Picking Up the Pieces…One Step at a Time.

My last post was on Halloween. I wish I could say I was just being slack since then, but that’s not the case. The last few months have been hard in unimaginable ways. I think I’m finally ready to talk about all of it and start letting some of it go.

It started in Mid-October, actually.

The first hit came when one of my romance publishers handed me the rights back to four of my books. That sucked, but was quickly put into perspective by life itself.

On October 19th, I went to the emergency room because I’d started bleeding. At the end of July, I found out I was pregnant, but all of a sudden, my worst nightmare was coming true. I was losing the baby. The next week was a swirl of doctors and bloodwork and waiting. By the end of October, my doctor confirmed that I had, in fact, suffered a miscarriage. Only my closest friends and family knew, and I wanted it that way. I didn’t need everyone in the world offering condolences and telling me I’d still be able to have more kids.

The simple fact is this: I was devastated. I felt like a complete and utter failure as a woman. Logically I know that’s not the case, but the thought that I was unable to protect that child still haunts me. It will for some time to come, I’m learning to deal with the grief. Or rather, I would have if bad hadn’t gotten even worse.

On the afternoon of November 6th, one of my best friends was murdered. I talked to Angie at 2:45, and half an hour later, she was dead in the parking lot of our workplace. Her husband shot her four times in the back of the head because she’d told him she wanted a divorce. There’s more Angie’s story, but I’m not quite ready to tell it yet. One day, though.

There was an immediate and irrational anger following the announcement that the loud noise was, in fact, a set of gunshots and that yes, Angie was gone. I wish every day I didn’t know what it felt like to want to kill someone, but I do now. Until that moment, I’d never felt that furious compulsion to commit violence before, but I couldn’t help it. It didn’t matter that he’d turned the gun on himself… all that mattered was that I wanted to go outside and stomp his head flat. I wanted to hurt him for hurting her, and in that furious rage, no act was too heinous.

You killed her… you stupid, useless, selfish son of a bitch!

That anger has since subsided, but I wish I didn’t remember the way it felt. It was an adrenaline rush, pure energy and anticipation, and a driving need to destroy. Beyond that anger was numbness and a hollow ache. My heart physically hurt for her. I gave my statement to the police, which is what they used to close the case. I was one of four people in the world who knew the whole story, who understood the reasons why she’d left, and who fought to protect her from him. I always knew this situation would end badly, but I hoped I’d ultimately be proved wrong.

I still have moments of surreality; times when I pick up the phone to call her but remember she’s not there. I find myself crying for her, wanting to scream at him for taking her away. But the screaming does no good. She’s gone and she’s not coming back. And he can’t hear me. With any luck, he’s boiling in oil in Hell.

It feels like the joy has been sucked out of life these last few months. When I got the proof copy of my newest romance release at the end of November, my first thought was to take it to Angie and get her reaction to the half-naked cowboy on the cover. But she wasn’t there to see it. I still haven’t brought copies of that book to my office. I just don’t have the heart to talk about it. It was doubly bad because she was the one I would talk to about these sorts of situations. And not having her here to talk about what happened to her has been the hardest part.

The one bit of good news is that I have started writing again. It’s mostly short horror, and I mostly blame Jerry Benns at Charon Coin Press for it. We’ve become good friends over the last few months, and he keeps baiting me into things. I wrote a story for one of his anthology calls (I really want to be a fly on the wall when he reads it, too. It’s really twisted.), and have since been talked into taking on the role of editor for two anthologies. I’ve got another story in the works which is mostly his fault as well, but we’ll talk about that one when the time comes.

Writing horror has helped exorcise some of the demons in my mind. It’s helping me deal with the frustration, hurt, and anger. Words have always been my weapon of choice, and these last few weeks have been a battle. I won’t say it’s getting easier, but I do seem to be finding a new normal. 2014 was a bad year and I’m glad to see it go.

The goal now is to take it one step at a time. One day at a time. And maybe soon things will fall into place again. It won’t be easy, and I still have a long way to go to get past the events of the last few months, but I’ll make it. I’m like a cat in that respect… I almost always land on my feet.


Ramblings of a Horror Geek

I watched Hellraiser last night. The last time I sat down and watched that movie was more than ten years ago. And it was quite a bit longer ago that I read the book. I was a lot younger and a lot more impressionable then, and the Cenobytes used to scare the hell out of me. The Chatterer still freaks me out because I used to have nightmares about things that looked like him when I was a kid.

Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart

Then I dreamed about killing zombies. It seems whenever these crazy zombie dreams manifest, Selah Janel is always there. Last night she helped me cut down hundreds of zombies while trying to simultaneously rescue someone and get out of a drive-in theater park.  Last time we went on an adventure in my dreams, we were looking at buying a house where the groundskeeper was using zombie labor to rebuild an old manor house owned by giants.

Don’t ask…I can’t explain any of it.

So at two o’clock this morning I was lying awake in bed, trying to sort out the ramblings of my mind, and this crazy thought appeared in the forefront: I’m a writer. Why not put all these things together and actually make a book out of it?Which meant that at 2:15 this morning, I was sitting in the dark with a notebook and a pen, scribbling down ideas in a vain attempt to create a reasonable plot out of the madness in my head.

By 2:30, I was watching old Peanuts cartoons and wondering exactly where I detoured into left field. I wasn’t always this weird, warped creature. When I was a kid, I was …

Oh hell, who am I kidding? I was never normal.

After the movie last night, my husband and I had an interesting discussion about iconic movie monsters. Nine times out of ten, when I ask someone to name a slasher flick monster, one of six names comes to mind. Let’s review the list, shall we?

Chucky from Child's Play

Chucky: Okay, so I don’t really consider Chuckie all that “monster”ish. He’s basically Pinocchio on LSD. And a pretty stupid character, in my humble opinion. HOWEVER, when it comes to creeps and chills, he’s definitely up there on the list of horror icons. He’s rude and he’s crass, and there’s not much stopping the director from firing it up with a bit o’ doll-porn in later episodes of the franchise. Not my favorite, but definitely note-worthy.


Michael Myers

Michael Myers: He’s not a monster in the sense that the others are, but he’s still scary. When dealing with serial-killing psychos, this name seems to pop to the top quite a bit. I personally enjoy the Rob Zombie remake better than the original even though the story of the original face being a cut-up version of a William Shatner mask makes me giggle with manic glee. Except that the chase scene goes on for about half an hour too long. Plus it was a lot of fun at Fandom Fest two years ago watching him play pool with Jack Sparrow and the Borg in the bar.

Bob Elmore as Leatherface

Again with the murderers! Mutated mass murdering psychotic monsters? Yep, you got ’em right here. The movies themselves are a light-plotted bloodbath, yet based on true events. The concept seems to appeal to the masses on a fundamental level, yet I almost find myself pitying Leatherface himself because of his sad, sadistic lot in life.  Random yet related: Bob Elmore is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. It’s not every day you turn around to find a real-life movie monster (minus the mask) standing behind you. I’m not a big fan of the gore, but I gained a new respect for the character that day.


Pinhead from Hellraiser

Pinhead: See above. Creepy, bizarre, and all around nasty individual. Plus his backstory as a human-turned-monster is interesting. The makeup on this guy is kickass and the character’s personality is one that leaves nothing to the imagination. He’s the ultimate hedonist, presented in a way that you can’t help but love him even as he’s turning you inside out and destroying your soul. Just another reason why I aspire to be Clive Barker when I grow up.


Jason VorheesJason Vorhees: Okay, so he’s one of the big ones that EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD knows and adores, but can I just say that I don’t buy it for a second? The original “Friday the 13th” was a great movie because the crazy person wasn’t Jason. However, the story in the first movie created a wholly unrealistic basis for the character that would become the icon for the franchise. JASON VORHEES DROWNED AS A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD, PEOPLE!!! HE CAN’T COME BACK AS AN ADULT MAN WITH INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF MACHETES! Regardless of what I believe, people love him, and the franchise has, in fact, made a ludicrous amount of money allowing him to run around and hack mostly-naked teenage girls to bits over and over again.

Freddy Kruger: Now we’re talking. When I was a kid, Freddy was my big one. He scared me senseless. Freddy KruegerI still to this day can’t watch Dream Warriors without a chill crawling up my spine. Yeah, the character itself has a few holes in his realism, but the scariest part of Freddy? You can’t kill what doesn’t actually exist. Which is why I have to call bullshit on Jason Vorhees winning that battle. The writer and directer failed miserably on that one. But I’m also a little biased, so it’s all good. Well, at least until you hear the knocking and that creepy little voice. “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”

So in the end what do we take from all of this? Pinhead is freaky and Freddy Kruger is the stuff of which my bad dreams are made. Now tell me, Creeps, who’s your worst nightmare?

