recently signed up for a pilates class, started watching Desperate Housewives reruns and drinking in the afternoons. I wasn’t concerned until the exercise class thing. That’s the thing that got my attention. Rhonda and I had been married for nine years and, honestly, the heat had faded. My job takes me away from home for long stretches of time and I worried she hadn’t launched her new fitness kick with me in mind. Better safe than sorry.The cabin had been her idea. She thought it would bring us closer together if we could spend large quantities of uninterrupted time together. So, on one of my few weekends home, we drove into the mountains, found one we liked and bought it. The place had two rooms and few amenities; no running water nor indoor plumbing. No electricity. The kitchen consisted of a propane stove, a sink and an icebox. Not a refrigerator, an actual ice box. For heat, there was a huge fireplace in the main room. And that was it. I thought it might be a little Spartan for Rhonda’s tastes, but she loved it as soon as she saw it. I think a lot of the appeal for her was the location. The closest neighbor was miles away. The glorified path masquerading as a driveway posed a challenge even for our Hummer. Drive-by traffic wouldn’t be a problem. The only hat-tip to civilization on which Rhonda insisted was a ceiling fan in the bedroom. No problem. On another free weekend, I wired and installed the fan, which got its power from a small diesel generator outside the window. I even included a three speed switch on the wall, so I wouldn’t have to climb onto the bed and tug on a string to change it. I was serious about my wife’s needs. Tranquility. At last.All of this suited me just fine. I wasn’t much of an outdoorsman, but I wouldn’t turn down a chance to piss in the woods for three weeks every fall. So when I woke up in pitch-black silence, I wasn’t surprised.My difficulty staying awake did surprise me, though. My eyelids felt heavy as if I’d been drugged. The two glasses of wine I’d had with dinner must have affected me more than I thought. I tried to roll over and light the candle on my bedside table, but found I could not. I tossed and turned so in my sleep that I’d wound myself up in the bedclothes. When I attempted to dislodge myself I came to a nasty realization. I wasn’t trapped beneath the sheets; I was strapped to the bed.“Nice to see you’re finally awake.” Rhonda’s voice drifted through the darkness. “I suppose I shouldn’t have used as much sedative as I did. I might have killed you.”“What’s going on, Ronnie?” I asked. I tried to sound calm and authoritative. Instead, my words came out panicked and frightened. “Why am I tied to the bed?”“To keep you from running away, of course.”I suppose I should have responded to her words, but I didn’t. Words failed me. Hell, thoughts failed me. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the situation enough to understand what a mess I’d landed in. I though the wine caused my mental malaise. On the other hand, there aren’t many experiences one can have that will prepare you for waking up and discovering the woman you love has gone insane.I heard movement followed by the zip of a match striking against its box. The flame erupted in the darkness, illuminating the entire room. I watched Rhonda light the scented candle on the table next to her then blow out the match. After the prolonged black out, I squinted into the feeble light of Fresh-Baked Cookies.“I don’t understand, Ronnie,” I said. “Why are you doing this? In fact, [...]

The smell of demons in the morning


Excerpt from Dead of Winter:I took Father Joe’s face in my hands and smacked him onceto make sure he was listening. I wasn’t going to have time to repeatmyself.“Pay attention,” I said. “We don’t have much time and I don’tknow how long I can hold off the demon. You have to get Drew.”I pointed to my son. “Take him, then go across the hall and getHarry. Do it as fast as you can then get out of the house. Don’twait for me. Understand?”He nodded though his eyes were still glazed. He reached underhis jacket and pulled something out.“Wait,” he said, pressing the thing into my hand. “Holy water.”Sure. Why not?“Thanks. Now go. Hurry!”Father Joe got up just as Remiel unleashed his fury on bothof us. I tried to protect Father Joe but I knew I wouldn’t be ableto shield him entirely. He was going to take an awful hit and Icouldn’t stop it.From out of nowhere, Hutch came running across the room.He grinned from ear to ear and looked as determined as an incontinentcat in the Sahara Desert. He let out a howl and leaptonto Remiel’s back. Then he bit the demon on the neck, vampirestyle.It was Remiel’s turn to howl. When he opened his mouth,Hutch hooked his index finger inside the demon’s open mouthand pulled. I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous, a ghost minerpulling a grade school prank against a shape-shifting demon. Itwas probably much like the first human in history to eat a chickenegg. At first it was something you would only do on a dare, butthen it you realized it was a good idea. And it would go great withbacon. Hutch fought dirty but I wasn’t going to complain aboutit. His attack knocked the demon off balance just enough thathis metaphysical cannon blast missed Father Joe and slammedinto me instead.Everything went dark. The next time I opened my eyes, FatherJoe and Drew were gone and Hutch rode Remiel around theroom like a demonic bucking bronco. He still had the demonhooked and was sort of steering him around the room. It wasthe funniest damn thing I’d seen in a long time and I laughed.I couldn’t help it.Hutch looked up at the sound and grinned. “I got a tiger bythe tail here, Allysen. I got him but I can’t let go. What shouldI do?”“Hang on,” I yelled to him. “I’ve got an idea.”He nodded. “I told you this would be excitin’, didn’t I?” Thenhe frowned and smacked Remiel on top of the head. “Dammit,bitch, I told you to quit bitin’ me.”I pulled the top off of the bottle of holy water Father Joe gaveme and motioned for Hutch to bring the demon closer. When hedid, I tossed the water at the creature. Remiel shrieked and hissedgiving Hutch time to jump off. He rolled on his shoulder, stoodand brushed himself off while the demon continued to scream.“Are you okay?” I asked Hutch.“Am I okay? Damn, girl, I haven’t had this much fun in years.”Dead of Winter available now from Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. Also available in other ebook formats from[...]

