Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Did I put the "Blah" in Blogger? Well, Happy New Year anyway!

Time sure flies doesn't it?

I know I haven't written in a while, except the sporadic post or book review here and there.  First of all, October wore me out because it's my busiest month.  Not only do I participate in as many Halloween activities as I can possibly fit in, but I also did Halloween Hootenanny on the blog, which wore me out.  Then I got sick and who wants to blog when they're sick?  Okay, I can't really use that as an excuse, but it's definitely a contribution.  Then "the HOLIDAYS."  You know, the "HOLIDAYS."  That insane time of year that starts with Thanksgiving and seems to just compress Turkey Day with all of December and suddenly! It's a whole new year.

This isn't going to be one of those, I'm in a slump, don't know what to write, can't come up with good content's just that...sometimes, I just don't feel like blogging. We all know it takes energy, work, TIME.  Those are precious commodities and getting all the more precious.  I have thought of stopping, or maybe being a contributor to other blogs, but I'm just going to take it day by day.

I know I don't follow the "rules" of blogging or even the "guidelines" at times.  I know if I don't post every day, or every other day people will lose interest.  I know if I'm not out there commenting, participating in blog hops, Tweeting, etc. that I will just fade away into cyberspace.  And I really don't want to do that.

I'm not sure what 2015 will bring in the way of blogging for me.  I do have a few reviews on the back burner.  And although I have decided not to run any Reading Challenges this year, Tracy from Cornerfolds will be hosting a Horror Reading Challenge, which I am looking forward to.  I did a lot of fun bookish things in 2014, but I just didn't blog about them -  RT in New Orleans, BEA, seeing  Neal Gaiman speak.  I won't stop doing those things.  I won't stop reading or talking about books, I'm just not sure what the future of the blog will be.  Hopefully, I'll figure it out or it will happen organically.

Whatever happens, I hope you have a very Happy, Healthy 2015!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest Post by Spencer Blohm - Christmas stories.

The holiday season is upon us, and it's time to dust off the covers of those classic holiday books and dig in. Some of those cherished classics are now not only great reads, but also great holiday films. Hollywood has been known to turn great classic books into movies, but some of these more modern films will surprise you that they are actually derived from books. So sit back and read on to find out some good, unique holiday films to start your season.

This 2004 movie stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as a couple whose daughter won't be home for the holidays. They usually celebrate it, but decide to take a Caribbean cruise instead. This puts a damper in their neighborhood, who celebrates Christmas as a community. They are harassed by their neighbors, one of which is played by Dan Aykroyd beautifully. Their tone changes when their daughter decides at the last minute to return home for Christmas. The Kranks and the whole community pull together to create the best Christmas ever. The movie is a comedic masterpiece that is actually based on a book called Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. Grisham is usually known for his suspense and legal thrillers, so this may come as a surprise to a lot of people.

This 1983 gem is the epitome of Christmas. The movie follows Ralphie on his quest for that (now infamous) Red Rider BB Gun. It shows his trials and tribulations as he tries to get the present despite his parent’s reservations. There are so many images and lines that are memorable from the leg lamp to the line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!" This movie is based on a book by Jean Shepherd called In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. Jean Shepherd also narrates the whole movie as the voice of grown up Ralphie. Despite being a box office disappointment, the film has gone on to become a Christmas classic thanks to heavy reruns through national and local television providers.

The Polar Express
This 2004 film was based on the book written by Chris Van Allsburg. It takes you on a fantastic journey on a train with a boy who has lost his belief in the magic of Christmas. As he travels to the North Pole, he is met with musical interludes to make this computer animated movie unique in its own right. Top that off with Tom Hanks voicing multiple characters as well as a cameo by Steven Tyler and this is quickly becoming a favorite holiday movie.

This movie stars Bill Murray in a 1988 modernization of Charles Dickens' classic book A Christmas Carol. The story follows a selfish TV executive on Christmas Eve as he's visited by three ghosts. This movie also has appearances by many of the comedic geniuses of the 80s such as Bobcat Goldthwait and Carol Kane.

