Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York Ramblings - Warrenology.

What: Warrenology.
When: May 24, 2014.
Where: The Warren's Occult Museum.

While scrolling around Facebook one day, I noticed a post for an event to meet Elaine Warren and, as portrayed in the movie The Conjuring, tour their museum of haunted and cursed artifacts. This was right up my spooky alley so I messaged Kate from Midnight Book Girl because she was planning to come up that weekend in anticipation of BEA.  She was right on board with me and we anxiously looked forward to a night of creepy fun.

Lorraine Warren ironically lives on a dead end and her house in nestled among trees and shrubs.  Maybe it seems a bit more forlorn than the residences surrounding it, but I don't think kids hesitate to trick or treat at her house on Halloween. 

When we arrived we were escorted to the living room where we sat auditorium style and while we waited for the evening to start, I looked around trying to soak in every detail.  Lorraine housed a few cats and I could hear a rooster (or chicken) clucking in the next room.  The decor was crowded with mementos, pictures and decorative as well as some religious items.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe something a bit more occult?  But it was no more frightening than an elderly aunt's or grandmother's home.  Her son-in-law, Tony Spera, introduced himself and told us what would be in store for the evening.  We would watch a video of an exorcism that Lorraine attended, then would be led into the basement for the museum tour, then we would travel to the cemetery where Ed Warren was bured and then onto a restaurant for dinner and a chance to chat with Ms. Warren and buy books. 

The iconic Lorraine Warren was introduced and appeared from the kitchen amidst jokes from her son-in-law that she was drinking.  Sweet and good natured, with her famous bun securely on her head, Lorraine welcomed her guests and talked to us about herself.  Tony took over and showed us "the" video (again as portrayed in The Conjuring).  I expected it to scare me, but not so much.  Tony then told us a few stories about Ed and Lorraine and then talked to us about the cursed doll Annabelle!  Eeek!  Several stories of scoffers and their demise, we were warned NOT to touch anything!  And if we were to let someone know right away so they could bless us and take the necessary precautions. 

The steep staircase and long basement hallway were lined with decorations, historical posters of the Warren's appearances and many spooky paintings by Ed Warren himself.  Then we were led into the coolest.  Room.  Ever.  Lined with cases and bookshelves holding displays and artifacts from their cases and from allegedly haunted places around the world, the room was an homage to the Warren's career.  Some items they collected themselves and some were given to them for safe keeping.  It was like an occult shop exploded and a true testament to their lives.
After much examination and picture taking we caravanned to the gravesite of Ed Warren.  Tony explained the symbols on his monument, basics of spirit photography in a graveyard and his personal experience of hope and assurance that his late father in law came through from the other side and made contact.

At the restaurant we were served a tasty dinner and was able to meet new people, relax, buy books and personally meet Lorraine.

People came from all over the country making a weekend trip out of the event.  Whether you are a believer, or just interested.  you may want to check out Warrenology for yourself.

The famous Annabelle. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Hootenanny coffin and silver bracelet giveaway!

Although this contest ends after Halloween, you can still wear this all year long, right???  I made this using ceramic coffin beads, Swarovski dark red crystals, and sterling silver beads.  This has been strung on Stretch Magic and just slides on your wrist.

~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form.
~Leave a comment below.  Any kind of Halloween related comment! 
~That's it! No need to follow, tweet, or like unless you want extra entries.

~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~This contest is international!
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on November 5, 2014 at 12:01am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.

Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalpyse! (Guest post by Naomi Shaw.)

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Even though the zombie apocalypse is a popular theme in fiction writing and movies, let’s face it: It’s fiction for a reason. Still, the idea of zombies taking over the world and small bands of humans digging deep to find a way to survive and overcome against the unrelenting surge of the undead – and just as often against fellow humans – makes for a compelling story.

Popular Zombie Books

While the topic of zombies has never been more popular on the large screen – and on the small screen for that matter – post-apocalyptic books featuring hoards of zombies are all over store shelves, too. Don’t forget to feed your unquenchable desire for zombie media by checking out books, including these 10 great options.

  1. Adrian’s Undead Diary: Dark Recollections, Chris Philbrook
  2. Aftertime trilogy, Sophie Littlefield
  3. Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End, Manel Loureiro
  4. As the World Dies trilogy, Rhiannon Frater
  5. Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines
  6. Night of the Living Trekkies, Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
  7. Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry
  8. The Last Bastion of the LivingRhiannon Frater

  • The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks
  • World War Z, Max Brooks

  • Going Beyond the Fiction

    As referenced earlier, post-apocalyptic zombies represent a very popular line of fiction. But there’s also an important thread of information you should pay attention to inside the story. The fictional tips aimed at helping you prepare for a zombie apocalypse can be applied in part to helping you prepare for any type of disaster.

