Haunted Drabble/Darkspell Spookafest

If any holiday is made for not one but TWO blogfests, it's Halloween!  First up is Tara Tyler's Haunted Drabble.  You can enter your own 100 word spooky story by leaving a link to your post in a comment at Tara's.

The Dangers of Twilight

This wasn’t like the books. He didn’t sparkle in the sunlight. He told her he loved her—that part of the fable was true—but he was lying.

All tenderness ended the moment she entered his chamber; her screams weren’t those of the ecstasy she’d anticipated.

Her agony pleased him.

He chained her to his bed, her throat unblemished, and whispered, “You’re mine.”

Hours later, the click of approaching boots indicated his return. She gripped the splintered post in her cuffed, but now free hands, praying Meyers was also wrong about the effect of a stake through a vampire’s heart.


Today is also the super-exciting launch of Elizabeth Mueller's novel, Darkspell, and she's hosting a Spookafest, in which we reveal what we'd do if we had all the magic in the world. 

My first order of business would be to parse up the magical abilities and bequeath them to others I trust to use them responsibly.  We'd form our own Order of the Phoenix/Justice League type of thing to fight evil.

What I'd keep for myself would be teleportation ability.  I always say I love to travel, but that's not entirely truthful.  What I like is being other places---traveling there, not so much.  I'd also like to be able to teleport objects, like food from Feed My Starving Children, directly to orphanages and poverty stricken areas, bypassing hefty freight charges and corrupt governments. KAPOW!

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . .until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold. As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own. Will love prove thicker than magic?

Now available at Amazon, or check out how to order your very own signed copy at Elizabeth's website

Happy Halloween!


80s Fun with the Charming Elliot Grace

If you haven't heard, Elliot Grace is on tour all month long talking about his newly released novel, South of Charm.

"Many will relate to the book's themes of faith and loyalty, and Danny's frustration that no matter how good he is at baseball, it won't help him save his family."   -Akron Beacon Journal

I've got the book and it's next in line on my to-be-read list, but every review I read makes me more anxious to get to it.   It promises to be a modern classic. Also, it's set in the 1980s!  So, for Elliot's stop at my place guess what I asked him about...

Thirteen tour stops in all, headed in four directions and across the border into foreign lands, and from the onset, I knew without a doubt that you'd be the one to ask me about my chosen setting for "South of Charm."  (Which of course explains my enthusiasm for being here :)

In order to pen an emotional drama, something capable of coaxing tears during one chapter, while causing one's belly to bounce with joy upon the turn of a page, a writer must take comfort in two very important elements...one's home life surrounding the keyboard, and the setting of their story.  My goal was to arm the novel with the heart of a lion, but in order to do that, the setting and time frame had to resonate from a place that meant something to me, during a time when magic remained just out of reach.

Like yourself, Nicki, I grew up during the booming eighties. Ten years' worth of aerosol hair spray and leg warmers.  Of microwave ovens the size of compact cars, and hair bands strutting about in spandex.  It was the age of break dancing along city streets, and staying up on Friday nights to watch The Dukes of Hazzard.  And anything bearing rotary dials was frowned upon, as the age of push-buttons and digital displays packed the shelves at the local Big Wheel.

The eighties were about being cool.  Growing up as fast as possible while saving every last penny for that candy-apple Iroc-Z28 parked at the local dealership.  MTV still played music back then, and everywhere you looked, some poor soul was desperately trying to master the art of the moonwalk.

It took less than the amount of time needed to primp one's mullet for me to decide on the eighties for the setting of "South of Charm."  As my teenage son often reminds me, "You gotta get with the times, Dad!"

Perhaps someday...but not just yet ;)

Hehehe.  Thanks for stopping by, Elliot!
Check him out at his blog, Goodreads, Wooster, Amazon


Breathless blogfest

This is my entry for Brenda Drake's "Can You Leave Us Breathless" blogfest.  It's a brief excerpt from chapter 11 of my as-of-yet-untitled WIP.  I hope you like (and critiques are welcome).


“It’s true that angels are less prone to temptation,” he said. “But when we give in, the betrayal is at a higher magnitude. It’s nearly unforgivable because it’s not in our nature, so it isn’t weakness we demonstrate.  It’s willfulness, which is much worse. But as with humans, the love of the Lord can save us---if we let it.”

