Our “Mysterious Intruder True Story” Youtube video went live today

Don’s and my latest video went live on Youtube today. He wrote the copy and did the narration, as usual, and I helped with the post-production, which I’m finding to be a lot of fun.* This video deals with a bizarre occurrence back in 2003 that Don had when he was alone at work in the early morning.

The company he worked for at the time produced maps and mapping software. The company was named DeLorme and the eponymous founder, David DeLorme, (I’m told) started the company by going door-to-door and to businesses peddling paper maps and such out of his car. Eventually, he turned it into a multi-million dollar company in southern Maine, USA.

One thing I found interesting about DeLorme was their giant, rotating globe “Eartha” that dominates the lobby when you go inside the building.** It is quite impressive in person, and according to Wikipedia “is the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe” at 41.5 feet (12.6 meters) in diameter. It really does look huge when you’re standing next to it, that’s for sure.

We’re continuing work on a couple more videos, since Don wants to upload once a week. I edited a script he sent me last night from someone he knows, who had a bunch of weird stuff happen at her work such as items falling off of shelves, and the like. Also, we received a story from someone through the channel’s email about an encounter when she was trying to help her boyfriend sell some guitars on Craigslist.

I hope everyone is doing well. The weather here in the hills outside of Santa Cruz has been pretty nice so we are thinking of doing a hike this weekend. We probably would go even it wasn’t nice and just dress for success, but it is much nicer when one doesn’t have to do that, of course.

* The only part I find a little tedious about helping make Youtube videos so far is the hunt and peck for suitable images and such, but you can’t have everything!

** DeLorme sold its business to Garmin in 2016. Last I checked, Eartha was still there, which is nice.

Started “Unnatural Selection,” a new Youtube Channel

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. We did here and got in some hiking and other fun stuff. Also, my husband has been wanting to start a Youtube channel for a while now and since we had some time during the holidays, he and I got that going.

The name of the channel is Unnatural Selection and will mostly feature short, dark and strange stories. He wants to prioritize reading stories that are true or at least could be true though we’ll dabble with the supernatural as well.

I’m helping with the video post-production and also editing the scripts. If you like this sort of thing, check it out.

I’m still working on figuring out what I want to do for the next anthology. So far The Lost Librarian’s Grave is doing pretty well, especially the paperback as it turns out, so I’m feeling pretty good about doing more books.

The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and dark, short story anthology now available on Amazon as an ebook

I am happy to say that the horror and dark fiction anthology I’ve been working on some quite some time went live on Amazon last night as an ebook. Besides being available for purchase, you can read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Buy the ebook on Amazon for $4.99 or read for free with Kindle Unlimited.

We’ll be releasing the paperback version of The Lost Librarian’s Grave later in October.

When I put together the table of contents I got to thinking about how people read anthologies. I know some people like to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end.

The traditional table of contents, which I put up a preview of here, caters to that way of doing things. It also has, for me anyway, a comforting feel of how I’m using to seeing books.

Some readers (me among them) like to skip around a collection of stories and read a short one here, a long one there, maybe that one with the weird exorcist or the disgruntled librarian who gets hectored by gargoyles.

For people like me, I grouped the stories (and four poems) under various headings. Some of the stories could have gone under multiple headings. For example, “Ocular” could have just as easily been a “strange adventure” but I liked “An Eye for an Eye” because of the play on words.

One thing I like about checking out books on Amazon is their “Look Inside” feature where they let you preview about 10% of a book. The Lost Librarian’s Grave is a pretty big book, so 10% ends up being a pretty goodly chunk of reading. I put the stories in bold text below that one can read in their entirety through Amazon’s preview.

I tried to pick three that were pretty different from each other in tone and style as well as plot to highlight the variety I did my best to bring to the collection.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to take a much-needed day off from working on the book, and then get the wheels turning again on Monday for putting together the paperback, which will start with giving my existing ebook cover a spine and a back page.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Witches, Magicians, and Sorcery

  • “Medusa’s Mirror” by Paul L. Bates
  • “Snake and Sinew, Flame and Bone” by Amanda Cecelia Lang
  • “The Artist” by Mike Murphy
  • “The Clearing” by Helen Power
  • “The Maze of Moonlight and Mirrors” by Gerri Leen (poem)

The Dead, the Mad, and the Terrified

  • “Rathbone” by Zach Ellenberger
  • “The Glorious Protection of Angels” by Michelle Ann King
  • “The Jump” by Pauline Yates
  • “Three Bad Things” by Kathy Kingston