    Along with the attached infographic, the Web site has some great tips and advice for helping you prepare yourself for a disaster, such as a hurricane or severe winter storm. Consider these ideas for helping you prepare an emergency kit:

    • Clothing. Long, thick clothes will help you avoid the potential of scratches, which could lead to infection. Keeping warm is always tough in a disaster where traditional shelters have been compromised, so have plenty of clothing on hand.
    • Documentation. Whatever type of governmental authority remains after a disaster will want to ensure you are who you say you are. Keep your driver’s license and other documents close at hand.
    • First aid kits. Beyond the threat of zombies, infection will be a dangerous foe for the surviving humans during any type of end-of-the-world disaster. Make sure you have any personal medications with you, too.
    • Food. Non-perishable food is the key to keeping your energy up during a disaster. Meal bars, canned nuts, and canned soups are great ideas for stocking up. Best of all, zombies have no taste for these types of items, so they won’t steal your stash!
    • Light, radio, and batteries. A radio is great for keeping up with any pertinent information from authorities. And you’re going to want a bright flashlight; nothing in a zombie movie is scarier than navigating the dark forest or basement and hearing a nearby moan.
    • Water and sanitation. Humans need a lot of clean, safe water to function on a daily basis. If you can keep some sort of water-purification system in your kit, that’ll be easier to carry than trying to carry enough water. Household bleach helps with water purification, too.

    Keeping in mind that many types of disasters, including the zombie apocalypse, will cause a loss of electricity and cellular service. So if you are relying on your smartphone or your laptop to help you find information about what to do after the apocalypse starts, you’re going to be out of luck. Consider making a print out of this infographic and keep Max BrooksThe Zombie Survival Guide at hand to give yourself a better chance against the zombie hoard!

    Naomi Shaw is a journalist and entrepreneur based in Southern California. She lives with her husband and three kids. She firmly believes that, in the case of a zombie apocalypse, she would be one of the survivors.

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    My First Ghost Hunt - (Guest post by Kimber Leigh Wheaton).

    The paranormal has fascinated me for most of my life. In fact I can’t remember when it started or if there was a trigger. What I do remember vividly was my first foray into paranormal investigations. That sounds so much better than trespassing, doesn’t it?

    It was a hot and muggy Texas evening. I was visiting my grandmother—she was so lenient, it was scary… but that’s an entirely different story. I loved visiting her because every year was an adventure, though the visit when I was twelve years old might have been a bit more exciting than I liked. We were playing in my friend Becky’s backyard, slow and lethargic due to the heat. My first major crush, Mike, was poking a dead snake with a stick—fun stuff.

    It started as a suggestion, turned into a dare, and exploded from there. Visit the haunted house at the edge of the neighborhood. I was game. It beat poking a snake, that’s for sure. With the heat as bad as it was and the mosquitos appearing in masses, inside sounded better than outside. Besides, though my father believed otherwise, I was sure that ghosts were nothing but fantasy.

    We made the three block trek to the broken-down, abandoned home at the end of a cul de sac. It was a Victorian, built at the turn of the century (yeah, I didn’t know that at the time, but I do remember thinking the house was really pretty, even as decimated as it looked). The porch was askew, rotten boards poking up all over the place. Windows were broken or boarded over. Oddly enough, the front door was solid and locked. After Mike almost fell through the rotting porch, we decided to check out the back. After only a couple seconds wading through the knee-high grass, I decided I was better off with any ghost lurking in the house than the snakes, spiders, and scorpions hiding in the grass. But at that age I refused to show any weakness, especially in front of two boys. So I trooped on, praying with every step that there wasn’t anything deadly lying in wait.

    For better or worse, the dilapidated back door was hanging off its hinges. The moment of truth had arrived: go inside an abandoned house that was probably the lair of every criminal in the area or look foolish in front of a boy—obviously a no-brainer. Inside we went.

    The door creaked and groaned when Greg pushed it open, the perfect sound to start our haunted house adventure. We entered a kitchen that was nothing but a skeleton. Even the cabinet doors had been stolen. A strange smell filled the air, musty but something more. At the time I didn’t recognize it, but now it’s a smell I associate with death. As we passed into the dining room, Mike and Greg had to turn on their flashlights due to the setting sun coupled with the boarded-up windows. It’s amazing how much a little darkness can add to the freak factor.