His fingertips roved Maggie’s face, tracing her cheekbones, over the bridge of her nose, across her lips.  She closed her eyes as he glided over her eyelids while the sound of his smooth voice rolled over her.

“When we overcome the lure to sin,” he continued, “we’re strengthened tenfold by the Holy Spirit and made able to face our temptations more easily.”

Maggie thought of how different the calming sensations he now sent into her were from those she’d felt the last time he’d touched her. There had been an urgency then, something on the verge of losing control. He'd clearly mastered whatever had afflicted him then.

“We can come closer to that which tempts us than we previously would have dared,” he murmured.

Something tickled Maggie's lips, but it wasn’t his hands. His warm breath drifted in through the slight part in her lips as his mouth passed gently over hers, scarcely brushing against it.

He dropped one hand to caress the side of her throat as he rested his forehead on hers and concluded, “And resist without effort.”

His tone carried not a hint of smugness, and Maggie wondered how he didn’t feel the throbbing vein in her neck as it pulsed in time with her thundering heart.


Meet Feather Stone

So many bloggers made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they hosted me and commented on my posts during my blog blitz last month, and now I'm thrilled to be able to return the love by hosting some amazing blogger/authors who have exciting things to tell us.  Elliot Grace will be here next Monday, Susan Kaye Quinn on Nov. 1, and M. Pax on Nov. 7.

To start out the lovefest, I introduce you to an inspiring, wonderful person---Feather Stone.  She's brand new to blogging and has just had her first novel published, The Guardian's Wildchild.  I feel blessed to have been the editor on this visually and spiritually beautiful story. 

Honestly, she had me at the first and last paragraphs of her acknowledgments:

How does a ship thank the ocean? The relationship is fraught with dangers of sinking or being shredded over a reef. And yet, the ship, if guided by wisdom and dogged determination, discovers its journey exceeds the joy in arriving at the destination. And so it is with the writing of this story. The experience was an intense journey of self-discovery.

And dear reader, as Sidney said, “I am grateful for the love and guidance of the Guardians, for all the trials and tribulations that taught me tolerance and courage, and for all the events that led me to you.”

Here's my three-question interview with Feather Stone:

1. What's been the most surprising thing to you about the publishing process? 

The publishing process has been an education.  I thought that if a publisher agreed to accept a manuscript for publication my work was done.  Instead, I learned that I was included in the editing process.  I then worried that pieces, large or small might be altered or deleted.  Not so, but areas that required clarification were brought to my attention, including errors in time sequence, inconsistencies in names, etc.  I was actually delighted that my input was still valued.  I began to feel a part of a large team of professionals who were focused in ensuring The Guardian's Wild Child was a 'good read' for the public.

During the years working on my manuscript I had envisioned it on the shelves of book stores.  However, the world changed during those years, embracing electronic devices called ipads, ebooks, etc.  It took me a while to make the switch to see that it was in my best interest to promote my novel electronically.  So the setup of websites, blogs, twitter, facebook has been a real, almost painful, stretch for me.

2.  Which character was the most fun to write and why? 

I truly loved all my characters, even Butchart who was a truly sick and wicked man.  I had completed a biography of all my main characters in the begining of the writing process.  As a result I felt I knew each one intimately, even beyond what was revealed in the story.  The one that would make me smile the most was Danik Davenport.  He was seldom in the scenes but how I would've liked to have been his girlfriend.  Danik was devoted to being a Guardian, but his sense of humor kept him 'human' in so many ways that the rest of us can identify with.  His love was genuine and fierce.  I could feel him look at me with those warm puppy brown eyes, see all my warts and still love me.  His heart was so open, more than any of the other characters in the story.

3. If you had to pick one song that captures the essence of The Guardian's Wildchild, what would it be? 

I always play music when I'm writing.  Enya, Sarah McLachlan, and Loreena McKennitt were almost always the singers with their soft haunting voices during these long writing sessions.  Over and over and over again I played their CD's.  However, if I had to pick one song - I can't; but two songs would be Loreena McKennitt's Dante's Prayer and Sarah McLachaln's I Love You. I'll let you pick one.

