RIP: An unsacred cat

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Pippin (2002-2020) engaging in his favorite activity: nothing at all.

Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. I disagree. Dogs, bred and cross-bred and designed by generations of breeding to fulfill certain roles—dogs are man’s best creation. Cats? Are man’s best roommate.

On November 24th, 2020, two days before Thanksgiving, I lost my best roommate. His name was Pippin. He came to us from the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society in November of 2003, when he was estimated at a year old. A short-legged, long-bodied, vaguely Maine Coon-ish little goofball, he would go on to be my four-legged sidekick for the next seventeen years.

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CONTEST: Books and amulets!

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As of today, “Painter of the Dead” is now 99 cents on Kindle! This is a limited-time thing, so check it out now!

To celebrate (and have some fun, because I LOVE shopping for giveaway prizes), we’re gonna be running a little bit of a raffle.

Two winners will receive a brand-new print copy of “Painter of the Dead” and a beautiful handmade necklace from an artisan jeweler. To win, all you have to do is comment below! If you could tell me your favorite monster or mythological figure, that’d be great too. 😉

We have two prizes available:

The scarab prize, which is a copy of “Painter of the Dead” and a laser-cut wood-and-acrylic scarab necklace from BIRCHpleaseHQ

… and the ma’at prize, which is a copy of “Painter of the Dead” and a silver “feather of truth” Egyptian necklace from Silverspot Studio.

These are both artisans I’ve purchased from before and their work is absolutely beautiful. I’m so happy to be able to share these things with you as I celebrate this book and the amazing efforts of the people at Thinklings Books!

DETAILS

This raffle runs until midnight Central time on Sunday, November 15th, 2020. Shipping is only available for the United States right now, particularly as cross-border authorities are worried about COVID. These items will be shipped from a COVID-free home. The jewelry pieces have not been removed from their original packaging, and the books have been rewrapped in clean new tissue. Winners will be decided by a random number generator and the results posted on November 16th, 2020.

And if you’ve read this far, thank you for being thorough. 🙂

Craft Tutorial: The Mummy’s Hand

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I love Halloween. When I was a kid, it felt like the one day when I could really let my creative urges out—inventing characters and finding ways to bring monsters to life. Nowadays, I don’t have to wait until Halloween to have an excuse for creepy crafting and scary storytelling, but this is still my favorite time of year!

As I’m also an ancient Egypt fanatic, there tends to be more than the fair share of mummies cropping up in my Halloweens. However, I’ve never been a fan of store-bought mummy props, which tend to just be plastic skeletons wrapped in gauze. If I want a mummy, I make it myself.

To celebrate the release of my paranormal mummy romance tale Painter of the Dead, here’s a gift for my fellow Halloween fanatics! This is an easy DIY for turning basic fake skeleton pieces into creepy, withered, half-fleshed monstrosities. The great part about doing this is that you can alter the basic ingredients and create a huge amount of variation with very little effort—and not much money.

Now let’s make some monsters!

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“Painter of the Dead” Sample Chapter(s)

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A museum is a place for things from the past. But in one museum, dead things are preparing to come alive again … And one artist, who was only looking for her next inspiration, will find herself caught up in a conflict older than empires.

Click “Read More” to dive into the Prologue and Chapter 1 of Painter of the Dead, available October 6th from Thinklings!

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The art of living forever: “Painter of the Dead”

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It’s almost here! Coming this October, an updated release of a tale as old as time (or as old as the First Intermediate Period, anyway): Painter of the Dead.

Theodora Speer, museum artist, brings the lost worlds of history back to life in her work. She calls herself dedicated; her best friend prefers “obsessive.” But the past and the present collide when she meets Seth Adler, a museum donor with an unusual interest in the Egyptian collection. He works to preserve ancient treasures, but seems almost wary of them, and Theo can’t figure him out.

Seth is hiding a secret of his own: a long, long life. Now, as he searches for the artifacts that will keep him safe, he finds himself up against – and drawn to – the intense Theo, whose art gives her a power not seen on this earth for thousands of years.

This story has been with me for a long time, and I’m delighted to be able to bring it back to you! It features my own original take on a classic monster, a chance to explore behind-the-scenes in an unusual setting, and a pair of characters with so many more stories to tell!