Ancient Days and Apocalypse Now

  • “Butterflies of the Longest Night” by Russell Hammell
  • “Death, and the Scent of Tea” by Cheryl Zaidan
  • “The Day in Gold” by Adele Gardner
  • “The Savage Night” by Pedro Iniguez
  • “Valhalla is a Lie” by Benjamin Thomas

Strange Adventures and Weird Journeys

  • “Among Stars and Stones” by Brandon Barrows
  • “Mother Winter” by Matthew Chabin
  • “He Gets Hungry Sometimes” by Carol Gyzander
  • “The Little People” by Kurt Newton
  • “They Never Left” by Matthew McKiernan

A Murder of Gargoyles

  • “Gargoyle of the World, Unite!” by Mary Jo Rabe
  • “Odd Job Tom” by Eddie Generous
  • “The Grotesque” by Rhonda Parrish (poem)

The Scientific Method

  • “Aegir’s Son” by Edward Ahern
  • “Bottled Rage” by Owen Auch
  • “Voyage of the PFV-4” by David Rose

Ghosts and the Grave

  • “Good Boy Anyway” Briana McGuckin
  • “The Infinity of Worse” by Ken Hueler
  • “The Problem with Bottling Troublesome Spirits” by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

Demon-Haunted World

  • “A Bed Both Long and Narrow” by Sipora Coffelt
  • “Blooms of Darkness” by Melissa Miles
  • “Face to Face” by Tom Leveen

An Eye for an Eye

  • “Inside a Refrigerator” by Adrian Ludens
  • “Ocular” by Nidheesh Samant
  • “Penance” by J.V. Gachs
  • “The Binding of Chrysanthoula” by Angeliki Radou

End of the Line

  • “Devil’s Oak” by Mary Leoson
  • “Nature versus Nurture” by Gerri Leen (poem)
  • “The Ocean’s Misfortune” by Alison McBain
  • “The Woman in the Wallpaper” by Gregory L. Norris
  • “Cold Storage” by Jude Reid

Tweaked the Ebook Cover for The Lost Librarians Grave

I tweaked the ebook cover for The Lost Librarian’s Grave a bit. I’m planning on uploading it to Amazon this weekend. As I mentioned in the Redwood Press blog post, suggestions and feedback are always welcome.

Redwood Press

Work continues on The Lost Librarian’s Grave horror and weird fiction anthology, which is good because October will be here before we know it. Today I tweaked the ebook cover a little, giving the gargoyle a bit of an aura or glowing effect, as well as a few other things.

I also decided to put some author names on the cover. It was very hard to decide* so the three of us each picked our favorite story–none of us liked the same one the best. This was easy for Don, a bit harder for Occasum, and very hard for me because I liked all the stories and had several favorites for differing reasons.

Then I added another author because I have misspelled their name now about a dozen times, and while not a huge deal it seemed a way of balancing the scales and achieving some literary Maat. Finally…

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666 Dark Drabbles: An anthology from Black Hare Press.

666 is the eleventh title of the Dark Drabbles series of books, published by Black Hare Press out of Melbourne, Australia.* My magnificent contribution to this collection is a 100 word piece entitled “Azazel’s Heart,” which I came up with a couple of years ago. I recently rewrote the drabble to give it a more infernal flavor, what with the title of the book and all.

“Azazel’s Heart” is something of an epistolary** tale of sorcery and revenge set in the same vaguely post modern milieu I often use as a backdrop for some of my other stories.

I was casting around for a devil’s name to use and I came up with a few names, and then I thought of Azazel. Now, this devil is associated with various things, including the idea of a scapegoat and also forbidden knowledge, but in modern times this mighty fiend is perhaps best known as the dark patron of miniature painters, who ardently wish to both achieve a high output and excellent quality for their creations. So, Azazel it was!

I liked the cover when I first saw it, though my first reaction was, “Poor bunny!”***

Now I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly interested when I first heard of drabbles some years ago. A drabble is a type of flash fiction where one tells a story in exactly a hundred words. I had all sorts of objections, which I won’t go into here. Eventually I came around to where I put my objections aside and now enjoy both reading and writing in this form.

