Friday, October 7, 2022

Going Off Topic

Hi, I’m Judith Ashley, author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, soul nourishing romantic women’s fiction with light paranormal elements. My stories show you what life could be like if you had a place like The Circle where you are unconditionally accepted, supported and loved. And where, with this support, you make choices to overcome the darkest nights and choose love and light.

Finally the temperatures are dropping (or rising if you live in the southern hemisphere). Seasons are changing. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest tree leaves are beginning to change color. Fall blooms of asters and chrysanthemums provide color to the gardens I pass on my walks.

October also marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. Special days are marked for celebrating Indigenous People’s Day, Diwali and Halloween aka All Hallow’s Eve, originally Samhain.

The Blog Queens thought Things That Go Bump in the Night was a fun topic or prompt for October. I’m looking forward to reading how what the Genre-istas come up with as they explored their views on Things That Go Bump in the Night. And I will certainly be checking in every day to see who, if anyone, will write about any of the other holidays or holy days celebrated this month.

For me, I’m wandering a bit off topic.

Having survived rape and domestic violence as well as worked in areas where there is an element of physical danger, I’ve learned to trust my body. Not unconditionally because it can still signal danger when there isn’t any. However, whenever I sense my own personal warning system I pay rapt attention to where I am, who I’m with, where I am and I quickly assess how real or maybe the right word is immediate the danger is.

There was a time when I read psychological thrillers and also watch movies with that theme. Through them I learned how twisted, devious and horrific our creative minds can become. However, the lessons I learned that have kept me safe were from the trainings I did through the Glasser Institute.

What helped me stay safer was gaining a better understanding of the people with whom I was interacting. Dr. Willliam Glasser, M.D., founder of The William Glasser Institute,International whose US organization is The Glasser Institute for Choice Theory– US, teaches that we are internally motivated, we want our world and the people in it, to behave in a certain way.

Here are the concepts that helped me the most:

All Behavior is Purposeful

All Behavior is Purposeful
          At the time we act, there is something we want that we don’t have. It could be a relationship. It could be control. It could be happiness. It could be freedom. It could be safety. Our choice, in that moment, is what we believe or at least hope will get us that which we want.

However, for most people who do not believe we are internally motivated, that means “making” someone else do something they are not yet doing.

All Behavior is Total Behavior

All Behavior is a Total Behavior that has four (4) components. What we are physically doing. What we are thinking while we are doing it. How we feel emotionally while we are doing and thinking. How our body’s physiology is functioning in that moment of doing/thinking/feeling.

An interesting experiment is to dissect a particular behavior into those four (4) components. I’m sitting and typing (doing) and thinking about the words on the screen. In this moment my body is engaged in sitting and typing, those muscles and tendons that allow me to sit and type at work. And also, when I pay attention, there is a level of consternation. Am I saying what I want to say? Is there a better way to say this? Etc.

We’d say my Total Behavior is Writing. And that is made up of the components of sitting, typing, thinking muscles/tendons involved, and my emotion is consternation. Once I’m satisfied with my examples, my message, my Total Behavior changes because while I may still be sitting and typing, my thinking is “yes, that’s what I want to say” and the level of consternation shifts to one of satisfaction.

An Early Warning System: Danger is near

What does this have to do with anything?

By paying attention to all four components of my total behavior when feeling threatened, I was able to determine what I was thinking while feeling threatened and even more important, how feeling threatened manifested in my body.

In my body that sense of threat shows up as a twitchy, itchy sense that runs up and down the upper part of my spine (neck to mid-back). I no longer discount it as I did early on much to my detriment. Now, no matter when or where, I pay rapt attention to what’s going on around me. Where is my escape route? Who is a resource? And also, is the sense of threat real?

Those realistic movies and books and television shows? I intellectually know I’m not in actual, real danger – however, my internal safety system clangs loud and clear to “pay attention” “danger”.

Who needs that sense of fear, unease? Obviously some people do or we wouldn’t have intense frightening movies, books, shows, etc. I’ve read several theories about why people are drawn to horror, etc. And while it isn’t something I’m drawn towards, it isn’t my job to say no one should have access to that form of entertainment.


For me, I’m sticking to the HEA of romance.

However, if that tingly, twitchy, itchy sense appears, I stop what I’m doing and check to confirm all doors and windows are locked, alarm system is on, etc. And if I’m out and about, I do plot out my “escape” route and make sure I’ve my car keys in a protection hold in my hand.

