GhostoriaGhostoria, Vintage Romantic Tales of Fright, is my friend Tam Francis’s first published short story collection, and I had a hand in it. (Aside: Though primarily a ghost story collection, it also contains horror stories. My hand is not literally in any of the stories, I promise you.)

Tam wasn’t anyone I knew when she started writing these stories. She submitted to the Scare The Dickens Out of Us ghost story contest my sister and I started and were preliminary judges for in 2010, then 2011, and then in 2012 when I thought she might actually win the thing. That story, Mrs. Franklin’s Night Out, is in this book.

We met finally through the Gaslight Baker Theatre where she’s an actress, and then when I joined her writer’s critique groups more than a year ago we became friends. I made editing suggestions to almost all the stories in this book (some of which I see that she ignored).

Enough of my disclaimer.

About three or four of the twelve stories in this volume are stunning ghost stories that I hope make it to a wider audience. I am so extremely proud of Tam Francis for these, and the rest of her tales are entertaining. (I’m proud of her for those, too). Many are stories of a more polite and refined era she’s calling vintage, and most of them have women protagonists.

They’ll send chills down your spine, or make you cry. They’ll while away the hours and take your mind off the nightly news. And to pay tribute to the United Kingdom’s Christmas ghost story tradition, I’ll remind everyone that Ghostoria would make a great Christmas present for someone.


Kindle           Paperback          Nook


You can find my books at

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Ghostoria by Tam Francis.



The Safari Bride




WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Smith’s Monthly # 6 (includes the novel Kill Game) by Dean Wesley Smith.






Boo Radley

Following in the steps of The Passive Guy, I occasionally actually read my Spam. Here are a few of the charmers that caught my attention.


the shoe by itself is assemble it stand up to the shock of routinely hitting the floor which implies fewer harm to your feet and decrease legs.

 (I’d like to see those decreased legs. Sounds dangerous to me.)

I personalized manboobs my own self. 

(I thought manboobs were things men didn’t want!)

I have certainly picked up anything new from proper here.

(Wonder what I wrote that brought on that comment?)



The Cowboy’s Baby 

The Cowboy’s Baby Goes To Heaven 

Talking To The Dead Guys 

Arroyo  My second book

The Safari Bride

Available for Kindle, Nook, and just about everything else

Available for Kindle, Nook, and just about everything else

Twisted Rixter


















WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.



Available for Kindle, Nook, and just about everything else

Available for Kindle, Nook, and just about everything else





WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Judgement by Lee Goldberg.  Sea of Gold by by Nick Elliott.


Get it at

Get it for the Nook

Amtrak’s got a grant program for writers.

Yes, I'm a writer.

Yes, I’m a writer.

Didn’t expect that, did you? They pay the way of a writer to ride the rails, with several stipulations: They have to write while on the train. Not sleep, not watch the scenery, not play cards, but write. And they have to Tweet about the experience or put it on Facebook or otherwise publicize it.

Well, I’m never going to win that grant. And for the most part, my fellow Romance Writers of America friends aren’t going to, either. But the idea enchanted us.

So we did it ourselves. This past Saturday and Sunday. It was a blast! Nineteen of us made the round-trip from Austin to Dallas, staying at the Hyatt Saturday night. Our goal was to write going up there, to write coming back home, and to write at the hotel that night. I did  all that, and more.

I started my second short romance novel THE CIMARRON BRIDE. I made great progress. I’d decided to go low tech (as in pen and paper) because I wasn’t sure how to handle my heavy laptop on the train. Turned out it was the right decision, even though I now have to type my novel into a file. The train ride was not smooth like a car ride, but more like a carnival ride (not all the time, but enough). Many of the writers moved from the traditional train seats to the observation car where there were tables.

Warning. The toilets are smaller than on airliners. The stairs leading up from the lower to the upper levels of the train are claustrophobic.You have to pay close attention there, and as you’re walking down the aisle, and especially if you go from one car to the next.

Would I do it again? You bet! It’s a hell of a lot safer than driving. And a lot more fun. Maybe even cheaper.

Plus I wrote the beginning of my novel that way.

And I didn’t even mention what it’s like to have another train pass about two inches from your window, going the other way, and all you see of it is a shape rushing by. Or the tunnel of trees the train glides through out there in the farm and ranch lands. Or what it’s like passing through people’s backyards, and mainly through the poorer sections of big cities. Or that our train ran its horn most of the trip, and sometimes people waved at us. Or that the passengers often lurched down the aisle as if they were drunk and holding onto the seats to remain upright.

To my utter surprise, I loved it. The train ride worked really well to concentrate my attention on the book.

You see the most amazing things sometimes.

You see the most amazing things sometimes.





Check out my mystery novel TALKING TO THE DEAD GUYS

I write short stories too.

I write short stories too.


My most ambitious story.

My most ambitious story.



My favorite color.

My favorite color.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Scavengers by Steven F. Havill. When the Duke was Wicked  by Lorraine Heath.  Chez Stinky by Susan C. Daffron.


You should see these shoes now.