A New Short Story


I have a story to tell you.I know that seems like an odd way to begin a story, by telling you that I’m going to tell you one. Honestly, I hardly ever do things like that. I tend to be very straightforward and direct in getting to my point and I hardly ever drift off topic. It’s just how I am. I remember one time when I was talking to this guy and he just completely changed the subject right in the middle of the …Wait. I’m doing it, aren’t I? Getting distracted, I mean.Okay, you caught me. I lied before when I said I always got to my point. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I get distracted. That can happen when you are omniscient. You just pick up so many interesting stories that you want to tell. Sometimes they all just want to come pouring out of your brain at once. Hey, I bet you want to know how I came to be omniscient. I wasn’t always this way, you know. I was just an ordinary person doing ordinary things. However, one of those ordinary things turned out to be quite extraordinary and … I did it again, didn’t I? I suppose that particular story can wait for another time. Until then, let’s just say something happened and here we all are.Did you realize that was the way it all happened? All of this, I mean? That something very ordinary happened and here we all are. I just happened to see it as it unfolded. Being omniscient is not without its perks.It began in the year 2250 in the bedroom of a young man named Charlie Lane. Charlie was twenty-six years old and lived in the basement of his mother’s house. He’d flunked out of college as a nineteen-year-old freshman, moved back home and stayed there. Although he was an intelligent man, school wasn’t for him. Charlie preferred to sit in his room at night, poring through old books and tinkering with whatever mechanical device might strike his fancy.Most days, Charlie rode the train home from his job and had dinner with his mother before retiring to his room to read his book. It wasn’t really a book, of course. It was an electronic screen that looked like a book. Long before Charlie was born, it had been decided that the resources required to make paper were more valuable as an energy source. Every industry that used paper was required to find another medium. Books had been on the way out for some time, anyway, so it was easy enough to convert those that were left to digital files which could be downloaded to any sort of personal information device. Nostalgia, however, has always been fashionable and there were those who wanted the look of an actual book. Charlie was one of those.His latest obsession was time travel. For Charlie, the idea was more than a mere schoolboy crush on the unattainable. Time travel no longer existed only in cheap science fiction paperbacks, bought in a corner drugstore and left discarded in some motel room like the byproduct of some tawdry literary affair. It was real. For hundreds of years, people dreamed of ways to achieve it and finally someone did. In the early twenty-first century, the first traveler went forward in time. His name was Richard Duncan and he made history on September 17, 2032. Of course, no one knew it had happened until 2063, when he arrived poof! in the middle of a community theater performance of Macbeth in Newton, Kansas. His appearance caused quite a commotion because he landed in the middle of the stage during Lady Macbeth’s dagger soliloquy. Did I mention that he was also completely naked? After the wardrobe people found him a pair of pants and the police finally left, Richard Duncan was the talk of the entire planet. Originally, he’d planned to surprise his wife the next morning at breakfast but arithmetic was never his strong suit and he’d forgotten to carry a one. Amazing how one tiny mistake can set back the progress of human discovery by thirty-one years, isn’t it?Duncan’s discovery set the scientific community atwitter. Everyone was suddenly interested in this new discovery (especially his wif[...]

Sean has poor reading skills at 6am


I've been burning my candle at both ends this week and not for any really good reason. Okay, maybe it is a good reason. My husband has been working long hours all week (leaving at 6:30am and not getting home until 9 or 10 at night) and if we want to talk to each other at all, we both have to stay up really late. Neither of us has had more than four or five hours of sleep per night all week. Normally, I can deal with sleep deprivation but, man, have I been dragging all week long. I've also had a terrible, pounding headache, too. I was beginning to think I might be coming down with something.

This morning, I staggered into the kitchen at a quarter of six to make coffee. I dumped the water in the coffee maker, put the coffee in the filter then just sort of stood there for a minute, staring at the bag of coffee I started using on Monday. It was then I noticed an unfamiliar word on the bag: D-E-C-A-F.

Sort of explains it all, doesn't it?


Trying. So hard. To. Stay awake.

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Fly


It was August 28th, 1992. My first semester of college. I and some of my newly found best friends headed out from the dorms at Wichita State University for some college hijinks. There were six of us in the car (a 1978 Cadillac Deville), listening to the city’s classic rock station at an obscene volume and singing along at an equally obscene volume. The song “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band came on. We belted out the lyrics.

Then it happened.

We came to the line “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.” I loudly sang what I thought was the line. Everyone stopped singing. The driver turned down the radio.

“What did you just say?”


I repeated the line. The car erupted in laughter. And that was the day I learned the song doesn’t go “Wrapped up like a douche, another roller in the fight.”

Go ahead. Laugh. It is kinda funny. I always wondered what they meant by that line anyway.

