I designated March as vampire month. No particular reason. Nothing about March that suggests vampires. Random.

Reluctant Immortals by Gwedolyn Kiste should, first of all, win awards for such a cool cover. But once you are done admiring the cover, read this! Gothic / literary heroines (Lucy Westenra and Bee Mason) and villains (Dracula and Mr. Rochester), prepare for a final showdown in the 1967 Haight-Ashbury flower-child-strewn Summer of Love. You will love these characters. This feminist take on underappreciated female characters is smart, tough, tense, and sophisticated.

I was at Vixen Hill Winery in Palmyra, Illinois, enjoying a rich red wine (of course), Soloman Hill Red.

Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling is a re-read for me. My first read was in 2014. It’s a strange, beautiful book. The vampiric protagonist looks much younger than she is, which makes for some unsettling images. Though the story is told from the young vampire’s point of view, I think this story has some of the best, most troubling and thought-provoking presentations of vampire victims I’ve ever read. As always with Butler, she challenges the reader to consider broader issues, including racism, genetics and consent.

I was at Huckleberry’s Pub with a good ol’ Samuel Adams Winter Lager.

The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women, edited by Stephen Jones, is a grand collection. I’m half way through, and no two stories have had anything more in common than a vampire in the story. Stories by authors I am familiar with and many I am not – but will be.

I was on the covered patio at Feather Hills Winery, on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, not far from our home. My beloved, Tim Crosby, is playing his original Americana / black dirt music. And I was drinking a red blend, Amalgam.  


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! 😉