Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Life After the Undead Has Been Re-released

Yesterday, Life After the Undead was re-released into the world. It has a new cover and I made some changes to the text. All in all, it’s not a new story, but it’s an improved one.

This zombie novel is one of my favorites. It was so much fun to write. I was happy with it when it came out, but I’m delighted with it now. It’s not often that I get the chance to make corrections to a story, but I’m so happy I had the opportunity to edit it.

If you get the chance, check it out. If you’ve read it before, I would love to hear what you think of the changes.

You can find it on Amazon.


Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she's going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they're migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

Monday, October 26, 2015

If I Was Braver

If I was braver, I would quit my job and completely immerse myself in writing.

It’s not that I hate my job; I don’t. I rather like the people I work with and it gives me a chance to use my degree. In fact, I get paid to write, and that’s awesome, but it’s not what I want to write; they’re assignments. Sure, I have some freedom in deciding topics, and I usually learn something new and fascinating with each assignment, but there’s also a rigidity to it.

To be able to write what I want to write when I want to write it and have it pay would be amazing. To be able to pay my bills with this type of writing would be phenomenal. At the moment, with a full-time job and a family to take care of, I squeeze writing in when I can. It’s not a terrible way to live my life, I still get my writing done, but I’m curious what I would be capable of doing if writing for enjoyment was my sole focus.

If I was braver, I would travel more, get myself out to more of the world.

In addition to throwing myself completely into writing, I would also dedicate more time to promotion. I do what I can now, as my schedule permits, but I would love to be able to do so much more. I would love to share my ideas with more people, and I would love to be inspired by their ideas and thoughts. I love doing workshops and presentations and attending conferences, and if I had time, I would do more.

If I was braver, I would spend more time helping out my fellow writers.

I love editing. It’s part of my professional expertise. I love being able to help other writers make their stories better. I also love being able to read stories that the vast majority of the world hasn’t seen yet. It’s magical.

I read articles all the time about how great authors—Piers Anthony, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few—were willing and able to give up security to follow their dreams. I’ve read about their hardships and struggles and how they were on the verge of destitution before finally making it big, and I both envy them and question why they did it.

I’m too afraid to take that leap. I worry too much about what my kids won’t have if I give up my steady, paying job. It scares me to think we’d be living on the street and not in comfort, that we might not know where our next meal is coming from, and that stops me from taking that next step.

It frightens me to think that I will never reach the fame and notoriety that these other authors have achieved, and that it could be because I wasn’t willing to try. At the same time, I also think that the world is saturated with writers, and I am just one among many. How could I possibly hope to stand out? That thought stops me from trying.

I already make sacrifices to make achievements in my writing, and I know that it takes hard work and determination to achieve my dreams, but I always wonder what more I could accomplish if I gave up more.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I would do with my life if I wasn’t so afraid, and the thoughts are both encouraging and distressing. I am nothing without my dreams, and those help keep me moving, but there comes a point when I have to be willing and able to do more. I have to continue to push my boundaries and try new things. I may not always be successful, but I can learn from the failure.

However, I have found that there are only so many boundaries I’m willing to push. I absolutely use my fear as an excuse, and I will continue to do so. I may never find my bravery, and that scares me too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Floki Is Seriously Weird

I love my Corgi. He is the sweetest, most even-tempered dog I have ever had. But he’s a little odd.

He’s still a puppy, so it’s not surprising that he likes to chew on things. The other day, he got out of his enclosure and proceeded to shred various things on the floor. 

 
Compared to what he’s done before, this is a small mess. Although still incredibly annoying.

While I was cleaning this up, I noticed a blue lid in the mix. I picked it up to throw it away, and realized it came from the Tums jar. Crrrrraaaaaap! Upon further inspection, I found the empty container. He had eaten the Tums.

There hadn’t been many left, but it was still cause for concern. I immediately placed a call to the vet, who reassured me that everything would be all right. Apparently, there’s nothing poisonous in Tums (thank goodness!), but the extra calcium could cause constipation. I was supposed to keep on eye on him.

Turns out, he’s fine. No adverse effects from ingesting the tummy meds. However, he has to be put in a kennel for his own safety. As I told him as I was leaving, “Naughty dogs get put in the box.” And he just stared at me with all his adorableness.


In addition to shredding anything and everything he can find, Floki also has a strange habit of stealing the soap out of the shower. He hasn’t done it in a few days, but why he would do it at all is mind boggling. I mean, it has to taste disgusting. It’s soap! But he’s fascinated with it.

He also has a strange habit of licking the couch. I’m pretty sure he does this because it smells like food. I have kids, so no doubt there are crumbs all over the place. It’s still really annoying, though. It sucks sitting in the wet spots.

