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

I Interrupt This Programming for a Cover Reveal

I am happy to announce that 13 Morbid Tales has a cover.

13MT front cover post proof 600 dpi

Isn’t it gorgeous!

First, I have to give a huge shout out to Janell R. Colburn. Not only did this extremely talented woman create some beautiful cover art, but she was really pleasant to work with. Easy going and intuitive, she did not disappoint. Thanks, lady! You rock!

And no, your eyes do not deceive you. That cover does say that 13 Morbid Tales has been edited by Reggie Lutz, another amazing woman I am proud to know and thrilled to be working with, who spared no red ink in the editing process. Thanks, lady! You rock!

(Stay tuned for more on upcoming projects with Reggie.)

So, when might you get to see the interior of this book?

I am thrilled to announce that I also have a release date! You will be able to acquire your very own copy of 13 Morbid Tales on October 1, 2015

#13MorbidTales

Friends, Family, and Rock and Roll

Moving 3,000 miles away from your family and friends is emotional no matter how much you want it not to be. No matter how hard you reason that, I only saw them once or twice a year anyway, or that, Technology keeps us connected no matter how far away we are, the physical distance and the emotions that come with it cannot be denied.

My emotions manifested themselves in absent mindedness and minor meltdowns. I had a meltdown at my husband’s parents’ house when it was time to leave and I couldn’t find my keys, a meltdown at my parents’ house when it was time to leave and I couldn’t find my keys, an almost-meltdown at a friend’s place when it was time…ugh…you get it. I misplaced my damn keys three times before getting out of Pennsylvania…and don’t even get me started on my phone!

Of course, this emotional absent mindedness gets worse when I’m stressed, and we still had stressful things to do before we could leave familiar ground.

We were actually still driving both cars as we rolled into Pennsylvania. My husband’s car had a few things in it that we were giving away and therefore didn’t pack in the car that was actually making the trip. This meant that we still had to sell or junk his car (and believe me when I say it was time to do one or the other). The task was not turning out to be as easy as we thought and we were running out of time. We could NOT take that car with us outside of central Pennsylvania.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to. A family friend offered to take if off our hands for the price a junk yard would have given us so he could rebuild it himself. We left his car at my parents’ place and headed toward Pittsburgh.

It was on that stretch that the move became a reality. There was no more land west that I really knew. I pushed any and all trepidation out of my head and thought about the great night ahead with friends in Pittsburgh.

It was the next day, on our way to Cleveland, OH that the guilt set in. I’d had such a great time catching up with friends and family on the way: drinking good beer with a fellow writer on her gorgeous patio, playing/listening to music in another friend’s living room with more good beer, checking in on the mad lives of artist friends, assuring the family that we’d be just fine while simultaneously being assured by them that we’d be just fine. So much love in those first few days on the road. I felt guilty about the people our itinerary didn’t allow for us to see and make even more memories with. We only had one day in Cleveland and a handful of friends who live in the area. However, being a weekday, I only felt a little guilty about hitting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Cleveland rocks!

Cleveland rocks!

We did it quickly. Racing through the exhibits, we kept our eyes peeled for things of specific interest while trying to absorb as much as possible. Not the best way to see anything, but I can say that we did see everything before racing to dinner and drinks with friends and then getting a good night’s sleep before heading to Indianapolis…our last stop with friends.

Previous Post: East Coast to West Coast and Back to the Blog

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

East Coast to West Coast and Back to the Blog

We moved across the country.

No, it did not take the over-a-year since my last post to do so. I directed my attention to a number of other things within that time that have led to some exciting announcements that I’m…well…excited to make soon. But first…

This is the actual Atlas we used. Who am I kidding? We used GPS. But this was totally our back up.

This is the actual Atlas we used. Who am I kidding? We used GPS. But this was totally our back-up.

