Saturday, May 30, 2015

Summer Vacation Spot Blog Hop: Welcome to Your Worst Nightmare

For the Summer Vacation Spot Blog Hop I'm participating in (sponsored by Summer Reads That Thrill & Chill), everyone's supposed to write about their favorite vacation getaway. And we're giving away six awesome thrillers, perfect for beach reading! To enter, visit the sponsors, enter the Rafflecopter, comment, toss up your own vacation tale if you have a blog and link back. Simple, yes?

So hit up the other authors at: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre, and myself (but, um, you knew that 'cause you're already here). Okay, enough nitty gritty. Let's have some fun! If you can call it that. Because in the name of fair play, I'm detailing my worst vacation spot nightmares.

Like all "snow birds," my mother migrates during winters to her small, one room condo in Daytona Beach, Florida. And my daughter and I used to make yearly sojourns (during her school spring break) to visit.

On one of our last trips, my wife joined us. Breaking with tradition, we booked into a hotel on the main drag. (Fitting five of us into the one room condo just wouldn't fly; talk about too much family togetherness). Problem was our trip coincided with college's spring break as well. Our hotel was overrun with drunken spring breakers, racing up and down the stairs, screaming through the thin walls. Sleep was not an option.

The first night, someone pounded on our door. 

A girl, swirling a margarita glass, stood in our doorway, and asked, "Hey, is Kyle here?"

"Nope, you got the wrong room."

She leaned back, looked at the door's number, and said, "No, really, I know he's here."

Now obviously I didn't look like a frat boy. I patted my head to emphasize the lack of hair. Didn't seem to faze her. She just stared, waiting for me to make dreamy Kyle magically materialize, all glitter and sparkle and Captain Awesomeness.

"Look," I said, "you've got the wrong room. I'm here with my wife and daughter."

She grinned smugly, stood her ground, refusing to be punked. "Come on..."

No, I wanted to say, you're right. I'm just a thirty year college student who can't seem to graduate. But I didn't. Out of desperation, I called for my daughter. I presented her as my final piece of evidence. "See? This is my daughter! There is no Kyle here!"

Dejected, her smile faded. After taking a long swig of her margarita, she left, mumbling some not very kind words about Kyle.
The next day the five of us visited some "Sea World" knock-off. My daughter got to pet a dolphin. But the day ended in tragedy. Walking back toward the car, my mom fell, screamed. Couldn't move her leg. Claimed she was okay, yet was unable to walk. Didn't want to go to the ER. But we insisted.

It took nearly two hours to get down the main drag to the hospital. Not only had Spring Breakers overtaken the town, they were competing with the annual Daytona Beach Motorcycle Week rebels. Traffic was backed up for miles. Girls popped their heads out sunroofs, threatening to disrobe. Guys jostled in gangs, cat-calling everyone, indiscriminate in their testosterone-fueled idiocy. Bikers tore by us, taking to the sidewalks, engines amped up to about a million and a half decibels. Fights broke out, total chaos, the downfall of humanity. A war-zone. While my mom groaned in the back seat.

As my dad was in a wheelchair, it took heaps of strategy. Mom wouldn't be able to take care of him, not with her brand-new broken leg. (I had to push Dad who pushed Mom, quite the parade). My wife and daughter flew Mom home while I drove Dad back to Kansas City, a hair-raising 48 hour journey where he recycled old stories again and again and...

You'd think that'd be enough to keep me out of Florida. Think again. The next year, my daughter and I took off, my wife wisely opting out. Once we landed, my elbow had decided to grow as big as a grapefruit and burned hotter than the sun. Several days were spent at Daytona Beach doctor's offices. The incredible case of the mutant elbow stumped most of the doctors. Finally, my third visit produced results, my dinosaur egg vanishing with strong antibiotics.

By then I was determined to have fun, dammit! While my mom took her car into the shop, we hung out at the pool. Hours later, Mom showed up, went up to her room. My daughter followed. But shortly came back down. Looking horrified.

"Um, Dad?"


"I think you better come upstairs."

