Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Weird: The Beast Of Bray Road

Happy Halloween everyone!

And how apropos that Halloween is on a Wednesday this year, for a Wednesday weird? And since it's Halloween, it seems fitting to focus on a halloweeny weird: werewolves.

I've actually read quite a few first hand accounts of "werewolf" sighting, (they're actually kind of common up here in MN, WI and MI) and though many can surely be chalked up to a bear with mange (see below for a photo) (OT: That's the name of my Rockband band: Mange Bear, purely because they get mistaken for sasquatch and other cryptids. True Story) there are some that can't be explained away so easily. One of the most famous series of encounters is the Beast of Bray Road.

On October 31st, 1989 (Yay! 13 years ago TODAY! (Halloween of all days)) Doristine Gipson, from Elkhorn, WI was driving along Bray Road. As she neared an intersection she leaned over to change the station on her radio when she felt her right front tire jump off the ground as if she had hit something. Concerned, she stopped the car and got out to see what it was. Finding nothing on the roadway behind her car, she began to look around.

As she peered into the darkness, she suddenly saw a dark, hairy form racing toward her. She did not see what the figure looked like, but she did see it was quite bulky and she would later compare the form to someone who works out continually with weights.

Startled by the oncoming form, and by the sounds of its “heavy feet”, she got back in her car. She was attempting to drive away when the beast jumped onto her trunk. Luckily, it was too wet for the creature to hang on and it fell off onto the pavement. Doristine returned to the site later on that evening with a young girl that she was taking out trick-or-treating and saw a large form on the side of the road. When she saw the creature moving, she ordered the child to lock her door and drove quickly away from the scene.

A few days later, 24 year old  Lorianne Endrizzi was rounding a curve on Bray Road and saw what she thought was a person kneeling and hunched over on the side of the road. She slowed down and was no more than six feet away from it. The sighting lasted for about 45 seconds and she clearly saw a beast with grayish, brown hair, fangs and pointed ears. "His face was … long and snouty, like a wolf". Endrizzi was completely unnerved by the sighting. She later stated in an interview that the creature “appeared to be so human-like that it was scary.”

 The media picked up these stories and more eyewitnesses came forward, as well as people who had seen the creature in years past. Other details about the sightings include:

The animal walking on two feet
The animal kneeling like a person
Human-like hands with claws at the end
The animal carrying and eating food held on the palm of it's hands
When on all fours, a sloped back and collected hind legs and a stronger front end
More than one encounter where it chased people or children

The sightings would continue for a few years before finally drying up.

So what do we think the animal could have been? Some people want to say a wolf, or wolf-dog or coy-dog. Some prefer the idea of a shunka warak'in which is a wolf-like cryptid that resembles a hyena.

taxidermied animal believed to be a shunka warak'in

And still, a mange bear may be the best culprit. But even bears don't eat their food in the palms of their hands.

What are your thoughts? And do you have any exciting plans for Halloween?


Monday, October 29, 2012

In Which I Talk Scary Books

Since we're coming up on Halloween super quick now, I figured today was a good day to list, in no particular order, my top 5 favorite scary books.

House of Leaves - Mark Z Danielewski

A young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane discovers something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams
House of Leaves is one of those books where the back cover (the synopsis above) isn't accurate. Though it is a story about a house that is bigger on the inside than the outside, at no point do the children wander off or go missing.
BUT! That said, this books is terrifying. It's a story within a story, following a tattoo artist who discovers a video where a family does an experiment to show that their house is bigger on the inside than the out. The tattoo artist's tale is told via footnotes (pages and pages of them) as he becomes obsessed with this video (and the obsession builds to a point where you can't tell if he's gone crazy, or if the mystery of the house actually has some effect on him). And as you follow his story of obsession, the reader learns everything he learns about the house and the family that lived there.
Seriously scary, both in a psychological way and also in a "WTF is in the HOUSE??" way. But, it's not an easy book to read. At all. At points, the footnotes will last for whole chapters, and they'll be written upside down, and in spirals and in any other weird way you can imagine.
The Amityville Horror - Jay Anson
The Lutzes moved into their dream home on December 18th, 1975. Four weeks later, they fled in terror. The home was the scene of a mass murder a year before, and the Lutzes claimed paranormal phenomena caused them to fear for their lives and forced them to abandon the home
The Amityville Horror is touted as a true story, but it's not. Though, to be fair, the murders did happen, but the Lutzes made up the stuff that happened to them.
BUT!! That does not change that fact that this book is terrifying. This is the kind of book that you can read in broad daylight, in a crowded public place, and still need to set it aside at points because you're just so scared.
The first time I read this (back in high school) I had to share a bed with Twin because I was just that scared. I mean, come on! Ghosts are scary. Very few things scare me more than ghosts.
The book is hard to find, though. It went out of print for a while (I used to snatch up any used copies I could find) though I did see a new paperback at a borders closing last year (snatched that one up too).
The Season Of Passage - Christopher Pike


