Yes, Actually, I DO Miss It

Back when Joseph and I were still living in Connecticut and merely considering our move to the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, I bombarded him with questions about the climate. He had lived in Washington previously while serving in the Navy and so he could tell me whether I would still see fall foliage (I would, but none nearly as lovely as I’d witnessed in Pennsylvania or in New England). He could tell me, when I asked about snow, that it would snow, but not enough to bother taking our snow shovels with us. I balked a bit at this, but was reminded that if I really wanted to see snow, I could drive to the mountains and there some snow would be.

Well, that’s just not the same. I’m going to say it loudly and with confidence: I miss the snow! Given that the vast majority of my friends and family are back east and under feet of snow right now, I can anticipate the responses of those currently snowed in. So before anyone gets the chance to impart collected snow-time proverbs, here are my collected snow-time proverb responses.

You wouldn’t be saying you miss the snow if you had to shovel it.

You talk like I‘ve forgotten. I assure you I haven’t. I mean, you can’t really forget this:

Waterford, CT; January 2011. I know; I know. It’s not me in that picture, but I assure you, I did some serious shovel time that day too.

Waterford, CT, January 2011
I know, I know. It’s not me in that picture, but I promise I did some serious shovel time that day too.

Approximately two weeks after that photo was taken, we left on our trip to Iceland where we not only got a break from the cold and the shoveling, but also sympathy from Icelanders about the harsh weather we’d been experiencing back home. Apparently, our weather made news there. Then we came back home to it.

No, I have not forgotten how annoying it is to finish shoveling just for it to start snowing again. I have not forgotten the floods of tears I cried when I finished digging out the mailboxes just to have the damn plow come by and cover them again. I have not forgotten about the expert maneuvers required to pull my car out of the shared driveway because the neighbors couldn’t be bothered to clear their side nearly as well as we cleared ours, opting instead for some seriously dicked up parking jobs.

I haven’t forgotten and I still have the audacity to miss it.

But you get the best of both worlds! You really could just drive to the mountains.

First, that’s not entirely true. Those mountain passes do get a lot of snow. That means that those mountain passes often close. While you can still get to the snow line (ski resorts depend on this), you’d better have the right vehicle. I can put snow tires and chains on my Charger all I want; it’s still rear wheel drive and not built for snow. I always laugh at those Dodge commercials that have Chargers just a rippin’ through the snow like it’s nothing. I hold my car in higher regard than I hold most people, but I’ve seen romantic comedies more realistic than those commercials. Not only that, but those mountains are a bit further away than they appear. I’d have to drive at least an hour just to get to the weather people avoid driving in. Point is, it’s actually much less convenient for me to get to the mountains than one might assume.

And again, it’s just not the same. Part of the joy of snow—yes, I said it—the joy of snow, is sitting by your own window with a hot cup of tea (spiked or not), watching said snow come down. I miss that. I also miss the, “Oh, hell no!” look in my cat’s eyes when his little black paw touches a big white drift. I miss posting the obnoxious but obligatory Facebook picture of the winter wonderland. And yes, I even miss bitching about how damn much shoveling I’m about to do.

I guess the “grass is always greener.”

Yeah. That’s sort of the problem. You know where that green grass should be? Under snow, damn it!

Not under this:

This was our courtyard the other day. If only the temperature had dropped enough for this to freeze…free ice time!

This was our courtyard the other day. If only the temperature had dropped enough for this to freeze…free ice time!

I’m sure a clogged drain had as much to do with that accumulation as the rate of rainfall did, and I love rain as much as the next guy. No sarcasm. I really do love the rain, but this is just so not what I think of when I think of winter. Ned Stark promised us that winter was coming. Well, screw that Stark honor! Ned’s a damn liar!

This section comes with a bonus proverb. “Just imagine if all of that was snow!”

Again, that’s sort of the problem.

I am imagining that all of it is snow, and I miss it. I really, really miss it.

Coloring Books for Grownups: I Endorse This Trend

When I told my husband I wanted coloring books and nice markers for Christmas, I think he thought my simple request was much too good to be true. But we were doing a modest holiday (the eventful year was also an expensive year), and the subject of adult coloring books was peppering my social media feeds with increasing frequency. With artists tweeting about the availability of their recently published coloring books, friends on Facebook talking about how they’d forgotten how much they just loved coloring, and my nostalgia for Saturdays spent under a blanket fort convincing myself that Wilma Flintstone may very well have had some purple lipstick, it was clearly time to suck it up and embrace the trend. “No, really!” I assured my husband. “Coloring books and nice markers are precisely what I want this year.” Then I added, “And socks. I definitely need new socks.”

