Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Bit of Zombie History - Zombies #TWD #TheWalkingDead

My books, while romance, almost always also deal with a ghost--the spirit of a being who has passed away, yet can appear or communicate in ways similar to a living person.  In essence, an incorporeal (without a physical body) version of the undead.  But in fiction and legend, there are also many examples of physical manifestations of the undead: vampires, mummies, wights, and of course, zombies.

These zombies want a piece of Rick Grimes
The Walking Dead

I'm a fan of all things paranormal, and I've been watching The Walking Dead since the very first episode aired on October 31, 2010 - Halloween.  Fans of the show (or the comic series, on which the show is based) know the zombies on TWD are referred to as "walkers".  There are also zombie-like creatures on another show I love, Game of Thrones.  This show is of course based on the amazing novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.  In Westeros, beyond the Wall, a zombie-like race known as wights wait to attack those with warm blood.  The wights are dead humans or animals who have been raised back up by the Others, an inhuman race also lurking beyond the Wall.  The Others, or White Walkers, are ancient humanoid beings associated with cold whose only weakness appears to be dragonglass.

Wights in ASOIAF can be easily
recognized by their bright blue eyes
Game of Thrones
The fictional (hopefully!) nature of zombies allows an author to decide how these already-dead creatures can be destroyed.  In TWD, the walkers' reanimated brains must receive another fatal blow.  It takes fire to stop a wight in ASOIAF. 

The book credited
with introducing
"zombi" into US speech
This fictional nature also allows for various interpretations of what a zombie is, but the general definition is a reanimated corpse with an appetite for human flesh.  In Haitian folklore, the reanimation is due to some type of magic, such as witchcraft.  During the U.S. Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), more people became aware of the idea of zombies after apparent case histories emerged.  The journalist, explorer, occultist, and cannibal William Seabrook traveled through Haiti in the late 1920s, and he recorded a sensationalistic version of his experiences involving Haitian Vodue (Voodoo).  The book, The Magic Island, was published in 1929 and is credited by Time Magazine with the introduction of the word "zombi" to Western culture. 



One of the most famous zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead (1968), did not even use the term zombie at all.  The reanimated corpses were referred to as "ghouls" in the screenplay.  One of the writers of this cult classic, George A. Romero, admits basing the screenplay on the novel I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (a great book and a recent movie as well!)  In I Am Legend, the infected beings lurking around the last human's house are referred to as vampires, not zombies.  But the general idea of a battle for human survival in an apocalyptic scenario has become very popular, which brings us back to The Walking Dead.  This group of survivors struggles daily not just to stay alive, but to maintain their humanity after society has crumbled.

There are too many novels and films featuring zombies to discuss here, but I hope you enjoyed a little history on the undead.  If you'd like to try some undead suspense in the form of a spooky ghost story (mixed with steamy romance!), download a copy of GULL HARBOR or SILVER LAKE.  The characters face a haunted house, not a zombie apocalypse, but the plot twists, dangerous secrets, and chilling messages from desperate spirits should make your pulse pound a little faster!     

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Time for a #1click Vote for DIVINE FALL's cover? #amwriting #romance

Another Cover Love Poll to vote on!  There are 8 covers up for Best Cover over at Lolly Tova's blog.  I'm hoping you'll take one second (literally!) and vote!  No emails, registrations, etc...just pick your favorite and hit "Vote".  If you like several, guess what?  You can vote again tomorrow, and the next day, until the poll closes on November 30th.

Of course, I'm hoping you'll vote for the beautiful cover of DIVINE FALL.  You see, this cover is very dear to me, as I had an integral part in the design.  My first two novels, SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR, are with a publisher, and therefore, the cover is designed by their artists and owned by the company.  And I truly do love how the covers came out...spooky and mysterious, just right for haunted romantic suspense.

But I decided to publish my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance independently, for a number of reasons.  One big part was complete control of the cover.  For anyone interested in the details of each step I took in the cover design process, you can see my post about it here.

And please take a moment to vote!  Here's the link: Cover Love Poll.  A big thank you!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Weekend in #NYC! Headed to #NewYorkCity #vacation

My October was a haze of author events and online promotions.  And that's a great thing, but as I mentioned, it was a bit overwhelming!  The paranormal aspects of my novels make the Halloween season incredibly busy, so now that November is here, I'm finally enjoying a tiny relaxation mode before the holiday frenzy hits.  And this little slice of "calm" involves a weekend trip to New York City, just me and the hubby and our best friends.

