Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG for November 2015

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

It's that time of the month when we can all express our fears and insecurities, and this month, I've got a doozie. I'm secure about pretty much everything right now.

The last several months have been difficult. Hurting my ankle and knee, and having to curtail any kind of exercise for two weeks took a much bigger toll on me than I expected. Depression is a strange thing, and it seems to take hold of me at my weakest. Sweating and doing strenuous exercise has always been my line of defense against the "Big D."

I'm battling this mindset that nothing really is going right in my life right now. That might seem like hyperbole, but man, it's true. So for this month, I'm battling insecurity on a whole new level. I know there's some positive stuff around me, but I'm having to put a lot of effort into finding it and focusing on it.

It's not easy.

So if you're the praying type, I wouldn't mind a few prayers thrown my way. Positive vibes welcome all around.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Halloween!

I'm a big Halloween fan, and I'm hoping to get my health back in time for the festivities. I've been icing my knee and ankle for the last for days, and I'm getting stir crazy! I'm ready to throw these crutches out the window.

Since it's Halloween, and I'm not feeling that great, I thought I'd share one of the scariest posts I've ever done. I first wrote about the REAL Exorcist story back in 2008, with an updated repost in 2012, and it continues to bring visitors to my blog almost every day. I've updated it with some very recent developments. For us here in St. Louis, the story is well known. The supernatural events actually took place here in town.

So give it a read, if you dare.

William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist and the Warner Brother's film from 1973 have etched the term "exorcism" forever within our everyday vocabulary. For most of us, images of a demented Linda Blair spitting pea soup, her head spinning around, and all kinds of spooky scary stuff.

The novel was based on eye witness testimony and a 26 page diary (once thought to be 16 pages). Eye witness testimony includes first hand accounts from Jesuit priests, various professors, family members, friends, hospital workers, and even construction workers.

What exactly happened? What is Blatty's novel based on? Here are the facts in timeline form that have been confirmed by various investigators, and many details have been clarified and corrected:

>The family involved remains anonymous to this day [2015], so we'll call them the Doe Family and the boy that was allegedly possessed we'll refer to him as Rob Doe. The Doe Family was from Cottage City Maryland, not Mt. Rainer, Maryland as previously believed.

>January 1949, strange things began to happen to 13 year-old Rob. He was being scratched and attacked by something unseen. His parents witnessed his blankets flying about on their own, the bed shaking violently.

>Februrary 26, 1949...The Does were Lutheran, so they turned to Rev. Schulze. Rob spent the night in Shulze's room. There, Schulze witnessed paranormal phenomena, such as a rug moving by itself across the room. After taking Rob to the Mental Hygiene Clinic of the University of Maryland, Rev. Schulze recommended the Doe Family consult Father Hughes of St. James Catholic Church in Mount Rainer.

>End of February, 1949...blessed candles would fly across the room, tables moved, and an attempted baptism went wrong. Rob would curse and act violently. They moved him to Georgetown hospital where Father Hughes began an unsuccessful rite of's unclear if it was authorized by the Church.

>Early March...Rob is released from the hospital, and Mrs. Doe decides to go back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She thought maybe the "hauntings" would stop. As soon as they arrive, family members witness various supernatural occurances surrounding Rob.

>March 9, 1949...One of Mrs. Doe's cousins requests the help of her priest professor at St. Louis University, Father Raymond J. Bishop. He sees the scratches on Rob's body, floating objects, and the mattress vibrating on its own.

>March 11, 1949...Father Bishop calls in Father William Bowdern of of St. Francis Xavier Church (at the corner of Grand and Lindell here in St. Louis, pictured left; Fr. Bowdern is pictured right). These two priests and a Jesuit scholar, Walter Halloran, witness the scratches on Rob's abdomen, the bed shaking, Rob speaking to them in Latin and possibly Aramaic, and the 13 year-old boy's violent and strange behavior.

