Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

A little poem for your Halloween enjoyment!

I'm A Vegetarian Vampire
By Nicole Ducleroir

I’m a vegetarian vampire
Cursed with eternal life
Roaming the night in search of food
I can cut with a butter knife

My skin crawls, my stomach churns
at the thought of sinking my teeth
into the flesh of an animal’s neck
and sucking what runs beneath

From sundown to dawn, I dig around
in gardens and grocery trash
Collecting delectable, edible bits
to add to my sarcophagus cache

Beet juice ambrosia down my chin
Strawberry stains on my fingertips
Pomegranate, you rock my world
Cherry Kool-Aid mustached lips

The vegetarian vampire does indeed
indulge in one lament
For I’ve been told how delicious is
tomato sauce with a garlicky accent.

Happy Halloween!

[To purchase t-shirts with the above clip art, visit!] 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Dance on Fire Sequel Released Today

The wait is over for fans of horror author James Garcia, Jr. Today, the sequel to his popular 2010 debut novel Dance on Fire is released. Heroes and villains we loved and hated -- and loved to hate -- in the first installment of this crossover vampire series have returned to reek more havoc in Kingsburg, CA. Members of this small  community are still  recovering from wounds inflicted when they were caught in the cross-hairs of two warring vampires, Nathaniel and Vincent. It's five years later, and things are about to get bad again. Very bad.

From the book description on Amazon, we learn Dance on Fire: Flash Point opens five years after the death of Steve and Angie Rosen's only child, Tiffany. Imagine the couple's shock and elation when they receive an unexpected guest to their Morro Bay, California home: their daughter. Tiffany explains she lost her memory from the terrible head wound inflicted during the fire that destroyed the family's Kingsburg home. And now she suffers migraine headaches that force her to hide from daylight in order to prevent agonizing pain. 

(You don't believe her story, though, right? No, me either.)

In fact, Tiffany's story is only half true. Tiffany is a vampire and Steve and Angie's daughter in name, only. She sleeps during the day and hunts for human blood during the night, and she has come back to enact a twisted revenge upon those who ruined the plans of her master, who is none other than the first Dance on Fire book's starring villain, notorious vampire, Vincent. And she is not alone. She brings with her four other vampires, all who carry great evil in their black hearts.

Meanwhile, the good vampire, Nathaniel, has pledged his service to the people of Kingsburg, but he is no longer among them. He lives high in the Oregon mountains near the California border, seeking whether God might yet have a place in His kingdom for him. 

When Nathaniel discovers that Tiffany has returned, will he be too late to stop her? And will his desire to protect his friends destroy what God has begun in him?

Dance on Fire: Flash Point is available for download in eBook format. Order your copy HERE.

James Garcia Jr. began writing when he discovered horror novels while in junior high. Later, he set aside his dream of being a writer while he and his wife started their family. Later still, while approaching his fortieth year, he began to feel the haunting desire to see that novel completed. After twenty years, "Dance on Fire" was published in 2010. James is an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Growers of California. 
Jimmy's social media contacts:


Friday, October 26, 2012

5 Tips to Create a Writer's Retreat at Home

A typical item on every Writer's Bucket List is "Attend a Writer's Retreat." In a perfect world each one of us would be granted time away from jobs and household responsibilities for a couple days every year, where we'd gather with fellow creative souls in mountaintop chalets, seated in deep-cushioned chairs around roaring fires in stone masonry hearths, and we'd write. Since this idyllic scenario only applies to the fortunate few, the rest of us have to be creative about how we carve out special time for writing inspiration.

"Getting away," says Judy Reeves, author of The Writer's Retreat Kit, "is the wish and dream and fantasy of every writer I have ever known and, I expect, of nearly every writer I will ever meet, except for those rare and blessed souls who are lucky enough, or determined enough, or rich enough, to already be 'away'."  So the real question becomes, how do we "get away" without spending a dime or leaving our homes?

Here are Reeves' tips for creating the writer's retreat experience, right in the comfort of your home.

1. Consider the word 'retreat' as a concept, not a place. So what if you're still home? The place where you write becomes less important as long as you can release your ties with the outside world and enter a place that invites you to connect with the Self.  Let the heart, mind, imagination and body align so that you write with intention; that's the key. Allow fresh inspiration to flow, just as you would do if you were physically attending an out-of-town retreat.

2. Create a safe and nurturing space to write. When I close my eyes and think "retreat," I see sun-dappled Adirondack chairs on a leaf-strewn deck in the woods in fall. You might see a sandy beach in December, or a breezy villa in the Greek Isles. All we really need is a sheltered place where we can let go of our defenses and slip into our solitude. Find the best place for you, whether it's on a blanket under a tree in your backyard, or in a back bedroom with walls you've covered ceiling-to-floor in road maps, or at the dining room table where you've draped white gauzy fabric over the windows and lit a slew of scented candles.

3. Embrace rituals that signal it's time to write. Sometimes tuning out the drone of life's distractions is difficult, if not impossible. But as mentioned above, a retreat is not just a place, it's a state of mind. Developing a ritual that alerts the mind it is time to calm down will benefit the writer ready to "retreat." The best relax-your-mind rituals invoke the senses. Examples to try include lighting incense, sipping herbal tea, playing music, chanting, or taking a shower.

4. Plan your retreat. This seems like a no-brainer. But what strikes the difference between a regular writing session and a retreat is that the retreating writer completely removes herself from ordinary time and the demands of everyday life. Obviously, this takes planning. Ensure you will have time alone; arrange for food to be prepared or delivered; plan to do no housework or laundry chores; turn off the TV; and close the Internet browser. It is possible, through careful planning and intention, for retreats at home to be deep and rewarding experiences.

