Category Archives: Guest Interview
Tapping Into the Dark Side
Horror writer Willow Croft joins us today. Her short stories have appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine, Speculative 66 Online Journal and Sirens Call eZine. She is represented in three horror anthologies. If you haven’t, take A Poetic Voyage Through Time and Space in Quantum Singularity. Add it to your reading list. Willow’s life is currently in redevelopment, but no doubt it will inspire her to write about the horrors of moving. Stay tuned.
As a horror writer, who inspired you? Have you read the books and stories of Shirley Jackson and Daphne de Maurier? Or someone more recent? What TV shows/movies did you like as a child?
Daphne de Maurier was among the writers/books I read as part of especially intense literary experience back when I was around ten or eleven and through most of my middle school. My immersion in books back then was incredibly vivid and three-dimensional. To this day, the line “Last night I returned to Manderley” still steals all the breath out of my chest. And the blood-red, tangled rhododendron thicket on either side as Maxim and the new Mrs. De Winter went up the drive to Manderley—it’s something that I can still see in my mind’s eye to this day. I have quite a few of de Maurier’s books still, including one of my favourites, Vanishing Cornwall. The day I got to visit Cornwall was among my top travel experiences on my journey abroad.
Even though I was reading Stephen King (The Dead Zone and Thinner remain all-time favs) and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood back then as well, I would claim Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange (Sassafras, Cypress, and Indigo) Victoria Holt and V.C. Andrews as my early main influences. And the Cure, as they are not only both magical and mystical, but also have literary influences in many of their songs. As for TV/Movies, I’ll just quote the young C.G.B. Spender from the X-Files: “I’d rather read the worst book ever written then see the best movie ever made.” But, if I had to pick one movie, I’d say the black-and-white film Carnival of Souls.
Is your preference psychological horror or do you go straight to gore? Something in between?
I love it all. I’m excited to delve more into splatterpunk and even bizarro horror (which I have recently discovered thanks to a new writerly connection with Ben Fitts https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18261823.Ben_Fitts). No amount of gore in books and even in movies phases me much. Horror is sometimes my version of comedy. For example, I thought the first Ginger Snaps movie was hilarious!
You moderate a Goodreads group called Fear-minists: Women Horror Writers Around the Globe for writers and readers of horror and suspense. What are your goals?
Well, sadly, the lack of internet has put that on hold for the moment, but I would love to connect with more women writers, horror writers, and women horror writers. I’m an introvert, so I don’t have a lot of companions in day-to-day life, intentionally. I love my privacy and personal space. But I would like to have some more online friends. I miss the days of IRC/mIRC, that virtual WorldChat thingy back in the day, and even the “Lipstick Traces” chat board on the old Cure website. I would even love to have some “snail mail” penpals like I used to.
Your work tackles environmental issues. Why do you think it important to include these issues?
Oh, jeez, am I going to get on my activist soapbox, now! I love trees. Again, as an introvert, trees and animals are my best friends. I hate to see a tree cut down. I absolutely despise the sounds (and resultant tree and plant agony) of chainsaws and weedwhackers. I’ve attended “March Against Monsanto “protests back in my home town, and I feel very strongly that pesticides and Roundup should be universally banned, as well as GMO-based foods. Even though I routinely murder plants and vegetables on a regular basis for my diet (I’ve been vegetarian since 1992), I still cannot fathom eating an animal instead. And don’t get me started on the clearing of the Amazon rainforest and factory farms. I was just reading an article, too, in the Smithsonian magazine, about how a large portion of the fish that are eaten today come from pirates and illegal fishing practices. Horrifying article—things like that are the stuff of my nightmares–but a must-read all the same.
Someday, I hope I can buy lots of land and return it back to nature. Or as close as it might have originally been. At least let it go wild and tangled and free!
I notice your great love for animals. Do you believe organizations like Best Friends and the country can reach “No Kill” status by 2025?
Well, one can always hope. The term “No Kill” is a little misleading, though. A shelter can be designated “No Kill” but still not have a zero percent euthanasia rate. But I wouldn’t blame shelters. They are trying to do their best in a difficult, no-win situation. Primarily, because people still don’t get their pets spayed/neutered, and then they even let them run free. There’s absolutely no cause for it. Free/low-cost spay/neuter programs abound. I get so angry at that. So, then, we have an overpopulation of animals in shelters and so many people want kittens and puppies that the older animals get overlooked. I, myself, wish every cat and dog and house pet had a loving home, but I also know the reality of shelter overpopulation. There was a no-kill “cat shelter” back in my hometown, and the owner of the shelter had become a hoarder. I was there on a day the sheriff’s office animal services officers were on scene. The volunteer was not letting them in. But my friend and fellow animal rights worker got access to the shelter. We later wrote affidavits for the court case. And the animals were turned over to a private shelter that a local rescue group had set up. So, it’s a tough call. I don’t want any wonderful animal euthanized but I’ve seen the result of an overpopulated shelter turned hoarding situation firsthand. And that’s not something I wish on any animal.