Last November, we all took a trip together to NYC--the two of us and our two sons, plus our best friends and their two daughters.  Eight of us in total.  We had big plans...about 10 sightseeing "musts" in addition to ideas on shows, shopping, and restaurants.

As it turns out, getting eight people coordinated to go anywhere is not very easy, especially in a busy city.  We made it to about three places we wanted to go:  Rockefeller Center, where we spent $100 to get our family of four up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  The price confused me, but we did get some great pics, including this one which appears to be a cloud shark floating across the skyline:

Seriously?


Jekyll & Hyde Club - Times Square
We made it to Bryant Park.  And Dylan's Candy Bar, as a treat for all the kids, where we dropped $75 on...yes...candy.  A short turn around Central Park, a few shopping excursions, and a fantastic dinner at the Jekyll & Hyde Club (billed as New York City's most haunted restaurant...how could I resist?).



All in all, it was not enough time.  We missed things we really wanted to see.  And the kids seemed less than enthusiastic about all the walking.

So this time, it's grown-ups only.  A much deserved mini-vacation for the four of us!  Things on our list include the 911 Memorial, Gotham Comedy Club, Tommy Bahama Island, a bike ride in Central Park (if the Polar Vortex permits), and plenty of cocktails and conversation!

Now, what do I pack?  I better get off this blog and get busy.  I'd love to hear more suggestions of fun things to do in the City that Never Sleeps!

And I've got my Kindle loaded for the train ride...which I find an equally exciting part of the vacation!  Whether you're home or away this weekend, if you need a good read, check out my books: GULL HARBOR, SILVER LAKE, and DIVINE FALL.  Have a great weekend!

Waiting for a table for 8 last year at Jekyll & Hyde...with
a fun bar and plenty of creepy displays, it wasn't too hard!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughts on #NaNoWriMo #amwriting

The first time I saw the term "NaNoWriMo", I thought...what the heck kind of word is that?  Then, much later, when I found out what it meant, I was stunned.  Write a novel in a month?  What?

Warning:  Do Not Put
Beverages Directly on Keyboard
It takes me--minimum--nine months to write a full length novel.  I can't imagine trying to finish one in 30 days!  And 50,000 words is A LOT!  Plus, November, to me, seems an odd month to attempt such a lofty goal.  For many people, it's the start of the busy holiday season.  For me, personally, it's the start of the holiday season PLUS the lead off to consecutive months of every birthday celebration in my little family of four: one in November, one in December, and two in January.  Not to mention two extended family birthdays and one anniversary.


But the idea, I've now come to realize, is to promote inspiration and motivation.  And accountability, if a participant chooses to register their work at the official website.  The philosophy is "quantity over quality", and this is a great way for people to get started.  Writers write.

I'm not sure that approach would work for me at this point, as I now tend to be a perfectionist as I write.  A full-length novel at my publishing house is 65,000-100,000 words.  Usually, when I've finished the last sentence in a manuscript, I'm already somewhere in that range.  From there, the editing process only involves small details or little pockets of research.  It's just the way I write these days.  I make Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts in advance, as well as pages of character back-stories, lists of reveals, hints leading up to reveals, facts from research, etc., etc.

But that certainly isn't how I started.  I had an outline for SILVER LAKE in my head when I began, with some fairly significant character development as well, thanks to years of thinking about the story.  But no charts or schedules.  I began writing in a notebook, on an 8-hour car ride. It took me 2 1/2 years to finish the first draft, and there were months when I didn't write a word. Of course, I was absolutely thrilled when I reached the end, but even when I polished it up, it clocked in somewhere in the neighborhood of 135,000 words.

Seeing the cover art
for the first time was
an incredible feeling!
Way too many for a first novel.  And there are good reasons for that...my novel was a perfect example.  Thankfully, the editor who received my submission liked the story idea enough to give me some pointers.  I took her advice to heart and rewrote...not once, but three times.  The end result was a tightly-paced 78,000 word novel that I sold to a publisher.  That was my dream come true, and the reason I achieved it was because I pushed myself to start the novel on that car ride in April of 2008.  Then,  I persevered after the initial rejections because I had the basic bones there...I was even told not to change the second half at all.

My understanding of NaNoWriMo is that the novel begun on November 1st must not be a work-in-progress.  So that counts me out, since I have something I'm working on (see HAUNTED SOULS Pinterest Board). That has to come first, even thought I'd love to be part of the NaNoWriMo camaraderie I see playing out online everyday.  