Does any of that guarantee nothing bad will ever happen to me? No. I’ve been told often enough by people in security and law enforcement that if someone is determined to do me harm, there is no fool proof way to completely protect myself. However, if prepared, I can eliminate myself as an “easy target” and more than likely limit any damage and hopefully survive to live another day.

Learn more about my non-fiction book: Staying Sane in a Crazy World, provides you with a template to create your Personal Staying Sane Plan to help you through the challenging times.

You can find all of my books at your favorite e-book vendor. Be sure to ask your local library if you’d prefer to read my books through that resource. If you want a print copy? Ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you. If you are in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, my books are carried at Jan’s in Beaverton and Arte Soleil in SE Portland.

Learn more about Judith's The Sacred Women’s Circle series at

Follow Judith on Twitter: JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 

© 2022 Judith Ashley

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Things that Go Bump in the Night...and in the Day

By Robin Weaver

I’m guessing this month’s theme,
Things that Go Bump in the Night, conjures up all sorts
of super spooky Halloween images: the price of gas, politicians trying to keep a promise, Simon Cowell’s botox, freezer burn, English peas…

Ooops! Alternate universe. I mean images of ghosts, goblins, and chain-saw killers.

For me though, the thing that goes bump in the night is…well, me. In my younger days, I was fairly coordinated. But since my eye surgery, I’ve become the ultimate klutz. 

For those of you who aren’t aware, when you have LASIK to eliminate the need for reading glasses, one eye gets corrected for near vision, the other for distance. What they don’t tell you is that your brain, which is responsible for 50% of your vision, doesn’t really like this visual AD/DC.  My gray matter wasn’t (and still isn’t) prepared for the change. Add in the correction of my stigmatism, for which my dear old noggin had already strained to correct, and you have one mixed up noddle.

I’m okay if I look straight ahead, but a brick slightly to my left, or a chair a little to my right…

And I’m a whole lotta screwed. In other words, my brain doesn’t believe my eyes. And the knees and toes pay the price.

But Google has a cure for everything right? So I went a-searching. Here’s the six things I found for clumsiness that should definitely get me back on the tightrope.

  1. Slow things down.

Hello! Does Google think the world’s going to slow down so I can stay upright?

If anyone out there knows how to “slow things down,” please write a blog.

  1. Stay organized. Having stuff all over the place gives you more of an opportunity to trip over something.

Well, thank you very much, Google. Let me get right on that. I should have time when I slow things down.

And it’s not like I only spill coffee and knock over a stack of oranges at home, so can you please pass this info to everyone else in my life, at work, and don’t forget the grocery store. Definitely tell those folks at Starbucks about not having stuff everywhere.

  1. Pay attention to your environment.

Again Google—hellllooo!  Do you know how much environment we’re talking about?

  1. Get your vision checked out.

Well, duh. This is how I became a lummox in the first place.

  1. Try exercises that improve your balance.

I can stay in the tree pose for hours. Well, at least three minutes. And when I’m done, I usually knock my yogurt off the table.

  1. Don't be hard on yourself.

Okay, I like this one. 😊

Despite the spills I leave in my wake, and the constantly bruised shins, I’d do it all again. Being able to read books, my phone, and my computer without searching for glasses…priceless!

Let’s all take it easy on ourselves. And have a graceful Halloween. 

Happy Boo’ing,


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Look but don’t touch …

Things that go bump in the night? It might be you dropping dead if you’re not careful with your foraging. Or if you sample mushroom ragout cooked by your enemy. 

I love this time of year for the fresh apples, the crisp days, and the colourful fungi peppering the forest floor, like these that I found on a recent camping trip. But sometimes those mushrooms and toadstools, if eaten, have ugly consequences. If you’re in the mood for mushrooms, purchase from the grocery store or market. I repeat, DO NOT EAT! unless you are a mycologist (fungus expert).

Craterellus ignicolor, Flame chanterelle, is considered edible, though it’s found to be quite bland. When dried, they’re used as a pale yellow dye for textiles and paper.

Russula xerampelina, Shellfish-scented russula. Mm … doesn’t that sound yummy? I confess I didn’t give it a sniff and am quite glad. Considered edible, and indeed prized by some, I’d give this a miss due to the fishiness that lingers during and after cooking.