So, spay/neuter your pets, adopt don’t shop, and please keep your cats indoor-only, and your dogs on a leash! And don’t buy pets from a breeder or a pet store. You can search by any animal, and can even find specific breeds through Petfinder.org.
And consider adopting an older animal from a shelter—they’re the greatest!
Has the isolation of COVID-19 invigorated your writing or has it made it more difficult to write?
Well, not really. I pretty much live in self-imposed quarantine as a writer and an introvert anyway. The thing that has impacted my writing and my writing career is that I cannot get reliable and fast internet in New Mexico. Where I’m at, I cannot get internet service, and barely any cell phone service. And, when the pandemic restrictions hit, most everything was closed down. But, hopefully, my looming relocation move will get me internet and cell phone service again! If you’re in Kansas, send me an email or message on Twitter! I’d love to hear from you!
Author Blog: https://willowcroft.blog
An Interview with Dydre Rowyn,War Merchant Protagonist
Character interviews are so much fun. We get to see how authors and their protagonists interact. They can be lighthearted or dead serious. Today, meet Dydre Rowyn, Patrick Parker’s lead in the War Merchant. I wouldn’t turn my back on her! GGC
by Patrick Parker (Copyright 2016)
War Merchant is a suspense-filled novel that crosses the globe in a world of corrupt politics, a ruthless greedy opportunist, terrorists, and a pawn with deadly skills. First a little about Patrick.
Patrick says his goal is to entertain you. He wants you to be thrilled and on the edge of your seat all the time, wondering what is going to happen next.
After retiring from the Army, he worked in the defense industry for fifteen years. Now writing full-time, he draws from his military and corporate experience to write fast-paced, suspense novels. Inspired by authors like Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, John le Carré and, of course Tom Clancy, his books will keep you on the edge of your seat.
His previous title, Treasures of the Fourth Reich, is based on actual events that occurred at the end of World War II.
- What is life really like in your line of work?
Hmm. That one is a bit hard to explain. I deal with some of the world’s worst people. I want out of this business. It is a bit tense at times and you have to be as tough as woodpecker lips, if you’re going to survive. Other than that, I live on the edge, not knowing sometimes if I’m about to take my last breath or not. I travel all over the world, often at a moment’s notice. Most of the people I deal with would just as soon kill me as look at me; I only meet with them on my terms and from a position of strength—I have something they want. I don’t like doing business with the fanatic Muslims and they don’t like doing business with me. Most of the others I deal with are dictators, thugs, and terrorists. There’s not much difference in any of them, actually. I look forward to a long hot bath after I meet with those slime balls.
- You’ve given your business title as international business development consultant. I know Zsigmond took you in but how did you wind up doing his dirty work?
I needed some kind of title and that one doesn’t raise eyebrows. It started out very benign. At first, I just made phone calls and ran errands for Clay. That increased to a few simple meetings in low threat environments. Although most of them were in third world countries and the people I met with, you probably wouldn’t invite them to Christmas dinner. It wasn’t long until Clay was quite busy and wanted me to do more. The next thing I knew he was hiring people to train me in weapons, explosives, as well as escape and evasion techniques. I was young and it was a bit of an adventure. The money is damn good. I’m very accomplished in jujitsu, you know. That, in itself, gave me a lot of confidence. I had a lot of instruction in hand-to-hand combat, too. I didn’t realize how dangerous it was until it was too late.
- Do you always wear a disguise? What’s that all about?
Yes, usually. It’s about staying alive. In school, I was very active in the theatre and learned a lot about makeup and disguise for the stage. I got the idea during one of the escape and evasion classes. Intel agencies around the world use disguises, so I applied the same technique. Early on, when Clay sent me out in the field, I was quite naive but smart enough to conceal my identity. I knew several people who wound up dead because of miss communications, something didn’t go just right, or wanted out. Most of the cockroaches I deal with would track you down and kill you. So, I disguised my appearance and identity. I even kept my house in Italy a secret.
- Zsigmond kept a dossier on you? Would he really turn it over to Interpol?
Yes. Clay changed after his wife, Johanna, died. I loved her like a mother. I tried to quit and suffered Clay’s wrath. He threatened to kill David, my son, if I tried to leave. He made it very clear to me that if I did manage to break free from him, he would send my dossier to the authorities and hunt me down. He’s crazy. I knew he would.
- You’ve worked with many notorious and ruthless people. What was the scariest situation you’ve been in?
The scariest? Good one. There were a few. I guess it was when Clay screwed things up with the terrorists and told them I betrayed them when the Ranger devices didn’t work. I had to convince the terrorists I was going to fix the problem. I really thought I was going to die. If I didn’t address the issue, they would come after me. If we didn’t fix those devices, I was dead. Honestly, I didn’t have much faith that we would fix them.
- Why did you kill Mac? Didn’t you have feelings for him?
Mac. I liked Mac. Ruggedly handsome guy—a professional and no-nonsense. Unfortunately, he was a loose end. He was the only one, outside of Clay, that could tie me to the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda.
- Ludwig Stäbler set you up. Didn’t you see that coming?
