Halloween Funeral? Oh Yes She Did!

The beginning of The Devil Has Dimples starts with a funeral on Halloween night.

“Mackie, you ever been to a funeral on Halloween?”

He thought for a moment, most likely turning the decades over in his mind searching for an answer.

“Nope.  This is the first night funeral I’ve ever been at.  Makes me think it might be a good idea when my time comes.”

“Never for me either, although I did attend a Halloween wedding once.  It was a bit over the top,” said Grant.

Maudie’s casket was perched on a roller parked next to the grave hole.

“Her casket looks like it cost a handsome dollar,” I said.

Mackie nodded.  “They should have given her a kid’s coffin, since she was so small.  If’n I die in the next ten minutes, stuff me in there with her.  There’s more than enough room.”

Grant chuckled.  “I don’t think your wife would like that, Mackie.”

Mackie shook his head, “You’re most likely right.  Maybe I can get us a double wide and we can sleep together ‘til the end of time.  That would jolt her.”

Grant and I couldn’t help but laugh, the visual alone was hilarious.

We watched as kids, busy munching on treats, and bobbing for apples, threw apple cores and candy wrappers all over the ground.

The more serious-minded adults brought lawn chairs and ice chests to get a head start on the beer bust.

When the time for the service arrived, everyone lit their candles.  I have to tell you that was a show.  The candlelight sure was pretty.  Some of the kids had their candles in hollowed-out pumpkins, so there were orange and white lights all over the place.  It was dark enough that you couldn’t see the empty candy wrappers anymore.  A few placed candles on the built-up burial sites, making the area rather festive, even for a graveyard.

Silas managed to burn his snout almost off with his candle.  Bitsy threw a bucket of apples and water over him and his cronies and managed to put that fire out quite nicely.

Reverend Benny Gagnard stood at the head of the casket.  Drawing his fist up to his mouth, he coughed to clear his throat, then said in his loud, hearty sermon voice, “She’s dead.  Thank you, Lord.”

Mackie turned to me.  “That was the shortest eulogy I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “He must be still ticked off ‘cause of Maudie telling his wife about his indiscretion with the choir leader.”

Mackie nodded.  “Just goes to show you.  What goes around, comes around.”

Then the choir led out the song.  Angie Tassin, the choir leader and Maudie’s arch-enemy, raised a little triangle and whacked it twice.  The choir, all Angie’s friends, began to sing, “Ding dong, the witch is dead, the wicked, wicked witch is dead.”  Angie finally got her revenge.  They continued the song while the rest of us hooted, hollered, and laughed so hard, tears rolled down our faces.  Silas fell out of his lawn chair and lost what was left of his burned snout, but didn’t spill a drop of beer.

The only person who seemed to take everything serious was Sedge.  He was dressed up in a new black suit complete with the label still on the sleeve, a hat in his hand and even carried a bunch of yellow flowers he’d picked that grow wild along the roadside during this time of year.

Mackie said, “I’ve never known Sedge to dress in a suit.  Didn’t even know that he had one.”

“Maybe he’s in costume.”  I replied.

“As what?  A funeral director?”  Grant asked.

“He could be a mourner, what with the flowers and all.  He and Maudie have been friends for a quarter of a century.”

Sedge placed his hand on the casket and started to cry.

The three of us stood there, uncomfortable, not knowing what to do.

Someone dressed up in a witch’s costume walked over to him and patted him on the back, giving him what comfort she could and handed him a handkerchief. He was so overcome with grief that he almost toppled into the grave.

Finally, the singing stopped, and while everyone wiped tears and smirks off their faces, the casket was lowered, and old Sedge dropped his bouquet on top.

Then Silas threw in Bitsy’s candle and that started a candle throwing frenzy.  Needless to say, there was a really big blaze going in no time.

The grave diggers got hopping and shoveled dirt in fast.  Eventually the blaze was buried and so was Maudie.

The town’s sure going to miss that old gal.  She sure knew how to enjoy life, and her death wasn’t so bad either.

Then came the biggest surprise of all.

The next day, the daughter no one knew existed showed up in Boggy Bayou.


You can read reviews and other tomfoolery, such as where to purchase this amazing piece of work here.

Pepper is in the process of proofing the softcover edition, which should be available in the next few weeks…she’s old, so she’s slow.


Pepper Phillips – Breast Cancer Survivor

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It’s a reminder to schedule your breast exam.  What are you waiting for?

One out of every eight women will have breast cancer.


I was lucky, from a ‘nothing’ one year to Stage Three the next.  During the chemo and radiation I found out that a writing friend died from breast cancer.  I thought at the time, if only she had yearly breast exams…

This past week I attended a local Breast Cancer Ladies Night Out event.