Dr. Lauren Wagner was a celebrity. She was involved with the most exciting adventure mankind had ever undertaken: a manned expedition to Mars. The whole world admired and respected her.

But Lauren knew fear. Inside—voices entreating her to love them. Outside—the mystery of the missing group that had gone before her. The dead group.

But were they simply dead? Or something else?


This book isn't overtly terrifying. There aren't ghosts, or monsters etc. But there are moments of extreme tension and fear, and most of them take place when the characters are on Mars. And let's get real here, space horror is terrifying because you can't escape it. There's nowhere to go.

There's a scene in this book where the MC is floating on a boat in a cave on Mars and the scene is so wrought with tension and fear, it actually gave me nightmares when I first read it in high school.

Grave's End: A True Ghost Story - Elaine Mercado


When Elaine Mercado and her first husband bought their home in Brooklyn, New York, in 1982, they had no idea that they and their young daughters were embarking on a thirteen year nightmare.

Within a few days of moving in, Elaine and her older daughter began to experience the sensation of being watched. Then came scratching noises and weird smells, followed by voices whispering, maniacal laughter, shadowy figures scurrying along baseboards, and small balls of light bouncing along the ceilings. From the beginning of the haunting, "suffocating dreams" were experienced by everyone except the younger daughter These eventually accelerated to physical aggression directed at Elaine and both the girls.

This book is the true story of how one family tried to cope with living in a haunted house. It also describes how, with the help of a parapsychologist Dr. Hans Holtzer and the medium Marisa Anderson, the family discovered the tragic and heartbreaking secrets buried in the house at Grave's End.


I LOVE this book. I read it at least once a year (it's short and fast. I can read it in one sitting). Like I said, ghosts freak me the eff out, but also, I LOVE reading real ghosts stories.

The author isn't the best writer, but the experiences she and her family had are terrifying and every time I read it, a different experience strikes me as the most terrifying (the last time I read it (a few weeks ago) it was a scene where the youngest daughter went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and when she came back into her room, she saw an old woman sitting on her sister's chest, and she was too scared to say anything so she CLIMBED BACK INTO BED WITH HER SISTER and closed her eyes. OMG I can't even...)

If you like true ghost stories, definitely check this one out. It's also great because they do get some answers to their haunting at the end. Not everything, but quite a bit.

N. - Stephen King


There is something unearthly and mysterious deep in Acherman's Field in rural Maine. There is a Stonehenge-like arrangement of seven stones with a horrifying EYE in the center. And whatever dwells there in that strange, windswept setting may have brought about the suicide of one man...and harbor death for the OCD afflicted "N.," whose visits to the field have passed beyond compulsion into the realm of obsession.


Okay, this is actually a short story/novella in King's Just After Sunset collection. BUT it's also been made into a comic.

This short story is just terrifying. To me it has the number one aspect needed for a great horror story: something that cannot be stopped. It's so creepy, you can't help but wonder if just by reading it, maybe the standing stones will affect you too, which is when you know it's a good story, when you start to wonder if maybe it's not fiction.

So there you have it! My top 5 scary stories.
Let me know some of your fav stories - I'd love to read them!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Fun

Yay! We've reached the weekend once again!

I'm so glad it keeps coming around. Could you imagine if it didn't?

One good thing about last weekend was, I had a birthday!

That's right, I turned 6 years old.  This Sunday is George's birthday (he'll be turning 7). I know I'm older, but I don't feel older. I pretty sure I'm still 6 months old, not 6 years.
Anyway, onto the fun!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Weird: The Starchild Skull

In the 1930's, in a small rural village 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua, Mexico,
at the back of a mine tunnel, two mysterious remains were found: a complete human skeleton and a smaller, malformed skeleton.

An American girl of Mexican heritage in her late teens (15 to 18) was taken by her parents to visit relatives living in a small rural village 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua, Mexico and went exploring through some of the nearby mines.

