Zombie Crawl 2 – My First Zombie Movie

Copyright clearviewstock

Copyright clearviewstock

I’m excited to be participating in the Zombie Crawl this year. I have to admit that I had no idea what I was going to write about. I don’t have a zombie story out yet. And I don’t have one in progress either but I do have an idea simmering on the back burner. So with no zombie fiction in my immediate future what would I write about? It got me thinking about zombie movies. Of all the ones I’ve seen I still love the one that got me started on the genre to begin with. The first zombie movie I ever saw was Night of the Comet. It’s been ages since I’ve seen it so I don’t remember all of it. It’s a horror comedy about Valley girls who survive a comet that turns people into zombies. The ones it didn’t kill and turn to dust that is. I remember why the survivors of the comet survived. The things that stick out the most are the sisters hitting the mall. I remember the guy they find when they think no one else survived. I vaguely remember the end of the movie. I think I remember the sisters the most because I watched the movie with my sister. We talked about it a lot over the years because we loved the mall scenes. What teenage girl wouldn’t love to go to a mall and be able to take anything they wanted with no consequences? I’d looked for the movie on DVD after we watched it but didn’t find it until at least ten years later. I did buy it. We both liked it but she didn’t move on to other zombie movies like I did.

Of course I like the classics – Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead. New classics – 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Shaun of the Dead. I loved Warm Bodies. After watching, and liking World War Z I want to read the book. With today being Halloween it’s the perfect day to get comfy on the sofa, make some popcorn and throw on some zombie movies.

-Now for the GIVEAWAY!-

PRIZE: $10 Amazon gift card!

Three ways to enter:
1. Like my Facebook OR Twitter. (one entry per follow)
2. Sign up for my newsletter (one entry)
3. Leave a comment telling me what steps you’ve done above and tell me what your favourite zombie movie is. (one entry)

NOTE: The contest will stay open through out the blog tour, ending October 31st.

Make sure you visit ALL the participants throughout the tour to get your complete zombie fix!

z crawl schedule

Zombie Crawl 2 – Blog Party

October 22 – 31, 2015

by Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans

How it works: Each day, the scheduled authors and bloggers will post awesome zombie-tastic content for your enjoyment along with a giveaway on their site/blog/page. You can hop around to all of the participating sites and enter as many giveaways as you like! If you would like to be emailed links to the new posts each day, join this Zombie Crawl Daily Digest list which will ensure you don’t miss a post (or join the party on Facebook to get notifications). Make sure to leave comments and interact with the participating sites. Thanks for joining the party!

The Schedule:

OCTOBER 22 – Thursday

Band of Dystopian Authors & Fans (Party & Grand Prize Host)

Jo Michaels Blog (author)

Rissa Blakeley (author)

OCTOBER 23 – Friday

Claire C. Riley (author)

2 Girls & A Book (blog)

Emily Shore (author)

OCTOBER 24 – Saturday

Kathy Dinisi (author)

Us Girls & A Book (blog)

The Voluptuous Book Diva (blog 18+)

OCTOBER 25 – Sunday

Casey L. Bond (author)

THE KATY blog (blog)

OCTOBER 26 – Monday

Saul Tanpepper (author)

Warren Fielding (author)

The Leighgendarium (blog)

OCTOBER 27 – Tuesday

Kody Boye (author)

Rhiannon Frater (author)

ER Arroyo (author)

OCTOBER 28 – Wednesday

Allen Gamboa (author)

Armand Rosamilia (author)

Ethan @ One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads (blog)

OCTOBER 29 – Thursday

Kate L. Mary (author)

aftershockzombieseries (author)

Eli Constant (author)

OCTOBER 30 – Friday

Aria Michaels (author)

Brian Parker (author)

Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps (blog)

OCTOBER 31 – Saturday

Cindy Carroll (author)

M. R. Pritchard (author)

Toni L.H. Boughton (author)

Digital Dirty Girl (blog)

To learn more about Band of Dystopian and/or to enter our Grand Prize Giveaway, visit BandofDystopian.com and don’t forget to join the group on Facebook!