October is a busy month
for authors of paranormal -
but I enjoyed all the events!
I have decided to tap into the spirit of the challenge, though.  My latest novel released in July, and that was my third in three years.  I was exhausted.  Promotion and marketing take a lot of my time, and then there's my other job and of course my family.  I couldn't bring myself to continue work on my fourth manuscript, the one I was 22,000 words into when DIVINE FALL released.

So on November 1st, I committed to writing something every day.  No word goals.  Just work on the manuscript, at least once a day.  And you know what happened?  The words just began tumbling out.  My characters took control.  I found myself once again submerged in the twisting plot lines of a reunion romance and a spooky ghost story.

Six days later, I'm at 31,500 words.  A gain of close to 10,000!  I know it doesn't count, in terms of the NaNoWriMo rules.  But for me, it's been an exhilarating achievement.  I'm going to keep going.  So the moral of the story is...just write.




Sunday, November 2, 2014

How Many Events Can I Fit Into One Month? #amwriting

Answer: A LOT!  October is over, and I am exhausted...but in a good way.  The month of Halloween is really big for me, since all three of my novels have a paranormal element.  Two are spooky ghost stories mixed with romance, and my young adult novel has supernatural secrets entwined with forbidden love.  Not only did I brainstorm some promotions of my own, but I also received some amazing requests that I certainly would never refuse.  All this combined to make a very busy month!

With the wonderful host
of Off the Shelf


First off, I was invited to be interviewed on the television program Off the Shelf, which airs on community access channels throughout Massachusetts.  Although I had to take off work and drive two hours, I of course jumped at the chance.  This was my third time on television, and while it's stressful having a conversation in front of the camera, it really does get easier every time.  We filmed this show on October 3rd, but it won't air for a few more weeks.

Lunch was delicious!
On Oct. 7th, I was the guest speaker at a member luncheon at The Hyannis Yacht Club.  I planned out a 25-minute presentation, which of course I had to memorize.  I spent time every night practicing, and it went really well.  I was thrilled that some of the guests read my books in advance after they signed up to attend.

The it was on to SpookLit night, a special "spooky literature" event organized by another local author.  Seven Cape Cod authors of both nonfiction and fiction books dealing with supernatural elements participated in readings.  We were each allowed 11 minutes to speak a little bit about our book and read from a scary passage.  I put together a new, brief presentation and read from GULL HARBOR, since this ghost story/romance is set on the Cape.  We had a huge crowd and almost everyone dressed up in costume, so it was a lot of fun.

Two days later I was at the historic Hyannis Library on Main Street, giving a presentation on writing romance and changes in the publishing industry.  One couple who had attended SpookLit came to hear a little bit more about my books, which truly made my night.  Everyone there had really great questions, and it was a lively discussion.

Banner for our Facebook Event


Online, I organized a Romance & Ghosts giveaway with the help of fellow authors Kelly Moran, Joya Fields, and Denise Moncrief.  We each donated copies of romances we've written that also involve ghost stories.  This Facebook event went on for two weeks, with a final drawing on Halloween.  In addition, I participated in the Snarkology Halloween Blog Hop, and completed an author interview for a college student majoring in Creative Writing.  I ran a 99 cent sale on my new YA DIVINE FALL as well as a Goodreads giveaway for a signed print copy.

Finally, I published extra blog posts on paranormal topics (as opposed to my usual four posts per month), including one on the premier of the scary movie Annabelle, one on the Origin of Superstitions, one on the creepy show Ghost Within My Child, and one for the Halloween Blog Hop on Graveyards.


Whew!  It was a lot of stress and preparation, but reading and writing are my passions, and I love to let readers know about my books.  Of course, my head was spinning toward the end of the month (not like the Exorcist girl, don't worry), when I realized on the day before Halloween I didn't even have a pumpkin, much less supplies and costumes for everyone!  Something had to give, right?  I ran out and found pumpkins at bargain basement prices (one advantage of waiting till the last minute), and my younger son reminded me we had a costume from last year that had arrived after Halloween (I must have been busy last October too, lol)--so he'll wear that.  I even found the box I'd packed it away in!

My older son informed me he'd like to have his birthday (16 - gulp!) sleepover on Halloween as well, so that took some scrambling to organize.  All in all, while October is one of my favorite months, I'm ready to welcome November!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

$100 #Giveway Halloween Blog Hop + Win a Ghost Story #Romance

Welcome to my stop on the Snarkology Halloween Blog Hop!  It's the season for all things spooky, and graveyards offer the perfect spot for all kinds of paranormal activity.  Picturing a visit to a cemetery on a crisp autumn night easily conjures up images of wispy shadows darting amongst the tombstones.  Those are the types of scenes I love to describe in my books, but then I have a bit of an obsession with ghosts.  I've done multiple posts on both my experience with ghosts and actual hauntings, so I thought this October, I'd delve a little deeper into graveyards, the final earthly destination for many restless spirits.