On a related note, I was once sitting in a radio station with another DJ. We’d been talking but lapsed into silence while the No Doubt song “Spiderwebs” was playing. At the end of the song is the line “Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” As soon as it played, the other DJ commented in an offhand manner “Why do you think she wants to leave a message for Carl Eubanks?”

Any embarrassingly misheard lyrics in your past?

Geology, Geograhy and Me


I have something embarrassing to admit. It requires a bit of background so bear with me.

I was 6 years old in 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington (the state. This distinction will be important later). It was all over the news and I was way into because … I was 6 and volcanoes are waaay cool to six-year-olds. Especially when they live in the middle of the country, far, far, away from the eruption. For some reason still unclear to me, my great-aunt in Washington D.C. (yet another important distinction) sent my grandmother a bit of ash from the eruption. So, if you’ll follow my six-year-old logic. Mt. St. Helens + Washington + Aunt Gladys + Washington = Mount St. Helens is in Washington D.C.

See? That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college and my Geology 101 (aka Geology for Liberal Arts majors) class. My professor was talking about the eruption when, like a lightning bolt from the sky, it struck me: MOUNT ST. HELENS IS IN WASHINGTON STATE!!!

Truly, I felt as though I’d been living a lie. And I also felt like a complete dumbass because I’d never corrected my faulty, six-year-old reasoning. This was the most complete and absolute “blonde” moment of my life. And I made the mistake of telling my husband about it. Being an engineer, he NEVER lets me forget it.

The point of my story: We were watching a program about what would happen if the seething caldera that is Yellowstone National Park were to ever explode. My seven-year-old son asked where Mount St. Helens was located and my husband replied “Washington.” My son thought about that for a moment.

Then he asked: “Washington state or Washington D.C.?”

A Death in the Fictional Family


I was reading another writer's (who shall remain nameless) blog the other day in which this person was despondent over the death of a character. It made me curious as to how others handle eliminating characters. Sure, I've shed a few tears over the deaths of characters written by others, (I STILL bawl like a baby when the little girl dies in Bridge to Terabithia.) but never over my own characters. In fact, I take a fiendish pleasure in devising good ways to remove characters (I have a particularly good death ready for one of my Seals characters. Bwahahaha.). I was discussing this with my stepdaughter Shekey last night and she told me, "It's a good thing you aren't a criminal, because you'd probably be a serial killer." Shekey has a wry sense of humor.

Writers: How do you feel about killing off your characters?

Everyone: Any particular fictional death scenes that really make you turn on the waterworks?

Religion versus Belief


I was doing some demon research online today and I came across a message board about the new A&E show Paranormal State. It's a reality show that chronicles the adventures of a group of Penn State students who investigate the paranormal. On last week's episode, the team encountered what they believed to be a demonic entity and they made a big deal of not saying its name (though the show later revealed it).

The interesting thing I discovered when I browsed through the thread about this particular episode was this: People who watched the show and have what seems to be a belief in the existence of the paranormal were angry because the investigators turned to Christianity for the solution. There was an inexplicable amount of comments like "I can't believe people believe this bullsh!t (referring to religion)." Bear in mind this was from people WHO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS! Few people took issue with the question of whether or not the person might be demonically possessed. That seemed to be a given. What bothered them was that the Catholic Church might have the solution.

Yeah, I had a hard time understanding that myself.

Personally, I don't care about what others believe. I think faith is a personal journey and if you look for God, you'll find Him. That's up to you. I also tend to think that there's more than one way to find Him. This leads to the fine line that I walk when I write. If you've read the First Seal, then you know that. I'm not preachy about religion but I think it's important. I am a bit concerned though, because my current WIP features a lot of paranormal activity and I am trying to find the right balance of that and religion. I know that's vague but I don't want to give out any plot spoilers. (Subliminal advertising: BUY MY BOOK!). I'm looking for some sort of balance that won't raise the ire of my target market and also won't get me kicked out of The Christian Writers Guild (though I'm pretty sure they should never, ever read my work. I get the feeling they wouldn't like it.)

I've had discussions with friends of all religious stripes including atheists (and if you think I might be talking about you, then I probably am) regarding the basis of belief or the lack of it. I'm more interested in what people believe and why they believe it than I am in winning some sort of argument.

So, let's hear it. What are your thoughts?

The Moral of the Story is "Don't Give Up."


(I grabbed this from The World in Grey's blog. 'Tis the season for encouragement. Ho, ho, ho.)

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was returned fourteen times, but it went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead was rejected twelve times.

Patrick Dennis said of his autobiographical novel Auntie Mame, "It circulated for five years through the halls of fifteen publishers and finally ended up with Vanguard Press, which, as you can see, is rather deep into the alphabet." This illustrates why using the alphabet may be a logical but ineffective way to find the best agent or editor.

Twenty publishers felt that Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull was for the birds.

The first title of Catch-22 was Catch-18, but Simon and Schuster planned to publish it during the same season that Doubleday was bringing out Mila 18 by Leon Uris. When Doubleday complained, Joseph Heller changed the title. Why 22? Because Simon and Schuster was the 22nd publisher to read it. Catch-22 has become part of the language and has sold more than 10 million copies.

Mary Higgins Clark was rejected forty times before selling her first story. One editor wrote: "Your story is light, slight, and trite." More than 30 million copies of her books are now in print.

