Danse Macabre – Tim Burton style

Ever since I was a little girl I have loved classical music.  I think it stemmed from watching Disney’s Fantasia when I was around six years old.  I grew addicted to the music and I needed to know who the composers were.  My love for the classics grew, as did my exposure to more and more sonatas and symphonies.  One of my favorite pieces, Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” appeared in Disney’s Fantasia 2000 and it happens to be my favorite clip from the entire film.  I wonder why.  (watch here)

When I was around fourteen years old, I discovered a haunting piece, the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns, and it immediately became one of my favorite pieces to play around Halloween.  When I thought about what I wanted to post today, this music immediately popped into my head, so I went on a hunt to find something that would showcase the music well.  I came across the following  video that happens to combine three of my favorite artists into one:   Saint-Saëns, Johnny Depp and the king of Halloween animation, Tim Burton.  I hope you enjoy the music as much as I do and that it becomes one of your favorite Halloween pieces as well.

May I present, the Danse Macabre – Tim Burton Style

Kitty Litter Cake

What’s a Halloween party without Kitty Litter Cake?  Aww, come on.  Look at it.  Don’t you just want to munch down?  🙂  Actually, it’s a pretty darn good cake, but the presentation is  a little…hmm, how shall I put it…GROSS!  But Halloween isn’t about pretty and frilly.  It’s all about ghouls and ghosts and yuck, so if you have an hour or so and want to make something the kids and/or everyone in the office will rant about…make the cake.

To start out with, you’ll need a brand new kitty litter box, kitty box liner (optional), and kitty pooper scooper.


1      (18.25 ounce) package German Chocolate Cake Mix

1      (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix

2      (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

1       (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies

3 drops green food coloring

1      (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls


1.   Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).

2.   Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.

3.   Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup add a few drops of green food coloring and mix.

4.    When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.

5.     Line kitty litter box with the kitty litter liner. Put cake mixture into box.
Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle a small amount of the green colored cookie crumbs lightly over the top.

6.       Heat 3 or 4 of the tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with some of the green cookie crumbs. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few green cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper for a gross Halloween dessert.

Bon Appetite my ghoulish friends!

Sometimes, you have to zap the zit

I recently had to zap the zit of a manuscript I was working on.  Why?  Because it was a nasty, festering ugly thing that had no purpose, no meaning.  No matter how much I tried to ward it off or make it better, it just kept getting bigger and bigger until there was nothing else I could do except pop it.

What was so bad about it?  Simply put, I tried to force a story to emerge when there really wasn’t one to tell.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  There was a story in there…just not the right one.  After 4,000 words, I’d worked my way into a corner and couldn’t back up.  The crevice began to back fill.  The more I tried to fix it, the more the junk kept piling up.  The plot closed in around me, my escape paths were blocked off.  The infection spread, heaping one terrible idea on top of another until I had this giant manuscript pimple that had to go.  I covered myself, shielded my eyes and brought out the heavy artillery – the DELETE button.  After copying and saving some rather clever lines I’d written, I closed my eyes and exploded my manuscript.

I thought there would be repercussions.  I thought I’d have a scar.  After all, I’d destroyed my creation, but you know what?  I felt relief.  The pain was over.  Now I have a clean slate, and a new manuscript that is flowing like water from a mountain stream.  Smooth.  Pretty.  No yucky bumps.

Sometimes, you have to zap the zit.

Pictures from a Saturday morning stroll

I went for my 30-minute walk today and decided to take some pics along the way.  I hope you enjoy.


I thought these were weeds…

until I took a closer look…


One of the most beautiful staghorn ferns I’ve ever seen…


a gingerbread birdhouse


I was hoping to catch the palm tree swaying in the wind (from Hurricane Sandy), but the wind stopped as I snapped the pic)


Looking up to the heavens and thanking God for all His beauty.


Enjoy your Saturday!

The Butterfly Dragon

I stumbled upon this wonderful animated film today.  I loved it so much I contacted the artist, Sushan Yue, and asked if I could post it on my website.  I was thrilled to get a giant “Yes”.

