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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

...And A Happy New Year

Here we are once again. Another New Year's Eve and another New Year only hours away.

2014 has been an interesting ride. It's been a year of travel - more travel then I've ever done before. From weekends in Maine for book signings to our first big family vacation to Disney to weddings in DC and Arizona for close friends and family, we saw quite a bit.

Writing-wise, I spent a good portion of the spring and early summer traveling around New England for book signings and readings of WHO WILL DANCE WITH ME? My debut adult novel WHAT THE TOWN KNEW got rolling towards publication (April 2015) with awesome cover and digital art from S.P. McConnell and lots of help from all of you who contributed to my Indiegogo campaign.

My first short story The Sticky Sweetness was published in Pen & Muse's DARK CARNIVAL ANTHOLOGY and the Alliance of Worldbuilders Anthology is set to come out this year with two of my pieces.

The highlight for me as far as writing goes was the Dark Crystal Author Quest. I made Top 25 Editor's Choice and was able to attend a reception in New York back in October. If you missed that whole adventure (and it was an adventure) you can read all about it here and here.

That's not to say this year was all rainbows and sunshine. I got my share of rejections (not going to say how many exactly...but a fair amount) and both my NaNo attempts ended up short. The first time I haven't made my goals. But, compared to years past where we had real loss and heartbreak, I can't complain too much over how 2014 treated me.

Now I can look forward to 2015 and all it brings with it. I'll have a new novel out in the spring along with a few more short stories in another anthology. I'll be celebrating my 10 year anniversary (Yikes!) and finally going on my honeymoon...a very late honeymoon...back to Disney in May. I'm already booking appearances for both my children's book and my upcoming release.

In short - I plan to keep busy.

And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that brings with it an offer of representation.

What are you all looking forward to this year? What are your goals and hopes as we enter a fresh year with a clean start?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Story for the Holidays


Pine and cinnamon hung heavy in the air, the sharp tang wrinkling my nose.

“Geez, Nana. Do you spray these down before boxing them up for the year?”

Nana sat in her rocking chair overseeing the whole operation. Christmas was less than two weeks away and her house wasn’t yet decorated. Having suffered a hip fracture this past year after her eighty-fifth birthday, she was in no condition to be climbing the attic ladder to bring down heavy boxes crammed with tinsel and wrapping paper.

“Careful with those.” She pointed her cane at the cardboard box in my arms.

“What’s in here?”

“Memories.” She put the tip of her cane on the floor, her chin resting on the knobby handle. “Open it up.”

Gently, I placed the box on the table. Nana might be fragile physically, but she retained a fearsome attitude. Breaking something she considered a memory would bring out that side, along with a lot of cane whacks.
I lifted the lid and Nana straightened up in her seat, trying to see inside the box.

“They’re tree ornaments, Nana.”

“Not just tree ornaments.” Her cane clacked against the floor. “Memories.”

I sighed. “OK, Nana. What are we doing with all these memories?”

Her chair rocked as she sat back. “Decorate the tree, of course.”

“Of course.” I looked around the small living room for her Christmas tree, but there wasn’t one.

“Nana, we can’t decorate the tree. You don’t have one.”

“Well, go get one. I’ll wait. Haven’t got much else to do today.”

I checked my watch. “Nana, I’d love to, but it’s already two. I have to get home soon.”

“David James. You’re going to go get your old nana a tree.” The ferocious side reared its head.

“My name’s Dustin, Nana. David was my dad.”

“Dustin. Pah! What kind of name is that? Never understood why your mom chose such a foolish name over David.”

This argument was as old as me. Nana didn’t approve of Mom breaking tradition and naming me, her first and only grandson, anything but David. I think Mom did it because I would have ended up David James the Fifth. It also could have been because Mom never got along with Nana and rebelled against her mother-in-law anyway she could. Either way, despite my birth certificate clearly saying ‘Dustin’, for the last twenty-three years Nana insisted I was David.