A new year and reflections of 2014

Belated Happy New Year to everyone! I should have posted this earlier. So far so good this year during the first week and a half of 2015. I know this post is late and I have no excuses except my procrastination. And my tendency to make long lists of things to do that I will never be able to finish. I had intentions of doing a wrap up post on December 31. It’s been over a year since I’ve posted here but I have good (to me) reasons for neglecting my blog for so long. Then I intended to do another post New Year’s Day with my goals. As writers frequently do, I’m combining those two posts into one to make things easier, cleaner, and shorten my to do list.

A Look Back

First, I’m going to talk about 2014. The year was full of ups and downs, not only for me but for friends as well. We had deaths in the family that are still painful to think about. We had illness and accidents. The weather sucked and I found myself working from home a lot giving me a lot more time to think about the bad stuff 2014 brought. But there was a high, and that high was really high. I got married.

During ceremony - photo taken by Nik Rosser

During ceremony – photo taken by Nik Rosser

I didn’t talk about the wedding plans on my social media accounts because we didn’t get married in Ontario. We got married in England. Planning an overseas wedding is not an easy feat and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have help. We,thankfully, had lots of help from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. We got married at the town hall in Woodstock. My husband did a lot of internet research to find our caterer, photographer, and cake person. I was a little nervous because the only one we met in person well in advance of the wedding was the woman doing our cake. We made a special trip to England in November of 2013 to apply for our marriage licence and to discuss what we wanted for a cake. Everyone else we met the week of the wedding and I actually never met our florist.



The cake - photo taken by Christopher Graefe

The cake – photo taken by Christopher Graefe

After the wedding we stayed in England for two more weeks. It was a honeymoon packed with activities including the beer festival, WorldCon, a soccer match, plus lots of shopping. Now I want to go back to England with a smaller agenda because we still haven’t done everything we said we wanted to do there. And we’ve been there three times since we met.

It’s been a series of firsts since August. First flight as a married couple. First birthday as a married couple. First Thanksgiving, first Christmas as a married couple. I’m loving every minute of it. And of course this was our first New Year’s Eve as a married couple. You’d think we would have done something, gone out. But we did exactly what we wanted. Relaxed at home with the cats.

New Year Lots of Goals

With the new year a lot of people make resolutions. I don’t call them that. To me they’re goals. Goals with clear tasks to accomplish those goals. This year is no different. What is different is the sheer number of words I want to write this year. I have a lot of projects I want to finish and release. So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Write 600,000 words
2. Release Almost Normal
3. Release new adult dystopian trilogy
4. Read 25 books
5. Watch 100 movies
6. Continue on low carb diet
7. Exercise three times a week
8. Spend quality time with family and friends
9. Blog regularly

That’s it for now, though I’m sure I’ll be adding to the list as the year goes on. To accomplish the word count goal I’ll have to write 2400 words a day (taking weekends off).

What about you? Anyone have any goals/resolutions they want to share?

Until next time…




Goals for 2014 – Are yours SMART?

I love the New Year. Like the new school season in September, January 1, to me, is a day to start over again. Wipe the slate clean and strive for a great year. I start every year with goals. I don’t like to call them resolutions. These are goals. Goals for writing, goals for finance, goals for every day life. At work we have to set goals when the fiscal year starts and it’s a good time for me to think about my own personal goals as well. For the day job the fiscal year starts in July. So I usually have six months to mull over what I’ll putting on my goals list for the New Year.

At work we make our goals SMART:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

I try to do that with goals in my personal life as well. Specific goals, I find, are easier to work towards. Vague goals have no focus and are harder to achieve. Measurable goals are important. You need to be able to tell that the goal has been achieved.  Attainable or achievable is the next step. Setting goals that are not attainable only serve to discourage you when you fail to achieve them. Relevant means the goal is aligned with other goals, it’s a goal that matters. Finally, it’s important to have goals that have a time frame otherwise you’ll keep putting them off.

For me, achievable is the most important step. There’s a difference between dreams and goals. Goals should be in your control, something you can achieve. Dreams are under someone else’s control for the most part. The only thing you can control are the goals you accomplish that move you closer to your dream. My dream is to write full time. So my goals should be aligned to help me get there. The goals I can control and hopefully the dream will come true. I’d love to be a New York Times bestselling author. But I have no control over readers buying my books. I only  have control over the books I put out there. So my goal (that will help me achieve my dream) is to put out the best books I can.