What I did not know was that at that very moment (okay, probably not that very moment, but it sounded nice, right?), my mother was putting together a holiday box for me in which she dropped, among other things, coloring books, colored pencils, and an epic box of crayons I would have killed for as a kid. Between my mother and my husband, I ended up with this stack of awesome:

Seriously! What kid didn’t dream of that box of crayons?

Seriously! What kid didn’t dream of that box of crayons?

It occurred to me that with a haul like that, I had damn well better enjoy coloring as an adult.

I needn’t have worried.

Art as Therapy

Art as therapy isn’t a new concept, so I’m not going to go over it again here. I will simply say that there are all sorts of emotions I can work out on a canvas or a sketch pad or whatever I choose that day, save one. Frustration. As a creative person, I get frustrated when the picture on the page looks nothing like what I had in my head. So sure, I’m working out sadness or anger or whatever when I paint or draw, but I’m replacing it with frustration, which is no more pleasant. Coloring books solve that. The picture is already there. It’s somebody else’s art; I’m just coloring it in. There’s no real pressure to make it perfect. Peace restored.

That is not to say that I don’t shout an expletive or two when my hand slips out of a line, or I’ve made the wrong color choice, but coloring books cut the expletive output by a good 80% or so.

L, completed with crayon. R, in progress with colored pencil. Approx. 16% cussing total still to come.

L, completed with crayon. R, in progress with colored pencil. Approx. 16% of total cussing still to come.

Easier Than Meditation

Also frustrating for me is meditation. I can’t help it; my mind just wanders. It’s loud in my head and even guided meditations often can’t quiet things down. You know what does? You guessed it. Coloring. For me, it requires just enough attention that I can clear my mind of all of the noisy but inconsequential BS and make room for some real contemplation.

I’m aware, as I type this, of how cheesy it sounds, but it’s amazing how much I’ve learned about myself by doing no more than considering how I color: where on the page I start, what my favorite colors are, how boring the picture becomes when I rely solely on my favorite colors. Yeah.

I’m not actually a fan of yellow, and yet these are my faves.

I’m not actually a fan of yellow, and yet these are my faves.

It’s Just F***ing Fun, Okay?

Look, being an adult is freaking hard. Commutes, work, bills, random life crap that inevitably happens because, “That’s life.” The fact that adult coloring books have become a trend (hopefully one that sticks around for a while) tells me that I’m not the only one who sometimes longs for the days when the biggest thing on my mind was who had my red crayon because, damn it, I need my red crayon or Wilma Flintstone will have purple lips!

After a day of long commutes, solving problems at the office, and scrambling to pay the bill that was not in the budget–a result of some unexpected life crap, adults deserve a little childlike fun.

So yeah, I endorse this trend. I endorse the hell outta this trend! I won’t be putting my coloring books down any time soon; in fact, I expect to be through my current supply by the time the holidays roll around again. Just in time to request more.

And for those who were wondering, I also got those socks.

socks

Oh, Yeah…It’s 2016 Now

20160107_110920-2

It occurred to me that if I was going to capitalize on the New Year’s blog opportunity, I had better do it now or not do it at all. Since I actually really enjoyed 2015 and kind of felt like writing a post about it, I figured I’d better just sit down and write the damn thing. So, here I am, finally writing the damn thing (until I post it, of course).

A major highlight of 2015 was the cross country move from Connecticut to Washington. It is well documented (starting here), so I won’t recap, but I will say that the drive was a bucket list experience that I’ll never forget. The move was the right thing for us to do and we did it at the right time. Sure, I miss the east coast from time to time. The holidays reminded me that it’s no longer the matter of a long drive to my hometown, but rather that of a long flight. Still, I kind of love it here in the Pacific Northwest and the move was probably the crown jewel of 2015.

The next setting on the crown was finally publishing 13 Morbid Tales. I don’t know what to say about that that I haven’t gushed all over before, so I will simply reiterate that it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I’m looking forward to publishing the next book, a novel this time (in progress).

And so, of course, a fruitful and exciting 2015 has me looking ahead to the goals I want to achieve in 2016. People who know me know that I’m not a fan of resolutions. I believe more in progress and momentum than declarations about how I’m going to be a better person at the drop of a ball.

The first and most immediate goal is finding full-time employment in a role I’ll enjoy at a company made up of really good people. I was blessed to be able to take time after the move to focus on publishing and promoting 13 Morbid Tales. I could not be more grateful for that time, but it’s time to get back to some more lucrative work…maybe even outside of the house…maybe even tossing ideas off of someone besides the cat.

