Do you know Krampus? The dark side of Santa. The one who punishes the naughty by throwing them in his sack. You better watch out, for Gothic Blue Book VI: A Krampus Carol is out now and waiting to share tales of this creature of the season.
And my story “The Path” waits for you too.
Edited by Cynthia Pelayo and Gerardo Pelayo, Gothic Blue Book VI is out now for Kindle and paperback. With 31 stories and poems, there’s one creepy Krampus tale for each day of December.
When I saw the call for submissions for this, I knew I wanted to submit something. I loved the whole idea. But what to write?
Initially, I wondered about the story of Krampus coming to get someone. But that felt wrong.
Then I thought of one of my favorite Christmas movies…Krampus. I thought of the final scene in that movie, where the family is trapped by Krampus in a snowglobe…that snowglobe sitting on a shelf with so many others. That scene always sends my mind humming with creative wonder. What does happen to those taken by Krampus?
A snowglobe on a shelf? Or something else?
Then the character of Grayson spoke up…about his life, his struggles, his anger. And I began to uncover this ten year-old’s situation. I carefully extracted the reason he was taken by Krampus…and where he ended up after a trip in Krampus’ sack.
Many decisions are reactions to emotions. Anger being the strongest. Unfortunately, dealing with the consequences of those actions can be difficult, traveling the path created can only lead to darkness.
Over 150 people submitted. I didn’t think my little tale stood a chance. When I got the acceptance e-mail, from Krampus’ personal assistant, left me honored and feeling extremely lucky. So, here’s your reminder to try. Always try. Never give up.
I can’t wait to read all the stories and poems.
Look out in December, as I read one a day and blog about them. Buy your own and read with me!
Earlier this year, a person from my writers’ group decided to get authors together and publish a mystery anthology. Introduce fans of certain authors and genres to a wonderful world of words they might not find otherwise.
And she asked me to contribute! Not that I have “fans”…seriously, some of the authors in this anthology have several books out. But a chance for me to put more of my weird out into the ‘Verse was tempting.
However, as I prepared to e-mail back a “yes, I sure will”, I paused. For the word MYSTERY stared at me with its little beady eyes. Mystery? I don’t do mysteries. To help connect the different genres and styles, we would use the game of Clue as inspiration, each choosing a color, murder weapon, and room.
How could I pass up the opportunity? I told her I would try to come up with an idea, claimed purple (Prof Plum) and a candlestick in an attic (because creepy lives there), and my brain chewed on all sorts of thoughts.
But that darn mystery part.
I don’t read, watch, or write mysteries, so have no idea how to plot one, not that plotting is really my thing anyway.
As my creative gears began to turn…I wondered if maybe I do watch mysteries…
I love horror. Horror everything. It’s October right now and my house is covered in skulls. I watch many horror movies, some of my favorite include haunted houses…ghost stories.
And aren’t those mysteries? A spirit remains, a secret trapping them in a pocket of emotion, wrapped in an unresolved moment of their life. The 1980 film The Changeling (really good movie!) did an excellent job of giving clues to solve the mystery of the ghost.
So…all I had to do was create a past and present, two timelines linked by similar stories and emotions. Because I love when everything ties together! Once I knew who died and how, all I had to do was leave clues in a very ghostly manner for the poor twin teen girls who visited the attic, well, were drawn to the attic…
This was my first attempt at dual POV, wanting to give the tale from two different perspectives. One twin connected to the ghost and overcome by the leftover emotions that mirror her own. The other, the protector, the one fighting for freedom from what resides in the attic, and maybe freedom from something else as well. As they learn what happened in the past, they start to deal with new feelings and thoughts that had crept into their minds after they moved. But can they rid the attic of the ghost before the ghost sinks its invisible teeth into them?
I’m not telling.
And here it is!
