Posts Tagged ‘South Florida’

Courting Horror with Florida Gothic

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Stephen King loves Florida Gothic!



OH, THE HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Horror isn’t exactly new to me. No, I’m not talking about my personal life; I’m talking about my writing life! I’ve crossed over into horror on several projects, though technically speaking, it’s probably safe to say that my new book release Florida Gothic is my first full-on, guts-on-the-table, cringing-in-the-corner horror novel. As the debut release in The “Gothic” Series, I’ve combined plenty of grit and gore for this one. I think the book demonstrates that I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to swimming in the alligator-infested swamps of the horror genre.

Ernesto’s mad as hell – and he’s not gonna take it anymore!

Hang on, did someone say alligator? There just so happens to be one in the book! And it’s because of him (or her?) that events move in a particular direction, shaping the fate of our unlucky protagonist, Ernesto Martinez. We get to see the “hero” of Florida Gothic shambling through life (or make that DEATH) as he seeks payback for all the wrongs that have been committed against him. Like this book’s author, Ernesto’s no shrinking violet either.

Though I’d like to think I’m better looking.

Set against the “glamorous” backdrop of South Florida (think heat, sun, sweat, beaches, drugs, voodoo, Cuban food, and Ernesto’s ever-present cucarachas), Florida Gothic offers what you won’t typically find in those tourist guidebooks.

So am I using my blog to promote my new book? You bet! If you enjoy horror, I’m convinced you’ll enjoy Florida Gothic. Even if you aren’t a horror aficionado, you’ll have a gruesomely good time reading it. So what are you waiting for?

To find out more about Florida Gothic (and access those handy little “buy” links designed to make your life so much easier), please visit:

Oh, and here’s the official book trailer!

Gimme Gimme Gimme Back My Fifty Dollar Bill!!!

Monday, January 19th, 2009

I know, I know. I spent an entire month in America, visiting two coasts (Florida and California), and all I have to blog about is a lousy fifty dollar bill?

Well, it isn’t just any fifty dollar bill. It’s a special fifty dollar bill. Or special to me anyway. Thank god I hadn’t given it to the taxi driver who took me to San Jose International Airport last Wednesday morning. Fortunately, I’d found enough cash on me to scrape together my fare without having to relinquish it, despite the fact that it was given to me for this express purpose. The fifty was still safely folded into one-fourth of its original size inside my wallet when I returned to Fort Lauderdale International Airport and had remained there until…

… a trip to Office Max on Sunday afternoon. I’d gone in to buy some cheap 2 gig USB flash drives (cheap in U.S. dollars anyway). When I went to pay, the cashier told me there was a special deal on some 4 gig flash drives that were even cheaper than the 2 gig ones I’d already chosen. I guess in all the excitement of the moment (and here you thought I led an interesting life) I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing. I reached into my wallet, removed the fifty, and plonked it down on the counter. The fact that I had a $25-off coupon only added to the confusion and pandemonium and before I knew it, I’d given away something that held great significance to me.

When I returned to the car, I suddenly realised what I’d done. I was in tears. How could I have been so stupid? HOW??? Seeing my state, my mother turned her car around and returned back to the crowded parking lot, speeding up and down lanes, ignoring stop signs, and nearly running over several dimwitted pedestrians just so I could get my precious fifty dollar bill back.

I was in a panic. What if it wasn’t there anymore? What if there were other fifty dollar bills in the cash register and we couldn’t figure out which one was mine? What if they rang the police, thinking I was operating some kind of counterfeit scheme or con game? South Florida isn’t high on my list of favourite places, therefore the thought of being imprisoned here held little appeal. Mind you, the thought of returning home to Blighty after being back in the San Francisco Bay Area again held little appeal either. I mean, the only thing I have waiting for me back in England is a broken vacuum cleaner.

I nearly pulled the glass doors out of their hinges in my haste to get back into the store. The cashier saw my panicked face racing toward her from even before I entered. I came to a skidding halt in front of her and poured out my tale of woe – or rather a vastly abbreviated version of it, since there’s only so much Pasternakian tragedy a person can take. My stricken expression must have told her all she needed to know. (Even the guy who’d helped me earlier looked on the verge of tears.) The cashier popped open the register and pulled out a fifty. Is it my fifty? I asked dubiously, hoping she wouldn’t take advantage of my delicate emotional state. I explained to her that my fifty was very crisp and new, and had been folded into one-fourth its original size. She said yes, it was definitely mine, as it was the only fifty in the cash register. And judging from the lack of customers, it seemed unlikely that she was lying to me. I hope not anyway. Christ, even now I’m worrying and wondering. Should I go back to double check?