While on the job hunt, I am still writing fiction. Once a position is landed, I will still be writing fiction. I would like to have a first draft of my novel completed by this time next year, with edits and rewrites being the goal for 2017. As I write this, it feels as though that’s plenty of time. Then I think of how long it took me to me to put together 13 Morbid Tales and I crack the hell up at that timeline, but we shall see.

Like many people, I would like to be healthier and lose some weight in 2016. This is not a resolution. I repeat: this is NOT a resolution. I’d actually done a decent job of that in 2015. I’d lost almost 20 pounds, but while I was finishing up and putting out the book, I started to let myself get a little out of shape. And I do mean a little: noticeable to no one but me. And then…oh, and then!  I denied myself not a single calorie over the month or so that makes up the holidays, and not once did I force myself to see the inside of the gym. It was the holidays, for Pete’s sake, and it was glorious! And I know I’m going to pay for that attitude in sweat and a diet of leaves, but I would like to point out that paying for my dietary indiscretions has been part of my routine since well before January 2, 2016. So there.

All in all, 2015 was such a great year it was hard to say goodbye to the old man. Hopefully, baby 2016 grows into a wonderful year and not a spoiled bully just itching to knock me down.

Guest Post: Review of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Thanks so much to the awesome folks over at 9th Circle of Horror for having me as a guest blogger!

Check this out…

9th Circle of Horror

Director: Scott Glosserman

Writers: Scott Glosserman, David J. Stieve

Starring: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englundbehind the mask poster

I’ll freely admit it. I’m a sucker for horror movies that poke fun at their own genre. I’ve always felt that movies that do this are sharing a little wink with the audience. From Jamie Kennedy’s character, Randy teaching us all how to survive a horror movie in Scream, to finally understanding how victims consistently fall into the same horror movie tropes in Cabin in the Woods, I enjoy being winked at.

Perhaps my favorite winking horror movie is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. (Spoilers ahead.)

The mockumentary opens to a world where Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger are real serial killers stalking real killing grounds.  Budding documentarian Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) comes to the town of Glen Echo, Maryland to interview and film the town’s very own aspiring…

View original post 667 more words

How Does It Feel?

I’ve been getting this question a lot since putting out 13 Morbid Tales. Of course, my very first answer to this question is, “Freakin’ great, dude!” And that’s no lie. The feeling of accomplishment was a high that lasted for weeks. And the support? Oh, sweet lord, the support! As I explained to a friend, I’d prepared myself for bad reviews, hate, and being pelted with rotten tomatoes. The “What If” monsters in my head even led me down a spiraling path that ended in townsfolk chasing me with torches and pitchforks. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the outpouring of love and support. From people boosting the signal online, to folks hooking me up with events, to all you crazy cats who took awesome pictures of my book in various situations when your copies arrived…I’ve been so overwhelmed with support I’m still on cloud nine and I cannot thank you enough.

Of course, negativity can still come at any time, and a part of me wants to stay vigilant because that crap only gets you when you’re not looking, but the bulk of my torment comes from my own psyche. Surprise, surprise.

That said, there have been some drawbacks in this overwhelmingly positive time. If I’m being completely honest with myself, those are coming from me, too.

One of the greatest accomplishments of my summer (besides moving cross country) was getting active and healthy and into better shape to the tune of approx. 18 lost pounds, two sizes dropped, and sweet, sweet muscle tone. Well let me tell you, it doesn’t take nearly as long to start falling back out of shape again as it does to get into it. I’m not saying that putting my book out completely took over my life; it just provided a whole lot of excuses to skip the gym. Some were even legitimate. But since it occurs to me that I’m not publishing a book this morning, guess where I’m going once this is posted. Gotta nip this ass-in-seat-all-day thing in the bud before all the good I’ve done is undone.

I did drive myself a little nuts reading the book over and over (even though I swore after the final proof that I’d never read it again), allowing myself to get worked up over word choices and that comma I really should have used. I’ve been assured that I’m not the first writer in history to have done this.

In deep contrast, I’ve also had the burning desire to just move on to the next project. Sometimes, it’s really hard to keep your mind on the book that’s already out for the sake of marketing when all you want to do is keep the momentum going and start the next thing. I have started the next thing(s) and am anxious for the day I can do cover reveals and publication announcements for them.

All in all, though, publishing my first book feels great. It’s been a wonderful experience that I’m looking forward to having many more times. And again, I want to thank everyone who has made it so wonderful.

13 Morbid Tales is Available Now!

Lookie what I've got!

Lookie what I’ve got!