>March 16, 1949...Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter gives Father Bowdern permission to begin the formal rite of exorcism. That night, accompanied by Father Bishop and Walter Halloran, Father Bowdern begin reciting the ritual prayers of exorcism.

>March through April, 1949...Rob's "seizures" become more violent and often is held down by as many as ten people during the exorcism or prayer sessions. He would tear the sheets and even broke Halloran's nose. During this time, Rob is taken back and forth between his relative's house and Alexian Brother's Hospital. Numerous priests, students, and hospital workers witnessed many of the supernatural occurrences in his hospital room .

It was a stressful and scary time. Father Bowdern was known to have lost 40 pounds during the ordeal.

>April 18, 1949...The Final Exorcism...Fr. Bowdern places various religious medals around Rob, and instructs him to hold a crucifix. Rob starts to become possessed, and screams that the medals were becoming hot...soon, he is in full demonic possession and starts hissing and flicking his tongue like a snake.

>The rite continues when suddenly, in a different masculine voice Rob says, "Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!" Rob has one last spasm before falling quiet and witnesses reported hearing a "gunshot sound" throughout the hospital at that moment.

>Rob told the priests of a vision that he had of St. Michael holding a flaming sword, and that the demon was gone.

>Twelve days later he left Missouri and returned to Maryland.

>The story made headlines, and several family members told the story to news reporters. Rob grew up, had a normal life, had three children, and resided somewhere in Maryland. Rob, if still alive, would be 70 years old today. Other than that, we know nothing of Rob [2012].

>Walter Halloran (pictured left) became a priest and often talked about his experience with others. He passed away in 2005

>Fr. Bowdern passed away in 1983. He never publicly talked about his experience. With his report to the Church, he received 41 signatures from those who testified to witnessing paranormal phenomena with this case.

>Following the exorcism, the hospital staff at Alexia avoided the room. The smells and cold air still emanated from under the doorway. No one ever used the room again. The entire wing of the hospital eventually was sealed off, and was demolished.

Before demolition, the crew found a copy of the exorcist's diary, which was given to hospital administrators. The diary was William Blatty's basis his book.

2015 Update: A local radio show who investigated the home where several of the exorcisms took place will be back this year, and this time, they're bringing Discovery Channel's Destination America with them. They will be broadcasting a LIVE investigation.

Monday, October 19, 2015

To NaNo, Or Not To NaNo...

...that is the question.

November is NaNoWriMo month. And for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll just say that NaNoWriMo is a worldwide event for writers to challenge each other to write 50,000 words in the month of November, which comes out to just under 1,700 words a day.

For years, I thought about participating, but I never took the plunge. I finally did in 2012. Amazingly, I surpassed my goal and "won." In 2013, I somehow managed to also win, despite studying for a VERY difficult professional certification exam at the end of the month.

Last year, I got to around 22,000 words and burned out. I struggled, I fought, and I lost. My fellow NaNo'ers in my region remained supportive, and I gave myself a pat on the back for trying.

Honestly, I still haven't recovered from that burn out. Not sure what happened. But I wrote very little after that November of 2014, and my slump continued into 2015. I took some time off of work during the holidays, so I did get back to writing in January. My creative spurt continued into February. But then I had nothing left in the tank.

I really have no explanation for this. I do think a big part of this has been how difficult my personal life struggles have been this year. Battling depression took its toll. I tried to continue my marketing/promoting plans, and that took every ounce of my energy.

Now it's time for NaNoWriMo regional facilitators started a new Facebook page for us, I'm getting emails daily from, and I went onto my online dashboard to look at my past accomplishments. A big part of me wants to give it a try again. Maybe by challenging myself, I can get out of my writing slump.

However, I've decided to sit it out this year. I don't feel like I have enough gas in the tank to win, and I don't think my ego can take another failure. I've decided to focus on another project with my writing partner, take my time, and help stir the creative pot in my head instead this year.

