Monday, March 23, 2015

Ghosts + #Romance - Steamy #TeaserTuesday #amreading

I'm celebrating my second novel's second birthday with a little excerpt today. GULL HARBOR is both a steamy romance reuniting first loves as well as a suspenseful mystery involving a dangerous ghost.  It was also a #1 Kindle Bestseller in several categories!  Psychic medium Claire Linden is spending the summer in the seaside town of Gull Harbor in order to rid her temporary home of a destructive spirit. But she never expects to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation on graduation day.  Five years have passed since then, and Claire's becoming aware there might be something more to Max's disappearance than she knows about.  This scene occurs on a night Max has taken Claire to watch the 4th of July fireworks:

Lights from her house welcomed them as they crossed through the wooded back yard.  “I guess I’m asking you to trust me, even though I know you’ve got no good reason to.”
He assumed he wouldn’t be getting a response by the time he followed her up the porch steps.  But she turned toward him outside the front door, looking somehow both fragile and strong in the velvet shadows.
“I do trust you.  I have no idea why, but I do.”
“Then I would call this a successful second date.”  He ran his fingers through her hair, cradling the sides of her face with his palms.  Tipping her lips up to his, he kissed her possessively.  The hunger inside him flared brighter, and he closed the distance between their bodies.
Backing her toward the house, he pressed her up against the door.  She returned his kisses with equal passion, moaning when he pushed his thigh between her legs.  Her fingers wandered to the front of his jeans, then hesitated, her nails grazing the skin of his abdomen.
He tore his mouth from hers reluctantly.  If he didn’t stop her now, there would be no turning back.  Bracing his hands against the door, he struggled against his body’s demands.  They would make love when Claire was ready, not before. 
“I should go,” he said, his voice rough.  Their breath mingled in short, quick gasps.  He lifted his head and locked his gaze with hers.
She could see desire in the depths of his dark blue eyes, but there was something else there, too.  Pain.  Her remaining doubts shattered and fell away.  Whatever this awful secret was, they would handle it—together.
He held her captive, caged between his arms.  “You know what will happen if I stay.”
She nodded, her hair sliding against the door.  Unhooking her fingers from the waist of his jeans, she dipped her fingers into her own pocket to retrieve her key.  Silently she turned, unlocking the door.
Her legs trembled as she led him up the stairs.  Moonlight spilled through the windows, bathing her bedroom in a silvery glow.  He caught her wrist in the doorway, pulling her around to face him.
“Claire…before we go any further, you need to know something.  There’s a chance I may never be able to fully explain what happened five years ago.”
She studied his expression in the pale light of the moon.  He held her gaze, his hair falling across his forehead as he bent his head toward hers.  She brushed the strands out of his eyes, then trailed her fingers across the rough stubble under his cheekbones.
“But you’ll tell me if you can?”
“I promise.  But think about how you’ll feel if I can’t,” he said, releasing her wrist.

“Confused, I’m sure,” she murmured.  She gathered the fabric of his shirt collar and pulled it slowly over his head.  “But I don’t think it’s going to make me want you any less,” she added, dropping the shirt to the floor.

Continue the Story!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Series vs. Stand Alone #amwriting #amreading

My latest release, Divine Fall, has garnered many requests for a sequel as well as a prequel, and I'm thrilled about that.  It's truly gratifying to know that readers aren't done with my characters and want to stay in their world a bit longer--writing characters people care about is what it's all about.  While I've left the door open to possibly continue Jamie and Dothan's story, Divine Fall is very much a stand alone novel without a cliffhanger ending.  All my books are, in fact, and I think that has a lot to do with my own reading preference--which, not surprisingly, is guessed it, stand alone novels!

In Divine Fall, the last Nephilim
will have to make a choice--
continue his quest for revenge, or
protect the girl he's grown to love.
Don't get me wrong--I do understand the appeal of revisiting characters you know and love.  And sometimes it makes perfect sense that the circumstances of the overall story arc will create enough action to keep characters fighting against plenty of conflict and tension. But a lot of the time, it doesn't, and things go south in terms of the plot.  Especially when writing romance, where the author has to keep the couple apart for a good portion of the time.  A content couple with no obstacles to overcome to achieve that happiness makes for a very boring storyline.  In my books, both the hero and the heroine have significant conflicts - both internal and external - keeping them apart.  I want the reader to be desperate for them to finally get together, and to be gratified when they finally earn their Happily Ever After.  Plus, I always throw in a climactic danger scene, because again, I like a plot that involves more than just complex emotions and character development.