We moved 3,000 miles from our old address in Connecticut to our new address in Washington. It’s a long story that happened fast, which doesn’t translate to great blog material, so I’ll give you the short version. My husband and I had been planning to move to the Seattle area for a while, so we were on a month to month lease so we could drop and run as soon as something worked out. This plan worked out perfectly well until the landlord needed the apartment. We found ourselves with 42 days to move and, not being particularly happy in Connecticut, we weren’t going to sign another lease binding us there. Even if we could get another month to month lease, I didn’t want to move in some place just to turn around and move out again.

So instead, I flew to Seattle, found us place to live, and came back to Connecticut to pack. We packed our boxes. The movers packed the boxes in their truck (I still have too much rage over the movers to speak of them in any coherent manner). We packed all of the things we would need for our 11 day journey for us—and for our cat—into my (now our) car and pulled out of our driveway on the hill for the last time.

Now, I love my car. I love to drive my car and was so looking forward to the legendary open highways “Out West” where the speed limits are 85mph and 90mph if posted at all. I’d only ever heard people talk about them before, but now I was going to see them—and more importantly, drive them—for myself.  However, the reality of spending the better part of two weeks in the car with the husband, the cat, and all of our crap had me more than a little frazzled. But it was too late to turn back. We were on our way to the exotic land of Pennsylvania, the first set of stops on our journey.

Next Post: Friends, Family, and Rock and Roll

Read It: Haunted

Haunted coverI could not be more excited to announce that Haunted, a novel by my dear friend and intensely talented writer Reggie Lutz, is available for your reading pleasure!

And yes, I do mean pleasure. I was lucky enough to beta read this book. More than once I found myself so engrossed in the story that I forgot to do my beta reader job and had to go back. Yeah. It’s that good.

So what’s it about?

Gwendolyn McTutcheon can’t move on even though she’s been dead for a year. Having left behind a grieving husband, Evan; and three sisters, Trudy, Bethany, and Sarah; she knows there is work yet to do. 

Sarah, Gwen’s youngest sister, is back in town to help her two remaining sisters confront a depressed Evan about settling Gwen’s will. Still grieving—and raw from wrongful accusations made by Trudy and Bethany that he’d murdered his wife—Evan must set to the task of putting the past, and Gwen, to rest. But not all of the past stays in the past when Sarah offers her help and a romance between her and Evan begins. After all, it was that inappropriate kiss years ago that sparked the notion he might have harmed his wife in the first place. 

As Gwen watches, unable to intervene, Trudy and Bethany keep secrets of their own, secrets that level the field and make Sarah consider coming home to stay again. But when an arsonist sets his sights on Evan’s bar, Duard’s, and Sarah’s life is threatened, Gwen knows she must find a way to intervene, for her family and for her own peace. 

So, you know….

Buy Haunted for Kindle

Buy Haunted for Nook

Buy Haunted on Smashwords

Got it? Yes? Great!

I’m also thrilled to announce that Reggie and I have teamed up on a project that’s coming along swimmingly. We’ve had moments of wowing each other and surprising ourselves and just generally having a great time telling a story. It’s been fun living in our post-apocalyptic dystopian world and we can’t wait to invite you to hang out with us there.

Soon, my pretties. Soon.

On that note, I have some work on that project to go do now.

But seriously, buy Haunted. You won’t regret it!

Love Sonnet for the Monsters

So…it all started when I set out to write a proper Shakespearean sonnet. I wanted to write a love sonnet to the monsters. I’m thinking of using this as a forward or afterward or something-or-other in 13 Morbid Tales, but for now, let’s just celebrate the season…

Love Sonnet for the Monsters

By Devon L. Miller ©2013

When dark descends the mighty werewolves howl.

And specters float from their crypts in the night.

Take care and listen for the demon’s growl

As vampires perform an ancient blood rite.

One dares not step into the mummy’s tomb,

And should not walk on zombies’ vacant graves.

For these things surely can mean a man’s doom,

No solace found at the mouths of bats’ caves.

A letter in blood sent by raven’s claw,

Received with shaking hands and bated breath,

Only to be snatched by the Hell hound’s jaw,

Or the cold grip of the one we call Death.

To some, a terrible nightmare it seems,

To me, it makes for most romantic dreams.

