After Halloween — The Hauntings Continue

I’m relaxing this week and for good reason. Another successful presentation of Haunted Holidays Readings at Brazos Bookstore has come and gone. If you missed it you have two options. You can go to

and watch the enjoyable event on WiVLA’s YouTube channel. Also, you can start writing more spooky stories in preparation for next year.

I must take this opportunity to thank Brazos Bookstore and especially, Amy, who helped to coordinate this evening. Also, when you watch the presentation on YouTube, please know that Melody Locke is our wonderful and official film crew.

As you can see the skeletons who participated this year are quite tired and taking a bit of a rest. You might notice that this year Barbie was able to join in the fun. This was in addition to all of the other spooky guests. Once again this year, my good friend, Jim, served as the Chief roadie and skeleton wrangler. He made sure all skeletons made it to the event on time and then landed back home safely. I think we only lost one sock in the process. Also, Sabina Gartler (Sister WiVLA Member) helped with additional decorations. Finally, thanks to all of the wonderful members of WiVLA and the Houston Writers Guild for joining in with their creative talents. It takes a village to pull off a well organized Haunting. Much gratitude to everyone.

Of course, there will not be a lot of time for rest. There are other holidays to consider, but for me and my skeletons, the stress level goes way down. This fine fellow volunteered to be our official Turkey Day mascot. My official Thanksgiving plans include going to Govinda’s for a vegetarian Holiday dinner with all the trimmings. Yes, I actually like Tofu Turkey!!! I will bring enough home to share with my skeleton crew. It’s the least I can do.

So as of now, I have completed all of my public readings for the year. I will keep you up to date with all of the antics me, my crew and my friends get into over the rest of the holidays.

And of course, I have plenty of time to write. I have both short stories and the Great American Novel that I continue to work on. A writer’s work is never done and skeletons can try to scare you all year round! BOO!!!

Until next time.….…..

Like a Frog in a Boiling Pot…or Whatever That Saying Is

It’s been another crazy few weeks! Long story short, I’m moving again (fifth time since 2019!) and very unexpectedly. It’s definitely the right choice and I’m looking forward to it, but I am exhausted. In the span of under a month, I’ve had

I’ve been watching a LOT of New Girl while I pack. It makes me feel a little less like a disaster.

to make the choice to move when I wasn’t planning to do so for another year at least, and get all my belongings packed and ready to go.

It’s a lot.

I was talking about it with my mom earlier and I observed that it seems to be a common theme in my life that as soon as I’m finally comfortable in a situation, something unexpected happens that shakes everything up and 

That’s called a hypnic jerk btw! Scientists still aren’t sure why they happen but they do majorly suck.

forces me in an entirely new direction, whether I like it or not. It feels kind of like when you’re about to fall asleep and your body does that involuntary jerk that wakes you right back up.

This isn’t a complaint though. Honestly I’m grateful, because it’s always with situations that were objectively wrong for me. Things I know aren’t right and don’t fit with my life path, but eventually I make a conscious choice to accept it regardless, generally because it’s the safe and easier choice. 

And almost like clockwork, within weeks of finally making peace with the safe choice and resolving to stick it out, the ground falls away, I trip on a curb, a giant explosion happens, and I’m involuntarily jerked awake.

Suddenly fired from the soul-sucking receptionist job by the attorney who used to scream at her clients’ families, dumped by the girlfriend I’d later come to understand was terribly emotionally abusive; all situations that I did not belong in but I was already there and they were familiar and didn’t require taking any scary leaps, so I probably never would have left of my own accord. Or at least until conditions were absolutely perfect and I knew with absolute certainty that I was making the right move.

It didn’t matter if the house was on fire, I wasn’t leaving until I knew the weather outside was perfect.

I don’t have an explanation for the uncanniness of it all, although I do like to imagine that there’s a spirit guide or some higher power rolling their eyes behind me and going, “Fine. If you won’t choose to take the risk, you just don’t get to make a choice at all.”