I really have to go.” I had been there since ten, lugging boxes down. Another perk of being the only grandson in the family.

What’s so important you’re going to leave me with all these boxes lying around for me to trip on?”

I need to walk Tiger.”

Bring the mangy mutt here. You have to go get a tree, pick him up on the way.”

Nana, I’m not bringing Tiger…”

I said bring him and the tree.” Her tone left no room for argument.

Yes, Nana.” I pulled on my coat and stepped out into the Illinois winter.

Get a good one. I don’t want no Charlie Brown Christmas tree in my house, shedding needles everywhere.”

No needles. Got it.” The door slammed behind me, knocking off the tattered wreath I had hung earlier.

Damn it.”

Language,” came the muffled admonishment from Nana. Woman had ears like a bat.

Sorry!” I picked up the wreath and attempted to rehang it. The faded ribbons knotted together to form the wreath were frayed and moth eaten, leaving few spots to pin it. Like all decorations, this one needed replacing.

Snow drifted down as I drove to complete my chores. Only a dusting, adding to the five inches we accumulated at Thanksgiving. Light for this time of year.

First stop was the parking lot of Al’s Hardware. Al sold Christmas trees during the season and his prices were always the lowest. I’d be in and out and off to grab Tiger before going back to Nana’s.

Dustin. Nice surprise seeing you. Thought you had gone artificial on me.” Al clapped his gloved hands together, his words floating through the air on frosted breath.

I did. Nana didn’t. She sent me down to pick up a tree.”

Take a look. Most of my really good trees are gone. Early birds show up the day I open shop and get them.”

I check through all the trees, but Al’s right. The ones left are scrawny with needles piled into green carpets below them.

Sorry I didn’t have what you were looking for. Tell your Nana to come earlier next year.” Al adjusts his earmuffs and stomps through the yard to his store.

The only other place in town that sells trees is Target. Some guy from the next town owns a tree farm and he has an agreement with the store to let him set up shop in their lot.

Target’s parking lot is full with all the holiday shoppers. I find an empty space near the trees. This guy has a lot more than Al and the selection is much better. No Charlie Brown tree for Nana.

I settled on one slightly taller than me with full branches and paid the guy.

You have decorations for it?” he asks when he hands me my change. “If not, Target has tree ornaments 50% off.”

I thank him and get the tree into the bed of my truck. Times like these are good reminders of why I keep the gas guzzler instead of trading it in for a smaller, more fuel efficient car.

The key’s in the ignition when I think about what the tree guy said. Nana could use some new decorations. It could be my Christmas present to her.

When I get inside, I find most of the decorations have been picked over, much like Al’s tree lot. The few ornaments left are gaudy or broken from being carelessly handled. The only decoration salvageable is a star tree topper.

The rest of her ornaments need replacing and her tree topper can’t be in much better shape. At least it’ll be a start.

I make my purchase and pick up Tiger. He’s so happy to see me he sits on the bag nearly breaking the star.

No, Tiger. Bad dog.”

He whines and shifts his weight, allowing me to pull out the bag from under him. He settles into the passenger seat and we’re off, returning to Nana’s Christmas Prison.

I bring the tree in first, leaving Tiger and my surprise in the cab. While I was gone, Nana had set up her tree stand. Made of wrought iron, the thing weighed a ton and I wondered how she moved it on her own. Maybe she wasn’t as helpless as she let on.

Nana was still sitting in her rocking chair, looking for all the world like she hadn’t moved. “Not going to get pine needles all over my floor, is it?”

No, Nana. I got you a good one.”

You know you’re supposed to let it relax before you decorate a real tree, don’t you?”

Yes, Nana, but we can’t wait for it to relax completely. I can’t stay too long.”

Thought I told you to bring that dog with you.”

I did. He’s in the truck.”

Then I see no reason for you to rush off.”

Mom’s expecting me for dinner.”

Nana pursed her lips. “Allison’s making dinner?”