Hygrocybe Cantharellus, Goblet waxcap. Here’s another that is edible but bland, also insubstantial. Not worth the bother. Best to leave them to decorate the forest.

Ganoderma tsugae, Hemlock varnish shelf. This beauty grows on diseased or fallen hemlock trees, appears to be varnished, and resembles a shelf. Was someone lacking imagination when they came up with that common name? Though non-poisonous, they’re considered inedible because of their tough, woody texture. A tea can be made from the lips of the shelf and may have medicinal properties, but this is unproven and disputed.

Clavulinopsis fusiformis, Golden spindles, or an even better name in my opinion, spindle-shaped fairy club. As you might guess based on its appearance it’s a species of coral fungus. Though non-poisonous, it’s been described as both edible and inedible. Hm … I don’t much like that ambiguity. Although, it’s commonly eaten in Nepal, so … when in Nepal???

Finally, if someone offers you an omelet containing Amanita flavorubens, Yellow American blusher, run for the hills. While a few of the Amanita species are edible, they are so similar in appearance to poisonous species that it’s advised to just steer clear. There are about six-hundred species of Amanita, many of which grow amongst the mighty hemlock trees. Many are inedible, some are poisonous, and others are deadly poisonous, the most toxic mushrooms in the world and responsible for ninety-five percent of mushroom related fatalities. The inedible species include ringless panther and false death cap. Poisonous examples are known as fly agaric and panther cap. And the ones to stay far away from, the deadly poisonous species, are destroying angel (I think the clue is in the name, don’t you?), fool’s mushroom (you’re not only a fool but a dead fool), and death cap (no ambiguity with that name!). 

Toadstools might be pretty to look at and make the perfect backdrop for a tale about fairies but are best left untouched. 

Now, I’ve got some yummy stuffed mushrooms just out of the oven … who wants one?

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. She spends her days writing spicy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and historical romance. When not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious. She lives in Nova Scotia with her patient husband and five hens. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Fears and Fun by Paty Jager

This is the month when everyone thinks of Goblins, Ghosts, and Ghouls. I myself like the change of season, the pretty colors, and cooler air. 

However, I have been known to paint pumpkins and ghosts on my nails and wear spider earrings all month in support of October 31st and Halloween. 

Even though I write mysteries and love a good murder mystery, I have a low tolerance for violence and scary things. I don't watch scary movies, I can't read scary books, and when I was small the abominable snowman on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie scared me. 

I also don't like Criminal Minds or some books where the author gets into the mind of the villain. I have too vivid an imagination and I don't need to be worrying about a creepy character from a show or a book coming into my life. I prefer my Pollyanna attitude. ;)

I enjoy watching the Midsomer Murders a British mystery show even though some of the episodes have spooky or scary themes or costumes. And I recently watched an Agatha Raisin British mystery show that dealt with witches and had a scary theme to it. I only jumped a couple of times, but it never scared me so badly that I had to turn it off or hide. 

There are some commercials for horror movies that I have to hide when they come on. I'm just a weenie and it doesn't take much to go bump in the dark and get my writing brain dredging up all kinds of bad scenarios.

When our kids were in their teens we moved into a small mobile home while building a new house. The boy's bedroom and a bathroom were in a recessed area in the hallway. Our oldest son liked to hide there and when I'd go by, he'd make a noise and I'd jump, throw whatever I was carrying, and curse. Once my heart settled, I'd tell him one of these days he was going to give me a heart attack. He'd just laugh and duck into his room or run outside. 

I still jump easily at sounds or someone walking quietly up behind me. 

But I have always been excited about Halloween. I loved dressing up and dumping the bag of candy on the floor and trading with my brothers. Giving them candy I didn't like for the kind I did. And tossing the candy none of us liked into a bowl for our parents and grandparents. 

It's not the same anymore. We took our kids around town trick-or-treating until unstable people started putting things in the candy. Then we took them to the school events on Halloween. And we, as a family, usually pitched in and ran the Haunted House/Trailer. My husband had a "walking floor" trailer. Every other slat in the floor would move back and forth to offload goods. We would make the inside of the trailer like a haunted house, with hallways, spider webs, gooey things to put your hands in, and people popping out of coffins and behind things. It was always a hit.  

I have started decorating but will go to my daughter's later today and pick up pumpkins and corn stalks to decorate the entrance. 