You should see these shoes now.


Literature for Halloween?  You Bet! Halloween Witch Postcards c  1900s (2)

By Tam Francis

An Invitation

Gretchen has graciously invited me to hawk my new book on her blog. But, besides telling you what a fun and spooky read it is for Halloween and what it’s about, I wanted to share something special with you. I’d like to reveal the mystery of how one person can make a difference, or in this case two. If it wasn’t for Gretchen, and her sister Roxanne these stories never would have been written.

I had just moved from San Diego, California to the small town of Lockhart, Texas. I had no friends yet, and although Texans are friendly, fun and talkative, it sometimes takes a while to be invited in. I was desperate for something to distract me from my lonelies.

I had just finished writing my novel, The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress, when we moved, and I was looking for something else to sink my teeth into while I queried the novel.

The Impetus

That wish came true in the form of a flyer posted on our local library door. Our local library is not your run-of-the-mill indifferent kind of municipal library. It’s the oldest continuously operating library in all of Texas, built in 1899 with pressed tin ceiling, heavy dark wood trim, and a mezzanine with curling staircases.

The building is one of those spaces that oozes mystery, possibilities and a cosmic connection to the past. It exudes the same feeling you get when you discover a new author, or run your hand across the spine of a beautiful leather hand-bound book, or the delight of discovering someone else loves and had read your favorite novel twelve times. It’s a book-lovers library and I knew the flyer on the library must be a gift from the universe.

Scare the Dickens Out of Us

The flyer was for the Scare the Dickens Out of Us Ghost Story Contest sponsored by the Rix sisters as a fundraiser for the library. I went home and started writing. I entered with my first story, The Tour which has a specter-like character, but more of a Twilight Zone twist.

The next year I entered Haint Blue which was inspired by a friend asking me if we were going to paint our 1908 porch ceiling blue, a tradition in the south. That innocent comment led me on a research quest where I unearthed an interesting history of the tradition of blue paint relating to ghosts or haints, as there were once called. My turn-of-the-century home provided the backdrop and Texas supplied the colloquialisms.

The year after that, I entered again. This time with my, Mrs. Franklin’s Night Out, a ghost story rich in vintage style description about a woman going to a Mozartian Masquerade dance, her lonely desperation at missing her husband, and the life and death choices she must face.

Lockhart Writers Group

Shortly thereafter a group of writers, Gretchen and I included, got together and formed a critique group. Out of this group, came the other nine stories that complete the Ghostoria collection.  I could not have refined the stories and I guarantee they would not be as good if not for my writing cohorts. They each have their favorites and the diversity in which their tastes run is fascinating. We all have our darlings. One of mine is: Dressing the Part, a unique story of ghostly possession with a bit of romance, vintage fashion, and a 1940s jitterbug vibe. Check it out now on loan in the Goodreads library for your sample. Don’t forget to enter and WIN A FREE COPY of Ghostoria on Goodreads!

What’s Ghostoria about? rsz_ghostoria_ebook_091214_new


Do you like scary stories with a little romance and a vintage twist?  Welcome to Ghostoria.

  • What happens when a WWII secretary is trapped in the office with a ghost and the only way out is to make an unwelcome choice?
  • Drive-in movies, hot rods, and jitterbugs populate Long Way Home; can one young man survive a bloody night in a historic cemetery with his girlfriend?
  • Young residents of a cursed Texas town grapple with what they’re willing to sacrifice in order to save their crops, animals and loved ones.
  • Can a kindergarten teacher silence the talking doll that has frightened her students by solving a fifty year old mystery?
  • A lone lady hitchhiker hops a ride in a 1959 El Dorado Cadillac by a roadside grave. Who will be alive at the end of the drive?
  • A turn of the century jail that housed murderers, liars, and thieves for over a hundred years is taken over by six teenagers on Halloween. What happens when a childhood chant turns deadly?

Those are just a few haunts and haints that populate this world of unrequited love, woe and mystery. Ghostoria will gnaw the corners of your mind and challenge your ideas about life, love and death long after you leave.

Where to Buy

Kindle           Paperback          Nook

Books make great party favors, fun door prizes and thoughtful gifts.


What are some of your favorite ghost stories? Do you have any personal experience with unexplained phenomena? What comes to mind when you read the subtitle Vintage Romantic Tales of Woe? If you like the vintage time era 1920s-1950s stop by my blog and check it more fun posts, stories and freebies!  rsz_halloween_postcards_c__1900s_asian_pumpkin_head_2

Tam Francis

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress

WWII~ Vintage ~ Lindy~ Swing ~ Dance ~ Sewing ~ Lifestyle ~ Novel &  Blog ~  Join my list ~ Facebook page







THANK YOU TAM FRANCIS. Now, back to me.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Parables & Ponderings: When God Speaks to us Through Everyday Items and Incidents by Lia London. Republic by Lindsay Buroker.  King City by Lee Goldberg.

Selling my books at Aggiecon

Selling my books at Aggiecon


I’ve ridden Amtrak only once before, from Longview to Dallas and back. Got dizzy. It had better not happen this trip.

Amtrak has this neat new grant where they give a talented writer a free trip on the train if they’ll use their time writing, and then tweet, FB, etc. about the experience. I love the idea, but I’ll never beat out all the other writers for that grant, nor will most of the Austin Romance Writers of America to whose group I belong. So, we’re paying our own way and taking a train ride from Austin to Dallas and back (with an overnight stay at the Hilton since the train doesn’t return until the next day).

We’ll be writing. All twenty of us. Probably writing romance novels, too.

Gotta take a train ride. Gonna have a good time. Plan to write a novel.  I Will  Not  Throw Up!

I’m going to do extensive writing on my laptop this trip. For the first time. And I’m going to use this time to start a new romance novel, one in keeping with one I’m just finishing that will be available in November, The Safari Bride.

Alas, I’m not kidding about the headache, dizziness, and nausea. Any suggestions short of staying home?

Photographs by Roxanne Rix

My books available at

I write short stories too.

I write short stories too.




WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Dracula by Bram Stoker.  The Seventh Man by Max Brand.  McGrave by Lee Goldberg. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.

The Chisholm Trail Roundup parade

The Chisholm Trail Roundup parade


Texas State Fair pumkin

Texas State Fair pumkin



The walls come tumbling down at the San Antonio Zoo

The walls come tumbling down at the San Antonio Zoo


My books available at


WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Nightingale by David Farland.

Central Texas livestock

Central Texas livestock


Mural at museum

Mural at museum

What a bird!

What a bird!

Maybe we'll have poppies next spring

Maybe we’ll have poppies next spring


This also applies to good reviews, great reviews and mediocre reviews.


I know. This sounds counterproductive, but it’s the number two piece of advice I’ve seen from successful writers (right behind turn off the internet and just write).

Most bad reviews aren’t worth reading. They’re not specific enough about what the reader hated. Telling the writer her novel is boring, is full of bad language, is nothing but smut, has one-dimensional characters, etc, is too broad. And it may be a one hundred percent accurate assessment from that reader, but it’s also  just as likely they wouldn’t have liked your novel no matter which of those defects you addressed because it’s the wrong book for them.

On the other hand, maybe they’re right and its a lousy book. You don’t know how to write. In that case, practice makes perfect. You don’t want to let a one-star review derail you, so don’t read them.

And then from the opposite side of the scale, good reviews and great reviews are usually just ego fluff. You know you’re not as good as what they say. Personally I wish Amazon would re-do its rating system. Not very much really deserves that 5-star rating. But the 3-star rating (where almost everything except absolute crap truthfully belongs) tells everyone  that the book is just okay. I’m agitating for a bad, good, better, and best rating system.


If you follow this path you’re going to get your ego inflated and feel on the top of the world with the good reviews.  And then you’re going to feel like dog poop and want to lash out at everyone when you get one of those I hated it rankings. The roller coaster of good reviews vs bad reviews can be harmful to your work, as well as harmful to your self-esteem.

However, if you can teach yourself to pick out the constructive information in the reviews you can try to learn from them.

Say that some reviewer tells you  your characters lack depth. So, take a writing course on depth. Does everyone call your book a fast-paced read, but you meant it to be a slow and comfortable cozy. Drop out for a bit and practice pacing. Reviewers announce they couldn’t finish the book. If they say why and where they stopped, take a look at that section. Did you do something different here.  But if what they’ve said is too many typos, doesn’t know how to write, horrible grammar...well, maybe so and maybe not. Some people write with fragments these days. Some people never use whom.

(Except for the typo part. Go back in and fix that ASAP).


I’ve read lots and lots of advice against ever engaging with the reviewers and I have to say I agree. No matter how much I want to say thanks to the reviewers who liked my books, no matter how I might want to say sorry to the reviewers who hated my books, I do neither. I think it’s very important that reviewers be left alone to write what they want.

But, there are some authors who do engage. If you decide to take that path, be sure you’ve read and understood the review etiquette that Amazon enforces. Then keep it to a simple thank you note. Address the bad reviews the same way with a thank you for your input and a sorry. And be prepared for some back and forth comments.


Right now I’m squarely in the learn from your reviews camp, hoping to move into the never read your reviews contingent one day.

And obviously there are more than three ways to deal with bad reviews. I can think of several that start with printing down the copy and finding where you kept the matches. Might be cathartic.

But here’s a less violent way to get in a better frame of mind after a one-star I hate your book and the horse you rode in on review.

Go to any author listing you admire and pick out your absolute favorite of his/her books. Find the one-star reviews he/she got. Read them. Gasp in horror. You loved that book! How could someone hate the same book you loved so much? Makes your own bad reviews look tepid in hindsight, doesn’t it.


You can see my bad reviews at


THE COWBOY’S BABY is free through Amazon and then through Smashwords


WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Holes In The Ground by J. A. Konrath and Iain Rob Wright.  Talking to the Dead Guys by Gretchen Rix.  Artful by Peter David.  The Cowboy's Baby

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