No, I didn’t. I’ve known Ludwig for a long time and he owed me. Besides, he didn’t care for Clay. Looking back, I might have been too focused on getting David. Ludwig is a soldier of fortune, and money talks.
- Did you sleep with Anthony Mangiano? Are you involved with someone special?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss whom I may have slept with. I might ask you if you slept with someone; would you tell me? Next question.
- Are there any romantic plans in your future?
I hope so. I want to have a family and be like normal people—David, me, and a father for David.
- You seem fearless. What scares you?
A lot of things. Clay, Muslim fanatics, and, believe it or not, Anthony. He can be cold and is always one-step ahead of me. Silverfish and lima beans, well they don’t scare me, I just don’t like them.
- What does the future hold for you? Will we see you again?
That is a very good question. I understand a number of people want to see me again. Patrick has talked to me about it several times. It is possible. I do think he likes me.
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1izsnBH
Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1pnfAoM
Goodreads Profile page: http://bit.ly/1pnLth0
Don’t Go in the Basement!
Caution: Profanity if it offends you.
I “met” Michael Frost on Twitter. He’s noticeable because instead of hawking constantly for customers, he supports other writers through a #ShoutOut, #FollowFriday and #TerrorTuesday which he created. As a horror writer he has some scary pictures to go with his Tweets, but also a sense of humor about it all. You’ll love the last question about children and monsters in the closet.
1. First, the question you likely always get: Why write horror? What motivated you to take this direction in your writing?
For the amount of times I have been asked this, I should have mastered a simple and direct answer, but I find myself retreating back to the overly used factoid of ‘Kangaroo’; to be quite honest I really don’t know.
I didn’t seek it out that’s for sure. It more or less found me.
As a kid ANYTHING horror scared the piss out of me, and just catching a glimpse of the latest Friday the 13th commercial teaser would have me up all night watching the shadows that my small lamp didn’t fill. Yes, I slept with a light on religiously; damn near until I was thirteen.
When I started writing on the level of actually finishing a story I was eleven, and then until I was seventeen it was always fantasy having completed my first 389 paged book just shy of my 17th birthday. I was a big D&D and J.R.R. Tolkien fan long before any of the movies took to the screens (save the animated ones which were rather good and followed the books pretty well). Then, one day in March of 1990 while sitting in front of my typewriter and suffering from recently having my tonsils and adenoids removed, the horror in me just woke up. I know how it sounds, but I cannot be more honest and direct than that; the horror woke up and began to whisper to me, and boy did it had a lot to say.
Besides venturing across genres here and there depending on whatever story came to mind (of which many forming their own identities and voices in my noggin to suit those genres [and there are a few of those clamoring around in there]), I’ve never looked back.
2. Are you more King or Poe? What writers have influenced you?
Neither one or the other; a bit of each when it pleases me, but I have favorites from both of them. Older King stories of course; some, but not all of Poe. There were writers who influenced me, but not much in the guise of horror. Authors like Pearl S. Buck who wrote The Good Earth, Tolkien naturally for my pursuit at the time of fantasy and Shakespeare in my early years; Philip K. Dick and the works of Margaret Mead came later in my teens, with plenty of Terry Pratchett, Spider Robinson, Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams thrown in. However, when I consider the real Whom I would have to say my father who was a published author during the Civil Rights 60’s.
I know that’s an ‘Aww’ moment, but my father was both supportive and not all too supportive of my writing at the same time, taking a somewhat backwards approach to it. Sure he got me my first typewriter for me: a big, black and heavy Royal that strengthened the hell out of my fingers, but often when I asked about publishing I was just handed that years Writer’s Market Guide and a new box of carbon paper. He was obsessed with duplicates. I guess he encouraged me the most because I had something to prove, and once I got past trying to prove anything to anyone, then I truly started to write.
I miss the hell out him though.
3. “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand,” has been attributed to Raymond Chandler. He was talking about crime fiction.
Finish the sentence, as it applies to horror: “When in doubt . . .
When in doubt on whether or not you’ve killed the bogeyman, keep hacking away at the fucker until its head comes off. Then it’s dead, the nightmare’s over and you can go home.
4. How do you translate terror into words so the reader can feel the fear of your character? What is the difference in terror and horror?
Good one…favorite one…most hated question of all, so I will somewhat combine my answer. I have a usual response to this, one of which is in my blog under About Michael, and it’s one I have said for years now, but for this let me try a different approach.
Terror can be best expressed in a single thought, an idea which can invade every single person’s life and soul without will or want not of the reader. It can easily relate to the masses, and to the individual experiencing it, they can feel the breath of the beast on their neck.
A quick example of Terror would be: You are taking a shower and you live alone, keeping the bathroom door closed so to trap the heat and then suddenly, there’s a knock on the bathroom door.
To me that would be terrifying to say the very least, and you are in the perfect place if you wish to piss or shit yourself.