Gah! Mom had left the kitchenette sink running. Three inches of water stood on the floor. The rest of my "vacation" was spent sweating, toiling, mopping, soaking, wringing, cursing, and tearing up carpet.


I'm going to get with the Daytona Beach tourist association, coin a new catch-phrase. I'm thinking, "Daytona Beach: a Little Taste of Hell."

And speaking of hellish places to visit, you might want to stay away from Hayden, Kansas right now. I understand it's overtaken by the living dead. Not your usual living dead either.

Life is good for Hunter Wright. He's just about to graduate from high school and he's found true love.  Just in time to lose her.  Because the Rapture's begun and those in his path, living and dead, stand in his way of finding her. And it's not the Rapture the faithful have been expecting either. Someone failed to tell the dead they’re not in Heaven. 

Horror. Suspense. Dark humor. And, of course, love in the year of the zombie. Zombie Rapture. (Just one of the books we're giving away!)



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Friday, May 22, 2015

A Blight Upon the Nation!

I'm not talking about global warming, although that's kinda' bad, I think.

No, I'd like to rant about a far more insidious threat, something coming from within, something tearing up the world, something the youth of today are "trending" to the point of terrorism.

I'm talking about wearing pajamas in public.
 Sure, I know it's a hipster thing to do, sorta' post-modern ironic. But it's awful.

Back at my old corporate job, some of the customer service women started wearing pajama bottoms into work. We're talking pastels with bunnies and crap on them. If the customers only knew what their representatives we're wearing. Shaking my head just remembering the horrors.

Last week, I went to a convenience store (because it was convenient). A girl walks in, wearing her jammies. I'm thinking, "What, a slumber party at Quik-Trip?"

Look, I'm not a fan of pajamas in the first place. Too confining, too soft, too itchy...too "churchy-feeling." I sleep in my underwear. But you don't see me strolling into McDonalds in my boxers, business as usual, proudly saying, "Big Mac, please." (Trust me, it wouldn't be pretty).

To sweeten the pot, maybe I'll even get a "tramp-stamp" that says "Juicy." How do you like me now, you ridicu-hipsters?

So I'm calling out to you, my brethren in arms. Let's put a stop to the madness. Let's take back the night (and put pajamas back in bed where they belong). Rally with me! Norma Rae, Norma Rae! Free the penguins! Unleash the badgers! Don't forget to floss! Stop eating Kale, it's pointless! I'm Spartacus! Vote for me!

Sorry, sorry...I'm letting my cranky old man out to play.

Oh, one last kids get outta' my yard!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ghostly Touches with L.A. Dragoni

Recently I had the pleasure of reading author L.A. Dragoni’s Ghost Touch, a very good ghost story romance. So I became interested in Ms. Dragoni. I searched the internet, came up with only her Facebook page: L.A. Dragoni. Not much information. I stumbled upon her website: More L.A. Dragoni Mystery. No pictures, not very much background. At this point, my search for the elusive Ms. Dragoni turned somewhat into an obsession. I hired private detectives. Sought out the best hackers money could buy. Bought into skeevy info hunting websites. Nothing, nunca, nyet, nada! The woman’s a ghost! Which makes her perfectly suited to write a ghost tale. But I wanted to know more…

Oddly enough, I received an email the other night (morning?). Promptly at midnight. From L.A. Dragoni. She consented to an interview (but only between the hours of 12 and 2:00 AM and only when there’s a full moon out. And she sent along this (not very helpful) photo.

These are the results…

SRW: Hey L.A! Glad to see you could, um, make it. Okay, what’s L.A. stand for? How much CAN you tell me about yourself?

LA: Thanks for letting me hang out, Stuart. Nice rafters digs you got here. Though LA are my initials, the real reason people call me that is because when I was young I used to talk about horrible, scary things all the time. So much so, that when other kids saw me coming they’d stick their fingers in their ears and chant, “La la la la la la” so they couldn’t hear my creepy tales and anecdotes.

Fine print: this may or may not be a true story. LA Dragoni is writing under a pen name and writes fiction.