At the back of a mine tunnel she found a complete human skeleton lying on the ground's surface. Beside it, sticking up out of the ground, was a malformed skeletal hand entwined in one of the human skeleton's upper arms. The girl proceeded to scrape the dirt off a shallow grave to reveal a buried skeleton smaller than the human one and also malformed.

The girl recovered both skulls and kept them for the remainder of her life. Upon her death they were passed to an American man, who maintained possession for five years before passing them to the American couple who now control them.

the starchild skull

Experts suggest the child's high degree of rear-skull deformity could be from cranial binding. But squeezing a skull's upper bones out of their natural shape leaves them permanently separated, which results in a life-long "soft spot" at the top of the head.

The child's skull is well-sutured (no soft spot), with none of the usual distortions normally caused by binding.
The average volume for a human brain is 1400 cubic centimeters (cc). The volume of the human skull is 1200 cc, typical for a small human. In contrast, the volume of the child's skull is 1600 cc, which is 200 cc beyond the average for adult humans. And had it lived to become an adult, its brain capacity would have grown to 1800 cc or more, well beyond the human average
In paleoanthropology a 200 cc increase in brain capacity of a human type creature warrants the naming of an entirely new species. Homo Erectus averages 200 cc more than Homo Habilis; Homo Archaic is 200 cc more than Erectus; Neanderthal is 200 cc more than Archaic. Thus, this child might well represent an unknown species of human-like beings.

starchild on the left, regular skull on the right

There are other aspects of the skull that make it different from a normal skull (the bones are much thinner than the bones of a normal skull, it's missing frontal sinus cavities, the ears are larger and deeper than norma ear canals, etc).

There are two schools of thought regarding the skull: it's either an as of yet unknown deformity, or it's an alien-human hybrid.

Either way, no one can argue that it is a strange discovery and we may never fully know the answer to what happened to the child.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Week 17

I was tagged for this blogfest/tag game thing by the awesome TL Conway. Visit her. LOVE HER. Seriously, she's awesome.

The rules involve answering some questions about your WIP and then tagging a few others. I'm sure we're all pretty familiar with the rules, so here we go!

(Also, I feel like I've blathered on a lot about Break Free over the last year or so, so instead I'm going to focus on the other WIP which needs some love)

What is the working title of your book?

All That Remains.  Funny story, there. My pal Summer has a novel by the exact same title. We didn't realize it until we were both writing it (well, I think she might have been revising at that point) Great minds and all that (the books aren't anything alike).

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, as we all know, I do love the renaissance. And Italy, which I visited in high school. And as one of my very first posts will tell you, I love assassins. So it was mostly that. Throw in some masks (another thing I love), mob-like families and a goddess of murder, death and resurrection and I'd hooked myself. I even made me a nice little Pinterest board for it.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Fantasy. It's a nice umbrella

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I am terrible at picking actors to portray my characters. Just awful. I draw blanks and can't think of anyone. Usually, I just pick pics of models etc when I'm looking for peeps that look like my characters.
Here are the ones I've picked out (tentatively) for All That Remains

MC Lea

Lea's BF (and ex BF) Val

Lea's love interest Alessio (just picture him younger, natch)

Lea's uncle Marcello

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a world where families of assassins legally murder people for a price, sixteen year old Lea Saldana sets out on a path of vengeance against the most powerful family of all.

Well that's not great but you get the idea

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I love this question, because it just assumes the choice is so easy ;)  Well, hopefully it'll be agented. I mean, I'd really love to have an agent before then, but I've been down that road before, so who knows.
I don't see self publishing in my future. It's just not really my bag of tea, so to speak.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, I'm still writing it. I've got about 40K done. That took me a month. Then I had to set it aside for almost a year, while finishing up Break Free. My goal is to be a NaNoWriMo rebel this year and finish it in November.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh hell, I don't know. It takes me forever to come up with book comps when querying, and there's really no way for me to say until the book is done. I know this one is going to change a lot in revisions. So sorry, no idea yet.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Huh. I kind of feel like I already answered this question above. I like assassins, and I wanted to play around with the idea of a society that readily accepts a class of people who kill everyone else for money. And not only accepts them, but loves them and treats them like high society. So from there I needed to figure out why their society would be like that, and what it would mean if this class of people were always at war with each other.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I dunno. romance? Plains filled with angry ghosts? Bone masks? Those are all things I find interesting anyway. Your own mileage probably varies depending on your tastes.
I guess here's some pics from my pinterest board that relate to the story in some way or another that always get me excited to work on it.