When one looks at Horror and Terror, they are relatively the same thing save the delivery. When writing Horror, I have pages upon pages to set the stage, to keep the reader on edge while dreading the very next line, however I want the reader terrified, so I deliver the blows which are either expected or not, but they last for a very long time. Sure the pages might be filled with some very horrifying stuff which makes the reader want to slam the book shut and go watch Babe so to clear the mind and spirit, but like a drug they cannot. When you as the author can feel it, damn near taste the terror’s climatic surge, you give the reader both barrels with extreme prejudice. This is not the climax of the story, no; you just keep delivering it over and over unexpectedly like a blindfolded roller coaster rider entering a loop.
I think that covers it, or I can revert to my usual response by stating:
To understand Horror is simplistic really. You never open the closet door…you never look under the bed…you never fall asleep in an unfamiliar place and you never get into a strangers car. Out of all of these I must add, you most certainly never—EVER—run into the woods.
To understand Terror, however, is much more far reaching; darker. That scratching you hear during the night at the window’s glasscould be nothing more than a branch in the breeze just as your mind has convinced you that it was, or, there really is something standing just on the other side of the glass with sharp claws and it’s watching you—only you—and come morning you never discover which one it ever was.
Old and new, new and old; same ice cream, just different flavors; take your pick of the one that suits you.
5. You are a great champion of writers. In a social medium like Twitter where most everyone is shouting “Look at Me!” you bring attention to writers over and over again through Tweets and Lists. What made you want to take this route?
I smile that you have noticed this about me, G.G, but in all truth I do this because I care; I truly care about each and every writer out there who is hunting for their voice, and if already found, to give them honest support if they are willing to take it.
I can honestly say that during my whole career of writing that no one ever stopped to help me; not a single one. Whether it was family or friends, significant others along the way, not any of them did. I envied all those around me who had family and friend support in their pursuits of their dreams, always wondering what that felt like…what it tasted like…was it real or Memorex or more like some Cosby Show episode.
I was completely alone in my pursuits to find my voice, and despite all the spite and rage of being ignored and left to fend for myself, I eventually did find it and came to peace in all my endeavors of doing so. I was used to people only noticing when I failed, when those rejection letters came one right after the other, and of course I would get the sympathetic comments followed by the soft murmurs of ‘I figured as much’or ‘I told you so’s once the back was turned. Screw that. That surmounting lack of support gave me all the strength I ever needed to keep on pushing, ignoring the odds of ever publishing a single thing, and I formed my steadfast motto: If you want Sympathy, just look in the dictionary between Shit and Syphilis and you’ll find it.
It was harder in many ways back then to engage in the act of writing and attempting to publish. There was no internet to speak of at the time; the world of the web was at its infancy with BBS’s (Bulletin Board Services) and basic dial-up through ISP’s like NetCom. Hell, AOL and CompuServe were still in their developmental programming stages with only the hopes that they would catch on. No, then it was query letters and submissions via snail-mail, the demand of Times New Roman 12pt font, double-spaced, proper surname with numbering in the upper right corner of each page following the first (you never numbered the your first page), and all your pages were secured by a small piece of paper in the upper left hand corner with a paper or binder clip so not to dent or crease the pages. And of course, there was the wait; that damn, damn, damn long wait. Six weeks if you were lucky to get a response, eight at max, and if accepted YAY, and if not, you were then able to submit elsewhere for there was no simultaneous submissions allowed (which thankfully is still the norm).
For all those on Twitter many have never experience this and see only the new age of writing and publishing, and to be very understanding of them, only the process has changed for the most part. It is still a very hard thing to do, writing is; to delve into your own soul and cleave it apart so to distribute it amongst the masses is a very hard thing to do. I still find it hard to do even to this day regardless of how long I’ve been at it. For this I commend each and every one of them, and if promoting them in lieu of promoting myself is what I have to do to show them that someone is behind them, then that’s what I will do. If I can be there for just one who is floating down that turbulent river alone in the dark, then I have redeemed my own demons in parting of such memories. Perhaps my support might very well be that light in their distance assuring me that despite all my struggling endeavors that I have earned my place to call myself a writer, and that I have truly learned to listen.
6. Many children see monsters in their closet or under their beds. As someone well-acquainted with monsters, do you have any tips for parents trying to reassure their little ones.
For this I have a fun and happy story to tell regarding my own daughter. When she was just a tot, she swore that there were monsters in our closet and under her bed, and although this story might be a little long-winded, there’s a solution within and a quick summary to follow.
When she was nearly five years old, there was a span of several weeks that she complained about monsters, and unlike her mother’s approach that there were no such things—I having been my daughter at her age in spirit before—I damned well believed her! So, each night I would do the daddy thing and check for her in all the places she pointed, and although I was brave for her in my searching, it was all a façade because I dreaded the idea of What if she’s right?!
Anyway, one day I got an idea. I got a box about the size one might get a new microwave oven in and I brought it into her room. I sat down on the edge of her bed and explained that I know the monsters seem scary and mean, but they are actually scared themselves.
“Why would monsters be scared of me?!” she questioned wholeheartedly with a doubtful undertone which I feared she figured me out before I began, but I continued bravely.