Silver Lake and Gull Harbor
are both reunion romances
mixed with ghost stories.
So, after about 300 pages of sexual tension, spooky suspense, and shocking revelations, coupled with an edge-of-your-seat climax, I feel like my characters have had enough.  They deserve their happiness, and I want to give it to them.  Sure, I could find another way to rip them apart in Book 2, and then let them find their way back to one another once again...but honestly, how much more could I throw at these two people and still come across as believable?  Even though real life gets awfully complicated sometimes, fictional characters do tend to be burdened with more than their fair share of bad luck, family strife, damaging secrets, devastating betrayal, and life-or-death situations.  As a reader and a writer, I prefer believable scenes and events.  Even within the paranormal, it's important to me to have enough details and explanations to keep a supernatural element from veering too far out into left field.

Of course, there are exceptions.  A story about a detective or a private investigator, for example, easily lends itself to a series--the very nature of the job will thrust the main character into new danger, deceit, and mystery with each case.  Or a series that uses the same setting, family, clan, etc. as a connection, focusing on different main characters with each new novel as opposed to the same two main characters.  For example, fans of Whitney, My Love (which includes me) needed more of Whitney and Clayton, and Judith McNaught answered the call by creating the Westmoreland Saga.  Each book can function as a stand-alone, but characters are connected as relatives of the seductive Duke of Claymore, and we get to see brief appearances of beloved characters from previous novels, or in the case of A Kingdom of Dreams, ancestors dating back to 1497.

Only a few trilogies or sagas featuring the same main characters have truly kept my interest through the entire journey.  The Twilight Saga spanned four books, yet the conflict was strong enough, and the world-building intriguing enough, to keep me enjoying each new book.  Yes, I loved Twilight, and when an editorial reviewer said Divine Fall reminded her of Twilight, I was thrilled.

One of my absolute favorite books, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, left me scrambling for the next in the series, Tatiana and Alexander.  I thought the second was nearly as good as the first, and the ending was perfect.  But then I went ahead and read the third, The Summer Garden, and I was so disappointed.  It was a strange combination of childhood flashbacks that went nowhere mixed with sad details of present day life, and one of the characters did something I hated.  Now, when I recommend The Bronze Horseman, I tell people to read the first two books and leave it at that!

Chime in - what do you prefer, stand alones, series, or both?  What are your favorites?  Why? Let's hear your opinion!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

History of St. Patrick - Happy #StPatricksDay #StPatrick

I love learning more about the meaning of our holidays and traditions--I've done posts on Celebrating New Year's Day, St. Nick and Santa Claus, the Origin of Halloween, and Finding Easter's Date.  While I'm not exactly Irish (although one of my great-grandfathers was a Sullivan), I do enjoy taking part in the fun--wearing green, drinking beer, and serving a traditional Irish meal.  You'll notice I said "serving", not "cooking" is not one of my strengths; however, writing is.  So I'm dedicating this blog post to some facts about St. Patrick and his holiday.

As a teenager, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken from his home country of Great Britain to Ireland as a slave.  A rough start, for sure, but although he escaped after six years and returned home, eventually he went back to Ireland as a cleric.  The exact dates of his life are uncertain, but it is generally agreed that Patrick was an active missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.  He was also an ordained Bishop and eventually became the primary patron saint of Ireland.  St. Patrick's Day became an official Christian Feast Day in the early 17th century, observed on March 17th, the date of Patrick's death.

The day not only commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, it also celebrates Irish culture and heritage. There are parades and festivals to mark the occasion, as well as religious services.  Because the church lifts Lenten restrictions for the day, drinking alcohol has become a custom associated with St. Patrick's Day.

The shamrock as a symbol comes from legends involving St. Patrick using the three-leafed plant to describe the Holy Trinity--the concept of three persons in one God. Obviously, shamrocks are green, but the phrase "The Wearing of the Green" comes from an Irish ballad of the same name.  The song refers to the persecution of those who supported the 1798 rebellion against British rule. The lyrics state, "They are hanging men and women for the wearing of the green" - the color adopted by the revolutionary United Irishmen.

Some stories credit St. Patrick with driving all the snakes from Ireland; however, all scientific evidence suggests no snakes ever existed on the Emerald Isle to begin with.  Another legend related to a serpent involves St. Patrick killing a large serpent in a lake, thus turning the water red with blood and creating the name "Red Lake" or Lough Derg.  It is said that God showed St. Patrick a cave or pit on an island in the lake, revealing the spot as an entrance to Purgatory.  St. Patrick's Purgatory is now an ancient pilgrimage site which still draws pilgrims annually.

Upon his death, the struggle over possession of the saintly corpse gave rise to the Battle for the Body of St. Patrick (according to the Annals of the Four Masters - chronicles of medieval Irish history).  He is said to be buried along with St. Brigid and St. Columbia at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, but this has never been proven.

