Monday, September 28, 2015

My Brother, My Fan

On Saturday, my brother came up to the house to pick up bags of books for himself and his wife, our sister and her husband, and his friend Dave who is like extended family and his wife June. I gave them each a set of the Christmas books, plus gave Jeff and Lynnmarie a copy of The Archetypes-Shockwaves. I gave a copy of Love Me Knots to Dave and June.

My brother went home and began reading The Archetypes-Shockwaves after taking our sister and her dog for a romp in the woods and for hotdogs. On Sunday morning he texted me, and I quote verbatim here, "I at down to start the book and read for three hours and am at page 101, Chapter 11!!  Awesome book, I am impressed.  I don't want to put it down. I want to know what happen next.  This is a terrific literary work.  You are a fantastic author. I cannot put into words how proud I am of you for writing this book.  You have a great writing style and it sucks the reader in. Keep on writing. Is there another Archetypes coming? I think I'll be finished reading this one very soon!"

I replied that there were 19 pages written of book 3 and he replied, "Super duper! I can't wait to read it! I love the characters in this story. I can't put this darn book down. I am at CVS waiting for an RX to be filled and am reading- yup- the book."

I know he's my brother and everything,  but he lived in Nevada across the country for 13 years and was really out of touch with what I was doing with my life here on the east coast. I have writing that I did way back when I was 13 years old. I wrote a lot of poetry back then, then short prose and more poetry, then I began writing stories. I wrote a ton of stuff that never went anywhere. Then I began writing real stories with beginnings, middles and ends in high school. My fourth and sixth grade teachers recognized my writing skill.

I have been writing for a minimum of 44 years, and probably longer.

I have grown as a writer in leaps and bounds.

I guess he didn't realize what his sister was doing in her spare time...but now he's beginning to see the light! (He has moved my books up to top shelf in his home...high praise, in my opinion!)

Now if I could just acquire 250,000 or more additional fans I'd be a happy author!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Haunting We Will Go

This is probably the fourth year that I'm writing annual Halloween/Haunting Tales. I self-published three volumes of past stories this summer- Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I, II and III.

While vacation in Maine I wrote two of this years' stories and just finished the third last night.

I emailed the first story to Kelly from Maine with a warning not to read it at night when she was home alone. She has not read it, and probably won't because she has always been apprehensive about being alone, and especially alone in this house where she ahs always sensed a presence in the kitchen/dining room/living room/hallway area. She and I have both seen phantom cats and possibly a small dog in this area. I was once in the bathroom and saw my cat Hyper walk past the bathroom doorway heading toward the master bedroom. It was so real I left the bathroom and went to the bedroom doorway fully expecting to see her curled up on the bed looking back at me as she prepared for a cat nap. There was no cat there of course. Hyper had been dead for several years by then...but still, it had looked and felt so real. Kelly and I have seen our late black cat with the big black plume of a tail. He was very protective of his home, so maybe he still patrols the house and we catch glimpses of him as he slips in and out through gaps in the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. Kelly used to talk in her room at night and laugh when she was a toddler. I'd ask her in the morning who she had been talking to and she told me "Uncle Pete." Kelly was born in 1991. My Uncle Pete had died in 1978 or 1979. By the time she was born no one ever really mentioned him anymore- so how my little girl knew his name, and that he always wore a dress shirt to dinner and when visiting us when I was growing up, I have no idea. There were never any family pictures of him around. She also saw my grandfather, her big grandpa, a year or so after he had passed away. My mother's spirit has visited our house several times since her passing in 2000.

So, being a mother and daughter attuned to the spirit world, she does not want to read this chilling little story about a young writer living alone in a house she's inherited from a relative. The house is on a spit of land jutting out into the sea. She is writing one evening during an Indian summer when she hears what sounds like a child's ball bouncing down the staircase from the second floor. She goes to investigate, expecting to find the ball in the downstairs hall. There is nothing there. She looks up the staircase, hears a childlike giggle, perceives a shadow darting to one side and starts to mount the stairs to investigate when a mysterious man who claims to be a neighbor appears at the screen door. Apparently he's been sitting on her front porch watching the sunset- for whatever reason, he never really says. He says he was a friend of her great-aunt's, that they walked on the beach together. She tells him she heard a child and thinks one of the neighborhood children is hiding upstairs. He volunteers to go up and search for the child, so she lets him in. Meanwhile, she goes to the back of the house to check to make sure the back door is secure. She hears him walking around above her head. By the time she returns to the front of the house and calls up to him there is no response. She goes upstairs and she cannot find anyone at all. She thinks he's simply left. She secures the house and goes to bed....and then....well, you know how it ends.

I doubt Kelly will ever read this one.

Story two is set at a college much like Cemetery Crawl was last year. Four girls sharing a senior apartment suite invited four young men who share another suite on the same floor to dinner. They have all been friends since freshman orientation. There have been several gruesome murders on campus during their senior year. Young women are being attacked, their throats slit and their long hair cut off. They're all walking in groups to and from classes. No one goes out without a buddy. It has become a way of life for them but still they are all apprehensive and wondering who the murderer could be.

Within a few days two of them will be dead.

The third story takes place on a farm that has been in the same family since the 1730's when the first James settled there and began farming. Fifteen-year old Radley James is the last in the James line. She was brought to the farm by her father at age seven after the death of her mother. Radley has lived there for eight years and sometimes has difficulty sleeping. She lives with her great-grandparents who are getting on in age.

One night she is sitting at the window. The moon is full. She is watching for wild animals and daydreaming a little, thinking about various things. The breeze is fluttering her white curtains and the corn in the field, and the scarecrow on his tall pole amid the cornstalks. She names the scarecrow Prince Cyrus and makes up a fantasy about him being a prince under an enchantment by a wicked witch. The kiss of a princess would restore him to human form.

