September 29, 2008

Eye Candy: Katie's Clay & Miniature Creations

Photo: Katie's clay Frankenstein cane

The fun thing about being online is finding new friends who share your interests and whom you can learn from. It's been fun "meeting" Katie of Katie's Clay Corner as I've found another miniatures lover - and someone who also enjoys Halloween!

Katie and I have talked about various things. She's a talented artist (check her past blog posts for links to her art), which results in her trying things that I wouldn't attempt, such as her latest Frankenstein cane. (See photo above.) It began with her making some bowls from leftover colored clay, and being the instigator that I am, :>) I suggested why not make some Halloween dishes? The results were an incredible haunted house cane that she made into miniature Halloween dinnerware. That was followed up by the even more amazing Frankenstein cane, which she made into cute bowls. Cool huh?

Katie and I have had fun trading, with her making a cute Halloween roombox she calls "Frankie's Place."

She just revamped it and added some more cool handmade clay items like the cauldron and pumpkins. We are doing another swap so it'll be fun to see what she adds next. I warned her that an extension might be in order. ha!

Be sure to come back for a look at more Halloween miniatures this month!

** Your Turn: Got any favorite Halloween sites you like or projects you've made? Feel free to share them!

September 18, 2008

Meet the Author: Short Story Writer John M. Floyd

Mississippi author John M. Floyd could be called the king of shorts - short stories, that is.

All told, this prolific author has written - and published - more than 600 short stories and fillers in top publications including, "The Strand Magazine," "Grit," "Woman's World" and "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine." Not bad for someone who's been writing for 25 years, but only began getting his stories published in 1993.

A former Air Force captain and now retired after 30 years with IBM, Floyd calls himself "happily worthless." An understatement, considering he still enjoys writing whenever he can.

His new book, MIDNIGHT (Dogwood Press, 2008) features a collection of 30 stories of various genres, from mystery to humor, romance, science fiction, and more. Of note are eight more stories featuring bossy schoolteacher Angela Potts and her long-suffering former student Sheriff Chunky Jones (who, by the way, have appeared in several of Floyd's Mini Mysteries published in "Woman's World" magazine, found at the grocery and WalMart checkouts.)

Writing on the Side

Floyd actually began writing stories as a lark and found he enjoyed it: "I started writing short stories just as a way to pass the time, when I was traveling the globe with IBM and spending a lot of hours alone in airplanes and airports and hotels, etc.--and soon found that I loved dreaming up tales and putting them on paper."

He's since found publishing success, with his fiction being nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He also was the winner of the 2007 Derringer Award for short mystery fiction presented by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Besides fiction, he has delved into nonfiction and wrote some articles, poems and essays, "but I don't think they're as much fun to write as fiction," he says. "Most of my nonfiction is on the subject of writing, which makes it less of a chore. I also write a weekly column at Criminal Brief with six other mystery writers/readers, and have really enjoyed that."

His Favorite New Story

Asked if he has a favorite story and quote from his newest collection, Floyd picks one of his teacher-sheriff mysteries. In "Dry Spell," bossy retired schoolteacher Angela Potts has just helped the sheriff of her small town solve a case and he asks her how she found out who the robber was. "Snooping," she tells him, "is a full-time job."

With his fiction, Floyd says his goal is simply to be entertaining: "If something in them is educational or enlightening at times, that's so much the better, but my purpose is to write entertaining stories that I hope might bring enjoyment to the reader. If that happens, I'm happy."

And as long as he continues, so are readers.

* Learn more about Floyd's stories and book at Dogwood Press

September 17, 2008

Story Weds: Read something spooky-I dare you! & BBAW Interviews

At this time of year, my thoughts, at least, turn to things that go bump in the night, and I don't mean the dog bumping into something.

I love a good mystery and a good spooky story. Combine the two and it's a double whammy!

Here are some stories I found that you might enjoy reading. Be sure the lights are on!

* Author Gail Farrelly writes about a mafia princess who gets a new face... and a lot of trouble

* How about a spooky kid's story? The MysteryNet Chillers are still online.

* The Criminal Brief website has several spooky and other short mysteries by a variety of authors.

* Check out some free horror stories by these authors.

* This one sounds good, even if it's not online. R.T. Lawton's latest in his Holiday Burglars series of short stories, "Grave Trouble," features two bumbling burglars who intend to dig their way from a storm water drain system into the basement of a jewelry store, but end up in a casket room instead. Sorry, you'll have to wait to read this one in the Dec. issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

*Your Turn: Share some of your favorite Halloween mysteries or other short stories.