5. Establish and prepare a theme for your retreat. The whole idea behind a retreat is to reinvigorate your inspiration through writing in a relaxed and creative environment. Reeves shares some truly exciting ideas for retreat themes. Here are a couple to get your gears grinding:

  • Beginnings and Endings -- Begin writing at the front door of your home and move through the space, stopping to write as you go, until you arrive at the back door. 
  • Family Stories -- Drag out a box of mementos or old home movies. Touch objects. Smell the perfume of the past. Watch yourself in black and white, as a young child. Remember and write.
  • Snapshots -- Collect your photos from all over the house and surround yourself with them as you write. Get inside the images; write from the places inside their borders.
  • Write by the Moon -- Sleep outside during a full moon. Take a moon bath. Get slides of the moon and project them onto a blank wall of your retreat space. How 'far out' can your imagination go? 

You don't have to have a wallet full of disposable income to experience the magic of a writer's retreat. With some creativity and intention, anyone can create a writer's retreat in their own home or backyard. Invite a couple writing friends to join your adventure. For more great home retreat ideas, pick up a copy of Judy Reeves book The Writer's Retreat Kit, available HERE. 

Have you ever experienced a Home Writer's Retreat? What was it like?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Shouldn't Be Alive

*Bullet* Two scuba divers surface in open ocean to find the dive boat has left them behind, miles from shore. ~*Bullet*~ On a ski vacation, a father and his eight-year-old son are caught in an alpine storm and find themselves miles off course, somewhere in the Sierra Nevada wilderness.~*Bullet*~ A cinematic photographer and his crew are filming footage of an active volcano when their helicopter crash lands in the crater. ~*Bullet*~A married couple in their late sixties becomes stranded in the mountainous Mexican dessert when their jeep overturns. *Bullet*

The scenarios above share several common denominators: They are all true stories. Each was immortalized as an episode of the reality television series I Shouldn't Be Alive. They each possess elements of an exciting Action/Adventure plot. And -- (writers take note) -- they epitomize the drama of the human experience when victims are faced with their own mortality.

For anyone unfamiliar with I Shouldn't Be Alive, a typical episode takes viewers through that fateful adventure when the spotlighted victim(s) nearly lost their lives. Beginning with the morning of Day 1, actors reenact the victims' movements leading up to a cataclysmic event, during the chaos as all hell breaks loose, and through the long days of survival and despair that follow until finally, mere moments before rasping their final breaths, they are rescued. Intermittent with the action are snippets of testimony by the real-life victims, stoic yet teary-eyed, which hammers home for viewers the realization that harrowing events like these could happen to anyone. Even you.

Now that's drama.

I'm a reality survival show addict. And yes, it's a bit embarrassing to admit it. So, to rationalize my dedicated viewership, let me tell you what I observe in every episode that relates (thank God) to writing.

Every episode contains the following:

*Target* The inciting incident, usually an accident involving a combination of human and mechanical failures, terrorizes the victims and sets off this chain of emotional responses: Blinding Fear (We're gonna die!*Right* Euphoric Relief (We're still alive!*Right* Cautionary Optimism (They're looking for us; we'll just tend to these wounds, sit tight, and wait.) *Right* Utter Dismay (They'll never find us; we're out of water; I think this is infected...*Right* Courageous Resolve (I have a plan...*Right* Abject Despair (I'm out of ideas. My God, this is it. This is really it.*Right* Exhausted Elation (We're saved. Oh God, it's really over.)

*Target* As the events unravel, we observe absolute proof that human beings are resilient creatures. With every step forward the victim takes to reverse his perilous situation, he inevitably falls three steps back. For example, in the episode with the helicopter crash in the volcano crater, the radio was damaged and the photographers realized their only chance of survival was climbing out of the crater. They made it pretty far up the crater wall. (GOOD). The air was less toxic and easier to breath higher up (GOOD). The crater wall was unstable and tiny shards of volcanic glass sliced their hands each time they slid down in the ash (BAD). Unable to continue up or go back down, they became stuck under the crater lip, out of view of rescue choppers (BAD). One guy made it back to the crash site and repaired the radio (GOOD). Alerted rescue chopper couldn't approach due to sudden inclement weather (BAD). And on, and on, and on.

*Target* At one point in every episode, the least injured or fittest victim must make the decision to leave the hurt or weaker person behind and try to find help. This is an excruciating choice to make, never more poignant than in the story of the father and his eight year old son. The dad made sure his boy was tucked into a tiny cave, out of the elements. Still, frostbite had already stiffened the boy's feet, and the wilderness surrounding him was home to hungry wolves and bears. The dad knew it could be days before he returned with help, meaning his young son would be alone, without food, those long days and nights. And there were no guarantees the dad would make it out, at all. Heartbreaking!

*Target* Almost every victim reaches a moment when they are resolved to the futility of their predicament. They will likely die, in a few hours, in a few days. With this acceptance comes the need to express themselves to those they will leave behind, so they write a letter to their loved ones. Last words of endearment, final requests, apologies. Their words are beautiful and emotional. Just thinking about writing a letter like that inspires stories in my mind.

Fiction writers can take plenty of notes on the craft while watching survival shows like I Shouldn't Be Alive. There are a couple other reality series like it, such as I Survived which focuses more on victims of violent crimes than man verses wilderness stories, and When Vacations Attack which is all about life-or-death crises that happen to people while on vacation. Each of these series showcases again and again the resilient human spirit in the most dangerous of circumstances. For me, it's the drama within the action/adventure that makes it so impossible to turn off.

Question For Next Time: What's your television addiction? Tell me how your TV guilty pleasure impacts your ability to write stories.

[By Nicole Ducleroir. Published October 3, 2012 in's Drama Newsletter.]