It is posted on my website under “Extras” so please click on the picture below to take a look.


Homeopathic remedies for dogs with arthritis

Today I thought I’d switch from writing about writing to writing about dogs, primarily dogs with arthritis.

I have an elderly Australian Shepherd mix named Charlie.  He’s pushing 12 years old and the old man is suffering from some bad arthritis in his hips.  I feel so bad for him, watching him struggle to get up and down.  I spoke with my vet that I’ve had for years and he recommended putting Charlie on Rimadyl.  We did for about 2 weeks and it helped a lot, but after reading up on the side-effects (loss of appetite; blood in the urine; black, tarry stools; blood in vomit; jaundice from liver damage; lethargy, the list goes on and on), I thought I’d investigate and find some homeopathic remedies that will be kind on his aging system.

I recently spoke with a holistic vet and she recommended a few things that I’m going to try.

Yucca powder:  This herb contains natural steroids that help to relieve pain and discomfort. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which should help to reduce swelling in the joints.  Many pet stores (both online and brick and mortar) carry the powder.  Whatever you do, DO NOT let your dog, cat or horse eat this plant in its raw form.  It is highly toxic.  ONLY use powder form produced for use with animals.

Comfrey/parsley and rosemary:   a combination of these three ingredients are supposed to have an amazing effect on reducing the pain and inflammation in a dog suffering with arthritis.  Again, use products specifically formulated for dogs or contact your vet for specific dosages for your dog.

Adding broccoli, carrots, cabbage and asparagus is also believed to offer relief to your arthritic dog.

You might also want to add some chondroitin and glucosamine.  Both help to cushion the joints and create more flexibility.  Probiotics also help.

I like the idea of using homeopathic remedies because they’re natural and the side-effects are few.  I already have my Charlie on the glucosamine and chondroitin.  I have ordered Yucca powder from Healthy Pets and can’t wait to try it to see if it has any positive effects.

Have you used homeopathic remedies to help your pet’s conditions?  I would love to hear of your experiences.

The Next Big Thing

In the last two weeks or so I’ve been tagged by two authors – Julie and Kathils – to participate in the new blog hop sensation: The Next Big Thing!  The purpose:  discuss my current Work in Progress.  Seeing as I was tagged by not one, but two authors, I figured I should indulge all of you with some little tidbits about my  novel.

What is the working title of your book? In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  The idea has been swirling in my head since I was young.  I’m an army brat with a love for fantasy – the kind of fantasy that involves knights and dragons and sorcerers.  My Army dad was always a hero to me, as are our servicemen and women.  One Saturday morning while sitting in an IHOP, nine servicemen dressed in uniform, came in and took a table by the window.  Watching them, listening to them, the idea for my novel began to play out in my head and it wouldn’t stop.  I’ve been working on the trilogy ever since.

What genre does your book fall under?  a cross between urban and high fantasy.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Kidnapped for his own safety, a seventeen-year old boy is thrust into a magical world hovering on the brink of war, and forced into finding a hidden ally before his arc enemies – a sorcerer and a dragon – can kill him.   (Still working on it but it’s what I have for now.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Wow, my list is long (yes, I’ve thought about this a lot :-))  Are you ready?  Nicholas Haut, Vanessa Hudgins, Megan Fox, Cameron Bright, Jeremy Sumpter, Craig Parker, Roselyn Sanchez, David Wenham and Paul Rudd to name a few. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I would love to have my book repped by an agency, but I’ll probably end up going with a small press.  There are several out there I’m looking at who have a great reputation and same publishing model I’m looking for.  All options are open at this time.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Years.  I worked on it part-time to begin with only to realize I needed to do some research into medieval weapons, castles, locations, etc.  This put the actual writing on hold for a while.  Then I started writing again but I didn’t like the way it started, so I ditched it and started over.  I was also working full-time and trying to raise four kids, so time was limited.  Then I was laid off in 2010 from my job and, unable to find a job, dove into my manuscript with vigor.  I completed it in 2011, sent it off to a publisher who liked it but needed changes.  I’ve been working on those changes ever since, along with the other two novels in the trilogy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’ve been told my story has elements of Tolkien, Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Cassandra Clare and Anne McCaffrey mixed with my own flare, but as far as actual books?  I don’t think it’s been compared to any books.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? There are mysterious tattoos, fight scenes to appeal to the YA male reader, a hint of love interest for the gals, a bit of sarcastic wit for the adults and some bad a$$ characters to love and hate.  There’s a good dragon as well as a very, very bad one, a couple of kick-butt fae, and an army of shape-shifting teens any kid would want on his/her side in an epic battle.  It’s a story of love, sacrifice and believing in one’s self.