Before he wrote Roots, Alex Haley had received 200 rejections.

Robert Persig's classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, couldn't get started at 121 houses.

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was declined by fifteen publishers and some thirty agents. His novels have more than 60 million copies in print.

Thirty-three publishers couldn't digest Chicken Soup for the Soul, compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, before it became a huge best-seller and spawned a series.

The Baltimore Sun hailed Naked in Deccan as "a classic" after it had been rejected over seven years by 375 publishers.

Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected twenty-four times. The sales of his children's books have soared to 100 million.

Louis L'Amour received 200 rejections before he sold his first novel. During the last forty years, Bantam has shipped nearly 200 million of his 112 books, making him their biggest selling author.

If you visit the House of Happy Walls, Jack London's beautiful estate in Sonoma County, north San Francisco, you will see some of the 600 rejection slips that London received before selling his first story.

British writer John Creasy received 774 rejections before selling his first story. He went on to write 564 books, using fourteen names.

Eight years after his novel Steps won the National Book Award, Jerzy Kosinski permitted a writer to change his name and the title and send a manuscript of the novel to thirteen agents and fourteen publishers to test the plight of new writers. They all rejected it, including Random House, which had published it.

Decisions, Decisions


I have reluctantly taken a break from writing this week because I needed to finish up edits on The Second Seal. I've got a couple more things to fix and it will be finished. Finally.

There is one thing about it that I'm not sure how I want to fix it. That's where you, my audience of experts, come in. I want your opinion on it.

Here's the situation: I have a character that uses two names. One is his real name and the other is an alias. The protagonist learns his real name, but not his alias. On the first edit, I thought it might be a little confusing to keep referring to the one character by two different names, so after revealing his real name, I referred to him only by his alias. I did this even when writing from the protagonist's POV (though he never refers to him by name in dialogue).

On this edit, however, a trusted friend suggested that I change it back.

Which way should I go on this?

I can provide examples if asked.

Does reading matter?


I'm in something of a thoughtful mood today and most of it is because of an op-ed I read to day in the Wall Street Journal, entitled "Does Reading Matter?" For those of you not interested in investing that much time in reading a blog post, allow me to summarize:

The main gist of the piece concerns a new study from the National Endowment for the Arts which concludes that people are reading less and less. At the end of the piece the writer suggests that, in the future, those who do not read will find themselves at a noticeable disadvantage.

Around 1439, Johannes Gutenberg got tired of getting hand cramps from the all the writing he had to do and invented moveable type. It changed the world, not only because it made information more accessible but because moving from a culture that was either oral or written to one that was printed changed the way humans think. If you don't agree with me, go argue with Marshall McLuhan. Wait, he's dead. Never mind. However, McLuhan did say this: "Until more than two centuries after printing nobody discovered how to maintain and single tone or attitude throughout a prose composition." One of McLuhan's students Walter Ong, claimed television had a similar effect in that it was returning us to what he called a "secondary orality."

If you have kids, you've probably gotten the generalized lecture from some do0gooder about how you should limit the amount of time your kid spends watching TV, playing video games and surfing the web. This often makes me wonder why the schools beg for money to spend on technology and computers on the one hand and then trash them on the other. Several years ago one of my step-daughters breathlessly informed me that they got to use laptops in the computer lab at school. I asked where she sat to use the laptop. She replied, "Oh, in our same seats. We just pushed the keyboard out of the way and sat it in front of the monitor."

I mentioned this story to my brother, who is an elementary school teacher and also the unofficial media tech guru guy, he laughed. "Public schools know they need new technology," he told me, "but they aren't really sure why they need it or what they should use it for. That's why you sometimes end up with goofy stuff like that."

Because I like to play devil's advocate from time to time, I've often been curious about our love/hate relationship with technology. We don't want to ignore it, lest we turn into some technophobic hermit living in a shack in the backwoods of Montana, but we never fully embrace it either. If we did, we'd throw out all of books and revel in a 24 hour American Idol marathon. I think the reason we don't fling ourselves into the abyss is that we worry our mothers will turn out to be right. Television really will turn our brains to mush. By the time we've realized it's happened, it'll be too late to fix it and nobody would be smart enough to anyway.

Does reading matter? For most of us around here (who aspire to be on the other end of that relationship), it does. Books are still very important to many of us, even as technology does its best to render them obsolete. We cling to them almost as if they have a mystical quality about them. Perhaps they do. Perhaps , like technology, we know we need them if we aren't sure why. Too bad more people don't feel that way.

The Agony of Technology


There are days when technology nearly kills me. Today was one of those days. I was up very late last night, slogging my through a most difficult chapter. I finally finished at around 2am, happy with the four thousand words I needed to get my characters where they were going. I got up to do some more work on it this morning.

And the file wouldn't open.

Word informed me in all its smug, Microsofty goodness, that the file was corrupt. I tried all the recommended recovery efforts and nothing worked. It appeared that my entire 20,000+ word work in progress was gone, just beyond my reach into the Land of Lost 0's and 1's.

I won't kid you. I sat down and cried.

I am not the most tech savvy person in the world. Keyboard, mouse and monitor are about the extent of my repertoire. Most anything beyond that I turn over to my hubby so he can put those two engineering degrees he has to work. But, I thought I had one more trick up my sleeve, so I thought I'd try it before I gave up completely.