It’s like I’m playing a game of chess against the Universe, and I’ve been safely moving my pawns forward one-by-one to create a safe border protecting my more powerful pieces, which is physically keeping my king safe but also blocking me from making any big game-changing moves. And then the second I have all my little pawns back in a row, the Universe’s queen surges forward and knocks out the one right in front of my king, immediately exposing him and putting him in serious jeopardy if he doesn’t get the heck out of there.

It looks intense at this angle, but these pawns are actually completely stuck and useless in this position. It’s literally impossible for either of them to move without somebody making a sacrifice.

So I do what I have to do, and get him the heck out of there, and start playing the game with a backbone, and eventually it turns out that was exactly what I needed to win all along.

Now I don’t know if any of that is actually good chess strategy (although I skimmed a chess forum and it sounds like I’m at least kind of right), but I do know that as much as losing that pawn and being forced to make an immediate decision was startling and felt chaotic in the moment, ultimately I’m so thankful every time for that shove into action. 

It’s always terrifying, but it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

So I’m excited to see where it takes me this time.

Keeping Promises, Breaking Promises

I retired several years ago and at that time, I made a promise to myself. The job I had for 25 years involved a lot of driving. I drove to see clients, I drove to meetings, and then I drove to some more meetings. During that time, I developed a distinct dislike for driving in the rain. You know the situation. I would find myself behind the wheel of my car, the rain was pouring down and visibility stretched for an entire 5 feet or so. Maybe there was thunder and lighting, but that did not bother me. It was the pounding rain causing ponding on the roadways and oftentimes flooding. I knew it was time to retire the day I drove to work during an actual tropical storm. Gratefully, I survived to tell the tale and swore I would never drive in the rain again.…..never.….…ever.….ever.

So it came as a shock to me the other day when I found myself driving along I‑10 on my way to Highway 6. For those of you not familiar with Houston geography, it felt like I was driving from the Grand Canyon all the way to California. Well, it felt that long to me and then I had to drive back home. I went to a place called Crown Trophy. The Authorpalooza conference is happening this weekend. Friday night is the Journey Into Art Anthology launch and I had the First, Second and Third place medals for the winners of the writing contest. This was a very nice company to work with and I highly recommend them for all of your medal and statue needs. But must they locate themselves so far away from where I live? Not very neighborly of them. But at least I have fulfilled my obligation for this weekend.

As soon as I got home, I sat down with some of my skeleton friends. Now that the temperatures are actually cooling down, they prefer to sit outside and study their books. I think they also go for walks at night or so they tell me. Luckily they are in a spot where they are protected from the rain.

Now of course the two friends who are not necessarily protected by the rain are Mr. Gargoyle and his friend, Skelly. One day I asked them why they chose their current spot and Mr. Gargoyle said that it was the spot where he could best protect my home. Since he feels like this is his primary function, I decided he could stay there. He assured me a little rain wouldn’t hurt him. Also his friend, Skelly, knows how to hold on real tight in case the wind starts blowing. I feel very safe knowing that these critters are in charge of the safety of my home. Of course, when I leave and go somewhere else (like Highway 6), I am pretty much on my own. That’s why I stay close to home.

But I will attend Authorpalooza this weekend! It is much closer to me than Crown Trophy. Thanks to the Houston Writers Guild for pulling this wonderful weekend together!

Until next time.….….


I’d like to wish you a Happy Autumnal Equinox!  For those of you who are not familiar with celestial terms, then I will wish you a Happy First Day of Fall. According to many pictures on Social Media and television commercials we can now expect colorful leaves, the nip of coolness in the air and Pumpkin Spice everywhere we go. What difference does this make in Southeast Texas? Apparently, not a damn thing. As I write this, it is 97 degrees outside with lots of humidity. The only real sign I have of the arrival of fall, is the appearance of the Spirit Halloween Store! I was there this morning and purchased another skeleton, because obviously seven are just not enough.

I have enjoyed sweating through the early stages of decorating my home. Of course it is always decorated on the inside, but this time of year is when I let all my neighbors know for sure what kind of neighbor they have. The best comment I have gotten so far is that folks are happy that I am finding enough chairs for all of the skeletons and witches to sit down. Yet, please understand, I am only getting started. I have plans. Lots of plans. There will be bats added into the mix this year and even a gargoyle. I like to start out small so as not to scare the villagers too quickly; however, once October 1st arrives everything is fair game.