If given a chance, Floki would eat homework. Seriously. On several occasions I have had to take paper away from him, and the times he’s gotten out, he’s found some graded assignment to shred. I can only imagine how happy the boys would be if he ate their homework.


Despite his quirks, Floki is a wonderful dog. I’m so glad he’s part of our family, and—honestly—I’m curious to see what weird thing he’ll do next.


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Conference Adventure Continues

Part 1 of my conference adventure can be read here.

As one would expect from the title Long Beach Indie Film Festival, a lot of movies are played. They started on Wednesday and went through Sunday.

We did not take part in all of those events. My mom and I showed up on Thursday night (well, technically, very early Friday morning), then left Sunday morning. I would have enjoyed staying the entire time, but my work schedule and pocketbook couldn’t handle it.

My registration fee gave me the option of going to the films, and I’m sure they were amazing, but I decided I wanted to explore the area instead. I’d never been to Long Beach, so I wanted to do some touristy stuff.

My mom and I were both up early the next day, only because we have been conditioned to be early risers (thank you so much, kids and dogs!). However, the view from the window made it all worth it. We headed down for breakfast and sat on the veranda, and when we finished, I saw a dolphin playing in the water (I couldn’t get a picture of it; it was too unpredictable). I love dolphins. They are such amazing animals, so seeing one started my day out right.

This was the view from our hotel room.

This was the view we had every morning from the veranda while we ate breakfast.

My mom got online to check out what our touristy options were, and we decided to go see the Queen Mary and the aquarium. As luck would have it, we were able to buy combo tickets that got us into both places. We decided to check out the Queen Mary first.


I’m not gonna lie, the size of the ship was incredibly surprising to me. It was like a freaking floating city! We had the options of doing a guided tour, a recorded tour, or a ghosts and legends tour. Guess which one I picked. 

 
Yep! Ghosts and legends. You know me and horror. I can’t pass it up.

The tour didn’t start until 11:00, and we had some time to kill, so we headed onto the ship to check things out. We didn’t do much, just sat around waiting for the tour to start, assuming they would let us know. As 11:00 ticked by, I became concerned. We decided to ask what was going on, and we discovered we had been waiting in the wrong area!

I was devastated. We tried to find the tour group, but I had no idea where they had gone. I went back to the check in and told them we couldn’t find them. I wanted to cry. I was looking so forward to the tour. The woman behind the counter was so nice. She changed our tickets so we could go on the 12:00 tour, and we made sure we were in the right spot when that started.

We weren’t expecting much. In fact, we were expecting it to be like a haunted house, and that’s exactly what we got. Mom and I laughed practically through the whole thing. I won’t lie, I did get a little scared. It was so dark at the bottom of the ship, I thought for sure I was going to trip on something. Thankfully, I didn’t.

At one point, while going through a dark hallway, I fought back the urge to freak out the rest of the tourists. My mom and I were at the head of the group, and we were traveling pretty fast, and I wanted to start screaming like a banshee just to worry them, but I refrained.

After that tour ended, we explored the ship a little more, got lost for a while (which is surprising since it’s a freaking ship and there’s only so many places we could go, but we accomplished it), then headed back to the aquarium.

I have pretty high standards when it comes to aquariums. I’ve been to the one in Denver multiple times, and it’s awesome. It sets the standards for how aquariums should be. I must say, the Aquarium of the Pacific held its own. It was fantastic!

We learned about jelly fish, saw a sea lion show, I pet some sharks, and so much more. The entire time I kept saying, “The boys would love this!” And they totally would have. It was so cool.

This was a giant stingray in the shark tank.  I did not pet it.

These were some sharks in the shark tank.  I didn't pet them, either.

Stingrays and bonnet heads in the shark petting pool.  I touched one of the bonnet heads.

Zebra shark in the shark petting pool.  I touched this one, too.


We finally called it a day and got back to the hotel after 4:00. We were both exhausted at this point, so after a power nap, we had dinner, sat by a fire on the beach, then headed up to bed. I waited for 9:00 to roll around, then fell asleep.


The Conference

On Saturday, my plan was to spend the entire day at the conference. We got to the convention center a little after 9:00. We asked one of the employees where we were supposed to go, and they directed us to the far side of the building, so we headed down.

The email I had received earlier in the week said I needed to check in, so I was looking for a check-in table. I couldn’t find one, so we consulted the email again. It said registration was supposed to take place outside the ballroom, which was located upstairs, so we headed up. There were tables up there and a person behind them, but they weren’t part of the conference. They were set up for a funeral. That was no help.

