Life in Isolation

Things have been a bit crazy, huh? Yeah, I know, we’re all worried about Covid-19 and a lot of us have found ourselves huddled in our homes, not working, and hoping for the best. My quarantine has just recently started. Up until this past Monday I was still working. Suddenly, the cabin place I work with decided it was best to stop taking reservations and sent all cleaners home for the time being. I can’t deny the relief I felt. Going into the cabins, cleaning after people I didn’t know, was becoming quite scary. Now, though, I’ve realized I have a new list of scary things to face. Let’s list them shall we…

  1. My teenager has been replaced! I know, she hasn’t really but hear me out. Before all this, Amber was an early bird. I’m talking EARLY! This child got up at like 4:30 or 5 and spent hours each morning listening to music, dancing around my living room, and even running around like a maniac with the furbabies. Now? She’s getting up at like noon. It’s weird. Another reason I think something has performed a body snatch on her is the homeschooling situation. Before Covid-19 my kid had the ability to do homework etc mostly by herself. Since school has been out, I’m wondering if she’s lost the ability to read. Every question…EVERY question! “Mom, can you help me?” “Mom, I can’t find this answer?” It feels like I’m back in school and the cool kids are asking me for homework answer again. (Shiver!) Last example, and maybe the most crucial, I haven’t seen her put on makeup in two weeks. Two weeks, y’all. That’s not normal for my 14 year old child. Trust me, I know. I checked, the makeup is still there. The fancy makeup mirror still works. Everything is as it should be but she’s not doing it. The kid who loves watching tutorials and trying new things out has abandoned all hope of using the expensive makeup she was bought for Christmas.
  2. I think my dog’s bladders have shrunk. Here me out on this one! Before, the dogs were perfectly content on waiting on me to get home and going outside to potty after a day at work. Now? It’s every 20 minutes. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the same creatures who have replaced my daughter or if something else is at play here. Could their bodies have naturally adapted in such a short period of time? Could their bladders have shrunk so rapidly that they now require constant walking? I’m scared on this one too. If something doesn’t give, they’ll never survive me going back to work.
  3. Is there such a thing as too much coffee? Will my coffee pot break from the intense pressure? Before, I would have a half pot of the warm, lovely goodness each morning before work. This past week, I’ve had a full pot, then made more in the afternoon! This is unheard of for me. I’m the only one in this house that drinks it so no one is slipping cups out from under my nose. Nope, it’s all me. I’m killing the stuff. Let’s not even get started on how much French Vanilla creamer I’m using. It’s not even logical. I may cause a shortage of the stuff in my little town all on my own.
  4. I don’t like the outside anymore. This one I can almost explain away. I have been working for the past 10 years without any downtime. Being self employed I don’t take vacation or anything like that. My contract states I am available to clean the cabins anytime they are rented. They’re always rented. In the winter we get a slow down, but not a major one. When cleaning the cabins, I’m outside a lot. We travel from place to place, do hot tubs, porches, fire pits, ya know, lots of outdoors. When we get home we mow the yard, take the dogs out, chill on the porch. Since I haven’t been working, I don’t like going out. I prefer chilling in the house, cooking, cleaning, writing, ya know, those types of things. My hubby asked me outside yesterday to hold the ladder while he fixed something. I didn’t want to go. I did, but I didn’t wanna.
  5. Memory loss is becoming a real issue. Before this, I had an entire list of things I felt I needed to do around the house. Now? I can’t think of a damn one.

I don’t know if I should be worrying about how things are turning out around here or if this is just normal being in isolation. In a way I wonder if supernatural forces are at play or if it’s just my overactive imagination and well, boredom. I’m sure I’ll find more things to add to my list of scary things now taking over my life. When I do, I’m sure I’ll share. Until then, take care my twisted ones, wear masks, social distance, and don’t take all the coffee!! I’m sure I’ll need more.

Lots of Love,

Rena

Quarantine Life

No one can deny how scary times are right now. With the virus running rampant, all the media coverage, people debating how bad things really are, and of course, the toilet paper crisis of 2020 most people are on edge. I know I am. I don’t want to get sick. I especially don’t want to spread anything to those I love or people in my community. BUT…and here’s the big thing, I work in a tourist town. They aren’t shutting down and therefore, I am forced to work.

