30 Days of Fright kicks off tomorrow!

And the first post will be up later tonight. My computer is doing everything possible to reject WordPress, so I’ll do everything I can to make sure we stay current.

A note about format and content: the bulk of all the short fiction I will be posting is rated a solid PG-13. Some stories are lightweight, some are more like a strong ‘R,’ but nothing truly graphic should pop up. Still, I will note whether a story has anything I think most readers would find ‘controversial,’ (unlikely) or contains anything readers younger than 18 should steer clear of.

I will also probably be throwing in author’s notes at the end of each post, just in case any of you are curious about my process.

See you tomorrow!


If you haven’t entered our horror fic contest yet…

…you still have a few days. In fact, I’m toying with the idea of extending the entry deadline a couple of weeks, just to make things interesting.

To recap: entries can be of any style or subject, as long as you don’t send me your novel or include any ultra-graphic language or content. Please send them in the body of an e-mail (no attachments) to:


Official deadline: October 1, 2015.

Unofficial deadline: Maaaaybe October 10th or so, but don’t push it.

Happy writing.

Fiction suggestions for the early fall days.

It’s raining here.

While this is not a new phenomenon in Oregon Land, (I can hear you chuckling) it definitely puts me personally in the mood to do more light reading than heavy stuff. So here are some suggestions for scary/horror books that are entertaining and enlightening and (probably) won’t tax your brain power too severely.

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson. An adorable and gently spooky novel about a family who could charitably be described as…different. Two sisters, one cat–spooky hijinx that ensued and, er, consumed their relatives. Really great read, and may change your perspective on Jackson’s range and depth as an author.

2. Tree of Hands, by Ruth Rendell. This one is a great mystery, not a traditional horror novel, but is creepily engaging never the less. A note about content–this isn’t the book for those with ‘mother troubles,’ or issues related to the care of senior relatives.

3. Rose Madder, by Stephen King. I just finished this a couple of months back. I find it to be one of Stephen King’s best, and curiously heard it described by the author as one of his least frequently read novels. I can heartily recommend it for its strong female protagonist and shocker of an ending.

Stay warm. It’s getting cold out there.

The Muse is a harsh mistress.

A few thoughts on that elusive, but definitely popular, art myth.

Do you believe in a muse? This question is mostly rhetorical and mostly for writers, but you can think about it even if you’re not one.

I used to think the idea was ludicrous. I mean, I’m the one churning out the words, aren’t I ‘in charge’?

Maybe it’s because I’m superstitious, maybe it’s because I’ve been at this long enough to know (or feel I know) now, but I totally believe in the idea of a muse. A not-entirely-rational entity (or energy) that helps spur creative activity.

I know some of you out there, especially those who didn’t read my post about The Secret, are probably thinking, “Visualization! Manifestation! Spirit guides!” That’s all very well and good, and I’m comfortable with the possibility of those things, too, but in my experience The Muse is something different entirely.

Example:  just the other day, I’d really been struggling on a short story, tooling away at it for the better part of four days, and all of a sudden, not only do I feel it’s going great, or, at least, better, because it’s going somewhere, but I suddenly have a bolt from the blue solution to a plot problem (specifically, the absence of one) in a separate piece I’d been frustrated by.

Felt pretty Muse-y to me.

The hallmark of Muse-related phenomena (for moi) is spontaneous bouts of revitalization for my otherwise burned out brain. The other big clue that Muse has returned or is now paying attention would be those eureka moments when my writing issues suddenly sort themselves out in ways I’m sure I couldn’t have achieved on my own.

At this point, I’m sure some of you are also going, “Right brain! Right brain activity.” I get that, I really do. I also used to annoy other writers in workshops by following those kinds of sentiments with others like, “I really don’t enjoy romanticizing the creative process.” Yeah. That got old.

And lemme tell you something else—don’t ignore your muse. And don’t be throwing away or otherwise neglecting to at least try to give her generous help the facility it needs on page or screen. That? Never goes anywhere good.

RIP, Wes Craven.

I’m feeling a little guilty that I missed the news stories about horror film legend Wes Craven’s death from brain cancer.

Although I began this blog with a caveat that I wanted it to have a softer tone than a Craven film, I forgot to mention the many happy hours I’ve spend watching Craven films. (The Scream trilogy is a personal favorite.)

This Hollywood Reporter article is definitely worth a look-see, as it contains a few tidbits about him that I’d never read before. Apparently, he dabbled in non-horror work, (with Meryl Streep no less) and wrote at least one novel.


I’m also impressed that he produced a lot of his best stuff after age fifty, and was still working in the last years of his life. It’s hard to love this genre that much. Trust me.