It worked.

There was my entire document in all its beauty. Even the formatting was still intact. I was and still am so overjoyed I decided to blog about it.

And, now, I gonna go burn the damn thing to disc.

More Criticism of Criticism


My big time-waster today was heading over to Amazon where I got sucked into reading a thread in the Romance Forum. The thread was "What books have you hated but that everyone else adored?"

I was captivated by the title, so in I went.

My favorite thing about this thread was the way posters would say things like It's nice to see no one is being slammed for their opinions and them reel off a couple paragraphs about how much they hate Nora Roberts. I guess that's because it's easier (not to mention much more fun) to talk smack about something than to praise it.

I grew up in a town that is really in the middle of nowhere. There was one radio station you could pick up and they played atrocious music. I had a really cool teacher in Junior High who used to let us listen to the radio while we did math problems. We were doing this one day, when one of the other students piped up: "You know what the sad thing about this is? That someone worked really hard on this song. They put hours into it until it was just what they wanted. They were proud of it. And, after all that work, it sounds like this."

For this reason, I rarely put a book down without finishing it. I figure that the author put a lot of effort into writing it, I at least have the obligation to finish the story.

Now allow me to pile on.

In my life there have only been a couple of books I couldn't finish. The first was The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I got ¾ of the way through the second book and thought "This book is about walking." I made it just as far in the movies. The other book was Traveling with the Dead by Barbara Hambly. I love vampire novels which was why I picked this one up, but it put me to sleep. I just could not get into it.

For the record (and so I don't sound like a total hypocrite), I am currently waiting with baited breath for the next installments in series by Patricia Briggs and Karen Chance (because I loves me the werewolves and the vampires).

Your turn. Dog pile on the writers!

Bits and Pieces


I will be the first to admit that I have been a little remiss in the blogging department of late. However, I refuse to accept responsibility for my laziness. It's the Boy Scouts' fault. Really.

So allow me to just address some bits and pieces …

I am happy to say that I finally managed to get a bunch of books mailed out. So, if you won one last weekend, it's on the way.

I have been completely stressed out of late over The Second Seal. My plan was to have it ready for purchase by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm even going to manage to get it out by Christmas. L I blame my husband and his lack of editing help for this (he NEVER reads my blog, so he'll never see this.). I am convinced that all of my goofing off during the month of June had nothing to do with it. Nothing whatsoever. And I'm stickin' by that.

On a more positive note, I am quite pleased with my current WIP. I thought it was going to be a ghost story, but it has morphed into a supernatural detective story. I really like the main character and the story is evolving nicely. It may even turn into a series. We'll see …

Finally, I must sing the praises of one of my favorite new authors and mySpace friends, Justine Musk. I just finished her book Bloodangel and it's one of the best books I've read this year. Really, really good. If you enjoy supernatural apocalyptic stories, I'd say you oughta pick it up.

Horror Movies Part Two


Okay, time to get back to what I was working on when I got sidetracked by horror movies earlier this week. My husband recently brought home on DVD “The Devil’s Rejects,” Rob Zombie’s latest foray into cinematic horror. I watched his first movie with my hubby. It’s called “House of 1000 Corpses.” After that one, I decided I didn’t want to see any more Rob Zombie horror films.

No more for me, thanks!

I love horror movies, but I hated “House of 1000 Corpses.” Everyone dies in the end and the bad guys walk off into the sunset. It was as if mass murderers documented their crimes and cast themselves as the heroes. Totally unsatisfying as far as endings go since it puts the viewer in the very uncomfortable situation of having to identify with the killers. It simply did not follow my expectations of how a horror movie should end.

This raises the question, when you read (or watch movies, which ever you’d like to talk about), do you expect the story to end a certain way? Do you find it satisfying or not when it does? Ever read or watched something that ended in a completely different manner than you thought it would?

Horror Movies Part One


Okay, I have been a little remiss in posting here, but I PROMISE to do better from now on. So, Let's get down to business, shall we?

It’s almost October and I can’t wait. It’s my favorite month. I love Halloween. I love things that are creepy and crawly. I love scary movies and you can’t swing a dead cat (figuratively, of course) without hitting a bunch of those in the month of October.

You know, I was going to blog about actual writing stuff tonight, but … screw it! Let’s talk about horror movies instead! I’ll save the writing stuff for a “Part Two” later this week.

Like I said, I love horror movies. I really love bad horror movies, so much that there are too many to name. So I will settle on a major release film that often gets overlooked: The Prince of Darkness. It’s a John Carpenter movie that stars Donald Pleasance and the blond guy from that TV show “Simon and Simon.” And his gigantic, porn-star mustache. Plus, there’s a cameo by Alice Cooper. And it’s about the Devil. If you haven’t seen this movie, put it on your To Watch list.


Your turn. What’s your favorite horror movie?

Editing Progress and Summertime Fun


I am finally starting to see the end of the tunnel as far as the rewrite on the Second Seal goes. I am currently reworking the climax and when I am finished with that, it’s just editing. It’s a good feeling to finally, finally have this thing looking and reading like a real novel. Hopefully the end is near.