I have extra space to decorate this year and I plan to cover every inch possible. I even have extra doors, so I don’t have to decide which wreath to use. I just have to make sure that I follow current fire regulations by keeping walkways clear. Now that’s a funny thought, because the ghosts already know to get out of the way whenever there is a fire or medical emergency. Even the goblins have that basic knowledge. Humans are so weird sometimes with their various rules and regulations as if they are in charge of things.

The only thing left for me to do, in addition to decorating, is to write haunted, scary stories. All of my standard characters show up during the fall. Willow, the Grim Reaper, is already present and accounted for, and I’ve lost track of all the ghosts and goblins who are showing up to get a good spot in the next plot.

After presenting AuthorPalooza in early October, the Houston Writers Guild and Women in the Visual and Literary Arts will once again join literary forces for a night of Haunted Holidays stories at Brazos Bookstore. All of the original stories, essays and poetry are written by members of those two illustrious organizations. I hope you will join us for the fun and frolic!!!

Until next time.….…..

Holidays in Confusion

Lately the Gulf of Mexico reminds me of a witch’s cauldron. As I watched the news coverage of Hurricane Idalia this week, I could just see the waters getting churned up. Then late at night when I listened very carefully, I could hear the faint strains of Shakespeare’s witches as they chanted: Double, double. Toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. As I reflected on this I realized that there were forces on the loose in the Gulf that were indeed doubling our toil and trouble. Then I realized that not only is climate change messing with our weather, but it is also causing much confusion with our holidays.

Every year around this time, I pay close attention during my shopping trips, looking for my first sighting of Halloween decorations. Of course, I would always purchase something to add to my already busy collection. My personal rule is that once Halloween decorations hit the store shelves, then summer is all but over, and it is time to decorate with my favorite witches and skeletons. This usually happens around the month of September.

I had my annual first sighting this year, but it happened in July. It was over 100 degrees outside. Yes, I made my first yearly Halloween purchase, but something felt off. I sweated entirely too much taking my new purchase out to my car and then when I arrived at home, it was too hot to start decorating outside. I know that last statement to be a fact, because I tried it and it didn’t work.

Now it is the last of August and turning into September. The situation gets worse. The last time I went shopping, I not only found more Halloween decorations (which I didn’t mind, because I can always use more!) I also found a display of Christmas decorations. Please let me repeat this, because this is newsworthy and worth repeating. In AUGUST, stores were displaying both Halloween and Christmas decorations right next to each other. It wasn’t like one holiday was over and items were marked half off. No, this was more like Santa’s sleigh was going to be pulled by both reindeer and goblins! Santa’s elves will walk around in the dark and try to scare children while skeletons will help to create exciting toys for the good little girls and boys.

The holidays are now all higgledy-piggledy. Can I blame this on climate change? There seems to be a direct correlation here. Maybe if I contact Neil deGrasse Tyson he can explain this with better scientific reasoning. I’ll let you know what he says. In the meantime, please only purchase Halloween supplies in September and Christmas decorations in November. A little decorum if you please.

The Return of the Creative Drive

As I’m sure most people can relate to in a post-pandemic world, I’ve been in a pretty big creative slump lately. I was tired, stressed, struggling with mental health, and my brain simply would not produce whatever juices it needed to in order to get me up and moving and start doing things for myself again.

I’ve been productive when it came to work and that sort of thing, but I had let creative hobbies fall to the side for a while because I simply couldn’t muster up the motivation.

I’m not sure if it’s that my meds are finally working, or that I have a day job that genuinely brings me joy now, (probably a combination of the two), but I am excited to say that I think I’ve busted out of that slump and am back to being excited about engaging in hobbies and creative projects just for

The gift project in question. Can you tell that we share a mutual love of DnD?


I’d say the official slump-buster was a gift I decided to make for a friend’s birthday recently. I realize that sounds like it’s for someone else but I promise, making stuff for people is just as much a gift for myself because it gives me something fun to do. 

Not only was it a big ol’ project to take on, but I taught myself new skills and learned how to design the pattern myself, and could feel myself excited about working on an art project again and getting my hands busy.

