Start to the Holidays

Hello all,

NANOWRIMO is wrapping up, and I missed my content goals on some new work by… well… Anyway.

The good news is I did do a few events, get to meet and hang out with some fun people at the Internet Summit 2016 and Big Fandom Greenville, and started recording the new podcast.

And I got a lot of editing done.

Anyway, Melissa was nice enough to let me do a guest post over at the Enchanted Alley. Check it out! https://enchantedalley.com/2016/11/26/guest-post-jim-mcdonald/

Happy Halloween 2016!

 

As with my other Halloween posts this year, I’m addressing our fears.

And bad rhyming.

And I am issuing a challenge.

I challenge you to confront your fear by doing something creative every day. For many people, the idea of creating something, and then telling the world we’ve done it can be almost as terrifying as public speaking.

No matter what you create, do it first for yourself.

For you writers, NANOWRIMO starts tomorrow, November 1st.

If you are not aware, #NANOWRIMO month is dedicated to the idea of writing a novel in the month of November. A good target is 50,000 words for the 30 days.

That’s just 1667 words a day!

Admittedly, I have mixed emotions about it. It’s easy to think that December 1 you are cranking out cover letters and sending off your newly minted gem to publishers, and just waiting for the contracts and film rights to roll in. (Gentle pat on the head.)

You have a first draft. It’s crap. It might be worth having reviewed, doing developmental editing, and seeing if there’s a real story there. But it’s going to need work.

But here is what else you have.

You have accomplished your mission. You have created something.

Not only that, but you now have some skills and habits, even if a few are bad ones. And you have developed a little discipline. All of this is valuable.

And December 1? Do it again. Start something new.

And if you failed just like your diet on January 2nd? Do you curl up and quit?

No.

Yes, you have a goal of 1667 words a day. Some days will be great. Some days will suck. Some days will be Black Friday. Just because you miss your goal for the day isn’t reason to lose your mind, it’s just motivation to pick up the next day. You’re competing against a deadline, it’s true. But there isn’t a publisher’s contract at the other end.

So no, it’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. But few worthwhile things in life are.

So tonight, have a Happy Halloween.

And tomorrow, try something else that scares you. Create.

I’m honored to be able to contribute to the newly released :

We Are Not This: Carolina Writers for Equality anthology

Now available on Amazon from Falstaff Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M5FVA7A

Featuring stories from  A.J Hartley, John Hartness, Jay Requard, David Childers, Edmund Schubert, Stuart Jaffe, Tamsin SilverNicole Kurtz, Joanne Spataro, Natania Barron, Faith Naff, Theresa Glover, Calandra Usher, Edmund Schubert, Teresa Frohock, Jake Bible, Tamsin Silver, Caryn Studham Sutorus, Trevor Curtis, and many more!

Proceeds from this anthology go to support Time Out Youth, Queen City Theatre Company, and Equality NC.

The #HoldOnToTheLight campaign is ongoing.

I’ve been honored to contribute  with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

And finally,

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story

A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Happy Halloween Weekend!

I have a #Halloween guest post today over at: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/2016/10/halloween-week-killer-clowns.html

I’m honored to be able to contribute to the newly released :

We Are Not This: Carolina Writers for Equality anthology

Now available on Amazon from Falstaff Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M5FVA7A

Featuring stories from  A.J Hartley, John Hartness, Jay Requard, David Childers, Edmund Schubert, Stuart Jaffe, Tamsin SilverNicole Kurtz, Joanne Spataro, Natania Barron, Faith Naff, Theresa Glover, Calandra Usher, Edmund Schubert, Teresa Frohock, Jake Bible, Tamsin Silver, Caryn Studham Sutorus, Trevor Curtis, and many more!

Proceeds from this anthology go to support Time Out Youth, Queen City Theatre Company, and Equality NC.

The #HoldOnToTheLight campaign is ongoing.

I’ve been honored to contribute  with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

And finally,

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story

A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

 

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Why we love Halloween – Six days

Happy Saturday, everyone.

As this year’s October Frights Blog Hop is winding down, (Thanks for hosting the madness Clarissa!) I’ve been amused at the number of posts I’ve seen from people who hate to be scared.

I may have chuckled a  little at an article that popped up in my Facebook feed from someone who can’t understand why anyone watches, as she calls them, scary movies.

First, let me say, I am firmly an advocate of finding your tribe, and finding your interests. And I get it, that some people are scared of their own shadow. By the authors admission, she had seen a sum total of one “scary movie.” And not a really good one at that.

But I agree, if you let a bad horror flick scar you at 14, and that was half your life ago, the genre probably isn’t for you. Good for realizing it.

BUT.

