Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Twas the Night Before The All Hallows'

'Twas the night before the All Hallows', when all through the dwelling
The dead were arising, the witches a-spelling. 
Revenants were spreading disease without care
Whilst vampires thralled mortals into their lair. 

The bats and the crows flew to the sky. 
The ghosts took turns pondering how it was they did die. 
And though in general I am not one to grouse
I did curse that which led me to this haunted house. 

The sounds from the graveyard, a terrible clatter,
First clued me in, this was no laughing matter. 
My gut started screaming, "Run away like a flash!"
But my feet wouldn't move, my legs wouldn't dash. 

Clouds surrounded the moon, giving an eerie glow. 
Light streaming through made shadows darker below. 
When, what through the mist did catch my eye
But a man dressed in rags, my throat went bone dry. 

His expression was bleary, quite haggard and worn
And I knew without words, his tale was forlorn. 
Before he spoke, a howl and screech clamored afar
No doubt a werewolf run afoul of a car. 

Oh demons! Oh harpies! Oh sneaky shapeshifters!
And vampires! Wendigos! And hitch hiking drifters!
They float up above and rise from below. 
Why I left my safe home, I'll never know. 

The dry leaves did crackle as the fellow drew nearer
The pit in my stomach grew deeper and queerer. 
His eyes spoke of madness, feral and grim
And still I could not move, damn traitorous limb. 

O'er the pounding of blood, I heard finally his voice. 
It was rusty, enthralling and left me no choice. 
I would listen to the man's story of woe,
Then, heavens be willing, unfreeze my legs and go. 

"I tricked the devil and called myself clever
No matter my sin, he would take my soul never. 
So, I lived on happily in transgression and vice
Never understanding what would be the true price. 

My hands - how they stole! My mouth - how it lied!
My knack for the cheating was a point of great pride!
In the towns where I traveled, I paid for nary a drink
And those I befriended? Their coins in my pocket did clink!

But one day I did die, as we are all wont to do
The devil, as promised, my soul did eschew. 
But here lay a problem on which I didn't count
My veniality prevented my soul from its mount. 

Safe from below, not wanted on high
My spirit was shackled, no where it could fly. 
I was bound to this earth for a life never ending
So I traveled in darkness on roads that were bending. 

Time seemed to cease, the night never quit
The laughing devil threw up an ember from his pit. 
In a hollowed-out turnip my hellfire does burn. 
And I answer to the name, Jack of the Lantern."

A banshee cried out behind me, breaking the spell
And I ran home faster than you can say "death knell."
But I heard a voice whisper as I shivered in fright,
"Enjoy All Hallows' Eve for it may be your last night."

Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No Conversation Necessary

I've recently been spending a lot of time with a gentleman of few words. Well, to be honest, he's a gentleman of no words. He's three months old and try as I might he just refuses to say "Aunt Kelly is my favorite by far!" I figure he'll have it down by four months.

In the meantime, he's crushing it with the non-verbal communication:


So, in his honor, I present five awesome characters of a taciturn nature: 

This guy never said a single word, but every time he got excited or depressed I was right there with him. Come on, don't say you weren't. That rug drooped over and shuffled away after Aladdin started yelling and you just wanted to give him a cuddle. And you know it. 

Sure, we may have gotten to hear her both talk and sing later on, but we first got to know her in silence. And, let's face it, even if The Gentlemen hadn't been involved in that whole stealing people's voices shenanigans, Tara's first impression probably still would have been hushed. And that's fine because it was worth waiting to hear what she had to say. 

3. Snoopy

This guy didn't need to do a lot of yapping. He had swagger. Even after he started sharing his thought bubbles, all he really needed to do was don his pilot goggles or grab his saxophone and coolness began to emanate. No conversation needed. Plus, he liked to write! And who doesn't love a kindred spirit?

A prime example of actions being far more impressive than words. He might have kept his own counsel, but that didn't mean he didn't care about the people around him. In terms of neighbors, I'd choose the one who leaves gifts in trees and is willing to fight for local children over some joker who's an open book, but who doesn't give a crap about anyone else and insists on playing "F*** You" at deafening levels on a Tuesday at one forty three in the morning. 

5. Waldo

I have never read or heard anything that this man has to say. Literally the only things I know about him is that he likes to travel and has a shockingly limited wardrobe and yet I know I will never, ever stop looking for him. How many inspirational speeches can really boast inspiring that level of devotion?