I won’t list them here but on my list of goals beside the goal is how I will accomplish that goal. I include all the steps I need for the goal to be achieved.

So, this year’s goals are:

Have a total of ten books up on the major online retailers

Submit two stories to Woman’s World

Submit at least two other short stories to calls for submission

Read at least 12 books (at least 6 fiction)

Watch 100 movies

The most important goals:

Spend quality time with family at least once a week

Hire caterer for wedding

Finalize wedding details

Get married!

Follow the Weight Watchers points program

Exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week

I will revisit the goals monthly to see how I”m doing with them and reevaluate if needed. Life happens and we have to adapt. But that doesn’t mean we’ll have failed to accomplish what we want. You define what success looks like to you.

What about you? Have goals for 2014?

Until next time…





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Looking back at 2013

I’m a superstitious person. I knock on wood, if something bad happens I don’t wear the same outfit again, I throw salt over my shoulder. In the past five years I’ve noticed that odd years aren’t good for me. Bad things happen in odd years that I would rather forget. And 2013 was no exception. I got bronchitis, had stomach flu, found out my cat is very sick (heart problem and a blot clot), my grandmother passed away. But I realized that good things also happened in those years and that’s what I should be focusing on. I went on an amazing trip to England with my fiancé, I published my first short story – and then two more were in an anthology.  I also figured out why I tended to procrastinate a lot instead of getting work done.

First I want to examine the goals I had for 2013. I didn’t accomplish them. I got close on a few but for the most part they were a total bust.

To recap here were the goals I posted January 1:

Have at least 5 books available on the major online stores – the first one in January (most of these will be under my pen name but Reflections will be under mine)I have 4 “books” up. Reflections, Nefarious North (with the two short stories), a booklet about wedding dress shopping by the creative pen name Wendy Bridal and another short story under my pen name.

Submit the four short stories I wrote for Woman’s World to Woman’s WorldI submitted one short story.

Submit at least 2 other short stories for calls for submissionsBy the end of today I will be submitting 2 short stories for calls for submission.

Finish writing one script (I have a few on the go so I should be able to finish one of them)Nope.

Read 24 books (I’m starting today with Tess Gerritsen’s The Apprentice)Including non-fiction I’ve read 12 books this year.

Watch 100 movies (I’m starting this today too with January Man)Not even close. I think it was around 30.

Read 12 scripts (I have a list started of the ones I want to read)Nope.

I saved the most important goals for last:

Spend time with family and friendsI always do this one.

Plan my wedding!Yes. Most of it is planned but we still need a caterer.

Save for my weddingYes, started saving for it but still have a lot to save.

Diet and exercise to improve my healthNope.

Not a stellar year. I’ve definitely had better. But I did get some things accomplished. Back to the why I procrastinate part. If you’ve been following the blog you know I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. It’s dangerous if untreated and has a lot of symptoms. Now that I know I have it I realize my lack of focus was probably because of the sleep apnea. My irritability (especially at work) was because of it. Waking up tired all the time, especially during the week, was because of it. Now that I’m using a CPAP machine I have more energy and more focus. So that was my year in a nutshell. How was yours? Did you accomplish everything you wanted? Tomorrow I’ll be posting new goals. I’m hoping 2014 will be a great year.

Until next time…








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Christie and Sayers

Welcome back to my blog! Today I have Kate Parker talking about two great mystery writers. Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.

Here’s Kate!

In the interests of honesty, I have to admit to reading Agatha Christie’s novels from the time I graduated from Dick and Jane. Dorothy Sayers’ works took me years longer to absorb, but now I can say I’ve read, and watched thanks to PBS, almost everything either woman wrote. I’ve even read Jill Paton Walsh’s work from unfinished stories by Sayers, Anne Hart’s biography of Miss Jane Marple, and Max Allan Collins work staring Agatha Christie, sleuth.

It took the book, Bluestockings, The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education, by Jane Robinson, to help me see why these two popular mystery writers of the 1920s thru the 1950s differed so widely in their plots and motives.

University education, now almost a rite of passage for women, was still a novelty when Christie and Sayers came of age. Christie, who was from a wealthy family, never attended college. In fact, she never attended school until she was twelve, being educated at home. Then she attended school in Torquay and Paris, coming home from finishing school at age twenty to begin her hunt for a husband. She married at the beginning of World War I, becoming a mother after the war ended. She never held a job outside the home except during the war years.

