Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Spine Chillers: Bullies

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to address something about why I wrote the Spine Chillers series and to let you know a little more about me. There have been some concerns recently about the amount of bullying in my stories. I feel that I need to address this. 

The point of the stories isn't the schoolyard drama. The children are facing something that is more dangerous and monstrous, and through bravery the children endure it. However, there is a lot of schoolyard drama because it is unrealistic for there not to be. In the first two books of the Spine Chillers series there is no bullying. There are some kids that are annoying and even a little mischievous but no bullies. Later in the series, there are three books where the main characters have to deal with bullies. The last book is about a kid who hangs out with the bullies but isn't one himself, but he has to choose who he wants to fit in with in the end. 

Two of the characters are "geeky" characters, easy targets for bullies, and one is very quiet and shy. When I was a child, I was bullied quite a bit because I was quiet and shy. Two of my best friends fell into the "geeky" category and had the same problem that I did. We took self defense classes together which worked for my friends, but not so much for me because most of the bullying I endured was verbal. However, it gave me confidence to know that should it come down to shoving I could defend myself at least long enough to get away. 

The problem with bullies is no matter how many times you tell on them they usually don't go away. At first I wanted to solve the problem myself, but I finally asked my mom to talk to the principal when things didn't change.  For two weeks they left me alone but after that they were much worse. They despised me for getting them in trouble and would passive-aggressively push me in the halls. They went out of their way to make my life miserable in subtle ways, even making sure to arrange it so that they bunked with me during a field trip. (Thankfully the chaperone bunked with us as well, probably realizing what was going on.)

There was another problem at my school that made dealing with the bullies difficult. It seemed whenever they got in trouble it didn't phase them very much. They were given detention all the time, so detention or a scolding from the principal was like getting a slap on the wrist. While they did leave me alone for a short time, they didn't forget that I tattled on them or forgive it. 

Even as an adult when I've dealt with scenarios where I felt like I was being mistreated by someone in my job. Telling the boss usually ended with a lecture that I needed to "deal with it." And that is how the real world is. You can tell the authorities when someone is treating you unfairly and usually they tell you basically to suck it up. Children know this from a young age.

Another problem is that sometimes children don't have parents who will help them with bullying. Some parents even tell their children to deal with it, or resort to violence, or any number of things. Also the state of the world we live in is so sad that sometimes the parents themselves are worse than what the children deal with at school. This series isn't meant to appeal to only children with loving, attentive parents, so often in the series the characters have to rely on themselves. 

There are also backstories for all of the parents of the characters as well as the characters themselves. Not all of their parents are as kind and understanding as they appear. Ian's mother intimidates him, Duane's parents are accidentally negligent due to their jobs, Leila's mother thought she already dealt with the bully situation and Leila is too proud to tell her otherwise, etc. Basically there are reasons why the kids feel they can't tell their parents but that isn't the point of the stories. The stories aren't about their parents the stories are about the students.  

One of the things that motivated me to write this series was to give kids the courage to deal with their own problems. While that can be solved by telling their parents, most kids (at least from my experience) want to handle their own problems and feel embarrassed telling their parents that there is  a situation where they are being picked on and they don't know how to handle it. Part of coming of age is learning how to deal with difficult things, and dealing with bullying issues is very difficult problem. 

The reason why I wrote this series is to empower children. I wanted to show them that they are more capable and stronger than they feel that they are. Also, there are worse things in the world than schoolyard bullies, some of which children deal with every single day. The problems with the human bullies also is foreshadowing for what is to come later in the story. By the end the children have either handled the problem with those picking on them or have witnessed something so much worse that they are more confident that they can overcome something as simple as a problem with a bully.  