The breeze shifts the scarecrow side to side, and then suddenly he drops off the pole. A short time later she sees a flickering orange light amid the cornstalks, and notices it is drawing nearer to the yard. She thinks it's neighbor boys hunting rabbits in the field- but it's not. It's the scarecrow and he's coming for her. He has a mission. His mission is to see that the James line continues, and Radley is the one who must bear the James heir.

When the accomplishment of this goal is chillingly completed in the cornfield Radley staggers back to the house where she finds her great-grandmother waiting with an explanation of why tis has happened to her.

This is probably one of the most disturbing stories I've written as it involves a supernatural being raping a fifteen-year old girl and impregnating her after placing her under an enchantment. The great-grandmother is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

This walk on the dark side is definitely darker than in years past.

Auspicious Beginnings

Well, just when I thought my self-publishing blitz was winding up for the year Kelly presented me with a list of fifteen or sixteen of her favorites from my "early" writing days in the 1990's and 2000's. This was when I was in my French last night we spent some time playing with Google Translate to make sure my rusty French was as accurate as possible- merci Madame Roth et Madame Moran for 6 years of French in middle school and high school.

I didn't even know she liked these stories. And if truth be told, I didn't remember several of them. Had to blow the dust bunnies off my memory- and then was rather amazed that I was so wickedly descriptive and funny. I was influenced by Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer and others watching old movies when I was growing up. I used different technique writing these stories- in a couple there is an omnipotent narrator who gives us a little insight here and there. In others the story is character driven.

I chose eleven of the stories for this volume from her list, and she came up with the title, Auspicious Beginnings, while her father and I were away in Maine and she was home editing the stories and putting them together in one file for the book.

The description on the back cover was probably the longest I ever wrote, although it's more or less trying to describe the story in a single sentence- not an easy thing to do. Kelly's favorite is The Sentiment of Roses. My favorite is probably Nova because it was based on a real place where my mother took us for hiking and hot chocolate in the fall. I have an old photograph somewhere of my college roommate and best friend, her boyfriend, and my brother having a picnic on the flat rock overlooking the oxbow below where Nova contemplates hurling herself out into the void. It was like picnicking on top of the world.  Since that time (late 1970's or very early 1980's) a freak microburst storm struck the mountain, cutting a path of destruction across the west facing slope of this state reservation. That was about a year and a half ago. It still makes you catch your breath to see the raw power of nature- how it literally broke trees in half like matchsticks.

Anyway- this is book fourteen arriving at summer's end for cozy autumn and winter reading.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reflections on My Summer Self-Publishing Blitz

It started May 30th when I received a reminder from NaNoWriMo that I needed to use my Winner Goodies before they expired. Last November I did the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge in November and wrote Medea in 18 days.  So, I decided to get my two free copies courtesy of, which sent me to where I could create my book.

Knowing absolutely nothing about self-publishing, on May 31, 2015, I selected the guided process and followed the steps.  I got a free ISBN number from CreateSpace, uploaded my story file, created a cover from resources on their site (pictures, book cover designs, etc.), wrote the back cover blurb, wrote the Amazon site book blurb, author bio, gave my book a category, etc. In the end, I ordered my two free copies on June 4th when I had time to go back in because I'd started late n Sunday then had to work.

I figured that since I went through the trouble of doing all that I should get copies for my friends, just so they could have something I'd written, because I have been writing all my life, and saying, well, maybe this year I'll get something published, but every year, nothing's gotten done. So, I ordered 25 copies and handed them out.

I wasn't happy with the cover- the color was too dark, you couldn't read my name. Then, I wasn't happy with the interior because I really just uploaded the book file and did nothing else but a title page, in a different font that the cover font. I didn't write an author bio for inside the book. I didn't put headers or footers. I just uploaded the file.

Then Kelly said, "You know, you can make this better."

We went back in and explored more, figuring out how to change cover background and text colors and sometimes fonts. We redesigned the cover for Medea, then uploaded a revised interior with some corrections and a closer matching interior title page font.

Meanwhile, I wanted to explore another project, so I began putting together a number of our favorite Halloween stories that I'd begun writing annually in 2013. Having looked through some books I realized there should be more stuff added- like the rights, copyright, edition and disclaimers, a dedication page, table of contents if needed and the about the author page, and even a list of other titles by the author when and if it ever got to that point where I had more than one book out there.

In a mater of weeks, I had grown more self-publishing savvy...but it was the editing and proofreading that was killing me this time around. No matter how many times you read your stories and 'fix' them- there are still issues. Microsoft Word sabotages you with its self-correcting feature, trying to second guess what you mean to write by filling in words you start to type with similar words you've used before! I HATE it! It is the bane of my existence.

I really loved creating my books and then actually holding them in my hands and reading them in book form, rather than on the computer or printed out and stuck in binders. It was awesome!

My self-publishing snowballed from story collections to novels. In 3.5 months I self-published 5 novels, one children's story and 7 story collections. Each book was a little better than the previous one. Putting the books together got to be a piece of cake- follow the formula. All the books are available on I've sold some- not many, but a few.

I'm not really promoting them yet. I would prefer to have the Library of Congress copyright protection rather than just the author copyright.

In early September, I began applying for my copyrights.  I've applied for 6, I have seven more to go. I have to catch up on those before I do anything further. It's a $35 application fee if you have an account, an $85 apiece application fee if you don't. That can get expensive, but it's also been a learning experience filling out the form, packaging two best copies, attaching the check and mailing the packages to the Registrar of Copyrights at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Generally, I think that aspect of the real publishing world is handled by the publisher, not the author. It gives one a sense of satisfaction to accomplish all this single-handedly.