A peek at the design. Isn’t she lovely?

From there, I finally completed some projects I had put on the back burner for months (which, of course, only fed the stress cycle by having something unfinished hanging over my head), and I’m already planning about 10 other ideas.

I can’t say if it’ll last, but I can say that I plan to enjoy the ride and the fullness I feel from getting back to something that has brought me peace and joy throughout so much of my life. 

Applause, Applause and More Applause!

Think back to your childhood. Do you remember how excited everyone around you got when you said your first word or took your first tedious steps? People around us would clap and tell us how wonderful we were. Then we all started going to school and the competition got a bit stiffer and there were always more people who wanted to compete against you. As we all got older, the competitions became harder. There was still applause and adulation for the winners, but the ratio of winner to not-winner shrank it seemed every year. Then you finally finished with school and most of us entered the work world and the cycle of achievement and adulation started up once again and yes, the number and talent of competitors increased.

Once I retired from the work-a-day world, I knew that my achievement based applause would decline. But sometimes I think we could acknowledge Seniors for the accomplishments that are made. For instance I am now getting a C‑Pap machine. I didn’t have to go in anywhere to get my face measured, because technology digitized my face on my phone. I sure hope I held my face correctly. The digitizer would give me instructions on how to set my face, but since I could not wear my glasses during this bit of technological wonder, I often couldn’t read the instructions.

I’ll find out next week how all of this is going to work. I will attend a group seminar to get introduced to my C‑Pap machine and then I MUST use it that first night to keep insurance companies from getting mad at me. Not only am I not receiving any recognition for achieving this life milestone, I might make anonymous insurance bureaucrats angry at me in the process.

In the middle of all this, I realize that I am now going to make strange noises while I sleep and I might look like an alien. I guess you could say that my snoring was also noisy, but at least that was an organic noise. This is more of there’s a monster in my bed sounding like Darth Vader or something. I have attempted to prepare my elderly cat for this adjustment to our sleep environment. To date, she is not too excited about the whole new arrangement. So far she has responded by sticking her tongue out at me and shedding extra fluffy white hair on my black bed sheets and comforter. I’ll keep you posted on how this progresses.

When I’m not looking for more alien devices to attach to my face, I have been settling into my new apartment. I have one long wall that I am converting into the likes of a French Salon. Pictures will be hung as they fit rather than by topic or color. It helps to receive Hannah’s input and opinion on some of the tough decisions that must be made. Several of the pieces are works completed by other artists. Some are my own creations. I love the “hodge-podgieness” of the whole experience. Yes, of course I will send you pictures when all is done. And yes, skulls and witches alike are given equal amounts of space.

Birthdays and Opening Nights!

It’s been a BUSY few weeks over here in Rachel Land. Last week, after months of rehearsal and hard work, we finally opened The Music Man at Art Park Players! It feels like it’s been a very long journey, but also like the time flew by in seconds. Community theatre is such a funny thing, because we’re working so hard to get a show off the ground, but we also have our own personal lives

My main costume! I love an excuse to play dress-up as an adult. Don’t mind the nose ring, I removed it before opening night.

to attend to during the day. It’s rewarding, and we give our free time to rehearsals and performances because we love it, but it makes for a lot of late nights and pulling out laptops to catch up on work between scenes. Personally, you can find me in full costume, wig, and makeup, trying to fit in a few chapters of the novel I’m editing in the brief break I get between “Pick a Little, Talk a Little” and “Wells Fargo Wagon”.

It’s something I’ve been doing for years, so I’ve definitely got it down to a science, but you do learn very quickly how to still find moments of peace and solitude for yourself in the midst of going to work, running straight to rehearsal after, somehow finding time to eat in all that, and then going home to sleep, and doing it all again the next day. In school, I would just

Costume #2! I think this one might be my favorite.

stay up way too late in the evenings so I could have some time to myself and just be incredibly tired the next day.

Now…well, I still do that, but I have a work schedule that allows me to wake up late, so it’s fine. I’ve also learned to be intentional about finding podcasts or music to listen to while I’m driving between work, home, and the theatre. Things that make me happy, that I don’t otherwise have time to listen to. I make sure to have food ready for myself at home that I’m excited to come home and eat, and pick out a show that I’m excited to come home and watch. When you’re super busy, it’s all about finding those pockets of time during the day where you can still fit in joyful moments for yourself.