On the way in, I had noticed a sign outside that said something about the conference, so we decided to check it out. That wasn’t any help either. It was just directing traffic for parking. We headed back in, and I asked another employee where I was supposed to go.

“You’re here,” he said. “This is where it’s at.”

“Is there a registration table somewhere?” I asked, trying to keep the panic/anger/frustration out of my voice.

“That I don’t know. I’m just security.”

I had seen some people in one of the rooms earlier, so I headed in to ask if they were part of the conference. Thankfully, they were, and they informed me that they hadn’t checked in but let the organizer know they were there. I asked who that was, and they pointed him out. After saying hello and asking what I needed to do (which was nothing), I took a seat and waited for things to start.

The first panel was at 10:30. Three graduate students were going to talk about children’s television, and I was interested, so I headed in. By 11:00, the audience had arrived. It was mainly middle school and early high school kids, but the panel did their presentations. I wondered if they changed their presentations to cater to the audience, but I never asked, and they did a great job.

After that was lunch. I met my mom at the end of the convention center where they had a little food stand and we had Panini’s. After that, it was time for me to get ready. I headed to my room to prepare.

Each room was supposed to be equipped with a projector and a computer, but ours was missing the computer. We let someone know, but as time ticked closer to 1:00 and he hadn’t returned, I was brainstorming different ways to show my movie clips. I didn’t have a solution, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to show them. A computer showed up in the nick of time.

As was the theme of the day, we didn’t start at 1:00. We didn’t start until about 1:20. There were supposed to be three panelists, but one cancelled. I went first, and my presentation went awesome! The audience was engaged and seemed genuinely interested. We had some great discussions, and they asked wonderful questions. The audio didn’t work for my movie clips, but it didn’t matter; there wasn’t much to hear anyway.

I was grateful that there were only two of us because my presentation went a little long. I was allotted 15 minutes, but I think I took 30. It was worth it, though. I had a blast!

After the second panelist did her presentation, I went to one more demonstration, then Mom and I headed back to the hotel. By that point in time, I had a raging headache and just wanted to relax. We had an early dinner, then called it an early night.

The next day, we were headed back home. Our flight didn’t leave on time, but it wasn’t 3 hours late. Mom and I were picked for the TSA pre-check—which was amazing!—and we had planned ahead, so we had some time to kill in the airport. By the time we finally boarded, I was done. I just wanted to get in the car and see my babies—the furry ones and the human ones. I got home that night about 8:00.

The trip was an adventure. There were some amazingly bright spots, and that made it worthwhile. It will be interesting to see how the conference in Philadelphia goes…

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Laughing Vixen Lounge Attack of the 14 Night of Halloween Giveaway


Halloween is just around the corner and it's time for the 4th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 7 wickedly fun shops have come together to create one spooktalcular Prize Pack ($225+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories and more! All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below or visit the Main Giveaway Page on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog HERE.


Join us daily on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog during the giveaway for our Halloween Movie Marathon featuring the Guess the Movie Game and our Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Each event will get you daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.


October is the perfect time for watching spooky movies. Along with the Halloween Movie Marathon each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite movie choices with you.


The giveaway runs October 18th - November 1st and is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily giveaway events.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Conference Adventure

The Long Beach Indie Film Festival conference was destined to be an adventure, and it started months before I set foot on a plane.

Early in 2015, I wanted to find new ways to promote myself and my work. I thought long and hard about what I could do, then decided to try my luck attending conferences. I’ve always enjoyed going to conferences. They are an awesome place to network, geek out, and get inspired. But I decided I needed to do more than attend. I needed to present. So I searched Google for conference call for papers and submitted proposals to those I found interesting.

The Long Beach Indie Film Festival conference was one of the first ones I submitted to—way back in May 2015. I was elated when I received my acceptance. I couldn’t believe I would have the chance to present my work to people in California. I was so excited, I immediately signed up for the conference, reserved the hotel room, and got plane tickets. I wasn’t going to ruin my chances of going by not being prepared or let them change their minds.

A while later—maybe about a month or two—I received an email that said the conference had to be rescheduled because renovations to the theater that was their main venue weren’t completed. What? I thought. No way! I already have my ticket!

Frustrated and slightly sick to my stomach, I texted my mom (she was going with me) to let her know. Since we already had our tickets, we decided to pay the fee to change the flight dates. After $200 per ticket, we were set to go again. I emailed the conference coordinator to let him know I would still be there, but mentioned the dates couldn’t change again because I couldn’t afford it.