I own a cleaning business. I contract with a cabin company and clean their rentals. We stay busy. Even with all that’s going on, people are still coming. I feel as though I’m going into combat each time I step foot into one of these things. I wear the gloves, I wear the mask, hell I even spray Lysol as I walk over the threshold. I’m trying. I’m doing my best not to bring something home to my teenager, my mom or dad, or even my hubby and I. Fear is ruling me right now. Normally, I don’t let that happen. Lately, I’m really sucking at it. On Facebook and all social media I try to stay funny. I try to keep promoting my books and all that. On my personal profile, I keep my mouth shut. I can’t talk about being upset about places not closing down. Jobs are at stake. You talk those things and you won’t be working certain places when this ends. At home though, at home I wake up each morning and fight back tears because I’m afraid of what I might face out there. When I come home I’m spending another couple of hours basically disinfecting myself, burning my eyes out from all the bleach I clean the house in, then flopping in a chair exhausted for a few minutes before I start cooking.

Most days, I think it’s inevitable that I’ll come in contact with this thing. I’m like every other person in my area, living paycheck to paycheck, worrying about our economy and all that. Still, I would welcome that struggle to ensure my family doesn’t get sick. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so. It just means I know how run down I am, how weak my daughter’s immune system is, and how easily my husband’s asthma can be kicked in. But…to be able to provide for our family after this is over, me and Daniel keep going.

Now, when it comes to trying to unwind from all the stress and fear, the writing is a way out. I love it. I haven’t been able to do as much of it as I’d like lately. Ya know, the renters keep coming so I keep working, but it feels very therapeutic. Lately, I have been working on a book duo with the amazing Olivia Marie. The first in the series was named Virus. Kind of ironic I suppose. Book two is named Quarantine…haha. Almost like we knew all this was coming, huh? LOL! Of course, these books aren’t about Covid-19. Our virus doesn’t even have a name yet. It may never come to think of it, and it’s a flesh-eating, madness inducing monstrosity made from nightmares. I love it. I’m hoping readers trapped in quarantine will love it just as much. I guess these books show that I’m not letting all the fear change me. I still have my love for horror. I still have my goofy sense of humor. I’m still doing the best I can to protect my family. I guess you can say I’m keeping on. Ya know, there’s no rest for the wicked and all that.

So, to all those trapped in quarantine, good luck. I hope you keep yourself occupied, find a few great books to read (mine are easily found by checking out my Amazon or Facebook page…wink!) and keep yourself from going stir crazy. To those, like me, who aren’t part of a shut down and work for places who aren’t willing to close the doors even in the face of an apocalypse, protect yourselves. Carry the disinfectant, wash those hands, and make them stay six feet back. I’m rooting for us all!! I’d also like to say thank you to all the medical professionals, caregivers, truck drivers, and grocery workers out there risking exposure to keep all of us taken care of. My prayers are with everyone and hopefully things will get back to normal soon.

Lots of Love,

Rena

Oh, here’s the link where you can snatch Virus, mine and Olivia’s upcoming book. Come on, surely you aren’t afraid of what may happen…right?

Virus

Now On PreOrder for .99 cents!!

mybook.to/virusCI

I Believe!

Growing up in East Tennessee, especially back in the 80’s and 90’s was quite a bit of fun. We were one of the first families to move into the area where we lived which made me the only kid around. Within a year, maybe two, other families started showing up and I was thrilled to have a neighborhood of kids around. We did what most kids did back then. We rode our bikes, we explored the woods, we built club houses, and we shot a lot of basketball. It was during this time, I had the first experience I couldn’t explain. My little gang, as we’ll call it, was out and about exploring. We came across an old, abandoned house. I can still picture the place in my head. Weeds were growing through broken floorboards on the porch, the front door was gone and laying off to the side of the house, every window in the place was broken, and the wood had that look of being ready to give way at any minute. So, of course, we had to go inside.

In the beginning, we didn’t tell anyone about this place. Why would we? Surely, our parents would tell us to stay away. We were too intrigued to let that happen. Our first prowling of the old house was simple and basic enough. Lots of laughing while we peeped into rooms. We rifled through old clothes and leftover junk on the floor. One of the boys with us even hid in a closet just to jump out and scare us girls. It was fun. It was cool. Most importantly though, it all happened in the daylight. In our minds, nothing bad happened in the daytime. It wasn’t until we were a bit older that we ventured back up that old dirt road to the abandoned place at night.

Things take on a different vibe in the darkness. When I saw the place lit up by the beams of our flashlights, I felt different about being there. I wasn’t what you’d call afraid. It was more like I’d been awakened to the idea of something not being normal about it. Our exploration of the house didn’t send all of us running. It didn’t give us nightmares for weeks on end. No, we heard things. Several times we’d stop moving or talking among ourselves and whispers could be heard from the other rooms. The floorboards creaked as if someone was walking in the other room while we were all together. I never saw anything. If I had, at that age, I have no clue how I would react. What I did experience though was that feeling. You know the one. I knew something was there besides my little gang of five. The others knew it too, which is why one of them decided to tell the parents about our hidden gem. This in turn resulted in all of us being told no more visiting the old house.