Sayers, the only child of a minister, won a scholarship to Oxford at nineteen and finished her courses with firsts although women were not awarded degrees at that time. She returned to gain an MA after women began receiving degrees. She was a career woman in the advertising industry, creating a well-known advertising campaign for Guinness in use long after her death.

Christie’s works were domestic. They frequently involved a village or a country house. She used exotic locales because her second husband was a noted archaeologist and she traveled with him, but most of her works were set in southern England. Her mysteries revolved around jealousy and greed, around families and close neighbors who were comfortable with their role in society.

Sayers’ works frequently presented causes. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club featured PTSD in soldiers after World War I, Murder must Advertize looked at the unfortunate truth behind advertising, and Gaudy Night championed women’s education.

Christie wrote 66 mysteries, 6 romances, and several plays. She employed several different sleuths, the most famous of which are Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. She was still producing novels into her eighties. The last two published, killing off Poirot and Marple, were written decades before during World War II in case she was killed in the blitz.

Sayers wrote only a handful of mysteries, all featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. She quit writing mysteries during World War II and turned to “serious subjects” such as penning religious articles and translating Dante’s Inferno. She died at age 64.

How much of the serious tone of Sayers’ mysteries came from the expectation that once gained, a woman with a university-education should be involved in politics and business? Could this have led her to drop writing mysteries and turn to non-fiction works as more intellectually stimulating and acceptable for the highly-educated?

Although not university educated, Christie was obviously a smart woman. Mystery writing was an outlet for a creative woman that was acceptable at that time. Miss Jane Marple was the antithesis of the university educated woman, but she became one of the best known sleuths in English literature as she solved murders for the police.

Kate Parker sets her historical mysteries a generation before Christie and Sayers. The Vanishing Thief, the first of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, will arrive today at your favorite on-line or physical book store.

About The Vanishing Thief: 

TheVanishingThiefAt 30, Victorian bookshop owner Georgia Fenchurch knows she’s considered a middle-class old maid. That’s all right with her. She has the bookshop she inherited when her parents were murdered before her eyes, providing her with a living and something to keep her busy during the day. At night, she has another occupation. Driven by her need to see people rescued and justice done, she works with the Archivist Society.


In the foggy London of coal fires and carriages, glittering balls and Sherlock Holmes, the Archivist Society digs through musty records searching for the truth. They also don disguises and assume identities as they hunt for missing people, stolen treasures, and cunning murderers. Between her efforts for the Archivist Society and her management of the bookshop, Georgia doesn’t have time to be lonely.


When a respectable middle-class woman comes into her bookshop complaining that a duke has abducted her next door neighbor, Georgia thinks the investigation will be a short one. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in theft, blackmail, lies, secret marriages, and murder. The man Georgia is asked to find may be royalty, may be dead, and is definitely missing. The woman who hired her won’t reveal the truth. The accused duke may be a victim or a killer, but he certainly is involved in the hunt for the missing man. And every aristocrat who knew the missing man seems to be hiding their own dangerous lie.


As Georgia crosses London searching for the missing man, she finds herself staring into the face of the one person she has wanted to capture for a dozen years. The one who got away. The man who killed her parents.

Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Kate! This sounds like a really interesting book. I must pop over and check it out.

Until next time…



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Attack of the killer Vajayjays

Welcome to the blog! Today I have Nicole Chardenet talking about femme fatales.

Here’s Nicole!

The femme fatale. Why do men fear her so much? Yet like the vampire figure for women, men are mesmerized and inexorably drawn to the dangerous, possibly fatal woman. She’s been an irresistible attraction in literature and then the mass media for centuries, even millennia.

Cleopatra as portrayed by Theda Bara in the 19...

Cleopatra as portrayed by Theda Bara in the 1917 movie Cleopatra, in a costume of dubious historical accuracy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cleopatra. Delilah. Theda Bara. The ‘black widow’. Margaret’s murderous muff in Liquid Sky. Sharon Stone with her ice pick, mesmerizing an office full of cops.

Beautiful women, seductive and inviting, leading a man by his—-free will to his doom.

