Newhart’s Inn

Last weekend my husband and I fulfilled one of my dreams and spent the weekend at the Stratford Inn (AKA Waybury Inn). I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Newhart and all his shows, especially Newhart. So a few years ago, when I googled “Stratford Inn” on a whim, I knew I had to make the pilgrimage.

The town of East Middlebury was much like the town of Norwich depicted in the intro to the show. But then we saw the bed and breakfast, and pulling into the parking lot, I thought Waybury Inn didn’t look much like Stratford Inn.


 But I think that was because we were approaching it from an angle.


We stepped inside, and the lobby and tiny front desk looked nothing like the lobby and long front desk in the show.


I mentioned this to my husband, and he said, “Of course none of the episodes were filmed here, they were all filmed on a Hollywood set!” And so I asked the front desk clerk. She said only the exterior of the Waybury Inn was filmed, and that was for the intro to the show. She also said Larry, Darryl, and Darryl had visited the inn, but not Dick Loudon (Bob Newhart).


We had a charming time regardless, and enjoyed the scenic countryside and small town atmosphere. But before we left, I took a look around the nooks and crannies and saw Dick Loudon’s Stratford Inn…

039.JPG Shining Through… 

And they said romance was dead… Not a chance!

At the close of the second half of the second month of the year, I give you part 2 (part 1 can be found here) of my pair-up challenge by doubling up Tom Merriman’s challenge with a goldfish’s challenge (click here for the prelude of this story)!

February, from the Très riches heures du Duc de Berry

Limbourg brothers [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


“I killed Scarlet because I thought she was going to shoot you!” David slumped against the barn wall and winced as a rusty nail poked a hole in his shoulder. He staggered forward, the nail further ripping his button-down shirt. He cupped his hand over the puncture wound. “And now I’ve got tetanus. And my best shirt is ruined.”

“Shut up, David. Just shut up.” Felicity shook her head, her tawny curls bouncing to and fro. She glanced down at the still body and sniffed. “I should never have gotten mixed up in your shady deals, David. I mean, I thought you were a bad boy, but this is insane.”

“But I did all of this for you. I wanted to impress you. Your profile said, ‘Jaded City Girl Looking for Romance. Likes: High stakes. Dislikes: Playing it safe.’ And, well… ta-da?” he said, spreading his arms wide.

“Is this your idea of a romantic night out?” She turned and stomped her way to the barn door. “Your profile said, ‘Take a chance on a Bad Boy in the making. Likes: Risks and romance. Dislikes: Fussy reading glasses’ – Oh!” Felicity spun around.

Scarlet sat up, tossed her reading glasses to David, and peeled off the fake blood-filled special effects skin. “I’m fine. Not a scratch. My brother here really wanted to impress you. And I think he did.” Scarlet winked at Felicity, stood up, and brushed herself off. “And now that you’ve passed the test, we can all get to work on the real Harrister deal.”

Felicity shrieked with delight, ran to David, and threw her arms around him. “You passed the test too, you bad boy.” She kissed him. “Sorry about your shoulder.” She tenderly pulled the cloth from the wound. “Maybe you should see a doctor.”

“That would ruin our alibi.”

“But don’t you think you could have tetanus?”

David shrugged. “That’s a chance I’ll have to take.” With a flourish, David led Felicity out the barn door.

“And they said romance was dead,” Scarlet said as she picked hay out of her hair.


“…and they said romance was dead…”

Not sure who “they” are, but fellow writer (and magical castle-dweller) Tom Merriman put forth this challenge.

And so I paced, pondered, and poked around the interwebs for tangential inspiration and found a free trial anagram site, and a free “make your own program-generated art” site. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Pretty freaky. Here’s what I did:

and they said something (romance) was dead

The above was generated using the input “and they said something (romance) was dead” (slightly altered from Merriman’s theme for slight originality).

And because V-Day is supposed to be all about pairs, I did this:

a nasty odd screwhead idea man

…which was generated using the input “a nasty odd screwhead idea man”, which is an anagram of Merriman’s “and they said romance was dead” theme. My hubby picked it out from a list of contenders which included “I am shadowy as dead-end nectar,” and “Idea man hand-sedates yard cow.”

And they said romance was dead! Pshaw.

So now you have the tools to make your own free Valentine’s Day (or any day) cards! My gift to you.



