Category Archives: #HoldOnToTheLight

#HoldOnToTheLight and Happy Holidays 2017

Tis’ that time of year again, holidays and New Year’s celebrations abound. It’s also the time of year many of us see and feel a darkness settling over and into us. We have an idea of what holidays are meant to be, and it’s a hard ideal to live up to.

Holiday parties, gift giving, colorful lights and pop cheerful music assaults us at every turn in public. Underneath the fun and joy of finding something, usually small, that a friend or loved one would really enjoy is a competition or perceived pressure to not make them happy or joyful with a gift but to impress someone.

And maybe you’ve even chosen to exclude yourself from it all.

Then the big day comes with family and friends, to be followed up with a frenzy of sales and returns.

And yet, it’s not over. We follow up knowing we are days away from starting a new cycle, the chance to lose the burdens, challenges and difficulties of the last 365 days and the promise of a new year.

With that, we’re all painfully aware of the “New Year’s Resolution,” that idea that since the calendar resets, we have that chance to remake some part of ourselves; to make ourselves better. It’s so prevalent to be a meme.

How quickly can you break your New Year’s resolution?

Can you even make it through January 2? Will you take any slips as a bump in the road, or a reason to quit?

Let’s start with the easy ones. Losing weight, working out more, watch less TV, or even to contribute more to our communities. It sounds good on paper, we walk around the block once or twice, and then reward our hard work with (insert your favorite calorie ridden vice here) and instantly offset any benefits and more!

And then we give up. Or even worse, spiral down.

Fret not, and do not feel alone. This is nothing new. All of us at times may be surrounded by people, even ones we love, and yet still feel alone. We all at times set goals we can’t or don’t meet for one reason or another.

What is important is to learn from our mistakes, and not to quit.  Often, it means making changes in behavior, or the people and environments we surround ourselves with to escape the comfort zone and make a real change.

For me, 2016, was a real mixed bag. I worked my ass off to drop 50 pounds (which I did and am still working on). I also had a project I wanted to get out after 3 years of research and work. I didn’t.

It’s close, and the first phases will be coming very soon.

I’m not happy it’s not out, but I missed that goal in part because I got shiny object syndrome (for something else also coming in 2018), I underestimated the amount of work left, and like it does, sometimes life just gets in the way. And it did in so many ways this past year.

I was sitting at this very desk the other day, and reworking my calendar for 2018. What I needed to deliver, and when. And I seriously thought about shelving a couple of projects I really want to finish, but I was asking myself if it was worth it. Because even once I get these out the door, the job is really just starting. It’s going to mean a lot of work that could be a big benefit not just for myself, but hopefully a lot of others as well. I looked at other work that would be more fun to finish, and frankly, easier to do. I debated putting almost four years of work aside, something I’ve bled into and contemplated the easy path.

I pushed away to reorganize my disaster of an office. To change the shui of the feng, if you will. I had something streaming in the background, and heard them talking about a short story I hadn’t read in years. They were talking about Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Last Question’ (http://multivax.com/last_question.html if you’d like to read it),

I won’t spoil it for you, but it spurred me to write this post. I hope you might find a little something in it yourself.

For everyone looking at the stress and change of 2017, and the uncertainties of 2018, I want to pass on my best wishes for your holidays and a new year. I challenge you to take life’s challenges and learn from them. I ask you not only not to quit, but don’t wait until January 1 if there’s a change you want to make. Do it today.

Let there be light.

#HoldOnToTheLight

 

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight

 

 

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.