Shut. Down. Everything.


What do I do instead of blog? I write, I shop, I take care of my family. I live.

I also am about thisclose to pulling offline completely because it’s just a cesspool anywhere commenting is allowed.

It wasn’t like this when I started blogging and it won’t go back to that. I’ll leave this public for now because a lot of people read these old entries like recipes and how they’re not alone in their dislike of living in Colorado (that post gets an amazing number of hits).

I used to like connecting to people and sharing our experiences. Now I’d just rather keep everything to myself. So there won’t be anything juicy here. Ever.

I spend most of my social media time at Twitter now and I have a one-strike rule: irritate me, I block you. That’s not a challenge.

But don’t worry about me. I have plenty of outlets and people I share things with (many of whom I met through this blog). It’s just that I won’t be putting things here unless they’re major just because that’s not where I am anymore.

If you’re blogging, godspeed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ten years ago.

WWW Challenge Story #3: The Gray Girl



Here’s my story! You can still hear it in podcast #102 (it’s played 4th).

There are two more stories to be published (although all are in the podcast) so once you’ve heard or read them all, please take a moment and vote for your favorite.

Your vote supports women writers as well as a woman-run journal. Happy reading!

Originally posted on

The Gray Girl by Stephanie Lenz
Beast: Goat
Location: Mardi Gras
Blessing: Gris-gris
Curse: Your cocktail has been spiked with a voodoo potion!

*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*

“The Gray Girl”

Stephanie Lenz

 Mardi Gras, 1981

Since her mother’s disappearance, Maia had been drawn to the old St Louis cemetery. Mardi Gras made people careless so she had hope. Locked again but at its base, just inside the gate, she found a palm-sized rag doll. It smelled of lavender and she hugged it to her face. Attached to its dress was a note with words Maia couldn’t read.

Inside, a yellowish curtain of light seemed to cut the cemetery in half. A woman walking through the graveyard caught Maia’s eye. Not a ghost. Maia couldn’t see ghosts. Just people and their colors. She was as real as Maia herself…

View original 1,143 more words

The voice


My husband finally heard just the tail end of “The Gray Girl” yesterday when I played the comments afterward for him. I didn’t want him to hear it outside the context of the podcast so even he didn’t read/hear it before I submitted it. I told him that if he wants to hear it, he has to listen to the whole podcast. And then he has to vote, of course.

Anyway, when he heard me talking, he said, “You’re the new Terry Gross.”yes2

I am.

I am all about having a radio voice… now.

My mother used to try to get me to make my voice higher because it was too low for her taste and a low voice = sex, apparently. So it’s been a long, hard slog to relax enough to simply speak in a natural way. And mics let me do that because I don’t have to struggle to push my voice out there. I bring the ear right to me, ya know?

It’s probably a part of why I got into writing: my voice was mine. No changes needed. But like every emerging writer, I was still trying to find my voice. I still have a lot of written voices, like I have my professional style of voice (like my piece the other day about “The Gray Girl”), my conversational voice (blog entries), and my fiction, which is my truest Writer’s Voice.

My voice performing My Voice is still new to me but I’m enjoying it. #102, Wicked Women Writers Challenge

Image by Michael Homan, shared under a Creative Commons license


Mine is the fourth one played. Rhonda and Killian said some lovely things about my story (thank you) and the other stories as well. It’s a really fun listen, just over an hour long for five great horror stories. Voting instructions are at the website as well as at the end of the podcast. Be sure to listen and vote to support women horror writers!

Exclamation points!

Originally posted on

Horror Addicts Episode# 102
Intro Music by: Cancer Killing Gemini
Co-Hosted by Rhonda Carpenter & Killion Slade

123 days till Halloween!

wicked women writers challenge
tonia brown, mary go when, d.m. slate, photo finish, lindsey goddard, what happens in vegas, stephanie lenz, the grey girl, chantal boudreau, an appetite for trouble

To vote, send an email to

Subject line: WWW

Tell us who you think wrote the best story and why.

One lucky winner will win the PRIZE PACK!

Find all articles and interviews at:

Write in re: ideas, questions, opinions, horror cartoons, favorite movies, etc…


h o s t e s s

Emerian Rich

s t a f f

David Watson, Dan Shaurette, Marc Vale, KBatz, Mimielle, Dawn Wood

Want to be a part of the HA staff? Email

View original

The Gray Girl


My new story is available* for reading and/or listening at Horror Addicts so I thought I’d use a blog entry to do a little behind the scenes thing, maybe pique your interest in heading over to check it out. There will be five stories for your enjoyment so check them all out and be sure to vote for your favorite.

From the site:

Your task as a listener is to listen to each story (or read it on the blog) and then vote for who you think is the Most Wicked for 2014 by sending an email to: In your email please include the challenger’s name or story tile and why you liked it best. One lucky voter will win a prize pack!