Mom is making dinner, yes.”

Hope it’s something microwavable. Woman doesn’t know how to cook anything that takes more brains or skills than pushing a button.”

Told you they didn’t get along.

Whatever she makes will be good. Excuse me for a minute while I get Tiger and a surprise I picked up for you.”

Tiger doesn’t bark or wag his tail when I reach the truck. His big brown head is hung down, staring at the floor.

Come on, boy.” I open the door and discover why he’s lost his enthusiasm over seeing me. On the floor is the star, chewed into five pieces. Most of the gold paint is gone, exposing the cheap white wiring beneath.

Bad dog! Bad Tiger!” I shout, picking up all the pieces and shoving them into the bag. Sticks and star angles fall back out as fast as I put them in, slipping through the holes ripped in the plastic.

In frustration, I gather as much of the destroyed star as I can and grab Tiger’s leash. I march him up the porch steps and into Nana’s house.

I’m so sorry. I bought you a new tree topper, but Tiger ate it.” The pieces tinkle with a fake metal ping as I dump them on the table.

Why on God’s green Earth would you buy me a tree topper when you know I have one?”

I wanted to surprise you with all new ornaments, but all they had left was the star. I thought it would be a start to replacing some of these old ones that keep falling apart.”

Nana said nothing for a minute. Her hand, crooked with arthritis stroked Tiger’s head. The dog knew he was in trouble with me, but Nana hadn’t berated him yet, so she was safe.

The tip of her cane came up and pointed to the last box I brought down. The cardboard box she called ‘Memories.’ “Bring that box here.”

I picked it up and placed it on the coffee table next to her.

Slowly her hand went into the box and pulled out a little ceramic tree painted a multitude of colors.

Your dad made this when he was five or six.” She holds it out to me and I see ‘David James Grade 1’ in faded black marker on the bottom. “Well, don’t just stand there, take it.”

She practically threw it at me, so I took it from her, cradling it in my hands. “What do you want me to do with it?”

Put it on the tree where it belongs. Boy, you must get your common sense from your mother.”

I ignore the jab and hang the ornament. When I return, Nana has another one out. This one is homemade as well, but better craftsmanship. A lace angel, once pure white now yellowed with age.

This one was made by my mother. She gave it to me the Christmas before she passed away.”

I take it and hang it near the little ceramic tree.

Ornament after ornament comes out of the box, each with a story attached. Dad’s first Christmas. Grandpa’s death. Marriages and children. Heartbreak and loss, all recorded on one Christmas tree.

I’ve helped Nana decorate before and seen all these ornaments hundreds of times. This was the first time any of them meant something. The first time instead of seeing a macaroni picture frame missing half the noodles, I saw the gapped-toothed second grader whose youth lived on only in the photo.

The last ornament to come out of the box was the star for the top of the tree. Looking at it with new eyes, I noticed it had six points instead of the traditional five.

Nana, why do you have a Star of David tree topper?”

A smile stretched across her face, a mixture of joy and sorrow, much like the memories now decorating her tree. “This was my parents’ star. Papa made it for Mama when they married.”

Why the Star of David?”

Papa fell in love with Mama, but the only way they could marry was for her to become a Christian. She gave up her religion and people to follow her heart, but she couldn’t part with her past completely. That was a few years before the Nazis rounded up Mama’s family and sent them to concentration camps. Mama escaped to America, made easier by her marriage to Papa. When they made a home here, Papa turned her Star of David into a tree topper to remind her of who she was. He always said Jesus wouldn’t mind since he was a Jew, too.”

I had no idea you were Jewish. Why didn’t you ever mention it before?”

Guess maybe I forgot myself. Mama didn’t practice, even without the danger of persecution. Nothing but that tree topper left to remind us of our own past. Forgetting is what happens when you keep all your memories locked up in boxes.”

I place the star on top and step back to take in the whole tree. A simple evergreen decked out with bits of past belonging to my family. A past I’ve only begun to discover.

