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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Time at the St. George Book Expo

Over the weekend I was down in St. George (southern Utah) at the St. George Book Festival. There was a day of workshops, of which I taught one on Writing in Multiple Genres, and then the expo was the next day where myself and about sixty other authors sold their books. 

All the JFP Authors who attended. From left to right: Lehua Parker, Teri Harman,
 Johnny Worthen, Yours Truly, and Berk Washburn (of The Brothers' Washburn)
It was great! The workshops were enlightening. My own presentation went well--I got a few compliments on it--even if it did run about ten minutes too short. 

My awesome dad, who came to keep me company,
do the heavy lifting, the driving, and learn some
stuff himself. We had a blast! Love you, Dad! :D

Dean Hughes was the keynote speaker. I thought he was great. Very entertaining and also insightful. I haven't read his books myself but he's one of my brother's favorite authors. My brother is always telling me I should read Children of the Promise.

Dean Hughes, Keynote Speaker
The expo itself on Saturday, was a bit more disappointing. Everyone promised it would be well-attended, but we were tucked away on the third floor of the children's museum and I don't think people knew where to find us. Most of us only sold a handful of books. 

But, that's okay. I got to network with other authors a lot and I handed out almost one hundred bookmarks. I'd call that a day well spent! :D

The beautiful St. George temple, set against the earthy
tones of southern Utah.
How was everyone else's weekend?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Funnies

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday: Legends of the Vampire

Thoughts for Thursday is a new feature hosted by Musings on Fantasia and LKHill.  In this meme, we share thoughts or quotes that we know or have recently come across. Each week there is a specific subject or theme. These can be quotes from books, quotes by famous people, (quotes by YOU, perhaps ;D). Anything from anywhere is game, though we do ask that you keep your quote to a few sentences at most. Don't quote, for example, entire passages of a book or essay. These can be funny quips, cool sayings, hair-raising antidotes, movie lines, any kind of quote you can think of!

Just have fun, collect awesome sayings by awesome people, and try to be inspired!

Fall is upon us! The leaves are changing and Halloween is coming at us fast. (No creepiness intended.) In honor of the looming holiday, today's theme is Vampires. Check out my other blog for quotes about Werewolves.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Challenges of Writing the Second Book in a Young Adult Horror Series by Berk Washburn

Published last year, Pitch Green is the first book in the Dimensions in Death young adult horror series. The first book is based on a twenty-minute scary story we told as kids to our siblings and friends. The general outline for the novel-length story came together one evening in November of 2010. We were attending a writer's seminar in Manhattan. As we rode the subway from one end-of-the-line across town to the opposite end-of-the-line, and back again, we mapped out the elements we would need to expand the childhood story into a full-length novel. Andy wrote the first rough draft, and then Berk took it over to edit and expand the tale. In writing the first book, the ground work was laid for many sequels and
prequels in the young-adult horror series.

The Searles Mansion is a key part of both of the first two books. It was built almost a hundred years ago by an eccentric genius, who got funding and structural specifications from a clandestine source of ancient knowledge and wealth. One night the genius was mysteriously slaughtered, and ever since, children and other defenseless animals in Trona have been disappearing without a trace.

In the first book, we meet two teenagers, Camm and Cal, who are destined by wit, pluck and luck (not always good) to become the balancing force against an unearthly predator, who has come to call the mansion home. Our heroes are hurled from one scene of horror to the next. Though their intentions are good, they don't understand what they are facing, and by the
end of the first book, a door has been left open to increasing predations on an even grander scale.

The second book, Mojave Green, is a continuation of the first story, but it is a completely new part of the story, written from scratch over the last couple years. In the second book, a call from her best friend, Cal, brings news that Camm had hoped never to hear. Children are again disappearing from Trona. Has the unnatural creature they killed last year returned to life or has the ancient mansion spawned a new menace? Ignoring dire warnings from federal agents, the pair take a road trip home with unsuspecting school friends in tow and discover the situation has gotten worse. With monstrous predators seemingly coming out of nowhere,
enigmatic forces tear the friends apart, pulling Cal into another world, where his chances of survival are slim. Finally coming to terms with her feelings for Cal, Camm desperately seeks help where she can, even from the dead, but can a rogue agent and other peculiar misfits help her uncover the long-lost secrets she needs to rescue Cal and stop the inter-dimensional

The destiny of her own world may lie in Camm's young hands. Writing the second book was a completely different experience for us as co-authors, than was the first book. The first book was based on a childhood story that we had been telling for years, and the basic plot elements already existed. The second book is a brand new story that has never existed before, and as co-authors, we had to agree on a whole new plot.

