Tag Archives: paranormal

Sinister: A Scary Good Example of Plot

Are you like me? Do you show off how much you love scary movies like you’re so badass brave? But then when it comes time to watch them, you’re the one who’s like “Guys, let’s keep the light on. Somebody might need to get up and use the restroom, and I don’t want anyone to stub a toe!”

I admit I do this a lot. And then I spend the next week sleeping with the TV on and maybe a lamp (or two) to convince my overactive imagination the characters in the movie won’t suddenly show up in my bedroom.  he he.

Last night I begged my boyfriend to watch the movie Sinister. The movie stars Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise, Training Day) as a true crime writer who moves his family into the crime scene home of his current work. Finding a box of 8mm home movies, he uncovers a series a murders that may be too close to home – literally.

This. Movie. Freaked. Me. Out.

But – the plot was amazing!

Early in the film we learn what our protagonist’s normal world is like. The Oswalts are moving into their new home when the Sheriff pulls up to the house. Ellison (Hawke) walks out to meet him, as his wife berates him to act nice. With just a few lines of dialogue we learn that Ellison’s previous books have caused quite a stir, and most people are reluctant to help the family. A fact that is even more difficult for their children, who have been getting picked on at school for their father’s subject matter.

Ellison’s wife: “Just promise me we didn’t move in two houses down from a crime scene.”

Ellison: “I promise.”

They moved in to the EXACT house where the crime took place.

Right from the get go, the viewer knows the family is stressed out and uncomfortable with the move. We know Ellison lied to his wife and kids about the history of their new home. And we know the police are not going to help them. They are on their own.

The next day at breakfast the Oswalts establish their house rules. Dad’s office must be kept locked at all times. They don’t want their young children wandering in where he could have photos of the deceased laying out. We now know that the kids cannot get in that room.

What Ellison finds next is the box of home movies that’s been left in the attic. As he watches each film, he witnesses the murder of the families in each video. And in every instance, one of the children is missing. As he rewatches them, he sees a gory looking man in the reflections or background of the film.

We meet our villain.

As the movie unfolds, Ellison gets closer and closer to piecing together what links these gruesome murders. But our villain and the missing children get closer to Ellison as well.

Every night, Ellison is waking up to the sound of the projector running in his office. The office that remains locked. He hears noises in the attic and footsteps around the house, but he never can find what’s there.

Are you creeped out yet?

At this point I was cowering behind my boyfriend’s body and periodically checking behind me.

Our rising action occurs as the paranormal activity heightens. Ellison’s son is having night terrors. They find him screaming from inside a cardboard box, and later outside in the bushes. Ellison’s daughter is painting pictures of one of the missing children. And Ellison thinks he saw the bad guy in his yard.

Every good main character needs a wise friend. A teacher, a best friend, a voice of reason. Frodo had Sam. Sherlock had Watson. Sandy had Frenchie. :)

For Ellison, he connects with Jonas, a professor of the occult, who helps him discover the meaning of the symbol that appears in every video. What he learns will only add to his fears.

I don’t want to create spoilers for anyone who wants to watch the movie, but I’m telling you this was a great film for illustrating conflict and high risk in the plot!

And I loved the premise. What could be a better set up than a true crime author moving into a crime scene and thinking it would not affect his family. Of course it will! You’re living, eating, breathing, sleeping in your body of work. There is no escape. And as Ellison dives further into his research, the world around him becomes too real and much too close for comfort.

There is a great little twist in the end as well, but you’ll have to see it to believe it!

Are you putting this movie on your must see list? Do you need to borrow my night light? You can have it sometime next week when I’m sleeping again.

 

Local Vampire Attack Causes News Headlines

If you thought small towns were boring…

On Tuesday, May 13th, a vampire attacked a group of musicians in my town.

True story.

A man by the name of Scott Mehtala, 23, claimed he was a vampire when being arrested for assault and battery charges against guitarist, Nik Slimp.

Slimp’s band, American Fangs, had been playing in the local La Crosse Center, which Mehtala described as filled with “normals.” A “normal” is anyone who is not a vampire. In case you needed clarification.

