Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Tag Break!

My friend and enviably talented writer Tricia O'Brien, author of a very special dark fairy tale (I've read a's awesome with a capital A!) has thoughtfully "tagged" me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. At first, I thought a bloghop was perhaps a toad-like creature with a tail like a rat and the aroma of last week's guacamole, but then she explained the concept, and I appreciated her thoughtfulness for including me! Here are the questions I was asked to answer:

What is the working title of your next book?        MISMATCHED BONES

Where did the idea come from for this book? The ideas for my stories come from that harmless-looking cottage in my imagination that is surrounded by autumn trees and singing bluebirds... and filled to the rafters with boiling cauldrons, not-quite-normal rabbits, overturned vials of unwise curiosity, steam-driven birds with very pointed beaks, butterflies with stingers, peanut butter and toadstool sandwiches, talking foxes and a locked trunk containing a straight-jacketed sock monkey.

What genre does your book fall under? I haven't a clue. Grown-ups read 'em and so do grown-up kids. My stories have jeepers-creepers, mystery, dark humor and often paranormal elements... so I just call them dark tales.

What actors would you choose to play the part of the characters in a movie rendition? Hmmm. I've got no one particular in mind, but remember that movie from the seventies called Trilogy of Terror -- in which Karen Black played the lead in all three of the horror shorts? I love that concept, and it would be nifty to have one actress do that for three of my stories on the big screen.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? Watch out for coyotes, take that necklace off NOW, don't take that trail, avoid dating a serial killer, fear alien babies and look underneath the stairs. (Yeah. I know. I have to live with this imagination.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I self-published my other stories: Becker, Not Like Other Girls and Stirring Up Spiders as e-books for Kindle. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment-- formatting the books and creating my own covers. I plan to do that with this one.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? Another tough question. I have been working on a middle grade historical novel for over a year now, and it is like building a house. Hard, labor-intensive, time consuming. But the short stories I write are first-drafted usually in one sitting. I just love it when a snippet of overheard conversation or strange and unusual news story sparks that flood of creative energy, and I'll type away until it coalesces into something dark and original.

What other books would you compare this to in your genre? I'd say if you looked up collections of short horror stories, then it would be there, hopefully along with the likes of King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes (a girl can dream).

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I want to say I've always loved creepy tales. But in truth, I was pretty much a reader of horse stories and Florence Nightingale biographies as a child. As a teen, I developed an embarrassing devotion to Harlequin romances. (It was a small town. We had a bookmobile.) Once I left home for college, I discovered (drum roll) Clive Barker. I know, you thought I was going to say Steven King. He followed soon enough, along with Richard Matheson. I was hooked on stories of the strange and terrible from then on.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The stories are short, some of them even qualify as 'flash fiction', which makes them perfect for reading while you wait for your torture dentist appointment, or for the sandman to take you to the land of nightmares pleasant dreams. Hopefully they will inspire you to see beyond the ordinary and into the dark world of what-if...

Here's a  bite-sized sample, from the story 'Coyote':
"Leia screamed—her old voice tearing on the high, raw notes as she tried to get down the steps to save her dog. Dad held her back, fear of the coyotes twisting his features. Mom pulled Evie’s face against her side so she couldn't see the terrible thing anymore. But of course she could still hear it."

I tried to get a few more folks on board for a hop, but they're all, writing. And that's what I'm off to do now, so thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Adventures of "Indi-Annie Jones"

Since my last post was in... um, October may have wondered if I'd fallen off the face of the earth-- but actually, I only got as far as Central America. My adventure in January to Belize and Guatemala was amazing, exciting, challenging, and filled with all the greens and blues and turquoise of the Caribbean sea,  the ivory of sandy beaches and stone temples, the gold of fried plantains and the red of sunburn and mosquito bites!

 I discovered a few years ago that despite thinking all my life I was afraid of heights...I'm not! But I do have a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out)... thus I HAD to climb every temple...just in case I missed another spectacular view!
From the jungles to the ocean...and a tiny, pristine island called Laughing Bird Caye...
...where I faced my fear of wading into the ocean, swimming in the ocean, putting my face into the ocean, getting stung/bitten/eaten by something in the ocean, drowning for no good reason in the ocean... get the idea? Anyway... I took a big breath, strapped on the mask and fins and DID IT! It was awesome.
 This is one proud adventuress. FYI, that pale skin? Lobster by the end of the day.

All that hiking/climbing/swimming meant I needed fuel... and what could satisfy more than fresh live termites...
...seriously, they taste like carrots. 
For the more traditional meal, there was a bowl of hot, delicious Cow Foot Soup.

One of my favorite  experiences... canoeing into the silent, black, sacred recesses of what the ancient Mayan called "The Place of Fear and Darkness".
Barton Creek Cave. Spectacular and often a bit tight to navigate. I tried my best not to overturn our three man canoe as I played NatGeo photographer in the bow!
That skull is many hundreds of years old, embedded in the limestone of the cavern wall. 
Possibly the remains of a human sacrifice.
Moment of silence and awe now, for all things ancient and mysterious.

And then, of course, the thing I'm least afraid of...critters! They're what I live for when exploring.
 Curious coatimundi.
 Basking crocodile.
Noisy  howler monkeys!
The elusive harpy eagle (this one in a rescue facility...isn't he gorgeous!)
 There was a rescued jaguar there, too. We didn't see one in the wild, but saw a ton of cat footprints along the muddy trails in the Jaguar Sanctuary.
My favorite new bird...a "nightjar"...can you see her roosting on the branch? She will fly out at night, making a "poor will, poor will" sound, and eat moths. Yum.
A tapir. Ugly and proud of it. We were warned not to get too close to the tapirs... they pee on you when they get excited. Nice.
Everyone's favorite tropical bird!

I could go on and on...but  you should go adventuring yourself, and see the ancient ruins, taste the termites, and smell the tapirs! My own journey was amazing, beautiful, surprising, educational and unforgettable. Yours will be, too.