Friday Free-For-All

Hello dark and lovelies!

It’s mid-October, and I can FEEL Halloween everywhere I go. The leaves are turning, and the air is brisk, skies are gloomy, and for me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. My husband is not a Halloween person, not like I am. Oh, he enjoys taking the kids trick-or-treating and the bonfire we have with our neighbors each year. It is quite a fun bit of tradition. The kids have their costumes: a fairy, a red Power Ranger, and Vampire Mickey Mouse. I’ve never really been one to dress up the dogs for Halloween, but surely a devil dog and hellhound don’t need costumes, right?

So with Halloween coming, I like to watch scary movies. Scream has a special place in my heart because it mixed horror with comedy, and it’s actually pretty nostalgic for me. It still holds up surprisingly well. But my favorite Halloween film is, of course, the original Halloween directed by John Carpenter. Also, it’s really cool if you can watch The Inside Story about the making of the movie and see what went on to get the film made and all the behind-the-scenes action.

As far as spooky TV shows, I’m a sucker for things like A Haunting, An Amish Haunting, and Celebrity Ghost stories. They’re cheesy as hell but also pretty entertaining. I will sometimes turn them on to watch/listen to while puttering about the house. I do love American Horror Story, and this years version Hotel is pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart. I do take some issues with some of Murphy’s go-to shock devices, and I’m still working on how to reconcile the parts that really bother me with the storytelling that I tend to enjoy. Sure, horror is designed to create unease in the viewer or reader, but I don’t know how far to take that unease over into repulsion. On the flip side, I was unsure about Scream Queens on Fox. I was underwhelmed by the first two episodes, but somewhere around episode 3, it has appeared to find its stride. It’s campy and corny, which is intentional, and still pretty damn gory for network TV, but it’s not something that’s going to disturb me into staying up all night, which AHS can do at times.

A couple of quick treats about THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS: yesterday it hit number one in Amazon’s New Releases for Teens and YA in LGBT issues, which I was really stunned and happy to learn, and it’s not available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble. Look, I hate hawking my books, but pre-orders are critical, especially for newer authors who are still trying to prove their worth to their publishers. Yes, it’s still a while off before MQM publishes, but even if the pre-order is bought before it’s dropped down in price for sale, a lot of retailers will give you the lowest pre-order price once the book is released.

Also, October has found me doused in black paint (rehabbing an old desk) and wearing a sling as I’ve injured my rotator cuff in my shoulder. It kinda sucks. The nice thing about October is that two of my littles have their birthdays this month, so there has been a surplus of cake in my house, which is always awesome.

Scare you soon,
S

Friday Free-For-All

This Friday brings me to the end of a week that has left me tired and humbled and heartened. And I have thoughts.

1.) Writers cannot write alone. We need someone to check our work and call us on stupid things. However, I cringe when people claim to be harsh and brutal critique partners. That, to me, sounds like someone getting their jollies by bringing down another author’s works. There are more constructive ways to critique someone rather than saying, “This sucks.” If you have a suggestion for where to improve a critique partner’s work, you can couch in saying, “This is my opinion and this is why I think this adds/takes away from the story.” Things like drawing big red slashes through a critique is not about helping the author in need; it’s you feeding your ego. Don’t be that person. The flipside is that you also don’t want to be the person where every comment is, “YAY, I love this.” That’s great to hear, but it doesn’t help the author know where they need improvement because NO ONE has a golden pen that drips ink harvested from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. NO ONE.

2.) This week marked 11 years since my mother died, and it was a strange passing of time for me. One part grief. One part extremely bitter at the doctors who did not listen to her as their patient, dismissed her pain as imaginary, and ultimately sped up her death. And all this has led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about emotions and personal causes and how so much of the things we champion are because of the emotion we feel.  I try very hard not to be a bitter or angry person. I try very hard not to be negative. I’m not a Sunshine Bunny, but it doesn’t pay to be upset or pissed off all the time. Your body and mind will like you better if you learn acceptance. This is not to say that you shouldn’t bring the fury when it’s warranted. We all have our soapboxes. One of mine is healthcare, mental and physical. Because I’ve seen what it looks like when patients are dimissed. Because I know what it’s like to go to the ER and have the doctor see in my record that I suffer from panic attacks and assume I’m there to get a sedative when in reality I’m in a lot of pain and very scared. If you have the ability to channel your emotions into an outlet that reaches others, use it for good. Do not merely bark into the wind, as my friend Heather Reid calls it. There are better ways of reaching ears through thoughtful dialogue rather than, “You’re wrong. I’m right.” All that’s going to do is turn people away.

3.) A few mornings this week have felt like autumn is coming. And autumn means all of my favorite things like stormy gray skies, pumpkins, orchards, and Halloween. My kids have already picked out their Halloween costumes. My littlest is going to be a vampire Minion this year. Because he’s awesome. For me, autumn is the time of year that I want my books extra creepy, and there are some coming out soon that need some love. THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich was one of my favorite reads earlier this year and it will hit stores in the US next month. Also, look out for SWEET MADNESS by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie, because who doesn’t want a story about Lizzie Borden? The last book I’m going to recommend is BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett. It’s beautiful and haunting. Do make sure to grab this one up.

That’s all for now!

See you on the dark side.

S

Spooktober is coming!

I can’t believe it’s the last day of September already, and that means October is coming.

October is that glorious month of gray skies, crows, and pumpkins on all the doorsteps. I was supposed to be born in October and came early, but every year, October was the month I looked forward to most.

The decorations are up. The kids have decided their costumes this year (Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Iron Man, and Scooby Doo). The mornings are drenched with fog and chilly. I send my little monsters off to school and promptly begin planning the horror of my characters. Not a bad way to spend the day.

And this year, October also means the advent of the YA Scream Queens. Ten YA horror writers to watch. One blog. All spooky, all the time. You’ve been warned…