A femme fatale is a man’s most deep-seated nightmare – she represents his complete loss of control. He can’t control his thoughts around this intoxicating creature, and it drives him insane that she has this power over him. She might well even use it to destroy him.

But why? Why would she do that?

Because in a world set up by men, for men, to serve men, women have historically had only one power men can’t take away – and that is their irresistible desire for her portal of Venus . Men may fear it and fight it – hell, the undeniable power of the mighty cunnikin clearly drives men mad with fear in the Middle East – but in the end, the promised nirvana between her legs has complete control over him. Forcing it under a burqa doesn’t help; it makes it worse. The less he sees, the more he imagines.

English: Actress Theda Bara in a promotional photo

English: Actress Theda Bara in a promotional photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I began thinking more about women’s sexual power after I started writing Sumer Lovin’. I wanted a female villain, and Googling one night I found Lamashtu, an ancient Sumerian divinity about whom little was written, but legend stated that the space between her legs was like a scorpion.

Holy shit!

I made Lamashtu the ultimate femme fatale, seducing virgins to steal their male essence to stay young and beautiful and to keep from reverting to her true form, which, let’s just say wasn’t nearly as shaggable as the well-formed barely-clad woman that stalked the mean streets of Toronto, honing in on her perfect virgin. She also left her victims in a highly diminished state as well.

It got me to thinking just who the hell came up with the idea of a woman with a scorpion in the ol’ cha-cha. It had to be a man, some ancient Sumerian vadge-fearin’ misogynist. Mythology, I already knew, was rife with tales of women with killer vaginas – like the vagina dentata, the ‘vagina with teeth’ – the ultimate ‘man-eater’. Or the only recently-abandoned belief that a woman steals a man’s essence through sexual intercourse, a myth that made a star of Theda Bara back in the day. Such myths express the apparently universal male fear, as Camille Paglia pointed out, that a man enters a woman strong and ready but leaves diminished, or something. Because something about our mighty minge is scaring the living bejeebus out of the boys, even as they’re inexorably drawn to it, obsessed by it, and want to possess it totally.

Of course, the notion that our vaginas somehow diminish men seems completely bizarre to most women, who don’t understand what the big deal is. Okay, so you’re an overcooked noodle when you exit, just give it twenty minutes! A little longer if you’re older.

Perhaps male fear stems from the subconscious realization that powerful patriarchy created the femme fatale. Women needed to be manipulative and scheming to get what they wanted, a fact that has only begun to change in the last century because of feminism. Women used their bodies and faces to manipulate men or even to destroy them if it suited their interests – because what other choice did they have? Especially if it meant their own survival, or those of their children.

The femme fatale wouldn’t have this power, of course, if men could control their thoughts around us better. Which, apparently, many can’t, so the femme fatale will always be there, ready and waiting, lush and alluring, to snatch his penis or his self-control or his wallet or whatever.

Leave it to men to complicate a simple joyous reproductive act with a lot of scary and ridiculous gender politics.

Why can’t we all just get naked and make joyous whoopee?

Cover - BlueSumer Lovin’ (Deux Voiliers Publishing), a crazy tale of the search for love and lust in Toronto after an earthquake opens up portals from the Underworld all over the city.

Check out Nicole’s website: http://www.nicolechardenet.com
Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nchardenet

Sumer Lovin’ (Deux Voiliers Publishing), a crazy tale of the search for love and lust in Toronto after an earthquake opens up portals from the Underworld all over the city.

Available from Amazon: http://amzn.to/Yh6o7v





Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Nicole. Loved the post. I do like a good femme fatale in a movie or book.

Until next time…



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How well do you sleep?

This post is reposted by permission from me. :) I wrote the original on my group blog, Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

This is a serious question. Sleep apnea can cause a lot of health problems. Sleep problems aren’t something that should be taken lightly though people who don’t get enough sleep tend to brag about how little sleep they need to function. Ever heard anyone do that? “Oh I can get by on four hours a night.” They say it like it’s a great thing. But really they’re just getting by on that. Lack of sleep is their new normal. They would feel better if they got more sleep. How much more productive could they be if they actually got enough sleep?

Gained weight recently and don’t know why? Can’t lose weight even though you’re watching what you eat? Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Because not getting enough sleep puts your body in stress mode. In stress mode the body stores fat. This could be why I haven’t been able to lose weight. I don’t eat a lot more than other people. Since I’m a quality assurance engineer for the day job I think this calls for a test. Change nothing in the way food intake or exercise but get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. See if I lose any weight.