After the show, Mehtala picked up a barricade and hurled it through the band’s tour bus window. When confronted by the guitarist, Mehtala punched him in the face. Slimp is reported to have a chipped tooth and required stitches. No confirmation has been made whether he was turned into a vampire or not. But if so, I suspect the chipped tooth is going to make dinner a messy one.

Police picked up Mehtala, who was high on heroin truthfully, and suffering from vampire attacks that were imaginary. Claiming the headlining band, Hollywood Undead, was actually a group of vampires forcing him to act out destructive behaviors like rip off a side mirror of a random vehicle.

flickr image courtesy Mrs Inman

The vampires made me do it…

New paranormal trend unearthed as Mehtala reportedly kept whispering to the police “Where are your tattoos?” No previous information about the fad of vampire inking is yet known.

Fortunately for Mehtala, if a vampire attack was to ensue, he confessed to police that his “super human hearing” would save him. He would be back in tip top shape in no time.

All he needed was a nap.

For the full article in the La Crosse Tribune click here.

What do you think? Is La Crosse, Wisconsin the new Mystic Falls? Should I start stocking up on garlic and wood stakes?

And where ARE your tattoos?

How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy?

It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier!  Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us!  Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring.  Take it away, Kirsten!

*****

Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.

The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.

So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it's also known as the Traitor.

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it’s also known as the Traitor.

There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.

The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.

So how does it work?

Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?

Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?

And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.

No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.

Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.

About the Author:

Kirsten WeissKirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective.  Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.

Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us.  I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible.  You’re right, that is beautiful!

See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!

When Reading Becomes Magic

It’s Guilty Pleasures Friday and I think it’s about time we talked books again here on the Happiness Project!  I’ve been a bit slower with my reading progress this year, and feeling underwhelmed by some of the books I’ve started.

Therefore, it was a delightful change of heart when I finished reading Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins the other day.

Hex Hall is the story of Sophie, a teenager who cast a love spell gone wrong (hmm – I may have cast a few of those myself as a teen).  Endangering herself and all magic beings by showing her power in front of humans, Sophie is sentenced to Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall as the students call it.  A little bit Crime and Punishment, Hex Hall is the boarding school for misbehaving witches, faeries, shapeshifters, werewolves, and exactly one vampire – who just happens to be the most hated person at the school, and coincidentally, Sophie’s roommate.

Raised by a human mother, Sophie knows nothing of her magical family’s past, and with flying colors on her first day, manages to piss off the three snootiest teen witches she’ll ever meet.  For Sophie, this is going to be a long year.

I must say at the start of the book, I judged it to be easily “figured out,” and thought the book contained too many similarities to the recent book/film hit, Beautiful Creatures.

I was wrong.

About halfway through the book, I didn’t want to put it down!  Things started getting dangerous!  Students were mysteriously attacked, left with bite marks and no memory!  It seemed like Sophie’s crush, Archer, may be more than what he seems.  And the ghost who was randomly appearing to Sophie, was now giving private magic lessons in a graveyard!  I love cemeteries!

The hardest thing for me to do right now is not give away the amazing jaw dropping twist the end of the book reveals!  I’m dying to tell someone about it, but then why would you read it?

So you have to read it for yourself!

Sometimes, it’s fun to lose yourself in a story, even if it’s another YA paranormal read and you already have too many of those on your bookshelf!

Hex Hall was fun.  And best of all, it was surprising.  And I think more great things will come from the author, who’s completed the Hex Hall trilogy with the sequels, Demonglass and Spellbound.

Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins lives in Alabama and is working on another trilogy series currently.  She taught high school English for 3 years before leaving work to pursue her bigger passion – the book that became Hex Hall.

If you’re interested in learning more about her, I linked to her blog by clicking on her photo.

Give me a shout!  Have you read Hex Hall?  What did you think?  What other books have completely surprised you once you got into them?

And what’s next on your “To Read” list?

Guilty Pleasures – Beautiful Creatures

Did I say I was going to stop watching movies?  Oh c’mon guys, you know me better than that! 

