Enchanted: Magic Spark – A very witchy photo shoot

Surprise! I love witches. I’ve always been mystified by magic … and romance. On January 9, Enchanted: Magic Spark will be released, featuring stories from Wendy Sparrow, Em Shotwell, and me. Read all about it and pre-order your eBook copy HERE. (The paperback will be released January 9.)

I love a good spooky photo shoot (see the Bite Somebody blood bath), so to celebrate this witchy release, I headed into the woods with some of my best friends: hair stylist and makeup artist Megan Lacy Sullivan, photographers Steph Gentry and Bill Thornhill, good witch Angel James, and Athena the snake. Enjoy the view, and join me in counting down the days until Enchanted: Magic Spark.

(All photos by Bill Thornhill. Hair and makeup, including fabulous red hair color, by Megan Lacy Sullivan.)

PS: Next week, I’m sending out my December newsletter, and there will be an exclusive excerpt from Enchanted: Magic Spark. Want to be part of the inner circle? Subscribe HERE.

The Bite Somebody Else Photo Shoot

I do love a warm blood bath. To prepare for this spectacular homage to the Bite Somebody series, I didn’t drink any blood for weeks! Some brave folks got close enough to snap pictures, but … well, I may have taken a couple little bites. Imogene would approve.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Steph Gentry.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

Photo by Steph Gentry.

Photo by Bill Thornhill.

In case you didn’t notice, June is the birthday month of Bite Somebody Else. The second and final book in the Bite Somebody series comes out June 20th. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy from World Weaver Press, what are you waiting for? Click HERE for more info.

Finally, a shout out to the amazing people who made this photo shoot happen. Blood bath bombs by Ocean Bubbles Bath and Body. (They smell soooooo good!) Photographs by Bill Thornhill and Steph Gentry. Hair and makeup by Megan Lacy Sullivan. (I love you guys. So much.) Here’s a shot of us being ridiculous behind the scenes. Megan is hiding, Steph is fixing my bra, and Bill is having an all right time.

Vampires, movie magic, and best books: 2016 in review

Every December, I do inventory of what the hell happened over the course of the previous twelve months. As you may have noticed, 2016 was (by far) the most chaotic and successful of my life … which might be why I refuse to get dressed today. In fact, you’re lucky I’m even sitting upright. In homage to a year of utter, beautiful insanity, I offer you a look back.



Dreams do come true. After years of angst, in June, my first published novel was released into the innocent, unsuspecting world. Bite Somebody–a ridiculous paranormal romantic comedy about an awkward vampire, her sexy human surfer boy, and a psychotic blood-sucking best friend–found fans the world over. I hosted two massively successful (and anxiety-inducing) launch parties and attended my first conventions as an author. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, click HERE, because as you may have heard, the sequel, Bite Somebody Else, comes out in 2017. The rodeo is far from over, folks. With all the upcoming promo and additional events, let’s just hope I don’t start looking rode hard and put away wet.



Once upon a time, I was an actress, so when my high school buddy asked me to be in a movie, I agreed. I had an absolute blast making Decent People, but I had no idea how hard it is to make a full-length film. (You can read all about it HERE.) Despite the laughs and new friends made, I walked away from the experience with bronchitis, laryngitis, and a phobia of having to smoke on screen ever again. (The reality just isn’t as sexy as it looks.) The film should be released in spring or summer of 2017. Since I refused to watch the dailies, I’ll surely watch the film from between my fingers, but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to slip back into my acting shoes–and have a damn good time playing a bitch in the process.



Moving to Ohio from Phoenix (where I had a full, colorful cast of photographer friends), I wasn’t sure how much modeling I would do in my new state. Surprise! About a ton. Thanks to networking, I’ve gotten to shoot in a famous cemetery, in a creepy church basement, and yes, in my underwear. I even got to do a runway show in Cleveland. As always, I encourage everyone to do a photo shoot at least once. You won’t believe what you look like on camera, and when you’re old and crinkly, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful you are and always have been. (Above photos thanks to Bill Thornhill, Devon Adams, Steph Gentry, and Dennis Mong.)


Other than Bite Somebody, what else got thrown into the world this year?

Wolf Among Sheep (Hot Ink Press)
“I was not at all prepared for what I deduce you proposed yesterday,” he says. I just adore that strange accent, so much like my husband’s: a mismatch of places and times, trapped somewhere between New York and the low south—musical yet clipped and precise.
“What exactly do you deduce we proposed?” I ask.
“That I enter into a sexual relationship with a married couple.”
I laugh; people around us turn to stare. I take Timothy’s hand. “Well. Perhaps these Americans aren’t quite as close-minded as I thought.”

I Hate Myself for Loving You (Lunch Ticket Magazine)
Timmy shoves him over and joins him in the dirt. He thumps Jason in the side of the face. I think I should tell them to stop—scream it even. Instead, coward that I am, my boys keep going until they see blood. Then, they fall back. They yell about catching Jason’s “gay disease,” named by some mad scientists a couple years back in ‘82. My best friends drag me away.
Jason rolls onto his side in the dirt and wipes at the split skin below his right eye. He doesn’t look up at me, but I keep watching as we hurry from the scene of the crime. I keep watching Jason and think I’d like to wipe his blood all over me.

The Saguaro Apocalypse (Stoneslide Corrective “Striking Use of Wit” Winner)
I opened the door. At first I thought it was some really tall, skinny dude with short arms.
Then, I realized it was a saguaro cactus. Must have been a young one, since its limbs were only about two feet long and pin wheeling in my face. I had the momentary thought: What the hell was in that weed? The cactus kept brandishing its T-Rex arms at me.
“What now?” I heard the shuffling of his sock-clad feet.
By the time Thomas reached me, the cactus was banging its rounded top against the doorframe; guess it couldn’t figure how to duck.

You’re Glowing (Omnia Veritas Review)
I haven’t had sex in two years. This unfortunate situation could be ignored except men have started glowing. The doorman outside my apartment glows dark blue, like his nicely tailored suits. I shudder beneath his smile and barely acknowledge his mannerly door holding.
The cop on the corner near the elementary school, he glows green. I don’t know if he’s supposed to, but he always holds up his orange “Don’t Walk” sign when I pass his crosswalk. He winks at me every day, which makes my forehead sweat.
The guy who makes my morning coffee glows pink. I hate the color pink, but I don’t hold it against him. He’s always nice to me. He tells me I smell good. I’m probably old enough to be his mother.

Forget Me Do (Red Rose Review)
Her friends called her a witch. It was only a joke. Whenever one of the girls posted on Facebook that she felt a cold coming on, Debra was on the road with her herbal tea mixtures and tinctures. Then, miraculously, within days, her girlfriends would be completely healed and winning track meets. That was why they called her a witch. That and, well …
“You just made out with Stan in the back of his dad’s car.”
“I hate when you do that,” Rebecca said.
Debra couldn’t help knowing things.

If It Ain’t Broke (Marked by Scorn Anthology)
“This thing for Henry Oliver … You’ve got it under control, right?”
“Of course. I’d never do anything about it.”
“You are kind of touchy-feely with the kid.”
Nate slowly turned his mug on the sticky, wooden table. “God, am I?”
Ella shrugged one shoulder. “A little. I think it’s cute, but other people might not.”

Ghosts of Ice Cream (Bop Dead City)
My fingers rest like a sleeping spider against his collarbone. I breathe the scent of him: salty sweat with an undercurrent of men’s cologne, leftover from his day at the office. He take small inhales, exhales, and hums a little when my fingers touch his throat.
And then I hear it: the ice cream truck. I finally recognize the song: an off-key, off-tempo version of “Beyond the Sea” that comes to me like screams through water. It was our wedding song. I shiver and pull closer to Michael, who falls apart, a pile of ash in my hands.

Sick Like Me (Honeydew Erotic Review)
“What kind of help do you need exactly?”
Evan shrugged. He played with the strap on his motorcycle helmet. He had long, skeletal fingers with squeaky-clean nails. He chewed on his bottom lip. “You think I’m attractive.”
“I’m sure a lot of people think you’re attractive.”
Evan shook his head. “I’m not talking about them.”
Cam sighed. “You’re making this too easy.”

5. BOOKS READ: 58!!


Best of the best:
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Wreck You by Randi Perrin
The Train Derails in Boston by Jessica McHugh
Captive Prince Trilogy by CS Pacat

6. COMING IN 2017

Bite Somebody Else (Bite Somebody, #2). Read all about it HERE.
“Not Again” – LEGENDARY Anthology (January 13)
“They Lived in the House On Cherry Street” – Black Denim Lit
“The Emmett File” – Stoneslide Corrective
“Painted Red” – kINKED Anthology
Enchanted Series: Magic SparkPen and Kink Publishing

Frankly, I’m exhausted just reading all this. I guess I should go take a nap, duck and cover until 2017 officially rolls around. I do want to thank everyone who supported me this year, whether that involved a Tweet or a glass of whiskey. I have wonderful friends, family, and fans, and I could not have achieved all of this without YOU. So here comes my British boyfriend to blow you a kiss … Cheers!