There were over twelve hundred women in attendance.  1200!!!  This picture doesn’t show the whole room, and ladies are still milling around.  During the event, the place was packed and about three hundred women were unable to get tickets at all.

During the event, door prizes were drawn, and there was a special drawing for those who purchased tickets for…a pink golf cart.

I don’t play golf, but the golf cart was too cute to pass up, so I bought tickets.  The lady who donated the golf cart from her family business is one of those tiny, gracious, Southern women, who is all heart and kindness.  Here is a picture of her and her daughter.


I said she was tiny…her daughter was wearing tennis shoes, and mom…well, she was wearing these.


You have got to love a woman who would wear shoes like this and stand on a chair because I wanted a picture of them!

The event was long, about three hours, with over two hundred door prizes from local merchants.

A fashion show with breast cancer survivors as models.  One lady came out in a bright pink wig, which she took off to show her baldness.  The applause for her quirky sense of humor was deafening.

As I sat there, I thought, there will be around a hundred women in this audience who will develop breast cancer.  I wondered how many would die because they wouldn’t take the time to have a breast exam.

Schedule yours today…



Halloween: Treat no Trick

what to do:
1) Visit each author’s website and collect the Witch’s Brew ingredients. Enter the Witch’s Brew Drawing (form below) and list each author’s featured book (aka “ingredient”). All authors are contributing goodies for the Witch’s Brew Basket! Contest ends on Halloween at midnight. Winner will be randomly selected from entries and winner will be notified on Thursday, November lst. Good Luck!!

Visit my Website: Witches Brew ingredient: Find the title of my newest book. http://monarisk.com

2) “LIKE” each authors FACEBOOK page to be eligible for “treat” from each author whose page you visit and “Like.” Look for the Halloween contest tab to enter. Prize varies from author to author. All contests end on Halloween at midnight, October 31st. Winners will be notified via e-mail on Thursday, November 1st. Happy Halloween!

“Like” my Facebook Page:: “Like” my page between Oct. 28 – 31 to be eligible for a prize. Winner chosen randomly. Winner notified on November 1st by e-mail. http://www.facebook.com/MonaRisk?ref=tn_tnmn

All contests end at midngiht on Halloween, October 31st.

Neighbors and More is a romantic suspense, and the first book of the High Rise Series.

High Rises are like large families where members face love, hate, meddling, and gossiping. When the neighbor who was harassing her is found dead in the Jacuzzi, Alexa is a prime suspect.

Can she count on her dear neighbors, including the delectable Italian, Dante, for help? With too many skeletons in their closets, would they save her or incriminate her?

Kicking it Into High Gear

This week I received the sweetest email from a reader. She loved my first novel,

A Smoky Mountain Christmas!

Image She wanted to know if there would be a sequel, and if one of the minor characters would tell his story. I’d been kicking around a sequel that involved Tom, the father of Evan for a while. Caught in a bank fraud, Tom can’t prove his innocence. He meets Hank and Tina and decides they would be great parents for his son while he’s incarcerated and his wife has terminal cancer. I think Tom has a wonderful, fulfilling story to add to a sequel.

Since my mom came to live with us, writing time is almost slashed to zero. But…after I read the lady’s email, I felt that old tingle in my fingers and love of the next story stir my soul. So, I’m planning on making time to write again.

With Christmas around the corner, there’s no better time to grab my computer and put forth all the effort I can muster and get it done. Don’t you love that sometimes it takes a stranger to kick you into gear and do what you know what has to be done? We never know what strikes a cord with us and brings us to reckon with how we arrange our writing time.

So…Kathy Lee, if you’re reading this blog, you have my heartfelt thanks!

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can also find links on my website, here. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

Halloween Nostalgia, circa 1963 by Stephanie Queen

SQ and friends in the Halloween glory days of 1963

Halloween was the perfect holiday in the Camelot world of 1963, when I was 8 years old and living in the quintessential Mad Men-style suburb on Long Island, New York. I was an innocent in innocent times. I scoffed at the big adult-only worry–the razor-blade-in-the-apple scare.  All of us kids from the block believed the razor blade apples were a myth made up by dentists to encourage more candy eating. As if we needed encouraging. Like I told my mother, “No worries. No self-respecting trick-or-treater would eat an apple on Halloween with all that candy waiting to be gorged,” or some appropriate 8-year-old words to that effect.

Of course my mother was a worrier by nature so she forbade us to eat apples (ironic isn’t it. Those dentists were clever) and told us to only eat the store-bought wrapped candy.

Obeying the edict to eat candy

We solemnly promised to obey.