Reading, because I like to wind down with a book for about a half-hour each night before I go to sleep but sometimes I’m too tired to read that long or with much attention, so I go to one of the many books of drabbles I now have in my collection and read three or four selections before sliding into a hideous yet strangely restful dreamland.****

Also, it is fun to see how others paint a picture and tell a story within the limits of this form. To my thinking, a properly written drabble is not just a scene or a slice-of-life, it is a small story. That is where both the challenge and the fun lie.

Writing, for many reasons–too many to go into all of them here. A few are:

  • I enjoy the challenge of trying to tell a story in exactly 100 words, which I think is the main attraction for many people.
  • I like exploring an idea by writing a drabble and then seeing if any longer work comes from it. Lately, I’ve been writing drabbles in the same “universe” or along the same theme with a longer story. The idea is the drabbles and the longer story stand together, while still being able to stand apart as a coherent whole.
  • I use drabbles as a way to catalogue ideas to take a look at them later, while still producing something that is (hopefully) interesting.
  • Drabbles are a nice way to have some fun with writing when one is busy. Too often I have gone long periods of time without writing because of some other large project or ongoing responsibility that is dominating my life at the time.

* Australia is one of those countries I’ve always wanted to visit, ever since I was a kid. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I hope to once travel becomes easier and I figure out a plan to deal with that ubiquitous terror of German backpackers all over the continent–the dreaded Brown-Legged Kidney Huntsman! (Be warned about the K.H. link, it is most definitely NSFW in so many ways, lol.) I’m sure Pat has had to dodge these monstrosities more than once in his travels!

** The story is taken, in part, from what might be a page in a diary.

*** Zeus, our infernal (note the sanguineous Evil Eye!) bunny from the early 2000s, whose great claim to fame was he was featured in a pet magazine–the name of which I can’t recall–with national distribution, isn’t sure what he thinks of the 666 cover. I really liked the art, as I said, but I can see why my favorite fiendish lagomorph has mixed feelings on the issue.

**** Certain others in my household like having physical, rather than electronic, books of drabbles laying around for “bathroom reading.”

Work Outs: August 8 – 14, 2021 (Repurposed ashtray as decoration, military press, and my last editing deadline for The Lost Librarian’s Grave.)

I was going through some old stuff when I found a white, stone (apparently hand carved) ashtray in a forgotten box of stuff. I’m not one to toss things that aren’t mine, so I asked my husband about it and apparently the ashtray has been in his family for 75 or 80 years now, and one of his aunts gave it to him back in the early 90s. Given all of that, and the fact that neither of us smoke, I came up with the idea of repurposing it as a decoration: enter the Birdbath of Stone and Brass Birds.

We rather like to sit in the dark and watch television with our salt globe light going, as in the picture below.

Sun, August 8th

Afternoon Walk: 8.67 miles.

Mon, August 9th

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

Tues, August 10th

  • Morning Walk: 3.28 miles.
  • (Afternoon) Recumbent Bike: 30 Minutes, Interval Program, Level 10. RPM’s: 70 – 100+

I purchased the little rocks, as well as the two interesting stones on the sides, from a local gem shop down in Santa Cruz. They have a big chest where you can buy the tiny rocks by the scoop. My mother made the doily probably 30 or 40 years ago–I have a bunch of them around the house and rather treasure them. She is quite a hand all all things knitting, sewing, and so on.

The two little brass birds complete the scene. I only wish I had a squirrel to make it a proper birdbath, because every time I’ve had a bath or feeder for my avian friends, I also get frequent visits from the squirrels. I don’t mind, really, so long as the birds don’t. I did have a brass hedgehog though, so that would have to do even if it wasn’t quite to scale. Maybe in the magic land of stone birdbaths where all the animals are made of brass, my quiet, spiny friend is just the size she needs to be….

Wed, August 11th

  • Morning Walk: 3.28 miles.
  • Afternoon Workout: Warmed up with indian clubs, steel mace, and dynamic stretching
  • BB Military Press: 50 lbs. x 8 reps, 55 lbs. x 8 reps, 60 lbs. x 8 reps, 65 lbs. x 6 reps
  • BB Bench Press: 75 lbs. x 8 reps, 85 lbs. x 8 reps, 95 lbs. x 8 reps, 105 lbs. x 7 reps
  • (Superset) BB Standing Skull Crushers: 51 lbs. x 8 reps, 56 lbs. x 8 reps, 61 lbs. x 8 reps, 66 lbs. x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Dead Bugs (2-ct): 20 reps
    • Set #2: Heavy Spring Bar: Pronated x 5 reps + Supinated x 5 reps
    • Set #3: Standing Side Crunches (2-ct): 15 reps
    • Set #4: Face Pulls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps
  • (Superset) 4 sets x 8 reps of both exercises, each hand
    • Captains of Crush Gripper, Sport, 80 lbs.
    • Finger Extensions with 8 lb. band

