Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

As my study of the horror genre continues, next stop, THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE… When I was in Junior High, like most eighth graders, I read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.” To this day, Ms. Jackson’s visuals are permanent etchings upon the haunted corridors of my mind. The …

I Found You Again Today

I found you again today What’s it been, thirty years? You still look great, same great Smile, same clear blue eyes, You haven’t aged at all, You were with your family, Just like I left you, lying There, inside that wooden box, The big one in the basement, I was …

Life in the Air Force: My New Adventure Begins…

Better known as, “What the heck was I thinking??”

As I lay there on my bed, that first night, in an open room full of women, I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking. But one thing’s for certain, I was more concerned about survival than deep, introspective thought.

As the sound of sniffles reached my ears, I realized someone a few beds over was crying, my first thought was that she was going to be eaten alive. I don’t know how I knew, but somehow I did, that crying wasn’t an option, not here, not ever.

Every instinct inside me was set on one thing and one thing alone, making it through the next six weeks. I knew that if I could do that, I could face anything the Air Force had to throw at me. I just had to get through basic training and believe me, that was harder than you think.

From the moment we arrived, the Military Training Instructors (MTIs) or TIs as we called them, were using that loud, authoritative voice. You know the one. It’s the one your parents use on you when you’ve done something really bad. But this yelling was continuous and repetitive and the very last thing you wanted was for that person, male or female it didn’t matter, to focus in on you.

We had two TIs, one male and one female. She was tall with platinum hair and her heels clicked when she walked. I still cringed at the sound those heels make within my head.

But I also remember her fondly, because about midway through, when she could have booted me out, she pulled me aside and our little chat, not more than a few words, made all the difference. As for the other TI, he was a total and absolute egotistic jerk, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re still on that first night.

No, not our bay, but just like it.

Aside from the urgency of getting ready for bed as quickly as we possibly could, what I think left the biggest impression on me that night was what would become a nightly occurrence, “Taps,” being played over the loud speaker. That was the signal that it was time for lights out and we better be in our beds or there was hell to pay. Maslow had nothing over the Air Force, the first notes of “Taps,” both instilled fear as well as commanded us to sleep, no salivating necessary.

The other immediate and lasting impression came the next morning at 5 AM, “Reveille.” Imagine that insistent bugle playing full blast on the speaker above your bed. To this day, that damn tune brings back the urgency to get moving and the humid smell of early summer mornings at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.  Bottom line, by the time Reveille was done, you had to have gotten dressed and downstairs into formation. If you were lucky, you might even have a few seconds to relieve yourself first, but being late for formation was bad, very bad.

And that brings to mind the dreaded AETC Form 341, we had to carry three of them at all times with our name, squadron number and flight number already printed out. Getting one pulled by anyone in authority either caused immediate, unrelenting fear or absolute elation. “Three-forty-ones,” as we called them were the forms used for either positive or negative recognition.  And the worst part, as soon as you got back to dorm, you had to tell your TI what happened. It was sort of like telling Mom and Dad what you did wrong and making sure you told them before the mean lady next door paid them a visit.

I’d gotten at least one three-forty-one pulled for an infraction, but for the longest time I kept a copy of the only one I ever had pulled for praise of performance. Silly, huh?

This is the type of building I stayed in during basic training. It’s a squadron building. Each squadron is made up of flights and each flight had their own dorm. My squadron was the 3700th, flight 3711.

Each flight, or group of trainees, consisted of four squads. The level of authority within the flight consisted of a Flight Leader and then each squad had their own Squad Leader. If we had twenty-eight girls in our flight, each squad consisted of seven girls. Confused yet?

This will be important later, especially when it comes to marching in formation. Marching is something that I repeatedly had trouble with the first three weeks, but not for the reason you think. 🙂

Okay, enough for today. I hope you’re enjoying my visit down memory lane, I know I am.

Please Welcome Amie Irene Winters!

Our guest for today, Amie Irene Winters, author of bestselling novels, Strange Luck, and Nightmare Birds.

Amie, congratulations on becoming an Amazon Bestseller! If you had one word of advice for struggling writers, what would it be?

Thank you! It was a long-time goal of mine and it feels very strange now that it’s finally happened.

Here’s my best advice for struggling authors:

  • Don’t ever give up writing! It’s okay to take breaks from your book. It’s normal to feel burned out. It’s normal to be upset if you get a rejection or bad review. The good news is that it does get easier with time and experience. At the end of the day the most important thing is focusing on your craft.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. Every author and book is unique, so one type of marketing technique might work for one author, but not another. It’s all trial and error. Just don’t get too caught up in the marketing and repeatedly changing things. Writing a stellar book should be your number one priority.

I was privileged to recently read Strange Luck, a fun, truly unique and original tale. What I found the most striking was the Darling shop for haunted “junk.” There has to be a real-life story behind this idea. Please tell!