Here's another version of this Charles Dickens' classic, this time catered to children through the excellent puppeteering of Jim Henson's Muppets. Kermit portrays Bob Cratchit the forlorn employee who works for Ebenezer Scrooge. It sticks pretty close to the classic story with the usual Muppet shenanigans intermixed.

A lesser known holiday movie, this is based on the 20th novel in the British comic fantasy book series Discworld by Terry Pratchett. The story is about the missing Hogfather (who is the Santa of that realm). If follows the search for what happened to the Hogfather and brings you into this unique fantasy world.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
There are two versions of this classic Dr. Seuss book. The one most remembered is the cartoon version, which follows the classic book. Then in 2000, Ron Howard directed a live action version which starred Jim Carrey as the Grinch. Of course, the special effects and pitch perfect comedy provided by Carrey has now made this just as memorable as the cartoon version.

Overall, holiday movies have become a huge part of pop culture. A Christmas Story has spawned merchandise, such as the leg lamp, and The Polar Express has created magical vacation getaways for families. Even though these books have been around, the movies are what brought it to life in the eyes of pop culture today.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Call BS! The Walking Dead Season 5 Mid-Season Finale.

Emily Kinney 2014 Comic Con (cropped)

Do NOT read this if you don't want any spoilers from The Walking Dead.

Okay first off, it's all over the internet that someone posted on the official AMC Facebook Page about Beth's death before the west coast had a chance to watch it.  I think it was pulled but oops!  Millions of fans were very upset about this spoiler.  Poorly played AMC.

I have never written a post about my displeasure with a television show before.  (Not even when the Lone Gunmen died on The X-files or Charlie drowned on LOST).  I don't get that worked up.  But Sunday night's episode left me grieving.  I think I'm in the anger stage now. I don't know when it will pass.

When it comes to The Walking Dead, I was sad that Dale died, I was bummed when Meryl died, I was devastated when Hershel died, but this?  At first I was sad and as someone on Twitter said, "When Daryl cries, the world cries."  So yeah, I was definitely choked up, my eyes definitely teary.  I usually go to work Monday morning reeling from the previous night's episode.  But I woke up angry.  I felt the writers or the creators or whoever made this decision did a disservice to the fans and to the plotline. 

First of all her father Hershel was brutally killed in last year's mid season finale.  Why choose another family member to die in this mid season finale? 

Second, last season showed a spunky Beth telling off Daryl that she was "still here."  That despite her not being Michonne, Carol or Maggie she was still alive.  Maybe it didn't make sense.  She didn't have amazing fighting skills, yet she was still resilient enough to survive.  Yes, a lot of it is because she had other people around her, but her ability to listen and learn helped her to adapt.  She always pitched in, whether it was stabbing walkers in the head at the fence with a crowbar or taking care of Judith.  That in itself gave hope to those who are just everyday people.  Sure you need to be tough, but you don't have to be brutal.

Third, in one of the The Talking Dead episodes a producer or writer said they would never get rid of Carl because he represented hope for the future.  Now don't get me wrong, I love Carl, I think he's a great character and don't want to see him die, but he's not exactly a ray of sunshine.  He's a dark character.   He's seen the dynamics of the group and the way things have panned out and become cynical.  He's killed in cold blood.  If Carl represents hope for the future, Beth represented, to me at least, hope for mankind.  She was the light of the group and although her despair led her to attempt suicide in season 2, she overcame it.  Her disposition and steadfast nature helped the group see a flame in the darkness. 

Fourth, during this season, at the Hospital, we see Beth using skills to her own advantage and the advantage of her friends.  She shows us she is smart and resourceful.  She shows us that she is interesting and there is way more to her than meets the eye.  Why put her through all this, why develop her character to kill her?  To get the audience attached to her and then pull the rug out from under us?  I guess that's exactly why.  I know this creates drama, and it was certainly effective, but I just don't know that it was necessary.

Yes, I understand this is the zombie apocalypse.  I understand that Beth's actions also caused this.  I even understand that the show is not real.  However, I feel that after everything that Beth has been through and everything that I, as a viewer, have been through with her, it was a cheat and a betrayal to kill her off.

