Sunday, December 30, 2012

And on we go...

So this is about it for 2012. As always, the year flew by. 2012 certainly wasn't my most productive year writing-wise. In fact, it falls pretty durn low on that list, but I did have a few writing highlights.

  • Daeva - The year started off right when, in January, I found a wonderful publishing home for Daeva, a novel that I've worked on very hard for a very long time. Aqueous Books will publish it in June 2014. Yes, still a year and a half away, but I'm so thrilled to be part of Aqueous's line up, I don't even mind the wait. 
  • Dark Knowledge - This novel was already released as an ebook. As of October 2012, it's available in paperback too. Now I have something new to drag around to book signings and events. (DK's Amazon page)
  • "Final Vision" - I was honored when Janet K. Brennan asked me to be the guest author for her upcoming collection of short stories (background here), and I'm very pleased with the story I wrote for the occasion. Now Tango Sunday is scheduled to be released mid-January 2013. Yay!

The writing lowlight for 2012 is my lack of new material written (other than "Final Vision" and a Halloween short story, "The Pumpkin Lady," I wrote for a Keepers of the Crypt event). I have a great WIP (that's writer shorthand for "work in progress" for you non-writers out there) about 1/3 written, but it's stalled because I'm not keeping my butt in the writing chair. I'd like to blame 2012--not that it's been a bad year. It hasn't. But it has been a busy year, with some nice non-writing highlights.

  • Early in the year, way back in February, we stumbled onto the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood. We weren't planning to relocate, but we couldn't resist. We moved. That meant fixing up a house to sell, all the many efforts of buying and selling, moving and furnishing, then fixing up the house we bought to be the way we want it. Whew, still working at it.
  • We also traveled, having decided we were at that age and stage when we could and should travel more. 

Is trying to blame all of 2012's non-writing activities a poor excuse for all my non-writing months? Definitely. But there you go. I won't use the same lame excuse for 2013. I'm ending this year by ramping up to pick up where I left off on my neglected WIP, and I have some ideas to whip up more WIPs for 2013. No excuses.

I enjoyed 2012 very much, and I feel fortunate to have had such a great year, despite the lack of writing motivation. I'm thankful for my partner, our good health, our dogs and home, those we've loved for years, new friends made this year... I'm taking loads of positive energy into 2013. I'm also bringing itchy fingertips into the new year, and I'm hoping that signals the return of my urge to spend hours tapping away at my keyboard to create new characters and new worlds and not the onset of some weird nerve disorder. I'll keep you posted.


Happy New Year, Everybody. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

High altitude dog dreams

I've mentioned dreams several times in this blog, because...well, because I dream a lot. Always have. And for the past 8 or 9 months, I've been dreaming even more than usual. Vividly.

I've mentioned that my dreams, for the most part, have become positive. I'm usually in control and respected by others verses recurring dreams I had for decades where I'd get lost or feel ignored or insignificant. Dogs have always found their way into my dreams, but lately, they're almost a constant. I'm a major dog lover, so I guess that's not a big surprise. Lately, I've been helping dogs, sometimes saving them. My rare bad dreams sometimes involve having one of our dogs injured. If a dog isn't featured in a dream, one will usually at least still make an appearance in one before the night is over.

An odd aside to all my dog dreaming is that one of our dogs, Tasia, is having her own dreams lately. Almost nightly, she dream-barks, and I have to wake her by saying her name or the barking goes on and on...

But that's enough about my dog's dreams. Back to my dog-dreams. My latest was last night. I was flying around, and--

I guess I should also explain that I've also begun having recurring dreams where I fly. It's an odd sensation. First of all, I always wonder if I'll be able to do it because there's nothing I actually do to initiate flight, but then I start running and I lift off. My ascents are very gradual, and sometimes I worry I won't clear the upcoming fence or trees, but I always do. I tend to over-compensate for the slow ascent and end up soaring higher than I want to be, but I make it back down okay. So despite my trend of being in control in my dreams, I never feel fully in control when I fly, even though I always end up going where I intended to go without crashing or bad consequences.

But last night I was diverted from my flight...by a dog. I didn't know the dog. It was a mid-size mix, chocolate brown, smooth hair, and lanky. I was in Amarillo, Texas (hometown and home until I was 31), and I was flying very close to the ground because I'd just gone too high and overcompensated (yet again). I knew I needed to gain altitude, but this brown dog jumped up, gently grabbed my ankle in his mouth, and pulled me to the ground uninjured. I took off again, but my slow ascent let him grab me again. And again. Finally, I made it into the air, but when I looked down, he was running along the ground to keep up with me. Dangerously busy streets were dead ahead, and I was afraid he'd run into traffic and be killed, so I returned to the ground yet again. He was at my side in an instant. I figured I made the right decision and woke.