I hope this blog entry helps you understand what my motivations were with adding bullying to the majority of the stories. And while there are bullies in four of the six stories, if I write others they won't be prominent in every single story as you saw from the first two. However, right now there are only six stories in the series until I get more readers or more interest. I would love to write more in the Spine Chillers universe, so please if you like middle grade horror pick up a copy of one of my stories today. Thank you for your support! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bogged Down by Illness

Hello Everyone,

Well, it seems that my days of being well again were only in the single digits. Now I have bronchitis. This wasn't exactly unexpected. I have chronic bronchitis, but it does slow me down. I'm doing my best to finish the Christmas story, but I'm going at a pretty slow pace. I'm mostly dealing with a lot of fatigue. I'm counting my blessings it wasn't pneumonia. The way the doctor mentioned that made me slightly nervous. He kept saying things like, "I don't think we need a chest x-ray..." Chest x-ray? Eek!  Anyway, I'm going to try to take it as easy as I can with two children who are also still sick. (If getting over sickness makes you stronger, we're all going to be Spartans by the end of this ordeal. My entire household has been sick for over a month now.)

I'm working on the final draft of Spine Chillers: The Firefly. We should be able to publish it next week. I'm hoping that it will come out on Monday, but That depends on a few things. This weekend is going to be a busy one. I've had a great deal on my mind lately and it's sometimes hard to keep everything together. Also, I want to make sure its perfect or as perfect as it will be before I publish. As I mentioned, the bronchitis is slowing me down. I'll do my best.

I have the first sketch of the picture for the cover of the Christmas Spine Chiller. It looks awesome! I hope you enjoy it. We're planning a giveaway event to celebrate Christmas, so I'll keep you posted on that a little closer to time.  I'm hoping to get that story finished and ready to be published by sometime within the first two weeks of December, but I have a lot of work to do. While I have energy I've been devoting a lot of time to working on the story.

Something to show you how dedicated I am to these books and those who read them, I've been working on my stories instead of getting prepped to play in an awesome Dungeons and Dragons game. I've been looking forward to that game for months. I was going to send out a detailed character history, etc., and do everything to get ready and psyched up for the game, but I've barely done anything on it at all. Luckily, I'm reworking an old character history, so hopefully it won't take long when I finally get to work on it. Again, the problem is being ill makes me have to choose how I use my time. I get through with certain things and then I just feel like collapsing and resting for I do. If I don't force myself to rest I won't get better. The doctor said that rest right now is key.

Well, speaking of rest it's getting late. I have a little more work to do before I can relax, take my medicine, and curl up in bed. I'll keep you posted on the stories, and when I start feeling better maybe I'll tell you a little bit about my character for the game. Take care! Stay warm and try to stay healthy!

Hehe...I couldn't resist. Here's a picture of my character. Brynja is her name and yes, she might be a bard but she's also a viking! Her personality is a little like "Godbrand" from the Castlevania anime. I didn't draw this, but it seemed perfect for her given that it was clearly inspired by the video game Skyrim. Anyway, that's a sneak peek of what I'm planning for the game when I'm done with the awesomely fun horror stories I write. And no worries, even while I'm gaming I won't quit writing other stories. It's what keeps my imagination strong, and my characters need a voice. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the Spine Chillers series!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Future Plans

Hey Everyone,

Halloween is over. I'll miss it, but there are some things to look forward to coming up. We had a very fun party. Joel and I went as "Team Rocket" from Pokemon. I love Team Rocket. We might have to wear those costumes again in the future. It was pretty funny. We were still a little under the weather during our party, but I was glad we at least got to do it. I'm pretty sure that everyone had fun.

On the day of Halloween our girls dressed as a bee and a ladybug. They were adorable. We dressed as Team Rocket again and we all went trick-or-treating together. They did better this year than last year. The process still scares them a little but my oldest did say "Trick or Treat" when people opened the door and my youngest eventually got a little less frightened. We didn't get to many houses, but in the end the consensus was we all had fun. Overall it was a very good month and a very good Halloween. Now the depressing process of taking down the decorations must begin.

For those who haven't gotten a copy of Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes, now is still a good time. It would be a nice way to relive a little Halloween scare while it's still fresh in your mind. After all, what's more fun than a school Halloween carnival going terribly wrong?  If you like stories about dangerous bullies, revenge of the nerds, possession, demons, other dimensions, and the fear of what you are capable of, you might be interested in this book.