And now, for my nominations, in no particular order:

Amy M. Newman

Kourtney Heintz

Tristan Berry

Jamie Ayres

Carrie Ruben


And anyone else who wants to play along.

Cover Reveal of DAY AFTER by Emi Gayle


Book 2 in The 19th Year Trilogy

by Emi Gayle

Release Date:  May 16, 2013

Target Audience:  Young  Adult

Back Cover:  

Demon crypts. Vampire lairs. Glowing angels. Sexy sirens. The stuff of fiction.

Or so Winn Thomas always thought.

Since being accepted into the fold of the supernatural, he knows better. None of what he imagined is true, but everything he feared is, and binding himself to his Changeling girlfriend until her nineteenth birthday will give him an education far beyond what he’d get at his human high school.

Luckily, Winn’s not giving up, he won’t back down, and he definitely isn’t going to run away with his tail between his legs. After all, only werewolves have tails. Right?

In this, the second of the 19th Year trilogy, Winn’s facing the challenge of one lifetime. If he doesn’t learn the truth about mythological creatures, his girlfriend Mac Thorne won’t either. That means, in six months, when she chooses her final form, she won’t know what to pick.

Winn, though, has his own ideas about Mac’s final selection—plans she knows nothing of.

He intends to have her pick human.

Whether she can or not.


website up and running…now all I need is domain name

Well, it’s not exactly my ideal website but it is pretty, it has some cool stuff, like a game (in the “Extras” section), and it was free.  Would love to hear your thoughts so head on over and tell me what you think.  You can find it here.

Also, I avoided a potential copyright issue last night.  See, I found a picture of a dragon on Wiki and, after reading the Terms of Use, Licensing, and Privacy sections, it seemed as if I was okay to use the picture.  Just to be sure, I contacted the artist to get his permission.  This is something I usually do anyway, but didn’t in this case.  Something gnawed at me while a friend and I were trying to ‘edit’ the pic, so I e-mailed the artist.  I’m glad I did because he asked me to NOT use the pics as there is no way to keep people from copying and distributing what they want, when they want.  As an artist, I accepted his request and chose not to use the photo.  I also took it down off my blog (it was my green dragon picture) so as to avoid any future issues.

Lesson:  always use your own pictures, pictures you’ve purchased, pictures licensed to you through sites like 123rf or get the artist’s permission.  If you don’t have any of those in place…don’t use the picture on your website or blog.  It could cost you tons of money in the end.

Enjoy your Sunday.  🙂


(Parody) Still Alive NaNoWriMo

In approximately 12 days, writers everywhere will embrace NaNoWriMo.  The internet is alive with chatter like the following:

  • “Are you going to participate this year?”
  • “Do you have an idea in mind?”
  • “I’m going to lock myself in a cabin for a month so I can write a book.  What about you?”
  • “I like to outline my novel before I start NaNoWriMo.  What is your approach?”
  • “What foods do you eat during NaNoWriMo?”

I tried NaNo last year, but didn’t reach the required 50,000 words.  I’m not sure if I’ll do it this year.  Perhaps I should.  Maybe it would motivate me to complete my 2nd novel.  Hmm.  I still have 19 days to think about it.

In the meantime, I offer the following to all you NaNo writers out there.  May the force be with you and may the odds be ever in your favor.