Today is the official release day for 13 Morbid Tales! Why now? I needed my 13 creepy little tales to be available to readers by Halloween: werewolves in mailboxes, ghosts in e-readers.

This has been a lot of years coming. Fun fact: by my estimation, the oldest story in the collection was actually written 13 years ago. Don’t worry. It’s been edited to reflect my skills today, not my skills back then.  *smile and wink*

Some of you may already know that the links went live a couple of days early. The really cool thing about that is that for the last two days leading up to the “official” release, I have seen an outpouring of love and support so strong I completely forgot about my anxiety. Those who know me know that’s no easy feat. I cannot thank you all enough. Really. It’s not possible. Just know I’m feelin’ the love for all of you!

At this point you’re probably wondering, When’s this chick gonna stop being sappy and get to the book blurb and the links where I can buy this bit of awesomeness, already? At least, I hope you are. So here goes:

The creatures living within these pages come from the imagination: a place where a sentient life support machine contemplates its own existence, a budding slasher villain comes into her own, and a demonic agent makes another deal.

And they’ve brought friends.

Werewolves, ghosts, and human monsters alike guide the reader down highways of dark fancy, exploring what goes bump—and what stays eerily silent—in the night.

Available Now!

Get 13 Morbid Tales for Kindle

Get a paperback copy of 13 Morbid Tales from Amazon

Get a paperback copy of 13 Morbid Tales from the CreateSpace eStore

#13MorbidTales

Edited by Reggie Lutz.

Cover Art by Janell R. Colburn.

…So here’s something kick-ass that happened…

Thanks for such kind words, Reggie!

Reggie Lutz

13 Morbid Tales by Devon Miller HAS BEEN RELEASED INTO THE WILD!

The officially official release date is meant to be October 1, but for all intents and purposes it is available.

You might be asking why I’m bouncing around like a kid with a serious sugar buzz. Mostly I am just really excited for my friend. And, uh, I edited it. Which is also cool.

She also put my name on the cover which is a huge honor. I am proud to be tangentially a part of this collection, and excited to say, CONGRATULATIONS, DEVON!

WOOO!

13MorbidCover

View original post

Yellowstone and on to Our New Home

Let’s just take a minute to deal with this, shall we?

Let’s just take a minute to deal with this, shall we?

I’m noticing a theme as I write this. The theme, of course, is that even though we gave ourselves 11 days to make the trip, it wasn’t enough time. One day is hardly enough to spend in Yellowstone National Park. We were so rushed that we didn’t have time to wait for Old Faithful to do its thing. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. Now, we did get to see plenty of geysers erupt, or vent, or whatever you actually call the geothermal activity that causes them to spew steam and water, just not the famous one.

And you know what? I’m not actually that sad about it, given the other awesome stuff we saw.  At this point, I think I’ll mostly let the pictures do the talking.

20_YS

21_YS

Clockwise from top left: buffalo, elk, grizzly bear

Clockwise from top left: buffalo, elk, grizzly bear

Sulfur Cauldron

Sulfur Cauldron

26_Firehole Spring

Firehole Spring

Great Fountain Geyser

Great Fountain Geyser

The road ahead

The road ahead

Of course, the pictures do nothing to capture how breathtaking that place is. I was sad to leave, but we were only two-thirds of the way through our journey. We’d still have to stop to sleep, and we only had one full day left to drive that last third before we were scheduled to move in to our new apartment.

I probably pushed myself past my safe driving limit before letting Joe take over behind the wheel, but he didn’t make it much longer than I did. We stopped in Montana for the night.

There aren’t many photos of the last leg of our journey. After Yellowstone, we’d had close to our fill of the road and just wanted to reach our destination. Not that there weren’t gorgeous things to see. Idaho is ridiculously pretty. Had we not been tired of living out of duffel bags, I might have tried to push our move-in date back one more day to spend some real time there, but I knew we were reaching our limit.

We stopped at one viewpoint shortly after we crossed into Washington to appreciate the semi-desert views of eastern Washington.

And then right back on the road.

And then right back on the road.

Dusk found us in Tacoma, Washington. We decided to treat ourselves to an early night and find a hotel there.

We saved the last hour of our drive for morning and by lunchtime we were picking up keys to our new place and our new life.

Previous Post: Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse Memorial

Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse Memorial

13_Badlands

The only thing bad about our time in Badlands National Park was that we didn’t have more of it. Yeah, I know. Cliché as hell, but true. Of course we stopped, but they were quick stops as we were mostly just driving the scenic route through the grasslands into the Black Hills.

More like, Beautiful-lands!

More like, Beautiful-lands!