There are a few things to look forward to in November. The next book of the series, Spine Chillers: The Firefly is coming out around Thanksgiving. I'm currently working on a few content edits before I send it out to fix any grammatical errors. I'll be continuing the writing process for the last book of the Spine Chillers series coming out in December.

I've also made a decision that hopefully you'll like. I think I'm going to continue the adventures of the children in the stories in a new series that will take place when they are in high school. That's right, I'm going to make a young adult series with the same characters that were in the original stories. This will be another work in progress. I'll need to start making some new notes and new scenarios.

I will probably take a brief break from writing after the last book of the Spine Chillers series, but it won't be for long. Basically, I'll be working on getting it into local libraries and school libraries and maybe even making an appearance or two for a books signing. Wish me luck. I think kids will really enjoy this series and benefit from reading it if I can just get the word out.  Also, during my break, I'll finish the first book of the Fay Bitten series for a slight change of pace. If it is well received I might publish it at a later date, but we'll have to see.

Anyway, those are my future plans. I hope that you enjoy the stories! Please let me know that you're interested by picking up a copy of what is out, preferably The Beast of Black Pond or Empty Eyes, and giving me a review. I really would love to hear some feedback. Thank you!

Keep reading and writing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Hey Everyone,

I wanted to let you know that things in this household are slowly getting back to normal. My youngest daughter has two ear infections and I have one in my left ear that is the worst I've ever had, but we seem to be finished with the flu. Thank goodness. It was hard enough dealing with being sick myself, but seeing my other daughter with such a high fever was really rough. Being that sick makes you realize how powerless you are against things that you can't control. We did the best we could with the medicines we had and we seem to have made it out okay, at least for now. 

Please, get your flu shot! We would've gotten it sooner, but all of us were sick with various colds for two weeks previous to catching the flu and couldn't get the shot. The flu circulated earlier than usual this year too. Usually it's worse in November, but it's making its rounds early. Just a warning, please don't let your children go through what mine had to recently.

That aside, the new book should be out today or tomorrow. I'm really excited about it. Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes is one of the best ones I've written, possibly because the creatures in it terrify me. While I was writing it I felt paranoid and kept looking out my widow, which is usually a good sign. What would I have done if I saw two creepy, black eyed children looking in? My guess is probably screamed like a little girl, shut every curtain in the house, and hid in my room until I had to leave to pick up the girls from school. I probably would call my husband and the police, but as with any horror novel by the time help arrived they would be gone. I don't like to go to my door if I don't know the person knocking anyway, but two creepy children with black eyes, well that's right out.

In terms of writing goals, I have a few more content edits to make on Spine Chillers: The Firefly. I'm looking for that to come out about the twentieth of November, so I have a little time. There aren't many things I would like to change, but there are a few little things one of my test readers pointed out. Once I'm done with the content edits, I'll send it to be edited for grammatical mistakes. Once I'm done with that I'll be concentrating on the story that will come out around Christmas. I'm nearly finished with the opening chapter.  

Meanwhile, when I'm not neck deep in writing work or wallowing in illness and self-pity, I'm working on decorating the house for my yearly Halloween party. By some miracle despite our various illnesses it looks like we should all be better by Saturday, so I'm assuming we'll have our party. Therefore, I'm going to clean every inch of my house until there is no possibility of infection and finish the decorating. For those of you who don't know, decorating for this party is a month long event but it's worth it. I can't wait for everyone to see our costumes. Joel and I have a matching couples' costume that is going to be hilarious and fun. I'll post a picture when we're done. 

I guess that's all for now. I'll keep giving you updates on the next book.  I think as soon as Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes comes out I'll write the blog about the inspiration for the creature from The Beast of Black Pond. Beware, when I write that blog there will be spoilers for those who haven't read it, but I'll make that clear in the title.