Life moved on and honestly, I forgot about the old place. After high school, I took a job at a hotel in Gatlinburg. Of course, being a tourist town, Gatlinburg had dozens of hotels, but I ended up at one where a few people I knew already worked. Like with most places, stories of strange things circulated among the workers. I listened to each one, but didn’t let them bother me. I’ve always been one of those people who needed to see things for myself. Within my first year at the place, I realized maybe the stories were true.

The favorite among the workers was the tale of the Piano Man. He was just a normal guy who played piano when the restaurant attached to the property had been open. Several of the current employees had been there during his tenure. They claimed he was a sweet guy who loved music. His death wasn’t something brutal. He passed away one night, in the hall as we called it, doing what he loved. A bad heart claimed him and his passing ignited the stories of his ghost remaining there. I wasn’t sold on any of it being true. Our General Manager had to show me pictures of the hall from back in the day, with the Piano Man in them. She had been employed there for almost six months when he passed that night in the restaurant. Within three months of his death, the restaurant closed.

We used the old restaurant as a convention hall. Groups could schedule parties and certain ones of us would work them as bartenders and servers. It was great extra cash flow. We even set the hall up and decorated. I was quite good at dealing with the hall. This meant a lot of my time was spent there. Especially after events when I would be handling most of the cleanup. That was when my first experience with the Piano Man took place. I still remember it quite vividly. The hall was empty. It was around two in the morning, and I was making my way through to the front door to lock up and head home. I heard a crash in the kitchen. It sounded as if an entire tray of glasses had fallen and shattered everywhere. I immediately rushed back that way. I couldn’t find anything. I searched the place from one end to the other, and nothing was broken or out of place, yet the sound had echoed through the building. Giving up, I turn back out the lights and make my way back through the vast main hall. I’m nearly to the front door again when I hear the piano playing. The tune is soft, but enough to stop me in my tracks. When I look back, no one is there, but the music is still playing. I decide not to investigate further. Yes, my bravado left at that point. Instead, I took off, trying to put a little distance between me and that piano.

Over the years, strange things kept happening at the hotel. I’ll share more of those at some point. The one I really want to share is the reason I wrote the book, The Piano Man. My daughter Amber was around three or maybe four. She was talking, had a good vocabulary and liked going to the hotel with me. We were in the process of breaking the hall down after an event the night before. She was playing with the leftover balloons on the stage, near the piano. I noticed her chatting away with someone. I walked closer. No one was there. She reached her hand out, trying to give this invisible entity her balloon, then she laughed out loud. I asked her who she was talking to. Her answer left me a bit shaken. “I’m talking to the man, mommy. The man who sits at the piano.”

Every time we visited the hall, Amber would talk to him. Several times while she was there, the music would play. She talked and acted as if the ghost of the piano man was her friend. In other parts of the hotel, she saw other things, we all did, but none of those stayed with her, or me, like how she acted with the Piano Man. When I decided to write the book, I played with the name of the place where I worked so it could be somewhat included. Of course, I also made the Piano Man have a bigger backstory. His murderous history may not be true, but the connection between Amber and the ghost in the convention hall is. I also decided to let Amber’s character in the book world continue on. I figured a teenager so taken by the paranormal would want to investigate more. Graveyard Girls became her next adventure. If you would like to make a visit to The Reagan Inn and meet Amber, the resident ghost girl, I’ll leave you the links below. Piano Man is on sale now for only .99 cents, while Graveyard Girls is on pre-order. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the story, and this little behind the scenes look at how I became a believer in ghosts.

Piano Man – http://mybook.to/PianoManCI

Graveyard Girls – http://mybook.to/GraveyardGirlsCI

Have a great day!

Lots of Love!

Rena

Bring on the Dolls

Yesterday brought about another addition to the super fun Dollhouse Series I co-write with the amazing Erin Lee. I absolutely adore this series. On most days, I consider myself a fan of the darker side of life. I love horror movies, scary stories, and don’t get me started on those ghost investigation shows on television and streaming networks. I could talk about those all day long…lol. This series isn’t horror. Is it creepy? Of course it is. It’s dealing with sex dolls who have artificial intelligence. Is there anything creepier than that? The main thing about this series though is the humor. I never realized just how badly I needed to write something funny. Yes, I love my horror and the chills I get creating monsters and mayhem, but every now and then, I need the laughs.

The writing process for these books is just as much fun. Writing with Erin is a pure joy any day, but toss in the madness of Petunia, or any of the dolls for that matter, and it becomes something completely different. We can’t stop cracking up while we are constantly trying to throw situations or musings from the characters at one another to shake the other up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the chapter she’s written and laughed out loud at the predicament she’s put my character in. I love it.