And will they call the police this time if I do?

Bonnie Parker Meets Scarface (New Year’s Eve in South Florida)

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

This little piggy went to the market…

Have you noticed that something always seems to happen whenever I go to America (or anywhere for that matter)? Lost luggage, mishaps, scraped bumpers – you name it, it’s happened to me. Well, I’ve got a whole new chapter to add to this science-fiction novel known as my life: I’m now keeping company with a particularly cagey group of South Florida residents. Think Miami Vice. Or better yet, Scarface. Those two lame-asses Crockett and Tubbs can’t hold a candle to Tony Montana (jew got it, mang?)!

On New Year’s Eve I was picked up by car and driven to an undisclosed location in Broward County, Florida. The only landmark I recognised was the Fort Lauderdale Airport, which faded to a glittery speck in the distance as we barreled north and into the final night of 2008 and whatever new hell awaited me in 2009. I figured I had nothing more to lose at this point. I had no idea where I was going or who would be waiting there when I arrived. All I knew was that a roast pig was in the deal.

Apparently we were supposed to arrive at half past seven, and it was already half past eight when we pulled up in front of the darkened house where this New Year’s Eve party was being held. Obviously, I couldn’t help wondering about the absence of cars on our arrival. Were we early? I thought perhaps it was like one of those LA parties I used to go to, where the start time is 7pm, but no one ever turns up until at least 11pm. Of course, that was all just a ploy to make it appear as if the guests had so many other parties to stop off at when in truth, they were probably sitting at home watching old reruns of Gunsmoke until they considered it a dignified enough time to “put in an appearance”.

We parked out on the street so as not to be blocked in later, and made our way up the dark empty driveway, which only reinforced my assumption that we were the first guests to arrive… unless we’d somehow gotten the date wrong and the party was for New Year’s Eve 2010. Suddenly a black cat ran out in front of us. That’s when I noticed the cars. They were parked well off the driveway beneath a batch of trees, as if involved in a plot to reinforce the appearance that no one was there. Despite the obvious affluence of the home and grounds, this entire caper was getting dodgier by the minute.

The first thing I was told upon entering the house was: “Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument with anyone. They’re all packing heat.” I glanced around, expecting to be greeted by Scarface himself. Instead I was greeted by a Magnum 45 and a combat knife, which were set out on a table just inside the front door. That was when I began to question the wisdom of having accepted this invitation, which had been extended to me by my crime writer friend Vicki Hendricks, who’s also a contributor to my anthologies Getting Even: Revenge Stories and Dying For It: Tales of Sex and Death. If you’ve ever read any of her stuff, you’d understand my concern.

Were my worries justified? That all depends on how you look at it. I suppose you could call it a typical South Florida New Year’s Eve: guns, knives, hot coals, a swimming pool, and a pig. What made it slightly more surreal was the fact that our host and resident pig-roaster happens to be involved with undercover anti-terrorist work and is Jewish. In fact, a good portion of those present were Jewish (not so sure about the undercover anti-terrorist gig, though I could definitely envision our host’s feisty little mama taking someone down with an Uzi). Okay, so call me religiously underprivileged, but have you ever heard of a kosher pig? I’ll tell you this for free: our charming host had quite a gleam in his eye when cutting up that shiksa porker. He even gave me extra helpings of pork rind, no doubt figuring I could use a bit of extra flesh on me. I more than made up for my dwindling condition at the dessert table, where I managed to fit a piece of chocolate cake (which oddly was made with courgettes, aka zucchini), a piece of Vicki’s Tres Leches cake (which thanks to her curious recipe was technically Quattro Leches), and some flan onto my plate.

Over dinner I was informed that the doomed porkers such as the one who ended up on our plates get stamped with a number to reserve them for the bloodthirsty customers who ordered them. I guess that explained the 666 I noticed behind one of the pig’s ears, not to mention explained why our host kept calling the pig Damien. The conversation then moved onto the Fakahatchee Swamp (just try saying that ten times really fast!), a Florida landmark full of alligators, snapping turtles, and assorted dismembered limbs – a place where my mate Vicki claimed she went “looking for orchids”. (Orchids, my ass. Even now she still refuses to answer every time I ask her what happened to her last literary agent.) The dinner conversation reached a climactic crescendo when the conversation switched to a detailed discussion of the castration of pigs. At least I think they were talking about pigs.

Just as we were leaving the party, one of the guests pulled me aside to apologise profusely for forgetting to bring his Kalashnikov. I had to admit, I’d already tried every piece of hardcore weaponry in the house – an AK47 sounded pretty damned sexy to me.