Writing Scary Things Does Not A Lunatic Make…

…or something like that.

My point is this: just because a writer has a wild imagination does not mean that s/he is insane. The insanity helps (trust me on this), but it isn’t required. Take me, for instance.

I’m – at least I think I am – a well-adjusted, intelligent and balanced human being. I have a steady job and a family and I know how to make nice with the worst types of people. I don’t feel the need to jump across a desk and stab people in the throat (okay, so there have been days when I’ve wanted to throw things and be really nasty, but it hasn’t gotten to the stabbing point yet), and I don’t fantasize about blood and guts all over the floor.

Yes, I’ve written some damn freaky things.  Don’t believe me? Just wait… I have a story in No Boundaries Press’ upcoming splatterpunk anthology that will definitely mess with people’s heads. There blood, guts, and sex.  And even a little bit of rock n’ roll. All at one time.

In another story I have a crazy chick who kills and cuts up her boyfriend.  This guy had it coming, though…he hit her. It should be a lesson to all men – don’t think you’re safe when you beat a woman. You never know her breaking point.

I also write tons of other things, too. I write fantasy and science fiction. Urban Fantasy. Even a bit o’ sword and sorcery. Things like that don’t cause people to recoil in fear… so why should the exploration of darker topics set off the squick-factor?

It’s the blood, isn’t it? [I knew it…I KNEW it was the blood. People just don’t like blood!]

But you know, the same thing goes for erotic romance writers… people look at them like they’re perverts when they’re just having fun. I would know…I write that too.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing creativity in any way, shape or form, and I’m not just saying that personal expression. That’s called censorship, and it’s bad.

Thirty years ago, people looked down their noses at science fiction writers as hawkers of pulp trash… and look where they are today. They’re legends. They were pioneers.  And they’re still selling books.

There is a second point to this rant…I promise.  And that point is this:

Never run someone down for what they write. Chances are one day you’re going to look back and realize that while you were complaining, you were missing the beginning of greatness. Example?

Stephenie Meyer – while the verdict is still out on Twilight as a whole, the woman is rich! She has a four-book series that is an international bestseller. She has a movie franchise from the books that people also happened to go wild over around the world… even if you don’t like the story, you have to admit… she did something worth noticing. She gave the masses what they wanted.

Same with E.L. James… even if you don’t agree with the subject matter (which personally I don’t…not really the subject matter but the manner in which the subject is handled), she’s another one that gave the people what they wanted.  It’s all about appeasing the masses, right?

Each person reaches the goal of acquiring readers in different ways. They might not all be the most conventional, but if it works then more power to them.

I just prefer not to have to defend myself against funny glances and condescending stares when someone finds out that I might have sort of killed someone just a little bit in one of my stories. As long as my murderous tendencies stay on paper, we’re good right?


Masochism – Not Just for Masochists Anymore!

Yeah, I suddenly feel the need to torture myself in horrible, horrible ways.  I’m just getting back on my feet, really.  The last two months have been a lot of work and have seen a gross lack of sleep, willpower, and general capacity for basic understanding of the English language, but we’re finally starting to even out.  (I say we, because there is more than one person inside this crazy head of mine.)

So back to that title statement.

I’m feeling the need to punish myself by opening my brain up to anyone who happens to stop by.

Since Kharisma felt the need to drag me into the Punk You blog, I’m taking it one step farther and allowing our readers to choose my next story.  It’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure in reverse.  You pick the prompts, and I write the story based on what I’m given.

Prompt submission doesn’t end for another thirty hours, so there’s plenty of time to hop over and help destroy my brain.  Want to play?  Here’s how:


In that comment, give me a prompt – it can be a photo, word, or phrase.  Just one.  It isn’t fair if everyone gangs up on me and gives me more than one.  It can be absolutely anything you can think of…and trust me, one of my darling friends has already left me something that makes me simultaneously laugh and want to vomit.

At 5:00 EST tomorrow (that’s Friday), submissions close.  I then have the weekend to take the mess and write a horror story using all of the prompts provided.  Yes, all of them.  You give the ideas, I pick the order.   Said story will be completed and posted to the Punk You blog by 2:00 PM on Tuesday.

Come on, everyone…torture me.

You know you want to.