A graveyard refers to a burial ground within church property; this location within the church's yard indicates a burial area associated with a single place of worship, consecrated for use by a specific denomination.  The graveyards were initially for people who could not afford to be buried within or beneath the church.  Spots close to the church and to the east were reserved for those of higher status, while the north corner was the least favorable location.


Eventually, graveyards became overcrowded hotbeds for disease, as more and more bodies were packed into limited space.  Concern over infectious outbreaks near graveyards located in populated areas led to an alternative solution.  Cemeteries were created away from town centers, and these new burial places were not necessarily connected to a particular church.  While we often use the words "graveyard" and "cemetery" interchangeably now, "graveyard" is a much older term.


Catacombs of Paris - Wall of Skulls
In 18th century Paris, the overcrowding became such a problem that the Holy Innocents' Cemetery was closed and condemned.  Bodies buried there were exhumed and transported to the Catacombs beneath the city.  This turned the remains of old stone mines into a massive underground ossuary: a site, or thing, such as a box, which is made to hold skeletal remains.  The bones of approximately six million people were moved into the Catacombs during a two-year period, and as it was impossible to match the remains with identities, display walls were created by stacking femurs and skulls.

A Potter's Field refers to a mass graveyard for the poor or unknown dead.  The term "Potter's Field" actually comes from the Bible.  Before hanging himself, Judas cast away the silver he'd received for betraying Jesus.  The priests did not want the tainted money to go into the charity box, so they used it to buy land for the burial of strangers.  The field they purchased was considered land of poor quality--consisting of clay used by potters as opposed to rich soil useful in agriculture--hence the name.  Interestingly enough, Judas plays a part in many morbid superstitions--see my posts on The Number 13 and The Origin of Superstitions.    

A dangerous ghost & an
ex-boyfriend await Claire
Linden in Gull Harbor...
If you enjoy a suspenseful spooky story mixed with some steamy romance, leave a comment below to enter the giveaway for a FREE e-copy of my ghost story/romance GULL HARBOR.  This book was a 19-week Kindle bestseller, and it's a perfect Halloween read!  Please don't forget to leave an email or twitter handle where I can reach you should you win. Facebook and twitter follows/likes will gain extra entries into the GULL HARBOR giveaway - please note in your comment.

If you like $100 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (ha ha, who doesn't?), here's the Blog Hop Rafflecopter! Extra entries to win $100 can be gained by the +1 options. Plus, there are two second prize winner who'll receive $15 cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


There are a whole bunch more stops on this blog hop, filled with fun Halloween/Fall posts...and more swag to win along the way.  Below are the links to guide you through the hop!  Happy haunted hopping :) P.S. The hop begins on 10/27 and ends with the drawing on 10/31 - enjoy the trick-or-treating!



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#99c Revenge, #Romance, and a Rogue Fallen Angel #Kindledeals

Happy Halloween!  This is a big month for supernatural stories, and I have several ebook offerings for less than a dollar.  First off, my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL, is currently on sale for .99 cents!  That's a savings of $3.00 off the current price, so if you have a Nook or Kindle, grab it now!  It's a great deal for this tale of first love, forbidden lineage, and suspenseful secrets.  The reviewer at Read for Your Future compared it to Twilight, which I personally loved.  So if you'd like to give it a try, I've added the links below.



I also write novels for the over-18 crowd, and one of these books is part of a multi-author "Hot, Haunted Halloween" giveaway!  Four of us are hosting the Facebook party and each author is giving away an ecopy of her spooky ghost story + steamy romance to the winner!  Make that winners, actually, as we'll pick 2 names from the commenters on our event page throughout the event.  I'll be giving away GULL HARBOR, Kelly Moran is giving away THE DRAKE HOUSE, Joya Fields is giving away ALTERED FREQUENCY, and Denise Moncrief is giving away LAUREL HEIGHTS.  There's nothing to lose and possibly 4 books to win, so stop by and enter!  All you need to do is join our FB event on this page, check out the pinned, starred post at the top that asks you to FB Like or Twitter Follow the participating authors (links provided), then comment "Done" and you are in the drawing!  These books are worth the effort, so come on by!




Happy Haunted Reading!