So I guess I saved another dream-dog last night, my specialty these days, along with flying. A few more of these dreams, and I'm going to come up with a dog-saving superhero name for my dream self. Feel free to suggest something, maybe a costume too. No tights, please.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview, ebook giveaway, and prizes


I'm interviewed today over on Julie's Book Review blog. Drop by and enter to win a copy of my paranormal thriller ebook Above Haldis Notch, gift cards, or one of four other paranormal fiction ebooks published by Musa Publishing. You may want to bookmark Julie's Book Review while you're there. It's a great place to discover new authors and new books.

11-27-12 Edit to add:
Now there's an excerpt from Above Haldis Notch posted on Julie's Book Review blog. Click here to read it. And don't forget to sign up for the giveaways. There are five paranormal ebooks (including Above Haldis Notch) and three $5 gift cards up for grabs.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Coffee chat

Come chat with me over coffee this morning at Ally Shields' blog. Click the cup of java to visit Ally's urban fantasy blog. I hope you'll leave a comment there, telling me if you ever still percolate your coffee (as opposed to drip, press, or shot a cup through a one-cup machine.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing in Horror with Heart

There's an author blog hop called The Next Big Thing that's bouncing happily around the blogosphere lately. To participate, authors answer ten questions about the story they're working on and tag other authors to do the same. Talented and diverse author Nancy Holzner tagged me as well as answered questions about the next installment in her popular urban fantasy series, Deadtown. If you're already a fan of Deadtown or are curious about a really well done urban fantasy series, I encourage you to head over to Nancy's The Next Big Thing blog post to see what's coming next.

Now it's my turn to tag some authors and encourage them to share information about their next big thing. I picked three. All three are authors with works I've read and highly recommend, and all of them have another story or novel in the making. 1) Greg Lilly (website / blog) is one of my favorite mystery writers. He's the author of the Derek Mason Mystery Series, Fingering the Family Jewels and Scalping the Red Rocks, plus the novels Devil's Bridge and Under a Copper Moon; 2) Catherine Cavendish (webpage) is a writer of excellent dark fiction and paranormal horror; and 3) Amaleen Ison (webpage) writes young adult fantasy stories that meander into a variety of sub-genres (tip: adults enjoy Amaleen's stories too). These fine authors will post their The Next Big Thing blog posts on November 28th.

If you've followed this blog very long at all, you probably know something about my current Horror with Heart offerings, but just in case...


As far as a work in progress to discuss here, I have two to pick from. One is still in first draft mode, and I don't want to jinx it, so my decision was easy. I'll answer the ten The Next Big Thing questions about my novel Daeva, which is scheduled to be released in June 2014 by Aqueous Books.

What is the working title of your book?

Daeva (formerly Mind Shadow; formerly Imagination)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My original idea was to write about a boy who forced himself to never, ever use his imagination. I planned to show the effects that this rigid and unusual self discipline would have on him as he matured into an adult. To motivate this strange behavior, I stuck a powerful and manipulative demon inside the boy's mind. The demon gains some control over the boy, Chris, every time Chris uses his imagination. His only defense is to suppress his imagination, so Chris strictly controls his thoughts and never allows them to wander.

That was the seed for this novel. Once planted in my dangerously fertile mind, it grew quickly into a much larger and more menacing story, and it continued gaining complexity as I wrote. The original concept of growing up not using your imagination still exists in the novel, but now it's a small piece of a much larger story. Still, I'm grateful I acted on the original idea because it's what got me going.

What genre does your book fall under?

Psychological thriller is probably the best fit. Paranormal thriller or literary horror also work.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm. I don't keep up with the current crop of young actors, and this novel's main characters spend most of their time in the 18 - 21 year-old range. I'll cheat and take years off actors I know.