I've never been lucky enough to visit Ireland, but it's on my list of places I desperately want to see--a trip there conjures up images of ancient castles, mystical stone circles, and lush, rolling countrysides.  In fact, it sounds like the perfect setting for a novel!  One of my favorite Nora Roberts' trilogies (Irish Jewels) is set in Ireland: Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea.  The romance is flavored with Irish folklore and intriguing myths.  While my novels are all set in the States, they also contain haunting if you like a little spooky suspense with steamy romance, give one of them a try...a good book goes well with a slice of soda bread and an Irish coffee :) Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Deer Instead of Disasters! #Ski Trip #skiing in Canada

Followers of my blog may remember the (in retrospect) hilarious details of my traumatic ski weekend--the trip that made me decide to hang up my downhill skis forever.  I gave it a fair shot, I improved enough to make it down the mountain in one piece most of the time, and kept it up for a few winters.  And then, after that last run, I decided that throwing myself down an icy mountain in subzero temperatures is just not my idea of fun.  But, I live in New England now, and this winter has been nothing if not snowy (see: blizzards).  So, when my husband expressed a strong desire to return to our their favorite ski resort over February break, I had to bite the proverbial bullet for the sake of my family's fun.

To be honest, I was fine with the thought of spending every day sleeping late in the comfort of our hotel, followed by more lazing around in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other.  After all, I certainly needed to wind down after the first half of February--the beginning of the month was a crazy and sometimes stressful ride: Not only did I finish my fourth manuscript, HAUNTED SOULS, I also signed with a literary agent!  I was exhausted after all the hard work and excitement.

As wonderful as doing nothing sounds, though, eventually I needed to move.  In addition to writing, fitness is my other passion (and job).  And a member of the gym where I work happened to be at the same Canadian ski resort as we were...her family goes every year.  So she suggested we try cross-country skiing on one of the days.  I'd done it once before, and although it was two years prior, I seemed to recall it being much more my speed.

First of all, what a workout!  That part I did remember.  Despite the very cold temperatures, I was sweating after the first 5 minutes.  And the best part was that it was a fun workout!  Once I got the hang of it, I could glide along without fear of a collison, chatting with my friend while admiring the pristine, peaceful woods of Domaine Saint-Bernard.

The trail eventually led to a clearing with a little covered shelter, complete with benches and a firepit.  Strung along the trees were dozens of birdfeeders.  As we approached, my friend suddenly whispers, "Kathryn...look to your right."

So beautiful!
A deer was walking along side of her!  When we slowed, gaping at the close proximity of a wild and usually timid creature, the doe gazed back at us with expectant brown eyes.  I quickly put it together--this deer knew the drill--and pulled out the sunflower seeds we'd picked up at the lodge.  Supposedly, they were for the birds, but it was apparent the deer had decided to get in on the action.

No one else was around.  The deer came closer and closer as we tossed the seeds, and only the birds overhead broke the cold, still silence.  My friend held out a hand filled with seeds, and one of the birds landed on her hand and began to eat.  We felt like we were in a Disney movie!  The only things missing were colorful pastel gowns and uplifting songs.

I LOVE animals, and as I shared the experience with my family over dinner, my enthusiasm convinced them to give cross country a try, too.  The next day, they took time off from downhill and we all went together.

It wasn't quite as magical...this time, the clearing happened to be filled with people.  But the deer were there, and some of them were bold enough to eat from our hands!  One actually seemed ready to search my coat pockets once I'd run out of seeds!

Me with a bird on
my hand!
So, a happy and memorable skiing trip this year, with something for all of us.  And I still had most of the days to myself...peace, quiet, and good books.  If you need a winter escape, try one of my steamy romances...they are spiked with suspenseful ghost mysteries to keep the pages turning!  GULL HARBOR is set on the spectacular beaches of Cape Cod, and SILVER LAKE is set by a sparkling lake in Fairfield, Connecticut.  And BOTH novels take place in the sultry summer months...which seem far off in this never-ending winter...maybe the snow will have melted here by then!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hot Kiss #Friday Blog Hop! #amreading #romance

I'm taking part in the Book Boyfriends Cafe Hot for Friday blog hop for the first time today, and the theme this week is Hot Kisses!  I'm going to post an excerpt from GULL HARBOR, which is celebrating its 2 year anniversary this month!  Hard to believe.  My second novel hit the #1 Kindle Bestseller list a few times - exciting moments I will never forget!  GULL HARBOR is a reunion romance with a suspenseful ghost story--and the kiss I've chosen happens after Max shows up to fix a broken window the ghost shattered in Claire's temporary summer home.  All she knows is that five years ago, he abandoned her without a hint of an explanation, and he still won't tell her why.  But now that fate has brought them back together, she can't seem to avoid the man who broke her heart...