Exploring Area X, part I

Book Review of Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, book 1 of Southern Reach trilogy.

synopsis – Area X is a mysterious, ever-encroaching expanse of land in America, bordering the ocean. This land is wild. Dangerous. Feral. And the flora and fauna are… abnormal. And Southern Reach keeps sending expeditions into the heart of Area X. Willing volunteers who, after immersion into this feral land, return mere husks of themselves, if they return at all.  No one knows exactly why Area X is so powerful, only that it must be explored. And so the twelfth expedition sent into Area X consists of a biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and an anthropologist. They must explore, take notes, collect samples… and hopefully return. Ah, but who are they kidding? For the land is lush with transformation, and the expedition members are keeping secrets from each other. Secrets that give even more power to Area X.

reaction – While I refer to the novel as “Area X,” the title is “Annihilation.” The annihilation of civilization, of society, of the codes governing interpersonal expectations and conduct. The annihilation of others. The annihilation of self. Within Area X, you get a sense of being immersed, slowly but effortlessly, then “the sense of” fades away and You’re Actually There, in Area X, lost, and this is as it should be, because Area X is your home, it’s always been your home. You just didn’t know it, because you thought “home” meant “familiarity.” It doesn’t. “Home” means 4.4 billion years of evolution on a warm, wet speck of dirt in an unknowable universe. Struggling, squirming, little bags of meat, absorbing, growing, breeding, fighting, destroying, dying. Starting over again. And again. As with what will be the endless expeditions into Area X, marching into the unknown, hoping to learn, but ultimately facing the unknowable. Area X gives enough clues so that you can see, hear, touch… but what you’re experiencing is something completely unexpected. Foreign. Dizzying. If and when you reach the other side and found you’ve survived, it’s only because Area X infected you. Its germ kept you alive, so that you may serve it. And now you have no choice but to carry the germ back into civilization, where you shrug your shoulders and shake your head. So that others should venture home to Area X.


Other versions and reviews of Annihilation can be found here.

That Book You’re Writing? It’s Already Been Written.

This seems to be impervious to fire, so I'll choose to ignore it

You read that right. The book / article / essay / blog post (including this one)/ email / love letter / hate mail / poem / note to self / grocery list / laundry list / gibberish you’re writing HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN.*

Not only that, but every book / article / essay / blog post / email / love letter / hate mail / poem / note to self / grocery list / laundry list / gibberish you’ve written in the past, or will write in the future, HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN (or written again, for past writings).*

Not only that, but EVERY POSSIBLE VERSION (typos, rearrangements, and such) of every book / article / essay / blog post / email / love letter / hate mail / poem / note to self / grocery list / laundry list / gibberish HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN.*

And it’s all cataloged in an evil library.

An explanation from the evil archive: “At present it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 104677 books. …any text you find in any location of the library will be in the same place in perpetuity. We do not simply generate and store books as they are requested – in fact, the storage demands would make that impossible. Every possible permutation of letters is accessible at this very moment in one of the library’s books, only awaiting its discovery.”

Go ahead. Search any text you make up on the spot for yourself. IT WILL ALREADY BE IN THERE.

By the way, happy NaNo-ing to those participating (in writing something that’s already been written).

Here’s what inspired this soul-punting abomination:

So your (and my) Great American Novel is already floating around in this infernal library in every possible version in 3200-character chunks. I’m gonna stop driving this home because it’s making me queasy.

*In English, in 3200-character chunks, using the 26 letters of the alphabet, the blank (space), the comma, and the period.

In other news, here’s the highlight of my container gardening this year:

…and every possible description of my pomato is in the damn thing.

Who knows when I will write another blog post which HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN. ARGH.

Thanks for stopping by.

Time Cake Recipe

Time* Cake (Chocolate)


Swirling the Time Cake

Where I live, it’s the start of summer, and so I decided to celebrate by baking a Time Cake! You can bake one too. No fancy ingredients or special tools needed. This cake is 100% meat-free, and… it’s even vegan. The cows and chickens are happy.

 (Recipe adapted from

3 cups flour
2 cups white, brown, or coconut sugar
1/2 cup 100% pure cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea, iodized, or kosher salt
3/4 cup olive, canola, or coconut oil
2 Tbls. white or apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups water
extra oil

optional: vegan dark chocolate syrup

Lightly coat a cake pan with extra oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk until uniform.

Add rest of ingredients (all the wet ones).

Mix until batter is batter-like.

Do NOT overmix.

Pour and scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 – 40 minutes.

In time, the cake should pass the spring-back test. Let cake cool completely before messing with it.

Optionally swirl with chocolate syrup.