I'm going to tag the following peeps:

Cheryl Koevoet
Lisa Ann O'Kane
BR Myers

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Fun

Woo hoo!  A whole week has gone by, ape-friends! Can you believe it?
And now, we launch ourselves into the awesomeness that is the weekend!

Some exciting things happened around our house this week. The most exciting being a new family member!

Introducing Sister Cavia of Saint Guinea de Pig (all inclusive church)

We call her Sissy.

All right! Onto the fun!








Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Weird: The Toxic Blood

Since it's October, the month of Halloween, I figured I'd try to pick extra weird or scary things for my Wednesday Weird posts. Of course, I already missed two (one was for ISWSG and the other I just forgot) but also, there's 5 Wednesdays this month so I think it will all work out.

Today we're going to talk about an urban legend.

Have you heard that story about a woman who arrives at a hospital who's blood turns out to be so toxic that people have to flee for their lives?

Well, if you have or haven't, the story is totally true.

On February 14th, 1994, 31 year old Gloria Ramirez was suffering from advanced cervical cancer and was admitted to a California ER.

Gloria was not doing well at all, and at one point the hospital staff had to remove her shirt to defibrillator her heart. When they did so, they noticed an oily sheen on her skin and a few other staff said they noticed a fruity or garlicky smell that seemed to be coming from her mouth.

When a nurse drew Gloria's blood for tests, she detected a foul odor - chemical, like ammonia. Other staff could smell it too, and one staff member noticed manila colored particles floating in the syringe of blood.

And then hospital staff started to gag and collapse.

23 people were affected, and the ER was evacuated while a decontamination unit was brought in.

Unfortunately Gloria died 40 minutes later. An autopsy was performed (in hazmat suits, natch) but despite a detailed and massive forensic investigation, it's still not known what happened to turn Gloria's blood into a toxic ooze.

A lot of people try to write this case off as mass hysteria. Which, let's be honest, could totally be the case.

EXCEPT. The worst victim of the 23 people affected by Gloria's blood spent two weeks in intensive care, suffering from hepatitis, pancreatitis and avascular necorosis (a condition which cause BONES to DIE) so that kind of nukes (heh) the whole mass hysteria theory.

The mostly likely case is that a medication Gloria was taking, interacted with another medication, etc and turned her blood into a potent nerve gas. But nothing is conclusive yet.

Just don't forget, human beings are walking, talking chemical reactions, so sometimes, you never know what you're going to get.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In Which I Conferenced

Saturday I hit the MN SCBWI annual conference. It was my first one, since I've only been a member for a year now (which, I mean, you can attend if you're not a member. I just didn't know about it until I became a member)

There's something to be said for a conference that only lasts a day. At the very least, it means you still get some of your weekend to do your normal weekend stuff (for me, that's errands and cooking club. And writing blog posts, natch)

So anyway, here's a rundown of the conference:

The keynote speakers were David Small and Sarah Stewart. David is an award winning illustrator and Sarah, his wife, is a Picture Book writer. The first panel was David talking about his graphic novel memoir, Stitches.

David Small was just an amazing speaker. Seriously. Everything that came out of his mouth was entertaining and profound and funny. He was one of those speakers you could have listened to the entire conference.

He and Sarah gave another presentation on her book The Quiet Place, which he had illustrated.

And they were both adorbs. Like, you know those couples that love each other so much that you can't help but love them too? Not one of those couples that fills facebook with "I love you" and "I'm on my way home!" and "I can't wait till you get home!" Those couples drive me crazy. Listen, I know you love each other, but you don't have rub everyone's face in it. David and Sarah were not like that at all. I think everyone just absolutely loved them together.

There were only like 5 copies of Stitches for sale at the conference. I got the second to last one. BAM!

The conference was then split up into Workshops. Two at a time, one for illustrators and one for writers, so naturally I hit the writer ones.

The first one was "A Whole New World: How Dreams and Desire Can Improve World-Building" put on by Sara Sargent, Assistant Editor at Balzer + Bray, a HarperCollins imprint.

Her presentations was great. The best part was, though, a writing exercise we did. She had brought with a box of books and she said anyone who volunteered to read theirs could pick out a book.