  • Sharon with her inner beauty and strength might be well played by a young Kathy Bates. 
  • Chris would need an intently-focused, intelligent, athletic type, like a young Matt Damon (or Jake Gyllenhaal?). 
  • The nerdy, insecure Rick character could be played very well by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 
  • Rothsirge, the daeva, has no physical self, but he definitely has a voice--deep, confident, and soothing, yet capable of conveying a booming evil. I gotta go with Kelsey Grammer doing Rothsirge's voice.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Sharon Linden tries to stop an ancient demon from dominating mankind and ends up the key to its success; her death will either empower the demon or destroy it.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm very pleased that Daeva is under contract with Aqueous Books, scheduled for release in June 2014.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft was quick for me, about four months. The hard work came in edits and all my self-imposed rewrites. I don't even like to think about how much time over the years I spent working on it, but I couldn't give up on this novel, and I'm glad I hung in there.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm never good at this question. Daeva is psychological, intricate, character-intensive, and it spans generations. And there's a demon driving the action. Maybe it's a little similar to the paranormal thriller The Passage by Justin Cronin, which also spans generations, has a strong paranormal element driving the action, and pays much attention to developing the characters and making them react to a supernatural threat. But there are many differences too. See, I'm just not good with this question, but there's my attempt at an answer.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My desire to show characters changing over time as they dealt with an unusual threat inspired me to write this one. Chris changes because he carries the demon in his mind, but Rothsirge also spent 50 determined years in Chris's grandmother's mind, and I enjoyed presenting those character changes too. Chris's sister never carried the demon in her mind, but Rothsirge altered her life because he impacted her family and threatened her beloved brother. And Rick was a childhood bully who felt Rothsirge's wrath, and his life was forever changed by the experience. With all of these characters, I show them first as children, then as adults who were at least partially molded by the demon's influence.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The psychological aspects of the novel add interest. Rothsirge the daeva can't act for himself, and he has all this supernatural power, but he can't use it. Only his hosts can. Rothsirge sounds helpless, but he's not. He dangles the power he can offer in front of his hosts like a carrot to steer them. He knows his hosts' every thought and desire, even feelings the host may not want to own up to, and this intimate knowledge helps Rothsirge become a master manipulator. Being immortal, he has plenty of time to wear down his hosts, so he can gently shape their personalities and trick them to become what he needs them to be. As long as he's crafty and patient -- which he certainly is -- he's not helpless at all.

Then there's another big psychological angle that picks up around the mid-point of the novel involving Sharon and the men who love her. I hinted at that aspect in my one-sentence synopsis above, and it's one of the psychological angles that grabs hold of a reader's interest. At least it grabs mine. I hope readers will agree.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Heavy November

I always think of November as an odd month, and not just because it is an odd month, being the 11th of the year. November feels heavy to me. Summer is a memory, there are no more refreshing swims outdoors, sweaters and jackets replace shorts and sandals, Halloween is over... We eat heavier, craving substantial portions of starches and hot, dense foods instead of warm weather foods like grilled fish, steamed veggies, and fresh fruits (watermelon is a summer passion of mine). And it's physically darker. Days are short, and the sunlight we have is often filtered by cloud cover (especially during my years in Vermont).

I sleep more in November. Some part of me remembers the hibernation instinct, I think. I get a prolonged surge of energy in September and October as cooler weather sets in, and then my energy disappears in November. A few months ago, I was bounding out of bed at 5:00 or 5:15, ready to make something of my day. Now I crawl out from under the covers around 6:30, feeling groggy from all the starch I ate the night before and still debating whether to roll over to go back to sleep. And I nap, sometimes over an hour, sleeping deeply enough that I'm groggy all over again when I wake.

Despite all those things, I like November. As a kid, I couldn't wait for it to bring me another birthday and make me a year older. Believe me, I've gotten over the excitement of getting older, but it's still "my month," as far as birthdays go. My partner and many friends also have November birthdays, and those celebrations lighten the month for me. And then there's Thanksgiving, a great reason to enjoy an elaborate meal with family and/or friends and a reminder to be thankful for all our many blessings.

And I like earth tones, and November certainly has that going for it.


So November is odd to me. It has little of the active appeal of September and October, but I still welcome this heavy period. It re-nourishes and replenishes my body and mind from all I managed to accomplish during the energetic lighter periods. That's got to be good, right? And the heaviness of November doesn't overstay its welcome. Usually once I've slept off the tryptophan of Thanksgiving and December arrives, things feel lighter again to me.

Life plays out in cycles, and I like that. In fact, I think I'll add that to my list of things to be thankful for this year. Right after I eat a baked potato and take a nap.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Creating suspense...and ending it

When we lived in Albuquerque, NM, I was a regular at SouthWest Writers events for very good reasons. They helped me become a better writer, I met fine folks and made good friends, and I had fun. It's a great organization, and I learned much from their programs, workshops, classes, conferences, and the contacts I made there. After a few years, I joined the board and soon after served for three years as an officer of SWW, trying to give a little back to the organization while still benefiting and still having fun.

I've missed my regular contact with SWW since we moved away, but I'm a lifetime member and stay in touch. For all you writers out there, even if you're nowhere near Albuquerque, their monthly online newsletter, the SouthWest Sage, is a great resource, and it's free. This month, I'm proud to have an article about creating suspense in the November issue of the SouthWest Sage. To view this issue of the Sage, click the SWW logo or CLICK HERE

And while we're on the subject of creating suspense, I recently created some suspense in the latest issue of my Horror with Heart Newsletter by holding a Trick-and-Treat contest. The winner receives an autographed paperback copy of my paranormal thriller, Dark Knowledge. Yesterday, on Halloween, I ended the suspense and announced the winner in the Halloween Howling Addendum to my newsletter.

