My first professional interview!

This month Festival Director Denise Gossett spoke with Janet Loftis, 2009, 2012, 2017, 2018 screenplay finalist and 2015 semi finalist!

DG: What is your name and company URL?

JL: Janet Loftis, writer.

I don’t really have a company/URL, but here are the links to my e-book on Amazon, and my WordPress blog.


DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

JL: screenwriting. preferred format: shorts (for now…)

DG: What are you currently working on?

JL: I’ve just started a new short for Shriekfest 2019 (of course). And I’m in the process of adding a couple of new stories to my horror/dark fantasy collection “Skin & Bones” which currently is only available in e-book format. Once that’s done, I’ll be creating a print option.

DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

JL: I’ve had several over the years, from teachers to friends, and even friends of friends (who I’ve never met in person) who were generous enough to read & critique. And a special nod to my friend, Xina Uhl, who is the one who encouraged me to try e-book sales. We often give each other virtual “kicks-in-the-rear” to get back to work.

DG: That is so important. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

JL: I think horror/sciffi offers the most variety, incorporating every other genre in any combination – where else could you create a story about a time traveling amphibious alien serial killer who falls in love with Rasputin, his next intended victim? Hmm…now there’s an idea I haven’t tried yet.

DG: LOL What do you love most about this business?

JL: I love the family feel, the inclusiveness. I met so many incredibly nice people at Shriekfest who welcomed me with open arms, instantly making me one of their own.

DG: That makes me happy! What do you dislike most about this business?

JL: I’m not sure. Probably the same that others dislike: how hard it is to break in – what does it take to get that one break? that leap from finalist to winner to getting a script made into film?

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

JL: My last two finalist placements in Shriekfest, especially since, I must confess, I wrote each of those two days before the final deadline.

DG: Wow, that’s impressive! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

JL: Sit your ass down in a chair, move the cat off the computer keyboard, and write.

DG: LOL Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?

JL: See you in October!

DG: Thank you It was great chatting!

New Fiction From my Friend Xina!

At last, the day has come! What, you say? The Second Coming is upon us? Nay! My romantic historical wackadoodle novelette is here! Surely that’s of equal import … ? Err. Let’s just forget I wrote that. Anyhow, this novelette is 10,000 words of icebergs and explosions, potions and provocations. Don’t wait to get it! […]

via Dun Dun Dun. New Release Day! —

Please visit “Books and travelling with Lynn”

As part of the SPFBO (details here) all the bloggers taking part have been assigned 30 books. By the end of a six month period the aim is to choose one book to put forward into the next stage. So, I’m aiming to check out 5 books a month. My list first appears here and I’ve picked and […]

via #SPFBO Spotlight : the second set of books.. — Books and travelling with Lynn

The (free) talebone is connected to the…

Reminder: Find my free audio horror story “Talebones” at the Thrills & Mystery podcast! Narrated by Xina Marie Uhl.


“The bones do not lie.” The oracle’s strong voice belied her many years. “They are the purest parts of us, the strongest. When our voices have been silenced, only our bones can speak for us.” The oracle had spoken these words many times and had mastered the technique of projecting her voice so it sounded like it was issuing from the scattered bones themselves. It never failed to impress the crowds, except for Meela who knew the secret to such petty tricks herself.

Check out more of my creepy  gruesome work on Amazon Kindle. You’ll be scared…uh…glad you did!   (5 star reviews!)



Thrills & Mystery Podcast (free horror story this week!)

“Finger bones and toe bones rattled inside the oracle’s shaking fist, clacking and clinking as if the bones themselves were angry. When she opened her hand, the pieces fell from between her fingers like heavy raindrops in a thunderstorm.”

Click below to listen Xina Marie Uhl narrate my horror short story “Talebones” and learn if Meela can win justice for her murdered mother….

Cover for 'Thrills and Mystery Podcast - Season 1'

And then visit Amazon Kindle for more stories:


Skin and Bones (3rd Edition) now available on Amazon Kindle!

On the heels of my first ever review (5 stars!)(Thanks Rue37!) on Amazon Kindle, I have released an updated, third edition of “Skin and Bones.” SkinAndBones3 It now includes six additional stories, three of which previously comprised the shorter “Mother’s Day” collection: Wishing Well, Blood on the Scarecrow, and Babies in the Backyard. These stories continue my gruesome take on the horror genre (and motherhood, in their case).

It was after reading Wishing Well and The Wedding Tree (already included in Skin and Bones) that friend and fellow writer Xina Marie Uhl said “your imagination is a dark and scary place to visit; and apparently it hates marriage and babies.”

The three other stories offer something completely different and had originally been excluded because I didn’t feel they fit the collection’s genre theme. But, as any horror author or reader can tell you, horror takes many, many forms. It doesn’t need monsters, zombies, gruesome deaths, skeletons, bloody knives (although that helps), and strange or mysterious settings. It only needs darkness (literal or figurative) and dread.