Blurb from Amazon: Murder comes in 7 different genres. By 7 different authors. Are you a fan of courtroom drama? In the anthology’s first story, Abraham Lincoln defends a friend’s son against a charge of murder. For lovers of speculative fiction, Jason Fogg dissolves into mist to sneak through open windows and snoop for clues. How about a cozy? Jazzi, Jerod, and Ansel discover a dead body while renovating a kitchen, dining room, and half bath. Have a craving for a Regency? Lord Peregrine and his wife, Elizabeth, use their sharp minds and quick wit to solve a murder at a garden party. Need a bit of literary fiction? A young, lonely widow must deal with the theft of a valuable butterfly collection. And what about a little psychological horror? Twin sisters discover that their attic is haunted by not one, but two ghosts. Last, but never least, the anthology concludes with a historical mystery. A young, newly married knight is accused of murdering his obnoxious host at a holiday gathering in his castle.
I struggled to write this story. And I worried that my ghost story sitting among tales penned by more established authors would cause readers to ask what the heck that story was doing in there?
A few reviewers have chosen mine as one of their favorites, which surprised and delighted me. Thank you to everyone who picked up this book and enjoyed the seven tales of murder. Seven very different tales. I finally sat and read them and found each story, from cozy, to regency, to a little paranormal fogginess, to historical, held a new, engaging voice and a fun tale of whodunnit. There is something for everyone in Murder They Wrote.
Today, a book is released into the wild. An anthology.
And my story Faithless is in it!
I wrote this story a couple years ago for an anthology looking for asylum stories. I read it in my writers’ group, and had mixed reactions. Some people liked it and one or two wanted something else. Something more…asylum residents getting out and killing. But I didn’t want it to be the usual asylum story. So I cleaned it up and submitted it.
It was rejected.
But, I liked this story. I liked that it was different. So I let it sit until I found another place to send it.
One. Two. Three rejections…and I would not give up. Faithless would find a home…somewhere.
And it has.
Not where I thought it would, not in the publication I wrote it for. That’s how it goes.
Publishing. An interesting world of you-never-know-so-never-ever-give-up. What are the editors looking for when they put together a line up of stories for an anthology or magazine? Only they know.
My story was rejected. More than once. I did wonder if the writing smelled like dog poop, or the story left the reader with a whole bunch of confusion.
But I believed in it.
Sure, rejections happen because a story isn’t well-written or doesn’t make sense. But they can mean that the words don’t fit, the story isn’t quite what they were looking for. And with all sorts of people submitting, the choices can be great and choosing can be difficult.
If you remember, I have begun my first attempt at writing middle grade. A creepy little tale of being lost. Of the journey to find oneself and, maybe, helping others along the path.
It’s an idea I had years and years ago, an idea that finally solidified.
Can I write middle grade? Can I leave the young adult world of teen angst, of realizing there is more to the world than parents and school, of beginning to forget the magic of childhood? Can I write for those who still believe, who look to parents and teachers for guidance, who live in he small world of home and siblings and friends?
I’ve always loved middle grade books. My kids were that old not too long ago and we read all sorts of things. Adventures! Magic! Friendships!
But since writing mine, I’ve dug deeper into the category. I want to know where my book will fit when finally it makes it onto a shelf. So I am reading all the middle grade I want!
And I discovered something.
I LOVE IT HERE!
This is my happy place. I have read a few REALLY good books. Books full of emotion. Books full of wonderful friendships. Of relationships between parents and kids, between siblings. Maybe it’s just me, but I am enjoying that fact that there is no expectation of who will fall in love, or lust, with who. I have enjoyed just good friendships and stronger sibling relationships. When you’re a kid, strangers are possible friends…though some kids are better at making them. When you’re a kid, parents aren’t trying to ruin your life. When you’re a kid, you might not be able to interpret all the emotions, but you feel them. Though kids know more than adults give them credit for.
Kids can handle a lot.
They know a lot.
They feel everything.
But most of all they love adventure! Magic! So I am trying to get all this in my manuscript.
And I will continue to read middle grade. Let me share with you some of my favorites.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle…soon to be a movie!
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Tookby Mary Downing Hahn
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi
Journey’s End by Rachel Hawkins
Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu
And I just started… My Diary at the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson and I AM SO HOOKED ON THIS ONE!
My Nowhere series will fit nicely in there! When it’s done…when I find an agent…when it is published…ummm…yeah, I have work to do and a bit of luck to find.