How about you? Any silent charmers you'd like to add the ranks? We can get them all together and throw a giant party. I'm willing to bet money we wouldn't get any noise complaints. 

But while you're finalizing the guest list, I've got to get back to my number one laconic lad. If my calculations are correct, it's time for our daily staring contest. 


He always wins. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Romance for a Reason

Hey there, folks! Today we are lucky enough have Lauren Grimley visiting with us again. She's winding her way through her Romance for a Reason tour and today we get to read what she has to say on list item number five. Enjoy!

Top ten things more fictional (and real-life) females ought to do:

5. Embrace their sexuality.
6. Champion their femininity.
7. Appreciate chivalry.
8. Celebrate girl power.
9. Eliminate cattiness.
10. Cry a little & laugh a lot.

I am surrounded by real-life women warriors fighting life’s toughest battles, something that’s become even more evident as I’ve talked with people about my recent project: Romance for a Reason. Yet, as a reader and writer of romance (among other genres), I find few admirable fictional female warriors. So I decided to explore the issue, making a plea to writers and readers to demand more of their fictional heroines and explaining my reasons in posts throughout the month. Today, thanks to Kelly, I’m talking about number five on my top ten list. (See the calendar on the Romance for a Reason page for dates and links to the other posts.)

Where Romance Has it Right

Of all the requirements I came up with for kick-butt heroines, embracing sexuality is one area that most romance writers get right already. So why mention it? Because society still gets it wrong, sometimes infuriatingly wrong! And writers and their readers need a reminder that there are those of us out there who appreciate an honest look at women as lovers.

A little over a year ago, in the height of the Fifty Shades madness, I gave in to the hoopla and read all three books. Even as an amateur author myself, I agreed with the literary critics that they weren’t the most well-written works I’d read recently. I also agreed with the fandom, though, that they were a fun and interesting summer read. Ana fails to meet most of my requirements for strong females, particularly in the first book or so. Since it was a trilogy and based off the same basic plot as the Twilight series, I wasn’t bothered by that, knowing that her sexual awakening was just around the corner and would bring with it a stronger, more self-aware heroine. It did. The trilogy ended with a young woman who wasn’t afraid to admit she liked it a little kinky between the covers and who finally saw herself as an equal to her partner.

Enter Pastor Douglas Wilson, and his blog post “Fifty Shades of Prey,” in which he basically implies that women who willingly engage in certain types of sex are asking to become victims. I won’t repeat my complete irate rebuttal (you can read my reply to the good Pastor here), but let’s just say things got ugly.

Clearly this was an extreme example of someone who can’t accept females embracing their own sexuality, but society is full of less extreme examples. Single men who have healthy love lives, for instance, are studs. Single women with the same are called by another five-letter s-word. It seems only in romantic fiction, which unlike society and the media, tends to be ruled by female writers, readers, and first person narrators, is it okay for a woman to enjoy love making as much as her male counterparts. (Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse with her variety of lovers—not just in number, but also in species—and her honest comments about her sexual appetite is probably my favorite example of this.)

So how do we change society’s double standard? By pointing it out whenever we see it. I’m not sure Miley Cyrus got it right, but I seriously wonder if anyone would have cared if some male artist rubbed himself all over a half-dressed dancer—which, from what I remember of MTV, is pretty much what happens in nearly every rap video ever made. Her twerking, like E.L. James’s writing, got everyone talking. Now we just need to turn the topic of conversation to the real issues: women, like men, have desires. It ought to be perfectly acceptable for females in real-life, like in our fiction, to embrace these desires...Although perhaps we can all agree to keep it off prime time!

unbridled cover.JPGThe Romance:
Unbridled: A collection of short stories from the Alex Crocker series
By Lauren Grimley

“Think Law and Order SUV meets The Breakfast Club” was Ellie’s trite explanation of what Alex had been dragged into. Add a few fangs, Fifty Shades of Oversharing, and a dash of Dr. Phil, and she was in for quite a Thursday night.

Alex couldn’t deny she had become the pint-sized poster child for PTSD lately, but she didn’t exactly expect to find a support group for teachers turned vampire chew toys in Bristol, MA. Listening to the tales of the four other females gathered to help her heal, however, she accepts that perhaps both the worst and the best of life can blossom from the unexpected.