So “Red Rover, Red Rover” – inspired by my own experiences with childhood bullying – gives you the not-so-friendly world of kids’ games…and that quiet man who lives on the corner.

“Dolls on Walls” was inspired by an episode of Animal Planet’s Animal Cops: Detroit (which ran from 2002-2006). In it, the humane society’s investigators walk into the home of yet another hoarder and are greeted by a bunch of dolls stuck to the walls. As they stare in wonder at the visage highlighted in their flashlight beams, they have a conversation that goes something like “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before” and “This is worse than all the others” and “What could have made this person do this? cover the walls with dolls?” I thought to myself…what could have made somebody do that?

“The Promise of Driftwood” was inspired by, you guessed it, a piece of driftwood. Of all things, it was a piece of driftwood in the campy horror classic “Lake Placid”….but don’t hold that against me…or do (if you consider that one of your favorite guilty pleasures). But my story has nothing to do with giant alligators, cranky sheriffs, or Betty White. Its horrors are more common – the fear of drowning; and more subtle – a family so disengaged they are virtual strangers.

51NKzsUPgZL._AA160_Bonus quote: “Is that wrong? To wish for the chewing of law enforcement?” (Betty White in “Lake  Placid”).

Paella, Paella, Paella!

paellaStella, Stella, Stella!  Oh, oops, wait, that’s from a movie. Never mind. Back to the paella. Spain is a great country for paella. If you like paella, that is. I have to confess I’m not a huge fan, especially since the ones I encountered were mostly seafood versions. And, no, I don’t like seafood…unless it’s in a Japanese restaurant in the form of sushi.

So I had high hopes for this dish, a homemade vegetarian paella, served up by our hosts at La Casa Magica in Villatuerta. While I wasn’t overwhelmed by it, the dish was certainly flavorful, the veggies fresh, and it was quite filling. I selectively dug out the rice and veggies I like most and made a meal out of that, along with the ubiquitous bread that was everywhere with every meal (or so it seemed).

The most enjoyable part of the dinner, as with most evenings, was the company that we enjoyed surrounded by citizens of a variety of nations from as close as France and as far away as Asia. There was Henry and Alba, originally from Venezuela but now residing in Canada, Amy from South Korea, Essa from Finland (Essa seemed to be rather fond of Amy, but it didn’t seem she was reciprocating), and the trio from Killarney in Ireland, among others.

We had already met “Ireland” (as we called them) along the trail thanks to the decorative ribbons on my backpack. Being that I travel most frequently with Lindblad Expeditions, I have a multitude of their blue and yellow ribbons (which they provide to better identify your luggage during group airport transfers) and are – I’m told – based on the flag of Sweden where Lars Eric Lindblad (Sven Olaf’s father) was born. It turns out they’re also the colors of Killarney, Ireland, and “Ireland” wondered if perhaps I hailed from their hometown. Alas, I do not, although I am of Irish descent. (My mother’s family immigrated to the U.S. during the great potato famine in the mid-1800s). While one of her relatives has done a genealogy, I don’t remember most of the details so I can’t say whether we might actually be from Killarney. Too bad I’m not, for the young-ish male third of “Ireland” was quite handsome.

Yes, we really did refer to people by their country (or town). it was easier to remember. And, being a horror writer, it reminded me of the movie “Zombieland” where the characters referred to each other by their hometowns (like Columbus and Tallahassee) lest they become too familiar with and attached to one another. Not that I was expecting the zombie apocalypse to occur while we were on the Camino, but I certainly had ample opportunity to let my mind wander while walking, concocting all sorts of scenarios for future horror stories. Like, what if that paella dish – easily two feet across – had been a zombie’s dream: brain paella. Hmm Hmm Good.

The best chocolate mini-croissants you’ll never have…unless you go to Pamplona…

They are called “garroticos” but if you ask for them in English that’s okay. You’ll still receive the best little chocolate croissants you’ve ever had…delighting your taste buds the second you pop them into your mouth.

choc_croissantDon’t bite down into the croissant over a clean pair of white or beige pants. That still-warm, gooey, chocolate oozes out everywhere. Better yet, don’t let it escape! Hold your other hand beneath the croissant-holding hand to catch it. (I sniffled as I watched a gorgeous clump of chocolate plop itself on the sidewalk…ever lost to the city pigeons. I may never recover from that tragedy.)

Where do you find these little pieces of heaven? At Beatriz, a tiny bakery near the historic bull ring in Hemingway’s old stomping grounds. My friend and traveling companion, Xina Uhl, had read about Beatriz somewhere so it was one of our first stops in the city. Of course, it was siesta time so it was closed. But no worries, there were plenty of bars and cafes nearby that remained open where we could enjoy a meal. And, as soon as Beatriz opened its doors again, there we were – first in line for our dessert! (Oh, did I mention the lines? We hear Beatriz is famous for having lines out the door – so get there as quick as you can.)