I will probably change my mind, but as of now, I don't know if I want to continue to watch The Walking Dead.  It's the investment in the characters that keep me coming back and yes, I'm invested in the other characters too, very much.  But I thought one of the themes of the show was survival?  I don't know if I want to watch another beloved cast member get killed.  Does this mean that Judith isn't even safe?

Maybe Beth didn't chop the heads off 10 zombies solo like Michonne, or blow up a tank like Daryl, but this in itself made her one of the most realistic characters on the show. Everyone else seems to have superhero status while Beth was a regular person.  Personally, I would want to be like Michonne, or Sasha, but really?  I'm more like Beth.  I'm not a samurai, or a sharpshooter and I probably couldn't get my friends out of Terminus.  But this is exactly why I need Beth on the show, why the audience needs Beth and why the group itself on TWD needs Beth.

Photo by Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sinner - Audio.

Title/Author: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater.

Narration: Dan Bittner and Emma Galvin.

Genre: Paranormal.

Publisher: Scholastic Audio.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Everybody thinks they know Cole St. Clare's story.  Stardom.  Addiction.  Downfall.  Disappearance.  But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf.  One of these people is Isabel.  At one point, they may have even have loved each other.  But that feels like a lifetime ago.  Now Cole is back.  Back in the spotlight.  Back in the danger zone.  Back in Isabel's life.  Can this sinner be saved?

Midnyte Musings:  Sinner continues the story of Cole St. Clare and Isabel Culpepper from the Mercy Falls Trilogy.  While it had some paranormal elements, I felt that this story was mroe of a contemporary.  I'm usually not interested in the Contemporary genre, but I absolutely loved this book.  It had everything to do with the characters.  I could probably read about them napping because I want to be in their world so much. 

Cole is basically on a comeback track and has moved to Los Angeles and signed up to be on a reality show with a controversial producer known for making her stars break down, or implode, or explode on camera.  With Cole's shapeshifting condition he is a reluctant candidate, but somewhat desperate to find himself, or rather, be happy with himself, which is something that has never happened.  He is terrified that he'll slip back into his self destructive ways, yet it seems that part of him wants to.  For the escape and for the high.  He carries guilt for Victor's loss, for dropping out of existence for a year causing his parents to question if he's dead or alive and for hurting other people in his life.  He is a quintessential bad boy, rock star.  The kind of person that people want to be near and know or conversely the kind that some people never want to see again.  His main reason for going to L.A. however, is Isabel.

Isabel also deals with the problems she encountered in Mercy Falls.  The death of her brother, her guilt in playing a role in it, her parent's separation and her own relationship with her parents.  She is a cold person, hard to get to know, very jaded and I want to be just like her.  She is smart, clever, driven, astute and fearsome.  Not a typical sweet-girl protagonist, she is bitchy and a mean girl, but not for any self fulfilling reasons.  It is just her way and she has little patience for stupidity and deceptions.  She has trouble trusting Cole and trusting herself with her own feelings for him.

This story could have ended up as a cliche.  The two main characters love each other but can't admit it, can't come together.  This plot usually frustrates me but in Stiefvater's hands, the book is magic.  I think that both of them want to jump into this relationship, but both of them navigate it on tiptoe.  Isabel because she doesn't want to get hurt or look like a fool and Cole because he is afraid to scare her off.  Or maybe because he is afraid that if she sees the real him, she won't love him. 

The supporting characters are wonderful too.  Isabel's cousin Sophia brings out the protective side of Isabel and Cole's driver takes on the role as kind of a big brother.  This man wants nothing from him and that is why Cole is so drawn to him.  I loved seeing their friendship take off. 

Narration:  Dan Bittner and Emma Galvin return to reprise their roles as Cole and Isabel and they make the book come alive.  With the writing and the narration combined, these characters jump off the page.  Cole is a bit more animated, maybe less insolent in Sinner and Isabel still has her caustic observations but also shows vulnerability. 

Starstruck Over: Everything.  I didn't want this book to end. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Linger and Forever - Audio.

Title/Author: Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.

Narration: Linger - Dan Bittner, Pierce Cravens, Emma Galvin & Jenna Lamia. Forever - Dan Bittner, Pierce Cravens, Emma Galvin, Jenna Lamia & Maggie Stiefvater, 

Genre: Paranormal.

