The Green Side of Life: Veggie Garden August 2022.

I posted pictures and a video of the garden HERE. There’s a bit of commentary, but basically, I kinda rock when it comes to growing tomatoes. I thought I had four kinds, normal, grape, Roma, and cherry. Turns out I didn’t. What I thought were Roma tomatoes turned out to be grape. If they all ripen at once I’ll have more than I can use, so people at work will get some. Hubby also said I should give some to the food kitchen in town. I like that idea better.

Squash are doing wonderful. I was worried for a while because the first fruit was turning yellow and falling off the vine. I read up about it and it said that the fruit wasn’t being pollinated. Okay, the problem with that is, that there were no flower blooms on them. I have four vines growing off each plant and now they’re doing wonderful now. I thought one plant was a pumpkin, but nope. Both butternut squash.

Cucumbers are doing good, despite what the video showed. I just forgot to water them that morning. I don’t mind the peppers being that small either. They have more flavour and I use the whole pepper instead of just part of it. I had one that turned orange, but it went soft very quickly.

The only herb I lost was sage, and my carrots went too. I’m not sure about the leeks or lettuce. Those were more of ‘let’s see if I can grow it’, deal.

Pictures of the garden are HERE.

Video is HERE.

Of Writers and Prose: Creating a special occasion in your story.

Have I mentioned that I am in love with the world I created for my alternate reality story?

Okay, maybe a few times, but this is a place where I’ve let my imagination run wild with possibilities and mashed two genres together, or maybe three. I don’t know. Okay, let’s not call it mashing how about blending?

One reason I love this world so much is that I get to create holidays. I believe holidays are important to stories. It allows you to explore the culture you’ve created, and it can offer some wonderful opportunities for your characters to interact and reflect. Because this is an alternate reality, I chose to expand on some well-known celebrations; keeping them familiar while adding just enough of a twist that they are unique.

It sounds like a daunting task, but I made it easy for myself by jotting down a few things about the holiday that I know. For example, Halloween. First celebrated as the end of harvest and end of the year by some cultures, celebrations revolved around the finality of the growing season. The end of something scare people because they don’t know what will happen afterward, so I designed a playful ritual where a volunteer dresses up as a Banshee (or as I spell it for the novel Banshii) and is led through the parish by someone dressed as an undertaker. Children throw flowers at them as they pass by and chant a little poem. If the Banshii stops near someone, they throw several small bones, and the bones foretell the future for that person, but it’s all for fun.

I also expanded on the idea of covering mirrors. Instead, all windows and doors are covered with heavy black material, with only the homes of people who lost a loved one within the past year remaining uncovered. The idea is, that the newly departed soul returns on this day for one last visit, and might get confused as to which house they once lived in. The covered windows and doors make it easy for the spirit to find their family, and for the neighbours to show respect for the dead. I made this a very strong superstition in the story.  

Those are just small adjustments to traditions that are still widely performed. Do you put celebrations in your stories? How do you create them?

Writing Update: July 2022

What a month! July seemed to fly by, but then I took a week off from work, and vacations always go fast. It’s like they’re in their own time zone or something.

In case you missed it, The Quiet Dead is now live and available at all the regular ebook markets! I spent seven years on this project, and it’s not the same story it was back then, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out. Better than I could have imagined, so if you’re into zombie novels, give it a look. Don’t worry; you get a sample of the story. I always make sure of that, but the length of the sample depends on where you purchase it. Amazon has about half of the first chapter, and all the retailers via Smashwords have about a quarter of the chapter. The price is different on each site as well. I’m sorry, but I can’t upload to each location, so I tried to keep the book priced under $5.

You can find your retailer HERE.

The second book I want to release is my contemporary fantasy The Magical Hair Solution, formerly Eva and Skye’s Magical Hair Solution. I changed the title to reflect the fact that there will be multiple POVs in upcoming books. I could add in a bit more and do it with this first one, but honestly, I don’t want to. I’m working on the second book and I’ve written scenes from the POV of two other characters; Skye, and Eva’s brother Dom. I plan on one more because I want people to see what happens to her. Skye’s home life is very different from Eva’s and it becomes more so in the second book. Also, it’s a contemporary fantasy, not magical realism. Turns out what I thought was M.R. wasn’t. I forgot how much work goes into putting a book out AFTER you’ve written it, so I’m not going to rush this, but I plan on getting it out before the end of the year.

