Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


With a little help from our friends

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that a lot of people have been stricken by really bad luck this year? Maybe it’s the same every year, but it seems to have hit a disproportionate amount of people I know in 2018. Illness, death, unnatural and natural disasters, financial crises–you name it, it’s happened. It makes the stuff I usually write about seem downright pleasant in comparison.

While I promise to treat you to an epic ghost story next week–a ghost story featuring a serial killer! Hard to beat that–please bear with me as I tell you a little about two friends who could really use your help.

First, let’s talk about C. Lee McKenzie. Lee is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. I know that’s said about a lot of people, but in this case, it’s actually true. She spends a large majority of her time promoting and helping other writers, rarely asking for anything in return. When you least expect it, she’ll quietly buy your books and read them, not letting you know until the (positive) review comes out. She never wants people to feel obligated to return the favour.

Sadly, Lee–who is also hilarious, adventurous, and talented–suffered a family tragedy recently. I don’t want to violate her privacy, so let’s just say it was life changing in the saddest of ways. To make things worse, Lee’s life imploded right when her latest middle-grade fantasy was released. Who has time to worry about things like book promotion when all your energy needs to go towards putting one foot in front of the other? So her friends are doing it for her.

What you can do to help:

For the most impact, please buy and review Lee’s Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. If you know anyone with kids, share this book with them. Give it a shout on social media. Any help is most welcome. Here’s the blurb. Feel free to copy and paste it anywhere you like.

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!
Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution – fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost – will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones, and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again…

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477
Juvenile Fiction – Fantasy & Magic (JUV037000) / Boys & Men (JUV005000)

“A gripping adventure back in time, with action around every corner.” – Stephanie Robinson, author of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

“A great addition to middle school classrooms and libraries, as well as your own private library.” – Beverly Stowe McClure, award-winning author of stories for children and teens.

“This third book in the Adventures of Pete and Weasel series was as much fun as the first.” – Kai Strand, author

“A rich cast of characters who bring the story to life – both in modern and historical times. I highly recommend librarians and teachers get this series on their shelves.” – Hall Ways Reviews

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.
Website / Facebook / Twitter

Purchase/find Some Very Messy Medieval Magic at Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes / Amazon / Foyles / Goodreads


Still with me? Good. Let’s chat a little about Brian Keene. Brian is extremely well known in the horror-writing community, not just for his books, but for his outspoken podcast The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Brian isn’t afraid to be contentious, offensive, inflammatory, or downright cantankerous, and if there’s an injustice in his community, you can be sure he’s going to shine a light on it.

That was exactly what he did in 2017, when a guy who sexually harassed me at a horror writers’ convention was revealed to be a “missing stair”–a habitual predator who managed to escape punishment, even though a lot of people were well aware of his crimes. After I was molested and the guy’s publishers continued to turn a blind eye, I agreed to talk to Brian about what had happened. Not only did he treat me respect, he did the show even after the creep in question threatened him with legal action.

During the show, Brian did something monumental, something I hadn’t even known I needed. He said he believed me. I broke down sobbing. The power of those words to anyone going through a sexual assault or harassment case cannot be overstated.

Just last week, Brian was badly burned in an accident. He faces a long and painful recovery, complete with skin grafts and other nastiness. As a writer, he has no health insurance, and as an American, he faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. He cannot work, and finds it too painful to hold a pen or his phone.

What you can do to help: A friend of Brian’s has put together a GoFundMe campaign to help cover medical and living expenses. Even small donations can add up and make a difference. Or, purchase Brian’s books. If you like horror novels, there’s a wide variety to choose from.

Thanks so much for reading. Please feel free to share these posts far and wide. The more people they reach, the better.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    Terrible what happened to both of them – and to you. You were both brave to speak out. Helping others is one of the greatest thing we can do.

    • JH

      Thanks, Alex. I agree–just wish I could do more.