At the top of it all, a Christmas star to remind me of where I come from.

*This story was originally posted on Pen & Muse's 12 Days of Christmas Author Showcase.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Launch News: What The Town Knew

It's official! Saturday, April 18th, 2015 will be the launch of WHAT THE TOWN KNEW. Want to be in on the official reveal? Come on down and party with us!

When: Saturday, April 18th, 2015
Time: 2-4 pm
Where: Booklovers' Gourmet, 55 E. Main Street, Webster, MA

Make sure you spread the word. People love a good piece of gossip.

Monday, December 8, 2014

And A Christmas Story for the Kiddos

As promised, here's my Christmas picture book pick for the kids.

This one is by my cousin, Lynn Menatian. Here's the blurb:

Charlie escapes again! What happens when a young reindeer has too much energy and excitement before Christmas? He gets into all sorts of mischief and is on the loose...AGAIN!

If you want to pick it up, you can purchase it from Amazon OR you can come see her (and me!) at Jesse Smith Library on Wednesday, December 10th from 6:30-8.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Christmas Story for the Adults

Christmas is coming, which means it's time for my annual book recommendations. Before I post those, I have two picture books I wanted to feature on their own. Today's book is a story for the adults.

By now I'm sure most of you have seen, read, or at least heard of 'Go the F@ck to Sleep.' Today's book is in a similar vein, but less obscenities and more, as the title states, macabre.

SAVING CHRISTMAS written by Jessica MacLean and Dan Desilets and illustrated by Rhiannon McCullough, follows the story of Edgar the Elf as he tries to find a way to produce enough magic to keep Christmas going. 

Its all your fault. You could have stopped this from happening. Belief in Santa Claus begins to fade and Christmas is in jeopardy. Santa is despondent and his well meaning elves take it upon themselves to "Save Christmas". Try to remember that their hearts are in the right place as the blood begins to fly. Saving Christmas is a lighthearted romp through the "Feel-Good Macabre" genre. As you laugh, sigh and cringe your way through this delightfully grim tale, remember this. You are just as awful as we are for enjoying it.

I was lucky enough to watch the development of this book from early draft to finished product. Yes, it's a little dark, but it's a whole lot cheerier than having the Krumpus visit you. (Which I believe is what happens once Santa fades away.)

Sound like something you'd enjoy? You can pick one up here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Time for a Reveal!!

The time has come for a cover reveal. I've been sitting on this one for a while now, and I'm really excited to finally be sharing it.


Here it is...the cover for WHAT THE TOWN KNEW

What do you think?? I'm over the moon in love with it. 
Huge thank you to S. P. McConnell.

Want to see more work by this awesome artist and designer? You can check his website out S. P. McConnell. Tell him I sent you. ;-)

And you can mark your calendars for April 21st! That will be the official release date. Those of you who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign should be getting your copies a few weeks ahead of that.

Details for the launch party will be coming soon, so keep an eye on here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An Update and a Towel Throw

I meant to post before I left on my last trip, but things got crazy and time grew short. Anyways, I'm back home now and have no more travel plans until next spring.

That doesn't mean I'm not busy.

Let's start with the most important thing on my list: WHAT THE TOWN KNEW update. The Indiegogo campaign is over and while I didn't reach goal, what I did make is helping immensely to cover some of my costs. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

I will be ordering bookmarks and other items this week and if all goes according to plan, the swag gifts will be headed out by the end of the month. I'll be keeping you all posted as soon as they're mailed.

Which brings me to the next item: Cover Reveal! I'm planning on doing a full cover reveal along with teasers at the beginning of December. Have a blog or website and want to join in? Message me! The more people who help out, the more word of WHAT THE TOWN KNEW will spread.

I've also decided to throw in the towel on this year's NaNo. I gave it a shot and still plan on writing, but I have too much going this month to dedicate the time needed to reach the word count goal. Right now my attention is too divided to get much done. To everyone who's still doing it: Go! Go! Go!