** BBAW:
For more chills, you can read two new interviews with me at PopSyndicate and at Linus's Blanket. Don't say I didn't warn you. ha!

September 16, 2008

BBAW: Talking Books at Linus's Blanket


While she does go off on a different path once in a while, most roads on New Yorker Nicole B's blog,
Linus's Blanket
, lead to books, books and more books.

For Nicole, blogging came along as a sideline, initially as a way to keep in touch with friends, but now, she's found a niche writing about books and her love of reading.

Her blog is full of books, interviews, and more; not bad for someone who's only been at it since this summer.

"I'm pretty new to blogging," she says. "I was going to be traveling a lot over the summer and mainly, I wanted a place that I could put up some pictures and share stories with my friends, but then somehow I got sucked into the world of book blogging. I was reading a lot while on vacation and started posting my thoughts and then started reading what other people were talking about on their blogs. I just got addicted and haven't really been posting about anything else, although I reserve the right to start posting other things." :-)

Nicole admits that the blog has come to feel comfortable, almost like being at home. She likes being able to discuss her likes, maybe her dislikes, and get the feelings of others. The bonus, she says, is that blogging has brought a whole new dimension to her reading, and her writing.

"I love having a place that I can go back and look at how I have felt about a certain book," she says. "Sometimes my thoughts change and now I can have a reference point and a record. Also, through blogging I am getting a ton of other recommendation from some great blogs. I'm reading some really great writing from other bloggers, which in turn helps me improve the content and quality of my own writing."

Reading, blogging and a few other things

Photo: What is this man doing? (Submitted photo)

The blog has become a kind of online home for Nicole, a place where she can sometimes wander into other "rooms" (or subjects), or go back and reflect on her previous interests.

"Mostly so far I am writing about the books I am reading although I do plan to branch out to traveling and eating, which are my other two loves," she says. "I love having a place that I can go back and look at how I have felt about a certain book. Sometimes my thoughts change and now I can have a reference point and a record. Also, through blogging, I am getting a ton of other recommendations from some great blogs and reading some really great writing from other bloggers, which in turn helps me improve the content and quality of my own writing."

While Nicole feels she's still too new at blogging to offer advice, she says it shouldn't be rushed. The main thing is to enjoy it.

"I think it just takes some trial and error and being patient with the process," she says. "I spend a lot of time trying to get the right feel for how I would like to talk about the books I have read and developing a format for me to present my ideas.

"I love to read a lot of blogs, but I have been trying to cut down on the number of blogs I read (just for a little while!) so that I can concentrate on getting to know some people.) I love to follow my comments. I appreciate folks stopping by and I have found some really great blogs so far. The book blogging community is lovely and I am enjoying becoming a part of it very much."

Nicole is a big reader, but she does take time for other activities, like bocce. Did you guess what the photo was about?

"When I'm not reading or more recently on the computer reading book blogs, I love to cook and to socialize," she says. "I am in a couple of book clubs and a friend hosts a game night in my neighborhood which I attend once a month. I throw dinner parties and I am also on a bocce league that plays on Sunday afternoons. I also like to go with my friends to sports games. I never watch them on TV, but I love to watch them live."

** Check out Nicole's 11 book bests lists.

** Your Turn: Be sure to stop by Linus's Blanket and comment. Share your favorite book.

** BBAW Contest: Post a comment about your favorite book here and at Nicole's blog to get your name entered to win a copy of my spooky ebook, "The Witch Tree." Be sure to leave a blog or website to contact you. Contest ends 9/30.

* Read other blogs and news for Book Blogger Appreciation Week at My Friend Amy's Blog

* Find new blogs and read other BBAW interviews here.

September 15, 2008

Eye Candy: A Dream House in Shabby Chic Style

If you didn't guess it already, yesterday's photo of that charming bedroom was not from a real house. It's actually from The Brocante Dollhouse decorated by my Dutch friend, Kitty Balke.

What struck me about this house was how comfortable it felt, like a house you'd want to visit and stay awhile at. Using pretty pinks, cream and white, Kitty concentrated on making the house a perfect image of the popular "shabby chic" style. Even more fun is that if you didn't know, you'd swear the photos are of "real" (life-sized) rooms.

The house, amusingly enough, was a throw-away. A neighbor tossed it out and was surprised to find that she'd taken it in and given it new life.