So when wednesday rolled around, and it was date night…

I convinced my guy to go see Beautiful Creatures!

The film is based off the book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  Incredibly well webbed, Creatures tells the story of Lena Ducannes (played by New Zealand actress Alice Englert), just returned to the small, judgmental town of Gatlin, LA.  There, she meets Ethan Wate (played by Steven Spielberg discovered Alden Ehrenreich), a boy who is counting the days until graduation and his subsequent escape from Gatlin.

Rounding out the spectacular cast of the movie, we see Viola Davis (The Help) as Amma, a Seer, Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera) as Ridley, Lena’s wicked cousin, Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee) as the Church zealot Mrs. Lincoln, and one of my man crushes, Jeremy Irons (Man in the Iron Mask, Voice of Scar in The Lion King) as the patriarch of Lena’s family, Macon Ravenwood.

Early on we learn that Lena and her family are different from the other townspeople.  In fact, they’re witches, or “Casters” as they prefer.  As Lena and Ethan become closer, their family histories will become more and more entwined than they can imagine.

What I loved about the movie, and it has to be said that my guy liked it to, so if you’re guy is saying he doesn’t want to go, he’ll probably like it!

…Where was I?…

Oh yes!  What I loved about the movie is that it’s the story of good vs. evil, but with depth.  There really aren’t any characters that seemed one-sided.  Even though they all stand for one side, their emotions, their dreams, and most crucially their families are intertwined.

I was really impressed with newcomer Alden Ehrenreich who plays Ethan.  As a fan of accents (and someone who tries to pick them constantly) I loved his portrayal of southern boy charm.  Within minutes of the opening scene, my honey commented, “I like this guy.”  That’s saying something!

The plot line for those are obsessed with paranormal YA books may be predictable, but I still loved how every bit of tension possible was maximized and  yet believable.  The ongoing tension of the first film is Lena’s upcoming claiming.  On her 16th birthday, she will be claimed for either the light or the dark and her fate will be sealed.  There was a variety of elements at play though.  Yes, destiny has its spotlight, but there’s also a family curse, a forbidden love, and the conviction of your own beliefs.

Nothing was easy, but it was very entertaining.

If I can compare Beautiful Creatures to any movie, I’d say Twilight, which I do like.  But Creatures is done much better all around!  Guess here’s another series for me to be addicted to!

Have you seen Beautiful Creatures yet?  Have you read the book?  What did you think?  

If you haven’t seen it, do you want to?  What are your favorite YA films or books out there?

Can Sleep Make You Tired?

I’ve tried going to bed at different times.  I’ve eaten and not eaten before bed.  I’ve taken my vitamins and fish oil, and forgotten to take my vitamins and fish oil.

I’m still dreaming about paranormal creatures every night!!!

image courtesy flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

(amazon.com)

It started after my boyfriend, Joe, made me watch the movie The Prophecy.  That night I dreamed that I was in battle with both good and bad angels.  And their creepy void eyes just kept staring at me!

But I also learned, that just like Michonne on The Walking Dead, I’ve got made skills with a katana!

After that, I had the most bizarre dream starring several of my coworkers.  I’m sure it’s totally normal for a retail sales manager to be sent on a paranormal investigation of an abandoned building.  BUT, my coworker clearly did not watch horror films, because she broke the rule about not taking anything from the house!

After discovering the ghosts of 3 young children, my coworker took from the house 3 dolls that looked rather a lot like said children and for God knows what reason – PUT THEM IN MY ROOM!

So as my dream continued, every time I went into my room one of the dolls was in a different spot.  The little boy would be sitting on my bed, a little girl on my desk.  I was freaking out!  And what was worse, I didn’t know if my coworkers and boyfriend were working together to mess with me or if in fact my coworker had unleashed 3 ghost children in my house!

The next morning, I woke up so exhausted and definitely gave a few of my coworkers skeptical looks on the job that day.

image courtesy flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

All zombie fans will know that last night was a new episode of The Walking Dead.  This fantastic show has become a regular date night for Joe and I to enjoy.