Not even the mandate that we must trick-or-treat during daylight hours to avoid the dangers of the dark could mar the pure joy of the day. Dressed-up in overdone make-up and a cheap shiny dress (no this wasn’t last week—see the pictures),

Award winning costumes of the day

carrying a bag of candy, I paraded around the neighborhood with my midget gang of wild dressers to demand more candy, ringing doorbells at all the mysterious doors that we’d wondered about. We hurried from door to door driven by the goal to get the most candy possible within our mom-imposed time limit in the waning sun of the crisp fall afternoon.

I remember the rustle of leaves, the sharp cool autumn air and realizing there were a lot of houses packed in on the short block of our suburban piece of Camelot. That was a good thing then. Maybe it still is. In spite of the ensuing suburban sprawl, isolation of acreage and mini-van chauffeured trick-or-treaters, Halloween to this day, brings to mind that Camelot innocence of my youth. And a sudden urge for GoodNPlentys.

The Thowbacks, as the title suggests, was written with a tip of the hat to the seemingly innocent and carefree attitude of the old days.  These days, I’ll honor the rite of Halloween with a candy bar break in my writerly routine and I’ll sit at my computer wearing my crown. I might even add the rustle of autumn leaves to the pages of my story…

Sniffing Out Book Bargains by Joan Reeves

I want YOU to buy a book by Joan Reeves!

Are you a book shopper? I am. I like to find bargain books, but sometimes, these bargains can smell a bit funky.

This past week I indulged in some retail therapy at my favorite bargain spots –  TJ Maxx for some low-cost designer duds to freshen up my fall wardrobe, Home Goods for some early Christmas decorations as well as shopping for a small accent table for my weekend house, and a used book store I frequent.

I saved the little used book store situated between both of the big stores for my last stop. I never shop that street without stopping by this bookstore to see what bargains I might find. I don’t think I ever go into the bookshop without buying at least one book. Their inventory consists of a motley assortment of books from old category paperbacks of every genre to current bestsellers and hardbacks.

I’m interested in the old books. Some series books are out of print and can be found cheaper in used book stores than at used book sites online. Also, I find it interesting to buy some of an old category romance, for instance, an old Harlequin by Erin St. Clair aka Sandra Brown and read it and see how very good she was from the beginning.

Downside of Bargain Books

Unfortunately, bargain books can sometimes be, well, smelly. If they smell like stale cigarette smoke, I pass them by. Nothing gets that smell out of a book. However, if the book has the common stale musty odor, I know the trick to eradicating that nasty smell. It’s simple and economical too.

How To Remove The Smell From Books

1. Get baking soda or cornstarch.

2. Sprinkle either cornstarch or baking soda on the pages of the book.

3. Place the book in a Ziplok bag and seal it.

4. Leave it sealed up in the plastic bag for a week.

5. Remove it from the bag, shake the powder out, and the book should smell normal.

One Warning

Do NOT use baking soda on antique books because it might harm old paper. Also, do NOT use this treatment on damp books. They must be completely dry.

Post Script

A bargain book is only a bargain if it pleases all the senses. Happy bargain book hunting!

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers. They are also available as audio books at Audible.com and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or JoanReeves.com.)

Character Assassination: Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher.


Does anyone else feel betrayed when the main characters on a book cover in no way match the characters in the book? I do and it’s such a glaring flaw for me that it takes something away from the enjoyment of the story. And that’s a small, albeit grating, issue.

Casting someone in a movie who is so wholly out of place in the role of a character I love to read is an all together different kettle of fish. Stinky fish. Stinky bottom feeding fish. AARRGGHH.


I’ve read every Reacher novel, most of them more than once. (If you haven’t dipped your toe into Lee Child’s Reacher series, Bad Luck and Trouble is a great read.) I will NOT see One Shot with Tom Cruise as Reacher. That’s like having Woody Allen direct The Shining; so blatantly wrong, it just becomes farcical.

Character should matter to a story-teller no matter what expression the story takes, in this instance a movie. Reacher is 6′ 5″, anywhere between 210 and 250 lbs, rugged and blond. Every story has his physical description as an element of who he is. Often, Reacher can’t buy clothes that fit, and this is a problem since the only item Reacher carries with him as he wanders the country saving the day is a portable, folding tooth-brush. Always, always, always, Reacher uses his extreme physicality to annihilate one or more bad guys at a time. He is aware of his size all the time. Taking that away from Reacher indelibly changes his character.

Dolph Lundgren, the  wonderful actor Ray Stevenson, Liam Neeson, heck, even some-what shorter Sean Bean, would all have been better choices. On Lee Child’s FB page this morning there were 949 comments commenting on the new book cover featuring Tom Cruise. Almost without exception fans of the books are disappointed to such an extent, not only will they not see the movie, some won’t buy any more Reacher books. I will. I love Reacher. What I won’t do is have the magic die by watching Tom Cruise mutilate a character I like to spend time with.


Perhaps Mr. Child genuinely likes this choice, but I doubt it. Thoughts?