Is the dollhouse series for everyone? Probably not. I think it should be, but I’m sure there are people out there who aren’t into twisted rom-coms or off the wall antics. That’s okay though. It really is. Do I want everyone to read about the dolls and laugh along with us? Yes, I do. I also understand that sometimes that just isn’t the case. We have tons of books coming in our little guilty pleasure series. Are they off the wall? Most definitely. Did we have fun writing them? Always. There’s no difficulty with these installments. It’s pure fun, hilarity, and goofiness. It’s a great release for us, and honestly, we hope for everyone else. So, if you’re a fan of goofy fun that truly doesn’t have rhyme or reason behind it, while still getting the overall creepiness of dolls in general, Petunia, Guy, Sage, and the rest of the gang in the dollhouse series may be right up your dark, humorous, alley. I’ll drop the links to the three currently available below just in case your mind is as twisted as ours.

Have a great day, y’all!

Lots of Love,

Rena ❤

Book One in the Dollhouse Series: Petunia

Book Two (also part of the Donut Shop Series): Sage’s Sticky Buns

Book Three: Petunia’s Valentine

Monday Musings…Goals!

Photo by Bibhukalyan Acharya on Pexels.com

Anyone who knows me, whether it’s personally or in the author world, knows my dream is writing. Whether I make $10 or $1000 doesn’t matter. I need to write. It’s part of me. Luckily, I’m blessed with a publisher who is willing to deal with me, flaws and all. When I write, they pub it. I’m also blessed to have readers who want to hear from me. To be honest with you, that part still blows my mind. I never imagined someone else out there would want to read what I wrote. Now, I actually have people who ask what’s coming next. It’s amazing. It’s mind blowing. The only downside? The real world. Yes, the day job. That gets in the way lol. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have wanted to hang up the 9 to 5 (way more hours than that considering what I do) but I can’t do that. Nope. Bills. Bills. Bills. Bills. You guys get it, I know, but still, it’s a hiccup in the goal department. If work wasn’t a thing, I don’t know if I’d ever stop writing. Well, I’m sure I would. The kiddo needs me, the hubby demands to be fed, and well, I have to play with the furbabies, but you get what I mean. The notebooks of ideas wouldn’t be laying here, waiting for me. I wouldn’t be scheduling my writing around work and earning a living. It would be heaven for a book worm like me. The thing is though, I know I need to have a life outside of my passion for writing. It’s how inspiration comes. You’ve heard people talk about wanting to write people they meet throughout their day into their books. I get to do that. Sure, if I was at home more, I may be farther in along with the goals I’ve set for myself, but I think I’d lose part of me. Maybe, one day, I’ll at least get to slow down. For now, I’m doing all I can for the family while I’m able. My morning routine of grabbing a few thousand words before the house wakes up is working. Sure, I need to be up at the butt crack of dawn, but hey, schedules must be kept. My publisher, co-writer, and friend Erin Lee is always telling me there’s a difference between writing as a hobby and writing with a goal in mind. Yes, I have a goal. Will I reach it? You betcha! Will it be soon? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. No, all it means is I’m going to keep pushing, just like I did today. I woke up, grabbed the coffee, started writing, and sure enough I was lost. I was lost in a world of my own creating. I knew my kids were safe and sound asleep. I could hear the hubby snoring. The real world was in great shape, so it was my time, goal time. I suppose the purpose of this blog post is to kinda update y’all on why it may seem like I’m dragging a bit, or why it may appear like I’m not to the level I want to be. The realization is, I am where I want to be. I’m doing what I love, while still taking care of the people I love. Is it hard? You better believe it. Will I stop? Never. I’m also a humble person. I know I owe each of my successes in the writing world to Crazy Ink and the fact they took a chance on me. I’m lucky to have a publishing house that accepts my crazy and doesn’t mind giving me that kick in the ass when I need it.

Okay, enough musings for this rainy Monday. Hope everyone is happy and healthy. And as always, thanks for all your support!!

Lots of Love,

Rena ❤

Welcome

Welcome to my world…

This is my first blog post on my brand new, beautiful, site. A special thank you to the amazing author, M.W. Brown for her help and design ability of which I have none lol.

Having an official site is a big step for me. Never did I think I would need one, much less have one. What’s the plan, you may ask? Hopefully, I will keep up with my blog, give you the inside scoop on my writing, life, and misadventures.

As an exclusive author with Crazy Ink Publishing, I am blessed to work with some amazing people. Thanks to Erin Lee and the rest of the CI staff I have tons of books coming your way and I can’t wait to share them with you all.

Lots of Love 💘
Rena