In both books, we were under pressure to maintain the suspense and mystery as we moved the story along as fast as possible. While we don't think in terms of one story being better than the other, we are definitely excited with the Mojave Green story. Our fans can expect a faster moving, broader ranging story in the second book, which introduces new characters and covers more territory, both in terms of geography as well as emotions. Some of our favorite scenes in book two take place as Camm and Cal confront the new predators spawned by the collapse of the guardian systems that were originally built into the old mansion.

Though both authors grew up in Trona, and knew it well, we return there on occasion to make sure our descriptions of the local geography are correct. In addition, we have researched basic principles of astro-physics, so that Mojave Green can answer many of the questions raised in the first book. But remember, this is not science fiction. It is fast-paced horror, suspense and mystery based on pseudo-science rather than magic and mysticism, so in the end, everything we do must have a plausible explanation of some kind.

In all ways, the second book was more difficult to write with the underlying story expanding in many new directions. But at the same time, expanding the original story has been a very satisfying experience.

A. L. Washburn and B. W. Washburn are brothers, licensed lawyers and full time writers, residing in Colorado and southern Utah. Growing up in a large family in Trona, California, a small mining community not far from Death Valley, they spent many happy days in their youth roaming the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. After living in South America at different times, each came back to finish graduate school and start separate careers. Living thousands of miles apart, they worked in different areas of the law, while raising their own large families. 
Each has authored legal materials and professional articles, but after years of wandering in the wastelands of the law, their lifelong love of fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror, brought them back together to write a new young adult horror series, beginning with Pitch Green and later Mojave Green. They have found there yet remain many untold wonders to be discovered in the unbounded realms of the imagination, especially as those realms unfold in the perilous wastelands of the Dimensions in Death.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrosWashburn
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBrothersWashburn
Blog: http://www.thebrotherswashburn.blogspot.com
Goodreads: Berk Washburn, Andy Washburn


other kid in Trona will go near the creepy old Searles Mansion, but Camm Smith is obsessed with the need to get inside. Seven years earlier, as she herded a pack of little trick-or-treaters past the mansion, her young neighbor, Hugh, disappeared, becoming just one of many children who have vanished from Trona over the years without a trace. Now a senior in high school, Camm is still haunted by the old tragedy and is sure the answer to the mysterious disappearances lies hidden somewhere in the decaying mansion. Joining forces with her best friend, Cal, who also happens to be Hugh’s older brother, Camm naively begins a perilous search for the truth.

As things spiral quickly out of control, and others die, Camm and Cal discover it will take all their combined ingenuity to stay alive. The unseen creature, lurking deep within the bowels of the mansion, seems to have supernatural powers and is now hunting them. Making matters worse, they become entangled with hostile federal agents, who care only about keeping old secrets permanently hidden. Left to their own devices, they know they are running out of time. Unless they can make sense out of the few pieces of the puzzle they manage to unearth, the monster will certainly destroy them, and like so many others before them, they will be gone without a trace.

Do you plan to read Mojave Green?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Mojave Green

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teasers are from Mojave Green, the latest masterpiece from The Brothers' Washburn!
"Fighting an overwhelming sense of disbelief, Dylan realized it was not a rock. Turning to run, he opened his mouth to yell for help. He never got the chance to yell, let alone run. Everything went dark." (Loc 289, Kindle ARC)

(Come back tomorrow for a post by the authors!)

What are you reading this week?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Crime Tidbit: The Annihilator/Ties to Jack the Ripper?

One of the two final victims of the
Annihilator, Christmas Eve 1885.
Did you know...that an Austin serial killer working in 1884-5 was suspected to be Jack the Ripper?