The majority of the article was boiling down to saying something was wrong with people who did enjoy this form of entertainment. I’m not hating on the fact she sips her pumpkin spice latte while she reads glamour magazine, and has the depth of a kiddie pool in the desert. It’s one thing to say you don’s like something in particular, it’s another to basically say people are wrong for enjoying something different from you.

For those of us that love this season, its because we get to embrace those parts of ourselves AND others who are a little different.  If everyone was just the same, we would like in a world of nothing more than bad sitcoms and the same formulaic romcom movie every weekend. We would be in a world without Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, or Alan Moore being known.

We wouldn’t have Sandman Slim,  Cthulhu, Captain Kirk or anything Samuel L. Jackson has ever done.

No,  I embrace my inner nerd, my outer geek, and the snarky person I am. I have the things I love and enjoy, and the stuff I don’t.  But I would never tell someone else their fandom was wrong, any more than I would look at them and tell them their religious faith was. (Well, except for Cabbage Patch Kids. Those things creep me out.)

It’s another form of intolerance and bigotry.

Is that a little extreme to say?

I think not. There was a time, not so long ago, that being interested in Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror was seen as the escape of the outsider. The uncool kid.

Even though super heroes are big business these days, I still see the attitude of those who have the trendy and passing interest and the disdain they hold for the true fans who can quote to you the full life history and every edition of Black Panther.

There are stories every day of kids being bullied to the point of suicide. Adults as well. I am fortunate enough to have been able to contribute to #HoldOnToTheLight. I have seen fandom have such a positive impact on so many people’s lives, that yes, it is absolutely another form of intolerance and bigotry to attack people for their interests.

Yes, there are factions, politics, and sides in fandom. And yeah, there’s a lot of debate back and forth. Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Which house of Harry Potter you belong to. Marvel vs. DC.  It’s no different that what college or pro team you pull for. (Go Gamecocks.)

And yeah, I’m going to let a little of my prejudice slip here. I see the author of this and several other articles I’ve seen this week that are anti-halloween, anti-fright, and anti-costume as sitting behind their locked doors watching the real housewives of who gives a damn. They have handed their lives over to the No Longer Learning Channel, and see themselves of the protectors of their delicate flowers of children.

The truth is, it’s a harsh world. We all have to find those mediums that let us escape from our lives, and let us express ourselves. For those of you who don’t like something, that’s fine. Don’t hate someone else for having an interest or finding a value in it. And be happy that people find their tribes, and a community.

But know this. If you see me sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, I’m being held against my will.

So this Halloween, go out and try something that scares you. You might find out you just might like it. And if not, so be it.  But you will learn a little something about yourself in the process.

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

#OctoberFrights – Why we love Halloween, The five talons of death

Or or not so much.

I’ve had a lot of fun this week on the #OctoberFrights Blog Hop. Thanks to everyone who has come along, and happy reading to those who’ve downloaded “Spirits of the Season.”

As promised, I have a little story for you. I wrote it last year, and it placed second in a Halloween flash fic contest. The review was, “Sultry, yet horrific.”

The theme? Write the story from the perspective of the monster.

I’m finishing up the week by finally posting this little story on my own site, but I think it also sums up Halloween for me.

My question with this story, Who’s really the monster?

*******

Fine Dining

James P. McDonald

Copyright 2015

They had been easy enough to find, since they were staying in the expensive hotel across from her shop in the market.

When they passed through, the woman’s snippy comments were aimed at both her companion as well as Boo herself, accentuated as she flashed fingers barely able to support the gemstones mounted in gold upon them. He followed up with a crude attempt to solicit her charms after his woman stormed away. She knew then her evening was booked.

She watched from her shop window as the couple consumed a meal that cost more than she would make in a week. The cold silence between them did little to chill the sweltering summer evening. Charleston was especially humid this time of year.

She leaned out of her apartment window, her hunger growing as the couple argued in their room, the barbs they exchanged splintering into the night air through the open French doors. The spat ended with the man downstairs in the small bar, and the woman resting against the rail of their shallow balcony.

She found him bending the inattentive bartender’s ear. His smile was predatory as he offered her the seat next to him. It took few minutes before he was sweating heavily as he fumbled for words and pawed at her sensual caramel skin.

She took his sticky hand in hers and purred, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

He stammered and panted as she led him to the small apartment above her shop. Her lips brushed his. He stripped quickly before she pushed him onto the worn couch, straddling him in the process. He grabbed at her shirt, sending two buttons hurtling into the dark.

In her smoky voice, she whispered in his ear, “Do you want the rest of Boo?”

The corners of his mouth curled as he nodded hungrily.

She locked lips with him, and inhaled.

His excited groping turned into panicked clawing and punching, but only for a moment as he felt the ambrosia of her kiss drawing away his life force. Blood trickled as his trembling hands clenched into fists. His gasps and moans turned to desperate shallow wheezing. His eyes froze wide as saucers and reddened as blood vessels burst painfully, but quietly.