Basically, in self-publishing, the author wears all the hats and does everything. If there are mistakes and errors, well, you have no one to blame but yourself and you try harder the next time.

My friends are enjoying their books. One friend of nearly 20 years who kind of pooh-poohed my writing for two decades now grabs books out of my hands- maybe I needed to have my stories and books in this format for her to finally realize that I am a writer, not just a hobbyist. Another friend of only 8 years has been faithfully reading my stories and novels in computer printed form on 8x11 inch paper- not an easy size to handle a novel in, but she's been happy to read them and always enjoys them. She now has book form everything I self-publish for her personal library. My daughter also has to have a copy of every book for her library, signed of course.

I've even held a small contest to name my three volumes of collected Christmas stories. My office manager named volume 1, my niece named volume 2 and a Physician's Assistant in the office I work at named volume 3. They each won a set of the three books, and each was acknowledged in the book that they named as winner of the contest.

With ARCs (the books I ordered before realizing there were typos, and in one novel a minor continuity issue), I have taken them to work and my co-workers have taken them off my hands.

I have fixes to make in a few books, but in later books I have been much more diligent about having the text as perfect as it can be before uploading and ordering copies.

It has been a rapid learning experience that I have enjoyed. I will probably keep putting collections of short stories together and self-publishing them. I haven't done any on Kindle yet. I need to do further research because I have no clue what my international rights are as the author.

I'm basically happy and having fun doing this while accomplishing a goal I set for myself a long, long time ago. The sad part is that neither of my parents lived long enough to see my books in print. And two of my dearest friends who loved to read my printed out stories also passed before I had my stories in book form, although they both firmly believed that it would happen one day.

Overall-self-publishing has been a satisfying achievement.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Haunting Tale #2 Completed

Well, we hit the road and head home from Maine tomorrow morning. Today we went to the Corningware Outlet store in Kittery and bought new dishes for the first time in 31 years- yea! New pots and pans and new dishes all in one week!

Then, we came back to the condo and basically spent the day in because I wanted a day to write without distractions. It is distracting with the TV running all day in the same room, but I managed to stay focused and got a nearly 9000 word story done for the next volume of haunting tales. That makes two stories written this week.

This story, We're Friends, Right? takes place mostly in a college senior apartment setting. Four female friends and suite mates invite four male suite mates that they have been acquainted with and friends with since freshman orientation to their suite for dinner as the end of their senior year approaches. There have been three unsolved murders on campus since the fall. Girls with long hair are being murdered and their hair cut off. No one has any idea who is responsible for the murders. Before the next few days have passed, one of the four girls will be murdered and one will be severely traumatized before there is another shocking death and a solution to the mystery of who the killer is.

This is more a suspense, psychological terror story. There are no supernatural elements involved.

I feel that I did get something accomplished this week even though the two stories combined only come in at about 12,000 words. 68,000 words to go before book 4 of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales takes shape.

Friday, September 18, 2015


In life there are trade-offs on a daily basis. I wanted to do X, Y and Z today. I accomplish X and part of Y but Z was a bust. I did not see the stone cottage where my family vacation every summer for a number of years in the mid-70's to early 80's. I like seeing it when I'm up here in this area. I did get lunch before 2PM today before I was crabby with low blood sugar, and it was nice. My husband and I discussed a change in diet as we both need to lose weight. I thought he would be resistant to a protein diet, cutting out wheat products, but he was open to the idea and we discussed various menus. So, I lost out on something meaningful to me and gained something else probably more meaningful to me- better health.

Tonight we tried a third time to get into the Steak Loft for dinner. The first night there was absolutely no parking. The second night we got a parking space, waited in a long line and left when we learned they were seating large parties only, couples had an hour wait in the bar or longer. I don't drink, I don't hang out in bars even sipping soda because I'm also diabetic. I need to eat on a regular schedule because I need to take my medication on time. So we left. Tonight- there was plenty of parking, the line was long but manageable. The couple in front of us turned out to be from Holyoke- the woman graduated from Westfield High in my class, her husband was from Easthampton where I grew up. We jokingly said we'd get a table for four if it meant we could get in and eat in a timely manner. Fortunately for us they were seating couples tonight, so we got in and had dinner finally! Third try was the winner.

There have been a number of disappointments on this vacation but there have also been small and satisfying victories that helped balance out the disappointments so they weren't so bitter...more bittersweet.

Therefore, in every life there are disappointments tempered by quiet joys and happy moments. It's finding the balance between the two that makes ones day. I guess, overall-this vacation hasn't been so bad despite the antiques shops being pretty well picked over- we did find a few treasures for Kelly and one for me. In the used and new bookstores I found books I wanted or looked interesting. I did see the ocean even though I can no longer walk on the sand with the arthritis in my feet. I saw parts of ME and NH I have never seen before. We got lost, we found our way back.

In the end...we are more relaxed than we were when we got here, have a day and half more before we head home. Life is generally good.

No disappointment there.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why Men Fail At Following Directions

Men take things too literally. Men have little common sense. Even when there are signs, they will listen to the GPS voice and not the woman in the passenger seat's voice...that's why they fail.

Today we headed south and then west into New Hampshire to do some additional antiquing. John programmed the GPS in my car for one of the addresses we wanted to visit. Everything was fine, except he began to panic when there was road construction on route 4 that did not interfere with our travel plans whatsoever. He is also an over-reactor when he drives- slams on the brakes when he thinks someone is going to pull out in front of him, which makes the person think he's stopping to let them out, then he gets mad when they keep coming out and I'm like- "Take your foot off the damn brake and drive!" He also worries about the cars behind us and what they're doing, more so then the idiots driving in front of us and what they're doing.

