“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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City Spirits 2: Customer Disservice

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customer disservice cover“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

Monster hunter John Sawyer is laid up with the shingles, but that’s not going to save him when trouble comes calling. Now, face-to-face with a passel of fairies who have big plans for him and his friends, John will have to get out alive — and figure out just why his mysterious boss sent him there in the first place. The City Spirits series continues with Customer Disservice.

City Spirits 1: The Shrine on Harrison Street

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theshrineonharrisonstreet“My God!”

yes. i am.

You never know just who you’re going to meet in a bus station. But until today, even monster-hunter Abby Marquise has never encountered haunted plumbing. Spirits, the power of belief, and practical ways to hide explosives while traveling all come into play in the first installment of City Spirits: The Shrine on Harrison Street.

“So Many Snacks, So Little Time”: Venom and the Art of Pacing

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I’m a big fan of this year’s least expected superhero smash, “Venom.” As you might have expected from somebody who had a staggering human-hearted clay-bleeding golem for a romantic hero, I’m not averse to a little body horror with my genre fiction, and the story of Eddie Brock–a man bonded with an outer-space parasite that wants to eat people–was certainly weird enough to qualify. Critics hated it, but “Venom” scored a surprise hit with audiences worldwide, hitting $822 million worldwide as of late November.

Not bad for a movie whose chief attraction was two hours of Tom Hardy losing his mind.

But there’s more than symbiote antics and acclaimed actors biting the heads off prop lobsters to recommend “Venom.” This humble tale of man and alien has done something that, in my opinion, most big-budget genre movies have failed to do in the last five years. “Venom” understands pacing.

Let’s talk about that. Spoilers follow.

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