Summer is nearly over and my oldest son heads back to school on Monday. He’s ready. I’m ready. The baby will be despondent because he’ll lose his buddy. The dog may also be a little blue because she’ll lose her buddy, too.

The dog of which I speak (Rommy) is a half-husky, half-cocker goof ball that we rescued from the dog pound in Fairbanks. She weighed 17 pounds when we got her and has since ballooned to 40. We’ve had to start feeding her diet dog food and she has slimmed down a bit. Texas has been an interesting experience in adaptation for her because she is a dog that loves to run and romp at -20. She also, without a doubt, belongs to my oldest son. They have a love/hate relationship. When we lived in Alaska and the two of the m played outside in the snow, she would wait stealthily until he was paying her no mind. Then she would blindside him, knocking him face-first into the snow. As a final insult, she’d steal his hat. It was great fun to watch.

The boy was outside today, squeezing the last few precious drops of freedom from his summer vacation. It was not long before he came bouncing into the house with a great smile on his face.

“What have you been up to?” I asked.

“Oh, I was swinging,” he replied. “Then I stopped and Rommy came over and pushed me down.”

I pretended to be shocked. “Why did she do that? You didn’t pull her tail, did you?”

“No, I didn’t pull her tail,” he said, playing along.

“Did you tweak her nose?”

“No, I didn’t tweak her nose.”

“Did you tug on her ears?”

“No, I didn’t tug on her ears,” he laughs.

“Oh, honey,” I said, really hamming it up. “You didn’t tell her she was fat, did you?”

“No, I didn’t do any of those things! She just did it because she felt like it.”

Scamps. Both of ‘em.

Just another day amidst the chaos


Today:The boys and I are stuck at home today because we are waiting on a very important delivery. Approximate delivery time: sometime between 8am and 5pm. We aren’t going anywhere. Nor can we play in the backyard because we would not be able to hear the doorbell. Plus, it’s really freaking hot. So we are resigned to being indoors.It starts when the doorbell rings.I answer it and find a salesperson. Not just any salesperson, either. It’s one of those people who is selling magazines supposedly to earn points to win some damn thing or another. The problem is, their patter is rapid-fire and non-stop, giving me no opportune moment to slam the door in their face.As I stand waiting politely to turn them down, my oldest son comes running to the door.“Mooooooooommmmmmm!!!!! The baby poured water all over your computer!!!!”I tell the still-yakking salesperson to hang on an slam the door on them. On to my computer. The baby has, in fact, poured water all over it. I shake my finger at him and scold: “Bad, Baby! No!” His lower lip trembles. His brow furrows. Tears brew at the corners of his eyes and then …“Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” He collapses on the floor in a heap.My oldest son, who has keen powers of observation and a stunning grasp of the obvious, shouts at me: “Mom! The baby’s crying!”“I can hear that!” I shout back. “Go get the paper towels! They’re on the counter!”He darts off while I try to stop the flow of water that is running off the desk and onto the floor. He returns. No paper towels.“I can’t find them!”I head to the kitchen and grab the paper towels. They are sitting alone on the empty counter top. My son meets me in the halfway.“Mooooooooommmmm!! The baby has gum!!!!”I hand him the paper towels and tell him to get mopping. I chase the baby down the other hallway, into his room and corner him behind his dresser. Then I fish a wad of gum and paper (soaked in baby spit) out of his mouth. Once again, he collapses in a heap and wails. I leave him to his woe and go check on the progress of the clean-up. My oldest son in trying to mop up the water with half a paper towel and is really only succeeding in moving the water from the desk to the floor.“Honey, you can use more than one,” I say and rip off a hunk of towels.“Oh,” he says. Then he starts unrolling. The doorbell rings. I had forgotten about the salesperson.Somehow, the dog has mysteriously entered the house from the backyard and charges for the front door, barking furiously. The doorbell is his invisible nemesis. The baby also hears the doorbell and (still crying) comes running as well. I open the door while trying to keep either of them from squirting past me and into the front yard. I slip out the front door, making sure I hang onto the handle. The baby (still crying) is pulling on it from the inside.“Go ahead,” I tell the salesperson. He opens his mouth to begin his patter when I hear the telltale sound of the deadbolt. The baby has locked the door. Inside, I can hear the phone ringing. I ring the doorbell to get my oldest’s attention and the dog barks furiously. My oldest comes to the door, phone to his ear. He presses his face against the glass.“Who is it?”“You look busy,” says the salesperson, backing away from the house. “I’ll come back later.”“You know who it is. Open the door. NOW!”He lets me in just in time for me to see the baby, laughing and covered in flour, racing across the living room. As I turn to chase him, my son holds up the phone.“It’s Dad,” he says. I[...]