The podcast is doing great! I have a couple more episodes left to air, and then it goes into ‘reruns’. I do have a second season lined up, and hope to start interviewing in September. If you haven’t given it a listen you can find it on Amazon, Google, Spotify, Apple, and Anchor.

I have decided I’m not going to write any more scripts. With all the novels I want to publish, I feel like it’s wasted energy to work on them. Not that I’m trunking the script stories. I can turn them into novels easily enough and publish them as stand-alone. This is what I’m doing with my Malice tv series. It’s based two hundred years after my zombie books and I think I’ve found an original take on a few classic monsters. It’s also on Wattpad for free. It’s a marketing/promo thing for my zombie series. I’m purposely connecting certain landmarks from the novels into the series. Want to know what happens after the series? Read Malice. Want to know what happened with the Great Plague? Read the novels. Get it. Cross promotion. You can read it on Wattpad HERE.

I’m proud to say I have put out 4 newsletters this year. Seems I’m on a roll! Zombies! Magic! Vengeful spirits! Who knew the world could be so exciting and dangerous at the same time? Subscribe to my newsletter and become the first to know when it all arrives.  http://www.darkeconteur.com/

What’s on the Ereader?: Chills, by Mary SanGiovanni.

CHILLS is described as a ‘True Detective meets H.P. Lovecraft’. I’ve never read any Lovecraft so I was very intrigued.

I found this book during my zombie book feast a few years back and downloaded a sample, but it wasn’t until May that I finally read it. It’s the first horror story I’ve bought. Usually, I stay away from that genre, but lately, I’ve been daring enough to try a few, and no, I don’t consider zombie books as horror, but that’s a different post.

The book takes place in a small town called Colby, in Connecticut. The town is ground zero for a cult that creates a doorway into another realm to unleash creatures from that realm into this one. There are a lot of grisly murders and cultish goings-on, wrapped up in a strong plot with interesting characters. The story moves along nicely and the plot kept me engaged so that even during the slower moments, I was hooked enough to keep reading.

The story jumps between two main characters; Kathy Ryan, a paranormal investigator, and Detective Jack Glazier. I’m not used to reading a story with multiple POVs, and at first, I found this a little distracting. Jumping between two POVs always throws me and takes a few paragraphs before I get back into the it, but there were sides to this plot that couldn’t be told from just one angle – especially during the final battle scenes – so it was necessary.

The only drawback I have deals with the deaths of four townsfolk. Ms. SanGiovanni goes into great detail about each of their deaths, but apart from showing how the creatures kill, it didn’t move the story forward and she could have left the other three out, as the characters who died were of no importance to the overall plot and were barely mentioned afterward, other than the fact they died.

Overall, this was a good story.

3 stars.

Of Writers and Prose: And then my flash drive crashed, Your Honour.

It was that kind of month, lemme tell ya.

For over thirty years, I’ve struggled to find a reliable means to save my writing. When I started, I used a plastic binder and paper. I had boxes of binders and loose paper that had the beginning of stories that eventually went nowhere, and I had to get rid of them because they became a fire hazard. I bought a word processor in my mid-20s that saved everything to a floppy (don’t you DARE ask me what a floppy is), and I loved it. All my work was right there at my fingertips. When I bought my first computer five years later, it didn’t recognize the word processor program, and I had to print everything out and type it into my computer. That was fine. I formatted the floppy and reused it, and everything was right with the world until computers no longer had floppy drives, and I had to save directly to my computer.  The first time my computer died, I swear I cried for days. My writing was my only outlet; my husband knew this and wasn’t too upset as we went into debt to buy me a new one. I learned my lesson too, and started looking for ways to save the work OUTSIDE of my computer.

Enter my Dropbox phase.

For years I used this online program to save all my work and a few extra things, and then someone introduced me to flash drives. I put finished stories on my flash drive, as well as family pictures. I thought it was the perfect way to save those files and keep space open on my computer. When Dropbox decided to reduce how much I could store, I added all of my writing and kept only the projects I was working on at that moment on my computer.