Unbridled is a novella-length collection of four connected stories focusing on the unlikely friendships and less likely lovers of the female characters from the Alex Crocker series.

“Grace and Dignity”
Ireland, 1713
Even a female whose mating has been arranged most of her life still thinks about what she wants in a mate. Not one of the qualities Sarah had hoped for were easily evident in her betrothed, the future Regan of the Rectinatti coven. Perhaps, though, there were more layers to Darian than he liked to reveal, but how does a subject unmask a prince?

“Rules and Recollections”
Bristol, Massachusetts, 1902
You can’t fall in love with someone you barely recall, but that, Vivian supposed, was the point. After a terse meeting with the Knower, a mind reader, memory manipulator, and the coven’s most notorious lecher, Vivian isn’t herself. She can’t shake the feeling that the solution to her mood lurks just below the surface of her consciousness. Only plunging into darkness, though, will bring everything to light.

“Blood and Secrecy”
Bristol, Massachusetts, 2008
The shared need for blood brought them together, but individual desires for secrecy are keeping them apart. Each already left behind a life of privilege for reasons the other likely couldn’t understand. Now both Rocky and Ellie need to decide if they’re willing to open up about their pasts in order to ensure a future.

Series: Alex Crocker series, can definitely be enjoyed without reading the first two books in the series, but is written to fit after the events of book 2, Unveiled.
Genres: paranormal romance, vampire series, urban fantasy, short stories
Release date: October 1, 2013
Available formats: ebook & paperback (178 pages)

Purchase links:


Or for those who want just a bite, three of the individual stories are available as well:
Barnes & Noble 

R4R image.pngThe Reason:
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and a friend and teacher of too many women who’ve been affected by violence, I chose it to also to be the release date for Unbridled. I may not love wearing pink or purple, the colors of these two issues, but I do love a good fight for great causes. I’ve just chosen to battle this one with my pen. Please consider helping in your own way!

How you can help:

Read some romance. Proceeds from Unbridled will be donated to the two charities listed here.

Donate. Make your own individual donation to these two charities or choose a local charity supporting these and other causes affecting women in your area. To learn more about each charity and my reasons for choosing them, visit the Romance for a Reason page. Or click through to donate directly.

Party hard. Gather the women (and men!) of your book club or just a group of friends for a Romance for Reason party. Party ideas? Check out my blog for ideas on how to plan your gathering. Then download the Romance Reading Questionnaire and/or the Body Lingo Bingo for some fun party activities!

Share. Tweet, status update, review, or just chat with friends about the books, the tour, and the charities (mine or yours)!

Lauren.jpgAbout the author: 
Lauren Grimley lives in central Massachusetts where she grew up, but her heart is on the beaches of Cape Cod where she spends as much of her time as possible. After graduating from Boston University she became a middle school English teacher. She now balances writing, reading, and correcting, all with a cat on her lap and a glass of red wine close by.

Unforeseen, the first novel in the Alex Crocker Seer series, was Lauren’s debut novel. She was thrilled this spring to continue the series with Unveiled and now Unbridled. To learn more about her or her writing or to connect with her online visit her website at

Twitter @legrimley:

Feeling lucky? Enter Lauren's giveaway!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Point in Favor of Hard Copy Books

I love reading on my iPad. Absolutely adore it.

As for buying books electronically? An awesomely dangerous convenience.

I don't even have to put on pants to go buy a book? One click? That's amazing!

*Cut to me looking at my credit card bill.* 

I spent how much money on books this month? Well, that's okay. I'll just cut back on my other luxuries. You know, like food. I can definitely get by on less of that, right?

Anyway, electronic reading is amazing, but paper books still have some advantages. One of the big one is the ease of sharing.

As I mentioned, I've had some recent success in the world of garage sale book buys. I spent a considerable amount of time in a waiting room the other day. I knew it would be a time consuming morning going in, so I prepared. Filled my bag with two of my new paperbacks and set out.

I was well into my waiting when another woman in the waiting room asked what I was reading. At this point, I have never been asked about my reading material when reading electronically. Maybe they will someday, but thus far no electronic versions have engendered conversations with strangers. Not that I'm necessarily complaining - I enjoy solitary reading time as much as the next bookworm - just observing.