For a little more on Pamplona’s food scene.

I hate bunk beds

bunkbeds_blogMost of the albergues you’ll stay at along the Camino de Santiago have bunk beds – an obvious way to maximize the use of space and accommodate as many peregrinos as possible. But I quickly grew to dislike bunk beds after whacking my head several times while sitting on the lower bunk. (Only a couple of the bunks had sufficient clearance to avoid this mishap.) Yes – even as short as I am, I suffered through numerous bumps and bangs – a rather amazing feat considering that I’m only 4’10”. (My father will tell you that I’m exaggerating and am only 4’9 3/4″, but he’s not the one writing this blog.)

My dislike for the bunk beds was only exceeded by my even more quickly developed dislike for the large municipal albergues. All those people crammed into those space (even if divided into separate rooms) generated a noise level which sets my nerves on edge. And I’m not even talking about the snoring, which wasn’t as bad as I’ve heard. I mean the general noise level of all the conversations reverberating through the spaces until “lights out” (especially bad at the Jesus y Maria albergue in Pamplona). So we developed a strategy to avoid the larger hostels, even if it meant rearranging our intended distances/destinations to stop short (or go ahead) of the major cities: a strategy I highly recommend.

I very much enjoyed the smaller, privately run albergues which facilitated more intimate interactions with our fellow peregrinos, to include more enjoyable communal meals and smaller common rooms to sit around and chat.

In Viskarret, we stayed at Corazon Puro, run by a lovely Hungarian couple. Me, Xina, and Emelia (from Denmark) were the only guests. We had a lovely meal, prepared by Barbara who joined us for dessert and conversation.

In Larrasoana, we stayed at the San Nicolas albergue, which had only been open for ten (10) days! Brand spanking new! We enjoyed another delicious meal and conversation with peregrinos from a number of countries. Some of these same peregrinos we would run into again and again at different stages, including Emelia. By the way, put together two tables of travelers (from places ranging from Canada, Brazil, Germany, England, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, etc.) and what language is everyone speaking? English.

In Obanos, despite being in an albergue (Usda) with more than 20 beds, Xina and I were the only guests – quite nice to have a place all to ourselves. (Most people continue on to Puente la Reina, but we were tired and stopped short.) In Villatuerta, we stayed at Case de Magica, known for its vegetarian meals. This is where the first included photo is from. See: no bunk beds!!

In Los Arcos, we stayed at Casa de Austria, welcomed warmly by Julian, a hyperactive 20-something from Germany – and very nice! They didn’t have a kitchen, but there were numerous cafes within easy walking distance even for me (this was the leg during which I suffered my initial foot injury). One of the amusing happenings on this leg was again running into Guy, from Montreal, at the municipal albergue when we went to pick up our bags which we’d had shipped ahead. He was sharing a snack with a young man out on the porch, and when we confirmed just how nice San Nicolas was, the young man made a choking motion toward Guy. Why? He thought Guy was exaggerating about its amenities and, after suffering through the municipal albergue in Larraosoana – reportedly even more horrible than we had been warned – he was very annoyed to find out that Guy was not exaggerating. Lesson learned: don’t stay at that place!

In Ventosa, we stayed at San Saturnino run by an older woman who seemed rather stern – at least at first – but she warmed up to everyone in the morning and was more talkative. San Saturnino had a wonderful central courtyard and was beautifully decorated. Saturnino_blogWe did stay at the municipal albergue in Azofra – which doesn’t stick out in my memory for some reason.

In Santo Domingo, we stayed at Casa Santo which seemed nice at first because the numerous beds were divided up into multiple rooms, but proved to be rather noisy because of the central atrium. Didn’t like it, especially after the 20-something “Brit Twit” (no, I don’t mean all the other very nice and considerate Brits I encountered) who sprayed his stinky, scented deodorant all over his clothes (rather than washing them) in a room full of people with utterly no consideration for anyone who might have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues (like me). He seemed to think it was not a problem, but I assure you it was. I had to leave the room and even go out to a pharmacy to buy cough syrup. Did he think his stinky, scented crap stayed in the immediate vicinity of where he sprayed it? Talk about a complete lack of common sense understanding of the dispersal of air molecules. What an asshole. (Yet another reason to not like large albergues.)

And, of course, I can’t say enough about Divina Pastora in Burgos. It’s very small (only 16 beds), but it’s quiet, intimate, and Alicia (the hospitalero) is sweet, kind, and caring. It’s located above a small church near the cathedral and one does wonder if he/she might have made a mistake choosing these accommodations upon feeling the church bell clanging the hour (yes, it actually vibrates through the structure), but the bell does not ring during the night so you can sleep peacefully. I look forward to returning to the Camino, starting in Burgos, and hopefully getting a bed at Divina Pastora. DivinaPastora_blog