And then . . .  well, the title says it all. Good thing my kid has enough money for bail.

The same day I released The Quiet Dead, I accidentally bumped my flash drive while it was still connected to my computer, and everything went P00F! I. Mean. Everything. Pictures, finished stories, story ideas, and first drafts of novels I planned on publishing. It was like that first computer crash all over again. Blerg. Yet this story has a happy ending. See, it USED TO BE that if you crashed a flash drive, that was it, but I found technology that allows you to recover those files. It cost me $60, but it was worth it. I got all my files back and then some.

Yeah, and then some. Over four thousand files.

Ninety percent were duplicates, and I’ve been going through it all, deleting the files that the computer can’t read and saving the ones it can under a new name. I found stories that were so old I didn’t recognize them. I thought maybe they weren’t mine, but why would I have other people’s work on my flash drive? Anyhoo, my stories are back, and everything is right with the world again. Have I learned my lesson? Who the hell knows, but if I ever have a problem again, I’m going to THIS SITE.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

COVER REVEAL!

The ebook goes live July 15th, and there’s a short excerpt at the back for the second book in the series.

Blurb:

In the middle of a deadly pandemic, forty-five-year-old Jolene Sadler hides out at her trailer in Wasaga Beach Canada, with her daughter and a few neighbours. Mainly it’s to get away from her abusive ex, but as the world falls apart, it becomes a refuge where they can ride out the pandemic in relative security, but things are never what they seem.

The world descends into a chaotic madness, and desperation seeps into the camp along with the virus. Rumours spread that the illness makes people go mad, but Jolene witnesses a truly frightening affliction firsthand; resurrection. To complicate matters, her ex is discovered at the campground which forces her into an ugly confrontation. As their haven devolves into a graveyard, she and her small group are forced out onto the open road with few supplies and even fewer options.

As her ex and the dead haunt their every step, their journey culminates into a showdown for their lives, but sometimes a bad situation can turn the tide, especially when hopelessness leaves Jolene with only one option.

Writing Update: June 2022

Happy Long Weekend!

Not a long update. I spent most of the month working on the final edits for my plague novel, which I plan to put out in July. It’s been a long time since I’ve put out a book, and I want this to be in the best shape possible that’s why it’s taking longer. I forgot how much goes into releasing a book; getting the IBSN, updating all the publishing sites I use, getting into promo mode. It feels weird being back in it again.

I’m doing a cover reveal on July fourth. If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you would have seen it already.


The Strong Women, Strange Worlds podcast is going great and after only a few weeks, we have subscribers! I’m still working on the last two interviews for the first season, and then I’ll take the summer and work on plans for the second season. I already have a list of authors that are as varied as the first group. If you’ve missed any of the interviews for June, here they are.

 So far this month, I’ve interviewed,

Patricia Correll and her horror story Juniper Bird

E.C. Ambrose with her historical fiction Drakemaster

Anne Nydam’s MG book The Extraordinary Book of Doors

Amy Grech’s short story Bruised and Battered Nevermore.

The podcast is found on Anchor, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Podcast, and Apple music, and I truly hope you’ll stop by and give them a listen. You could find a whole new TBR list.


The Magical Hair Solution

With The Quiet Dead TBR, I can focus on the other book I want to put out this summer; the first book in my magical realism series The Magical Hair Solution. I’ve changed the title because I plan to have multiple POVs in future stories. It’s not just about Eva and Skye, but about something that’s been growing within the magical community for a while. Right now it’s from Eva’s POV as an introduction to the magical world, but the next book and future ones have situations that involve other characters from the first book.

Here’s another story that I am so excited about. This is a recent story too. I started it in 2020 and queried it in the fall of 2021. When nothing happened I started thinking about small press, but I’m so impatient sometimes and instead opted to self-publish. It won’t be out until late summer or early autumn, but I’ll post updates.  

Have a great holiday weekend!

The Knitting Project: 2022 Project.

Welp, this is as far as I’ve come with my project. This box has been sitting in the corner for a couple months now.