The Goodreads give-a-way for a paperback copy of my paranormal thriller Struck also ended yesterday. 387 people from all over registered, and the winner is practically a neighbor in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's funny how sometimes things work out that way.

Seems like there's a national contest going on now that's creating some suspense, but I can't remember what it is right now because there's never anything about it on the news. Yeah, right. As much as I love creating suspense, I'll be toasting an end to it in five days.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Honoring a Monster

Monsters come in many forms. There's the monstrously misshapen but initially kind creature who is turned into a real monster by humanity's intolerance. There's the beautiful, seductive monster with sinister plans or unnatural and unholy appetites. There are human monsters, man-made monsters, reptilian monsters, alien monsters, demon monsters, dream monsters... There are just a whole heck of a lot of monsters hiding between the pages of a whole heck of a lot of novels out there. And now there's apparently a monster of a hurricane hybrid, Frankenstorm, lumbering toward the east coast. Best thoughts to everyone in its wide, wide path.

When monster can be defined in so many ways, how do you pick one as a favorite or the most terrifying or the most devious?

The difficulty of the decision makes me doubly quadruply proud that the very talented Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness and Broken but not Dead, chose Dark Knowledge for her Monstrous Monday selection. Click the Monstrous Monday graphic to go to Joylene's blog to see what she had to say. Then bookmark her blog. It's truly a favorite of mine, even before it honored Dark Knowledge this way.

Jack o'lanterns and give-a-ways

Yesterday I carved my first jack o'lantern since writing "The Pumpkin Lady." I'm a little nervous, especially with the full moon due to rise tonight and Halloween so close.



So in case I get Pumpkin Ladied this year, please accept my Horror with Heart wishes now that your Halloween is fun, frightful, and safe. And for your holiday reading, I remind you that my paranormal thriller, Struck, is in a Goodreads give-a-way that ends on Halloween. A signed copy of my paranormal thriller, Dark Knowledge, can be won by playing trick-and-treat with me as a Horror with Heart Newsletter subscriber.

And one more thing...BOO!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My return to bookstores

Well, it took me a little over two years after moving here to have my first Tucson book signing, but the paperback release of Dark Knowledge urged me out of my gargoyle-lined study and into the light of a bookstore. Two bookstores, actually. After such a long spell without a signing, I had two signing in two days this past weekend. Here's an iPhone photo of me at the first one.


Something tells me I was having a pretty good time. Thanks to Bookmans on Speedway and Bookmans on Ina for hosting me.

Since not all of you live in Tucson, not all of you could make it, but the paperback is now available on Amazon. Click the image of the Dark Knowledge poster below to grab a copy.


I also updated my handy-dandy purchase link blog post to include a link to this paperback along with the other links for purchasing Above Haldis Notch, Struck, and Dark Knowledge in all their forms at various online bookstores. Click the neon sign to visit the purchase link page.


And there's still time to play Trick-and-Treat with me for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Dark Knowledge. Details in the Halloween Howling issue of my newsletter. Hurry though. Entries must be received before Halloween.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Signings in Tucson

This just in...Dark Knowledge, the paperback! I know I'm partial, and perhaps that gargoyle on the cover has a face only a father can truly love, but I tell you, the book looks great, inside and out. I'm very pleased with the work Etopia Press did. And doesn't it look fantastic next to Struck, the paperback?



As you can see, I posted a sitter to watch over my paperbacks as they get acquainted, but I'm not sure I needed to. They're already getting along very well, which makes me a proud author.

I'm celebrating the paperback release of Dark Knowledge with two book signings here in Tucson this weekend at two different Bookmans.

On Saturday, October 20, I'll be at a local author's fair at Bookmans-Speedway. That's 6230 E. Speedway Blvd. The cross street is Wilmott. I'll be there from noon to 3 PM.
On Sunday, October 21, I'll be one of two horror authors doing a Halloween-themed signing at Bookmans-Ina. That's 3733 W. Ina Rd. The cross street is N. Thornydale. I'll be there from 11 AM to 2 PM.

I'll have Struck and Dark Knowledge at both signings. I hope if you're local-ish and available, you'll drop by. If you can't make it, either due to location or time restrictions, but you'd like a paperback copy of either novel, click on one of the following links to purchase at Amazon (currently the only place I know of where Dark Knowledge is available):

Struck           Dark Knowledge

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Howling

The latest issue of my Horror with Heart Newsletter, "Halloween Howling," went out this morning. It's full of news about Dark Knowledge's paperback release (today!), two Tucson book signings this weekend, the imminent release of Tango Sunday, and more.