Years and years ago, after picking up a few books at the library, I discovered the author Neal Shusterman. I first read his Dark Fusion books and loved them.
Then I found Downsiders…
and became a Neal Shusterman fan. I searched the library for his books, reading all they had. Here are some… go find more here. Have I read all of his books? Nope. But I am working on it.
All of them are fantastic! Don’t forget Bruiser…or Scythe. Have you read them? WHY NOT?
When I came across Unwind…
Seriously. So many feels. So many thoughts. So many mind altering ideas.
Well, it’s the first in a series…so I set out to read the rest, but the rest hadn’t been written, so I set them aside because I WANT TO READ THEM ALL IN A ROW.
I have four…however, there is a fifth I have to buy…waiting for me to immerse myself in the stories.
My sister and her family came to visit over Labor Day weekend and my niece approached me and said, “We’re reading Unwind in school.”
“UNWIND…NEAL SHUSTERMAN’S UNWIND? THAT IS ONE OF MY VERY FAVORITE BOOKS! HAVE YOU STARTED IT?”
My niece might have been a little scared by my outburst, but she knows me, so she got over that. My sister then filled me in on the e-mail the teacher sent home about the book to prepare the parents.
This is no ordinary story, kids. The parents needed to be prepared.
This is a book that can spark a million discussions, that can change perspectives on…so many ideas.
Because of this very thing, my sister decided to read it too. Well, she has devoured the series.
Unwind takes place in a future where there was a second civil war between the Pro-life and Pro-choice camps. This book deals with the laws that were set up to stop that war. This book deals with kids trapped within these laws. This books deals with big questions.
And it does it well.
IT DOES IT WELL.
A beautifully written book. Great characters. A fabulous overall idea that hits you right in the heart.
Bravo to the teacher that decided to let her eighth graders read it. Bravo to the teacher for informing the parents. Bravo to the parents, like my sister, who picked up the book themselves ready to talk about it with their kids.
I hear a lot of people talking about the books they want to read, books taking place in a world they want to live in, books showing a society they want to be a part of. Maybe books should show us a better world, maybe art show show people what is possible. But so many things are possible. Not good…not bad…just possible.
Is the world in Unwind one people want to live in? Probably not. The laws enacted to stop the war…are problematic. Are hurtful. Are scary.
Unwind is disturbing. One chapter in particular really made my head spin.
But it made me think. It made me see the world differently. It affected me.
Good books should do that. Good books don’t have to show us a world we want, but show us what is possible, make us face what could happen, make us stare at what humanity is capable of and question.
In the questions, we grow, we learn, we become better.
Unwind did this for me. It puts humanity on display.
I’ve been following Summer for a long time on Twitter and FB and have met her at Midwest Writers Workshop…so, when her debut book released, I was intrigued. When I saw it, sitting there to buy at Midwest Writers last month, I bought it. When I asked her to sign it, her face lit up like Christmas…seriously if you ever get to go up to an author and ask them to sign their book, DO IT!
Anyway. I knew this book was VERY different than what I normally read. VERY DIFFERENT kinda doesn’t even cover it. But, I gave it a shot.
I struggled in the beginning. I doubted that I would finish it, the character voice was good, there was plenty of conflict, but I was unsure. There were other books calling to me. So I told myself to get to the halfway mark and see. And somewhere in the middle of a story about fixing broken vaginas and baking cupcakes, I began to care. I finished it yesterday with a smile on my face. Well-written. Great characters that I could relate to. There was kissing and a love story. Oh my. But I bought that love story, it felt real. There were great friendships, people I wanted to be friends with. But more than that. An emotional journey was hidden beneath the folds of snark. Emotions I understood.
In the end, I enjoyed the book.
So, just goes to show you that climbing out of your happy rut can be a good thing. The world is bigger than my rut. I did know that. I do know that. As hard as it is to stride into the land of different, it’s necessary to do. To remind ourselves that we are more than likes and dislikes, that we are more than this one color we wear. We are complex beings, who need to feed all the parts of ourselves.
Try something different. All that can happen is it doesn’t work…or maybe it will.
I mean, sure, I pulled out a YA horror book to read after, but…yeah.