Scattered Thoughts, and Surprises…

I was in the middle of writing yesterday’s blog post when I learned of the events that went down.

My post didn’t fit with the  tragedy and shock of the day’s events, so I saved it to continue it next week.

This post may not either, but here goes.

I wasn’t really surprised at the turn of events yesterday. The people that have joined forces and voted for/supported Trump are all too terribly, frighteningly familiar to me. I grew up surrounded by them Florida. And the ones there with lots of money and power are the hardest to fight against. I eventually left (and came back and left again and came back and left and…well, you get the picture). I finally left for good back in 2015. I won’t go back, not even for a visit. It’s too heartbreaking, and unsafe for liberal-minded, progressive people like I consider myself to be.

(If you want to know what Florida is really like, pick up one of Carl Hiassen’s books. And this article about Hiassen and his books as posted on CrimeReads is great, too. Carl Hiaasen: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics ‹ CrimeReads)

But now their activities have taken center stage on a national…no, an international…level.

And the United States now has to act. Some politicians in the U.S. already are. (I just saw that the first federal charges have been filed.) Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the powers that be fail to act, in the end. (Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?) I was more surprised with the fact that certain Republicans and other like individuals began jumping off the Trump ship they’d helped keep afloat for so long.

And I was surprised by my own reaction. I was glued to the news sites online (I don’t have basic cable, aka the news channels, because it’s so outrageously expensive) and I kept repeating to myself “Don’t kill anyone, please don’t kill anyone” and I braced myself for the updates of the deaths of the people the rioters may have been planning to target. Because even though I write horror, and have written some pretty gruesome things (which haven’t been published as of yet), I cannot bear it when it happens in real life.

But here’s a little bright spot, for those of you whom issues like this also matter, in this New York Times article: Curators Scour Capitol for Damage to the Building or Its Art – The New York Times (nytimes.com).

I’m going to be waiting on pins and needles for the full report of the damage and loss on these artifacts, alongside the key breaking news updates.

I don’t agree with Trump or the rioters that supported him. And I’m an activist and protestor myself, though on a very different side then the Trumpers (Coalition of Immokalee Workers Taco Bell march/protests, Free Mumia movement actions, WTO protest organization, working on an initiative to bring a delegation of women from Chiapas to meet with Bernie Sanders, March Against Monsanto protests, protests at greyhound racing tracks, tons of animal rescue work, and participation in guerilla theatre/puppetry performances, among other actions I’ve probably forgotten about.) and, hopefully, utilizing very different (nonviolent and unarmed) tactics.

My life’s been in upheaval itself for the past several years, and the most I can do is pick up a pen right now.

But one bright spot is, and great honour, is that my stories are getting published quite frequently. Still working on getting a full-length book published, but I’m hoping to start work on my next manuscript soon (outlining now).

I have hopes that this, which I just got, will help as I continue to work on my horror manuscript: Spooky Writer’s Planner | The Home of Author Loren Rhoads. I can’t wait to put it to use in planning, and writing, my demonic-flavoured manuscript!

But the best bright spot of all, in my wee realm? It’s that I won something! (And, no, it’s not the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, or the lottery, or even the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, just FYI! It’s better!).

*drum roll*

Courtesy of Horror Addicts, it’s the Spooky Prize Pack! I can’t wait to see all my spook-a-licious surprises!

https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/spooky-writers-planner-giveaway-winners/

Hope everyone’s day gets better, and that you are staying safe and sane (and definitely consensual! *snort* Okay, lame kinda nerdy humour I know, but…weird times call for weird measures!)

(I never thought I would add Donald Trump as a tag. Ugh.)

The Incendiary Power of Change

I meant to post this before, but I was having so many issues with WordPress. My grown-up version of a temper tantrum felt incendiary enough to scorch the whole planet. *laugh*

As you all know, I already tried to change blog sites once, and that didn’t work out. 

I was even more frustrated in trying to deal with WordPress, because I’m in the middle of the move, and lots of other life changes. But today, I was suddenly back into the regular format, or pretty close to it. The only thing I did was go into a draft that I apparently made last time, and then open that. That may be the trick to have it like it was. Because hitting the “classic block” editor” didn’t work. Luckily, things like the feature to add tags was back, and wasn’t disappearing/reappearing. Even little things, like the ability to put in a strikethrough, was back.