I'll give you both, Feather. ;)

Please check Feather Stone out 
at her Website, Blog, Omnific, and/or Goodreads


Two Spooky Blogfests

Just wanted to give you a heads up on two cool blogfests coming up for Halloween.They're easy and fun and give us an opportunity to flex our writing muscle, Halloween style.

This Friday, Brenda Drake is hosting the Can you Leave Us Breathless Blogfest Contest.   On October 21 post an excerpt---up to 300 words---from your novel or other writings to your blog. If you want, you can write something new for the contest. It can be scary, romance, a thrill ride, a twist. It can be any genre. All you have to do is leave readers breathless.


On Halloween, Tara Tyler is hosting the Haunted DrabbleWrite a spooky 100 word story & post on Halloween. Post your link in comments at Tara's on 10/31.  She might be giving out a treat to her favorite Haunted Drabble. 


Disney Post-Game

In my Things to Look Forward to Upon Returning Home, I left out read comments on blog.  I wasn't sure there would be any---but there were!  Thank you, thank you, thank you for adding some sparkle to my transition back to real life.  Now that I'm fairly settled back in, I look forward to bopping around the blogosphere to catch up with y'all. 

Yes, Jennifer, it was hot down there---but I much preferred the steamy days to the soggy ones.  We exited the Haunted Mansion Friday evening and were met by ominous skies.  The clouds burst and the rain didn't let up until Sunday afternoon.  Let's see, here's a photo of a wet Caribbean Beach.

Still pretty, and I must admit there was something fun about seeing 95% of the mass of humanity at the parks donning their Mickey Mouse ponchos.  My favorite was the guy in his Viking hat with a souvenir beer stein capping each horn. (Gee, thanks, Michael, for informing me of the "breathtaking" weather I left behind in Chicago, haha.) 

I rode Toy Story Mania for ya, Tara!  Here's a picture of Mr. Potato Head entertaining us as we wound through the waiting maze.  I was shocked by how mobbed this ride was.  The guy at the Fast Pass said it was the most popular attraction in all four parks---that means Fast Passes are gone before noon and the wait time can get up to 2 hours.  The best bet is to arrive at Hollywood Studios before opening and then join the herd of vacationers as they sweep through the streets to the ride. 

For Suze I have a picture of the Grand Floridian balcony.  So peaceful there.  A drink and chat with my sister on this balcony plus the ferry ride back to the Magic Kingdom made for a relaxing respite from the madness.  I did avoid the Tea Cups afterward---thanks for the tip, Alex.

For Star Wars fans, here's a picture of Tatooine Traders---the souvenir shop riders funnel into after Star Tours.  The new and improved Star Tours is great!  And thanks to Toy Story Mania, wait times aren't bad at all. I was ever so proud when my daughter was identified as the rebel spy on one of the missions.

Okay Suze, I'm officially asking about your "interesting" experience on Star Tours---spill it!

The vacation came complete with a genuine Clark Griswold moment. After keeping fairly dry & happy by building-hopping in Future World, I trudged my family to the World Showcase in the steady rain, where I led them past six countries and through several deep puddles.  This ill advised move ruined us---shoes and socks became hopelessly soaked; rain found its way in streams through gaps in our ponchos.  Ah, but there was a great reward awaiting us---the Yakitori House.

As I watched drops fall from the rim of my baseball hat, so saturated it could no longer hold the moisture, I dreamed of warm teriyaki chicken skewers, spicy sushi rolls, and  a tall glass of Kirin beer.  As the children whined, I promised, "You're going to love it. We'll be dry and happy there."

Just as the rain began to pound on us at its greatest level of violence, we arrived in Japan, where we were met by this (photo taken on a less torrential day):

Note the temporary surround wall.  The Yakitori House was CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS!  Seriously.  In that moment, as the very sweet girl in the gift shop informed us of the development, I knew exactly how Clark felt.  I channeled him, I became him as I stumbled back into the rain and loudly lamented with decidedly unDisney-friendly language "Who the *bleep* closes a *bleeping* restaurant during a food and *bleeping* wine festival?" (And says nothing about it on their website? I now add.)