There's one other item of news that I'm hoping will amount to something awesome to share, so keep an eye on the blog.

So, how's this for a quick update? Hopefully the next one will be longer. Much longer. ;-)

Monday, October 27, 2014

NYC or Bust: Or Why I Almost Cried on Friday, Part the Second

Yesterday I posted the first part of my NYC Henson-filled adventures. If you missed it, you can catch up here. Today you get to hear about the Dark Crystal reception.

For anyone who doesn't know me in real life, I'm very much an introvert and socially awkward. (I'm working on it.) Now, remember I've already gone through a heck of an emotional roller coaster earlier in the afternoon. This information makes the fact that I spent most of the evening with a maniacal smile plastered on my face and a deer-in-the-headlights mentality a little less horrible.

Not going to spend a lot of time on the actual screening other than to say it was so much better than watching it on the TV screen. The colors and detail were so vivid, I caught things I'd never seen before. I wasn't the only one to notice the difference, either. It was pretty well agreed that no one ever wanted to watch it any way other than on the big screen.

Movie and public presentation finish and those of us invited to the after-party head up to the room. Again, we have only name tags with our association to the Dark Crystal. (Mine said 'Author Quest.' Michael Frith's said 'Dark Crystal Cast/Crew.')

I grabbed a soda and move towards a corner where I try not to hide, but I'm not sure what to do with myself. The room was filling with cast and crew members from the Dark Crystal, including Michael Frith, Kathryn Mullen and, of course, Brian and Wendy Froud. I tell Erin, my co-adventurer, that I'm completely out of my depth.

A few of the other authors and creature contest finalists are there, so we chat some more. I'm still trying to figure out how to go about talking with all these people I'm in awe of. Turns out I didn't need to worry. Not only were they all super-friendly and approachable, but Cheryl Henson facilitated what was probably my most memorable moment of the night.

Think of someone you look up to for inspiration. Someone you admire, whether it's a writer, musician, doctor, scientist. Got that person? Now, think of one of your life's greatest goals. It could be to become published, picked up by a record label, discover a cure for a disease. Think of someone who can help you reach that goal either because they're already in the field or they can fund it or they have resources you can use. Got both those people? Good. Finally, imagine that the person you admire brings over the person who can make your dream come true to meet you. That is what Friday night felt like.

I was still over at the fringe of the party when I look up and see Cheryl Henson heading straight for me with three Random Penguins in tow. (Ok, only writers and publishing people will get that joke.) Ms. Henson stops in front of me with the executive editor for Penguin Group for Young Readers and two other editors and makes introductions. They go something like this:

"This is Editor A, B, and C (no, they had real names, but I'm leaving them out for the sake of this post) from Penguin. This is Emily McKeon. I wanted to make sure you connected with each other. I've already told her how much we enjoyed her writing and the reason we had to drop her from the running."

At this, maniacal smile is firmly in place as I shake their hands and they in turn tell me how great my writing is and ask if I have any other fantasy pieces. We talk for a while, I can't even tell you exactly what was said because my brain was going, "Oh my god, is this really happening?" over and over again. They move on after a bit and Erin whispers behind me, "I think Cheryl Henson just fangirled you."

After something like that, it was hard to top, but the night continued to be fantastic. Wendy Froud told me she liked my story but wishes she knew what happened after. Some of the creature contest winners brought their creation, a working puppet, and Kathy Mullins animated it. Then she gave the creators tips to make it better and more life-like when it's being puppeted. In the spirit of Jim Henson, everyone there was more interested in helping others out than trumpeting their own successes. They wanted those of us new to this to succeed. It was mind-blowing to have these people who we looked up to and aspired to be like, excited over our work.

As I made my good-bye rounds and gained contact information from other writers so we could keep in touch, I also gained the business card of the executive editor of Penguin. He handed it to me saying, "For you, Emily. In case you have anything you'd like to pass along to me."