And now, the aforementioned piquing. “The Gray Girl” is a Southern gothic tale about Maia, the “protector” of the French Quarter and her connection to the city she loves. The parameters of the horror contest were its theme – “Beauty and the Beast” – and that the story should have a “damsel in distress.” I also needed to incorporate story elements assigned to me:

  • Setting: Mardi Gras
  • Curse: Voodoo potion in a cocktail
  • Blessing: gris-gris
  • Animal: goat

The horror I write is almost always gothic so I had a few ideas of what I wanted to say with a story that has women at its center, set in New Orleans during Carnival season. “The Gray Girl” was inspired by the myth of Maia and Arcus and by the Lares Praestites of Rome.

There are dual damsels in distress: my main character and the Quarter itself, both self-rescuing damsels who have already come through distress. As to the distress itself, I wanted it not to be an incident out of the protagonist’s control but something she would encounter as a present-day “tutelary deity.”

Voodoo in “The Gray Girl” is a force wielded by many. It’s the source of the curse I was assigned but it’s also intrinsic to the blessing. It runs the spectrum of light, into complete darkness, and you can read/hear how I used light (including times of day) to represent that.

The goat symbol was the biggest challenge and it became the most important element of the story, the idea that tourists and natives alike are stalked as “hornless goats” – human sacrifices – for those who embrace darkness and evil (they are called “kids” by Maia and those who serve the Quarter). The goats also show up as part of the gris-gris, a term of endearment, names for the male characters, and the cocktail that delivers the curse.

I hope you enjoy(ed) reading and listening to “The Gray Girl” and the other stories in Wicked Women Writers 2014. If you missed my links at the end of the story: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, my website, and Toasted Cheese.

In fact, if you click through to my Pinterest page, I’ve just made public the board I used to gather ideas and be inspired to write “The Gray Girl.” Look for “Totes Magotes,” named for a cute exchange between me and last year’s winner Margaret Fiske and based on my goats.

* I’ll update with a direct link to the written version when it’s available

Wicked Women Writers Challenge 2014



Voting starts soon. Listen to and/or read all the entries, then choose your favorite.

Originally posted on

www9801202014 Wicked Women Writer Challenge – 

Welcome to the 6th annual Wicked Women Writers Challenge
Hosted by

The audio for these stories will post by Saturday June 28th. The text versions will run June 29th-July 3rd. Subscribe to this blog so we can alert you with they post.

Beauty and

the Beast


Premise: There is something both fearsome and attractive in a wild thing, be it man or beast. From creature legends told around ancient campfires, to modern tales of King Kong and cryptozoology, critters have always captured our darkest imagination. Five finalists have created stories based on this premise and with challenges that were randomly selected. Each challenger received: 1. Location 2. Blessing – Helpful Item 3. Curse – An untimely disability 4. Beast

Your task as a listener is to listen to each story (or read it on the blog) and then vote for who you…

View original 523 more words

Vacation envy


We were away for about a week and our hotel had very poor in-room Internet. So I sacrificed my Internet so the kids could watch movies. When I did get online, I quickly checked email and a little social media, and maybe listened to some satellite radio.

The bulk of our time, of course, was spent offline.

Coming back late last night, I did another of those quick email checks, updated Facebook, and went to bed early.

Today I got caught up on social media and wow. I don’t know if it was always like this and I didn’t realize because I saw it every day or if it’s getting worse. I suspect both. Of course, I’ve long seen the vitriol and the level of discourse on news pages, etc. but it’s seeping into people’s personal pages. Snide comments, backhanded compliments, jealousy, covetousness… and it’s only going to get worse as the summer goes and more people do things or go places.

This vacation (which was technically a work trip for my husband), I relied a lot on check-ins, to save the battery on my phone and because I didn’t have the Internet access. I had other friends on vacation too and made sure to like their pictures (mostly because I was genuinely happy for their joy). Now I’m rethinking posting more than maybe a new cover photo because of all the criticism, judging, and general nastiness I’m seeing friends put up with. Hell, I got snarky bullshit with our Disney photos last December.

I did step back from Facebook not long ago. I share less and use it mostly to keep up with people, organizations, and news. But even using it in a limited way doesn’t keep all the stuff I don’t want in my life out of my life.

I’d quit blogging because no matter how innocuous the post, someone would always come along and say some nasty thing, often completely unrelated to the topic and usually personal.

So my plan is to take another big step back. Not that I’ll be here more often but that I’ve found myself preferring G+ and Twitter as far as social media goes. I’m a big fan of the “hide” and the “close friends” features on Facebook and I think I’m going to use them more generously. And I’ll go back to the news pages themselves. People tend not to comment on the stories, just where they’re shared on Facebook.

We had a lovely beach vacation and I came out of it with more than just happy memories and sand in my luggage.

As I was looking for an image for this, George Takei shared this link on Facebook.