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…

View original post 92 more words

Hungry Like the Wolf

I wrote this story many moons ago—how many moons, you ask. Well, I originally posted it on MySpace, so yeah…moons. I deleted it from MySpace when I decided to use it in 13 Morbid Tales but since my work has evolved, I no longer intend to use it in the final product. Does that mean I don’t think it’s a good story anymore? Absolutely not. This is why I’m sharing it with you all now. Hope you enjoy! And again, Happy Halloween! 

Hungry Like the Wolf

            She walked down the wooded path with him as he stumbled, the smell of alcohol on his breath. Darkness settled in slowly, but settled in nonetheless. She had begged him to take her home, but he was in no condition to drive. “No matter,” she had said with a shrug and a toss of her long, black tresses. It wasn’t that far into town and so she had insisted that she would walk. He had insisted that he would come along. Her honor needed protecting, after all. Yet the thought had occurred to her that protecting her honor was the last thing on his mind. She didn’t like him when he was like this, and she realized it especially in this moment. The thought that things would be so much safer if she was by herself ran through her head as the hairs on the back of her neck not only stood on end, but seemed frozen that way.

            Her friends had warned her not to go out with him that night. They told her that she didn’t know what she was getting into, but she was having none of it. She had looked forward to the harvest party all summer and no power in the heavens was going to stop her from going. I’m in control of the situation, she had told herself, and truly she had believed it. If things started getting a little uncomfortable, she’d leave.

            But now, she began to rethink all of her choices. The discomfort was growing and her legs itched with the need to run. It had rained earlier that day, and the mist crept up from the ground. Sonofabitch! She thought to herself as his hand, that had only moments before, while still at the party, been protectively resting on her shoulder, slid down to cup her breast. This is the way scenes in bad horror movies start. Lately, she had been realizing that bad horror movies weren’t always wrong. She moved his hand away. This was no time for too much liquor, raging hormones, and desire, to mix.

            He moved his hand back and she pulled away from his grasp. “Come on, Jim. I told you, not tonight. I want to go home.”

            The hand that hadn’t been grabbing at her breast still clasped a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. He clumsily brought it to his lips and took a bigger drink than necessary. “So that’s why you decided to come walking all slinkily down the path by yourself. No, you didn’t want me to follow you at all,” he said, his voice thick with sarcastic frustration as he tore a hand through his shaggy, blond hair.

            Her eyes flashed, even in the dark. “I’m walking because you continued to get drunk and couldn’t take me home! There’s no sense in anyone getting killed…” She was cut off by him kissing her hard on the mouth. When she managed to shove him away, she noticed that in his aggression, he had split her lip. She licked it and tasted blood. The situation was getting worse.

            It seemed that he had tasted it too. “Baby, I’m sorry,” he said, and it seemed for a moment that she’d be free. No such luck. “But we both know you can handle a little pain, right,” he continued. He walked back toward her with more motion in his hips than any man should ever have. She could tell that he wasn’t through with these advances by far, and they were alone.

            This can’t happen, she thought. He has to let me go. She had always been so comfortable in the woods, even at night. But she knew if this happened, the trees would know. They’d see, and her place of solace would become her place of shame.

            He advanced toward her and knocked her backwards. She winced against the pain as her head hit the ground hard.

            “No!” she cried as he settled himself on top of her.

            “I don’t fuckin’ get you, Amber!” he said, his voice rough and hoarse. He pinned her shoulders down and kissed her neck in a way that was more a bite than a kiss. “One minute we’re hot and heavy and the next you’re acting like some shy virgin!” He pulled his shirt over his head. “We both know that virgin shit isn’t true. Now come on; let me feel those nails down my back again.”

            My God! He’s going to get his way, she thought as she cried against the pain of the splitting flesh as her nails grew, extending into claws.

            Then the clouds parted, and she saw the full moon in all its glory. She looked into eyes that were growing wide with shock and fear. “I begged you to take me home!” she sobbed. But the words came in growls and the tears were lost in the sleek, black fur growing on her face.

            And this time, the blood she licked from her lips was his.