Everything fell to pieces when he programmed the GPS to get us back from Concord, NH and it began taking us in the wrong direction. It was trying to send us to Manchester. He would have been fine if we'd gotten on route 3 which connects back to 4/9/202, but he got onto 93 even though there was a clearly marked sign for Route 3 just ahead- three close exits and he took the wrong one then got mad because he made a mistake, not the GPS- and then freaked out because I was ticked off since we were traveling south instead of east. And then there was road construction and detours, and the GPS kept wanting us to loop around the same road construction...and he would have kept following its stupid directions if I hadn't taken out the map and told him to go straight and stop listening to the GPS as if it was the voice of God in the desert. I got us heading back in the correct direction, despite his white-knuckling the wheel thinking I was leading him into the wilderness and he'd never see anything familiar again. He was fine when we got back onto the road that had brought us to this major crisis in travel in the first place. Men have too much faith in technology and all it's myriad flaws and not enough faith in the common sense of a female with a map in her hand and a decent sense of direction. They'd rather trust technology than a real person. Well, he'd still be driving in circles in Concord, frustrated and tense and angry if I hadn't had enough of that crap for one day.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it works, but when it's not working, have the guts to shut it off and listen to the human co-pilot!

We got back later than planned, I missed meeting my favorite author in Portland- a huge disappointment, but then again, he'd have been driving since my night vision is horrible, and we'd have probably gotten lost in Portland again like we did the other day, so maybe in a way, technology's failure saved me some additional stress tonight.

Lesson learned, I hope: A GPS is a useful tool, but you have to read the damn road signs and get on the right roads on your own. Just because you have a GPS leading you around by the nose it doesn't mean it's foolproof. You still need to read the route signs and get on the right entrance ramps and off the correct exits-it's the human error aspect that ticks me off the most on this vacation. The GPS says take the next right onto Route 3, and the driver takes the next right, but it's for route 93. The correct right was one entrance ramp a few yards further up the road. Read the SIGNS!

And now I will jump down off my soapbox and walk away- in the right direction- toward my bed because I am cranky and tired tonight.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shirley Jackson Still Resonates With Me

Before leaving on vacation I picked up Shirley Jackson Let Me Tell You, new stories, essays and other writings by Shirley edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman and Sarah Hyman DeWitt. Shirley Jackson has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read The Lottery in middle school.

I sort of write like her- Kelly tells me my stories are about ordinary people, but then something unusual, or extraordinary or downright creepy happens.  At other times, I write rather humorous stories about the Riley family, for instance, and their five rather rowdy children. I am reading this book and she has a character with the last name Beresford. I have been struggling to give Remy Brice and Lissa Beresford a hundred opportunities to tell me their story coherently. I try to balance working full time, writing after work and managing my home and family. I have had a few articles published, and a personal memoir, but my writing doesn't fit into a conventional genre. I haven't had any short stories I've submitted published. So I have been self-publishing my novels and story collections- and my friends have been literally grabbing copies of the books out of my hands. They appear to like what I write since they are not using the books to ignite fires with.

I have a friend in New Mexico who also is a fan of Shirley Jackson. I met her twenty-five years ago and we have shared books over the years. I will have to email her and make sure she has a copy of this compilation of Jackson's writings. A good friend knows which of her good friends habits to feed!

I think Cemetery Crawl, All Souls Night, Shifting Sands, Black Rose, The Girl with The Ivy Tattoo, and others of my collected haunting tales are similar in nature to Jackson's eerie, suspenseful, psychological chillers. I think she and I would have gotten along well together if we had been peers and in the same writing circle.

There are two early stories I wrote when I was working the night shift and used to swap scary stories with my friend Glen Clark- The Chase and Cat & Mouse. Both are psychological thrillers- one is about a business man traveling through a rural New England village after dark on his way to a business meeting. He stops for gas and is warned by the erudite station owner to keep driving. He pulls away, sees an old cemetery beside a schoolhouse. And then he hears a strange sound...and finds himself pursued by Death.  In Cat & Mouse an anonymous person awakens in a twilight lit place that seems to be a metallic corridor- metal walls on both sides. He or she begins walking, and continues to walk but finds no exit, no doorways. Finally it occurs to the person that they might be walking a giant circle, so he/she pauses to scratch the words "I WAS HERE" on the wall at hand height. Then begins walking again...and eventually feels the words scratched into the wall. As they lower their hand, they feel additional scratchings and find a chilling message scratched beneath his/her message.

Glen and I used to scare the bejeezus out of one another in the dead of night up in the misty playing fields behind the college where we worked as Campus Police officers...with the pheasants screeching eerily (sound like peacocks). Used to go home in the morning to the haunted house where I was living (my brothers' second floor apartment was the location of the actual ghost) and have trouble falling asleep with all the thuds and banging around upstairs when Jeffrey was not home. It was more noise than a single cat could make on its own. The cat got locked out on the second floor enclosed porch once-courtesy of the ghost. Was glad to move out when John and I finally bought a house in '89.

So- I am enjoying Shirley Jackson's writing once again- and her stories though somewhat dated now, still resonate with me because she knew how to hit all the right buttons and her magic is still at work in these pages. Thank you to her son and daughter for the work they did to get this book published and into the hands of their mother's fans.

(My daughter already has her instructions as to what to do with everything stuffed into filing cabinets, binders and boxes that I have written- sort the good from the bad, and keep the books coming because that's what I would like her to do to keep me alive in her memory, to keep my spirit alive in her day to day life.)