In other news, I had a birthday! I got to celebrate the same day we opened our

I don’t have any birthday pics so take this one of Costume #3. I lied, this one might be my favorite. They’re just all so fun! This is one of my favorite wigs I’ve ever worn too.

show, which I had been joking all week was perfect, and that more of my birthdays should involve a room of people applauding for me. In all seriousness though, I am incredibly lucky to get to ring in another year surrounded by my friends, doing what I love. I don’t know what this year holds for me, but I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

Also, come see The Music Man at Art Park Players! Running now until July 22nd! Tickets here:

July. Just That Much Closer To Halloween

Greetings and Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday. While most folks were enjoying their time at the beach or snarfing up lots of barbecued dead animals, I was moving into a new home. I even hired the movers that supposedly pack and unpack everything for you. After three days, we sent them on their way. Jim and I are finishing the rest of the job by ourselves. We’re not quite finished yet, but things are coming along. The biggest issue with moving is the amount of books and art that I move around with me. The books are currently back on the bookshelves, but not in any correct order. I may be working on organizing them through the end of the year.

One of the really nice features about my new home is the variety of flowers and water features. I especially like the koi fish. They seem to be really happy critters that come up to greet you when you draw near their home. No, I don’t feed them. There are very strict instructions about not feeding the wildlife around here. And speaking of wildlife, there is quite a bit to observe. The first few days I’ve been here I have seen squirrels, frogs, squirrels, lizards, squirrels, cats, squirrels and even an egret! We’re asked not to feed the squirrels, but from the chubby looks of them, I think someone is providing some tasty snacks. Or maybe they’re stealing some of the cat goodies that some nice people leave out.

Of course, as a writer, I keep copious notes on everything. Everyone and everything that I meet and see become potential characters for my next story. My skeleton friends were in a hurry for me to set up the writing table so we could get back to work. We have lots of stories we are working on. I especially enjoy the scary stories that are being prepared for Halloween!

Until next time.….

Six Years and Still Going Strong!

Happy Birthday to RoadBroads! It was just six years ago when another writer and I had the crazy idea to drive all the way to Boulder, Colorado. It’s only an 18-hour drive. Easy! Once we arrived at Boulder we attended an annual Writing Retreat that was taught by Max Regan. He actually led two different retreats for 10 days each during the month of June. I had heard about these retreats for years, but this was the first time for me to attend one.

I had never been to Boulder before. Pearl Street Mall was great fun. On the weekend there were any number of street performers when you weren’t browsing at the local shops. This is a picture of the Boulder Bookstore where all of our writing classes were held. I felt like I had finally made it into the “in” crowd. In addition to the classes, there were salons where each of us had to read samples of our writing. Out loud. In front of everybody! I survived that and both gave and received good feedback.

After 10 days, we returned home. The second June retreat began without us. Some folks who lived in or near Boulder attended both sessions. I had a blast and was already deciding to go back the following year. What I couldn’t figure out was how I could go to Boulder for both June retreats and how could I afford to stay in Boulder for the entire month?

Unfortunately, the question was answered for me when the Pandemic struck in 2020. The June Writing Retreats continued, but not in person. Ever since 2020 I have attended this retreat via Zoom. The good news is that without travel and lodging costs, I have been able to attend both 10-day sessions. Instead of seeing the sights in Colorado, I get to see my desk and look out my own window for my everyday view. My work desk is not nearly as exciting to look at as the Flatiron Mountains, but I keep writing.

I have also stuck with this blog which I find great joy in writing. It’s even more fun now that Fern Brady and Rachel Connelly have joined me in this endeavor. We each have different styles of writing, but what we do together is document the writer’s life and the road we take to continue to enhance our creativity.

Actually since I have been writing a blog for six years and attending writing retreats and workshops for the past six years, you might think that I had completed something. I have many short stories that have either been published or read aloud at local events. But the Great American Novel continues to elude me. Maybe by June 2024? Stay tuned.

Until next time.….