Thankful — by Susan R. Hughes

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. I was woken that morning by three little girls crawling into bed with me, and for a warm and fuzzy moment I thought: This is what I’m truly thankful for. Then they started shoving, fighting and demanding breakfast.

I’ve almost forgotten what life was like for me and my husband before our girls came along. But I will never forget the crushing disappointment of learning that conceiving a child was going to be a struggle for us. We went through four long years of yearning and wondering if we’d ever have a family. Babies seemed to be popping up all around us, and my heart ached whenever I held someone else’s newborn. As each holiday passed, I imagined how much more meaningful (and fun) the day would be with little ones bringing their innocent sense of wonder and exuberance to the occasion.

Thanks to the miracle of fertility technology, our home is now overrun with children (an 8-year-old and 3-year-old twins), and I’ve discovered that no matter how long you waited and how desperately you wanted kids, raising them is hard work, fraught with stress and self-doubt. With young ones the rewards are the little things: giggly wet kisses waking you up in the morning, and warm little bodies wrapped against you with absolute trust and love. Even if it lasts for only a moment.

You try your best, knowing you will make mistakes but hoping none of them are major—and having faith that someday your kids will look back on their childhoods and feel thankful for the parents that raised them.

Baseball and Books — Jill James

Wednesday night I was at the Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics baseball game. O…M…G!! We (Oakland) were down 3 to 1 bottom of the 9th. We had 4 hits in the whole game then we had 4 hits in the bottom of the 9th and won the game!!

Everyone was excited to be at the game, but as Detroit started scoring all seemed lost. 2 to 1 seemed reachable, then it was 3 to 1 and it seemed a miracle was in order to pull it off. The hits just were not happening for our guys, and then…

Have you ever read the expression “…and the crowd erupted.” That was Wednesday night. They had been jacked up all night but once those hits started coming it was bedlam. That the crowd roared was an understatement. You couldn’t hear the person next to you yelling. The roar of the collective crowd was like an undertow of sound. It vibrated off the concrete. The stadium seemed like it was literally rocking. You would high-five the person next to you and you couldn’t hear the slap of your hand. The waving of the rally towels caused an actual breeze in the still, cold air. The noise was tangible when it bounced off your body.

Being an author is the same thing. The summer slump hits or just a slump period and it seems like you will never sell another book. Seems like it is the bottom of the 9th inning and you are behind the other blockbuster teams and not getting the hits you need or want.

Just remember, it’s not over until you say it’s over. Tomorrow is another day to sell. Next month or next quarter is another chance to put out another book. Each game, each book is a chance to be #1. Everyone starts with just one sale. Everyone has the chance and opportunity to sell a million. To make that hit. To win the game.

Jill James, author of Tempting Adam, the Lake Willowbee series, and Dangerous Shift.

Fall Means Cooler Days,Longer Nights…and more Writing!

Fall is definitely in the air in East Texas. Cool nights and mornings, warm but comfortable days. A nice change from the nearly 50 days of above 100 degree temperatures.  And the State Fair of Texas is in full swing.Image

Fall for me means getting down to serious writing. During the summer, we’re usually busy working around our 5 acre place, swimming at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, having the grandkids here for a visit. This summer I also had my mom here for 5 weeks, which meant little writing got done, though I did finish Chemical Attraction and got it uploaded. And then it was time to do a full-on cleaning of the house I’d neglected while I was writing.

All the kids, my mom, my grandkids, my daughter-in-law, and my youngest son’s girlfriend came in two weeks ago for a family wedding and a trip to the Texas State Fair. I’m one of those people who do only what’s required most of the year and then clean like crazy when company’s coming. For the past month, that’s pretty much all I’ve done. Too tired at the end of the day to stay up, the writing got pushed aside.

Though having all my kids home at the same time for the first time in nearly ten years was worth it, I felt guilty about letting my fans down. I’d fully intended to have The Bluest Eyes in Texas, book three of the Lone Star Cowboys series, up on Amazon by October 15th. Not going to happen. Which means my Christmas novella won’t make it by November 15th either.

But you know what? I’m okay with that. My family has to come first. Having my book out a month or two later than I’d planned isn’t the end of the world. I know authors who are dealing with much worse than housework in their lives and having to put off their book’s release. I think readers understand. They’re moms and wives too, so they know things happen to even the best laid plans.

What about you? Have you had to postpone a book release or had plans disrupted by something you can’t really control? How did you deal with it? Did it really matter in the overall scheme of things?

I’m looking forward to the shorter days of winter, because my muse doesn’t come out until after dark. Now that means I can start writing by seven pm instead of 10 pm, and I always write more when I’m not distracted by the sunshine, warm temperatures, and outside activities beckoning. So I need to get back to it…