But zombies were in my dreams last night!

I love paranormal stories, you guys, but how do I stop dreaming about them?  My epic nighttime battles are making me wake up exhausted!

Perhaps tonight I should watch a happy movie.  Anyone know where I put my Shirley Temple collection?

image courtesy flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

And don’t forget to leave me a music suggestion for The Ultimate Mix Tape For My Mom!  My blog-swapping, cd making contest is still happening, and YOU COULD WIN!!!

Have you entered the Halloween photo contest yet?

Fall is my favorite time of year because it contains my three favorite holidays!  Christmas, of course, is a time for gift giving and family get togethers.  You may think I’m crazy, but I love wrapping presents!  And Thanksgiving is very special to me as my family is related to two of the pilgrims that crossed over on the Mayflower.  But Halloween is where it starts and this past weekend many of you may have held parties, attended parties, perhaps even entered a costume contest!

I’m here to remind you it’s not too late to enter Marcia Richards and my Halloween contest for The RedhotsTwo redheads.  Two opinions.  Always keeping it interesting.

Recently, we interviewed Young Adult Paranormal writer, Fabio Bueno, about his new release, Wicked Sense.  Fabio has graciously offered to giveaway not just one, but six copies of his book to six lucky winners who submit their favorite Halloween photos!

I’m so happy I could faint!

Oops, how’d my Rapunzel picture get in here?

Here’s what you need to know to enter:

1. There are three categories you can enter one time each:

  • Costume – your best ever, be it scary, cute or funny
  • Outdoor decorations – your scariest or most creative
  • Party room decor – you can include your Halloween tablescape, your unique pumpkin carving, and your room decorations

See? Someone MADE this totally clever costume of the Planters’ Mr. Peanut!

2. Post your pictures, up to 3 only, at our Twitter hashtag: #TheRedHots or on our Facebook pages between October 19th and October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween!

3. For extra chances to win, you can choose to do the following:

  • “Like” Marcia’s and my Facebook pages
  • Tweet about the contest three times between the 19th and the 30th linking to our posts
  • Subscribe to our blogs

Boys, be reasonable! There’s room for everyone to play!

The prizes:

  • Grand prize will be an autographed print book by our indie author plus a Halloween Goody Bag.
  • 5 bonus prizes of a Kindlegraphed ebook from the author

Happy Halloween, Everyone!  And good luck!  I’ll be watching for your photos!

The Redhots and Fabio Bueno: A Wicked(ly) Sens(ible) Review

Admit it!  You were all holding your breath in anticipation of who our mystery writer was going to be for this edition of…

The Redhots!

Marcia Richards and I are back together for more Halloween fun, and we invited debut author Fabio Bueno to join us this month as our first ever Indie Author Interview!

You know the saying “Double, double, toil and trouble…”?  Well, I thought there’s two of us redheads, so let the cauldron bubble by serving you up TWO interviews with our YA paranormal fantasy writer.

Meet Fabio!

Author of Young Adult novels, family man, gamer, “runner,” geek, kindle hugger, coffeeholic, SCBWIer, x-men hopeful, district 3 tribute, hufflepuff, daydreamer.

He’s recently written a book.  A book called Wicked Sense, which just so happened to win 1st place in the YA category of the Sandy Literary Contest!  Here’s the Goodread’s blurb:

Wicked Sense –

Witches inhabit our world, organized in covens and hiding behind a shroud of secrecy—the Veil.

Skye’s London coven sends her to Seattle’s Greenwood High to find the Singularity, an unusually gifted witch who may break the Veil and trigger a dangerous new era of witch-hunting. Things get complicated when Skye meets a charming new classmate, Drake. Skye’s job becomes even trickier when she clashes with Jane, an intimidating rival witch.

Drake falls for the mysterious Skye, but odd accidents, potion mix-ups, and the occasional brush with death kind of get in the way of romance. Once he discovers Skye is a witch, he goes to war for her, even though his only weapons are a nice set of abs and a sharp sense of humor.