I called the hotel to let them know of the date change and to get new reservations, but the conference organizer hadn’t informed them yet of the change and therefore hadn’t signed a new contract. Since there was still plenty of time, I was told to call back later. And I did. Multiple times. And every time they told me a new contract hadn’t been signed yet. This happened probably six or seven times, and I was also emailing a hotel representative and the conference organizer so they could get the contract taken care of.

I have a Type A personality, so I like to have all of this stuff taken care of and a plan in place for traveling. I can be slightly flexible, but it’s not fun for me. It causes anxiety. This was a big deal to me to have this taken care of.

Finally, I received word that a new contract had been signed, so I called to get my reservations. There was a slight problem, however. They could get me a room at the conference price for Thursday and Friday, but Saturday they were booked.  But all was not lost. They could squeeze me in and get me a room at regular price—at over $200. What? Holy hell!

My mom decided she would see if she could find something cheaper. She did, so we decided to stay there. It was only 0.6 miles from the convention center, so it would be an easy walk. Once again, we were set up for the trip.

The Trip Begins

We left at 12:30 Thursday afternoon to get on the plane in Denver. We normally take 287 down, then take a “short cut” on a road called Owl Canyon Rd. It’s mainly dirt roads that allow us to bypass Fort Collins to get on I-25. When we got to the turn off on Owl Canyon, we realized it had been gated shut. Crap! Now what?

We had to follow the road straight and hope it hooked up with I-25. It did—but only after taking us through Fort Collins. Son of a…! The whole point was to avoid the city. Plus, there was construction, so the detour added 45 minutes to the trip. Because of my anxiety when it comes to traveling, we built in a cushion to our travel time. Thankfully, we were fine—we had plenty of time.

We finally made it to the airport and I checked my bag and down we went to security. Both my mom and I are the queens of picking the wrong line, so the first one to check our boarding passes was slower than the rest. Then, the one we picked to have our stuff scanned was slightly faster than erosion. They were training a new person, so they were scrutinizing every bag like it held lost treasure. Took.F-o-r-e-v-e-r.To.Get.Through.

Eight years later, we were free to get on the trains to head to our gate. Still, we had plenty of time—I always plan for this sort of thing—so we grabbed a snack before sitting at the gate and waiting to board.

We flew United, and they load the plane through groups. We were in group four, so we had a while to wait before it was our turn. While standing in line, the anxiety grew to panic, so I figured it was time to take my helper. I popped my pill and waited for it to kick in. It was pure bliss when it did.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:30, and everyone was on the plane ready to go. I like to sit in aisle seats, so I just happened to poke my head out to see what was going on in front of me. There was a guy standing in the aisle stretching his legs, and the flight attendants were milling around and preparing for takeoff.

I also noticed the captain walk out of the cockpit. Oh, man. That’s probably not good. A few minutes later, he announced that one of the defrosters on the windshield wasn’t working. It would take several hours to fix it, so we all had to deplane and they would let us know when another plane would be able to take us to LAX.

Are you kidding me? But there was nothing I could do, so I grabbed my stuff and followed the rest of the passengers off the plane.

The next flight wasn’t leaving until after 8:30, so Mom and I headed up to the United lounge. She had some free passes because she’s a frequent flyer. We passed the time as best we could, then headed down to the new gate to board the plane.

We finally left Denver at almost 9:00, so we didn’t get into LAX until late. We had done some research and discovered that a shuttle was going to be the cheapest option to get to our hotel in Long Beach, so we ordered a van and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After an hour, my mom went to ask what was going on, and she was told that a van should be on the way, but then the driver would have to agree to take us to Long Beach. WHAT?! After all this time, they could tell us no? My mom said she was giving them 15 more minutes, then we were getting a cab.

I don’t know if any of you have been to LAX before, but it is crazy—even late at night. Vehicles are constantly zipping in and out of the passenger pick-up zone, and people are going in and out of the airport. A cab wouldn’t have been hard to find.

The van showed up in the allotted time and agreed to take us. They were also taking another couple to a different hotel in the area, which was totally fine. I was incredibly exhausted at this point, so I popped in my ear buds and fell asleep.

We arrived at our hotel after 1:00 in the morning. And this was just the beginning of the excitement…

Monday, October 12, 2015

Catching Up

I have some stories to tell you about the conference, but after being gone for 4 days, I have some catching up to do.  I will share them soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

One More Day…

Tomorrow I’m heading to Long Beach for the Long Beach Indie Film Festival. I get to give my presentation about Women and Slasher Films. I’m both excited and incredibly nervous about the whole experience.

One of the things I had to do to prepare for my presentation was cut it down from an hour to 15 minutes. I really had to think about what was important to talk about, and I won’t be able to show all of my film clips. It was a fun challenge to figure out if I could get my point across in such a short amount of time. I think I accomplished the task, and I’m interested in seeing how it turns out.