Rather than holding an employee at Buzz Lighyear Space Blaster-point and forcing him over the wall to whip up Japanese cuisine, we sought refuge in nearby America and let the magic crawl gradually back into our souls with the help of Sam Adams and Glory Hallelujah.  The whole thing seems funny now, and one day I'm sure I'll dine in the refurbished digs...yet the place shall forever more be known to my family as the Yaki*bleeping*tori House.

One more fun little note before I release you from my vacation diary.  At Hollywood Studios we took a "Which Disney Character Are You?" quiz.  Everyone, meet me:

Computer must've witnessed the Yaki incident, hehe

My magical vacation may be over, but now we get to go vicariously back to Disney World in November through Tara Tyler and again in December through Susan Oloier---please share pictures & stories, ladies!  Also, we'll cyber travel to another part of Orlando with Michael Di Gesu and Jen Daiker, who plan to meet up in a few weeks at Wizarding World!  Now that's going to be nuts (in the very best of ways).


Disney World Day 7: The Happily Ever After

*sigh*  By now I suppose we'll all be tired of living out of a suitcase, but it'll still be sad to say goodbye to this trip we've been dreaming of w/ family for over two years.  Ah, but there's yet one thing to look forward to---when we step into home sweet home, we'll be greeted by this fuzzy little hunk o' burnin' love...

He always makes homecomings happy.  Micball

What's the one thing you most look forward to when returning home from a trip?


DisneyWorld Day 6: Bonus!

A couple weeks before the trip, American Airlines decided to cancel our originally scheduled direct flight to one w/ a layover in Miami. I said "Nuh uh" and switched to a direct flight the following day, which means...extra day at Disney World!

"The plan" is to hit Hollywood Studios with a proper plan of attack.  Therefore, thing #1 that I look most forward to today is...Star Tours!  No worries if I've already ridden it a couple times by now:  "You never know where the Force might take you. Many different Star Tours adventures await you—including multiple storylines and locations. Riding once is not enough!"

I imagine by afternoon we'll want to head back to the Magic Kingdom. Can't leave the World without bidding Roy & Minnie adieu. 

The Peoplemover seems like a nice way to tie up a visit as it winds throughout Tomorrow Land.  Second best ride ever. (Told you I've got a thing for transportation.) 

So, what's your favorite mode of transportation and why?


DisneyWorld Day 5: Day of Rest

I think by now we've earned a morning to sleep in, don't you?  So for day five, here are the three things I'm most looking forward to:

Grabbing a coffee and digging my toes into the morning sand of the Aruba beach.
(Even if that sand is cold, wet & soggy with T-storms raging all around, by God.)

If we feel like it, we'll head to Hollywood Studios by early afternoon, if for no other reason than to catch the ferry that runs between there and Epcot.  What excites me about that is that the boat drops us off at the World Showcase entrance.

Why go to Epcot again? you ask---to have dinner at Teppan Edo in Japan, where the chefs will prepare our meal on the table in front of us. 

So, where's your favorite place to dig your toes into the sand?  


DisneyWorld Day 4: Animal Kingdom/Hollywood Studios

If you haven't seen the prior three posts, here's the deal: I'm at Disney World RIGHT NOW and have pre-scheduled posts each day to chronicle the things I'm most looking forward to.  I suppose when I get home I can compare reality with expectations.  Could be interesting.  Or maybe not. 

At any rate, here are the three things I'm most looking forward to today:

Our travel agent scored us FREE dining (!) so I giddily made this reservation as soon as we got the news.  Today, assuming God's plans sync with mine, after spending the morning at Animal Kingdom, we'll take a bus to the Animal Kingdom Villas for a late lunch at Sanaa, which has floor to ceiling views of this:

After a possible pitstop back at Caribbean Beach, we'll meet up with my brother & his family and some friends (who's vacation coincidentally overlaps with ours) at Hollywood Studios. Kiddos will once again run rampant for a few hours, during which I plan to gently guide the adults (they won't even realize it's happening) to Star Tours.  *Ahem* all-freaking-NEW Star Tours!

We'll end the evening with Fantasmic.  Last time we saw the show, high winds put the dragon out of commission, so I've got fingers crossed we get to see her in action this time.  (Not looking good---as of post time rain, rain, and more rain is predicted.)