SRW: Let’s jump right into Ghost Touch. Give the readers the briefest, “teaseriest” description possible.

LA: She can help him cross, but can she let him go?

SRW: Okay, now I gotta tell you, I’m not much of a fan of paranormal romances. And one thing that struck me as odd is that Tamara begins to fall for one of the ghosts, Cal, haunting her barn. The only problem is he looks like a skeleton! My wife assures me this is par for the course in paranormal romances (as I said, I don’t read, um, many), so just go with it. But as Grandma used to tell me, “Looks count (she was odd, my grandma).” I’m just curious what your take is on this.

LA: There are a lot of things going on in both your question and in the book. Let’s see if I can make them converge. Two things inspired Ghost Touch.

First and foremost, I dreamed it. I dream every night, so that’s no big deal – but this dream was so vivid and complete and, dare I say it, haunting. The dream took place in my barn, my yard, on my property. Maybe that’s why it felt so real. All I know is the story wasn’t going to leave me until I wrote it down.

Second, looks do count, most of the time, but you have to realize that Tamara is a young woman who is grieving the first major loss of her lifetime. Her mother. Grief does crazy things to your psyche. So even though this revolting, musty smelling skeleton scares the crud out of her in the beginning, his kindness and consideration, his polite, cowboy ways, his gentle manner cut through Tamara’s grief and become the balm to the wounds that losing her beautiful, nurturing mom left her with. Besides, when he does become corporeal, he’s totally hot. But that is not what she falls for. That’s just bonus.

SRW: After I just went through my macho posturing about not reading paranormal romances, I have to admit you’ve created a very compelling love triangle between Tamara, Cal and Dex. Actually, I couldn’t wait to see who she ended up with. Dex is a sorta salt-of-the-earth kinda’ guy, Cal is, um, sorta from the earth. Did you have a preference?

LA: I don’t think I do have a preference. Tamara is in the unusual situation where Cal is corporeal and could very well be hers – for her lifetime. That kind of relationship security is enticing. But Dex is a real, living breathing, warm-blooded man. There is something appealing about warm skin. I admit I love Cal’s kindness and old-fashioned manners. But I’m also drawn to Dex’s fun mix of nerdiness and quirkiness. I could totally see him unapologetically attending a Star Wars convention dressed as Chewbacca.

SRW: In the book, Tamara likes her men (both dead and alive) big and long-haired. There’s a lot of finger kneading and knitting through long hair from all three main characters (this didn’t get by me as I’m follicularly challenged. Jealous I guess)! Is it safe to assume the elusive Ms. Dragoni likes her men the same way?

LA: Uh oh. Sorry if I overdid that! No, I don’t have a preference there either. Back in the day when I was alive and single, hair was optional.

SRW: I particularly liked the villain, Troit. Very memorably creepy, slimy, yet possessing a certain bit of Cockney bad boy charm. Where’d you haul him out from (besides the barn/void, I mean)?

LA: Troit was so much fun to write! I spent a lot of time looking up 20’s and 30’s slang to make his smack talk more authentic. I loved being able to revel in his meanness and selfishness. Tamara was really afraid of him – and rightfully so. Once he figured out what her Ghost Touch could do for him, he didn’t hesitate to try to drain her life force in order to walk the earth permanently.

SRW: The first chapter truly gave me the creeps, very evocative, very spooky. Would you ever consider writing a straight-up horror tale, light on the romance?

LA: Honestly, that’s what I set out to do here. There was nothing about love in my dream! The love story was not planned. But what can I say? I love love.

SRW: What’s up next for Ms. Dragoni?

LA: A sequel to Ghost Touch that I don’t want to say too much about, but I’m excited over. And I also have a phoenix story planned. The main character is a bad, bad girl and though there will be a romance in it, the story will be dark and creepy. Just wait until you find out what her boyfriend is!

SRW: Sounds great! Thank you very much for, um, showing up this morning, L.A. Yawn. Wait you’re fading…what? Hold up…

And like that, POOF, L.A. has left the building, vanished into a glowing light.