She climbed off him, knowing her prey was going nowhere. He was drained to the edge of life, but still conscious. His eyes locked onto hers as she peeled away the last shreds of clothing he hadn’t destroyed.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Boo said she was going to take good care of you. And now she is.” She stood inches in front of him. Her fingernail slowly chased a rolling bead of sweat from her throat to her navel.  A thin red trail formed as traced it around her hips and down to her ankles.

He managed a single whimper as she tugged and pulled at her skin, starting at her thighs as if they were stockings. Her head came free of the meat suit last, before she draped it around his shoulders. She gloried at the sight of her true body in the full length mirror. The red muscle glistened in the dim light streaming through the windows.

Blood streaked across his skin as she slid herself back onto him. “How do you like Boo now?” She locked her lips onto his and drew his last breath into herself. It was always so much more savory with the adrenalin flavoring, and the sweetness of dread and the dismay of certain death.

He shuddered, and she leaned back to see the last ember extinguished behind his eyes.

Ever so gently, she used her talon until she was able to free the worthless meat from the shell. She wouldn’t need the outfit for long.

It took a little work to bulk up to fill his skin. A few whispers of the old language to heal the wounds. A little bleach for the errant drops of blood that reached his shirt. She buckled the loose fitting pants around her waist and dug into the pockets. His license said he was from Chicago. She would have sworn the accent was from New York.

No matter.

She sauntered lazily back to the hotel. The new skin exquisitely gliding as it stretched across her taught muscles, trying to find purchase.

Her hunger barely sated, she slowly slid the key card into the lock. The woman’s voice was shrill and accusatory as she opened the doorway. Wordlessly she embraced the woman in a kiss. Glorious silence fell from her prey who instantly became compliant.

This one wasn’t like the man. She was full of life, tasting of desire and indulgence. She was meant to be cherished. Boo would be able to wallow in the woman’s spirit for hours before taking the last drop.

The woman’s eyes danced lazily and rolled back into her head as she was stripped and lain in the bed. She didn’t notice the meat suit sliding around as the man’s clothes fell to the floor.

She nibbled on the woman’s ear and mumbled, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

She locked her lips around the woman’s. She was getting drunk on her prey’s energy.

She enjoyed the thought of being a blonde again for a while. No need to decide yet. She had plenty of time.

*******

I hope you had fun with this little fright. I’m working on turning it into a longer story.

I’ve had a lot of people suggest and ask what kind of creature Boo really is. She’s based on the Gullah legend of the “Boo Hag.” For those of you who have never been to Charleston, SC, or know about the Boo Hag, here’s a little piece you might find interesting. https://scaresandhauntsofcharleston.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-boo-hags-of-gullah-culture/

I found this story to be a lot of fun to write, and wrote, edited, and submitted it all in about an hour to beat a deadline. And it’s still one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written.

May everyone have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween, the fourth turning

Continued from the third act…
So back to the original question. What is it we love about Halloween?
To me, it’s simple.
It’s a celebration of life that lets us thumb our noses at our mortality.
According to the latest in psychology, there are four core emotions. The first three; Anger, Sadness, and Fear are all negative. They embody the face of the holiday going back through time.
What is the fourth?
Happiness. Joy.
Every single day, we put on the masks we show our families, our friends, our co-workers. Deep down, every one of us has some little part we refuse to share with the world for fear of it being taken or broken.
As kids, we got to run free, oblivious to the dangers of the world around us. Even Superman was vulnerable to Kryptonite. We had no such weaknesses.
Unless you fell down and skinned a knee.
As adults, we live in a world driven more by fear every day, even though at least in North America, the statistics show we are safer than ever before. Yes, there are problems. Difficult ones.
And this is why Halloween is such a beautiful holiday.
It reminds us we are all mortal.
Under the implied threat of trick-or-treat, we give gifts to friends, family, and complete strangers who show up at our door.
We get to express our creativity, making and wearing costumes that let us put on a different face, even if but for a little while.
We get to take on “safe” fear in haunted houses and scary movies.
And it all feeds our primordial instincts to survive by letting us vent so many stresses in a safe way.
Halloween connects us to our ancestors, our family, and our friends who are no longer with us, and reminds us they are only as far away as a thought. We can choose which memories to call up, and the emotions it invokes.
So this Halloween, get dressed up, and be what scares you the most. And revel in it!

And to wrap up the #OctoberFrights week, I have a special little story for you tomorrow!

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween, the third act

Picking up from Part Deux,

As with every other holiday, Americans have re imagined and redefined Halloween. I’d be lying if it wasn’t another big commercial event. How many tons of cheap chocolate and waxy candy corn get pushed out of stores every year? How many costumes are worn for a few hours and discarded?