I had expressed that the reasons the monsters were scared is because they wandered too far away from Monster Land and didn’t know how to get back, and what seemed like big mean monsters were actually frightened creatures who just wanted to get back home hence why they hid in the closet and under her bed.
So, I showed her the box and said: “This is a magic box that can send all the lost monsters back to Monster Land.”
“How?” she asked with genuine wide-eyes of wonder and belief to my fatherly lies.
“Easy…magic,” I put on my show, standing while opening the closet which I had previously made sure the floor had space for the box. “See? We put this inside the closet and call out to the monsters that we have a magic box which will take them all home. We then leave the room because monsters are shy creatures and when we come back after a while, all the monsters should be inside the box with the lid closed.”
Let me tell you, she was very excited about the possibility of this, so I gave her the honor of sliding the box inside, then—by her good-natured insistence—we placed a pillow inside so that they would be comfortable. When I told her we were ready, she did the one thing I will always remember and get misty over. She told me to wait, little paws extended up to me, dashed off to her bed and collected up a little bear and placed it inside.
“This will make them feel safe,” she smiled and I nodded, wanting to pick her up and hug her.
Okay, back to my parental lies and deceit!
We left the room and shut the bedroom door behind us, moving to the living room to play her most favorite movie of all: Aladdin. After a few minutes and offering her Stix-Sticks (how my 4yr old pronounced fish sticks), I left her to play with her blocks as she sang along with the movie to heat them for her, but not before quietly sneaking into the bedroom. I quickly removed the little bear from the box and hid it, folded in the flaps and crossing them so they clocked together, quietly closed the closet door then exited away from the scene of deceit. Then, minutes later returned to the living room with her stick-sticks for her to munch away.
Oh she did inquire about the monsters and I insisted that we give them time which she simply nodded in-chew and back to the singing genie she went. After a little while, the true magic began.
“Did you hear that?” I quickly said after a little while, sounding excited above a whisper.
“What?!” she beamed just as excited.
“I think I heard the closet door shut!” and before I could breathe after the last word, she was up and dashing to the bedroom with me in pursuit.
“Hold on,” I slowed her as I took hold of the knob. “Now we have to be very quiet so we don’t scare them anymore than they are, okay?”
A nod and a ‘thumbs-up’ was my response and I slowly opened the door. There sat the closed box to her widening eyes as she slowly inhaled with excitement.
“They went inside!” she bounced wanting to scream it, but she mimicked me with a forefinger to pursed lips as I knelt.
“Alright, they’re all inside,” I whispered. “Now, there are some magical words we must say which will send them back to Monster Land, okay?”
“Okay, daddy,” she nodded her understanding.
“Okay, now repeat after me,” I did my best not to giggle as I held my hands over the box like some half-baked magician in a mall’s food court. “Monsters, monsters, go away; go back home where you can play.”
There in the mouth of the closet we repeatedly said the words I pulled out from thin air, her little palms circling over the top of the box as she copied the actions of her silly dad. I began chanting it louder with her in suit until we were nearly shouting it and then I slapped my hands down on the top followed by her mimicking and we knelt smiling at each other.
“Are they back home?” she whispered.
“I don’t know,” I replied, leaning an ear towards the top. “I don’t hear anything, do you?”
She leaned in and listened with one finger up signalling for me to stand by, and then rose back to her kneeling posting with a shaking head.
“Well let’s open ‘er up and take a peek!”
Letting her do most of the work, the flaps were pried apart and there, in the glow of the overhead light of the closet sat the void of the box and the pillow. She squealed her joy and clapped, lunging into my chest for a vise-like hug and clapped some more.
“It worked, it worked!” she bounced on her knees repeatedly as I clapped and agreed.
“It sure did, baby,” I smiled and simply watched her pass the little milestone in her young life.
That night she climbed into her bed and got her hugs and kisses from her mother and me, never once asking for me to check under the bed or the closet or any of the darkened corners for any monsters.
We left her then, my then wife and I, leaving the door opened just enough to let some hallway light in and sat on the sofa for a little adult programming on the tube. A few minutes after we were settled on some show I don’t remember, I heard her little voice call out across the bedroom: “Goodnight monsters in Monster Land!”
I smiled…not feeling guilty in the least.
To summarize my long winded story? Well, we were them once—little and afraid—and if for one moment, just one itty-bitty moment we adults put ourselves back into their shoes we can see what they see and feel it as well. Sure it might be annoying because we know (think)nothing is under the bed, but taking a little effort to prove it and resolve it with their assistance can be the difference of a good night’s rest or bed-hogging toddlers in your bed later on because they can’t sleep.
Children are honest little-folk even if that honesty steams from the realms of imagination, and if they believe monsters are real then you better be damned-tooting they are real and you should feel just a little bit scared yourself! Yes, I know, you don’t want to humor such nonsense, but have you ever asked yourself this: If you tell them they are not real, and If they just so happen to be real, what then? Think on that the next time you turn off their light and close their door leaving them to fear the darkness without checking the nooks and the crannies. There might be something lurking there and now it knows exactly what you look and smell like.
OH! What happened to the little bear from the story you ask? Well, she was rather happy that they took her bear with them to Monster Land, but she also missed it that night come bedtime. That was quickly resolved by morning.