So now that I’ve gotten my lovely barbell, I’ve decided to start doing military presses again, which I haven’t done in a very long time. I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed lifting things over my head. The main difference in form between this and a shoulder press, of which the military press is a variation, is you keep your feet close together, ideally with your heels touching, or nearly so, as in the picture below on the left.*

I’ve seen some people perform the movement with the feet placed more like on the right with their toes pointed straight ahead. I’m more of a traditionalist, but I think the key take away is to keep your feet close together so you aren’t getting a mechanical advantage out of bracing your feet apart.

The idea with the military press, versus other variations, is the foot placement puts more emphasis on your core. Indeed, when I used to do these a lot back in the 80s and 90s and was far stronger than I am now, I had a solid midsection just from doing the presses, and bracing my core doing barbell squats without wearing a weight belt.

Thur, August 12th

  • Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.
  • (Afternoon Workout) Warmed up with dynamic stretching, indian clubs and light calisthenics
  • (Week 3 of 12) Dead Lifts: 147 lbs. x 6 sets x 4 reps
  • Ring Rows: 4 sets x 8 reps
  • (Superset) Lat Pulldowns (d-handles): 55 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps +
    • Set #1: Crunches: 30 reps
    • Set #2: Alternating One-Handed KB Swings (2-ct): 15 lbs. x 12 reps
    • Set #3: Leg Lifts: 20 reps
    • Set #4: Fitness Bag Snatches: 15 reps

Fri, August 13th

Morning Walk: 3.26 miles.

There are some other details about doing the military press, but this isn’t meant to be a full tutorial, so I’ll touch on the big one, which is related to bracing your core: stay upright during the lift and don’t lean back. Over time, this is bad for your back and shoulders and unless your focus is competing in contests I see no point in performing a lift that hurts your body in the long term.

Years ago, the military press used to be part of what people think of now as Olympic Weightlifting. These days, guys ask each other, “What do you bench?” but years ago (according to my old timey lifting mentors) the question was, “What do you press?”

A problem that came up was it was legal then to lean way back in competition when performing the military press, as this rather impressive-looking (and limber!) gentlemen on the left is doing.

If your goal is winning a contest, then anything goes within the scope of what is allowed in the rules, but I would not recommend this if the idea is just to get stronger as a hobbyist.

Sat, August 7th

Afternoon Walk: 5.08 miles. Did about 10 minutes of miscellaneous calisthenics after the walk.

Weekly Weigh-in: I continue for now with my maintenance food plan, and was down 0.2 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 28.6 lbs.

I can’t type out a post these days without mentioning The Lost Librarian’s Grave anthology, which has been eagerly gnawing away most of my free time since early May. Happily, I (barely) met my goal from last week of finishing my edits for 75% of the manuscript.

I say “barely” because it was right down to the wire for me at the close of business on Saturday, which is when I end my editing week. When the keystrokes and comma splices were clear, I was at a princely 76% so it all turned out well. My next goal is to completely finish editing by August 31st. After that the next step is to wrangle the 37 different stories and poems into an ebook.**

I also want to work on the cover a bit more. Maybe do a glowing effect around the gargoyle, come up with a new tagline, and maybe see about making the text a bit brighter.

I will most certainly post whatever changes I make to the cover here and over on the Redwood Press blog as well. After all, everyone steered me right, I think, when I asked about the cover design in May.

* Some people can be pretty pedantic about the “feet touching” part of this exercise, to which I say if you really want to take it to that level then take off your shoes and perform the movement with bare feet since technically your feet aren’t touching if you are wearing shoes. 🙂

*** Thirty-three stories and four poems, for a total of a bit over 113,000 words. So a respectably sized anthology.

“Little Paranoias” horror anthology by Sonora Taylor free on Amazon through July 30th

From the Redwood Press blog.

Redwood Press

Sonora Taylor is making Little Paranoias, her 2019 collection of short horror fiction available for free on Amazon until midnight (Pacific Time) on July 30th. I downloaded the e-book myself yesterday and have added it to my ever-growing reading list.

Click here to download Little Paranoias for free through July 30th.

