Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Siging Open and Free to Public Saturday, May 5--6:00 to 8:00 PM in Virginia Beach

There will be a book signing of the For the Love of Writing Conference is free to the public Saturday, May 5th at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center 2800 Shore Drive Virginia Beach, VA 23451. Here's hotel phone number too, for directions and all: 757-481-9000. The signing is 6- 8 p.m.  Directions

Friday, April 27, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Ghost Strawberries

I thought this would be something different for Supernatural Friday: a recipe. With strawberry season sneaking up on us, why not make ghosts out of strawberries for a cool, skerry snack or dessert.

24 large fresh strawberries

8 ounces white chocolate or white chocolate chips

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with waxed paper.

2. Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Make sure they're truly dry and don't have any wet patches, otherwise you'll have trouble dipping them.

3. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring after every 30 seconds until it is smooth and fluid. If you are using white chocolate chips, they might be quite stiff when you melt them, so you can add a spoonful of vegetable shortening to make the chocolate more liquid if necessary.

4. Hold a strawberry by the stem and dip it in the chocolate until it is almost entirely covered. Hold it over the bowl and let the excess drip back into the bowl, then scrape the bottom against the lip of the bowl. Place the berry on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Repeat the process until all of the strawberries are covered with white chocolate. Refrigerate the tray until the chocolate is set, for about 15 minutes.

6. While you're waiting for the white chocolate to harden, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and place it in a plastic bag. Cut the tip off and pipe the eyes and mouth.

7. Decorate the strawberries with the chocolate so that they have eyes and mouths and resemble ghosts. Let the chocolate set completely before serving.

8. Ghost Strawberries are best eaten the day they are made. Store them in the refrigerator until serving.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Tribute to the Only Vampire I Allow to Bite My Neck!

On a day fitting that he should pass away--Friday the 13th, 2012--Jonathan Frid did so. I admit I prefer werewolves and other shapeshifters as my favorite horror/paranormal creatures, and always have, but Barnabas Collins has and always will be, the only vampire who won my heart.

I remember when I finally watched Dark Shadows for the first time. It was just before he appeared. He wore the outfit and long cape of a man from the 1700s, but after Willie Loomis released him, he took possession of the Old House and dressed in modern dress with a caped coat such as Sherlock Holmes might wear, went to the Collins House for the first time. There was something about him that touched me even before he left the darkside for the light. Jonathan Frid brought this vulnerability that pushed through the layers of darkness.

No other vampire has done it for me since. And he brought forth the tormented vampire, long before Angel came along. And yes, I think Buffy would have never staked Barnabas--he would have charmed her.

The new movie by Tim Burton is coming out, a comedic endeavor, but those of you who see it and think that's the Dark Shadows my generation watched, it's not. If you can get hold of DVDs or find it on Hulu (not the free one--that is the 90s remake with Ben Cross and he did not free me of my devotion to Frid's vampire), do so. Ignore the mistakes the soap made when filming and watch it for what it brought: something timeless. And you too just might fall in love with a vampire named Barnabas Collins.

I Did Guest Blog on Haunt Jaunts Blog

I was asked to do a tribute to Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum. Remember this place is the cover for my second nonfiction ghost book, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales. It was also a source of real ghost stories besides those those ones from the attraction. . Check out the rest of the Haunt Jaunts blog--a cool place.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Honestly, he just wanted to see where he'd been.

The Winner of Robert Bailey's Guest Blog from April 9th

Congratulations, Cheryl.  You are the winner of Robert Bailey's guest post on my blog from Monday. Robert will be contactng your snail mail address to receive the signed copy of Dying Embers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Innsmouth Magazine: Collected Issues 1-4 Now Available-My Short Story, "Azathoth is Here" included in Issue 1.

My Lovecratian horror story, AZATHOTH IS HERE, is in Issue 1 of Innsmouth Magazine: Collected Issues 1-4 free on Kindle right now--normally $3.99. My short story was voted by readers as best in that issue in 2009 after it came out.
This e-book collects the first four issues of Innsmouth Magazine. Journey to Innsmouth, work at the office and the job from hell, find evil at sea, listen to the lament of the black goat, and most of all experience the horrific, weird and fantastic.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What Does It Take to Be a Detective?-Guest Blogger Robert Bailey-Giveaway

Welcome mystery author Robert Bailey as he blogs about “What Does It Take to be a Detective?” and celebrates his books going to eBooks! Leave him a comment—with email, too—and one lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Dying Embers.