The Halloween Photo Shoot (Don’t be scared …)

I have some friends who are just as freaky as me, so when I suggested I wanted to do a gothic baby doll shoot in my church basement, they were like, “Well, obviously.” So we did. In honor of Halloween, I give you this little gift (which has successfully made my pastor afraid to go downstairs alone). Hair and makeup by Cheryl Mong; photography by Dennis Mong.







And the blooper reel … Possibly thanks to that huge bottle of rum and coke.



Shout out to my gorgeous husband …



On Aging


I recently had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with old Phoenix friend, Devon, and new Ohio friends Dennis and Cheryl, who did my hair and makeup. It was an impromptu sort of thing. I showed up with no costuming, only shoes, and Cheryl let me play with her clothes.

At the end of the day, we agreed we’d gotten some good shots, and I was exhausted. Following a hurried meal of beer and pizza, I rushed home to my dogs. Then, this week, I got a look at the captures. I called one of my girlfriends immediately, practically screaming into the phone: “I’m an ADULT!”

At thirty-four, this should have been obvious, but it wasn’t to me, especially since Jake and I have been spending many a weekend with his co-workers, most of whom are under the age of twenty-five.

denThe me I saw in those photos was a full grown, mature woman with some wrinkles. I looked back at a photo shoot from 2005, eleven years ago, and yelped at the difference. For the first time in my life, I realized I was aging.

My face looks different now than it did years ago. I’m way more angular, practically noble in my pointed edges. My skin shows evidence of damage. But, I suppose, what shocked me most about my recent photo shoot was the way I posed with power, staring straight into the camera or aloof but confident in others.

Who was this woman in the pictures anyway? She looked like a grown-up. However, most days, I don’t feel like a grown-up, even if I don’t get ID’d for beer anymore. While doing a shot of God knows what at the Flats in downtown Cleveland last weekend, I didn’t feel like an adult. The next morning, when I thought I might die of a hangover, though, I suppose I did.

I have changed, and it’s not just apparent in photos. I’m more organized and driven now than I ever have been, as evidenced by the release of my first novel, Bite Somebody. I’m more fearless, agreeing to star in a short film this summer despite my terror of walking in front of a video camera. I understand what it means to be a friend; I understand what it means to be polite. My temper has calmed some. I’m way less likely to spout off and make a scene now than I was even a couple years ago.

IMG_7310Then again, I also love watching cartoons on Saturday morning. I laugh at really dumb jokes. I’d rather talk about sex than politics, and I absolutely refuse to watch the world news … which might actually be a sign of maturity, since I now know my limits. I am fully aware of things that will crush my spirit, and I avoid them.

I do dishes. I do laundry. I water plants.

Holy shit, I’m an adult. And I’m not getting any younger.

Women in their sixties are laughing at me right now, but this photo shoot brought about an epiphany I was not wholly prepared for. I even started using the anti-wrinkle eye cream my mom gave me because she didn’t want it.

Is aging simply the passage of time? I don’t think so, no matter what my sun damage says. Aging is growing, developing, and (if we’re doing it right) becoming better versions of our previous selves. As we age, we learn and grow. We hopefully become less selfish, although I’m still working on that. We choose to embrace the world around us or shrink from it, depending on personal preference–but, with age, at least we know our own preferences.

I prefer laughter over tears.
I prefer Benedict Cumberbatch.
I prefer a night at home with my husband over a night out in Crazy Town.
I prefer Jeopardy! over the world news.
I prefer the person I am now to the girl I was years ago, and maybe I will one day prefer another, older version of myself.

I’m aging, and it’s kind of scary but all right. I’m still gonna use the wrinkle cream, though.

J. Dell photo shoot with some Tom Waits

Last night I dreamed that I was dreaming of you
And from a window across the lawn I watched you undress

Wearing your sunset of purple tightly woven around your hair
That rose in strangled ebony curls
Moving in a yellow bedroom light


The air is wet with sound
The faraway yelping of a wounded dog
And the ground is drinking a slow faucet leak


Your house is so soft and fading as it soaks the black summer heat
A light goes on and the door opens
And a yellow cat runs out on the stream of hall light and into the yard

A wooden cherry scent is faintly breathing the air
I hear your champagne laugh
You wear two lavender orchids
One in your hair and one on your hip


A string of yellow carnival lights comes on with the dusk
Circling the lake with a slowly dipping halo
And I hear a banjo tango
And you dance into the shadow of a black poplar tree
And I watched you as you disappeared

I watched you as you disappeared
I watched you as you disappeared
I watched you as you disappeared


Photos by J. Dell Photography.
Lyrics by Tom Waits.
Makeup and hair by Megan Lacy Sullivan.