It's true. In 1884 and 1885, seven young women, all servant girls, were brutally murdered in the Austin, Texas area. 
"Seven females (five black, two white), and one black male were murdered. Additionally, six women and two men were seriously injured. All of the victims were attacked indoors while asleep in their beds. Five of the female victims were then dragged, unconscious but still alive, and killed outdoors. Three of the female victims were severely mutilated while outdoors. Only one of the murdered male victims was mutilated indoors. All of the victims were posed in a similar manner. Six of the murdered female victims had a "sharp object" inserted into their ears. The series of murders ended with the killing of two white women, Eula Phillips, age 17, and Susan Hancock, who was attacked while sleeping in the bed of her sixteen year-old daughter, on the night of 24 December 1885." (Source)
Sometimes the weapon was an ax, a few of the victims were stabbed in the face with some kind of spike. The killer usually knocked them out, then dragged them outdoors to mutilate them, though the MO was subtly different in each and every case. 
The victims of the crimes were “servant girls” – usually young, African-American women who at that time were commonly employed as domestic servants in many Austin households. The epithet “servant girl murders” is perhaps something of a misnomer – one of the victims was male, the boyfriend of one of the slain women; one victim was a child, the daughter of a servant who was herself attacked but not killed; and the last two victims were married white women, neither of them servants. (Source)
Popularly known as the "Servant Girl Annihilator," the murders stopped abruptly after the final two victims on Christmas Eve, 1885, and no one was ever charged. The case remains unsolved.

Three years later, the now world-famous murders in Whitechapel began. The tie between the two cases came because a "Malay cook" was named as a suspect in the Jack-the-Ripper case. He reportedly was employed three years earlier in 1885 at a hotel in Austin Texas. 
...investigated the matter, calling on Mrs. Schmidt, who kept the Pearl House, near the foot of Congress Avenue opposite the Union depot, 3 years ago. It was ascertained that a Malay cook calling himself Maurice had been employed at the house in 1885 and that he left some time in January 1886. It will be remembered that the last of the series of Austin women murders was the killing of Mrs. Hancock and Mrs. Eula Phillips, the former occurring on Christmas eve 1885, just before the Malay departed, and that the series then ended... (Source)
One of the most interesting things about this case is that it predates Jack the Ripper (supposedly the world's first serial killer) and H.H. Holmes (America's first serial killer). The annals of crime are more complicated than they seem!

For full information on the case, visit ServantGirlMurders.com, the Crime Library, or Wikipedia.

What do you think? Could Jack the Ripper and the Servant Girl Annihilator have been one and the same? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Walking Dead Premier, Party, and Recap

So I was completely offline for most of last week. It was unplanned and unexpected. Just craziness having to do with work, family and fall, you know. :D For this week, I didn't get any posts done in advance, so I still won't have as many posts as usual, but I'll be online more, commenting and such. 

Okay, down to business. Last night, I had a huge Walking Dead party. It was SO fun! A bunch of people from work who watch it came over, as well as my family, of course. I made dirt (pudding with oreos) with tomb stones and edible bones in it, as well as brain cake. My mom did a pumpkin rice crispy treat thing and a skeleton brownie. 

We even played a game. It was kind of like a drinking game, except that, being LDS, we don't drink, so instead we did a chocolate-eating game. We had a list of character quirks and every time we saw one of them in the show, we had to eat a piece of candy. Yeah, everyone was sick by the end of the night.

Everyone was up super late (I was a zombie--pun totally intended--at work today) but it was worth it. Especially because the Season 5 Premier of The Walking Dead was AWESOME!!!

I've done Game of Thrones recaps the past couple of years, and I've decided I'll do TWD recaps as well this season. You know, just so I can gush about the episodes more. :D

So, check out the food pics from the party below. If you've watched the premier, you can read the recap below. It's chalk full of spoilers, so read at your own risk!

Brain cake (Red velvet with marshmellow frosting and raspberry sauce over the top).

Brain cake cut open.

My brother pretending to eat the brain cake.

Oreo and pudding grave yard. I put characters' names as well as those of the family members in attendance on the headstones. :D

I had a "Rest in Peace, Hershel" as well as a "Rot in Hell, Govenor" headstone among the lot.

Pumpkin-shaped rice crispy treat with yellow M&Ms to fill eyes, nose, and mouth.

Skeleton-shaped brownie.

The Walking Dead Recap: Episode 5.1 : No Sanctuary

The first thing we see is a "Then" flashback of the citizens of Terminus, trapped in one of their own traincars and listening to screams going on outside. They say thy were wrong to have put up the signs and they brought "them" there. Then it shifts to "Now."