In this issue, I'm also playing trick-and-treat (my variation of trick-or-treat) with newsletter subscribers and giving away a signed paperback copy of Dark Knowledge.

CLICK HERE to see the online version of "Halloween Howling."

By the way, if you want to subscribe to the Horror with Heart Newsletter, there's a gold box over on the right part of this blog (you may need to scroll down). Enter your name and email address and click the submit button. That's it. It's even easier to unsubscribe if you change you mind later. I typically send out 3 or 4 newsletters a year, but sometimes less, so I won't be swamping your in-boxes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Pumpkin Lady





About ready for Halloween? If not, maybe I can help. My short story, "The Pumpkin Lady," is posted as part of the Keepers of the Crypt event at Fictitious Musings. So screw up your courage, head over to the pumpkin patch, and have a read.









Click on the evil jack o' lantern to visit the pumpkin patch (the link is: http://www.fictitiousmusings.com/2012/10/12/have-you-met-the-pumpkin-lady-keith-pyeatt-will-introduce-you/). Be sure to bring a carving knife in case you want to make a jack o' lantern of your own while you're there.

Actually, bring a carving knife anyway.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Fictitious Musings reviews Dark Knowledge

My paranormal thriller, Dark Knowledge, received a glowing review today over at Fictitious Musings. Nice timing since the paperback release is about a week away. I'm a happy horror author these days.

Pyeatt has created an intense tale of horror that is one of the most gripping reads I’ve read this year. From the very first page, you are thrust into a story that has you begging for more. I really enjoyed being immersed into two very interesting worlds. Pyeatt has definitely created a twisted scenery that keeps you captivated. The good vs evil quality of the story really keeps you on your toes throughout the novel. There is so much more to the story than the good vs evil aspect; it is layered with emotion too.

Dark Knowledge has so much to offer readers. I highly recommend diving into Dark Knowledge if you’re looking for an entertaining read that is as dark as it is brilliant.


See why I'm happy?


Monday, October 01, 2012

Win Struck this Halloween

It's October, and October leads to Halloween, which leads to fun. I'm already ready. Can you tell? Fangs to Cullan Hudson and Fresh Eire Designs for making me into a vampire. Oops, I meant "Thanks to Cullan..."

To celebrate the month, I'm giving away a paperback copy of Struck over at Goodreads.com. Any time between now and Halloween, you can enter to win. On November 1st, Goodreads will pick the winner, and I'll send out the book.

I think you must be registered at Goodreads to enter. I know it's an easy process once you're registered, just a simple click on the "enter to win" button on Struck's giveaway page. And in the spirit of simple and easy, there's an "enter to win" button below that should work. (If it doesn't, would someone please post a comment to let me know?)

If you'd like to sample Struck to see if it's something that interests you, surf over to my website by clicking here: Sample Struck.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Struck by Keith Pyeatt

Struck

by Keith Pyeatt

Giveaway ends October 31, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Unwrapping a foil-covered pony

I've been having wild dreams for months now, with surges of dream activity that last about a week. I'm in one now. Last night, it was like dreams were fighting for attention. I'd shake one off and another would immediately form. I woke up at one point in the night and became conscious enough to remember about a dozen dreams. I thought by thinking about them for a moment, I might remember them all.

Nah. Most of them faded back to wherever it is forgotten dreams go (and I bet it's crowded there), but I do recall a few dreams and snippets of dreams. In one, there was a pony wrapped in aluminum foil nuzzling my hand. I could feel the warmth and moisture from his mouth somehow, even through the foil. He seemed content, but I couldn't help think that being covered in foil would harm him (duh!), so I decided to unwrap him right away. He was very trusting as I did so, and I wondered if he'd trusted the person who did this to him as well, and that made me angry and a little sad.

Then in one long dream, a psychotic Asian man entered my house through a window and was forcing me to make stew. ??? Yeah, figure that one out. I can't remember what it was he threatened to do if I didn't make the stew, but he looked like he meant business. As scary as this dude was to begin with, he mellowed throughout the dream and ended up teaching me to make stew instead of forcing me to do it. And no, I don't remember the recipe.

I've mentioned on this blog that I rarely have nightmares where I'm in danger or scared, but I had a good and creepy one last night. It started with a very odd situation and got worse. Our dog Tripp had a tongue like a frog's, and I watched as he caught flies that were buzzing against a wall. He kept shooting out that tongue, stabbing and stabbing at the flies, but then they congregated near an electrical outlet, and I became afraid that long, thin, wet tongue would hit an outlet and electrocute Tripp.