I’ll get to it, eventually. That is all.

Writing Update: May 2022.

This is going to be a short update as most of this month was spent working at my day job instead of on writing projects, but we’re almost back to normal and that means more hours for me. I’m not complaining. More hours means more money I can put away for writing projects.

The Quiet Dead

I got this manuscript back from my editor at the beginning of the month and spent the first two weeks going over it with a fine-tooth comb. There were a few places where she said I needed to keep the tension and a few others where she questioned the need for a certain character. I thought that myself, but couldn’t see a way around *not* having him so that I could get the final showdown that I wanted. There’s a reason she does what she does in that final scene, and it’s I want to link it all to the relationship she was in prior to the world falling apart. I can go into more detail when the book comes out.

June I have an appointment with a graphic artist to do my cover. She did the last few covers for me for my last series and I can’t wait to work with her again. I may be keeping her busy for the summer.

Alternate Reality

I did work on my alternate reality story, and I’m still without a working title. It really bugs me that I don’t have one. I got so desperate that I checked out some title generators online but they didn’t spark any ideas.

I fixed a motivational problem with one of the characters as well. This wasn’t a hard revision but did take up most of my writing time after I was done with my zombie novel. I’ve set a goal to have the first draft done by the end of the summer, but it won’t be anywhere near publishable until next year sometime.

Secret Project

For a while now, I’ve been working on something, that while it is writing-related, isn’t really writing. I am the host of the Strong Women, Strange Worlds podcast. I interview women who have appeared on the SWSW panel, and go a little deeper into their stories. I’d been wanting to do a podcast for a while, but had no idea what to do it on and had decided to scrap the idea, when Terri Bruce, messaged me and we talked.

The first episode airs Friday, June 3rd at 8 pm EST. I’ll post a link here when it’s live. I really hope you tune in. They’re not long, only 30 minutes and you get to hear these wonderful ladies talk about the inspirations behind their stories. You also get to hear a bit of them as the author reads a ten-minute piece. I interview award winners, trad, indie, and self-published authors of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I hope you’ll give it a listen.

For those of you who subscribe to my newsletter, I have updates to the maps I put up last month, and if you’d like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter that features more than just an update, you can click HERE and it’ll take you to my web page and you can sign up from there.

See you next month!

Writing Update: April 2022

Look at me being all accountable and posting two months in a row.

The Quiet Dead

My zombie plague novel is with an editor now. I should have it back shortly and I can start working on it again. I keep toying with submitting it to small press, but then I think, what if they don’t want the other books? There are at least five in the series, and I promised myself that I would put out the whole series. On top of that, I’m having an argument with myself on whether or not this is horror or thriller. Most zombie novels fall into horror (or so they’re tagged), but when I think of what defines the horror genre, I come up with stories that send chills up my spine and make me not want to turn the lights out. This is a story about surviving a zombie apocalypse and while the dead coming back to life is pretty scary, I don’t think it qualifies as Horror. At least, not mine. They’re mostly just a prop or a motivation that pushes the story forward.

Down Finnegan’s Hollow

I finished the major revision to my ghost story, Down Finnegan’s Hollow. I’ve added a few turns that, I think, have made it a better story than what I originally wrote. I’m putting this one away for a bit. Let it ferment, and I’ll look at it again in a couple of months. For now, I’m just basking in the fact that it’s done!

Untitled Alternate Reality

The Story Formerly Known as Gutterchilde is what I’m working on next. I’m very excited about this book too, and I think there’s a good chance I’ll finish the first draft this year because it’s the same kind of excitement I had for Eva and Skye. Hell, I might even add the Arlington Creed spin-off series to my list.

I took this story back to the drawing board, so to speak, gutting it completely, but retained some key points. I’m also working on maps that I want to include when I set it up to publish, to give the reader some points of reference. I love city-building games, so map-making is an extension of that. My deadline is to complete the first draft by August 31st. I should have a good idea at this point, as to whether or not to work on the second book of my zombie plague novel. The first draft for that book is already written, and I have half of the first draft for the second Eva and Skye done as well.    

Ugh, so many stories, but the important part is I’m finally in a place to release them.  

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