Here's what I want to know: 
In your best estimation, how many times have you seen  
A New Hope

(Just a reminder: I didn't bring my laptop, and you know how I feel about iPhones, but I promise to repay your visits in the days following my return.)


DisneyWorld Day 3: Epcot

Today we plan to hit Epcot.  I do so love the rides in Future World, like Soarin' and Test Track and yes, even Ellen's Universe of Energy, but I've limited myself to three top picks, and these are what win w/ me:

Lunch at the Yakitori House.  I've never been here before, but the location looks serene and it's got teriyaki chicken and sushi rolls, so can't lose.

Dinner in Italy at Via Napoli with the whole gang---all 19 of us!
(This is the day in which my mum is making us all wear matching T-shirts.  I'm still trying to come to terms with that.)

There are no fireworks at the Magic Kingdom on Friday, so Saturday we plan to monorail over from Epcot for the show.  Just to be clear---the monorail is what's made my top three, not the fireworks. I've got a thing for transportation
...and food, apparently.

What's your "thing" when you're traveling? 


DisneyWorld Day 2: Magic Kingdom

I just can't start out the Disney parks visits anywhere but The Magic Kingdom.  After amazing my family with my super-crowd-slithering expertise as I shimmy us all right up to the entry rope, here are the three things I'm most looking forward to today:

Getting all vaklempsch at this site as we make our way down Main Street
(hoping, hoping, hoping the sky's that blue---rain is in the forecast)

After lunch, el kiddos have plans to run rampant through the park with their cousins---sans parents.  Ergo, parents have plans to monorail over to the pool bar at the Grand Floridian.  The best part?  Monkey will be joining us!

To be followed by the best ride ever when we reunite with the children.  I can only imagine how fun this is going to be after a couple top shelf Bloody Mary's:

Tell me---what's your drink of choice at a pool bar? 


DisneyWorld Day 1: Caribbean Beach

If all has gone as planned, I'm at Disney World today.  While I was busy pre-living the vacation (planning...daydreaming) I put together a series of short posts on the three things I'm most looking forward to each day.  So if you'd like to do a little Disney dreaming yourself, come on in...

Here are the three things I'm most looking forward to on arrival day:

Chillaxing at the refurbished pool at Caribbean Beach Resort.

If we tire of chillaxing, we'll catch a bus to Hollywood Studios and then a boat to Disney's Boardwalk.  My son and I are intrigued by something called the "Pizza Window."  It's a place along the boardwalk where you order a pizza at one window, pick it up at the next, and then you keep on walkin'.

The plan is to be back at Caribbean Beach in time to watch the top of the Epcot fireworks from the Banana Cabana. 

How about you---on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being 
"Throw a dart in the map and let's go! " 
and 10 being 
"I'm going to pre-schedule blog posts about what I'll do each day," 
where do you fall when it comes to pre-planning a vacation?

(I'm not bringing my laptop and you know how I feel about iPhones but I promise to repay your visits in the days following my return.)


Writus Interruptus

Thank you Dr. Cavanaugh for facilitating these monthly therapy sessions just for writers.  If you're a writer and you're insecure---a redundancy if I've ever heard one---join the club!
Here's my sad, sad story for October:  these last couple of months I've been making great progress on my current WIP.  I estimate I'm two-thirds of the way through the first draft at a current count 57,000+ words.  I know it'll need lots of polish and some reworking when I get to draft two, but I'm pleased with how it's coming along.  I'm in a groove.  And tomorrow . . . I leave on vacation.

More accurately, it's a quest for fun.  That's right, three generations of blood and in-laws---nineteen of us in all---are gathering at the real life Wally World for what certainly won't be relaxing, but most definitely will be fun. :)  The thing is, with my focus interrupted for seven whole days, not to mention readjustment time once we return home, will I lose my mojo?

It took me over a year to recover from the first book being published before I revved up the whatever-it's-called to go at this next manuscript in earnest.  (See?  I'm already losing my ability to summon a fitting noun on command!)  Will this trip of the century---during which there will be no time to scribble anything on a notepad---throw me into another tailspin from which it'll take me far too long to recover?  

Tell me, what do you do to rekindle the magic when your writus has been interrupted?