I'll do the cover reveal for the new book as soon as publishing begins. It will be very soon. In the meantime, here are the banners for the previous books to tease you.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes is coming soon!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I've decided to publish Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes this week. I intend for it to be ready at the latest on Friday. I'm really excited about this one because it takes place around Halloween, and I'm hoping that my readers will be able to enjoy it around the same time of year. As you'll be able to tell from the cover, the villains of this story are the black-eyed children.

For those who don't know about them, the black-eyed children are pale, disturbing entities usually wearing hoodies disguised as lost children. They have entirely black eyes like that of a shark that look like empty holes in the right light. Their very presence puts people on edge. They ask a potential victim to invite them inside. If the unsuspecting soul does no one knows exactly what will happen. The black-eyed children scare me, so naturally I wanted to write a book about them.

Even though this story and The Beast of Black Pond are coming out around the same time, I hope that you'll consider reading both of them. Halloween is a key setting in both and even though my favorite story (being the first one I wrote) was The Beast of Black Pond, I think this one is a close second. Ian is a very fun character to write because he's a Dungeons and Dragons nerd and that makes him feel close to my heart. Also, I feel like it's one of the better stories in the series and I hope you'll enjoy it. If you do, please write a review. Any review I can get will be helpful to other readers and helpful to me.

I hope that you enjoy Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes, the fourth book in this series. There are two more books I'm planning to publish, Spine Chillers: The Firefly, and a special book around Christmas. The Christmas book is the final one that I plan for this series, but if I get enough sales and enough interest there could be more in the future. If you enjoy these books please let me know. I would love to write more of them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Primal Fears

Since I discussed a few fun facts about Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond on my last blog, I thought it might be fun to discuss some of the themes from the series and particularly this story. All of the villains in my stories are based off of primal fears, especially childhood fears. Most of these are things we grow out of when we're older, but some are still part of who we are. And to make this more personal, I'll use myself as the example.

I still have a bad phobia of spiders. I have vague memories of being a child and playing with one (before I knew better) that got in my bed. Most people realize when they lift their front legs up and swipe at your finger that means they're going to bite you, but this is a very vague memory so I have to assume I was very little. Anyway, it bit me and even if I don't have a clear memory of that experience I hate spiders now because I'm afraid of them. As I've gotten older, I've slowly gotten better about the fear and can confront them with a shoe or can of raid, but if one is on the ceiling I tend to stare at it. Honestly, I don't really like to kill them, so I'm hoping one day I get over it enough to take them outside rather than destroy the ones in my house. I can appreciate their beauty from a distance in their own environment.

Another example is the fear of dark water and drowning. I have this phobia too. There is one memory in particular that sticks out in my mind. I was playing in the ocean with my alligator float and somehow, after a wave knocked me off, I got my feet and arms tangled up in the rope used to hold on to the float. I was stuck upside down. I remember thinking I was really going to drown and the burning feeling of being unable to breathe when my granddad saved me. There have also been too many times when something unknown has brushed up against me in the dark water of the ocean, so long story short I don't like going deep enough to swim in the ocean anymore.

Finally, the last fear I can think of that I have is heights. I think this might be from back when I was in high school and was stuck upside down one one of those loop rides at the fair with only a lap strap and foot bar to hold me in. I was like that for probably ten minutes and I felt like at any moment that restraint could snap and that would be the end of me.  Dangling like that also gives you a good look at just how flimsy those rides are and that doesn't help things. I don't particularly like roller coasters now and have occasional dreams of falling down the stairs of Longstreet Theater. (For those who don't live in SC Longstreet Theater has a huge, long flight of marble steps all the way down to the street. There would probably be broken bones if you were to roll down all of them.)

Those are my main primal fears, spiders, dark water, and heights. Most of these stem from lack of control over one's environment, and know one feels a lack of control more keenly than a child. In my stories, there are basic primal fears and most of the creatures that attack the children embody one of these archetypal fears. For instance, the wolf spirit is supposed to evoke a fear of large animals. Also, the fact the battle takes place in the main characters head means it also is the embodiment of nightmares and fears that are hidden. 

In Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond, the obvious fear is of drowning and death, however there is a little more there. There is also the fear of the unknown. The pond is called Black Pond because the water is so murky and the shadows cast on it are so dark the water itself looks black. The creature within the pond has the impassive, cold nature of water but it also has the wrath of churned water in a storm. The scary thing about the creature is it can travel anywhere where water resides. Duane isn't even safe in his home. The opening scene when he has his "scare" in the pool is foreshadowing for what is to come. 

Other fears that are touched on in other novels are fear of the self (as in, fear of what you are capable of), fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of the dark, fear of loss, fear of strangers, etc. Look for these primal fears and tell me what you think the three books published so far embody. And since I've shared my fears with you, feel free to share yours here. It might be good inspiration and you might just find your fear in a future book...

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Beast of Black Pond is available for purchase! Here are some things about it...

Well, Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond is out in e-book form and hard copy on amazon. I'm so exited! I thought you might want to know a few things about this book and the series in general, so I thought I'd write a blog about it. I hope you enjoy it.

First of all, I'd like to tell you a little about this book that you might not know. It was the first book of this series that I wrote. It's gone through quite a few revisions before it became what it is today. When the book started out, the actual "beast" that haunted black pond was a creature known as a "grim." (You might have heard of a "grim" from the Harry Potter series. It actually is based on the legend of "black dog" ghosts or "hellhounds.") 

Anyway, the original "beast" in the pond was a spectral dog that dragged unsuspecting victims in to drown them. While I liked the image, it didn't seem to fit. So I used the idea in another story that I began to work on in tandem called Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf

A little off topic, those who have read the story Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf know that the actual creature chasing Jane isn't a black dog or wolf but a wendigo. A wendigo is a spirit of someone who was a cannibal when they were alive. It's an Algonquin legend. I did a great deal of research on the subject and tried to stick as close to the legend as possible. The only way I deviated that I know of it is that it originally came to Jane in the form of a spectral wolf. The reason it took the form of a wolf in my book was because it possessed a wolf to continue to hunt humans in an inconspicuous way. The imagery of a terrifying wolf spirit was taken from the original story of The Beast of Black Pond, but I think it works better in Big Bad Wolf.

Anyway, the real villain of Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond is something much more terrifying because the legend is still alive today. I didn't realize this until I did the research and started noticing imagery of this creature on signs, subdivision names, etc. In a few days I'll talk a bit about it. (I don't want to give away any spoilers here, so I won't tell what it is just yet. I'll be sure to tell you that the blog post is a spoiler in the title.) 

Another bit of trivia, Duane is my favorite investigator of the series. This is why it is his idea to create the club to fight monsters. He was an NPC in one of the games I ran for my friends called Little Fears. He was the "rich boy" but his parents were negligent. They aren't maliciously negligent, but his father is a surgeon and his mother is a nurse, so they tend to work long shifts and are tired when they get home. Because they don't approve of Duane's dream to write horror novels or horror comics, he tends to be the black sheep in his family. (Because his father is a surgeon, in the incident on the boat his father was able to bandage Duane's leg and stop the bleeding. He sent Duane to the hospital because he didn't have the supplies to treat the wound properly on the boat.)

The working title of this series was originally based on Duane's club called "Junior Investigator's Club." I chose Spine Chillers because after composing a list of potential titles it seemed the best. I didn't realize at the time that the name was taken. I even did a search for the name and nothing came up. Ironically, I did a search after publishing the first book and found out later this series name has been used before. I chalk it up to fate. If I had seen that there was another series with the same name, I wouldn't have named it the same thing. Funny how that happened. I think I give the theme of the "spine chiller" a darker style anyway.

I guess for now I've talked enough, but I'll be continuing to blog about this until the next book Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes comes out on October 28th. We're almost to Halloween. Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond and Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes take place around this special occasion, so please pick up a copy soon to live out the story at the perfect time!