*Time Travel, Hard Time, Good Time, Summer Time, Party Time, Easy Time, Old Time, Time Out, or Just in Time


Right after I took this cake out of the oven, my hubby came home and said, “It smells like pizza in here!” Obviously my hubby experienced a temporal abnormality. Your results may vary. If you’re brave enough to bake this Time Cake, let me know if you or your housemates experienced any temporal abnormalities in the comments below!


Displaying the Time Cake

A further explanation of time ingredients:

Snowpocalypse 2015… and Beyond!

Snowpocalypse2015backdeck Is it spring yet? Not here, but that doesn’t matter. Snowpocalypse 2015 has (hopefully) ended, and those of us who survived can celebrate by stocking up on iron (more about that further down). Or diving into reading and writing projects. I’m doing both. Care to join me? Here is a list of writing and reading activities I’ve either done in years past, or plan to do this year:

  1. Read or write poetry. Join a progressive poetry group.
  2. Reread a favorite book from your childhood.
  3. If you have children or are a caretaker of children, read to them.
  4. Buy a book for a child.
  5. Watch a movie based on a favorite book.
  6. Get a writing or reading buddy.
  7. Create a book cover for your book-in-progress.
  8. Map out a publication timeline for your WIP.
  9. Watch youtube videos of your favorite authors reading excerpts of their work and giving lectures or talks. I highly recommend Stephen King and Harlan Ellison.
  10. Read chapters of some of your favorite books out loud, and make notes of how you would improve the writing.
  11. Get involved with a local library event during National Library Week, April 12 – 18, 2015 (USA).
  12. Support your local bookstore by shopping on Independent Bookstore Day, May 2, 2015 (USA).
  13. Donate books to a book charity. If you don’t have any books you want to donate, buy some new or used and donate those.
  14. Attend a local author reading.
  15. Take a free online class. It can be a creative writing class, a literature class, or any class.
  16. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Commit to strengthening the strengths, and improving the weaknesses.
  17. Start or join a writing or reading group.
  18. Commit to writing a set number of words per week, or per month.
  19. Submit a story to a call for submissions for an anthology.
  20. Apply for a residency retreat.
  21. Write a book review and post it on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, make one.
  22. Attend a writers’ conference.
  23. Read an edited and polished excerpt of your writing out loud at an open mic night.
  24. Enter your writing into a contest.
  25. Join an association, like the Independent Book Publishers Association.
  26. Write or read a novel outside your usual genres. If you do that already, then check out my genre list.
  27. Go on a solitary writer’s retreat of your own making.
  28. Read banned or challenged books during Banned Book Week, September 27 – October 3 2015. Tell people.
  29. Go on a literary pilgrimage to visit a place where a favorite author lived or wrote about.
  30. Write the draft of a novel during NaNoWriMo.
  31. Donate books to a juvenile detention center, homeless shelter, prison, half-way house, rehab center, or place of worship. Call to make arrangements first.
  32. Get a Fisher Space Pen and keep it next to some paper on your nightstand!


And so I’m back! And at a less frenetic pace than last year. At the end of January I had to go to the ER for severe anemia… Then spent about a week at home just managing to crawl in and out of bed… After countless blood tests, and a month of recovery, my iron count is almost up to human level. Next month I have a hospital visit for even more tests. Maybe they’ll find another part of my internal parasitic twin (I’m assuming I have one. Where else is all my iron going? They already found my twin’s kidneys, so I assume I didn’t fully ingest her in the womb. Live and learn.)


In the meantime, I (rather, my hubby) dug myself out of Snowpocalypse: Snowpocalypse2015frontyard

(This is my front yard. The snow is still over my head.)


And I found (actually, I won) this: CMStewartBWP

Horror author J. Thorn gives away scary things at his Dark Realms website.


And HDWP Books was hacked, but our fearless leader Charles Barouch saved the day! Check it out, I have a short story in every Theme-Thology anthology so far…




Speaking of my stories, my over-arching project this year is working on the novel I wrote during the last NaNoWriMo: MEATFUL THINGS. I feel like I have a solid draft, and I’ve been steadily improving it as my own health improves. I have some beta readers lined up, but could always use more. So if you’d like to provide feedback on a complete supernatural horror novel of approximately 52,000 words, shoot me an email (click on the “Who is CMStewart?” link), or leave a comment below. I’ll be sending the draft, along with a few book critique questions, to my beta readers at the end of March. Thanks!