“Everybody wants to be a detective, carry a big shiny gun, and be all the rage at cocktail parties.”   People tell me that the cocktail party is as dead as a dodo.    Don’t know if that is true, but I am quite sure that lots of people still want to be a detective.  
Most folks may be satisfied to read the tales of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane (at least they knew how to navigate a cocktail party). Other folks want to get right into the action, as I found out when I ran my own detective agency.  In hiring employees, I have interviewed not only homemakers and groundskeepers, but a long list of other occupations, including architects, firemen, and airline pilots.
Folks I did hire needed to have a plain appearance and be able to blend into a crowd.  They needed a good memory for faces and automobiles.   Applicants who could show me they had the right change for a bus always got a second interview.
They needed to be able to make up a cover story on the run, one that they could remember, and that other people would believe.    Their safety and the success of the case depended on avoiding the squad car and the ambulance.
There is one fib universal to all detectives when they are interviewed by a reporter. “A detective’s job is boring. Most of my time is spent digging through old records!”  I was never bored; I also did the surveillance and often wrapped up with the case on film.  Big fib: “I rarely, if ever, carried a gun.”   Never went to work without one.  
Guns!  Here’s a little story that was kind of a hoot.  My phone rang and an attorney asked me to meet him at a small restaurant out of town.   He promised work, but needed an armed guard.
 I told him, “Great.  Two hours for seventy bucks.  Give me your bar card number and I’ll call you back.”
“But I’m paying for lunch,” he said.    “Besides, seventy dollars is too much just to meet me.”
“Come to my office,” I said.  “Free, and you get coffee.  The Danish is getting a little dented.”
“Can we discuss the cost, my client is really pressed.”
 “I’ll meet you,” I said.  “If you have work for me, we can talk about it.” 
His bar card was good—I don’t meet strangers.   He sat in a booth with his back to the door--late thirties or so, wearing a thousand dollar suit.  I took a stool at the counter.  I watched him--pretty sure he was alone, and mostly interested in his five hundred dollar watch.  I finally took a seat with him at the booth. 
“What are you doing sitting over there?” he said.
“I didn’t know you were here yet,” I said.  He didn’t believe it, but he let it slide.  “So what’s our business?”
“My client is getting a divorce. Her husband has assaulted her on several occasions. He’s going to pick up his clothes tonight. I don’t think there will be trouble as long as there is someone else present. “
“Call the police,” I said.
“He is the police.”
“Have her go to a show,” I said.  “Maybe spend a couple of days at a motel.”
“She can’t,” he said.  “She has a plastic tether on her leg.”
“Seventy dollars an hour for four hours,” I said.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said.
I wrapped my Colt in a paper napkin and set it on his plate.   “Do it yourself,” I said.  “It’ll be free.”  He looked like he wanted to head for the door.
He wrote me the check.  
Like I said, I never got bored.  Whether the most important attribute of a good detective is guts or stupidity, I leave to you.

Robert Bailey

Dying Embers Blurb:
Art Hardin, retired military intelligence officer turned private investigator, is content with his regular caseload involving insurance fraud and employee theft. So when a wealthy industrialist approaches Art to find an old flame, he's wary of taking on the case. Only when pressed by his wife, Wendy, does Art agree to help, but only if the decision to make contact is left to the missing person.

The former lover, a reclusive but prominent artist who has changed her name, turns up dead shortly after Art locates her. His client charged with murder and his detective's license revoked, an angry Hardin finds himself the subject of "professional" surveillance, his office ransacked, and his life up for grabs as a shoot-out erupts on the street.

The FBI, long on requests and short on information, approaches Art for his help . . . to act as bait. Seemingly out of options, Art agrees, but with an ace up his sleeve. Aided by an outlaw motorcycle gang, Art decides that, this time, the bait is going to bite back.

Dying Embers Excerpt:
People can be trusted to lie.  They lie in the bedroom, the boardroom, and the courtroom.  The biggest lies are told the loudest.  The worst lies are the ones they whisper to themselves.

Tracy Ayers was tall, tan, thin, and blond.  She had porcelain skin, and a pouty little mouth, ripe with lies.  Folks like Tracy lie to me a lot.  I never take it personally.  I'm a detective—when people quit lying, I'll be out of business.

Tracy breezed into the office of Howard Butler, dressed for success, wearing a string of pearls and a navy blue shirtwaist dress with white piping and a pleated skirt.  She sported perky and unfettered breasts that swayed in unison like a pair of fat puppies doing a vaudeville soft-shoe with their noses pressed into the curtain. 