Later, someone would tell me that she thought I was super brave to volunteer and I told her the truth, that I will pretty much do anything for a free book. I got Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Honestly I wanted to be first, but one girl had a critique to go to in the middle of the workshop and managed to raise her hand faster. But I went second.

The exercise was to just list out your MCs tangible want, emotional want, barriers to their success, tools to combat the barriers and wish fulfillment. Most of these are things I actually write down before I write my rough draft, so it was easy to participate for me.

The second workshop was "Cracking the Nut: One Agent's Advice on Craft and Career for Writer's of All Levels" by Linda Pratt from Wernick & Pratt Agency.

Her presentation was good, but I was familiar with a lot of what she said, so there really wasn't much that I found surprising.

There were critiques going on as well. If you paid an additional $35 you could've had your first 5 pages read by an agent or editor or creative director. I didn't participate, mostly because I thought $35 seemed pretty expensive for only 5 pages (or at least, it did to me, since it seems like there's always blog contests or auctions where you can get 50 pages or more read by agents). But in hindsight I kind of wish I had done it, just because everyone else was and I felt a bit left out. Of course, that's a known flaw I've talked about here.

There was, however, a first pages event. And that was free to enter. How it worked was, if you wanted, you emailed your first page before the conference. Then the last event of the day was the two agents and one editor would listen to randomly selected first pages and comment on them.
It was all anonymous and random, so there wasn't a huge chance you'd get picked, but it was fun to hear what the agents and editor had to say. And I totally learned a LOT on how to write Picture Books

BUT!! I was totally picked! They only had time to go through 4 of them and mine was the 3rd one!

I have to say, it was utterly terrifying hearing someone read my first page (also, kind of a bummer, she flubbed my best line on that page, which gave it a different meaning. Le sigh).

I think I got pretty nice feedback. Or at least, they all said something good about it (they liked my opening line, my tension and the dialogue) where as it seemed all the others had mostly criticisms. But still, it took me an hour or so to calm the eff down so I could accept the critiques with a critical eye.

So there you have it! I tried to keep this post short, but clearly, I didn't.  Sorry, and high five if you stuck through the whole thing!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Fun

Yessssssss! We've made it to the weekend once again!

Let's get this weekend started right with some Yvie internet fun!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In Which I Forgot

Guess who forgot to write her Wednesday Weird post?

(hint: It's me)

I blame the dayjob. And Twin's work schedule changing and throwing off my routine.

So instead you get this video today. Why? Because why not?


Monday, October 8, 2012

In Which We Build

So my little staycation is over. Sadface. Back to the dayjob and the interwebs and everything else. But at least it's finally gotten cold outside. Minnesotans who don't like the cold peeve me off. I mean, why do you live here if you whine when it gets below 60?

On the opposite spectrum, why are there still people wearing flip flops when it's 35 degrees out and I spotted a few flurries? THAT MAKES NO SENSE, PEOPLE.

Ahem. Anyway. So twin and I did a lot of stuff on the staycation. Not quite as much as we hoped, but isn't that always what happens?
But we started refinancing our house (WOO HOO!) and got the veggie garden prepped for winter. BUT! Most importantly, we honed our carpentry skills and pumped out a brand new pocket pantry!!

We have terrible pantry space in our kitchen. Just one little "fancy pantry" as we call it with a door that swings out of a tiny cabinet. It seems cool, but in reality the shelves are too small to hold anything bigger that a bottle of olive oil, so we have to carefully stack things on the floor. Or, when we run out of room (like we have, now) we just have to put things on our counters. It's super classy.

Anyhoo, thanks to Pinterest, we came up with a solution and Twin and I got to work.

Lumber and a patio full of dog toys

Woo hoo! The frame has been built!

Shelves and dowels added. Now we stain!

It got colder as the week progressed, so we built a fire in the fire pit. Also we have tons, TONS, of dead fall from our trees that have been waiting for years to be burned. We made a nice dent in the brush pile. The fire was burning so hot that we had troubles keeping it going because it would burn the wood so quickly we almost wouldn't have time to fetch another pile from the brush pile.

YAY! The finished project! It's not stocked yet, because we're still letting the polyurethane dry, but this is our pocket pantry! It slides into the gap between the fridge and the wall (we have a 4.5 inch gap there) It's on casters and can roll out and in.

Here's a pic of it in it's little pocket. I cannot wait to load this baby up!

 So there you have it! That was a big part of our vacay. So how about you? Did you do anything crafty or exciting while i was away?
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