Deeper down though, there is a bigger story. Why do we pick the costumes we wear? What about the people that don’t wear one, is it because they already wear a mask?

Halloween gives everyone permission to cast aside the garb of everyday life, and put on a persona for an evening. A different persona from the one we wear every other day of the year.

Scarily enough, it’s an election year, and plenty of people will dress as one candidate or another, just to terrify the masses. Others will take the time to take on Mad Max or Captain America.

But why is this important?

Just like through the annals of history when people dressed as the ghosts  and demons they wanted to scare away, people get to wear the visage of the people and ideas that scare us the most, or in other cases inspire us.

I believe Halloween is one of our most important cultural events every year. It is important enough to us as a culture that many people now carry it beyond the one day a year. Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions, Renaissance Faires, and other cultural events allow us to dress and embody that persona that we really wish we could be.

The day for us to be creative, decorating our homes and offices, dressing up in sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate costumes. It gives us permission to be a little better, a little more fun, a little more hopeful.

By night, we can be a little mischievous, playful and even a little naughty. It’s the celebration that lets us confront our inner demons. All by being able to change out of the mask we wear, to one that is a little different.

So this Halloween, look at that person in a costume, and wonder what they are trying to say.
To be continued…

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween Part Deux

In the first part, Why we love Halloween Part I I talked a little about the physiological side.

Now the psychological side.

Growing up in the 70’s, I remember kids still flooding the streets, going from house to house trick-or-treating, and coming home just in time for the Charlie Brown special. Like everything else, today we try to organize it all. Churches and organizations host small haunted houses and trunk-or-treats in the parking lot. Every year, we can count on one batch of kids to stop by the house.

But what does it all mean?

Historically, many cultures celebrate this time of year, though not necessarily on the same day, and call it Samhain, Salween, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Hop Tu Naa, shuma sashti and the list goes on. They all circle around the same idea. The Day of the Dead. The night the veils between the land of the living and those who have crossed over become the thinnest. In some of these cultures, it also represented the new year.

In history, the practice of dressing up the kids, and sometimes the adults as evil spirits was done in this tradition, so that if you were to cross paths with something wicked that night, they would mistake you as a fellow demon or spirit, and let you pass on your way. The days have become shorter, and we creep towards the longest night of the year. The weather tends to have that balance of warm and cool. The harvest has ended, and at the back of our minds, we all know that Winter is Coming, with or without John Snow.

We take this time to face that which we fear most, and remember those who are no longer with us, knowing some of us will be crossing over and joining with our ancestors sooner than later in the harshness of the winter. We also mock death in a way, knowing sooner or later, it does come for all of us. So we take this time to commune with those no longer with us, and pray they are in a better place.

By dressing the kids up today, it’s now a way of celebrating life. Sure, there’s plenty of vampires and ghouls roaming the streets, but there’s also princesses and super heroes too. Here to protect the rest of us from those things that go bump in the night. We get to live through watching the kids have fun, eat too much sugar, and express who they want to be for the moment.

Onto the Third Act...

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

October Frights – Why we love Halloween Part 1

For October Frights this year, I ask the question, why do we love Halloween?

Today I ask, why do some people love to be scared?

We all know one, or sometimes have been one. The junior  adrenaline junkie.

I’m not talking about jumping out of a plane, climbing a rock face, or driving at 200 miles an hour.  It’s everyone else. The person who wants the rush from a roller coaster.  Sitting in a darkened theater watching the latest slasher film. Reading The Raven by candlelight.

Your heart begins to race. Your palms sweat.  It gets a little harder to breathe as the anticipation builds.

If you’re lost in the woods and its starting to snow, you know you’re in trouble.

If instead, you stand at the doorway to the local haunted house with a date… well then, open the floodgates and let the adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and the rest of our body’s chemical cocktail flow.

We love the rush that comes from the old primordial fear, the tools that helped us survive in the past.  Today, when we can experience this is a safe environment, it makes us feel alive.

Continued in Part Deux.

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour!  Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle.  For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

October Frights Blog Hop – 2016

blog-3

I love this time of year. Summer is giving way to fall. The days are warm, and the nights have that touch of a chill.

The leaves show their true colors.

At the core of it all, I see this time of year as the core of storytelling. Why do I say this? Where the spring is the time of youth, of hope, of promise, we enter the time of year of the harvest, when we have reaped what we have sown.

For many ancient cultures, this is the time of year when we celebrate a life fulfilled, or a death come too soon in the harshness of winter.

What better time of year to gather around a campfire and try to scare one another?

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

But there’s more! every day of the October 10 – 15 October Frights Blog Hop, I’ll be giving something away! Check back… if you dare.

And since you’re here, check out some of my fellow authors on the tour.

 

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There's madness to my methods… oh wait…