I’m so glad you enjoyed Strange Luck! Yes, there is a real-life story behind it. That being…I love to antique! My antiquing addiction started when I was a little girl and my parents would take me to garage sales and antique fairs. Oh, the wondrous things I would see and learn! Each object was a unique piece of history, and sometimes the story was more intriguing than the actual antique.

A lot of the antiques in the Strange Luck shop were inspired by real things I’ve seen or read about over the years. For example, the fortune-telling cricket is real! Well, sort of. Growing up, my parents had a little cricket statue in our living room. When I got older, I asked where it had come from and my mom told me it was given to her by my great grandma who said it would bring their home good luck. I always thought that was neat, so when it came time for me to live in a house of my own, my mom gave me the cricket. Since then, it’s traveled across the country with me and it currently resides in my living room.

You can learn more about some of the peculiar antiques of Strange Luck here: http://www.amieirenewinters.com/antiquesofstrangeluck.html

–  Fascinating! Being a lover of owls, I especially like the owl clock.

I read in your bio that you have a Masters Degree in Environmental Leadership, my immediate thought was, “Wow, such a big step from that to writing,” but as I think back at the fantastical adventure in Strange Luck, I have to ask, “How did your background influence your writing?”

Yes, it was certainly a leap, but the experience has definitely influenced my writing. They say to “write what you know”. Since I’m an outdoorsy girl, I found it easy for my protagonist to be one, too. Daisy’s a bit of a tomboy who loves hiking and camping. The trails she hikes and places she goes are based on some of my favorite real-life places in California.

With that in mind, do you ever write outside? And if so, do you have a favorite place to write?

Not really. I’ve found it difficult to find a good spot that isn’t distracting. I also primarily work on my laptop, so I’m always battling with the glare from the sun. Occasionally I’ll write ideas in my notebook outside, but that’s only during the beginning stages of drafting a book.

I believe you’ve written a sequel to Strange Luck, “The Nightmare Birds.” The description on your website looks enticing. What can you tell us about the book and where do you see your series going from here?

Yes. There are three books planned in the Strange Luck series. In Book I, Strange Luck, eighteen-year-old Daisy Darling uncovers a world built using stolen memories.  It is in this world that Daisy discovers that she possesses unexplainable and unique abilities that she uses to battle the dark forces at play.

Book II, The Nightmare Birds, flashes forward to Daisy at twenty-one-years-old and uncovers more of her strange abilities and how they tie in to her heritage. In the process, Daisy uncovers the truth about the mysterious Theater of Secrets – long thought a dark legend by many, but known as a frightening reality to those who truly know its powers.  As Daisy assumes her new role as ringleader, she not only discovers a surprising connection between herself and the previous ringleader, but also the haunting truth behind the theater’s limitless power.

I’m working on Book III, A Darling Secret, right now. It’s expected to be released in winter 2017. You can sign up for my newsletter here to be notified about new book releases and special promos.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00XZ88V5A

Blog: https://golden-cricket.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aiwinters

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851542.Amie_Irene_Winters

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amieiwinters/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmieIWinters

Website: http://www.amieirenewinters.com

 

Amie, thanks so much for joining us today. It was truly a pleasure, and best of luck with your writing. I look forward to reading Nightmare Birds. Such an amazing cover!

And to my readers, thanks so much for joining us here on “Please Welcome!” Again, our guest today was Author Amie Irene Winters. Her books are available in both ebook and paperback format. Check out “Strange Luck” you’ll be glad you did!

Our guest next time on “Please Welcome!” will be SJ Hermann, author of the Morium Trilogy and my personal favorite, Splintered Love.

 

Life in the Air Force: Day One

From the Frying Pan – Philadelphia As I emerge from the sleep of early morning, taking eager sips from my mug, the one with an antiquated Mickey Mouse waving on the front, seriously, that mouse is far too happy in the mornings, my mind wonders back to the July 1981. …

Mad House by Clea Simon

This is an old review, but one of my favorites – My review of Mad House by Clea Simon: Being a bibliophile from an early age, I read incessantly!  Well, I finished a book last night that I just had to share, Mad House by Clea Simon. This book is …

Life in the Air Force: A New Adult Novel??

I’m in the process of moving many of my posts from my previous website to this one.  “A New Adult Novel??” and the next five “Life in the USAF” posts are all repeats. Warning: All of my posts from my experiences in the military are honest, some brutally honest. I …

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Originally posted January 17, 2010 One of the requirements of my horror-writing education is to read every story listed on pages 18 – 22 of ON WRITING HORROR by the Horror Writers Association… ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin is on this list. As a child sitting on the sofa between my two older …

Never Settle for Second Best

Years ago, at seventeen, I sought an outlet. Something, anything, that would allow me to give voice to my thoughts, a way to “visualize” the pictures and the “movies,” that ran through my head. The medium I chose was what came naturally to me, words. With words I could paint …