I told her and handed her the book to read the back cover. She said it sounded like a fun story and I told her that if I finished it before I left, it was all hers. As I'd gotten a head start on it during my hour long train ride, I did indeed finish it prior to my departure. The woman thus became the new proud owner of Suzanne Brockmann's Kiss and Tell and I got the joy of coming home and realizing that this book was one of the duplicates in my garage sale box, so I still also own a copy. It was a big win/win of a book day and not one that would have happened had I been reading an electronic copy of the story.

Sure, we might have started chatting even if I was on my iPad and perhaps would have touched on books. But even if I told her about my current selection, she could have at most written down the name and that would be that. This way, I got to actually share a book and see someone's excitement about reading it, which is always fun.

I'll likely never see this woman again, but I'll remember her and that waiting room every time I re-read the book.

Paper books can not be gotten instantaneously and they require a hell of a lot more storage space, but I'll probably keep collecting as many of them as I do electronic books. I guess that day in kindergarten is burned on my subconscious because I really like sharing (at least when it comes to books, do not try to eat my nachos) and hard copies just make it easier.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Garage Sale Win

This past weekend my town had its annual garage sale. Once a year, people drag all the stuff that they're looking to get rid of down to the town park and set up stands. It's the usual mix of things nobody wants and hidden treasures.

I didn't head down until the late afternoon, at which point most of the hidden treasures had already been found by those who braved the park in the morning hours. But I did not leave empty handed. In fact, I found out that arriving late has its benefits.

I, as I am wont to do, gravitated toward stands selling books. One table in particular was laden with boxes of them. All clearly well loved. They were being sold for three books for a dollar. A deal in which I was more than happy to partake. I decided to splurge and spend a whole two dollars for six of them. The very nice woman selling these was getting ready to close up shop and I think the idea of trucking all of her books back home was a bit daunting.

And that's how I ended up walking away with a box of thirty one books for my two bucks.

When I went to pay, she insisted that I take one of the boxes off her hand. As I'm sure you can tell, it takes some real arm twisting to get me to go home with more books than planned. Basically, I thanked her for taking care of my fall reading, grabbed the box and ran away laughing maniacally.

I didn't go through my box of awesome until I got back home. I will admit, four of the books were duplicates (the extras will be dropped off at the library), but that does leave me with twenty seven books I've not year read. Averaging out at around seven cents a book, I'm still calling it a win.

No complaints here.

The moral of my ramblings, if you're looking to score some inexpensive reads, go to garage sales late. No one but crazed book lovers wants to cart anything heavy home. And therein lies the secret of our success.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Right Kind of Spooky

Fall is officially upon us. Probably my favorite season, despite the inevitable packing on of caramel apple weight.

No matter how much I love Christmas or watching new flowers bloom or sunny days by the ocean, I never feel as inspired as when the weather is cooling and the leaves are changing colors. In the summer, storms bring to mind pirates, but in the fall, dark clouds mean witches, ghosts and all manner of spooks hiding in the shadows, waiting to be found. They make me want to create some magic of my own.

The ideas flow. Some in the entirely wrong direction, but they're still fun to consider. And when I take a break from my own worlds to visit someone else's, I like it to be just the right kind of spooky. Not really scary, mind you. Because I am what is generally known as a giant mega chicken when it comes to horror movies. No, thank you. I am interested in sleeping again at some point in my life.

But I do like to feel a little spooked. A slight chill up the spine, as opposed to a sudden, overwhelming desire to hide under my bed and ne'er emerge again. Thankfully, this fall has offered me some new fare. 

First, my sister recently introduced me to Delta Rae. If you're not already listening to them, you should definitely check them out. They're pretty much an explosion of awesome. And one of their songs is exactly what I'm looking for when it comes to an autumn playlist. Fun to sing a long to, a touch of the supernatural and an intensity from the lead singer that creates just the perfect amount of spookiness.

I definitely believe that she could take out the village before being thrown in the river. It's all in the eyes.

And then in the realm of television, I am getting into Sleepy Hollow big time. It may be a pretty big leap from the original source material, but as far as I'm concerned the changes are paying off so far. I tend to feel a little twitch of unease while I'm watching but the lingering effect isn't nightmare inducing fear. When I finish an episode, I just feel like writing. Not anything related to what I watched, I just want to get back to work. I don't think I can coherently explain why that is, but suffice it to say, I'm happy to be inspired in whatever ways possible.

Now, though, I'm looking for books that will fit into the category of spooky, but not necessarily scary, to add to my TBR list. Particularly paranormal or mystery. Any suggestions?