I Am Still Screaming in My Head

Today, on the way to Ellsworth, ME, there suddenly loomed up through the trees and other pretty scenery, this massive structure looking like giant sewing needles with steel threads. Holy moly- I automatically said, "No way!" But the sinuous treacherous Route 1 led us directly around several curves to this nightmare of a bridge above a huge drop off with an inlet far below, I was screaming in my head as John drove across the one lane in either direction with nothing but steel cables between and oh, some inconsequential railings on the other side. I do not like tall bridges. I do not like heights. I occupied myself shooting pictures with Kelly's camera to capture this nightmare to show her when we got home. I realized I could have sent her a picture on my cellphone to share the not so joyous adventure. Not to worry...we had to cross the same damn bridge in the opposite direction to head back to the condo in Wells...I shot a number of pictures and sent one in a message to her. She nonchalantly said, "You must have survived if you sent me the picture, stop being a baby!"

Thank God there were plenty of Victorian era houses to soothe my inner baby, but I will probably have nightmares about that bridge, although it was one of the coolest bridges I have ever seen. I'd have liked it better if I hadn't had to travel across it, not once, but twice.

On the way back down 95 just past the Kennebunkport service area, the second underpass goes under Cat Mousam Rd. How cool is that? Tried to get a picture several times already but keep missing.

To Portsmouth NH & Newington tomorrow, then Hampton Beach- a favorite place to visit. Lots of memories of summering there with my family.

Meanwhile, Kelly was home entertaining her two "aunts" for dinner. They each went home with copies of all three of my collected Christmas stories. The proof of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales Volume III arrived today. Have already fixed the funky spacing in Dark Magic. Need to check everything else in the book then submit final files for review and that will be done.

Meanwhile- have an idea for the second haunted tale for this year. You never know who your friends and acquaintances really are, do you? This one was inspired by a former co-worker and will be titled, We're Friends, Right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Haunting Story of the Season Written

I was up a little late last night writing this little gem about a young author who has moved into her late, great-aunt's ocean front cottage. She hears an odd noise, goes to investigate, sees a fleeting shadow at the top of the stairs and as she is about to go investigate, a man appears at her front door. It's a chilling little tale. I was surprised that it came in under 3,000 words. I seldom write true short stories.

I emailed it to my daughter with a  black box warning not to read it before bed- it could cause a sleepless night or nightmares!

I hope she listened to her mother!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Strange Nightmare

I occasionally have a nightmare, but this one was rather peculiar. I couldn't sleep last night, couldn't get comfortable, so I went to the smaller bedroom with the firmer bed. I fell asleep.

I dreamt that I was asleep in the smaller bedroom and woke up with the sense of there being a presence in the room. I said, "If someone is in here with me, close the door."  The door slowly closed. It spooked me. I got up and opened the door and walked out into a room (that in reality should have been the intersection of two short hallways). On the floor of this empty room was a red plush teddy bear, about twenty-inches in length. Its red fur was mottled with black leopard spots. It was lying face up on the carpet, it's head toward my left. I turned right and went into the larger bedroom where my husband was asleep. I sat down on the edge of the bed, then, sensing something wasn't right, I stood up again and walked to the doorway, looking into the empty room. There were now three plush bears in the room. The original red bear was closer to the door now, face down on the floor as if it had stood up, taken a few steps toward the doorway then fallen on its face. There was a medium blue teddy bear face up to the floor to my left, feet closest to me, very close to the doorway. The red bear was face down in the middle but a little further back. There was a beige teddy bear lying on it's side to the right, also close to the open doorway. I called to my husband because I was feeling apprehensive about the bears. He came and scooped them up and we went to the smaller room. Inside, he veered right to toss the bears onto the bed. I walked straight ahead and felt something come out from beneath the bed and hit my bare foot- not hard. It felt soft, fluffy but firm. Then on the far side of the bed this goldish colored mohair plush rabbit sitting up on its haunches appears. It does not have ears, but it's talking to me, tough. It's scaring me. Then I look at it and think it has a face like a rat, but it's a rabbit. Then I suddenly have my Westfield baseball cap in my hand and I put it on the rabbit's head to cover its lack of ears and tell it to be quiet. The feeling of the dream is surreal, apprehensive and sort of uneasy disbelief that these plush animals are threatening me. I

I woke up feeling spooked, apprehensive. I would have freaked out if the bedroom door had moved even a fraction of an inch. It took awhile to convince myself to just go back to sleep.

Note: There were no plush animals in the room. There was a plush, mohair tiger in the larger bedroom, but that is the only plush animal here. There was no tiger in the dream. Only the three bears and the gold rabbit without ears.

Weird, or what?

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th

I was working at Conner's in downtown Westfield on September 11th. I was the cashier at the front of the office products, cards and gift store. Jane was working in the back. I was working in the front. Jane came walking down the aisle and said, "A plane just flew into the World Trade Center Tower. This was maybe just after ten o'clock in the morning. I looked at her thinking small plane, mechanical problem or something. And then a customer walked through the front door and said, "Did you hear about the plane hitting the tower in New York." And then George, the store owner came down the aisle with more detail and it was like the world had suddenly gone surreal, that we'd all lost our grip on reality. And then the second plane hit the second tower and it was- Oh my God. What in the world is going on and what's next? Later I learned about the plane headed for the pentagon and the one that had already hit it and how the people on flight 93 deterred the terrorists so they crashed in a field, sacrificing themselves to save many more lives in Washington.

That's when I had my first experience of feeling vulnerable as an American. How could something like this happen in a big powerful country like this? Where were all the safety measures we thought were in place to protect us from terrorism? ''

I remember buying a bunch of small flags on sticks that day and bringing them with me to the bus stop when I went to meet my daughter's bus. Every child in our neighborhood who got off the bus at our stop was given a flag that day.

It was an event that galvanized us as a nation, united us like nothing else had since Kennedy's assassination when I was in elementary school.

It should have been a wake up call for the land of the free, the home of the should have made us look more closely at who we are allowing into this country, looking deeper into their backgrounds. This is not the home of the terrorists- they have no business living here, walking among us wishing us harm. If any one comes to this country it should be to live in peace, not to turn on the people who welcomed them and accepted them.