A Little Teaser


Here is an excerpt from The Second Seal: Bernard's Prophecy (note the nifty new title) As Marji lay in the ditch with a gun pressed against her head, she'd been certain she was going to die. Those had been the longest minutes of her life, just laying there helpless, in silence. He knelt beside her with one knee in the middle of her back and the barrel of his gun against her head. She tried to keep her face out of the slime in the ditch but figured since she was going to die, it didn't really matter. Her only thought was please, God, don't let me die like this. She was nearly hyperventilating but she didn't speak, didn't beg for her life. Marji feared that whatever it was that stayed his hand, that kept him frozen next to her with his gun against her head, wanted the silence. If she spoke, he would kill her. The seconds ticked by and she braced herself for the bullet. She hoped at the very least, it wouldn't hurt for long.Then his cell phone rang. Marji twitched before she realized he hadn't shot her. It was just his phone.Kane took several steps away from her. "Hello?"Relief flooded through her. When he answered the phone he'd lowered his gun."Hello? Hello? Goddamn cheap phone," he muttered and jammed it back into his pocket. Then he gave Marji a cold, hard stare.Run, she thought. Run, idiot.She scrambled to her feet quickly but he was quicker. He tackled her at the knees, knocking her to the ground. Marji put her hand out to catch herself, but there was some sort of muck in the bottom of the ditch and she slipped. Face first, she fell into the muck with Kane on top of her. He wasn't a big guy but he was strong. Pinning her with his body, he hit her on the side of her head. The blow was hard enough to make her ear ring. Then he hit her again, And again. Then everything went black.When she awoke, everything was still shrouded in darkness. Marji's throat burned and it hurt to breathe. Her head ached horribly and she was nauseous. But she was alive. From what little she could see and hear, she guessed she was in the trunk of Kane's car. Her hands and feet were bound and there was tape across her mouth. Unfortunately, the revolting taste of the ditch muck was still in her mouth. Marji felt her gorge rise but knew if she vomited with a gag over her mouth there'd no place for it to go except back the way it had come. She knew she didn't want to deal with that, so she took deep breaths and tried to mentally force her stomach to behave. Thankfully, it worked.That wasn't the last of it, however. Most of her nausea was caused by the slight concussion she'd gotten when Kane knocked her out. It wasn't going away. The bad taste in her mouth wasn't going away, either. Then there was the whole experience of riding in a trunk. The exhaust fumes burned her throat , her eyes and her nose. It also didn't help the nausea. She could feel every bump in the road. Occasionally, they'd hit a big one and she'd bounce enough to hit the lid of the trunk. The lid didn't fit very tightly, either. It bounced and rattled with every bump and she was certain it would eventually pop open. Then she'd bounce out and hit the pavement at sixty miles per hour.I'd rather have a bullet to the head than that, she thought. Then they hit another bump and her stomach lurched once more.It seemed like an eternity, but finally, thankfully, the car slowed. Marji thought they might stop soon. She was wrong. The car moved more slowly, but it was stop-and-go. There were also turns. Marji wished miserably that they would stop or at least g[...]

You have to play this game with fear and arrogance.


That is perhaps my favorite line from what may well be my favorite movie, Bull Durham. When Kevin Costner said it in the movie, he was talking about baseball. I, however, have often found it applies equally well to other areas of my life.

For example, my first career choice: Radio. I can clearly remember the day I decided I wanted to try it. I was getting ready for school, listening to the local morning show and I thought, “Pfft! How hard can that be?” I started working at the local radio station when I was 16 and still in high school (We broadcast at a whopping 1500 watts on the FM side. Oh, and it was FM mono with this hellacious buzz caused by the fact that the owner piggybacked the FM signal off of the AM transmitter. We were a force to be reckoned with). I started off running Royals games on the weekend and moved to the afternoon music show for the kids, which I did during my senior year of high school. The funny thing about it was that the guy who owned and ran the station showed me how to run the sound board one afternoon, then said, “Play whatever you want. I’m going in the back to take a nap.”

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So, I just sort of winged it. I took things I’d heard other DJs do, and did them in my own way (Little did I know that this is the age old way in which all radio people discover new bits and features for their shows. They steal them from jocks in other markets.)

I eventually moved on to a large market where I learned a lot of the mistakes I’d made in my first job. The hindsight was sort embarrassing and I guarantee that no tapes of my first radio job still exist (though I do have a few from when I was still just a pup). When I left my last radio job in Fairbanks, my Program Director told me: “I knew this was too good to be true. People with your talent and your experience don’t often end up in Fairbanks.” That was probably the nicest thing any of my many radio supervisors has ever said to me. But I won’t let it go to my head. Like many things in life, radio is a fickle mistress. Unless your name is Howard Stern or Ryan Seacrest, it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. It’s what you do today that matters.

What I learned from all of that is that radio, like baseball, is a game of fear and arrogance. You live your life knowing that no one is better than you and that six months after you leave, no one will remember your name.

Though I’ve said this before in my life, I think I’ve finally left radio for good. Primarily because I have faith in myself and I think I can make this writing thing work. Yet as I embark on this, I feel once again like I am 16, sitting in a control room surrounded by equipment that I have just the vaguest idea how to use. But I have some ideas about what I wanted to do and a burning desire to do it. I still feel that I am feeling my way along in the darkness, knowing my goal is at the end. I know I’ve already made a few mistakes.

I recently read a piece in which another author was complaining about authors who … complain about other authors (no irony there) when they themselves have accomplished nothing. The author was very negative about those who did this, but I can understand the mindset. If you don’t think you work is worth being published then why should anyone else?

I think I can do this.

Fear and arrogance.