But, here, check out this cover:

Beauty, ain’t it? Huh? HUH?

Buy her book here:
 Ghost Touch

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Super Awesome, Awesomely Super Summer Vacation Blog-Hop!

Is your favorite vacation spot a sunny beach, a bright city, or a secluded cabin? A romantic getaway or maybe a place you loved as a child? We want to see it and know why it's your favorite!

So dust off that swimming suit. Suck in that gut. Go get extraneous hair removed. Don't forget the sunscreen and away we go.

To join in this fun Summer Hop:

1) Sign up on the Linky list below.

2) On Saturday May 30, put up a post "My Favorite Vacation Spot" and tell everyone about it! (Curmudgeon that I am, I'll be sharing my least favorite vacation spot.)

3) Link to the 6 Blog Hop Co-hosts:
Lexa Cain:
Melanie Karsak:
T.F. Walsh:
Vanessa Morgan:
Jolie Du Pre:
Stuart R. West:

4) On May 30-31, visit the other blogs and see where their favorite getaways are!

Special Giveaways - Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill!
There will be a giveaway featuring 6 exciting novels on the Co-hosts blogs!

Midway: The Harvesting Series Book 1.5 by bestselling author Melanie Karsak
~ Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the beginning of the end. Join Cricket in this unique zombie apocalypse series. It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead!


Cloaked in Fur by T.F. Walsh
~ Cloaked in Fur sees rebellious Daciana cast into a life-threatening adventure against her will to uncover who is killing her friends before the predator sets its sights on her.


Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan
~ If Jaws kept you away from the ocean, Drowned Sorrow will keep you away from any water. Discover this chilling story of a remote village where water has become a supernatural element that can think, move, and kill.


Benton (Vol. 1) by Jolie Du Pre
~ There's no place to go, no way to escape the zombies until Jennifer meets a young man who says he can lead her to safety at his family's ranch. The catch is that Jennifer has to trust him with her life - and maybe even her heart.


Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West
~ Someone failed to tell the dead they’re not in Heaven. Hunter intends to right that wrong.


Soul Cutter by Lexa Cain
~ A teenage skeptic goes to Egypt and discovers the supernatural she scorns is all too real. The legendary Soul Cutter is hunting again.
(Link title to: )

Linky Sign Up:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fun With Spoilers!

Spoiler alert! This post will be about spoilers.

Several years back, I was a regular commenter on a movie board. A topic came up about what modern blockbuster film everyone hated. I chose Titanic. For many reasons. Never bought into the love story, especially since the so-called villain's fiancee cheated on him. Leave it to me to identify with the villain. And there was way too much Leornardo DiCaprio standing on the port of the ship, yelling "I'm the king of the world!" (Is it just me, or does Leonardo resemble "E.T."?)  

Anyway, I wrote I couldn't wait for that dang boat to sink.

Some guy fires back and says, "Next time leave a spoiler alert."

Golly. (And I don't say that lightly).

Apparently history books should have prefaces pregnant with spoiler alerts according to my heckler's high standards. Guy probably should've paid more attention in school if he doesn't know the ultimate fate of the Titanic. Not like it's a well-kept secret or something.

Ridiculous. I (spoiler!) left the board after that, no moss on me.

But where and when and how do spoilers start and stop? Should I tell people ahead of time I'm walking the dog so as not to catch them unaware? Spoiler alert! Eggs for breakfast? Double spoiler! Eggs don't sit well with me anyway! Too late, you've been spoiled!

Spoiler alert! The Kardashians are still not talented! Spoiler alert! Elvis has left the building! Spoiler alert! Lima beans still, and always will, taste like regurgitated baby food!

This could go on forever, but I need to (spoiler alert!) get to bed.

In this age of everything being on display everywhere, at every moment, with every possible electronic gizmo, it's really hard to know anymore what constitutes a spoiler.

I'm the last person to spoil anyone's fun. But there's gotta' be a statute of limitations, particularly with the sinking of the Titanic. (Belated spoiler alert!).