I’m still in the afterglow of AuthorCon / Scares That Care! March 31-April 2 in Williamsburg, Virginia—my first horror writing conference. I met so many cool people, attended some readings that made me grateful for this new golden age of horror, learned a ton at various panels, lost my glasses, had my glasses returned to me, and bought a ton of books! By many people’s standards, my haul was modest, but for me, more than a dozen books at anything other than a library sale is a lot of books!

I can’t drive through mountains without stopping. So I built in time for some hiking. Not enough time! But better than no time. I drove the Newfound Gap through the Smokies, and part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Also, I visited my very good friend Pam Schmalenberger in Raleigh! We stayed up until 5 a.m. and could easily have kept going with the catching up another all-day and all-night.  Pam is a reader, too. She and I and fellow Hogwarts supporter Ashley Wiehle-Framm waited in line, wands in hand, for the release of the last of the Harry Potter books, then slunk off home to begin a reading marathon. Pam finished first, as I recall.

But the trip also gave me a chance for some fun Nerd in a Bar with a Book places to read! #nerdinabarwithabook

The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz is a high-octane story that features several kinds of hauntings—a house, a river, a man’s past. I picked it for the trip because it’s set right down there in Virginia in AuthorCon territory.

I read it at Gatlinburg Brewing Company (where I should have bought one of their cool shirts or something!) and paired it with a guest tap from the Gypsy Circus Cider Company, the Lotus Dream Orange Blossom Cider.

I picked up Crescendo by L. Marie Wood at AuthorCon. So cool to get to meet Lisa! Seriously, everyone was gracious at AuthorCon, kind, and encouraging—it was a pleasure! This is another haunted house, haunted man, haunted family story, but very different from the Janz book. This one takes a deep dive into the role of a person’s mental state in a haunting, and how brushes with malevolence can take a toll on a person’s sanity.

This one was at Blowing Rock Brewing Company, and let me just say I’ll be back to Blowing Rock some day. I ordered a flight. We have here: Kölsch, Chai Kölsch, Long Moon wheat beer, Honey Amber—all of them Blowing Rock beers. I bought some Kölsch to go.

Happy reading, y’all!


I’m one of those people who sometimes causes computers to malfunction just by walking into the room. It happens with other machines, too. Motorcycles, snowmobiles, wave runners. So I’m on the fence a little bit about technology being the nemesis of the manitou in The Manitou by Graham Masterton, a classic in the horror genre. (Also, I did not realize the book was the first in a series until I pulled it up on Amazon to share the link.) At the same time, it makes good sense, and is right in line with what I’ve learned from old fairytales and folklore—some of our friends from the other side of the veil do even less well with technology than I do.

That drink is a fancy cocktail enjoyed at Walker’s Bluff – Tasting Room. I can’t remember what was in it, but it the garnish was an edible flower. I ate a petal. Because of course I did. It was called a flower child. Pretty.

Used book stores are the bomb. I love to buy new books hot off the presses, help out a writer in the process. But finding gems at used book stores is such a dang thrill, isn’t it? I knew I was going to Owl Creek Winery. So it’s only natural to read a book by Owl Goingback! Darker Than Night was published in 1999, but it has all the very best features of a 1970s horror movie. I’m reading it and all but shouting “Tell him!” “Believe her!” “Why are you doing that?” Also, if you move into a house overloaded with kachina dolls… don’t.

The drink is a blueberry basil cider. Owl Creek makes some of my favorite summer wines, but when I go there, I always wind up seduced by the cider.

I always say I don’t want to start in a book in a series. It’s intimidating, picking up that first book and knowing there are six more to go. I mean, I got things to read, how can I commit to your series? And then I wind up captivated and reading the series. Countless times. This time, it’s the Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott mysteries by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowling. I read Career of Evil at Pheasant Hollow Winery with a Catawba wine. Catawba is a bit sweeter a wine than I typically drink, but it’s not an icky sweet—it’s got a nice earthiness to it, too. There are maybe three wineries I’ve been to that I really love the Catawba, and Pheasant Hollow is one!

Also, friends, please don’t worry. I have a backlog of these, I’m ok, really! 😉