For all of my buddies doing NaNo this year, I wish you nothing but the best. I wish I could be a part of it in 2015, but I know this is for the best.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Attending Cons...A Newbie's Perspective

After writing about my last science fiction/fantasy convention experience last week, it got me thinking about cons in general. This is the second year I've been going to these events as an author. My very first con of any kind was way back in 1984, and it was a big Doctor Who convention. Despite that, I don't consider myself a convention veteran, but after two years of sitting on the other side of the table, I've learned a few things.

1) Many vendors leave out bowls of candy as an incentive for visitors to stop by. This year, I took a mental count of attendees who took my candy before saying a word to me, and every single person never even looked at any of my books. Not one. They just sauntered over, grabbed some candy, and took off. So the candy stops now!

2) Cosplay continues to be the main attraction at these cons. As a vendor, if you dress up, I guarantee you will get more people stopping by, which means more sales. I put on the Captain Nemo outfit, and I got stopped a bunch of times for a photograph just walking to get some water.

3) Since cosplay is the big thing, the weird thing is, comics are NOT the main attraction at these so-called-comic-cons. Baaaack in the day, comics were the main draw. Not anymore. Other forms of entertainment take the main stage. Even just regular books have taken a back seat.

4) So much diversity. I saw tons of families, people of various ethnicities, and the LGBT group was well represented. This is one of my favorite things about cons.

5) It helps to have help. Unless you have an iron bladder, you will have to pee. And maybe eat. So having someone to run your table is a HUGE deal. Make sure your backup knows all about your books and stuff too.

6) Sexy cosplay is a big thing too, but if your butt is hanging out of your skirt, the con staff will stop you and make you either change or cover up. This happened right in front of me. A girl was telling me about her favorite books, and a staffer stood next to her, patiently waiting. When they turned around, I understood right away what the problem was. Yikes!

7) All the awesome geekiness inside the vendor's hall is like walking into Willy  Wonka's factory. But WHOA, what's going on these days? Can you say MARK UP? Dealers are making up their merchandise like never before, which makes me think that their costs have gone up too.

8) Speaking of costs, how do any of us artists keep going to cons? Seriously. Maybe 8 out 10 actually covered their expenses. Thats' really sad. The cost of just getting a table in artists' alley or in the vendor hall also seems to be going up, and people are buying more of the collectibles, toys, and other high ticket items these days

9) Beeeee yourself. I think so many con-goers love going to these events because they get to be themselves out in public. No judging, no bullying...and you're surrounded by like-minded people. It's a great atmosphere.

10) Did I mention not to bring candy in the hopes of luring people to your table???

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG for October 2015

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Last weekend, I attended St. Louis' longest running science fiction/fantasy convention, Archon. In its 39th year, attendance looked pretty strong, and the vendors hall was busy. In 2014, I shared a table with another publisher, and we sold close to a 100 books together.

It was my most awesomest event EVER.

So this year, I got my own table next to my publisher buddy, and I brought plenty of stock. On Friday, I nearly tripled my sales compared to last year's Friday. Saturday is the big day, and I was incredibly excited to, at the very least, match last year's Saturday sales.

At the end of Saturday, I wasn't even close to my goal.
The Dad REALLY looked like Agent Coulson!

Sunday was dead last year, and I was fortunate to have some people who said they'd be back to buy my books actually come back. In the end, my sales were down more than 20%. Not horrible, but my costs this year doubled.

I don't do this to make tons of money. I do it because I love it. At the same time, self publishing the very best, most professional book costs a lot. I rely on sales to help fund and offset the tremendous costs involved with putting out a quality product.

Once again, I find myself all full of doubts and wondering if this is the best use of my resources (mostly my time). I hope you're all not sick of my rollercoaster ride of emotions and insecurities. It seems after each event or con, I'm either flying high or feel low. This year, I don't think I hit any real highs at any events.

I have mixed emotions right now, and I'm planning for next year. I'm trying to figure out if the cost of going further away to new venues - and then having to pay for hotel stays - is even worth it. Going to these cons and shows are so much fun, and I love meeting new people. But I'm not meeting my financial goals to pay for my very expensive hobby.