But maybe me going to bed too late and getting up too early aren’t the only reasons I’m not getting enough sleep.  I went for a sleep study to find out if I have sleep apnea because I made my fiancé get one done. Turns out I was right. He does have it. Now he’s on a CPAP machine.

You should have the sleep study done if you suspect you have sleep apnea. I’m going to give you some tough love here. SLEEP APNEA KILLS. You stop breathing while you sleep. Most times your body wakes itself up and then you just go back to sleep. Sometimes your body doesn’t wake itself up and YOU DIE. Yes, it is a hot button with me because I know people who suspect they have sleep apnea but haven’t gone for the study. They have children. One is a single mother. If she doesn’t care about herself she should at least care enough for her son.  I have another friend who won’t go for one because she says she wouldn’t want to use the CPAP machine. So to me that says she’d rather risk death. Totally up to her but so ridiculous. Not to mention the danger you are on the road if you have sleep apnea and don’t get treatment.

My sleep doctor does lots of tests before the study. I had to go for blood tests – regular blood test and a blood gas test. The blood gas is to determine how my oxygen saturation is in my blood. People with sleep apnea can have low blood oxygen. With sleep apnea your brain is starved for oxygen. This can cause all sorts of other problems including high blood pressure.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea: From http://www.lung.ca/diseases-maladies/apnea-apnee/signs-signes/index_e.php

Sleepy during the day and don’t know why
Morning headaches
Can’t concentrate
High blood pressure

Don’t have sleep apnea but still aren’t sleeping well?

Tips on getting a better sleep:

Sleep in a cool room.

No lights – so that’s TV lights, lights from gadgets etc. (I put my iPhone face down so if it does buzz with a notification the room isn’t suddenly bathed in light.)

Go to bed at the same time (even on the weekends) and get up at the same time.

Cut out caffeinated beverages after noon.

Do something soothing before bed. So as much as I would love for you to read my horror short story – don’t do it right before bed. :)

That also goes for watching television or a movie. Don’t watch something frightening before bed. Stick to feel good dramas or comedies.

I had been doing some of these. When I watch a horror movie I make sure I watch a comedy movie afterwards. Or I watch two comedy shows. To get the horror stuff out of my head.

So, what should you take away from all this? Sleep is important. But the body doesn’t just need sleep. It needs good, uninterrupted sleep. If you have symptoms, talk to your doctor and go for a sleep study.

Until next time…



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The Itch to Create

Welcome to the blog! Today I have Janice Seagraves talking about the itch to create.

Here’s Janice!

Whether it’s writing a novel or crafting a drawing, the itch to create is there. I find I can’t sit still and have to either write or draw. But sometimes I find way to combine the two.

For instance, being an artist I tend to use color and textures to describe the world around me. This is just off the top of my head: the sunset painted the sky in mauve and lavender. Fluffy white clouds resembled cotton candy, until she wanted to take a big bite out of them. As the evening wore on, the heavens darkened to indigo and the stars appeared one after the other.

Recently while I edited, Matrix Crystal Hunter, with my editor, I itched to work on a pen and ink drawing of the crystals in the book. I found a wonderful photo on fotolia and bought it. After printing it out, I went to work with my art pens. It’s now in the book, between the title and my name on the opening page, so when you buy my book, you’ll receive not only my story but one of my drawings too.

Here’s an excerpt from my book where I used color and texture:

Toward sundown, they left the watching pillars behind and the landscape began to get rockier. Hills appeared in the distance. The wind had sculpted rocks into interesting shapes, known as hoodoos. Near the trail was a balancing stone, the top part a perfect circle.

Vach disappeared into what appeared to be a crack in a solid rock wall. When Maya got closer, she could see it was a rock canyon. Brawley picked his way along, entering the chasm at a leisurely pace. His huge feet made an echoing clatter as he strode deeper into the stone rift. A creek gurgled to their left, clear and deep. Swirls of coral, yellow and peach colored the stone walls. There was evidence here of tool work, which had made the canyon wider.

Maya felt a rush of excitement. We’re getting closer to the mine. We’re nearly at the ancient site where they actually quarried the matrix crystals.