I went to stop him and felt something all over my face and head. I'd walked into an enormous spider web, and it was loaded with spiders and their prey. I reached up and found the web was all tangled in (what there is of) my hair. I pulled basketball-sized globs of web (with little black, squirming things in it) off my head, but I could still feel it, and I'd pull off more and more. I glanced in a mirror, and it looked like I had a thick wild mane of hair that hung past my shoulders, but it was all spider webs.

Then my father came around a corner. His eyes got wide at seeing me, but then I remembered he was dead, and the dream evaporated.

Actually, my father made several appearances last night. I don't remember all the details this morning, but his appearance kept breaking apart the dreams. I was certainly glad to see him during the spider web dream. More than ten years after his death, and he's still helping me out. Thanks, Dad.

A nice benefit of having all these dreams is that, with my imagination so engaged during the night, I woke with an idea for a little Halloween story I need to write about a pumpkin lady. And now I'm off to check Tripp's tongue, and you got to know I'll be watching for spider webs today.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Final Vision" on the near horizon

I put some finishing touches on a short story this past week, sent it off to Casa de Snapdragon Publishing, and look forward to seeing it in print soon. "Final Vision" is about an electrician who can see the future, longs for the past, and needs the present. I wrote it especially for a collection of short stories by Janet K. Brennan, because...wait for it...I'm the guest author in her upcoming collection. WooHoo!

Janet is a prominent writer, poet, publisher, and reviewer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We knew each other casually when I lived in Albuquerque, and the power of the internet allowed us to stay in touch after I moved to Tucson. Early this year, Janet had just finished reading my novel Above Haldis Notch, and I was engrossed in her autobiographical novel A Dance in the Woods, when I had a dream about a picture of a cottonwood tree proudly wearing its fall colors. In the dream, the picture created a bond between Janet and I. I wrote Janet about the dream. One thing led to another, which led to this short story being included in her upcoming collection, Tango Sunday. And yes, there's a significant scene involving a cottonwood tree wearing fall colors in my story.

The picture in my recent dream was a real one from my distant past. I took it at Lake Tanglewood, outside of Amarillo, Texas, back in the mid 70s. I remember it clearly. One crisp fall day on my morning drive into town, I saw the tree glowing gold in the morning sun, and I actually pulled over to appreciate the scene. I've never been a shutterbug, but the next morning, I had a camera beside me in the car, and when I rounded the corner, the early morning sunlight was making the cottonwood tree glow even brighter than before. I pulled over again and took a picture. It came out great, and I kept it for many years.

I should point out that the picture posted is of a cottonwood showing off its fall colors, but it isn't that picture or that tree or that setting. That picture's gone now. I looked and looked for it, but I just don't have it any longer. Durn. That's a shame, but it clearly made a strong impression on me to be popping up in my dreams 37 years later.

Thanks tree. And thanks Janet Brennan for suggesting I turn that dream into a story and for publishing it in the fine company of her stories.

Hmm. That old cottonwood tree made an impression, which resulted in a picture, which strengthened a memory, which worked its way into a dream, and now it's making another transformation into a short story that's about to be released for public consumption. Maybe I should have titled this post "Recycling Your Inspiration."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whisper in my ear - a horror writer's muse

Writers talk about their muses, and hey, I say if you've got one, good on you. I spend far too much effort plotting and scheming and re-plotting and rewriting and editing and editing and editing and editing... to believe there's a muse helping me tell my tale. I know where my stories come from -- my warped little brain. There's no muse for me. No way, no how.

Then this little fellow was captured in a picture of me at my desk during a plotting session for my work-in-progress.


Hmmm. Not exactly the image of a muse I see other writers envisioning for themselves, but the little bugger does seem to be whispering in my ear, doesn't he? And I do appear to be listening. Hmmm.

Okay, back to it. WE have plotting to do.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Side jobs for gargoyles

Gargoyles were originally used as water spouts. They shot rainwater that accumulated on the roof out away from the building so it wouldn't run down masonry walls and erode the mortar. *yawn* My gargoyles have a much more important and serious job. They watch (always!) and protect. They're also fun to hang with, as I showed about a year ago in my Horror Author's got Posse blog post.

I'm convinced one of my gargoyles, Targ, did a bit of modeling on the side and posed for the cover of my novel, Dark Knowledge. I mean...come on. Here's a photo of Targ next to the cover that the good folks at Etopia Press designed. Coincidence? I think not.


But I don't mind the gargoyles working jobs on the side. How could I mind when they're always so willing to do side jobs for me? 


Why just this morning, a very humid and warm one, I returned from a run completely soaked with sweat. I was too hot and tired to squat in the sun until my clothes dried, but thanks to my good-hearted gargoyle buds, I didn't have to. First Emmett, vigilant overseer of the pool and an expert at squatting in the sun, volunteered to wear my cap until it dried. 