Early before she woke I retrieved the bear from behind some shoes along the base of the closet and placed it back inside the box. Before closing it up, I collected a sheet of paper and one of her Crayons and using my left hand—I’m a righty so I wanted it to look more ‘kid-speak’—I wrote a simple note and placed it inside with the bear. I woke her not too long afterwards saying that I heard something coming from the box in the closet that sounded like her bear. She dashed inside, pulling open the box, exclaimed “MY BEAR!” and I retrieved the note and read it to her.
Thank you for sharing your teddy!
It made us very happy during our trip!
We’ve sent it back to you so you can cuddle it.
Think of us when you do!
Seventeen years later, I still have the monster’s note and her bear.
♦ ♦ ♦
Keep up with Michael and his works on Twitter: @MichaelFrostChi and on his Frost Bitten Blog: http://michaelfrost.wordpress.com where you can sample his stories and poetry.
About Michael Frost: Before writing exclusively in late 2012, I was a senior Wide Area Network, Microwave and Satellite Platform Communications engineer who worked his way up from a lowly help desk geek from the 90’s before there were real degrees in Computer Science and mice were optional on computers (it was still a DOS and OS/2 Warp world for the most part then in the business environment with Windows 3.11 spread throughout).
Father of one fantastic multi-talented, multi-lingual senior University daughter who is my Light.
I have been writing for nearly 32 years (over 25 for horror) and currently write under 5 other published names which I will keep to myself their identities. Sorry for that, but they are rather selfish-folk inner writers are. I have published numerous stories over the years in regional magazines across the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, including visual flash fiction. I work for an educational publisher Nelson Education for digital supplements to their high school language arts printed books.
For horror books I dragged my feet to publish for reasons unknown, and although I have written 8 of them in the genre, the very first will be available in print early 2016 (announcement date will be available in October of this year): Eleanor’s Creek.
Did I mention the selfishness of those other inner-writers?
Michael Frost releases scheduled for 2016: Sowing Seeds, Murder Black, Staad and three novellas Bane of the Black Witch, When Madness Calls and The Fall of Illeana Dubois. And a collaboration with Canadian artist Carrion Trilevel; a “wicked vicious book of dark literary horror and stunning graphic art.” You can expect a “teaser” in the coming weeks.
Woodland Park Fine Arts & Crafts Fair 6/5-9/25
Medicine Bags by M J Trantham
Beginning June 5, 2015, the Woodland Park Fine Arts & Crafts Fair returns. Here, the artists are also the sellers. You can buy their creations, meet the artist and ask questions about their creative process. This year, M J Trantham will be selling her beautiful hand-made medicine bags. Trantham also plans to have crystals and fact sheets for sale. Drop by and say hello. Trantham will be happy to tell you what inspires her to make medicine bags. I can tell you, they are special, whether you fill them with crystals or a special small gift. Some of her latest creations are made for men and children.
In her own words, “I like to decorate them with ribbon, buttons, pins, and charms. The type of bag and decoration depends on who the bag is made for. I have a friend who is very interested in angels. I made her a bag with stones to attract angel communication. A family member travels a lot in an RV. I made them a bag for safe travel.”
If you missed Trantham’s interview in these pages, please check it out at the following link: https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=m+j+trantham
You can find the Woodland Park Fine Arts & Crafts Fair at N Park Street & W Henrietta Ave (Next to the Farmers Market). For more information call 719-687-3731. It’s free to the public and family friendly. The Fair runs through September 25, 2015. Friday’s, 7am – 1pm.
For more information on the hand-made Medicine Bags or to place an order, please contact M J Trantham at: email@example.com
Tags: arts & crafts, Buy Medicine Bags, Colorado, crocheted medicine bags, crystals, Hand-made medicine bags, healing, M J Trantham, Medicine Bags, metaphysical, Religion and Spirituality, Woodland Park, Woodland Park Fine Arts & Crafts Fair, WordPress.blog
Meet M J Trantham: Share Her Journey of Enlightenment
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to M J Trantham, my crystal sage and good friend. I’m one of those people who had purchased a few stones because they were pretty. When I began writing about Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium, I wanted her to grow as she became more astute, albeit reluctant, with her psychic abilities. M J had been telling me about her exploration of crystals and I was fascinated. We’d talk—she’s correct, it’s nearly daily—and soon I was asking questions and including crystal power in Rachel’s paranormal adventures.
Get comfortable and enjoy this intimate one-on-one with M J Trantham. Whether you’re just beginning your journey with crystals or are already a fellow traveler, M J’s story may inspire your own.
(G G Collins Copyright 2015 including photos)
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When did your interest in crystals begin? Was there a specific turn of events that led you down this path?
I think I have been fascinated by rocks since I was a child. I remember having a “rock collection” which probably consisted of rocks I found in our back yard. When I got a little older, I watched my grandmother collect rocks from places she visited. She brought them home and put them in her yard. When my grandmother died I picked up as many as I could identify and now they are in my yard.