Dead Hunger / From the Ashes / Red Sky / Dying Days (books 101 – 104)

Dead Hunger / Eric A. Shelman

synopsis – Prepper Man puts his guns, ammo, gear, and survival skills to the test when society disintegrates into… ZOMBIES! He’s all decked out, ready to roll, but… dammit. Seems his sister turned into a zombie. No prob. He’ll just wrap her in tarp and chuck her in the cargo carrier. In the meantime, drug the orphan kiddie so she won’t cause trouble. And whoa! His girlfriend shows up to team up. Good thing she’s not a zombie. Then – awesome! They join forces with a brilliant scientist, and another kick-ass chick with a crossbow! Plenty of love all around in this happy family. Er… what about that zombie sister? She still wrapped up in the tarp somewhere?

reaction – Prepper Man is overflowing with love, as long as he’s got his woman. Prepper Man’s woman is overflowing with love as long as she’s got her man. Together, they do what they can in zombie land. You get the picture. A touchie-feelie zombie story with plenty of misting eyes (both non-zombie and zombie). Read this for a heart-swelling and brain-bursting tale of fun, friends, family, and the undead. Plenty of action with a cliffhanger ending.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


Survivors of the Dead: From the Ashes / Tony Baker

synopsis – Worldwide virus-, government-, or bioterrorist-induced… ZOMBIES?! A retired hero cop is called back into action when the undead take over his beloved San Fran. First he observes. Then he plans. Then he kicks zombie ass, with the help of a few other hero cops. BAM! POW! BIFF! SPLAT! Then they get the giggles ’cause ya gotta keep the jokes crackin’ in between bouts of zombie skull crackin’.

reaction – Plenty of weapons descriptions and battle strategizing in this “Good Cop VS Zombies” tale. Variations on “too old for this shit” is an oft-repeated sentiment. Lots of battle scenes, even for a zombie story. Camaraderie. Man crushes. Bromance. Duty. Honor. Courage. Et cetera. Every cop is a “good” cop, even in the disintegrating face of a zombocalypse. Yeah, right. Read this if you’re a guns and ammo fan.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


Red Sky / Travis Tufo

synopsis – It’s Nazi Pigs VS Russki Scum in a war tale overflowing with hate, sadism, and… ZOMBIES! SOLDIERS! After killing, killing, and, er… killing, all this Russki wants to do is get home to his woman. But he has just one more assignment from his commanding officer. So he and his wartime buddy, who also happens to be a killingkillingkilling machine take the mission. They find their target. Now all this Russki has to do is kill so he can get home to his woman. Does he have a ghost of a chance?

reaction – Gory and sadistic. A sad tale of what war does to people. The characters were puzzlingly simplistic in their brutality, and I had less than zero sympathy for them. A couple of times they showed humanity, but it seemed out of character. A quick, ghostly read for fans of graphic wartime violence.

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


Dying Days / Armand Rosamilia

synopsis – When the zombie brains hit the fan, Maine Woman hits the road and becomes Florida Woman, only to encounter… more ZOMBIES! Florida Woman must live by her wits and her machete as she slashes and flashes her way across the Florida landscape. She treks all the way to America’s wangland, but when she meets up with more Florida People, can she control her raging libido long enough to focus on eating, sleeping, and not getting raped and eaten by Florida Zombies? Then again, that one zombie out by the beach looked pretty damn hot, and I’m not just talking about sunburn either…

reaction – Florida Woman was oddly entertaining, as expected, but she also made me cringe, as expected. Too much overt sexuality in the middle of a friggin’ zombocalypse. I didn’t connect with and felt no sympathy for Florida Woman. A couple supporting characters showed some refreshing sexual restraint. No actual chickaboom going on, but… yeah. A quick read with an unexpected twist / cliffhanger ending…

recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


 Happy ZOMBIE New Year!

Meat Camp / Zombie Fallout / This Plague of Days / The Unwashed Dead (books 97 – 100)

Meat Camp / Scott Nicholson and J.T. Warren

synopsis – Something’s up at the stay camp for delinquent boys. Something that shouldn’t be “up.” Something which should be dead and down… ZOMBIES! Ever since old coot Fraley let his daughter take up a silly notion ’bout tryin’ to do some good in the world and open up that city boys’ camp, things just ain’t been right in this here neck of the woods. And now that them punk boys are gettin’ all zombified, it’s up to old coot Fraley, his day-dreamin’ kin, a kooky camp counselor, and a chicken-shit sheriff to set things right.

reaction – True to its name, “Meat Camp” is meaty and campy. It’s a B movie plot with fun characters, and is delightfully gruesome to boot. Having been a camper and a camp counselor, I appreciated this tale of camp kiddies blossoming into camp zombies. Not too far from real life. Ever been camping or counseling? Read this with a big bowl of popcorn and let the zombie-augmented memories come flooding back.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