    Scared out of my mind, I grabbed onto Mike’s arm, drawn to the light and his potential ability to protect me from the things that go bump in the night. Arm in arm we crept around the downstairs, our footsteps echoing on the hardwood floor. It couldn’t have been creepier if someone staged it: dirty white sheets over furniture, a dusty old bookcase with rotting books, and cobwebs everywhere. As we passed the bookshelf, something grabbed my hair. I whipped around, ready to yell at Greg for trying to scare me, but he and Becky were across the room examining an armoire. When I turned back toward Mike, he was busy pulling cobwebs from my hair. With a soft whimper, I pawed at my hair, searching for the millions of spiders I just knew were there. Did I forget to mention that I used to hate spiders?

    Mike wrapped both arms around me, pulling me into a tight hug. My heart melted at the sweet gesture until I realized he was trying to silence me. Steady footsteps sounded from upstairs.

    Thud, thud, creak, thud.

    We stood in silence at the bottom of the stairs, gazing into the inky darkness of the second floor landing. Who or what was upstairs? Mike and Greg both extinguished the flashlights, leaving us in shadows. My eyes strained as I continued to stare upstairs, listening for more noises in the sudden silence.

    We stood frozen, too frightened to move. A series of loud thuds broke whatever trance was holding us hostage. To my chagrin, Mike shoved me away in his fervor to flee the house. I watched his back disappear into the kitchen before grabbing Becky’s hand and dragging her toward the door. We burst out into the twilight, my eyes darting around looking for Mike and Greg. Those louses were gone. They seriously left us behind to be eaten, killed, or whatever by the menace lurking in the house.

    Four days later there was a report on the news about a child molester found hiding in that same house. It wasn’t a ghost after all, but something much worse: a real-life monster. I consider myself lucky to have escaped, but the experience did not leave me unscathed. I developed a keen fear of real-life monsters, one that plagues me even today. It also sent me on a quest to find a chivalrous guy, one who would fight at my side, rather than leave me behind while he fled. I’m happy to say that those guys do exist, so if you haven’t found yours yet, keep looking.

    But most of all, this experience cultivated an interest in paranormal hunting that has grown with me. While it’s true that I’ve never experienced anything that I can definitively label as paranormal, I refuse to give up. Life is full of mysteries, and one of the joys in my life is pursuing them.

    Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a bestselling YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs, four cats, and lots of dragons. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states.

    Author Links:

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    Halloween Meme #4 (10/24/14).

     photo wwbook-4withwords2.jpg

    Welcome to my Halloween Meme! Each Friday in October I will be asking a Halloween or Horror related question.

    Feel free to simply answer the question in the coments below OR grab the button to create a post on your blog and don't forget to come back and leave your name/url in the linky.

    Check out other blogs for their posts as well.

    Question: Do you feel that today's political, cultural climate has changed the Horror genre?  Why or why not?

    Answer:  Definitely.  I think that the Horror genre is dictated by society.  In ancient times it was fairy tales, in the 50s it was a nuclear, alien vibe, today scary stories are utilizing more technology.  And, during Halloween, we see costumes based on popular culture whether it be political or relating to celebrities.  I have seen hints of people utilizing the recent Ebola scare as well, which yes, is frightening, but I happen to think it's kind of in poor taste. Anyway, to get back to the question I think in order to scare people you have to tap into their fears, no matter the time period.   Most are basic - safety, losing yourself, being out of control, death, but with every era, these are reached in a different way.

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Feature & Follow - Resurrection! (10/24/2014).

    Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  Click on the links to visit their blogs and find out more about this great meme.

    This weeks Question:
    Characters:  Sometimes our favorites, die during books. If you’d get to choose, who would you bring back? 
    Warning:  These answers will contain spoilers!

    This is easy.  Nick from The Stand by Stephen King.  A little piece of me died with him.  I don't think I ever got over it.  Also, Tommy from Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry.  I was so, so, soooo disappointed to lose him.  And of course, Fred Weasley from The Harry Potter series.  I am angry with J.K. Rowling to this day.  And Sirius Black.  Very angry at J.K.

    How about you?  Who would you want to bring back?  That might be a loaded question, because there are SO many books I still haven't read yet!

    Author Interview with D.J. Donaldson.

    What inspired you to start writing, and when?

    Oddly, the thought that I wanted to become a novelist just popped into my head one day shortly after my fiftieth birthday.  Part of this sudden desire was a bit of boredom with my real job.  I was an anatomy professor at the U. of Tennessee and had accomplished all my major professional goals: course director, funded NIH grant, teaching awards, and many published papers on wound healing.  So I guess I needed a new challenge. And boy did I pick a tough one. 

