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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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.

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.

One Day

Photo Credit: Kelly Rowles,
Pix|elation Photography
(link below)

I am living a lie.

It’s not an interesting lie. I’m not an international spy. I don’t have some second family secreted away in another state. I’m not a princess playing a peasant. No, it’s much more mundane than that. I just had the privilege of learning that the life I’m living is not the life for which I was meant.

Last weekend (so yes, I am a bit late on this post), I had the extreme pleasure of getting to model my gorgeous wedding gown at the MayFaire Moon Corsets and Costumes fashion show at Dorian’s Parlor. On that one day, I met some incredibly talented, beautiful, and overall wonderful people who embrace—no—live their creativity. It was that creativity, buzzing like an alarm clock all around me that woke me up to the fact that I’ve lost my creative self in the day to day life that I’ve been living. On that one day, the Universe bestowed upon me a moment of clarity necessary to change my perspective.

Right now, my life is very much about the daily grind, and getting done with everything that needs to be done to pay bills or keep promises. It’s not that my daily life is that bad.  But what became so clear to me in the presence of all of those fabulous people, is that they truly live their creativity while I always seem to put mine on the back burner. The life I keep telling myself I’m working toward is the one for which I never seem to have time. At the end of the day, after all of the other deadlines and expectations that my daily life requires are met, my own expectations are the only ones I can blow off without any repercussions.

Or can I?

The repercussions are that I’ve not met the goals that I’ve made for myself. Blowing myself off is why 13 Morbid Tales still isn’t finished. Blowing myself off is why I can’t lose that last 10 pounds (okay 15). Blowing myself off is how I’ve created a life in which all I have to look forward to is more of the daily grind that was never meant to be anything more than a means to an end. Blowing myself off is the reason that I look in the mirror and see that I’m a stranger in my own life, feeling trapped like a prisoner by that damned daily grind!  And this goes beyond finding balance. I tell myself that if I’d just “find a balance” all of this would work out, but it doesn’t. Telling myself this lie is just another way of making light of the issue and giving myself permission to blow myself off even further, as if finding balance is a simple fix that I have all the time in the world to make. And while I continue to tell myself this lie, the life I want continues to pass me by.

I’d like to make some declarative statement that “I’m done with this!” and move on, but this is something I frequently struggle with, and I tend to find myself in need of that one day to put it all back into perspective. I am so grateful that every now and then I get that one day to put me back on track. I owe a very special thank you to all of the amazing and creative people in my life who never fail to make that one day possible when I need it the most.

Now for the end-of-blog-post questions we have all come to expect, recognize, and dare I say, love: What is your ideal one day? What kind of things help get you back on track?

Also, please give some love to these fabulous people:

Photography – Pix|elation Photography
Clothing – MayFaire Moon Corsets & Costumes
MUA – The Changeling Room

That Scent

scentDo you ever catch a scent that brings you to someplace other than where you are?

I stepped outside this evening and caught that scent. The grass isn’t freshly mown. It was mowed a couple of days ago. That turned out to be perfect because I caught the faint smell of the wild flowers and of the warm air itself uninhibited by the newly cut grass smell.

Suddenly, I was 12 years old again. I was instantly transported back to my grandmother’s sun porch where my generation congregated during bath time. Then the memory added the faint smell of Dove soap (which I actually could smell because I’d just washed my hands), and Breck shampoo.

All of us cousins got to hang out on the sun porch while we waited for our turns for a bath. The adults probably would have preferred us to just be inside and stay inside after we were washed, but that would hardly be fair when the cousins we saw so rarely were still on the porch laughing and talking and getting to know each other all over again.

I remembered being told to be careful in my bare feet in the yard.  The adults would have preferred me (and all of us) to be shod, but I’d never really liked shoes. The whole point of summer was (and still is) to run around barefoot!

And then someone would get a nasty bee sting on the foot and we would have to endure the “told-ya-so” before we went out barefoot again. Or was that me and my childhood neighbors? Either way, it was the best of times.

It’s rare that I miss my past, but every time I catch that scent, I’m taken to a place in the past that I love and hold dear in my heart.

Summer

Summer, like the Starks say about Winter (you’re welcome, GoT fans), is coming, and I want the carnivals and festivals, the beach, and a base burn (as unhealthy as I know a burn is, I know that if I burn once, it won’t happen again for the rest of the summer). I want to drive around a neon lit town with the sunroof open to the smell french fries, pizza, and boardwalk burgers on the night air. I want to pretend, or rather, truly believe, that I honestly do love everyone in the beach side bar.

But what does this mean for my writing? As spotty as my progress has been, I notice it waning even more with the warm weather, the sound of night bugs, and that smell of summer. And I can’t deny, I’m most prolific in the Fall, when the weather, and general feel of my part of the world, changes.

How do you, especially those with demanding jobs in addition to this writing thing (this most certainly includes stay-at-home-motherhood), stay on task when the weather outside is your preferred weather?

Finally, Some Productivity!

I have recently been reminded that if there is something about my life I don’t like, it is up to me, and no one else but me, to change it.

This led me to a productive weekend. Rather than sitting around sulking or dreading Monday morning’s arrival, I set myself a list of things to do. While making a list is not really different from any other weekend, this weekend was different because I actually tackled the list.

The biggest entry on the list was to get some writing done. I’d actually had quite a few ideas running back and forth in my head, and it was time to get them from my head to the paper.  As I’d mentioned in a previous blog, getting the thoughts on paper hasn’t been going so well for me lately. Getting frustrated with my lack of results, or more accurately, what I believed to be low quality results, made it easy to procrastinate.

But I had some extra motivation in the form of my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. Because my husband ordered me not to spend any more money, and because I felt I still owed him another gift, I decided that I would write him a story.

Of course, this is still me, so it’s still a morbid tale (meant for inclusion in 13 Morbid Tales), but he was the inspiration for it and so it should be “his” story.

I hope this momentum keeps up. After all, it is up to me to become the writer I want to be.

How do all of you keep momentum going?