As an adult, I used to drive to Hot Springs, Arkansas every spring to the Arkansas Derby, but I always made a stop at the tourist crystal shop. I still didn’t have a clue what I was buying but was attracted to their beauty and would take my time holding and admiring them before making my selections. My first crystals were an Amethyst and a Rose Quartz. I also have several very large crystal clusters in my home that I know I didn’t pay a lot of money for. I see similar ones now for hundreds of dollars.
I think my turning point was when I had two nephews join the military. It was during the transition from the Iraq war to the movement of troops to Afghanistan. I was so afraid for them. One evening during my meditation I was impressed to make them each a medicine bag for safety. I also had a niece that was working for ICE on the Mexican border. I purchased three medicine bags and a book on crystals. I selected the crystals that I felt were appropriate and sent each of them a bag. Then I decided to make a bag for each of my grandchildren and then all of my nieces and nephews and a new project was born. By then I was so intrigued and basically hooked on crystals. My friend, G G Collins, had written Reluctant Medium and graciously accepted my suggestion that her protagonist needed crystal energy to help her accomplish her goals. I now crochet the medicine bags which I feel adds my energy to them and select the stones after meditation.
Explain what the “properties” of crystals are. Do they hold actual powers?
Crystals have been acknowledged for their beauty and power for thousands of years. Most people first notice the color and brightness of crystals. Later, maybe minutes or maybe years, we begin to learn that each crystal is special and emits different types of power. I like to call that power, energy. Some crystals have energy to help someone heal from a disease or a situation which is uncomfortable or causes emotional pain. Other energies are used for abundance, prosperity, wealth, and protection from people, places, and/or things, grief, and assistance in achieving goals. I have been able to find a crystal for almost any situation. I believe the “power” is real, just like I believe “faith” is real. Someone might pick up a raw crystal, one that hasn’t been polished or tumbled, and throw it down thinking it is just a rock. Others will see the beauty and feel the energy in the palms of their hands. Sometimes it is a slight vibration and sometimes becomes warm.
Crystals were created when the Earth was born. Most people know about Amethyst, Quartz, and Birthstones. However, crystals have evolved as the Earth has evolved and we now have what some call “New Age” crystals, such as Larimar, Petalite, and Phenacite.
What crystals would one choose for issues such as fear, creativity, and wealth?
There are many types of fear. If you want to alleviate fear, use a Charoite. Charoite is a beautiful purple stone when polished. It is a stone of transformation. “Charoite is the soul stone that overcomes fear.” Smoky Quartz relieves fear, lifts depression, and brings emotional calmness. When purchasing a Smoky Quartz, look for one that is slightly cloudy. The darker the color the more likely it has been radiated to enhance the color. You want the natural one.
Creativity also covers many types. For a writer, I would recommend a Blue Topaz. This crystal helps a writer become aware of the influence their writing and knowledge can have on others. It promotes openness and honesty. It helps a writer see the bigger picture and the minute details. If a writer is experiencing “writer’s block” a Fire Agate helps dissolve the negativity that might be causing the block and replaces it with creativity once again.
A Brown and Gold Tiger’s Eye helps any type of creativity by aiding that person in recognizing one’s talents and abilities, and faults that need to be overcome to achieve their desired goal.
A wonderful crystal for wealth, abundance, and prosperity is a Honey Citrine. It comes in small round stones, large Citrine points, or larger geodes. Honey Citrine can be placed in a medicine bag and carried with you at all times in your pocket or purse. You can also use a medicine bag with a cord attached and wear it around your neck and over your heart. It can also be placed in the “wealth corner” of your home which is the farthest left corner of your home looking in from the front door. It is also used for grids when mixed with other wealth stones like, blue or green Citrine. Honey Citrine encourages sharing what you have and yet helps you to hold on to your wealth.
What is a medicine bag and how is it used? Describe your signature bags.
A medicine bag is simply a bag of some type to hold your crystals. Some crystal users recommend storing your crystals in a silk or velvet bag. Many people prefer leather bags. When I decided to make medicine bags for my friends and family, I decided on a very soft yarn and began to experiment with different shapes, sizes, and colors. Depending on how many crystals I want to include decides the size. Most are 3 x 3 or 4 x 4. I like to decorate them with ribbon, buttons, pins, and charms. The type of bag and decoration depends on who the bag is made for. I use several bags. I have one under my pillow to ward off night terrors and recently added a crystal that assists with dream recall. I have a bag I meditate with that is for good health, self-control, and will power to eat, drink, exercise, and be healthy. I have a friend who is very interested in angels. I made her a bag with stones to attract angel communication. A family member travels a lot in an RV. I made them a bag for safe travel. Medicine bags can be for any type of issue that is going on in someone’s life. I tell people if they feel uncomfortable wearing the bag, to place it on the night stand beside their bed.
In the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series, you’ve been an enormous help in broadening Rachel’s psychic horizons. How do you approach this challenge; introducing a reluctant medium – and her creator – to the world of crystals.