    I wondered, how does a novice like me learn to write fiction? Taking a few writing courses is an obvious answer. But I had the vague feeling that there were a lot of unpublished writers teaching those courses and I worried that all I’d learn was how to fail.  I’m not saying this was the best way, but I decided to just teach myself.  I bought ten bestselling novels and tried to figure out what made each of them work. What tricks were the authors using to hold my attention?  What made these books so popular?  In a sense then, maybe I didn’t teach myself.  Maybe Steven King, Robin Cook, Pat Conroy, Michael Palmer, Larry McMurtry, and James Michener did.  In any event, eight years later, I sold my first book.  So, it took me about as long to become a published novelist as it did to train for medical research and teaching.

    Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
    There’s nothing easy about any of it. But titles are a particular challenge.  I often can’t figure out what the title of a book should be.  Oh, I know when a title is great and so do you… It’s like the dealer at a flea market who once said to me when I picked up an expensive item to look at more closely…”You have good taste.”  Then, while I was secretly preening at his compliment, he added,  “Of course, it’s not that hard to spot quality.”   It’s the same with book titles.  Here’s a test:  What do you think of this title?  THEY DON’T BUILD STATUES TO BUSINESSMEN.
    To me, it’s awful.  I’d think so even if I’d been the one to come up with it.  Actually, it was the famous writer, Jacqueline Susann, who crafted that one for a book that eventually became a mega best seller as VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.  Could there be anybody who likes the first title better?  Okay…. there’s always someone who enjoys being a contrarian.  But that still doesn’t make the first title any good.
    Let’s try another.  How about ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL?  That’s actually not horrible.  But it doesn’t sound like the sweeping saga the author wrote.  I certainly think the title it was eventually given, WAR AND PEACE, is far better.
    So, it’s easy to know a great title when you see it, but boy is it hard to come up with one, especially when you’re writing a New Orleans series that needs to have a title that reflects the locale.  I usually sit for hours playing with words and rearranging them in what I hope are creative ways.  No matter what title I eventually settle on for a book, I have this nagging suspicion that even if I really like the one I pick, there was a much better one I could have used.  I just couldn’t find it.  My WAR AND PIECE was out there, just beyond reach. 
    Of all my New Orleans books, I’m the most satisfied with the title for LOUISIANA FEVER. Although the title doesn’t specifically mention New Orleans, it lets readers know a lot about the locale. It also strongly suggests that the story involves some kind of contagious disease.  The fever part of the title actually refers to Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, a bleeding disease similar to Ebola. Most writers would be thrilled to have written a book that could be related to unfolding world events.  Normally, I’d be among them.  But in this case, I’d much prefer that there be no reason for Ebola to be in the news every day. I hope this threat is contained soon.

    What was the hardest part of writing LOUISIANA FEVER? 
Did you learn anything from writing that book and what was it?
    My intention in each book is to reveal more about my two main characters, Andy Broussard and Kit Franklyn by putting them in situations that cause them to change and grow. And the more books I write about them, the harder it is to develop these little character arcs. LOUISIANA FEVER was number four in the series, so my two protagonists were already fairly well fledged out when I began work on the book. At that time, I had no idea what would face them in the new story, or how they would react. But as pieces of the project took shape, opportunities appeared, as they always seem to do. In fact, those arcs for Andy and Kit turned out to be more significant than I ever expected. Strange as it sounds, in each book my characters teach me something new about themselves.

    Why New Orleans?
    When I first started writing, I had no idea if I could produce a book good enough to find a publisher.  That’s of course the big question in anyone’s mind when they think about writing a novel. But I figured I could improve my chances by setting the book in a place that provided a lot to write about and could be used to give my story a palpable atmosphere. I had lived in New Orleans for five years during graduate school, and even though that was a long time before I got the urge to write, those years remained burned into my memory. Is there any other city in the country that better served my objectives for a setting than New Orleans? I thought it was the perfect choice then, and I still do.  Also, coming from a biology background, swamps and bayous hold a natural attraction for me.  Whenever I see an interesting body of water, I want to get out of the car and walk the bank, looking for wildlife.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you how that kind of curiosity once resulted in me heading over to pick my wife up after work with no knowledge that there was a live cottonmouth moccasin loose in the car.

    Do you have any advice for other writers?
    Don’t write for wealth or fame because most writers in the world, even those who have sold books to major publishers, can’t claim either of those status symbols.  There’s an old quote that says, “You can get rich in this country by being a writer, but you can’t make a living.”  Write because you love it.  If you don’t love doing it then you can be crushed by the difficulties inherent in the pursuit. 

    D.J. (Don) Donaldson is a retired medical school professor. Born and raised in Ohio, he obtained a Ph.D. in human anatomy at Tulane, then spent his entire academic career at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. In addition to being the author of several dozen scientific articles on wound healing, he has written seven forensic mysteries and five medical thrillers.

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