As promised, the episode picks up right where the finale of season 4 left off, with no time-jump. We see the group trapped in the train car using everything they have to try and get out. Daryl says some of the Termites are coming, and they all prepare to attack when the door opens. It doesn't go down that way, though. Instead, the top of the train car opens and smoke bomb falls in.

Soon, Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob are all dragged, bound and gagged, into a room where a body is being diced up (it's Alex, who was killed in the finale), and leaned over a trough so clean they can see their reflections in it. Four others they don't know are also brought. (Scratch that. One of the newbies is the dude Rick and Carol encountered in a house last season. Carol fixed his dislocated shoulder. Then his girlfriend was killed and he disappeared. He and Rick share a hey, I remember you! look.) Then the throat-slashing begins. Starting at the opposite side from our heroes, each man is smashed in the head with a baseball bat and then has his throat slashed. This was seriously gnarly. Even for The Walking Dead it was a lot of gore. Very difficult to watch.

Just before Glenn's turn arrives, gunfire is heard from outside, and then something that looks like a bomb shakes the entire room. Cue the Intro, and the collective, annoyed groan from the viewers.

Next we see Tyrese and Carol on the road. When a walker shows up, Ty doesn't have the heart to kill it, so Carol does, telling him he has to find the strength to be able to kill them. The two of them have to hide with baby Judith when an entire herd of walkers staggers by them, headed for Terminus. 

Next we see a small cabin (the one everyone freaked out about during filming perhaps?). A guy, obviously one of the Termites, is on a walkie talkie with another Termite, and he's saying that Alex was a dumb idiot who never "got it" and that he knew the chick with the sword was bad news when he saw her. He also says he wants "the kid's" hat when they finish bleeding them out. That's all he gets out before finding Carol's gun brushing the back of his head. Carol and Ty take him captive. "We're friends with the chick with the sword and the kid with the hat," she tells him. Nice. Ty will stay with him and Judith while Carol heads for Terminus to try and free their friends who are obviously captives there.

Carol covers herself in walker gore so she can simply join the herd and sneak in. When she reaches the fence, she sees Rick, Glenn, and the others being dragged inside, bound and gagged. As it turns out, the stuff happening with Carol is happening concurrently with what we saw at the beginning. Through the scope of her gun, she spies a propane tank. She starts firing at it (the gunshots Rick, Glenn, Daryl and Bob heard while waiting to be smashed and slashed). Once she puts a hole in the take, she fires a rocket at it and the tank explodes (the bomb/explosion that saved our guys' lives). Carol = Badass!

Gareth runs outside to figure out what's going on. Meanwhile, Rick has managed to smuggle a wooden shard into the room and saws away at the zip tie binding him. Once he's free, he kills the two guards and frees the others. They scavenge for weapons, moving around some really nasty-looking torsos hanging from the rafters. Rick admonishes them to kill any Termite they come upon.

Before they go outside, they see another train car that has people inside. Glenn suggests they release the captives. "That's still who we are," he says. They run out, killing walkers, and open the train car. A crazy dude with tattoos, reminiscent of the Duck Dynasty guys, comes out, shouting about them all being the same. He's promptly killed by a walker. The guys sneak around, waiting for part of the herd to pass, followed by Termites. Rick sneaks up behind them and kills them all with one of their own guns. This is a great contrast to season 1, when Rick put a gun to Daryl's head declaring, "We don't kill the living." Obviously, his beliefs have changed a bit. Oh, and Rick = Badass!

Meanwhile, Carol is making her way through Terminus. She finds a room full of possessions that have obviously been taken from those the Termites have taken captive. She finds Daryl's bow and slings it over her shoulder. Eventually, she makes her way into the seance room, where she's confronted by Mary. The barbecue-r. Mary reveals that once Terminus was what it claims to be--a place offering sanctuary--but then bad people came and attacked, taking over. They raped and killed until the people of Terminus took their home back. Now they live by the mantre: You're either the butcher, or the cattle.

Carol and Mary then engage in a 50-year-old-woman catfight. Carol, of course, gets the upper hand and shoots Mary in the leg. Mary tells her to shoot her in the head next, but Carol refuses, instead letting in a group of walkers, who trudge right past her (she's still covered in gore) and chow down on Mary.