Deer-in-the-headlights and a stammered 'Thank You' from me. Hopefully my awkwardness didn't make him change his mind. (I still have his card, so that's one point for me, yes?)

Finally, I had to say good-bye to Ms. Henson, who spent time chatting with me like we were old friends. She was talking with Michael Frith when we went to leave, but she asked him to wait a minute when she saw us getting ready to leave. She then hugged me (yes, I got a hug from Cheryl Henson) and thanked me for coming. Like a sincere, "Thank you so much for coming and being a part of this." My brain, despite being nearly fried at that point, managed an acceptable, "Thank you for all of this. It's amazing and an honor to be included."

So, that's my Friday in a nutshell. There are a lot of little things that happened at both events that I didn't include, like my awkward chat with Toby Froud. But if you'd like to hear more about anything I mentioned or if you have questions, I'm very happy to talk more about it. I will say that when I got home on Saturday, my brain finally caught up with everything that happened and I cried.

They were happy tears. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read and critique my Dark Crystal entry to make it the best it could be. It's because of all of you that this Dreamer's dream was made reality.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

NYC or Bust: Or Why I Almost Cried on Friday, Part the First

A Sunday morning post! Weird, I know, but I have a lot to tell you all about my trip on Friday. I also needed to take yesterday to finish letting my brain absorb it all. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, I'm so glad I didn't give up and decide there was absolutely no way I could make it because...Oh. My. God.

First, if you're new here and unaware of my deep love of all things Henson, you can check out my previous post about the new Muppet Movie. Got an idea of my feelings towards them? Great.

Second, most of you should by now know that I'm working to become traditionally published. I'm querying, entering contests, submitting, and writing new and different things all the time. About this time last year I entered the Dark Crystal Author Quest. Out of roughly 500 entries I made it to the top 25 and landed as an Editor's Choice. Sadly not a top 5 finalist and obviously not the winner, I was bummed but ecstatic to have made it that far. See, all the entries were read by editors at Penguin, but only the top 25 went through Cheryl  and Lisa Henson and Brian and Wendy Froud. Even if they didn't choose mine, they had read my words. That alone was huge. (If you're curious, my entry can be found here.)

Fast forward to the end of last month. I received an e-mail inviting me to a special reception after a Fan Fest screening of The Dark Crystal in New York. The reception was for all Editor's Choice winners, along with the Creature Contest finalist. Present would be the Frouds and Cheryl Henson. After initially declining, I was able to work out something with my family that allowed me to change my response, because how many chances would I get at something like this?

Already excited about the event, the deal was made better last week with an e-mail stating that we were invited to a special Muppets Workshop tour with Cheryl Henson. Uh...yeah. I took five whole seconds to accept that invite.

My mind was buzzing with a mix of excitement and nerves by the time we arrived for the tour on Friday. Truthfully, I expected the tour to be professional and museum-like. I was not prepared for what it was.

Cheryl Henson and Z (the head of the Jim Henson Foundation) met us at the door, through which we had already caught a glimpse of Snuffy. I introduced myself and Ms. Henson smiled and said, "I'm so glad you came. I loved your story."

Ok, so that was cool, but part of me was thinking she said it to be nice. Not that my ego minded, because I mean, Cheryl Henson just said she liked my work.

We all mingled and chatted before the tour, snapping pictures. Well, I took four pictures before my brain melted, but Erin, who accompanied me, took a lot more. I'll be stealing some of her pictures later this week to show you all. For now, here are mine from Muppet Workshops:

Original reception desk with Sesame Street characters

Mr. Snuffleupagus!!

Skeksis chair from the movie!

Me, in the skeksis chair. ;-)

Tour itself was fantastic. Everyone was laid back and willing to chat with us. The main project they were working on were walk-around costumes for a SNL skit. It was fun to see them working on those as well as muppets for Sesame Streets around the world. Yes, they make all the muppets and replacement muppets there. Also, yes, I got to play with one of the muppets - a green wolf-like muppet. My hand was found to be too small to work that particular muppet correctly. I could barely reach the mouth padding.