Good ol' Emmett. He's often the first to volunteer for anything. 




Then Targ, who lurks in the garden and watches the yard (and who I suspect also models for book cover artists) stepped up. He refused to wear my sweaty shirt because he's got a thing about keeping his wings unfettered, but he agreed to hold it in his teeth. I'm hoping the aftertaste won't be too bad. 





Personally, I think sweet little Igor, guardian of the patio area, got the worst deal by offering to dry my socks on his head, but he smiled the entire time. I guess gargoyles don't have a well-developed sense of smell. At least Igor doesn't. 








So there you have it, reason #83 why it's good to have gargoyles -- they cheerfully help you dry sweaty athletic clothes when you're too tired to squat in the sun. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Which way did he go?

I've been missing from my own blog lately, but that doesn't indicate boredom. Quite the opposite. Life activities ramped up in February when we decided to move within Tucson. And yes, we did just move here, as you might recall from earlier posts. And yes, we did work like dogs to fix up our new house until it was juuuuust the way we liked it. We loved it, in fact, so what happened?

A listing came open in the neighborhood that was our first choice when we moved here two years ago. Location is a big thing for us, and not only was the listing in a great area, convenient to everything, it had immediate access to the Rillito River Path, a well-maintained and beautiful 24 mile bike/walking/running path alongside the Rillito River banks. Since I run, we both bike, and my partner walks the dogs each morning, we knew we'd love living close to the path. Doing so was our dream, but when we moved to Tucson, nothing was available, at least nothing that appealed to us in our price range. Then this house came on the market, and it seemed to be everything we wanted. The listing even claimed "move in condition," magical words at this point in our lives--if they were really true.


We tried to ignore the house. We weren't planning to move again. We hadn't even seen the house, and listings are designed to emphasize the good, hide the bad. Something would be wrong with it. We scoured the other listings and were surprised we had no interest in seeing any other homes. None of them had the perfect combination of features, price, and location, location, location that could make us move. We had to stop thinking about this house, and there was only one way to accomplish that. We called our Realtor. We emphasized that we weren't really house shopping, we only wanted to take a glimpse at this one house so we could see what's wrong with it and quit obsessing.

About ten seconds after stepping inside, we knew we'd make an offer. It was even better suited for us than we'd imagined, and it truly was "move in condition." We weren't the only ones who noticed. The next day, the owner had an offer. By that night, they had two, one of them ours. We crossed our fingers... 

We got it! That meant we had to get our house in perfect salable condition, list it, sell it, and move. We were still recovering from the last move and fix up, but we did it. Timing was interesting in that we were about to leave on a long awaited transatlantic cruise that would disembark in Rome, the biggest, longest, most elaborate vacation we'd ever taken. We closed on the new house one day, left for our vacation early the next morning, returned three weeks later. We were exhausted and jet-lagged after 23 straight hours of traveling to get from the Rome hotel to our doorstep, and now we had four days to move all our stuff and clean up the house for the new owners. We got busy!

It's all been worthwhile. We love it here. My office is wonderful. Here's the view from my desk in the morning. 

I haven't had a view I've enjoyed so much since Vermont. And below is our principal summer survival equipment. We learned in the last house how much we use and enjoy a private pool, and this new one has already received plenty of use during this extra hot summer in the desert.



So I've been quiet on the blog but happy and busy in life. And now I'm writing again, which makes me even happier. I have some exciting news to report about a short story, but I'll save that for my next blog entry. It'll be good incentive for me to return to more regular blogging activities. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fun with Fish Eye

Okay, I had a little time on my hands while waiting for a service man to arrive this morning, and I decided to figure out how I embossed a photo a couple years ago (click to refresh your memory). I figured it out, began playing around with other special effects options, and ended up with...Well, a series of modified pictures is worth a thousand modified words. I give you Fun with Fish Eye (and Circular Wave).


It's probably a good thing the service man came fairly early in the promised two hour window. Who knows what I might have come up with if I'd had more time? *shudder*

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Portugal, Spain. and Italy

That's where we've been the last 3 weeks. What fun! We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, visited two ports in Portugal and four in Spain, and then spent a few days in Rome before flying home to Tucson. We sailed on a Holland America ship, the Noordam, and it and all the crew were wonderful. Weather was perfect the entire trip. Sea days on the ship were incredibly relaxing (we spent part of each one in the thermal suite), and the port stops were great fun. Rome was crowded almost beyond belief but amazing. The one downside to the trip was the loooong travel day from Rome back to Tucson (23 hours), but that memory will soon fade, while the memories of the trip itself will linger in our minds and in our pictures. Like these!