I don’t think it was ever a challenge because I was so excited to be included in G G’s writing process. I can say what I do for Rachel Blackstone is constantly evolving. My study of crystals is always a learning experience as I continue to use crystals in everyday life. I was so excited when Reluctant Medium first came out I read it in one day and was absolutely hooked on Rachel. I had to go back and reread it to really see what was happening. During the second read, I began to think about how crystals and psychics have so much in common using crystals for guidance, safety, protection, and direction. I honestly don’t remember exactly how we got from “there to here”, but G G asked if she could use my personality to create another psychic that dealt in legal marijuana in Colorado and crystals. I was so flattered and excited I had to say yes! G G and I discuss Rachel and ideas almost everyday, so I think I understand where Rachel might be going.
No matter who I am working for to create a medicine bag, I want to know what the issue is and what outcome they would like to have. I have shelves of books covering Metaphysical subjects and I use them as a reference for all of my projects. If the person says they are depressed, I look for crystals to help depression. If they are afraid, I look for crystals that dispel fear and restore a positive outlook. I also look for things that specifically address health issues, cancer, chemotherapy, renal failure, heart failure, broken bones. If I can’t find something specifically to “cure” a broken bone, I look for other reasons for the broken bone, maybe osteoporosis or some type of calcium deficiency or maybe just a really bad fall. One suggestion leads to another and I continue to learn as I go along and finally decide on the correct crystal for the situation.
I didn’t mean to get into Rachel’s head, however, I found myself talking about her as if she was a real friend of mine. I think I just do for Rachel what I would do for any friend that asks for my help.
You’re in the process of bringing what began as a personal interest to the next level: a business. What will you be offering in the way of medicine bag combinations?
I love to crochet and knit. I like the feel of the yarn and watching something very pretty result. It is also a great time to meditate or work out a problem. When I decided to crochet medicine bags, I did so because I thought mine were prettier and less expensive to make than the ones available at the crystal shops and metaphysical fairs.
I am going to take a few months to get my material together and see how I would do at the local Farmer’s Market. We have a very nice one all summer in the city where I live. After much thought, I am going to make medicine bags for several different issues. I will most likely begin with bags for healing, love, protection, recovering from an illness or grief, anxiety and depression. I also like wealth, abundance, forgiveness, angel communication, and raising spiritual awareness. I’m open to more suggestions. Several years ago, I found a blessing for a dying person to assist in a pain free and fearless transition. I have used it several times and have had good results. By results, I mean, less sadness, more acceptance of the loss of a loved one, and for one I actually got a return message of a safe and happy arrival on the other side and in living color. It has totally changed my opinion of death, past lives, and what I might find in my next life.
Some bags will be empty and buyers can choose their own crystals. Others will hold the crystals that assist the person requesting help. The type of bag and whether or not they hold crystals will determine the cost.
I’ve already developed a flyer to assist someone buying crystals on how to take care of them, how to cleanse them and program them for their own purpose.
What would you recommend to people just beginning their journey into crystals and their uses?
Visit crystal shops, metaphysical fairs, and gift shops to explore what is available. Pay attention to what you are attracted to. Before investing a lot of money, check other shops for a price range. I often find crystals that are $7 in one shop and the same crystal is $2 in another. Crystals can also be purchased on Internet sites, but I prefer the “in person” method. If you go in person, you can hold the crystal in your hand to see if you get a response. A response is not always necessary, especially if the crystal has been handled by lots of people. It may need to be cleansed and near you for several days to begin to recognize your energy. I received a crystal as a gift. I cleansed it and wore it for several days so it would recognize my energy and work just for me. I do the same when I give crystals as gifts and finish with a dedication to the recipient. I then ask the recipient to meditate and claim the energy for themselves.
There are lots of books out there that tell all you need to know to begin using crystals. For a beginner, I would suggest buying a couple of books. Most crystals have several different energies and address multiple issues. I usually research the issue for suggestions regarding which is the best crystal to buy. Then I research the crystal to see all that it can do. Lots of crystal shops also have classes to share information and I find “crystal people” excited to talk to anyone about their crystal beliefs.
To begin your crystal journey, Trantham recommends these books:
The Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals, Judy Hall, 2003.
The Crystal Bible 2, Over 200 Additional Healing Stones, Judy Hall, 2009.
The Crystal Bible 3, Over 250 New-Generation Stones for Healing and Spiritual Alchemy, Judy Hall, 2013.
The Encyclopedia of Crystals, Judy Hall, 2007.
Crystal Prescriptions, The A-Z Guide to Over 1,200 Symptoms and Their Healing Crystals, Judy Hall, 1988.
Crystal Therapy, How to Heal and Empower Your Life with Crystal Energy, Doreen Virtue, Ph.D., and Judity Lukonski, 2005.
Simply Crystals, Cass & Janie Jackson, 2006.
Tags: Cass & Janie Jackson, Crystal Energy, crystals, Doreen Virtue, G G Collins, healing, Judy Hall, M J Trantham, Medicine Bags, meditation, metaphysical, New Age, NM, personal journey, Reluctant Medium, Reluctant Medium at Large, Santa Fe, spirituality, Transitional Crystals for the Dying