All these years later I still feel the repercussions of 9/11.

We can't let it happen again.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Day Job/My Evening Job

I work as a medical secretary. I've been doing this for about 8.5 years. It's hectic and crazy and stressful quite often with insurance rules and Medicare requirements changing constantly, requiring more documentation then our providers chart. I am always chasing something- additional documentation, missing paperwork,

When I get home I need a way to unwind, and writing has always been my chosen outlet for stress relief. I used to tell a co-worker I was going to go home and shoot the puppy, meaning I was so frustrated and angry about something at work that it spelled certain doom for a character in a story or book. Writing a character off keeps me off the streets and out of prison! No one suffers, only fictitiously.

When people ask me what I do outside of work it makes me wonder what they do. I do housework, manage the house, and I write. Sometimes, if I'm really not in the mood to write when I'm sick, for instance) then I catch up on reading. I don't waste my life parked in front of the TV. I go all creative and pound out fiction and feel as if I've accomplished something at the end of the day.

My long time dream has been to self-publish my Christmas stories in book form. I did that this summer- plus ten additional books. The chaos in my dining room has been lessened. I am making noticeable progress, and I've sold a few books along the way. I have more copyrights to apply for at the end of the month, but I've got all the books self published in June and July sent to Washington DC. Seven to go.

Positive feedback is still trickling in from all the freebies I've given away for just that purpose. At least no one has said "You suck!" to my face- that makes me happy.

I won't give up my day job, nor will I give up my hobby-job. I like them both, and one puts money in my pocket so I can have some fun with the other.

It works for me right now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cleaning Out

Kelly and I tackled a mountain of binders containing stories and novels before dinner tonight. As the stories are being included or self published as self standing novels, I am tossing the printed copies. I have all files saved on the computer and on various flash drives around the house, so I don't need the printed copies off the printer, since I can now open a book and read the story. I like this a lot better, and my dining room is starting to look less chaotic!

It's hard for me to let go of print copies because they have my handwritten notes and corrections on them.  But, I don't want to turn into a hoarder and keep everything.

At button club this morning, I took a copy of Love Me Knots, a copy of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume 1 and a copy of Yuletide Stories to show the ladies what I've been up to all summer while NOT working on buttons! Judy wanted Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales before I even had it on the table! Julie and Jan wanted Love Me Knots. Julie took it home, Jan followed me home to buy a copy here.  Yuletide Stories, I put that into the club auction, and Judy won it and had it signed, so she took home two of my books today.  Auction proceeds go into the club treasury so it was worth it since I haven't had any buttons to put into the auction lately.

I updated the book flyer and order sheet to reflect all the new additions. I was kind of stunned to realize I've self-published 13 books in 3.5 months! I guess when I do something, I do it in a big way!
Must be my Italian heritage- my mother, when she cooked, cooked for an army when there was only 5 of us! I vividly remember the day we all sat around the dining room table peeling a bushel or more of apples while she rolled out pie crust dough and proceeded to make 27 apple pies! Now, my mother didn't even like pie, but someone had given us the apples and she felt compelled to do something with them. Thank God she had recently purchased an upright freezer the size of a refrigerator for half a cow she bought at the Pure Food Market! There was still enough room in the freezer to stack all the cooled pies- we had apple pie for quite awhile after that pie making and baking marathon! They were delicious though!

My family is a little OCD about stuff too. If I say I like camels, or I like the Eiffel Tower- I will soon have a gajillion camels and bazillion Eiffel Towers. Thank God the spam John with pink flamingos phase is winding down after 30 years!

Anyway- I sold a few books today and cleaned up some more of the dining room, plus did some housework, banking, laundry and various other things that needed doing. I even had time to sit and cuddle the cat who was traumatized yesterday by some sort of issue with a telephone pole knocking out the power which, for some reason, activated all four hard wired smoke detectors in the house during the afternoon when no one was home. John came home to find the detectors blaring, the carbon monoxide warning voice chattering away, the cat frantic to get the heck outside and away from all the noise...Might have been a power surge with whatever happened. One detector had to be replaced. All was quite today, and Irene Drive was open today with a new pole up on the corner of Linda.

Kelly just advised me that it's 80 degrees at 7:30PM.  The heat has been unbearable here this week. It's supposed to break and be cooler tomorrow- one can only hope! This is like August weather in September! we desperately need rain- the grass is brown and crispy. The trees are shedding leaves.

And now it's time to move onto something constructive...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales Volume 3

I hope to have Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume 3 ready to self publish by the end of this week. I got sidetracked getting the three Christmas volumes ready for the season looming in the near future.  Then I wanted to get the sequel to The Archetypes-First Generation done, too. I finished up The Archetypes-Shockwaves yesterday then spent most of the day, except for a couple hours antiquing in Deerfield, MA, editing the haunting stories going into volume 3.

I think I have accomplished what I set out to do as far as this first round of self publishing the mountain of novels and story collections that have accumulated over the years. I'm getting a lot of positive feedback from my co-workers and their teenaged children, and my youngest fan, who is 9-years old. A few books still need some minor tweaking, but that's a project for another day- it's mostly that damn word autocorrect issue that changes words to a word that you might have used recently, thinking you're making a mistake. I could slap it silly I am so ticked off with it trying to out think me. It's wrong, I'm right, but I don't always catch it's screw-ups, which frustrates me and makes me mad.

But, overall, I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished so far.

