Oh, Yeah…It’s 2016 Now

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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…

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…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

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Cool marketing concept: Book blind dates

This is really a very cool idea!

Michelle Proulx - Author

Human creativity never ceases to amaze me — as opposed to dolphin creativity, which is frankly old hat and I don’t know why they even bother anymore.

Hehehe. All kidding aside, my friend Audra (or am I supposed to keep your identity secret? TOO LATE!!!) linked me to a very cool article about a new book marketing concept they’re trying in Australia (and possibly elsewhere). The idea is that … well, I’ll borrow the image from the article to give you an idea:

Basically, they wrap up books in brown paper, write vague details of what the book is about, and add a price tag. It’s a book blind date! Instead of being swayed by author name or book cover or whatever, you judge the book entirely based on the five keywords.

Now, obviously this could allow for you to pick up a lot of duds, especially if you’re a…

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Halloween Costume Shop Frustration

Halloween is coming—not the most astute observation, I know, but it’s a good starting point for this post. Halloween is coming, and for my costume this year (a classier, non-green version of the witch stereotype), I did what I have done on many Halloweens past. I took a lot of stuff I already had, made additions, subtractions, and embellishments, and came up with something I really like.

I did/do this for three reasons.

1. I can’t sew worth a damn. While I am certainly crafty, and I do own a sewing machine that I actually know how to operate, it’s the actual sewing part I’m not so great at. If it’s beyond a button, a hem, or a torn seam, forget it! I’m lost! (Costuming teachers from way back when I was a Theatre major can verify that this is true.) So, I take clothes I already have and alter them slightly. It’s even better if alterations can be done with fabric glue and I don’t have to pull out the machine at all.

2. Budget. While I admit that I purchased a few accessories (and people who know me know that it doesn’t need to be Halloween for me to wear them again), I used clothes already in my closet. There was just no way I could afford an entire costume of the caliber I wanted, which brings me to…

3. Besides the overall cheap look of some of the costumes sold by in-budget costume retailers, these retailers seem to think that if you’re not going as a nun, you’re going as a prostitute. Sure, the costume might be a prostitute dressed up as a police officer, or a nurse, or a non-green version of the witch stereotype, but still a prostitute. Keep in mind that I am in no way judging or condemning prostitutes. I just don’t want to be mistaken for one, ’cause let me tell you, that’s really awkward!

Now, I did some soul searching as to why this bugs me so much this year. Am I a prude? Hell no! Showing skin has been an integral part of my Halloween costumes since the day my parents no longer had a say in what I wore. However, showing lots of skin is not work appropriate (I’m coming to the office in costume whether they like or not, so the least I can do is pretend to respect dress code), and unlike past Halloweens, I really only want to do one costume this year. As a Ren Faire geek, I always have some garb on stand by, but I’ve always considered that cheating. And also, jacked-up boobs and a sword on my hip are probably not office appropriate either.

I even asked myself if it was a body image thing. Am I so bothered by costume selections this year because I’m not ten years younger or 30 pounds lighter? Nope. Because, as the song goes, “I’m sexy and I know it.” (And humble too.) And honestly, when was the last time anyone looked at a full figured model (who’s still probably only a size 6, but that’s a whole other post entirely) in a sexy pirate costume and said, “Ew! Gross!”? Exactly. Never. And while I applaud the costume companies for acknowledging that beauty comes in all sizes and making sexy costumes for full figured ladies too, that still doesn’t solve my problem.

Where is the selection of costumes for women who are neither nuns nor prostitutes? Where is the costume for…oh…say a thirty-four-year-old married technical writer who intends to wear her costume to her male dominated office? And, oh yeah, she has to be able to afford it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled with my costume. I haven’t gone as a stereotypical witch since I was a little girl (that time I believe I actually did wear green make-up). And I’ll be honest, one of the big reasons for doing it this year is that I just couldn’t miss the photo op with my black kitten. The other is that I thought I’d take a negative stereotype and, like probably a few other witches out there, turn it into a positive one. And between my own closet, Amazon, and a couple of accessories from the costume shop, I think I’ve accomplished my mission nicely. I’m certain I have one of the best piecemeal costumes I’ve ever had. I merely wonder if anyone else is just a little irked too, or all out frustrated by the selections out there.

So…obligatory, Halloween themed, closing questions: Are you wearing a costume this year? Are you making one or buying one? What has your experience been?

It’s Autumn!

Hello faithful readers!

Yes, I’m still here. I’ve not been spirited away to another dimension. I’ve not been fighting my way through a labyrinth to save my little brother from David Bowie (although, how cool would that be?!). I’ve not had one of my notorious “f*ck this sh*t, I’m going off the grid” hissy fits. It’s actually been a decent time with a lot going on, and of course, in the midst of all of it, I have–once again–neglected the blog.

*Flogs self.*

So, what exactly is it I’ve been up to? Well, I’ll take a break from flogging of myself to tell you (in no particular order).