  2. Mary Aalgaard

    You are a good soul. I have Lee’s book and will read and review it soon. She is just as you describe, a dear, kind person.
    So sorry to hear about Brian. I’ll check out his books today!
    Prayers and support for healing and health for both of them.

    • JH

      Thanks so much, Mary. You’re a good soul too.

      I really appreciate your help for them both.

  3. L. Diane Wolfe

    Thank you for helping Lee. She is so appreciative of everything fellow writers and fans have done for her.

    I’m so sorry about Brian.

    • JH

      She deserves it, Diane. She’s always done so much for everyone else. She’s wonderful.

      Thanks for your kind words, and for reaching out about Lee.

  4. C. Lee McKenzie

    Your post touched me so deeply. I should have words to tell you how much because I’m supposed to be a writer, but not today. Today I’m just a person slogging through this experience and trying to make sense of how this sadness that came so suddenly has brought such wonderful people closer to me–from my online community to neighbors and friends that I only saw occasionally, but now see and talk to regularly.

    My heart goes out to Brian and to you for that dreadful experience. The world has ugliness everywhere, but it also has such beauty and generosity and kindness. And once again, doesn’t that point out the ironies we have to make sense of? Of course, I’m off to find one of Brian’s books.

    • JH

      You’re a remarkable human being, Lee, and it’s truly an honour to know you. I hope things will get easier for you, day by day, but I can’t even imagine the loss and heartbreak you’re experiencing.

      I’m so glad people are rallying around you. I’m sure that, like me, they wish they could do more. <3

  5. Loni Townsend

    That is terrible for both of them. I hope the endeavors to help both of them thrive!

    • JH

      Thanks, Loni. Me too. This community is amazing, so I have hope.

  6. Ev Bishop

    Life really is a hard thing sometimes.

    I bought Lee’s book and sent a little something to Brian. I hope they each find the comfort/hope/healing they need to deal with their hard times. 🙁

    • JH

      Thank you so much, Ev. That’s wonderful of you–I can’t thank you enough. You’re such a great person. xo

  7. Liesbet

    I’m sorry to hear about these two friends of yours, and fellow writers, JH. It’s so helpful and supportive of you to dedicate a blog post to them and the ways we can help. We have to be there for each other when misfortune and bad luck happen. Lee summed it up nicely in her comment. And, you’re right 2018 seems to be a pretty bad year for a lot of us. Wishing Lee and Brian strength and the love and support they deserve.

    • JH

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Liesbet. A lot of people are stepping up for them, so I have hope they’ll get the support they need. Brian, at least, can be healed with medical treatment and helped with donations. Lee’s situation is tougher to find a “solution” for. My heart goes out to her…to them both, but if I were in her situation, I wouldn’t know where to start.

  8. Random Musings

    I’m so sorry for what’s happened to them both. I’ve bought C. Lee’s book and a couple of Brian’s. I know it’s not much but I hope it helps and I hope they’re both feeling better soon.
    I LOVE that Brian said that on his podcast

    • JH

      Thank you so much, Debbie. And it is a TON–if everyone did so, imagine the difference it would make!

      You’re an amazing person.

  9. Susan scott

    I’m so sorry to hear of C.Lee’s personal tragedy and Brian’s as well. We just never know when tragedy will strike. I wish them both so well – thank you for writing about them so we can put our actions however they may be, out there on the side of goodwill.

    • JH

      Thanks, Susan. There’s too much tragedy going around these days…have to shine a light where and when we can.

  10. Sajjala

    I felt so sorry for both of them and for you too. I will Pray for all of you

    • JH

      That’s so kind, thank you. And welcome to my blog.

  11. Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine

    I would very much like to restart 2018 and make a really big change that would make this weekend much more pleasant for me and my family. =|

    I heard about Lee and I feel her pain. I didn’t know about Brian. I’ll share the post.

    • JH

      Thanks, Patricia. I’m sorry for your loss as well. That was a beautiful post you wrote for your brother.

    • JH

      Thanks, Anna.


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