Anyway, I wrote a couple of guest blogs that deal with the element of fire as the more productive way of dealing with change and upheaval, sans the temper tantrum!

Please go check them out, and thanks to Katzenworld and Mookychick for the opportunity to write for them!

“Fighting Fire with Fire” on Mookychick: https://www.mookychick.co.uk/health/witchcraft-spirituality/fighting-fire-with-fire.php

“The Cat that Walked into the Line of Fire” on Katzenworld: https://katzenworld.co.uk/2020/08/13/the-cat-that-walked-into-the-line-of-fire/

 

Five Things Friday: Mini-Interview with Author Jadi Campbell

Here’s this week’s “Five Things Friday” feature author, Jadi Campbell! I come up with five random questions and the author answers them. (If you’re an author and want to join in, email me at croftwillow (at) yahoo (dot) com.)

(Oh, and it’s Shark Week btw–go out and hug a shark!)

Willow: What’s your favourite snack food (and/or drink) while writing?

Jadi Campbell: There are writers who snack while they write? I forget to eat. At some point my stomach growls and I know it’s time to shove back from the computer desk and go make lunch — or dinner.

Willow: What’s your most distracting “nemesis” when you’re trying to write?

Jadi Campbell: In a word: everything. If I’m not in a writing groove, I will happily scrub the sink. I try to convince myself that when I’m not writing, look! I’m doing something useful! If I’m desperate enough to scrub a sink, imagine how enticing it is to go outside or meet my friends. PS: When I’m in a writing groove, that desire to clean the apartment mysteriously vanishes.

Willow: If you could live anywhere in the world(s) or even another planet (real life or fictional), where (and when) would it be?

Jadi Campbell: Any spot where I can write with gorgeous scenery and good food will do. I like our 1,200-year-old town in southern Germany. I have serious wanderlust, and my husband and I love to travel. The hardest part of the coronavirus is that we can’t go explore a new part of the world.

Willow: If you could choose what animal (or plant) you could be reincarnated as, what would it be, and why?

Jadi Campbell: The loon. Once you’ve heard a loon calling in the wild, that voice will inform your imagination forever.

Willow: If you woke up and you were trapped in a painting for eternity, which one would you prefer it to be?

Jadi Campbell: A smallish Picasso painting of a street haunts me. That winding alley was filled with melancholy, promise, and timelessness. I don’t remember what museum I saw it in, or even what country. I haven’t been able to find the painting in an art book, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never see it again.

Thanks again, Jadi Campbell, for joining in my “Five Things Friday” blog feature. Visit her website at http://jadicampbell.com/, and read on for more information about her and her books!

Jadi Campbell is the author of four books: Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded. The Trail Back Out, her new collection of short stories, is available for purchase on August 23, 2020.

In The Trail Back Out, two strangers meet in the woods. Children wear masks. A gambler hides in the cellar during a Category Five hurricane. A wife considers a hit-man’s offer. Princess Rain Clouds searches for happiness. An entire village flees, a life is saved, and a tourist in Venice is melting. Everyone keeps trying to make sense of strange events far in the past or about to occur. Let these characters be your guides. Join them on the trail back out – to a familiar world, now unexpectedly changed.

Reading Binge and Other Favourite Things…

Well, things are still shut down here in some ways. Mainly because my life has been in shutdown mode since circumstances dictated I had to move to the land of no internet and no cell phone service, otherwise known as the state of New Mexico. *laughs*

But I’m still keeping up with the (now exclusively out-of-state) job search and still writing and pitching as much as I can in the meantime.

And, of course, I’ve been participating in the reading binge a lot of us literary-loving souls have been indulging in since the shutdown started!

In addition to tackling my book to-read pile, I’ve jumped into my magazine/journal to-read stack: Witches & Pagans, Renaissance Magazine, Smithsonian, Preservation Magazine, Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, Stonecoast Review, Fireside Quarterly, Celtic Life International, Sirens Call, Apex Magazine, and even Reader’s Digest, as well as many more, both online and in print. (Gone are the days, it seems, when I read the magazine as fast as it arrived in my mailbox.)