I can’t wait to get to the conference. I think it’s going to be so much fun! I always get so jazzed and inspired going to them. And I love talking to other people about our passions. Everyone once in a while I just need to geek out, and conferences let me do that.

In celebration of the upcoming geek fest, here’s the information about the book that my presentation comes from. Enjoy!


Horror and slasher films are often dismissed for their apparent lack of sophistication and dearth of redeemable values. However, despite criticism from film snobs who turn up their noses and moralists who look down upon the genre, slasher films are more than just movies filled with gory mayhem. Such films can actually serve a purpose and offer their audiences something more than split skulls and severed heads.

In
Life Lessons from Slasher Films, Jessica Robinson looks at representative works that have been scaring audiences for decades—from Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal shocker, Psycho, to the cult classic Black Christmas and iconic thrillers like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Scream. In this book, Robinson examines common themes that have emerged in these films, their various sequels, and countless imitators—a maniacal and seemingly indestructible executioner, sexual encounters that invariably lead to death, increasingly gruesome ways to slaughter helpless victims, and a lone female survivor who finds a way to vanquish the killer—and looks beyond such tropes for what these films can teach us about life.

From practical advice (listen to your elders) to moral platitudes (teens never learn), each chapter considers a different “lesson” that these films teach. Robinson discusses how the events portrayed in slasher films can resonate with viewers and perhaps offer constructive advice on how to conduct our lives. A fun read for fans and scholars alike,
Life Lessons from Slasher Films offers an entertaining and persuasive look at how life can imitate art, and what art can say about life.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Writing Challenges

A few weeks ago (maybe last week, I can’t remember), I signed up for the Freedom with Writing newsletter. I think one of my Facebook friends linked to it or maybe it just showed up in my feed. Either way, it’s been an interesting read.

Basically, this newsletter sends me links about venues that pay for writing. They also have sites you can sign up for and write content for the web—and get paid for it. I thought that sounded really interesting, so I signed up for a couple. I’m still waiting to hear back from one, but I was approved through another.

So far, I’ve written three pieces. Two of those have been accepted, and I’m still awaiting the verdict on the third. The whole process has been interesting.

I was so excited to start writing. I kept checking my email multiple times a day, just in case the approval went to my junk folder. Finally, it came, and the first chance I got, I logged in and perused the type of content I could work on.

I don’t know what I expected, and it was toward the end of the week so I was tired, but as I went through the list, I felt disappointed. Nothing looked interesting, so I logged out and decided to look at it again the next day.

All night I kept dreaming about it. My brain kept telling me that the only way the site was going to work was if I made it work. I couldn’t wait around for the perfect story, I had to take what I could get. When I work up, I decided that I was going to write something. It didn’t have to be groundbreaking or world changing, but I joined the site to write, so I was going to write. I chose a press release.

By this point, my nerves started taking over. It was only a press release, and a short one—it wasn’t supposed to be longer than 400 words—and it made me question my writing ability. I second guessed every word I put on the page. I read and reread the thing numerous times. I checked and rechecked and triple checked the requirements and the key words. I was too scared to push the submit button for fear I had done something wrong.

Finally, I told myself to take a deep breath and calm down. The client has the option of asking for edits. If they don’t like it, they could have me tweak it until they are happy. I mustered up the courage to submit and clicked on the button. After which, the client has 3 days to approve.

I figured I’d wait to see if it was approved before finding another one to write. The site allows me to work on another one immediately if I so choose. A whole day went by, and I hadn’t heard anything, so I decided to move on and write another. I found another press release and got to work.

Both of those were approved on the same day without any revisions. It was such a huge relief—although I would have been fine if they asked for edits. I moved onto a third and worked on that. This one was a little more challenging and a bit longer (500 words), so the nerves came back. Again, I had to remind myself that everything would be all right.

I’m still really new to the site and trying to figure things out. Choosing and submitting work is really easy, it’s just a matter of finding something that interests me to write about. There are several different categories, along with different writing levels (1 star through 5; I’m a 4), and I can write in my own level or those below me.

I get to choose how much or how little I write. I won’t be able to retire on the money I make, but it’s nice to have a little extra. I don’t get to use my byline, but that’s fine with me. I write a lot of corporate stuff that doesn’t have my name on it. If I want recognition, I will write my own stuff—and I do.

I decided to do this to challenge myself. And it has been so far. Like I said, I have to work through self-doubt and anxiety, but I also try to pick topics that I can learn something about. If I want to be successful at it, I have to put in the work. I’ll keep you informed of how that progresses.