The setting sun soon darkened the canyon. Maya strained her eyes, looking for more signs of the ancients. She turned a tight corner and saw Vach standing in a wide, open area with a campfire at his back.

He greeted her with a smile. “We’re here.”


Matrix_Crystal_Hunte_Cover_for_KindleBlurb: Team Alpha Three’s spaceship is out of power after fighting a wormhole, and parked on the primitive world of Zenevieva. With half the team sick from radiation poisoning, the team commander entrust geologist, Maya Gladstone, to find enough matrix crystals to power up their spacecraft, so they can go home to Earth.

Vach Namaste of the powerful Clan Namaste, a native of the planet, has desired the lovely Maya since she stepped off the spaceship on that astonishing day a year ago. He’s hounded her every step since. As Hymeneal Night approaches, he makes plans to take her as his bride… willing or not.


US, Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FJ10W26

UK, Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matrix-Crystal-Hunters-ebook/dp/B00FJ10W26/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380662336&sr=1-3

US, Trade paper back: http://www.amazon.com/Matrix-Crystal-Hunters-Janice-Seagraves/dp/1492709751/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

UK, Trade paper back: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matrix-Crystal-Hunters-Janice-Seagraves/dp/1492709751/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_1_KKW6


Janice Seagraves’s website: http://janiceseagraves.org/

Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here today, Janice. The book sounds very interesting.  I love science fiction. I will have to check it out.

Until next time…



Who turned out the lights? When fun mysteries get darker.

Welcome to my blog! Today I have Sally Carpenter talking about the dark turn mysteries have taken.

Here’s Sally!

Has anyone noticed that TV mysteries have gotten darker these days?

In the 1970s, TV screens were full of what I call “personality” cops. The hero was a unique, quirky, likeable cop or PI with gimmicks and a catch phrase. We had a fat cop (Cannon), a blind insurance investigator (Longstreet), a Texas marshal (McCloud), a guy with a parrot (Baretta), a bald cop with a lollypop (Kojak), a shabby cop (Columbo), hip cops (Mod Squad) and even kid sleuths (Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew).

These do-gooders mostly worked alone, sometimes with an unremarkable sidekick. Police procedures be damned, these guys and gals ignored the rules and did as they pleased. We knew the good guys from the baddies. The heroes were honest, law abiding and moral. The shows were colorful, brightly lit, lightweight and entertaining.

If someone got shot, maybe a drop or two of blood appeared. Corpses looked mighty healthy. If the good guy was shot or injured, he kept going. After a 10-minute fistfight, the good guy had only a small bruise or cut and never broke into a sweat.

Sure, the shows were not realistic but nobody watched the programs for their educational value.

So what happened?

In recent years TV crime shows have grown darker. The lighting toned down, leaving the visuals muddy and indistinguishable at times. Interiors are drabber. Camera shots are tighter and more claustrophobic.

The stories are grimmer. Tales of rape, incest and gruesome killings are common. Corpses are discolored and gory.

The “heroes” are pot framers, serial killers, mobsters or Norman Bates. Rather than one standout star, the cast is comprised of several bland, interchangeable characters. The emphasis is on forensic science and police procedures.

I’ve followed “Castle” from the pilot episode. In the first seasons the show was funny and clever with a touch of romance. The police and forensics work was often laughable (and not in a good way) but fans loved the show for the clever banter and character interactions.

Then stories grew more intense and serious. The female lead, Kate Beckett, was full of angst and mental turmoil. The male and female leads, obviously in love, pulled away from each other. The title character, Castle, moved into the background. The goofy storylines and the humor disappeared. Fans complained that the show wasn’t “fun” anymore. 

So what happened?

I’m not involved with the TV industry, so I can only speculate. Possibly today’s shows reflect the pessimism of a society rocked by Beatlemaniac FC_SMALLclimate change, the recession, terrorism, changes in the traditional family and real-life crime. 

Among mystery writers there’s the unspoken law that noir, thrillers and hardboiled stories are seen as more “literary” than cozies. Comedy is fluff whereas drama wins Emmy Awards. Maybe dark shows appeal to a more “highbrow” market.

“Personality” cops were one-note characters that never changed. Viewers turned in each week knowing the hero would be the same as he was the week before. The familiarity was comforting. In one night the viewer saw a complete story with the baddie caught and loose ends tied up.