Some of these I’ve had subscriptions for a while now, and just never had time with working the day job and trying to launch, and foster, a writing career to finish reading them. Some I got for sample copies to preview.

Some are both, which I carry on a subscription for because I not only want to support magazines and journals, but for which I’ve also become a dedicated fan of.

Among my new favourites are the Ellery Queen/Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines. The stories are so good! And perfect for pandemic reading!

On that note, then, I’m considering doing a “Favourite Things” feature on my blog here for a little while. I mean, there’s so many great bloggers out there doing interviews and feature pieces on authors already, and I wanted to do something a little different (which, yes, has probably been done before too LOL).

So, if you’re a writer/blogger, reach out to me and I’ll add you to one of the features that I plan to post on Fridays. With each feature I’ll have a new “Favourite Things” question, and I’ll post up answers, and links to your blog and such. It’ll go until I run out of questions to ask!

It’s National Pen Pal Day!

Hello there, spooky followers, it’s National Pen Pal Day here in the United States!

I love penpals and writing letters and such, so I’d love it if you become my penpal!

If you send me your email, I’ll put you on my mailing list for my (18+ only) newsletter full of delicious nightmares and looming storms…

I also have a limited number of horror-themed snail mail postcards, if that’s not too creepy for you in this day and age…

And, if you send me a photo of your copy of an anthology and/or journal/magazine my short story is in (Click here for list and links, or find me on Goodreads or Amazon), next to your pet(s) or favourite plant/tree, I’ll send you a bonus nightmarish surprise! (I love nature and animals, so I’d thought I’d ask for a twist on the traditional selfie!) You can also share your photo/email with me via Twitter: @WillowCroft16 #NationalPenPalDay.

The Not-So-Fine-Print: If I get my middle-grade manuscript accepted during #PitMad this 4th of June, I’ll eventually have a website that’s kid-friendly. Keep watching for updates on my book for kid (and their supervising parents/guardians) who love horror/suspense! So, let me state again that this particular mailing list is just for grown-ups–18+ grown-ups–and might have content that falls more on the adult side. Please don’t sign up for this newsletter unless you are 18+ years old.]

 

Aether and its Feline Minions…

A quick-as-air post this week! 

I don’t know how I did this before the shutdown: juggle writing and the day job and all the other life stuff. Right now, even without the day job, it feels like I have too many balls up in the air. But I’m submitting to lots of great writing opportunities, like this call for “Whodunit” mystery stories, hosted by Jersey Pines Ink: https://www.jerseypinesink.com. (Click the Submissions tab or just scroll down.)

Annnd, it looks like I might have my manuscript polished and ready for #PitMad. I don’t want to rush it, though, because I’d rather have a finished manuscript over submitting something that’s not as best as I can (re)write it.

In the meantime, I’ve been writing about the air element and kitty cats! Check out the elemental-themed post on Mookychick (https://www.mookychick.co.uk/health/witchcraft-spirituality/exploring-the-aether-realm-when-all-is-shut-down.php), and the story I wrote for Katzenworld (https://katzenworld.co.uk/2020/05/21/the-cat-that-watches-through-time/)!

Have a fantastic rest of the week, and hope it’s filled with lots of flights-of-fancy!

Swimming Away From the Current…

I had planned to use this shutdown time to write article pitches and submit them to magazines. Good intentions, right?

I began to realize that I wasn’t current enough on what’s trending write articles for some of the places that I’d hoped to draft pitches for. That, in fact, I’d never really been that up-to-date in terms of pop culture and current trends and the like, barring a brief period as an uber-cool (*cough* pretentious little snot) goth in the early 90s. So I was stuck trying to get ahead of a different non-pandemic-related curve.

But I realized was fine with not being trendy. I mean, sure, I spent way too many years trying to be the cool kid in the room, instead of the quiet nerd in the corner who had closet dreams of playing D&D and collecting comic books. And, as an adult, I spent too many years trying to conform so I could just “get a job.”

Not that getting a job isn’t important. I couldn’t write without my day job, even though I still struggle to support myself on that income. But I’ve conformed and worked hard and been outstandingly tenacious in my quest for a decent-paying job, and I still have nothing to show for it.