I really love what she's done in this house and want to do something similar with a Colonial half-inch scale house I have. I'd like to make it "shabby chic" with a primitive country feel similar to the unique work being done by Fiona Bradwood of Petite-Properties, also author of the "Bringing 1/24th to Life" books.

You can see more of Kitty's Brocante house and other work at her blog. It's in Dutch, but I think the photos speak for themselves.

Please leave a comment at both our blogs so we know you visited! Tell us about your dream home!

September 14, 2008

Finding Inspiration - Home Sweet Home

Inspiration sometimes comes from the least expected of places.

Sometimes you just need a quiet place to go and relax, put your feet up, and settle down with a good book.

It's a pretty, quiet and comforting place where you can rest and let the creative juices recharge. This looks like one of those kinds of places, doesn't it?

I'll tell you more about my new favorite inspirational spot tomorrow!

September 13, 2008

New Blog Posting Schedule!

I had a big scare as Blogger's bots decided to label Candid Canine as sp-m and blocked me out! Luckily (and surprisingly) it only lasted a day.

Well, it gave me time to think. ha! I admit I enjoyed the daily blogging in August. It did get to be a grind thinking up new ideas, but now that I took some time away, I think I've come up with a do-able blog schedule. Contributors are welcome too!

New Blog Schedule
I'm developing a new posting plan. We'll see how it goes. Want to keep it simple so it doesn't get overwhelming. It's not set in stone, but I'll try my best to add variety and interesting topics.

Monday: Eye Candy
Unusual minis and fun stuff I've spotted.

Tuesday: Random Thoughts on Writing

Weds: Meet the Author.
Any authors who want to answer a few simple questions and be featured, please email me so I can compile a list. No erotica, nudes...romance, only pg rated books please. Mystery, sci-fi, horror, inspirational are ok. * Esp. want ya and kids.

Thurs: Always a Mystery
Themes - what looks good to read, books and short stories. Flash mystery fiction welcome. Feel free to email me a short story. Will link to your site.

Fri: Dog Day Afternoon.
Who can resist cute dogs? Email me your favorite dog pic and a few lines about your pet or a funny pic you saw.

Saturday : Open. Meme day.
These are fun so I'll try one a week.

Sunday: Round up of week.

* I'll still do a miniature of the month also.

I welcome your contributions, so please email me! You can reach me at my website also, click contact me.

So, let's have fun!
Chris V.

September 11, 2008

When Books (and Food) Turn Spooky


It's hard not to think of Halloween with the stores already filled with pumpkins, skeletons and eyeball-decorated goodies.

There's something fun about dreaming up new foods that are on the gory side. But although I got a big laugh out of the bag of Body Parts Gummies I spotted in the grocery store, I usually leave my horrible recipes to my miniature projects.

But if you prefer your real-life food on the weird side, how about some Kitty Litter Cake? Funny! (I have a miniature one, albeit non-edible)!)

Given a choice, I think I'd rather have a slice of this tamer Goofy Spooks Cake with its ghosts, crawlies and what-not. Don't forget to wash it down with one of the many creepy cocktails listed here. (Wormy ice cube anyone?)

Besides eating holiday related foods (don't forget the candy corn and candy pumpkins at Halloween, gingerbread cookies and fruit cake at Christmas), I usually try to find a holiday mystery or two to read.

Even though I get a kick out of Halloween, I never really read any Halloween stories beyond the classics like Edgar Allen Poe, Dracula (cool - read it online!), or something from Stephen King.

This year, I plan to change that by specifically looking for some Halloween mysteries. So grab an eyeball cupcake, turn the lights low and join me with a few of these suggestions:

* A Catered Halloween, Isis Crawford (Kensington Sept. 2008) - who can resist a book with a severed head rolling down the stairs?

I wanted to try one of the books in the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries featuring a ghostly 1940s detective. * The Ghost and the Femme Fatale(Berkley May 2008). Who can resist a noirish ghost?

I admit to being hooked on Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys) as a kid. (I loved the recent Nancy Drew movie!) Well, some readers claim Judy Bolton was better. I don't remember reading her books, but they're reissuing the series. * The Haunted Attic (Applewood Books, Aug. 2008) looks like a good place to start with Judy moving into a haunted house and trying to solve the mystery of the ghost in the attic.

You can't go wrong with spooky hotels, dark waterways, moving corpses, ghosts and Venice in Wilkie Collins' * The Haunted Hotel and Other Stories (Wordsworth, June 2006)

** Your Turn: Have any favorite Halloween mysteries or spooky stories you recommend? What are your favorites?