When we get a little closer to time, I’ll be launching a promotional contest to get copies (and some neat prizes!) out to a few readers. Watch this space!

In the meantime, check out a few of my other posts on monsters in general and mummies in particular.

Radziwill’s Mysterious Mummies: A New Translation – A post exploring the origins of the mummy-as-monster. Combing through texts in Latin and French, we uncover the testimony of a traveler from the 1580s, who found himself caught in a storm and apparently bedeviled by … ghosts?

Gods and Monsters I: Ancient Roots – The first post in my “Gods and Monsters” series, following the evolution of the mummy in cinema. Beginning with Boris Karloff in bandages and taking us right through Tom Cruise versus CGI, we look at how mummy films built on each other and got lost in translation.

Web in the Time of COVID: Scams and Social Engineers

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COVID-19 has upended everything. Here in America, a lot of what we relied on has changed or gone out the window entirely. For writers, that’s meant canceling appearances, scaling back on promotional efforts we can no longer afford and possibly losing contracts as publishers go under. Money is tight and the future is uncertain.

Unfortunately, COVID is good business for one group: scammers. Anything connected to the coronavirus is relevant to everyone alive today. Scammers know they can exploit that in a number of different ways.

Today, I’m going to swap my writer hat for my cybersecurity hat and talk about some of the COVID scams I’ve seen at my day job. I’ll go over a couple of common scams and scam tactics, and touch on concepts like social engineering and the emotional triggers social engineers exploit. This is probably old news to many of you, but I hope some folks out there will find it helpful.

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Dipping into my Literary Ragbag: YA, historical, cozy cosmic horror

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I don’t have a better name for it. I probably should. But for better or for worse, my “literary ragbag” is my vast collection of partially written, forgotten, failed, excerpted, or simply not-yet-used writing. These are novels, short stories, essays, movie reviews, blog posts, rants, poems, and everything else.

Most writers I know have a ragbag like this. For every hundred thousand words of finished work, you have at least sixty thousand words of things you’ve cut. And you keep them, because things in the ragbag aren’t useless; they simply don’t have a place right now, so you keep them, just in case. Sometimes a project can come back after being in the ragbag for years. Sometimes a little scrap of something from the ragbag turns out to be the piece you’re missing for a completely different project.

This is the same mentality that makes crafters hoard supplies. Fortunately, words on a hard drive take up a lot less space than fabric or paint.

Today, I’m going to post some scraps from my literary ragbag. One is YA fantasy, one is straightforward historical, and one is a genre I can only call “cozy cosmic horror.” Some of these projects are years old, and some are probably never going to be finished. But I keep them. Just in case. Because you never know when you might get that idea …

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Craft Tutorial: A Tudor Headdress

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I love crafts, especially costume crafts. For as long as I can remember, Halloween has been—in the words of John Zmirak—my high holy day. In pursuit of the perfect Halloween costume, young Catherine ruined a lot of paper, cardboard, and string.

While no expert, I’ve come a long way since the days when I made a Snow Queen tiara out of tinfoil. But while grown-up me has a (small) costume budget and has moved on to full leather armor and thermoplastic builds, I still love a good, cheap, simple costume craft that you can make with stuff you find around the house. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some of my costume and craft builds here!

Today, I’ll be showing you how I built a very simple Tudor gable hood.

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Live Bait

live bait“What are you, little girl?”

Bait.

A lone woman trips and twists her ankle. The creature, following, jumps on her and prepares to feed. All according to plan.

It’s high summer in the woods of Wisconsin, and one vampire is about to get a nasty surprise. Take a trip outside with Live Bait.

Radziwill’s Mysterious Mummies: A New Translation

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Almost two years ago, I wrote about Louis Penicher’s 1699 Treatise on Embalming. This book is especially interesting to me because it contains one of the first historical accounts of a cursed mummy.

Penicher included an excerpt from the letters of Mikolaj Radziwill, Polish nobleman and traveler. Radziwill made a famous pilgrimage in the 1580s, covering not only Egypt but Palestine, Greece, Italy, and many other sites of historical interest. It was during this time that Radziwill purchased two Egyptian mummies, and something strange began to happen.

I don’t speak 17th-century French. Fortunately, there are those that do. My mother, Anne Butzen (a talented author in her own right), recently executed a new translation of the key passage from Penicher’s Treatise. Read on!

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