Fighting off wicked Jane and the other dark forces hell-bent on seizing the Singularity’s immense power, Skye and Drake will risk everything to save the covens.

Going on a date has never been harder.

*****

I promised double the fun, and Fabio…he really didn’t stand a chance against Marcia and I!  He agreed to be interviewed by BOTH of us!  So the first half is here, and it continues over at Marcia’s place!

*****

1. The main character in Wicked Sense is a witch with the gift of True Sight. Do you believe in the paranormal – ghosts, spirits, auras, mediums?

I believe in some of it. Spirits, auras, and mediums seem plausible. I want to believe that people (and animals) have a certain connection with one another and with nature. A line in Wicked Sense paraphrases one of Arthur C. Clarke laws: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Similarly, maybe some aspects of what we call “paranormal” are actually biochemical and physical properties we don’t understand yet. I expect that someday scientists will find evidence of the paranormal.

2. I loved the inner monologues of teens, Drake and Skye. How was it writing both a male’s and female’s perceptions of High School? And dating?

I loved it! It was like writing two books at once. I could play with how they perceive events and interpret things differently. I wanted to show a little bit of male thinking too, which is not explored in Paranormal Romances very often. This setup allowed me to inject some humor, uncertainty, and angst—all integral parts of high-school life and the dating scene :)

3. Were you always a reader/writer? What was your favorite book as a teen?

YA wasn’t as prevalent when I was a teen (I’m not that young), so I usually read adult fiction. I had an eclectic taste, reading Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Jules Verne. Books that made a mark on me as a teen include “Rebecca,” “Catch-22,” “The Little Prince,” “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” And I used to read a lot of mythology and “history of inventions” books.

4. You’re a regular face on social media, getting to know and support other writers. What has the writing community meant to you?

Writing a book is exhilarating, and publishing it is very rewarding. But connecting with so many wonderful people, online and in person, is the best part. I am usually a shy person, but I feel completely at ease with my writer friends. And the support, wow. Writers are genuinely invested the happiness of one another. We hurt when a writer friend faces a setback, and we rejoice when a colleague breaks through. We share and try to help with each other. I’ve learned so much, and I hope I’ve been giving back too. I’ve worked in the academia and in the corporate world, and the difference between them and the writing community is striking.

5. In your bio, you describe yourself as a District 3 Tribute, a Hufflepuff, an X-Men hopeful! I love it! What’s your favorite pop culture craze right now?

I get news and trends online. Among my favorites are the hilarious George Takei Facebook page and the tweet #hashtag chains where everybody contributes a funny tweet to a very specific topic, like #pickuplinesforwriters, #IYKWIM, #replacesongtitlewithcake and so on. I waste a lot of time on Tumblr (meme central) and Pinterest. I’ve been visiting YouTube more than I should too. The clips from the record-breaking skydiver who jumped off a balloon fascinate me (one is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkIiPtj7Awo ). And I must confess that I’ve been watching parodies of Psy’s “Gangnam Style”(oh, the shame). Check out this dancing robot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmeJvkN4ntI

6. And in the spirit of Halloween, what’s your favorite memory of this holiday? And share your best costume!

Now that I have kids, my best memories are from when I took them to their first trick-or-treating, of course!

I don’t always wear a costume, but a couple of years ago, I decided to go as (geek alert!) … Rorscharch from Watchmen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschach_(comics)) . How did I fare? See for yourself: here’s the original action figure, and the costumed me. I didn’t have a leather trench coat, though…

Rorschach, the action figure…

Rorschach, the Fabio!

Thanks, Fabio!  I love the costume!  And Readers, you can get more Wicked Sense and more Fabio at Marcia’s blog:  Wicked Sense is Wickedly Bueno!

You can also find more Fabio here:

*****

Now, want to learn how you could win one of 6 awesome chances for a copy of Fabio’s book, Wicked Sense?  I thought so! 

We’re kicking off Halloween with a fun photo contest!  You could be a winner of one of 6 prizes!

What you need to know to enter:

1. There are three categories you can enter one time each:

  • Costume – your best ever, be it scary, cute or funny
  • Outdoor decorations – your scariest or most creative
  • Party room decor – you can include your Halloween tablescape, your unique pumpkin carving, and your room decorations

2. Post your pictures, up to 3 only, at our Twitter hashtag: #TheRedHots or on our Facebook pages between October 19th and October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween!

3. For extra chances to win, you can choose to do the following:

  • “Like” Marcia’s and my Facebook pages
  • Tweet about the contest three times between the 19th and the 30th linking to our posts
  • Subscribe to our blogs

The prizes:

  • Grand prize will be an autographed print book by our indie author plus a Halloween Goody Bag.
  • 5 bonus prizes of a Kindlegraphed ebook from the author

Good luck!

The Redhots.  Two Redheads.  Two Opinions.  Keeping it sizzling HOT!

The Lace Reader: Fortune Telling and Salem Blog Tour

(image courtesy rachellohrman.com)

“The Lace Reader must stare at the piece of lace until the pattern blurs and the face of the Seeker disappears completely behind the veil.  When the eyes begin to fill with tears and the patience is long exhausted, there will appear a glimpse of something not quite seen.

In this moment an image will begin to form . . . in the space between what is real and what is only imagined.”

- The Lace Reader’s Guide

So begins the story of The Lace Reader by Brumonia Barry.  In the early 1800’s colonial women made Ipswich Lace, or bobbin lace, or bone lace.  The lace was made on a bolster pillow, resembling a muff.  The ladies would then use thick parchment to pin a design into the paper, creating a pricking method that could be used over again.  The lace was held in place by the pins.

Here are a couple examples:

(image courtesy dianelaces.wordpress.com)

(image courtesy kloskant.com)

(image courtesy blogs.smithsonianmag.com)

The main difference between Ipswich Lace and all other hand-made lace is the bobbins.  Colonial women couldn’t afford the heavier, decorative bobbins, so they used beach reeds, bamboo, or sometimes bones.  You can learn more about the art of lace making at Brumonia Barry’s website, lacereader.com.

On my way to the Salem Witch Museum, following the city signs!

What was most striking to me about Barry’s book is how well she knew everything.  It was of no surprise to me while researching her biography, that she grew up near Salem.  She used Children’s Island, a place she attended summer camp, as the setting for her Yellow Dog Island.  She references the Peabody Essex Museum, a place I have visited on my trip to Salem.  She combined several houses, including her grandmother’s and her own, as the house Eva Whitney lives in.  And she brings to life the town’s battle to overcome its stigma of ‘Witch City’.

Barry did a video tour and interview in Salem, and in it she said “sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward.”  Moving back to Salem is what prompted her to write The Lace Reader, which became a New York Times Bestselling debut novel.

She didn’t say she used any of her family history for this fiction piece, but I get the sense that these characters are very near and dear to her heart.

Watch Brumonia Barry’s Interview in Salem!

The story of The Lace Reader begins with an unreliable narrator named Towner Whitney, the niece of Eva Whitney.  Towner’s story begins when she must go back home after her aunt’s mysterious death.  A family of mind readers and fortune tellers, the Whitney women are all a little crazy, just ask the townspeople.  Both poignant and beautiful, ugly and honest, The Lace Reader will haunt you.

Watch The Lace Reader Book Trailer!

Salem is such a rich city to visit.  It’s history alone attracts crowds, but it is also a beautiful seacoast town.  It’s kitschy in some places, there are an endless amount of ghost tours available and shops to have your future told.  You can buy crystals and costumes right next door to each other.  But it is home to some fabulous archives in the Peabody Essex Museum, and holds the rank for many firsts due its start as a shipping town.  First elephant and first brick house to name a few.

(image courtesy barnesandnoble.com)

Brumonia Barry has always been involved with the written word in some way or another.  She studied literature and creative writing at Green Mountain College in Vermont.  She also lived a year in Dublin, Ireland, auditing Trinity College’s classes on James Joyce’s Ulysses.

She lived in the midwest for awhile as a promotional campaign worker for Chicago’s Second City, Ivanhoe, and Studebaker theaters.  That love took her to studying screenwriting at NYU.  After landing an agent, she up and moved to California and worked with Robert McKee.  A decade later, she and her husband moved back to Massachusetts, where together they founded a company that creates award-winning word/visual/logic puzzles.

You know, sometimes an agent will ask “Why are YOU the person that should write this story?”  After spending the last few hours diving into Barry’s website, blog, and Salem history, I’d say she’s the perfect person to write this story.

Everyone’s heard of the Salem Witch Trials.  What aspects of this time in history interest you most?  Have you ever been to Salem?  Ever had your fortune told?  Have you read The Lace Reader?  What did YOU think?!

Author Interview with Kait Nolan: Princesses, Plotting, and Patience

Kait and I at DFW Con

I am extremely excited to welcome and host the A-Mississippi-Mazing writer, Kait Nolan.  I met Kait when she was presenting at the DFW Writers Conference and she is even more phenomenal in person than she is on her blog.  Please give it up for Kait’s Happiness Project  Featured Writer debut!

And that’s not all!

Kait’s offering an e-book giveaway of her amazing paranormal YA book, Red, to one lucky commenter!

You guys, I just finished Red after coming back from Texas and I was enthralled!  Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

I LOVED this book!  For a YA read, Elodie Rose is a great female character.  She’s smart, skilled, and mysterious.  And she totally has Kait’s sense of humor!  But enough bragging, I’ll let you guys get to know Kait through her own words!

*****

Describe yourself in three words.  

Stubborn.  Driven.  Tea-lover.

What three words do you wish described you?

Patient.  Graceful.  Athletic.

Who’s your real life hero?

Well, I’m not sure if she technically counts since she was a character, but Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women.  She took crap from NOBODY.

I loved Designing Women!  But with three jobs going at once, you’re one of my heroes!  I think we have similar schedules.  How do you manage? 

I have no social life and epically paranormal organizational and planning skills.  Also I’ve been underslept since 2002.  And I am very, very motivated.

Motivated how?  What are you working towards?

Being a full time writer.  It’s what I’m meant to do.  Have been meant to do since I was 12.  I wasted too many years doing what other people said I should do.

I hear ya, Kait!  And we’re all rooting for you!  Red is the story of Little Red Riding Hood with a twist.  What prompted this idea?

I’m a big fan of fairy tale reboots, and I started to wonder what would happen if Red Riding Hood fell in love with the wolf (before the awful movie).  Except it was more the long term consequences of that that interested me, so I wound up following one of her descendents.

If you could trade places with any fairy tale character, who would it be?

When I was a little girl, I’d have said Sleeping Beauty (Disney version), mostly because I wanted blonde hair, but as a grown up?  I’m not sure who…somebody who kicks ass and is independently wealthy.  That sounds very good to me right now.

 

(kotzendes-einhorn.de)

I knew we were bff’s!  Sleeping Beauty was my fave as a kid too.  Used to wear a towel on my head like the shawl she wore.  LOL.  You and I had similar horror stories to share about dating too.  (You wish you could read that Google chat!)  Who’s your fantasy prince?  Mine might be Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables.  Or Han Solo – I told you I had a thing for Harrison Ford…
Well I don’t have a particular person in mind, but my fantasy prince is as much a neat freak as I am, never has to be asked to take out the trash or pick up the house, is a gourmet cook, and has six pack abs.

Who’s your real prince?  And what does he think of this business called writing? 

My real prince is my husband of 9 and a half years, Allen. He’s a photographer and musician, so he’s totally respectful of the creative pursuits and is super supportive.  He’s also a very handy reference for moves in fight scenes and is generally happy to demonstrate (which does not always feel good!).

You said you like strong female characters and happy endings.  What are some of your favorite books?