And, at risk of downplaying the importance of an author platform, or, even more importantly, the amazing and loyal followers that support the author, I realized that I don’t have to be current. There are plenty of talented writers out there that have their finger on the pulse of society, are on top of trends in movies and pop culture and even in writing, and they write it well.

In light of that it’s my responsibility as a writer to find my niche. (Which writing-tips articles galore also cover, of course!) But more than finding a niche is finding yourself. After all, what is writing for but a way to explore all the parts of yourself that aren’t seen in your day-to-day interactions with people.

For a few years after I overcame past conditioning and allowed myself to write (and even now, on some days) I wanted so badly to make up for all the time I lost in the thirty-some years that I didn’t write. And that’s where I could have sank and not swam.

Oddly enough, most of the development I’ve undergone in the past few years has been through a cyclical process of elimination–a whirlpool that gets tighter and cleaner as I get closer to the core. (I wrote a poem about this process, which was also inspired by a recent experience at a local convention. I’m not even sure if the poem is still posted on my blog or not.)

And that it’s perfectly acceptable to like classical music and comedies and outline by hand and write the first draft out by hand and have refillable pens and pencils or even a quill pen and (recycled) paper and get lost in the past and prefer tiny, cozy kitchens in old homes over culinary expanses with gleaming stainless steel appliances.

So, I’m exploring more old-school ideas and approaches to networking and mailings and establishing an author platform which may not even be trending at best, or at worst, be an utter failure, but that’s okay too.

We don’t all have to be trending.

We just have to be successful at ourselves.

And, for me, right now, that’s writing horror.

What’s your “you” right now, during this time of potential reflection and reassessment? Share if you wish to, in the comments.

 

 

 

Getting Lost in a Good Goodreads Binge…

AbandonedArmyBase
A potential site for my upcoming middle grade horror book? Or is this what the world looks like out there without humans after a month? *laughs* (Photo Courtesy of Canva 2020)

 

I’m starting to get a little rambly with the shutdown. And I was pretty bad for rambling on and on even before the pandemic restrictions…

Anyhoo, I’m finally getting caught up on everything that got pushed to the wings when I was working the full-time day job and trying to write full-time on top of that.

I finally found enough time to squeeze some reading in: Beautiful Darkness by Jay Wilburn (which I read in order to review on Madness Heart Press) and so that may be posting sometime soon (at that website’s/publisher’s discretion, of course).

And manage my social media on top of all of that. But now I have plenty of time to waste! Well, not really, as I seem to be even busier than before the day job. 

When I’m not wasting time pining over homes for sale on Old House Dreams and Circa Homes, I am spending more time than I should on Goodreads. I love that site almost more than reading everybody’s blogs. If I didn’t set a timer, I could spend hours there reading reviews and checking out new books…

But, I got my middle grade horror/suspense manuscript back from the editor (Lady Knight Editing: https://ladyknightediting.com/) and so it’s back to the grind on the next round of edits and rewrites. Hopefully (ha ha :-p) I’ll be done in time for #PitMad.

So, I’ll have to start minding my “Ps & Qs” on my blog, and work on my blog’s tone so that it can also appeal to a younger audience. But maybe by then, I’ll be able to get a custom website to go with the book’s release. 

And it’s time to go shopping, pandemic-style, soon. And who doesn’t want a kitty-cat mask to wear out and about?

Other than that, I’ve been re-watching Psych, and I just love Dulé Hill for the class and polish (well, mostly!) he brings to counteract James Roday’s goofball character.

And, that’s it. That’s enough rambling. Gotta go order supplies for my spoiled, fat, ex-feral kitties. And get back to writing and editing and snacking in-between!

I Would Say I’m “Eating Crow” Except that I’m Vegetarian…

SwirlCats
from Canva 2020

 

What a rollercoaster everything has been. And I’m not talking about the pandemic, though I suppose I should be more focused on that…

….but I had to come crawling back to WordPress for the time being. There were issues with Weebly that weren’t able to be surmounted, not even with the help of the great tech support they have.

I’m still a little spun around by the whole thing, and haven’t processed it.

So, onto you. How are you managing your writing time lately?

As a close, I’ll just leave you with a bit of the post I was putting up onto the other site.