Howard Butler owned Butler's Prestige Import Automobiles.  I sat enthroned on Howard's custom recliner chair behind two acres of leather-topped mahogany.  I stood as Tracy sashayed from the door to the desk, across an oriental rug that protected the parquet floor.  My suit pants had crept up my backside.  I resisted the temptation to give a discreet tug on the seat of my trousers.

"Hi, my name is Art Hardin," I said.  "This is my associate, Lorna Kemp."

Lorna sat to my right in an office chair we'd wheeled in for that purpose.  These days it doesn't do for a male investigator to interview a lady without a female chaperon.

Lorna wore a charcoal business suit over a white silk blouse with a collar that made a ruffle around her neck, a costume I believe she considered camp.  She was twenty-two—eight years younger than Tracy—and also tall, tan, thin, and blond.  Unlike Tracy, who was a thief, Lorna had a degree in law enforcement and a job with the DEA that started in the fall.

"Mr. Butler said I should come and talk to you," said Tracy.  She spoke to me first and then nodded to Lorna.

The desk was too wide to reach across and offer her my hand.  I said, "Please have a seat," and motioned to the straight-back chair I'd placed across the desk from me.  Tracy made a swish and flounce of her skirt as she sat, filling the room with the scent of jasmine.

"I think it would be best if we kept this private," I said.  "Do you mind if we close the door?"

Tracy shook her head.  "What's this about?"

Lorna stood and stepped over to the door.  She wore flat-heeled shoes that revealed a lithe and athletic gait.

"I'll try to be brief," I said, and opened the manila file folder in front of me.  Tracy's work application was the first item in the fat file, which also contained her bond application, a background investigation, and a list of her financial assets—including those she shared with her husband, Ken.  Under the top sheets I had enclosed case notes and added a wad of miscellaneous crap to give the file an ominous bulk.  Tracy leaned forward and twisted her head to look at the file.  I closed the folder.  Lorna returned to her seat.

"Just so there's an accurate record for all of us I'd like to record our interview," I said.  "Is that all right with you, Tracy?"

"Sure," she said, all smiles.

I took the recorder out of the top right hand drawer—where I'd stashed it after the previous interview—set it on the desk, and pushed the play/record button.  After a quick glance at my watch I said, "It is nine fifty-two A.M.  The date is May thirty-first.  Present are Tracy Ayers, Lorna Kemp, and myself, Art Hardin.  Tracy, do we have your permission to record this meeting?"

Tracy leaned toward the recorder and spoke.  "Yes," she said in a smoldering alto.  Lorna rolled her eyes.

"Please state your name."

"Tracy Ayers."

"Thank you," I said.  "You're a cashier.  Is that correct?"


"It's your job to handle the work orders, add up the charges, and take payment from the customers?"

"Basically," she said.  "I also answer the telephone, direct the calls, and take messages."

"A man brought his car back for warranty work on a repair.  The service manager had no record of the sale.  The customer had an attitude and a canceled check.  Do you have any idea how that could have happened?"

Tracy shrugged.  "I just take the money," she said.

I studied her silently.  She was good—not a fidget, not a flutter, just the truth that was a lie with a fresh coat of paint—and all innocence incarnate.

Author bio:
Robert E. Bailey spent five years as a corporate security director in the city of Detroit and twenty years as a licensed private investigator. His first novel, PRIVATE HEAT, an action-packed private-eye thriller, won the Josiah W. Bancroft Award at the Florida First Coast Writer's Festival in 1998 and was nominated for the 2003 Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America. In January 2007, MYSTERY SCENE magazine named Hardin one of its top 100 private eyes.



Friday, April 06, 2012

My Panels and Workshop at Ravencon April 13-15 2012

The children's writer's workshop I am teaching at Ravencon is for ages third grade through age 17 and is free. Maximum allowed will be 15 and need paper and pencils or pens. And my Reading/Author Talk at 10 pm Saturday--I will have chocolate chip cookies and ghostly nutter butter cookies for those who attend!


Creating a Timeline—room F—5:00 p.m.

Ghost Hunters Vs. Mythbusters—Cove—6:00 p.m.

Opening Ceremonies—Room E & F—7:00 p.m.


Children’s Writer’s Workshop—Anna—9: 00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Book Signing—Dealer’s Room—1:00 p.m.

Private Investigations: Bringing the Facts to Your Fictions—Room F—5:00 p.m.

Reading/Author Talk (with cookies)—Boardroom—10:00 p.m.


Writing for Tweens—Room F—10:00 a.m.

Self Publications Vs. Small Press Vs. Big Press—Room F—1:00 p.m.