His arm curled around her shoulders.  “Claire, I am so sorry I hurt you,” he said, his voice ragged with emotion.
She dropped her forehead to his chest.  “I believe you.”
His other hand stroked her hair, and she stayed in his embrace while she battled back the tears.  She focused on the comforting thud of his heartbeat as he ran his fingers through her loose curls.
            “I missed you this week,” he murmured. 
His breath in her ear sent a delicious shiver through her body.  She couldn’t resist this anymore.  She didn’t want to.  “I missed you too,” she admitted, turning her face up to his.
He brushed his lips against hers tentatively, and a moment of exquisite anticipation spun out between them.  Then his mouth captured hers in a bruising kiss that sought to make up for the years they’d been apart.  She returned his fierce kisses, moaning as their lips and tongues met with frightening urgency.
A tiny voice inside her head whispered a warning, reminding her that he still hadn’t explained why he’d left her that way.  She shoved it aside.  She didn’t need explanations, she needed him.  On her, inside her, filling every space.  Wrapping her arms around his neck, she clung to him as he lowered her onto the bed.  Every nerve in her body burned for him, and she arched her back to rub her hips against the solid length of his erection.
His hand slipped under the hem of her skirt, and his rough fingertips left a trail of fire as they traveled up her thigh.  Her own hands explored the ridges of muscle under the smooth skin of his back.  She kissed his neck, tasting the salty sweat from the day’s heat.

Read the rest of Claire and Max's story!
Enjoy more hot kisses by following the blog hop - home base link at Book Boyfriends Cafe!

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire in Cape Cod's GULL HARBOR...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaching Creative Writing! #amwriting #CapeCod #Plymouth

This has been a whirlwind month.  Finished my fourth manuscript, sent out initial queries, and signed with an agent!  I am now a "hybrid" author in every sense--I've been published by a small press (SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR), I've published independently (DIVINE FALL), and now I've signed with a literary agency, which will begin the submission process for my new novel HAUNTED SOULS very soon.  So exciting!

With all this first-hand experience with different avenues to publishing, I'm confident I can share helpful knowledge as I embark on my first creative writing class.  I'll be teaching "Fiction Writing and Publication" for the local community college beginning the first week in March, and in six weeks, we'll cover a multitude of topics, including the various ways to publish in this rapidly changing industry.  But we'll save that for the last few weeks, focusing first on the basics--identifying genres, Goal-Motivation-Conflict charts, character development, POV (point of view), common pitfalls, and idea inspiration.  Then we'll move on to getting started...and staying on track.  Finally, querying agents or presses, writing blurbs and synopsis, publishing, and marketing.  How will I fit it all into 12 hours?

My sub-par photo of the flier -
good thing I'm not teaching photography!

If you're anywhere near Plymouth, Massachusetts, I'd love to have you in class!  If not, go on over to the right hand column of my blog and click on either the Join This Site blue button or the overlapping squares (depending on your browser) to stay connected - I'll be posting some notes from class along the way.

I'm thrilled to begin this new chapter in my writing career, and if you'd like more information, check out the registration link here: Plymouth Class Schedule - Cape Cod Community College.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I Got "The Call"! Signed with an Agent #amwriting #romance

Very, very rarely, things move quickly in the publishing world.  Usually, it's a business only for those with a superhuman level of patience--which really doesn't describe me, but I tell myself nothing worth having comes easy--but sometimes pieces fall into place in rapid succession.

Earlier this month, I posted about finishing HAUNTED SOULS, my fourth manuscript--a contemporary romance featuring a military hero, intertwined with a suspenseful haunting.  Now, I pushed myself hard to finish this one, because in December, this manuscript won an exclusive submission to a literary agency via a First Page Contest.  While it was fine to enter the contest with an incomplete manuscript, I knew if the agency was interested, there was not much they could do with a partial manuscript.  So, I forced myself to wait on submission until it was done.

And then...I got "The Call"!  While I love the small press I've been published with in the past, having an agent will open new doors to publication in the future, and it's the right step in my career.  Not to mention a dream come true!  I've worked with a number of authors my new agent represents in the past, and I'm thrilled to be part of the team.

Used my "lucky pen" - a
gift from a friend when
I received my first
publishing contract for
Of course, there will be more waiting in the the submissions on this new manuscript go out and we wait to hear.  But for now...time to celebrate!

A glass of wine waiting for the
celebration after I sign with
my new agent!  Woot!