Next year I will start tackling the Ghost Chaser novels. The first in the series already has its cover art, thanks to the talented Benjamin Tozloski, my graphics artist guy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day labor of Love

I have spent the past two days editing and proofreading volume 2 in The Archetypes series.  Beans and Amanda remain two of my favorite characters, and since this novel was already written and had all the handwritten corrections and notes on a print manuscript, I thought I'd put it into book form and eliminate one more binder from the massive amount of binders cluttering the dining room by making it my next self-published novel. Then, at the end, I added a bonus short story- Rex Family Christmas. A reader would have to be familiar with the Rex family to understand this short story, so that's why it wasn't included in the three volumes of Christmas stories. It is better suited as a bonus feature at the end of this novel because it is set on Christmas Day of the year that Beans rejoins his family after eliminating Amanda's evil megalomaniac father once and for all and recovering from his own injuries from that ordeal. The short story shows the entire Rex clan more relaxed, without the threat of danger shadowing them- they are, for the moment, at peace with the world as they celebrate Christmas as one united family.

I am not sure if there will be a third volume. I started it, but I might just scrap it. The Rexes have found a calm place in their lives. Mad scientist Pennington is gone. The Renfield family has been decimated by the rogue genome that Amanda worked so hard to develop a vaccine against to protect the Rex family from self destruction. Maybe it's time to let them get on with their lives, searching the world over for ancient and medieval bladed weapons to add to the already impressive collection at the Rex Museum of Arms and Armament, and their own private collections. Although, somewhere down the road, the Rex second generation- Pierce, Tiger, Barthelemy, Raven, Chance and Royce- may want to tell their stories, because as Beans points out at the end of volume 2- these children are anything but normal.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Archetypes-Shockwaves

Earlier this summer I self-published The Archetypes-First Generation. I am supposed to be editing Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume III which I transferred from my netbook to my new notebook for that purpose last night. I did manage to get the first story edited. But then John got the main computer working after a lengthy struggle with it, so I was able to rescue some material off of that.

Too many distractions today.

What I ended up doing is editing the second Archetypes novel set four years later when Amanda and Beans' son Tiger is nearly five and they have a little daughter, Raven who is tragically killed. Continuing from the first novel, the Renfield family Scarlett Rex's family) is still out to eliminate the Rex family, and they nearly succeed in killing Scarlett, Amanda,, Tiger, Raven, Ariana, Pierce and Barthelemy (Simon and Ariana's toddler son). Ami and Beans are still struggling to unravel the web of deceit and lies her father wove in his brilliant madness. New shockwaves rock the Rex family in this novel that finds Beans on the edge of losing it, Ami and Benny's marriage suffering under duress, Ariana still lusting after Beans to the point she endangers her youngest son's life, a Renfield infiltrating the Rex family compound, Thaddeus and Scarlett Rex agreeing that Scarlett can carry a baby for Ami and Beans who desperately want another child but cannot have one themselves. There are time bombs ticking as Amanda frantically works to save the family that she is now a member of and has come to think of as her true family. Then the final shockwave hits them- are they strong enough to survive this ultimate threat?

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Fastest Sunset in the West

Kelly and I left to run some errands a little after 7PM this evening. As we rounded the corner onto the street leading down the mountain- with the awesome western view of a mountain range- there was the sun, like a giant maraschino cherry, perched upon the mountaintops. I stopped at the side of the road and grabbed my bag because the only camera I had on me was my stupid cellphone camera that balks at taking pictures. I pulled it out anyway- and as I sat there aiming at the view, trying to get the  thing to take a picture, the sun literally slid down behind the mountains in less than two minutes and vanished. I have never seen a sunset like this before- it was so beautiful and over so quickly, just a rosy pink glow left silhouetting the mountain peaks. I have ZERO pictures, but it will always be vivid in my memory. (It was kind of eye opening to realize that the earth is moving faster than I thought it was!)

Six on their way to DC

Six copyright applications with corresponding two best copies are n their way to the Library of Congress Copyright Office tonight. I have five more to go but after working for a couple hours to get the six packages ready to mail, then going to bed and lying there reviewing it all in my head- and with horror realizing that I had messed up my professional email address, meaning I had to open all the packages, print six new second pages and complete them with the correct email address this morning...I am taking a breather and will finished the applications for the remaining books at the end of this month (especially since I don't have the three Christmas books in hand yet and will need them to do this.)

I am beginning to appreciate the work of a publisher if they handle all this paperwork and stuff for an author! But it was fun and a learning experience doing this for myself. And it should go a lot more smoothly for the next round of books I'll be applying for copyrights for!

Congratulations to Volume 3 Title WInner!

Well, volume 3 of my Christmas stories now officially has a title thanks to Ilona Charvayev who contributed Together for the Holidays. The book was designed this evening on CreateSpace and is currently in review.  Yuletide Stories and Always Christmas in my Heart are both done and copies ordered to have on hand. The three winners, Joyce Gavioli, Katie Jo Weeks and Ilona Charvayev will each received a set of all three volumes for their winning title entries. Congratulations, ladies! Well done!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Copyright Application Marathon

After dinner and a walk this evening, I sat down and began a marathon filling out of copyright applications for six of the books I've self published.  It's time to protect my work so I needed to get this done. So, with a stack of Form TXes in hand, and a tower of two best copies of each book, tissue paper, mailer bags and checkbook at hand, I began filling out the forms one after the other, writing checks, packaging the books to protect them in tissue paper, and filling the mailer bags one after the other. Tomorrow I'll be mailing then to the Registrar of Copyrights. While I was doing this Kelly was asking questions, like where do the books you submit with your application go? She Googled that and found out they go to the Library of Congress. That makes sense. She looked at me from across the table with amazement that her mother's books will be in "the biggest freakin' library in the country!" I had to smile- I think it's finally hitting home with her that her mother is an author, not just Mom who writes stories all the time.

Takes 8-13 months to receive the certificate for each book an application is submitted for. At least I got the ball rolling on six of the books. There will soon be 5-6 more applications following. Spent enough for one sitting tonight. The rest can wait until the end of the month (well, one is still in the works so doesn't quite count yet!)