About Little Paranoias:

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear —…

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Started new site for Redwood Press

I’ve been working on a site for Redwood Press, which is going to be the name we publish under. I plan on continuing to post writing updates here but I wanted a separate place where I’m not also talking about miniatures, working out or recipes. My husband and I made a long list of names and decided on Redwood mainly because we live near redwoods and love them. Not sure that is a good basis for a name but there you have it.

Below is the general logo I plan on using for now. The website is pretty small, since this is the beginning, but like anything else it will grow in time.

I put up some writer’s guidelines and much to my surprise this morning I had over 50 stories in my inbox and I’ve gotten another 12 today so far. That was encouraging and a much greater response than I anticipated for the day after going live.

I’ve been pretty busy with this but I have managed to pick away a little each day on the Paint the Crap You Already Own! roundup. I hope to have it done by the end of the month or at the latest before the current Solstice painting challenge closes.

Have some painters coming tomorrow to paint three rooms where we tore out the carpet and put down faux wood flooring. That seems like a good time to go find a corner somewhere amongst the piles of stuff, that we had to take out of our rooms, and read some stories. Hope one of them is a really good gargoyle tale!

The Lost Librarian’s Grave: Gargoyle Cover

The sense that I’m getting is the gargoyle cover is the most popular of the original three both from the comments I’ve seen on this blog and from running them by people I know, who don’t read the blog. So I did some tweaks over the weekend on the gargoyle covers and this is what I’ve come up with so far.

I fiddled around with some filters and made the gargoyle and rusty reptiles a little more vibrant, which I like better than the original. The cover on the far right is the same one from the original post but with said filters applied. Dave of Faith & Steel, when he was commenting on the original covers, wrote that he was “ambivalent” on the framing of the original picture. I thought about what he said and decided it would be fun to get rid of the framing and see how it looked.

I’m not sure which one I currently like the best, but the one on the left, where I took out the stone background, does seem like I could put a small block of text in the middle right area. Perhaps a list of some of the authors or something like that. I don’t know if I will do that, assuming I go with that design, but it is something to think about.

If anyone has any further ideas or observations about the covers, I welcome your comments.*

Imagine being petrified but fully aware in this form for hundreds of years!**

I kind of have gargoyles on the brain now. I’ve been trying to think of some good short stories that I’ve read featuring gargoyles and I have to admit that nothing comes to mind. I even went back through my reading diary, where I’ve been keeping track of my reading since 2010 — nothing there either.

I did find a couple of things on Amazon. The first is a short story called “The Beast Within” by D.F. Holland, that I was able to download for free. I’ll probably read that tonight. The second is a collection by Clark Ashton Smith called The Maker of Gargoyles and Other Stories. Some of the reviewers say it isn’t his best work, but I am considering picking up the e-book anyway since I’m a fan of Smith. Especially his poetry.

My next steps with the anthology are to continue work on the new website and to put together some writer’s guidelines. Speaking of guidelines, I’ll have to remember to mention that I’d love to read some gargoyle stories. Hope everyone is doing well.

* Thank you to everyone who responded thus far. I value and appreciate your opinions.

** Photo of “Gargoyles Magdalen College Oxford England” by Chris Creagh. I made no changes. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribuion-Share Alike 3.0.

“The Lost Librarian’s Grave” Horror Anthology

I have been setting the wheels in motion toward starting a small press where I publish speculative fiction in e-book and possibly print formats. The first effort will be a short story anthology with the unlikely title of The Lost Librarian’s Grave. The collection will feature stories of “doom, sorcery and premature burial,” which are themes dear to my Chaos Lady heart.

I put together three front covers this afternoon and thought I’d share them and ask which (if any) works the best. I would very much appreciate your opinion, if you have one! As usual, if you click on an image you’ll see a larger version.

My next moves involve working on another WordPress site specifically dedicated to my publishing efforts and also some writer’s guidelines so I can put the word out to writers, who might be interested in sending me their work. I will smile favorably on science horror, dark fantasy and the like because there are many dark jewels that are horror stories, mined by solitary dwarves, hideous in their waxing greed … tales of loss and murder plucked on harps by spurned lovers wringing out their hearts in songs of revenge and regret, and weird fantasies of sentient, well, you get the idea.

The plan is to release The Lost Librarian’s Grave in late September or early October. Such tales seem apropos for the upcoming season.

Painting-wise, I’ve started putting together the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up. These round-up’s end up being pretty sizeable so I’ve found the best and most fun way to do them (like publishing as it turns out) is to work a little on them each day.