Supernatural Friday: Easter Legends

Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian countries, Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But in actuality, Easter has many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and with nothing to do with Christianity.

The word, Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian "Ostra" and the Teutonic "Ostern" or "Eastre." Both are goddesses of mythology that signify spring and fertility. Festivals for them were celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. Like the Easter Bunny.  The rabbit is a symbol originating with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the hare or rabbit.

The date of Easter is determined by the moon—symbolism strongly tied to the hare. Ever since the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to American folklore by German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure," of course after a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. If children had been good, then the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs. The children built their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys used their caps and girls, their bonnets, to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets came much later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.

The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of traditions particularly due to the relationship of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter, is derived from Pesach.

A Spanish festival commemorates the resurrection of Easter with colorful fireworks and booming cannons. Judas images often are shot at by the soldiers. Greeks would buy Easter candles and colored eggs for Good Friday, and on Easter, served the traditional lamb for dinner. They sometimes would do solemn processions wound through the streets, carrying lighted candles and holy pictures. A Bavarian custom concerned fashioning of little crosses and they would set those up in the fields. They also did Easter parades along with children rolling Easter eggs downhill for fun. In Tyrol, musicians woud tour every valley and sing Easter hymns. The villagers of villages they did this would join in, and after dark, light the way with torches.

Other legends connected to Easter:

Easter Bells These were rung in France and Italy throughout the year, but never rung on the Thursday before Good Friday. The silence of the bells had to do as remembrance of the death of Jesus. On Easter, they were rung  as a way of telling people Jesus lived again.

The Cross A symbol of Christain religion as Jesus was put on a cross, then was brought back to life.

The Easter Lily The lily was a reminder to the Christians of how Jesus came back to life.

Easter Flowers These being daffodils, narcissus and tulips. Because bloomed late in spring, they became meshed with Easter as symbols.

Pussy Willows Especially picked at Easter in England and Russia, people tapped each other on the shoulders with a branch of it for good luck.

Lambs A symbol for Jesus as the Good Shepherd who would watch over them as they were lambs.

Rabbits Rabbits are symbols of spring and new life (though I would consider lambs too, since born around this time), besides also the favorite animal of the spring goddess Eastre.

The Egg A sign of spring and Easter, they are a sign of new life.

Chicks The chicks are born from eggs and are a reminder of spring and Easter.

Enjoy two tales that are legends to do with Easter, too. Unlike pagan ones, these are more Christian in relation.

Legend of the Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend says at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Its firmness and strength got it selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. You will remain slender, bent, and twisted, and your blossoms in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints—brown with rust and stained with red. There will be crown of thorns in the center of the flower, remembrance for all who see this."

The Easter Lily

One of the most famous biblical references to the lily is the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies are said to have been found growing in the garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. It is said these beautiful white flowers sprang up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and distress. Christian churches at Easter by filling their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter lilies, commemorating the Resurrection and hope of life everlasting.

The pure white lily has also long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is seen holding out a branch of pure white lilies to her, announcing that she is to be the Mother of the Christ child. In other paintings, saints are pictured carrying vases full of white lilies that they give to Mary and the Infant Jesus.

Lilies had a significant presence in the paradise of Adam and Eve. Tradition says Eve left the Garden of Eden, shedding real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprang up lilies.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

My Fantasy Flash Fiction Released Today at The Chocolate Box!

My fantasy flash fiction piece, "Snow Angel," released today at Welcome to the Chocolate Box, an online "mini-magazine" to promote brain cancer awareness.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Weird Wednesday

Since Easter is almost here, I decided to find a weird bunny picture. No doubt this is a fake bunny, but still weird. Drunken bunny!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Guest Blogging at Long And Shot Reviews Today

Come visit me as I blog  over at Long and Short Review today all about bottle trees. Leave a comment with your email (only to contact the winner) and one lucky winner will win a $10 gift cert from Amazon.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

This Is Not a Joke: About April Fool's Day

April Fools' Day has been also called All Fools' Day.  Its origins are uncertain, though some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

Ancient cultures that includes the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely followed the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.)

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar—the Gregorian calendar—to replace the old Julian calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. Supposedly, many people either refused to accept the new date or did not learn about it, but continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people made fun of these traditionalists, and sent them on "fool's errands,” trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, playing jokes on April 1st spread throughout Europe.

Problem with this is it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. There’s also no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture made recently.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He said that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine was amused by this and allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, making it an annual event. Brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983, there seemed to be one problem: Boskin made the whole thing up! It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke.

Many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish," where French children might tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates and yell out "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.