Things my mother taught me


1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE."If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."My mom's biggest pet peeve -- when my brother and I wrestled on the couch.2. My mother taught me RELIGION."You better pray that will come out of the carpet."Reminds me of the time I was messing with our satellite dish (one of the big ones) and knocked it off its stand. I did a lot of praying that day! 3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL."If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"You could run from my mom because she wasn't fast. But she had great endurance!4. My mother taught me LOGIC." Because I said so, that's why."I'm convinced this is a parent's best friend. I knew I was an adult the day this phrase came out of my mouth.5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC."If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."I never broke a bone as a child. It was probably so I would always be able to go to the store.6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT."Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."This particular pearl of wisdom comes not from my mother but from my friend's mom. It is something we should all live by: "Always drive the speed limit because you never know when someone will throw a bag of nails out the window."That woman was a genius! Funny thing was that it worked on my friend!7. My mother taught me IRONY"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."What does this even mean?8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS."Shut your mouth and eat your supper."I remember reading Little Farmer Boy (Laura Ingalls Wilder) as a kid and coming across the scene where Almanzo gets in trouble for talking at the table. I always thought that rule alone would have doomed me as a pioneer child. I could never keep my mouth shut.9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM."Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"I don't know about this, but I am certain my mom had eyes on the back of her head and spies all over town!10. My mother taught me about STAMINA."You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."I still hate spinach.11. My mother taught me about WEATHER."This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."And still kind of a slob.12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY."If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"Seriuosly. A million times. She counted.13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE."I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."I always liked the Bill Cosby addendum to this: "And I can make another that looks just like you."14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION."Stop acting like your father!"In my case, the bad example was my grandmother. It worked, though.15. My mother taught me about ENVY."There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."The older I get, the more I discover that this one is actually true!16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION."Just wait until we get home."And I would hit the ground running. See 3 for the result.17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING."You are going to get it when you get home!"I refer you to the above.18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE."If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."I think the very act of having a kid embues one with some sort of medical knowledge. Mom kisses always make boo-boos better.19. My mother taught me ESP."Put [...]

This is news, but is it good or bad?


I got this message from a friend:

I don't know if you have a Hastings Book store there but ours here buy books back, and guess what I saw on the shelf.. yep you guessed it YOUR BOOK. That means someone bought it and then resold it to Hastings but still your book is in a major store.. I thought it was good news.

This just goes to prove that I will go to ANY lengths to get my book in a major chain!

Wanna go to Vegas and get married? 'Kay, sure.


August 3, 1997 -- A historic day in the annals of Western Civilization. It was the day that the Hubby and I, after dating for only five months and being engaged for two, threw caution to the wind, flew to Las Vegas and began our lifelong committment to sitting on the couch and getting fat together.

Break out the booze! We've made a decade! Free elephant rides and pantyhose for everyone! Huzzah!

New York, New York -- We stayed next door at the MGM Grand and got married someplace in between. Despite my intense fear of heights, I actually rode that damn rollercoaster because I promised my husband I would. I hyperventilated and cried the entire ride. When it was over, I flung myself on the 100 degree sidewalk and hugged the ground. That sooooo sucked. But the rest of it has been pretty good.

I Hate Dieting. And Editing. Passionately.


I may be the slowest editor on the planet. I am STILL working on the first edit of the Second Seal. I started this epic journey in February. It is almost August. I just keep digging myself in deeper. Things are progressing slowly because I am not only adding new stuff, I keep needing to rewrite the old stuff. Okay. I promise not to whine about that anymore (in this post, anyway). I am now less than 100 pages from the end. I did ten today and, if I can keep up that pace, I’ll be done soon. Then I can start again. :-/

This weekend, I started dieting once again. All was going well until I was thwarted by my husband. He brought home a bottle of wine. We all know it’s not a good idea to drink on an empty stomach. That can only lead to dancing in you underwear on the kitchen table, sending drunken emails to your entire address book, and buying Captain Kirk’s chair off of e-Bay.

This isn’t the first time he’s thwarted my efforts. The following is a true story:

My husband and I were at the grocery store one evening and I was feeling all warm and fuzzy toward him.
“I have a confession to make,” I said.
“Whenever you diet, I sabotage you so that you will remain unattractive to other women and I won’t have to worry about competition.”
He laughed.
“What?” I asked.
“I do the same thing to you.”

So I probably should have expected it.

Now, back to work.

More Summertime Blahs


My summertime blahs may have disappeared but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m being productive. I’m trying, but it’s just not happening. I am currently working on a little short story about time travel. Sci-fi isn’t usually my thing, but this one was my hubby’s idea. It was a story idea he came up with years ago, but every time he tried to write it, it came out “sounding like it had been written by an engineer.” His words, not mine. I think that means it was as about as riveting as a computer manual. So, he asked me to give it a go and I told him I would.

It goes but not all that well.

The first problem I have with this story is sitting behind me right now. Directly behind me. In fact it is sitting on my back, playing with my hair as I type. It’s my oldest son. Summer is almost over and he is bored. Now the baby is playing with my mouse and deleting part of this post. I just keep telling myself that distractions make me stronger.

The second problem is my computer. It is currently nothing more than a large paper weight. Some time in the past few months, a nasty little Trojan sneaked past my firewall and made itself at home. I have switched to our other computer, but I don’t like the keyboard and my files are still on the paper weight. Fortunately, I backup my writing constantly and had a good version of everything saved. But, my music is all gone. All my Tori Amos (sob!) is gone.

Sad panda. :(