Hot and humid still-air was heavy and sky stuffed full of hazy gray-blue clouds during our walk. Wishing for rain. Grass is dry.

Looking forward to labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

R&R Day

I didn't do much today except get my accounting up to date, change cat litter boxes, run some errands, bought five new shirts (if you know me then you know I absolutely hate clothes shopping and seldom buy new clothes unless my old clothes are falling to pieces- and I am no fashion maven by any stretch of the imagination! So, buying 5 new shirts at one time may cause my family and friends to faint!) Anyway, when I got home there were two big heavy boxes and one small light box on the front steps- Yahoo! I had to restock my books as I have been handing them out left and right...and must now stop being so ridiculously generous as my income is woefully tiny compared to how much I have invested in my book projects. I still have the first two Christmas volumes coming to stock up for the fall and winter. In reorganizing the book boxes I freed Revere's scratching board from under the first box- so he was a happy kitty after two months of not having his stress reliever available to him.

I went for a walk with Kelly tonight and we had an animated discussion about the third Christmas volume that is okay but doesn't quite measure up to volumes 1 & 2.

Revere had a chance to sit on my lap and play the part of a lap cat before dinner. It was nice. And I'd bought two new bath towels to replace our oldest two towels, so Riley-Beans was ecstatic because his favorite place to catch a cat nap is in the linen closet. he was rubbing his cheeks all along the folded edges of the new towel. Cats are very observant- he knew they were new (or at least not the old ones he's used to curling up against when in the closet. he was quite pleased this evening.

It is 9:35PM and still 77 degrees outside. I just had to nudge the central air upward as it was getting too warm in here at 75 degrees. I'm comfortable at 73.


The main computer is on the fritz again.  I am trying to put together the stories for Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume III, and  of course, Metaphysical Attraction is only located on that hard drive. I have no patience for technology lately- it is stymying me left and right. I just want a place where I can go and work and not be annoyed by things that don't work which prevent me from accomplishing my work.

Always Christmas in My Heart received it's final approval from me this morning and should be available on in 3-5 days. 

Last night I was up until close to 12:30AM assembling the as yet unnamed book 3 of Christmas stories. Revere is such a loyal feline- he was with me in the kitchen for hours on end as I worked at the kitchen table on this project.  I am not as happy with the third volume as I should be. It's missing an inspirational story, and contains stories with more difficult events occurring in them. I really should buckle down and cough up an uplifting story before this gets printed. I'll have to see what I can do.

I have some corrections to make in books that are already available. They're small typos and comma issues mainly- commas always being a problem child for me, as well as my thing about not putting question marks at the ends of questions. What's with that? I seem to do it a lot. Maybe I'm just not that inquisitive? (Or I just don't want to know the answers!

Looking forward to vacation later this month.  I need a respite from day-to-day life. I need to rest and relax...something I rarely do. There is always so much going on in my head on so many levels. Some days I envision my brain as a multi-level parking garage where thought cars travel around and around looking for a space to park. Some thoughts careen around ramps, tires squealing and screeching to try to catch my attention. All the parked vehicles are stories already written, snuggly in their assigned spots. Everything else just keeps moving around through the garage levels looking for a place to park.

Sometimes, when I first get into bed at night, before I close my eyes, I see a kaleidoscope of human beings at the foot of the bed floating in midair- usually just heads or faces. They are very detailed and one face seems to morph into the next- like an entire cast of characters presenting itself in a surreal slide show. It doesn't last for long, so maybe it's just my brain flushing things out, but this has been happening for years. It's visually lyrical as the faces range from children to the elderly and seem to be multicultural as there is some clothing detail- hats, headdresses, collars with these faces- they aren't just floating heads!

At other times, I just lie there with characters running rampant through my brain trying to tell me their stories.  It is a struggle to quiet them down so that I can sleep. My brain is like a thriving city populated with millions of inhabitants and those inhabitants are all clamoring for me to tell their story. My brain needs to move to the country! But this isn't anything new. When I was a teenager and into my twenties I always went to bed with a notebook and a pen within reach, going so far as to grab them and write into he dark to put down an idea, or even a whole part of a story that popped into my head. I am still pretty adept at writing in complete darkness from all the practice I had years ago!

Today, I am tackling little things. I need a break from the chaos of the past three months. I need to work through my frustration with the computer issues. I'm happy to have my HP Stream with its sticker proclaiming "Work From a Happy Place" because it does make me happy to know that I have this at least, although I don't have all my stories on it. I also have my little Dell Netbook- the warhorse that has been my companion for three years or more. That little Dell has some of its letters worn right off the keys it has seen so much creative force.  I love it and it has a lot to work with still on it. My netbook and my notebook are my closest companions these days.

But not today.

Today is a recharge the human battery day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


The first of three Christmas story volumes, Yuletide Stories, is now available on and through me.

Putting my Christmas/holiday stories into book format has been a dream of mine and a goal for many years. It's hard to believe that this massive project is in the works and two volumes are actually ready. Always Christmas in My Heart in is final review and if everything looks good, I should be able to approve it this evening and order copies.

Volume 3 in the set still needs a title. That's never been an easy thing with me, thinking of titles!

The contest is still open with title suggestions being accepted until 6PM Friday evening, September 4th.

Hard to believe today is the first day of September already! The year is flying by way too quickly- yet when I think about it, I have put together 11 books in 3 months and cleared up a lot of loose leaf binders that have been cluttering my dining room...although there are still many more to be compiled into future volumes. I am a prolific writer, I guess you'd say. Now I just need a bookshelf to store my books on! At least they'll take up less room than binders!

Works summons...time to eat breakfast and then off I go!