Ms. Henson let us wander and ask questions after. I have to say, she was warm and genuine and down-to-earth. She wanted us to network and talk about our work and open the possibilities of future collaborations and interactions between everyone gathered. No, "Here's the Tour, Here's the Door." She encouraged us to hang around as long as we wanted, chatting with us the whole time.

Here comes the first near meltdown.

Cheryl Henson comes over to me and says, "I need to tell Emily something about her work," to which I reply, "Uh oh."

Guys...I'm still having trouble comprehending this, so bear with me. She tells me that my writing is fantastic and my story was wonderful and then she asks me if I know why I was dropped. (Remember everyone, 25 entries went through her and I NEVER mentioned my work, title, nothing. She only has my name to go off of.) She tells me they couldn't pass me on because of the Garthim. They discussed it, but because they had put up the rule about the Garthim they couldn't risk having another author crying foul, so they couldn't put it through. THAT WAS THE ONLY REASON! She said someone needed to tell me that, because my writing is really good. So, yes my fears were well-founded, but to hear it from her made my day. She then told me to keep writing and not stop, that I needed to continue.

Guys, hearing praise like that is always awesome, but coming from Cheryl Henson?!!?! AHHHH!!!

But that's not the end. Not by a long shot. However, this post is already nearly novel-length on its own, so tomorrow I shall fill you all in on the party, because, once again, NOT WHAT I EXPECTED!!!

Don't worry, all good things, all good things. ;-)

Monday, October 13, 2014

I'm A Travelin'

Halfway through October already? Crazy! Winter will be here before we know it...but I'd rather not think about the ice and snow right now. Which is good because I have a lot of things taking up my time and attention.

First up: Indiegogo campaign is just below 1/3 of the goal. Help spread the word so we can reach 100% by the end of the month. Also, until the 15th anyone who pledges $15 or more gets an extra treat: A WHAT THE TOWN KNEW tote bag. This is what they *probably* will look like:

Next up: Travelling! A lot of travelling happening over here. We just got back from our first big family trip to Disney (which was fantastic and we can't wait to go again) and I have two more trips coming up within the next month. On the 24th I'll be taking a day trip to NYC for the Dark Crystal Fan Fest. I'm insanely excited about this, mainly because I get to say, 'I'm on the list' for the after party. Yes, I get to attend an invitation only reception in acknowledgement of my Dark Crystal Author Quest entry. There will be pictures.

Trip number two is two weeks after, heading out to Arizona for my best-friend-since-forever's wedding. While I'm out there, my online presence will be sporadic, so don't give up on me if I don't answer right away.

After the trips, I'm settling down to local events. I'll be at the Jesse Smith Memorial Library in Harrisville on November 12th for my writer's group open house. Then back again on December 10th for a local authors reception. Info for both can be found under my appearances tag. (I may also have some WHAT THE TOWN KNEW cards with me for the second event.)

Tying in with the Indiegogo, I have a lot of editing and revision to finish before January when the whole thing goes off to be professionally edited. Yes, I have secured a fabulous editor who will give WHAT THE TOWN KNEW that final polish before it gets released. Things are happening!

So, if I'm not around quite so much, you know why. You can still message me and I'll get back as soon as I'm able. My response just won't be instantaneous like it normally is.

Now...what do you all think of the tote? I'd love your feedback before I order them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Peek Behind the Scenes of THE DARK CARNIVAL Anthology

The air has grown crisp - October is here. With October comes autumn leaves, apple cider, and the siren call of The Dark Carnival.

Will you answer its call? Will you heed the beckon?

The doors are opening.

Will you leave with your life?

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It's The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there's no promise that anyone can leave...alive.

Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian

Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley.
*Final lineup subject to change


Want to show The Dark Carnival even more Goodreads love?
Add it to your shelves - horror, anthologies, and thriller are good places to start.