1. Making Room for a New Addition

When we were first approached with the idea of taking the last kitten from a neighbor’s cat’s litter, I intended to stand firm on being a dog person.  Since our place is too small for the dog breeds I prefer (Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, Huskies), I was sure we were going to remain pet-free for the time being. Then I met said kitten. Needless to say, my husband and I took the little guy. As it turns out, I’m an animal person. This is actually a shock to no one.

Salem is really adorable when he plays.

Salem is really adorable when he plays.

Of course, having been raised with dogs, I went into full research mode on the absolute best way to care for a feline since I knew nothing about doing so. And of course, being a bit of a germophobe who has now read all about what kinds of little nasties cats can carry (honestly, I just wanted to research when and how often to get him to the vet and what kind of things to have the vet check for. I had no intention of feeding my paranoia), our whole home had to be purged of junk, cleaned and disinfected from top to bottom, and kitty-proofed, because cleaning up after an animal is easier when you don’t have to move piles of junk just to get to the mess. And keeping a place in a certain state of cleanliness (and perhaps sterility) is more easily done once working with a clean slate. In truth, the Great Purge of 2013 needed to happen anyway, but our little Salem motivated us to get it done. So, a car load of donation stuff, 4 big bags of trash, and numerous containers of bleach wipes later, kitty has a very clean, much more open place to wreak havoc.

*Pats self on back for being such a good pet parent, instantly flinches from touching the flogging wounds. Humility restored.*

2. Partaking in Fall Festivities

I know, I know! I was attending various fairs and festivals when I should have been writing! How could I do such a thing?

*Still stinging from first flogging. Not doing it again.*

The view from the top of the Ferris wheel, Fall Fest 2013, Misquamicut Beach, RI

The view from the top of the Ferris wheel, Fall Fest 2013, Misquamicut Beach, RI

It’s been told to me by many writers and various other artsy folks that it’s not so much about writing what you know as it is about drawing from life experiences.  So I had some experiences.

There are few things I enjoy as much as walking around a festival, fair, or carnival. The rides. The food. The excitement in the air. It all makes me feel just a little more alive, and for me, that is vital to my writing.

Which brings me to…

3. Writing

Autumn tends to be my most prolific time of year. Summer travel obligations are through. There’s no paralyzing depression brought on by a long Winter. There’s no desperate desire to do anything but sit once Spring ends the cabin fever. And, of course, being a dark fiction writer, Halloween brings endless inspiration. You can’t swing a cat (sorry Salem, I’ll quit using that expression) without hitting some sort of creepy festivity: haunted corn maze, haunted hay ride, haunted house, etc.

So, even though I run to all of these festivities, I end up getting a lot more work done. Does that mean I don’t have trouble with my writing in the Fall? Oh hell no! I have a short story in the works right now that’s kicking my butt. I think I’m on the fourth re-write now and still don’t have a presentable first draft. I really do feel bad every time I tell my critique buddy it’s still not ready. But it’s being worked on and that’s what matters.

That said, faithful readers, you’ll be seeing some creative stuff from me soon.

Until then, I will leave you with a photo of my front yard.

Happy Halloween, readers and fellow bloggers!

Happy Halloween, readers and fellow bloggers!

A Woman’s Home is Her Fairy Tale Castle

My grandfather made me this castle/dollhouse because "every princess should have a castle." Miss you, Gpa!

My grandfather made me this castle/dollhouse because “every princess should have a castle.” Miss you, Gpa!

A new antique shop just opened a couple of miles from our rental home and I talked my reluctant husband into coming to check it out with me. We are looking to finally purchase a home of our own, and while my husband has been desperately trying to curb my spending (which I think I’m doing pretty darn well with, thankyouverymuch), I keep thinking—merely thinking—of things I want to buy for the house once we get it. Point being, antique stores are dangerous territory right now.

“I want one of these in the worst way,” I said, caressing the antique spinning wheel.

“A spinning wheel? What in the world would you do with that?”

Not knowing the first thing about spinning, I replied, “Put it in our living room once we get a house.”

“Okay,” he said, doing his best to keep the mild exasperation out of his voice. He is far too practical not to have rolled his eyes while my own glittered at the sight of the spinning wheel I haven’t the first clue how to use. “Why do you want to put an antique spinning wheel in our living room?”

I grinned. This was the question I so hoped he’d ask. “So I can tell people it’s the one on which Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger.”

I’m sure he wanted to laugh, but it was a sigh that came out. He’s heard numerous times about how when I was a little girl I wanted four white mice (because “four white mice are easily four white horses”); and he still has the wolfman mask from when I talked him into going as the Big Bad Werewolf for Halloween so I could go as Little Dead Riding Hood.

The Big Bad Werewolf and Little Dead Riding Hood

The Big Bad Werewolf and Little Dead Riding Hood

He rolled his eyes and sweetly said, “When we have a house, sweetie,” and started walking away, presumably to get me as far away from the spinning wheel as possible.

He shook his head as I informed him that the spinning wheel would make a perfectly acceptable birthday or Christmas present, but I detected a hint of an amused smile too.

I think he’s finally come to terms with the fact that he married a wanna-be fairy tale princess.