Publisher: Scholastic Audio.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Linger - In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

Forever - When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives. That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt. Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever
Midnyte Musings:  While I did think that Shiver was a practically perfect book with a perfect ending, and didn't need any follow up.  I absolutely loved the sequels. 

Now I totally understand all the Team Sam and Team Cole graphics.  Both are totally swoonworthy, interesting and complex.  Each damaged in their own unique way and trying to fight their way into a new and hopefully, improved future.  Sam and Grace are the "sweet" couple.  They have issues with their families, yet are grounded and have dreams and goals as long as they include each other.  While they easily could have wandered into Mary Sue territory, Stiefvater's portrayal of them ensures that they don't.  I do appreciate the friction between Grace and her parents and it adds to the plot of the story and the character development.  The rational part of me thinks that her parents have the right to impart their rules, but the emotional part of me is on Grace's side.  In Linger, the two protagonists are dealing with Grace's parents, Grace's new mysterious illness and Sam's newfound responsibility.  His father, Beck, has brought new people into the pack and Sam is thrust into a new role.

Isabelle and Cole are the second couple in this story.  They are the typical oil and water yet so perfect for each other.  I love these characters in Stiefvater's hands.  Again, these two could have been so cliched if written by a less talented author, but they are just perfection. Isabelle is basically a wealthy, mean girl traumatized by the death of her brother.  She is pulled into the wolf world by this event and therefore into Cole's world.  Cole is a damaged, self-centered rock star.  Or former rock star.  He is too deep for his own good and filled with angst.  He is in escape and self destruct mode.  Yet his child prodigy intelligence just may be the key to finding a cure for Grace's illness and for the virus that turns them into wolves.

In Forever, the last book in the Mercy Falls series, Sam has to deal with Grace's absence, the suspicions that surround him regarding her disappearance and the foreseeable destruction of the pack.  His pack.  His life was perfect for a while.  He seemed to be cured of his wolf side.  He loved his job.   He loved making music and most of all, he loved Grace.  But when Grace turned into a wolf his world changed.  Again.  Now, he and Grace have to deal with the new changes in their lives and more changes that threaten their world.  

Cole is still struggling with his own existence and unhappiness, although he is more likable than in Linger.  He and Sam remind me of two alpha wolves circling each other, but they have to find a common ground to solve their problems.  Isabelle struggles with her home life and the feelings she harbors regarding the death of her brother.  She and Cole also have to deal with the feelings they have for each other and maybe through their relationship they can figure out what they want and who they are.

Narration:  Perfection.  All the performer's voices fit the characters so well, it's uncanny.  Grace and Sam are young and sweet, earnest and honest.  Cole and Isabelle a lot more world weary standing out with their portrayals.  Isabelle sharp and cold, and Cole insolent and arrogant.  I was upset at first, because I loved the way that Jenna Lamia, portrayed Isabelle in Shiver.  But it took no time at all for Emma Galvin to win me over with her portrayal of Isabelle.

Oh! And also Maggie Stiefvater wrote the music on the audio.  WHAT?  So much talent in one person seems so unfair to me.  But she is awesome and wonderful. 

After I listened to Shiver, I went right back to the library and took out Linger, Forever and Sinner.  Now I understand the hype for this series and I agree with it wholeheartedly.  This is a series that I absolutely adored.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Feature & Follow - Book song! (11/14/14).

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:
Create a playlist, or if you are lazy, just one song for a book. 

I just finished Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff.  The story is set in a small Southern town and includes dangerous magic that can kill and literally tear the town apart.  I think Tornado by Little Big Town captures the mood of the novel perfectly.  It's a great book so check it out and watch the video above for some great imagery.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Meme #5 (10/31/14).

 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 comments 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 have a book that you read every year to get in the mood for Halloween?  If not, do you have a tradition that you participate in?

Answer: I haven't re-read a book in a very long time, but I do try to read scary books often and I double my efforts come Fall.  I also watch scary movies and at Halloween time there are so many on to choose from.  I also make sure to go to a haunted house as soon as one opens for the season.

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.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...