Oh well, there’s always next New Year’s Eve…

(For some of Tony Montana’s wisdom, click:

My Suitcase is in Denver… But I’m Not

Monday, September 15th, 2008

I don’t ski. And neither does my suitcase. However, it’s quite possible it will be in Colorado for the skiing season.

I suppose I shouldn’t really complain. My navy-blue American Tourister had a reasonably peaceful afternoon upon arrival on Saturday at San Francisco International Airport, where it was tagged and placed on a conveyor belt on its way to being deposited into the belly of an aircraft. At least it knew where it was going. Unlike myself, who spent several hours running back and forth between the pay phone and the airline check-in desk, wondering if I’d ever make it back to Blighty.

You see, I was supposed to fly to Denver, then change planes to London, had the flight to Denver out of San Francisco not been delayed by two hours, thereby making the connection an impossibility. Apparently San Francisco International Airport is notorious for delays, as is this particular airline. Several conversations with telephone reservations as well as the check-in people at the airport later, I ended up with a colourful hodgepodge of bookings, offering me routing through Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles (along with a couple of standby reservations), the airline neglecting to mention that I was no longer on any Denver to London flights for either the original day or the following day, despite my being told at check-in that I had two bookings from Denver to London for both Saturday and Sunday, and despite my suitcase being checked through from San Francisco to Denver to London, and despite my boarding passes from San Francisco to Denver to London, and despite a non-refundable Denver hotel reservation only moments away from being booked and paid for. (The airline refused to pay for a hotel.)

Who is this glorious airline? Will I be sued if I tell? Let’s just say that their name begins with a “U” and ends with a “D”. And I will avoid them like the bloody plague next time I get my arse booked on a flight to America.

By the time I made what would be (or so I thought) my final flight booking, which was to be via LA (with yet another hotel room due to be reserved and paid for so that I could fly out to London the next afternoon), I went racing back through security to the check-in counter, jumped the queue (don’t cross me when I’m stressed), and tried to get my suitcase back. Well, U****D wasn’t having it, despite the nearly two hours they had in which to retrieve it. So while I was panicking about having to stay at a hotel overnight with nothing but the clothes on my back and a couple of Granny Smith apples, someone FINALLY decided to do something that actually made a bit of sense: get me on another airline to London that same evening. Ergo I was placed on stand-by with British Airways (ahh… civilisation). After trekking to the international terminal and finally locating the BA counter (do they want people to actually find them???), a new boarding card was placed in my sweaty little hand.

Of course the fun wasn’t over yet. I must’ve looked either very dodgy or very deranged – or else it was because I came from the big bad domestic terminal and from another carrier, but I got singled out for an extensive security search. Now, get your mind out of the gutter – we aren’t talking strip search here, although I did receive the cheap thrill of getting air blown on me in some glassed-in cubicle. Ooh, the life of an erotic writer!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I can take it; I’ve been through worse in my lifetime. But I definitely draw the line when it comes to my bear. You harm one hair on his furry little head and you’re dead meat, mate! Well, the poor guy was removed from his warm and cosy little backpack, placed on a cold metal table, and treated to the indignity of being manhandled by some security geezer at SFO. I sat by and kept a very close watch, since Teddy is still technically underage – and there ARE laws against this sort of thing in America. Teddy survived unscathed (wish I could say the same thing about myself), and Mr. Security Man offered us both a bright California smile. I should add that the gentleman seemed far more involved in a relationship with my shoes, a characteristic I find rather worrisome in a man.

Now for the contents of my errant suitcase: I’m quite worried about the fate of my sexy little Staind vest top, which I need for this Friday night, since I’m going to see the Massachusetts lads at the O2 Arena in London. Add to this some cookies from Trader Joe’s and the earrings I bought in Wales – these things are not so easily replaced. Teddy also had a nifty pair of shades in the suitcase, which sadly he never got to wear, since he spent most of his time in bed or else avoiding a rather dodgy feline character named Oliver.

It’s all well and good to file a lost baggage claim and get a few quid out of the deal, but trying to replace all those items, and taking the time to replace them… well, I’d rather have my suitcase back than a few paltry pounds in my pocket and the aggro of having to go shopping to try to replace what is, for the most part, irreplaceable. You see, I hate shopping. Yes, I am a woman who hates shopping. It takes me up to three hours just to buy a pair of knickers. Don’t believe me? Ask my mother, who thought I was kidnapped by sex traffickers at a Macy’s in South Florida when I vanished in the lingerie department.

All I can say is, that suitcase better bloody well get here and soon, or else there will be major hell to pay…