Here is the info about my latest release that may or may not have a little bit of scary in it:

Double Down

Spotted Pony Casino Mystery

Book 3

A donkey, a three-legged dog, and a war-scarred veteran outwit the killer.

Dela Alvaro is the main suspect in the stabbing death of a man she stopped from beating his wife to death. The detective she abhors is ready to toss her in jail and not look for any other suspects. When FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce is called in and Tribal Officer Heath Seaver is forbidden to work the case, Dela decides to find the killer.

Was it the wife, the drug dealer, or the man wanting to take over the victim’s business? Dela and Heath ask questions and work to prove her innocence. If she is found guilty not only will she lose her new life but she’ll never be able to solve the secret of her father.   

Universal buy link:

Wishing you a wonderful October and a not too scary end of the month festivities! 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 50+ murder mystery and western romance novels which have Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters.

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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Images of Things that Go Bump in the Night by Sarah McDermed


Courtesy of 
The Graphics Fairy - Vintage Images, DIY Tutorials & Craft Projects

Welcome to October, 2022, when, in much of the world, Halloween is a welcome distraction from the all-too-real threats we face. We’d rather face imaginary characters and creatures than threats of war, politics and disease. (Not to mention inflation).

What are some of the characters or creatures that scare you? Bats? Black cats? Owls? Witches? 

These bats look positively cute and cuddly to me. If one got in my attic, it might bump around and startle me, but it's unlikely to hurt me.

This mischievous black cat just wants to play, and maybe chase the bats out of the attic.

Looks like this wise owl is hard at work getting rid of rodent pests. He's welcome to perch on my roof.

One night a few weeks ago, I decided to take out the garbage before getting ready for bed. My husband had fallen asleep on the living room couch.  

I had just dropped the trash bag into the can when I heard an enormous thump on the roof of my husband's shop. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I wished I'd turned on the porch light.

I snuck into the house and grabbed the flashlight we keep in the kitchen. Then I ever-so-quietly returned to the driveway and waited in the darkness. After a few minutes, scraping and scrabbling noises came from the back of the shop roof.  I suppressed a shiver. Whatever-it-was, was still up there.

I aimed my flashlight, held my breath, and thumbed the button.

A large creature leapt through the narrow beam of light in a blur of brown fur and red eyeshine as it jumped off the roof and over the fence onto the neighbor's property,

What was it?

Not a cougar. Not a burglar. Definitely not a witch.

A deer that went bump in the night!

Here is a Halloween Fairy with a wish for you:

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Past Isn't Dead. It Isn't Even Past .... by Anna Taylor Sweringen

"The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." - William Faulkner, Requiem for A Nun

As a lover of history, this line of Faulkner's thrills me. Why? Because I believe what has gone before is not only always present, but also has the power in the present as well. 

Faulkner's line hit home when I took this picture many years ago from the Brooklyn promenade where the World Trade Center used to stand. That sky is broken and not empty. It's full of the lives lost, the lives forever affected by those losses and will always be.

In downtown Albuquerque there's an historic district called Old Town where they commemorate the arrival of the Spanish and the founding of Albuquerque. Plaques also share the history of the Church of San Felipe de Neri, the oldest continuing congregation in Albuquerque.

And yet as I stand in the quiet of the narrow streets and peruse the original architecture of Old Albuquerque, preserved in art shops and restaurants, Faulkner's line haunts me. Where are the plaques and markers that pay homage to the native people who occupied this land before the Spanish and the Christians laid claim to this territory? Surely their spirits are as present as the spirits I sense when I look at my broken sky picture. Surely their spirits hover around me in the streets of Old Town.

Whether seated on the Brooklyn promenade or standing in the cool quiet of the Old Town plaza, I imagine who filled this space with their energy and dreams and desires, whose legacy and lingering presence fill them now. Having been a minister, I'm already predisposed to accept realities that go beyond the five senses. No wonder I enjoy writing ghost stories as Anna M. Taylor. Well, stories dealing with spirits or supernatural energy to be more accurate because the past isn't dead. It isn't even past. Never was. Never will be.

Anna Taylor Sweringen self-publishes second chance romance gothic ghost stories in her Haunted Harlem series as Anna M. Taylor. Book Three, Always the Dead Between is slated to release October 31. In the meanwhile you can learn more about Haunted Harlem on Amazon here: