Miss Murder’s Easy DIY: Three Ingredient Aromatherapy Shower Tablets

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This is an exceptionally easy, joyful little thing to whip up in the kitchen, and they make beautiful gifts.

You will need

2 cups of baking soda

1/2 cup of water

About 10 drops of your favorite essential oil

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Put the baking powder in a bowl, and stir in the water until it has a mostly dry consistency like Moon Sand. It took about 1/2 cup for me, but it will depend. You want to be able to pack it like brown sugar.

Mix in your essential oils. I used bergamot and rosemary for a pick-me-up.

Fill your ice cube trays or silicone molds with the paste and pack it down firmly. You want it to maintain its shape.

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Let them dry. If you’re using a silicone mold that can go in the oven, bake it at 200 degrees for an hour. If your mold isn’t heat resistant, just let it dry on the counter for three days. If they don’t dry completely, they’ll simply crumble and you’ll be a sad panda.

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Take one tablet and put it on the floor of your shower. The water will break it down and release the mood-boosting scent. It’s just one tiny little thing you can do to add a bit of sparkle to your day. Have a great one!

Announcing Writers in Writing Volume 1!

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Crystal Lake Publishing presents WRITERS ON WRITING: AN AUTHOR’S GUIDE. Volume 1 coming soon.

Your favorite authors share their secrets in the ultimate guide to becoming and being an author.

Writers On Writing is an ongoing series of 15,000 to 20,000 word eBooks, with original ‘On Writing’ essays by writing professionals. A new edition will be launched every few months, featuring four or five essays per edition.

I’m pleased to announce that my essay “Real Writers Steal Time” will be featured in the first volume! Volume 1 includes essays by Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge, Mercedes M. Yardley, Todd Keisling, Monique Snyman, Jasper Bark, Kevin Lucia, Dave de Burgh, and Tim Waggoner. I’m delighted to be included with such heavy hitters.

The ebook will be 99 cents on release day and will go up after that, so you might want to grab it at the promotional price. It’s coming out in August, and I’ll let you know the date as soon as that information becomes available.

I can’t wait to read this myself! I wonder what advice these authors have to give? What’s some of your best writing advice?

1,000 Hours Of Volunteering

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Sometimes a thought keeps coming to your mind.  Call it gut instinct, or the voice of God, or your own subconscious, or your heart communicating with your brain, or what you will, but when this voice speaks, you need to listen.  My voice has been telling me that the world is becoming an ugly place and it’s time to make things better. I’m tired of the negative campaigning, of mass shootings, of the hate.  I want this life to be beautiful and have sparkle. I can’t expect anybody else to change it for me, so what can I do?

I’m making a bucket list so my own personal life will be more enjoyable (I’ll post it here later. Hooray!) and one of my goals on that list is to volunteer for 1,000 hours.  I can count everything from babysitting for dear friends to volunteering at the local Bountiful Baskets site. Hopefully it will make me more aware of ways that I can contribute something positive to society, and it will fulfill me.  1,000 hours is a long time, but do you think it’s enough to make a difference to anybody but myself?

How do you contribute to those around you? Anybody else interested in taking this challenge with me?

I Signed A Five Book Deal!

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I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I have officially joined Crystal Lake Publishing as their newest author. They have agreed to republish my books Nameless: The Darkness Comes, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.

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It was a very scary transition for me, and took courage to pull my books from my last publisher, but I feel this is the right decision for me.

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Nameless, Apocalyptic Montessa, and Pretty Little Dead Girls will be re-released in both print and ebook editions this November. I can’t wait!

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As some of you know, Nameless is Book one of THE BONE ANGEL trilogy. Crystal Lake has also agreed to publish Book two and three of the series. Isn’t that amazing? I signed a five book deal, and it feels pretty darn good.

Merry Christmas in July!

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Pretty sure this will be my Christmas card this year.

It’s a family tradition we’ve had since I was a child, and I looked forward to it every year. We’d decorate the tree and have small gifts for each other.It’s something that I do with my kiddos now.

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This is Christmas week! We’re putting up the tree. We’re making snowflakes and taping them to the windows. It’s time for Christmas carols, holiday movies, and everything but hot chocolate. We’ll do chocolate ice cream instead, since it is about 110 degrees here.

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Gifts are small and handmade. Stockings are often made out of paper. It’s the simple, homespun Christmas most of us long for every December.

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Won’t you join us? If not for the entire Christmas in July shebang, perhaps you can have that holiday feeling in your heart. How about being extra kind this week, or perhaps write a letter to someone you love? Peace on earth, good will to men.

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I Crossed Something Off My Bucket List. And Backlash.

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I wear a bracelet that says “Be Brave.” My New Year’s Resolution has often been “Do things that scare me.” I’ve wanted to shave my head since I was about 15, but never had the courage. A few months ago I lost the black bangs and tried a blonde Mohawk, and it was a wonderful experience. This summer I made the healthy (yet difficult) decision to split with my publishers. Last week I ran Ragnar. These were all brave things, and I’m proud of myself.

After months of consideration, I decided to shave my head. I wanted to feel liberated. I wanted a clean slate. I haven’t seen my natural hair color in 12 years. I wanted to do something for myself instead of for everyone else.

I discussed it with my husband and he was nothing but supportive. I certainly don’t need his “permission” and he would never assume that I would, but I love him and respect his opinion. If it was going to be uncomfortable for him, I’d absolutely take that into consideration, but he only encouraged me.

My Angry Ginger and my children came with me. I couldn’t stop grinning. My daughter told me I was beautiful. My son rubbed his hands across my scalp, said we had the same hair, and kissed me. My youngest said my hair looked like a hamster and tried to feed it a cracker.

I especially liked that part.

My Angry Ginger told me the cut felt very familiar to her. Like she had known me like that before. Another friend told me my ME-NESS was shining through. It felt like washing my face and being painfully honest. This is me without the trappings. This is Mercedes. Look in my eyes and you’ll see my soul.

I shared one picture on Facebook. Honesty comes with vulnerability, and I was prepared for that. I’ve been stripped down as of late, and I’m learning that being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing.

IMG_4520What I wasn’t prepared for were the messages that came pouring into my inbox. Messages from people I barely knew or outright strangers telling me that they hated what I had done. There was venom and emotion. Someone said I was “dyking it up.” Someone else said that I had disfigured myself. Another told me that I had made myself ugly and my husband would be ashamed and leave me.

On and on, more and more. I finally glanced at the beginning of the emails and then deleted the rest of them unread.

We’ve allowed social media to become a dangerous place. It’s unchecked. It’s constantly frothing. And, quite honestly? It’s stupid. I don’t use that word lightly.

Do you remember when female horror writers and my friend specifically were called hags? Remember when I wrote two lines on #YesAllWomen and received death threats? How is any of this acceptable?

These are my thoughts:

My appearance has no bearing on a stranger’s day. My body is not for their viewing pleasure. It has nothing to do with them.

The ones that love me support me. I’m still beautiful to them. And even if I’m not,it doesn’t concern anyone else.

Doesn’t the outrage weary them? Couldn’t they be putting their obvious free time to good use? They could change the world. Take that passion and do something useful with it. Protect what needs protecting. Use their voice in a positive way.

It’s selfishness and ego. I shaved my head to empower myself. It wasn’t for them; it was for me.

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I’m not ashamed.

 

Ragnar Was Everything I Feared. And I Survived.

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I had a lot of fear about Ragnar.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to run it.

I was afraid of being the weak link on the team.

I was afraid I’d have a sugar crash and not know where I was.

I was afraid I’d throw up during my run.

I was afraid I’d get lost.

I was afraid of heat exhaustion.

Runner's high is a lie. Go, Team Runner's Low!

Runner’s high is a lie! Meet our team, the Runner’s Low.

Every single fear I had was realized. I did far more walking than running. My sugars tanked and I ended up “following bunnies” (my words) to the finish line, where I apparently wasn’t able to recognize people or say my name until they popped my sugar back up. On my last leg I got lost, threw up about five times, and started shivering under the hot, hot sun.

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I didn’t choose the thug life…

I was slow. But I finished every last mile, all 11 of them. We ran 200 as a team. I faced every single fear I had about this race and came out the other side.

That’s my takeaway from this.

I lived through the things I thought would kill me. I pushed myself and walked away. And I’m so proud of myself and the team!

IMG_5422I ran through a dry dock while the sun rose. I slept in a hammock under the stars. I ate fresh blackberries that grew on one of my routes. I saw rabbits. I fell asleep to this.

IMG_5409(1)I learned that when I’m totally at my lowest and I’m helpless, my husband and friends will watch over me and strengthen me until I can get back on my feet. Literally. And more than anything, that’s what I needed to realize right now.

Here’s to doing things that scare us. :D

Feed The Birds: A Quick Craft for Kids

I wanted a few activities for the kids to do besides watching Godzilla: The Original Animated Series, so we made bird feeders this evening.

Cute. Sweet. Best of all? They were very, very easy.

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We took some small pine cones, birdseed, peanut butter, and yarn.

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Tiny Daughter spread peanut butter on the pine cones. I managed to pull her hair back so it didn’t fall in the peanut butter (too much). Points for Mom!

Then you roll the pine cones in the seed, and tie yarn around it. Voila!

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And hang them outside. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy.

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Really, it only took us about twenty minutes from start to finish. But the kiddos were so excited, and it didn’t overwhelm me.

Enjoy, my friends!

Miss Murder Runs Ragnar

“What?” You gasp. “You’re not a runner! You hate running!”

It’s true. I do. I’m a kickboxer, not a runner. But I adore my friends, and when one of my best friends from high school invited my husband and I to run with him and his family, I agreed. Also, we’ll be running in Seattle, my old stomping grounds. Also also, I like a challenge and I’m a glutton for punishment.

Obviously.

I set this post to go live just as I’m flying to the coast, most likely with my face pressed to the airplane window in misery and regret. Did I mention that I hate running?

What is Ragnar, you ask? Why, I’m delighted to tell you! It’s a 200 mile long relay race with 11 of your closest friends! You can read about it here. I’m Runner 10 and my husband is Runner 11, if you’d like to look up our legs and route. Three legs apiece. :)

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Do you see how long this route is? It’s a long route.

But oh, how I love Seattle! It’s the only place in the world that feels like home. Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is based in Seattle, and much of it takes place in Pike Place Market. I’m hoping to visit there and just enjoy being back for a bit.

Take care, my friends! Wish us luck! I hope to come back to you in one piece. <3

Awkward Conversations with Geeky Writers Tonight!

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It’s the Ugly Little Haitus edition.

There are whispers in the shadows of Geeky Writer Central. They say Todd’s putting his series on hiatus to work on a novel. They say there won’t be any more Ugly Little Things—at least, not for a long while. They say his heart belongs in a place called the Monochrome.

The rumors are true, folks. Todd Keisling’s series of short horror stories will see its final release on July 14th, and to celebrate, the Geeky Writer Gang is throwing a launch party!

Join us on Monday, July 13th at 8 PM EST as we go live on YouTube to celebrate the launch of Todd’s latest story, talk about how disturbing his mind truly is, and to engage in our usual nightly shenanigans.

And yes, folks: there will be giveaways! Some of you Geeky Writer veterans already know the drill, but for the uninitiated, you have to show up and PARTICIPATE if you want to win.

You can get all of the information HERE.

Last time my children ran me off, but I’m going to count on being there for an hour or maybe an hour and a half this go-round. That’s their limit. If you have any questions about my work, life in general, or anything else, try to hit me near the beginning before I’m forced to flee. :P