Poor Judith! Source
Back in the cabin in the woods, Ty's prisoner lunges for Judith and threatens to snap her neck. He tells Ty to put down his weapons and go outside, which Ty does. (That would never happen.) The guy listens to Ty struggle with the walkers outside, and smiles when things go quiet, thinking Ty is dead. That is until Ty bursts in and tackles him. Outside, it turns out that Ty has not only killed all the walkers, but staked one of them through the neck. Yeah, Ty= Badass.

Ew! Source
Meanwhile, Rick and the others run for the fence that encloses Terminus. There is plenty of gore here as well, including a walker biting off someone's face, and Daryl killing walkers with a length of pipe. (Stating the obvious, I know, but Daryl = Badass.) Eventually they make it to the fence, shooting Gareth along the way, and go over. 

Terminus, the entire compound, is burning. (Yea, they really were screwing with the wrong people.)

In the woods, they dig up the bag they buried outside that has their weapons in it. Rick wants to go back and finish off the Termites, but everyone else is just happy to be out and doesn't want to go back. 

Then Carol walks up behind them in the woods. When Daryl sees her, he runs at her and hugs her. This was probably one of the sweetest moments of the entire series! They did such a good job with reunions in this episode. Understand that I am NOT a Daryl/Carol shipper. I'm all about Daryl and Beth (see my fan videos for proof) but I loved this part! Nothing about this hug was romantic. They're just besties and were genuinely happy to see one another. Such a sweet moment! (Gif Source)

And then Rick and Carol have to hug, too. Rick kicked Carol out last season, but given that she single-handedly saved everyone's bacon, I think she's earned some forgiveness. This hug was sweet, too. Then she tells Rick to come with her.

The group arrives at the little cabin in the woods just as Tyrese is exiting it with Judith in his arms. Rick runs to his baby girl and hugs her, with Carl, and cries. All the characters are crying. All the viewers are crying. Such a great moment! So beautiful. 


In the end, we see one more flashback of the Termites. (Meh) Although, the crazy tattoo guy from the train car is seen as one of those murderer/rapists who attacked Terminus. Don't know why he was left alive, but...

Then Rick and the group head off into the woods. Abraham and Rosita talk, and Abraham says he'll talk to them about it, but not yet. We don't learn what "it" is. Rick paints over one of the "Sanctuary for All" signs, changing it to "No Sanctuary." The group leaves the tracks and heads into the woods. 

After the previews for next week, we get another clip. A man in a mask comes and looks at the "No Sanctuary" sign, compliments of Rick. He takes off his mask...and he's Morgan! From seasons 1 and 3! Dah! He follows the group into the woods, after examining a weird symbol on a tree which was NOT put there by Rick's group. (Weird!)



  • Will we see more of Terminus's background, or was this episode all we'll get of them?
  • Did Gareth and Mary really die? (I'm thinking Mary did, but while we saw Gareth get shot and go down, nothing suggests that he actually died. Personally, I think we'll see more of him.
  • What's up with Morgan?
  • What does Abraham want to talk to the group about?
  • Where the heck is Beth? The writers said ALL our questions about where everyone is would be answered in episode 1. That seems to include Beth, but she was nowhere in this episode. Not a clue. Not a single frame! (Grhhh! Liars!)

What did everyone else think of the season 5 premier of The Walking Dead? What did you think of our party food?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Funnies

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday. 

Funniest thing I found on Pinterest all week! (Source)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crime Tidbit: The Real Female Bluebeard

Gunness with her three children. 1908
Did you know...that there was a real-life female Bluebeard, a Norwegian serial killer named Belle Gunness?
It's true. Gunness was born in Selbu, Norway in 1859 and christened Brynhild Paulsdatter Størset. Little is known of her origins and some stories are contradictory, but the legend goes that she showed up at a country dance pregnant. A rich boy there kicked her in the abdomen, causing her to miscarry, and was never prosecuted for it. Family and friends reported that her personality changed markedly at that point, and she was never the same again.

Eventually she followed a sister to America.

In 1884, Gunness married Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson. They opened a confectionary shop that was not successful. It mysteriously burned down a year later and the couple collected insurance money.  Some report that the union produced no children, but others say they had four children, two of whom died in infancy from acute colitis. The symptoms of colitis closely mirror many forms of poisoning, and both children were insured. The couple collected on both deaths.