Touring the White Villages of Cadiz, Spain.

Meeting an invisible man face to space in Cartagena, Spain.

On the streets of Cartagena.

A hallway leading to the Roman Theater ruins in Cartagena.

Jack & I at the Roman Theater ruins.

In Lisbon, Portugal.

Ah, the views from a fine horse in Malaga, Spain.

Pretty, foggy view in the Azores Islands, Portugal.

Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.

Church in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Turning an idea into a novel, one man's method

"Picking the Paranormal," my article about this author's method of expanding an idea to a premise to a concept and finally to a novel, is posted on fellow horror author Catherine Cavendish's BLOG. Take a trip over there by CLICKING HERE. Be sure to look around when you're done with my article. It's a great BLOG, and it provides a way to take a peek at Catherine's novellas.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Demonic Divas by Catherine Cavendish

I'm pleased to introduce a guest blogger today. I recently read Catherine Cavendish's novella, The Demons of Cambian Street, and I enjoyed it so much, I asked if she would come here and shed a little light on the dark world of demons for us.

Please give Cat a warm welcome and feel free to ask questions in the comment thread. Links to her novellas and ways to learn more about Cat are included below. Treat yourselves and take a look.


Demonic Divas

I love a good demonic diva, don’t you?

I have created a few in my time too and you’ll find two of them in my novellas, ‘Cold Revenge’ and ‘The Demons of Cambian Street’.

I’ll let you discover them for yourself but for now, I’d like to concentrate on some from the scary and mysterious world of legend and fable. There’s no shortage to choose from.

Let’s start with the Queen of them all—Lilith. She appears in just about every creation story covering most, if not all, the ancient traditions.

In Jewish tradition, she was the first wife of Adam, created, like him, out of the earth, to be his equal. But Lilith was sensual, refused to be subservient to him and was unfaithful with the Archangel Samael (who was a heady mix of both good and evil and, as the angel of death, on a par with Satan).

It may even have been Lilith who tried to tempt Adam with the apple. It all depends on which tradition you read. From Hebrew to Babylonian, Mesopotamian to Sumerian, they all have their Lilith legends.

Sexy, predatory, using men for all she could get, Lilith is frequently depicted as an irresistibly gorgeous-looking woman, with a heart as black as the night she favours. A template for evil divas everywhere, Lilith is irresistible.




But she is not alone. Don’t forget the infamous Gorgon, Medusa, of Greek mythology, her head a mass of writhing snakes (so you think you’re having a bad hair day!). She, or either of her two sisters, only had to glance at you and you were turned to stone.





Also from Greek tradition, we have Lamia, the half-woman, half-serpent vampire demon who preys on children, while, from Tibet, comes Palden Lhamo with her blue body, red hair and three eyes. Her favourite tipple was blood which she drank from a human skull. She was a feisty one who claimed that, if an image of her was erected, she would protect the Tibetan king’s shrine. It was, and she became known as the principal Protectoress of Tibet.






Then we should remember the Japanese Yuki-Onna whose irresistible beauty and misleading serenity are associated with snowstorms. She also enjoyed her pint of blood and beguiled unsuspecting young men to lonely and remote places where she then drank them dry or froze them into a block of ice…Delicious!

Yes, for power, irresistibility and sensuality, there is nothing like a demonic diva. They can keep many a paranormal writer—and reader— entranced for years.

Long may they reign!






A big ‘Thank you’ to Keith for allowing me to ‘hijack’ his blog today. If you would like to find out more about my demons, ‘Cold Revenge’ and ‘The Demons of Cambian Street’ are both published by Etopia Press and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, and other online booksellers.


Come and connect with me on my blog: Catherine Cavendish and on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads (as Catherine Cavendish).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finally, a new hero of the treadmill

It's been a long while since I posted a hero of the treadmill song, but there's a reason for that. And no, it's not because I've become a lazy bum who sits around all day eating bonbons. We sold our treadmill when we moved to Tucson, and I run outside year round now. But today, just a couple days short of spring, Tucson looks like..Well, I took the picture to the left this morning. That's tiny hail, not snow, but still...it's raw out there. 

So, being a fair weather runner, I gathered up my iPod and headed to the gym for a treadmill run and workout. I recently modified my iPod's "workout" playlist, and when a newly-added Stevie Wonder song came on, I fell into a groove. The beat was perfect, and within seconds I forgot I was panting and sweating and pounding along without going anywhere. My only problem was remembering not to dance while running (dangerous on a moving treadmill) or nod my head around too much to the beat (people tend to point and laugh).

I didn't hurt myself dancing, but I won't reveal whether or not I entertained the gym with my head nodding. Regardless, here's today's Hero of the Treadmill.