Insert pretty much everything ever written by Nalini Singh, particularly her Archangel series.  Um, Nora Roberts’ Irish trilogies.  Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.  Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.  Oh, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series.  Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  Okay, I’ll stop now…

When I met you at the DFW Writers Conference, you made an impression.  You talk fast, you have hilarious stories, you give honest advice, and seem to meet the people who can tell you about exactly the thing you’re researching at that time.  (True story:  In two very different conversations in two completely different spaces, Kait met and connected with someone who made a career out of what she was writing her characters to do!  It was uncanny!)  Tell us about your best friends, I imagine you have a great support network.  

Admittedly both those instances were totally NOT normal for me…
My best friends are mostly writers.  I positively could NOT do without my crit partner Susan Bischoff, talented author of the Talent Chronicle and supreme kicker of my ass (seriously, I challenge any NY editor to rival her for tough and awesome crit).  I would be equally lost without Claire Legrand, my baby sister from another mother, who is my sunshine on a cloudy day (how can anyone with that much love for unicorns fail to perk you up?).  And Mhairi Simpson, who gives me my daily Brit fix and is all around marvelous bitch buddy and food lover.  And on the non-writer front, I must mention my BFF Christine, who had been telling me for years—all those years I spent pursuing a career that other people thought I should pursue because it was practical—that I was meant to write and I needed to get a move on.  She’s always a refreshing breath of honesty and observation when I need to hear it.

You’ve traveled the world quite a bit!  What’s your favorite place you’ve been and where do you want to go next?

Been: hands down Scotland.  I lived in Edinburgh while I studied abroad in college and LOVED IT.
To go next: I’d really like to do a more thorough tour of Ireland.  I only spent one weekend there in Dublin while I was abroad, and I’d love to go back.

Speaking of travel, tell us about A Round of Words in 80 Days!  

A yes, ROW80, the writer’s challenge that knows you have a life.  The slogan is really the reason I started it.  I did NaNo and a bunch of other challenges that expected you to DROP EVERYTHING and do nothing but write for some period of time, and that just DOES NOT WORK FOR ME (and seriously, who thought NOVEMBER was a good time to do that?).  Real writers, IMO, must learn to fit writing into their every day and learn how to set goals, then adapt them as circumstances dictate, so that they are always making progress, not just taking things seriously one or two months out of the year.  We start Round 3 of this year on July 2nd.

What have been the biggest A-ha! Moments for you as you’ve set about your goals?

Probably the biggest one is FINALLY finding a system to use for plotting and making the switch from inveterate pantser to hard core plotter.  I find I’m much more efficient this way and my finished first draft is a LOT closer to truly done than anything I pantsed in the past.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what else do you imagine yourself doing?

Owning a combination tea shop and bookstore.  If I can’t write, I want to combine my two OTHER favorite things.

Tell us about the worst job you ever had.  Mine involved chipping away caramelized pieces of plastic that held old rope lights in a display window that was full of spiders.  Top that!

The worst job I ever had (the one that sent me RUNNING back to graduate school) was as a case manager in a community mental health system.  I had to commute 35 miles, then spent all day driving around a very rural county to see my very large client load, fumbling my way through and hoping I didn’t irrevocably screw anybody up (as I had NO training and just a bachelor’s in psych at the time), for incredibly LOW pay, lousy benefits, and more paperwork than you can shake a stick at.  In triplicate.  NOTHING was computerized.  It was awful.

Besides being a famous writer, founder of ROW80, and all around amazing Mississippi gal, you also cook well.  What’s your favorite dish?

What?  I’m supposed to narrow it DOWN?  Okay I think I can make a top three.  Pizza (mine), parmesan polenta, and homemade mac and cheese (also mine).  A low carb person I am not.

What’s currently cooking in your writer’s world?

I’m working on the first of a YA trilogy based on the mythology of The Wild Hunt.

Words to live by?

Everyone has a happy ending, if you’re not happy then it’s not the end.

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.  You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Thank you Kait for being a part of the Happiness Project Featured Writer Series!  It was a delight meeting you and laughing over Google chats the last month!  

*****

Make sure you leave a comment or ask a question of Kait so you win an e-book copy of her book, Red!  Giveaway ends Thursday at 10pm.  Winner will be announced on Friday when Kait comes back (squee!) to share her Guilty Pleasure with all of us!

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