The current rule is that characters must evolve. Story arcs are unresolved for a season or longer. Sometimes major questions are not addressed until the series finale. The viewer who occasionally dips in will be lost among the maze of story threads.

The ongoing story arc is a good way to keep viewers engaged for the long run, but the audience can get frustrated with an endless number of secrets and cliffhangers. Something in the human nature craves closure. Many “Castle” fans grew weary of a certain plot thread that was stretched out far beyond the viewers’ breaking point.

Granted, in real life people change and mature as their circumstances change. But TV shows are not reality. Viewers turn on the TV to escape and relax. Their heroes are “comfort viewing.” Fans turn in to see Richard Castle and Kate Beckett fall in love and solve cases together. Anything less will not do.

TV series writers tread a fine line. If the characters remain the same week after week, the show can get boring and repetitive. Story ideas become more limited. But if the characters change too much, the show will lose those elements that attracted viewers in the first place.

Many viewers enjoy the grittier shows but my complaint is that currently, “dark” is the only option. Lighten up, will you?

What about you? Do you like the “dark” mystery/crime shows or would you prefer something brighter?

About Sally: Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.

Sally's Mug Shot_SMALLShe has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and also the inspiration for her book series.

Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.

Her first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel. Cozy Cat Press will soon released the second book, “The Sinister Sitcom Caper.”

Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” is published in the anthology, “Last Exit to Murder.”

“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” is in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.

She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. She’s “mom” to two black cats. Contact her at Facebook or scwriter@earthlink.net. She blogs at http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com.

Cindy here again.

Thanks for being here today, Sally! I agree television has gotten darker. I still love Castle, though I did think they drew out the who killed Beckett’s mom too long.

Until next time…




Stand Up and Do Something

Welcome back to my blog! Today I have Randall Allen Dunn talking about his book The Red rider.

Here’s Randall!

Sooner or later, we all must fight monsters. We are forced to confront and conquer our personal fears, flaws and failures, before they conquer us.

As a Christian, I believe God helps us in our weaknesses. With guidance, strength of resolve and supernatural power. But we must choose to cooperate with him, on his terms, in order to succeed.

This causes a dilemma for Helena Basque, the teenage heroine of my novel, The Red Rider. As a child, she was known as “Red Riding Hood” for the red cloak she always wore. Up until the day she faced a giant wolf killed her Grand’Mere. Helena survived with triple scars across her face and endless nightmares of a wolf standing on its hind legs and speaking threats.

When similar wolves attack her family and neighbors, Helena realizes they threaten everyone in her province. She then shoves her fears aside, determined to fight them or die trying.

After the first wolf attack, her parents forbid her to wear her red cloak again. With a new resolve, Helena dons a red hooded cloak and arms herself with a repeating crossbow to hunt the wolves down.

This doesn’t sit well with her priest, Father Vestille, after he learns the wolves are actually human beings who transform into monsters to attack their victims. They both question whether it is right in God’s eyes to murder these men. But Helena is convinced of her duty. She must embrace her faith and courage to overcome her doubts, even as her appearance and behavior make her a social outcast. She must persevere in her quest to free the province from the monsters that threaten it, whatever the personal cost.

She relies on the advice of her hero, Francois Revelier, the woodcutter who saved her from the first wolf:

“You know what a hero is, Helena? A hero doesn’t have to be big or strong or smart. He just has to stand up to do what’s got to be done. People might not understand what you’re doin’ or why you’re doin’ it. But it’s still got to be done, whether they understand it or not. A hero’s somebody who stands up to do it when nobody else will. You gotta stand up and do something, or nobody’s ever gonna get helped.”

We must commit to destroying our private demons. All fears, flaws, failures and doubts. Even if we risk our reputation to do it. Others depend on us to be the best people we can be, so we must rid ourselves of every monster that tears us down, through faith, courage and determination. Follow Helena’s example to conquer your own monsters, so you can find true freedom and peace, free of fear.

Stand up and do something.

RED RIDER on Amazon – It’s free today (October 15):

RED RIDER Landing Page:

RED RIDER Pinterest Board:

Cindy here again.

Thanks for being here Randall. Sounds like an interesting book!

Until next time…