Zombie Fallout / Mark Tufo

synopsis – A family man, doin’ what he can, and… flu shot-induced ZOMBIES! Holy crap, they’re everywhere, and now he must do more than he can to save his wife, kids, his daughter’s fiancé, his son’s co-worker, the family dog, a couple of BFFs, somebody else’s dog, and whomever else is still left in the neighborhood… Argh, there’s too many zombies and non-zombies to deal with… When the gore hits the floor, who and what will be left standing?

reaction – A wide cast of diverse characters, a twisting plot, and non-stop humor made this a thrill to read. The storyline kept me guessing, and the tone, despite the shock and gore, was lighthearted and conversational. Not an easy task to pull off, but Tufo did it. Not only that, but he believably got into the minds (what was left of them) of the zombies. A must-read for zombie fans.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


This Plague of Days / Robert Chazz Chute

synopsis – If things weren’t already difficult enough in the life of autistic Jaimie, now he has to deal with… ZOMBIES! As Jaime’s family struggles to adapt to a too-rapidly changing world of disease and scarcity, Jaime continues to plow through life with superhuman clarity of understanding… yet has no way to communicate his knowledge. Will he find a way to process his new world? His senses are in constant overload, yet he senses he will survive.

reaction – This is an introspective look at a differently-abled person’s take on a zombocalypse. The main character is unusually drawn, especially for a zombie story, yet is well-developed. The supporting characters are poignant and heartfelt. A great example of sensory integration in a survival story. Read this for a quick, yet thoughtful, zombie story that opens a new zombie horizon…

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


The Unwashed Dead / Ian Woodhead

synopsis – Life is tough and gritty in the Breakspear housing project. So is death. So are… ZOMBIES! Yep, zombies have invaded Breakspear, thanks to a secret, sinister government experiment. Now the survivors must choose between banding together to fight the unwashed dead, or going it alone. On one hand, there’s strength in numbers (this is also not lost on the zombies). On the other hand, Breakspear has more than its share of thugs, thieves, and roving gangs (both zombie and non-zombie). Will the human spirit prevail in some small pocket? Or will the government zombies devour every last soul?

reaction – This is life in a British ghetto during the zombocalypse. Foul low-lifes with foul motives and foul language. This story had a great voice, with high tension throughout. I enjoyed the “band together / every one for themselves” knife edge. Lots of interpersonal conflict and emotion. Read this for a richly told British grit zombie story.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here

also available in an 8-book boxed set here


Fear / Run (books 95 and 96)

Fear / L. Ron Hubbard (Yes, that L. Ron Hubbard.)

synopsis – Professor Lowry, a rational man, writes and publishes an article pointing out the irrationality of demons and angels. Then curiously, he loses his hat along with the last four hours of his life. Soon after, things really start to get freaky. Seems an alternate reality has opened up around him. Even his wife and his best friend somehow aren’t the same. Have the demons and angels decided to toy with him? Or has something more sinister transpired? Maybe Professor Lowery isn’t so rational after all…

reaction – A fantastical tale about an everyman’s decent into a psychological breakdown. Sympathetic, engaging characters, and a tumbling, tumultuous plot. I thought I had it all pegged, but at the very end, BAM, a twist I did not see coming. All the while I thought I was indulging a fantasy novel, but the conclusion hit me like an ice-cold splash of reality. An a-ha moment. No wonder Mr. Hubbard was so successful as a cult leader.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here


Run / Blake Crouch

synopsis – Mysterious lights appear in the night sky. Soon after, a rash of murders. Then the shooting sprees. And it only escalates. Those who saw the lights are the “affected.” And those who aren’t affected are now on the run – like the members of the Colclough family. But is the young Cole Colclough affected? How far and for how long must they run from the roving mobs who want to capture, torture, and kill them? What are the limits of physical and psychological endurance when your house, your car, your food, and your water have been taken away, and you’re forced to watch yourself and your family slowly dying? Will you have the strength of mind to end the misery?

reaction – This is the most fearfully suspenseful book I’ve ever read. Real, tangible characters and non-stop edge-of-seat momentum. Passages of breath-taking terror interspersed with breath-taking descriptions of the American West countryside. The luck afforded to the Colcloughs is written believably. Mercifully, and wisely, no rape scenes in this one. In the horror genre, this is how suspense is done. I will be reading more of Crouch’s novels.

recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

get it here