It was here that I started picturing myself in one of those old Western movies I used to shelve when I worked at a video store. All I needed was a horse, a cowboy hat, and a six shooter! There was also an unbelievable sense of freedom I got as the breeze blew and I thought about what it must have been like to traverse that ground before its roads and National Park status.

But I was travelling by automobile on a maintained road and we had to press on if we were going to come close to sticking to our itinerary.

Outside the Mount Rushmore entrance. This guy!

Outside the Mount Rushmore entrance.
This guy!

It was Salem who helped keep us on schedule most of the time. Stops had to be planned carefully because we obviously weren’t going to leave him in a hot car (or leave the car and air conditioner running), but there were a lot of “No Pets Beyond This Point” signs pretty much everywhere we went. (No complaints, here. The reasons for the rule are also often posted and they make good sense.) This is why Joe and I had to see Mount Rushmore—as well as many other attractions along the way—in turns.

16_Mt Rushmore

My turn!

Washington’s head as we drive past on our way to Crazy Horse Memorial

Washington’s head as we drove past on our way to Crazy Horse Memorial

Again, I wish we’d had more time at the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial. Since Joe and I were doing things in turns, I didn’t get much time in at the welcome/information center. Therefore, I am certainly not enough of an expert to speak on it in any real way, but you can read more about it here.

18_Crazy Horse Memorial

It’s a magnificent project and I hope I get to see it finished someday.

We’d packed a lot into one day and still had a bit of a drive before stopping in Greybull, Wyoming for the night.

The next day, Yellowstone.

Previous post: The Prairie, the Mississippi River, and the Awesomeness that is South Dakota

Next Post: Yellowstone and On to Our New Home

The Prairie, the Mississippi River, and the Awesomeness that is South Dakota

Though we were leaving the warm embrace of our friends’ hospitality and getting back on the road, my spirits were high on that Indiana morning. My adventurous side, enabled by a good night’s sleep, had completely taken over.

Wind farm off of I-65 in Indiana

Wind farm off of I-65 in Indiana

If anything at all gave me anxiety that day, it was just how flat the prairie really is. After living my whole life in the shadow of mountains (or, at least, really high hills), I felt a bit like a sitting duck—even at 85 mph—driving across the flat expanse, like if some sky deity really wanted to blast my ass with a lightning bolt, well, I’d be an easier target, now. Silly, I know, but I need my mountains and it was going to be a while before we’d make it to the Black Hills.

This is not how they told me traveling with a cat would be! Thankfully.

This is not how they told me traveling with a cat would be! Thankfully.

Much to my disbelief, Salem was probably the most relaxed one in the car. When he wasn’t making friends with toll booth operators who were astounded at how well-behaved he was for being a cat harnessed in a car, he was curled up between us on the center console, fast asleep.

Having lived my life “east of the Mississippi,” crossing the mighty river was an undeniable checkpoint in our journey, which we made on I-90 crossing from Wisconsin to Minnesota. I almost missed it. I don’t know why I expected the river that far north to look like the pictures from Louisiana, but I did. My bad. Anyway, I offer you a very blurry picture of the Mighty Mississippi River from the road.

No really, my bad. Well done, Mississippi River!

No really, my bad. Well done, Mississippi River!

Meet our travel buddy, Dakota O’Hare.

Meet our travel buddy, Dakota O’Hare.

Travel weary, we stopped for the night in Worthington, Minnesota. I went to sleep wondering if, now that I was truly “Out West,” would I be like the people I knew who took an “Out West” vacation and came back obsessed with cowboys and western artifacts.

South Dakota had me thinking I just might.

First of all, how can you argue with a place that has this kind of awesomeness hanging about?

08_Cow Cult

Ignore the bug guts on the windshield.

Exactly. You can’t. I think that was our biggest WTF moment on the trip, but it turns out that South Dakota is full of awesome stuff. I mean, we knew about Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, but we had no idea about things like the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Sadly, we didn’t have time to go in, but just check out these murals on the outside!

Too cool. For real.

Too cool. For real.

We did not visit Wall Drug, which my bank account ended up being okay with. I knew there was no way I’d get out of there without buying a ton of stuff I didn’t need. See, my adventurous side came with her annoying little buddy, the impulse buy. The buddy who says, “When am I ever gonna be back this way again?” to rationalize stupid purchases at tourist traps when I’m supposed to be on a tight budget. Yeah. We skipped Wall Drug.

Instead, we had bison burgers at a much smaller pit stop and prepared to drive into a place I was very excited to see, Badlands National Park.

Previous Post: Friends, Family, and Rock and Roll

Next Post: Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse Memorial