(It’s about animals, of course.)

“During this lockdown, there’s the opportunity to give a shelter animal a foster home. Animal shelters are also most likely feeling the burden caused by these new restrictions. Many of the shelters may not be able to adopt animals out during this time. And, it’s getting into kitten and puppy season—a time when animal shelters are busier than ever, due to people still not getting their pets spayed and neutered. Plus, shelters are probably going to be flooded with more and more animals in the coming months, as people have not only lost their jobs, but may lose their homes as well, due to the financial instability that is facing us all.

So, please, reach out to your shelter and offer to provide a foster home for an animal if you have the space. Or make a donation online to the shelter. Or, even better, offer to adopt a specific animal when the shelters are able to resume their adoption process. It’s a stressful time, but let’s try not to overlook the needs of those who can’t ask us for help; our animal companions.”

Find your local shelter via Petfinder: https://www.Petfinder.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring…Building?:(Re)Constructing My Author Platform

So, I’m in the process of working out a social media plan as part of that necessary evil, the author platform!

Plus, I need to fine-tune it to get a handle on my online interactions as, thanks to Comcast and other internet service providers, and the state of New Mexico, I cannot get reliable internet access to run my business and my writing career.

Until I get a working plan and schedule in place, some of my blog reading (and other social media interactions)  will be pretty sporadic. But, once I weather through this process, I hope to be interacting a lot more online, and a lot more efficiently.

In addition to the above process, I’m working as hard as I can to find employment out of state (feel free to talk up the wonders of your home state!), and I hope to relocate sometime this summer. There’s tons of other motivating factors: I miss the ocean, I can’t find a decent-paying job here, etc. etc., blah blah blah, whine, whine. *laughs* But, again, the main reason is that I cannot get internet service at my house. Who knew that being without internet would make such an impact on things, but it has been very stressful lately.

It’s not helped by the fact that it’s like Mad Max out there in trying to commute to the place where I can get online for a couple of hours in the morning before the day job. (And I’m from Florida, where we all drive like jerks). But my goodness, I’ve nearly been run off the road by people passing me on the double yellow line, I’ve also nearly been run off the road by people coming the other direction. (Apparently it’s a thing where New Mexico drivers like to take up the whole road, regardless of whatever traffic happens to be coming the other way–other vehicles, commercial trucks, school buses, you get the idea, and they are all fair game to the typical New Mexico driver playing the game of chicken.)

And, for some reason, even when it’s just faintly twilight, New Mexico drivers cannot live with darkness. It’s not even dark and it’s all “OMG YOU’RE DRIVING WITH ONLY YOUR PARKING/SAFETY LIGHTS ON” (or whatever they’re called) and New Mexico drivers are suddenly concerned with driver safety to the extent that they will honk, flash lights, and slow down and gesture to you frantically out of the window (as they almost run themselves off the road) to get you to turn your full lights on.

And, speaking of lights, oh boy, are New Mexicans addicted to their high beams. I have some vision damage, and I don’t have any problems driving around with no brights on at night. But, my guess is it’s something to do with the fact that they are going 90 to 100 miles an hour down some tiny rural road (and, no, for once I am not exaggerating about the speeds here) and these drivers will not only not budge an inch as they take up the whole road for themselves, but will refuse to turn off their brights. And these drivers, boy, if they are behind you, they just love to tailgate you with those brights on. You almost wish they would pass you, even if it means they run you off one of New Mexico’s crumbling, pothole-ridden roads and into a tumbleweed the size of your car. The only time they slow down is when it rains, and, even if it’s just a tiny sprinkle, it’s like it’s an end-of-the-world deluge to these sun-dependent New Mexicans.

I’m actually quite terrified to drive anywhere in New Mexico these days, and I’ve driven across this country multiple times: Manhattan at rush hour, Atlanta, Connecticut with their aggressive commercial truck drivers, and Florida, of course, and I have a death grip on the wheel the entire time I’m commuting to my internet service location or to the day job.

No wonder why I write horror these days… *laughs*

Anyway, back to the point of this blog, feel free to share any author platform building tips, or even talk up the wonders of where you live, as I’m open to moving almost anywhere there’s a water source and job possibilities!

Happy almost Friday!