Did you say you have more love? Pin the shiny new cover to Pinterest, send out some tweets, and scribe it into Facebook. You never know - show The Dark Carnival enough love, and it might just let you leave.

About Pen & Muse Press
Need writing tips? Want to learn how to market yourself as an author? Pen & Muse Press was started to give you just the tips you need. No matter how long you’ve been writing - or haven’t been, embrace your craft.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Treats are Better Than Tricks

Good Monday Morning Everyone!!!

(No, I'm not really that chipper first thing in the morning. Especially on Mondays. Internet does wonders for appearance, doesn't it? ;-) )

Anyway, we're well into October now, which means all things Halloween. It also means time is ticking down once again for Lizzie and WHAT THE TOWN KNEW. I really need to make this goal, which means I need all your help spreading the word.

I've said it before and I 100% mean it: No amount is too small! Seriously, if everyone who sees my posts contributed even $5 my goal would be met and surpassed. Which in turn means I can reach my stretch goals, including being able to donate money from my book sales to Domestic Abuse victims and shelters.

To motivate you all, not only am I still running the contest, I'm doing a special Treat.

With Halloween coming, so is Trick-or-Treating. I don't know about you, but I always preferred the Treats to Tricks.
Me and Lizzie want to give you all another chance at a Treat. Since the Early Bird Special is over, we're going to let you have another shot at the tote bag. From now until the 15th anyone who donates $15 or more will receive the tote bag along with the rest of their gifts. With the book coming out in April, the tote bag will be a perfect addition to bringing WHAT THE TOWN KNEW on a beach day.
So, help spread the word! And remember, you don't have to donate to win the contest.
Check out all the perks available here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Taking a Break for a Cover Reveal

Hey guys! I'm back from vacation, feeling a little less stressed and more relaxed. That week was definitely needed. Now, I get to start the week off with an awesome cover reveal!

Why is it awesome? Besides the fact that my short story is in this fantastic anthology, the cover is beautiful...in a really creepy way.

Wanna see? Ok. Here we go.

May I present the cover for the DARK CARNIVAL ANTHOLOGY (cover created by C. Elizabeth Vescio)....

Cover Reveal

The Dark Carnival
A Pen & Muse Anthology

October approaches. Autumn leaves are nearly falling. The Dark Carnival is calling, calling. Will you answer its call? Will you heed the beckon?

The doors are opening.

Will you leave with your life?

Blurb: In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It's The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there's no promise that anyone can leave...alive.

Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian

Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley.
*Final lineup subject to change


Want to show The Dark Carnival even more Goodreads love?
Add it to your shelves - horror, anthologies, and thriller are good places to start.

Did you say you have more love? Pin the shiny new cover to Pinterest, send out some tweets, and scribe it into Facebook. You never know - show The Dark Carnival enough love, and it might just let you leave.

Cover Design by the fabulous C. Elizabeth Vescio. Learn more about her and her incredible design skills here.

About Pen & Muse Press
Need writing tips? Want to learn how to market yourself as an author? Pen & Muse Press was started to give you just the tips you need. No matter how long you’ve been writing - or haven’t been, embrace your craft.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Think It's Time for a Contest

Just a quick post today.

I just discovered I can see whose referrals through social media sites and websites are responsible for donations on Indiegogo. I think this means we should have a contest. What do you guys all think?

Here's the deal: Campaign ends on October 30th. Whoever is responsible for the most donations through referrals will win a signed copy of WHAT THE TOWN KNEW in their choice of format PLUS swag.

Already donated? You can still win. If your donation was below the book tier, you'll get your choice of book (as above.) If you were already receiving a copy of the book, you'll be bumped up to the next gift tier.

Remember, Sunday ends the Early Bird Special, which the winner will also receive. $20 or more gets you a special tote and key chain along with you tier gifts.

So, spread the word. And Good Luck!

Need the link again? Here you go! Help Publish WHAT THE TOWN KNEW.