Monday, February 8, 2016

History of St. Valentine's Day #ValentinesDay #HappyValentinesDay #Romance

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and in the tradition of dedicating my blog to a bit of history about certain holidays and traditions (See New Year's, Saint Nick and Santa Claus, Finding Easter's Date, and Saint Patrick for a few others), I decided to look into the facts behind St. Valentine and the reasons we celebrate love and romance on February 14th.  Turns out, there is quite a bit of conflicting information regarding this particular saint and the holiday named for him. Disclaimer: as always, please keep in mind I am a romance author by trade, not a historian!  

The name Valentine comes from the Latin word "valens" which means healthy or strong.  The derivation Valentine was a popular name between the 2nd and 8th centuries AD, which could explain part of the confusion surrounding this saint.

St. Valentine Kneeling in
Supplication by David Teniers III
Public Domain *Attribution below
The Valentine remembered on February 14 was a third century Roman Saint martyred and buried in a cemetery on the Via Flaminia, an ancient Roman Road.  It's possible that early references to Saint Valentine actually referred to several saints with the same name.  Sources including The Catholic Encyclopedia mention three Saint Valentines connected to the February date: a Roman priest and a bishop, both buried along the Via Flaminia, and a saint in a Roman province of Africa. Some information points to the first two Valentines actually being the same person.

The details surrounding the acts and eventual martyrdom of Valentine are also hazy.  Common threads point to an account of Valentine performing a miracle (restoring the sight of a young girl), aiding Christians and encouraging others to embrace Christianity.  While imprisoned, he refused to renounce his faith and was executed.  

Pope Gelasius I established the Feast of Saint Valentine of February 14 in 496, acknowledging that while not many details were known about Valentine, his acts were known to God.

The more modern traditions connecting Saint Valentine's Day to romantic love date to the fourteenth century and are generally attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, "the Father of English Literature", and his circle of friends.  In the Middle Ages, birds were thought to pair in mid-February, and in the poem "Parliament of Foules" there is mention of February 14th being the day birds as well as humans find a mate.

Now that St. Valentine's Day is linked to celebrating romance, common themes include cards, flowers, candy, hearts, and of course, a focus on love stories.  Why not download a page-turning romance novel and enjoy the thrill of the characters' journeys as they fall in love?  For steamy romance mixed with spooky suspense, try #1 Kindle Bestseller GULL HARBOR, where a medium encounters both a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend in a sleepy Cape Cod town. SILVER LAKE also involves a haunting mystery as a group of estranged friends reunite to try to solve their friend's disappearance...and two star-crossed lovers fight for a second chance.  In DIVINE FALL, an award-winning Young Adult Paranormal Romance, forbidden first love meets supernatural secrets as the last Nephilim seeks his revenge.

A little teaser from GULL HARBOR...

You can also send an ebook to a friend to enjoy for less than the price of a card!  Just check on the right hand side for "Send as a gift" and fill in the email address.

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Reading!



Sources: Wikipedia.com, History.com

*By David Teniers III - http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/David-III-Teniers/St-Valentine-Kneeling-In-Supplication.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9111285


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cover Reveal! #Ghosts + #Romance #CoverReveal #amwriting

Yay!  A cover reveal!  I am so excited for this cover.  My publisher allows authors to fill out a “cover sheet” once a work has been contracted, and I spent a lot of time on this one, as I had a clear image in my mind of a perfect cover for HAUNTED SOULS.  We’re even allowed to link photos, so I chose a few from my Pinterest Cover Inspiration board…including the stock photo of the graveyard which became part of the cover!  That photo really resonated with me, since it closely resembles Cobb’s Hill Cemetery, the actual old graveyard on Cape Cod that appears in the book.  I am so grateful to cover artist Debbie Taylor for capturing my dream cover…and here it is! 



Final edits are in, but I’m still anxiously awaiting a release date.  In the meantime, please check out the blurb below.  And if it sounds good, you can try one of my other ghost story/romances in the meantime: GULL HARBOR and SILVER LAKE.



Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.

Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

Thanks for sharing my excitement today!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Just Do It! #amwriting Inspiration #writingtips

"The only way to do a thing is to do it" ~ William Painter

This is the quote I used for my contribution to the Friday Writing Inspiration feature over at The Pearls of Writing Wisdom, a blog offering writing tips and inspiration from ten published authors.  I tore this out of my daily paper because it struck a chord with me.  Many people have the dream of writing a novel.  Many people have an idea in their head, complete with nagging characters who want their story told.  "This would make a great novel," you think...and maybe it will, but you have to write it first.  The only way to do a thing is to do it.

And yes, it's scary.  I had the entire plot, beginning to end, of SILVER LAKE in my mind for years.  I already knew the characters intimately...in fact, I would imagine conversations between them each night as I drifted off to sleep.  My husband encouraged me to start writing it down, but I resisted...how could I do that?  It's such a huge endeavor.  And what if it never panned out?  All those hours--years--would be wasted.

Which is what I told a good friend, at a party.  And he shook his head and told me I had to try. "What if it doesn't get published?" I said.

"What if it does?" he countered.  And he met every one of my arguments with a similar rebuke, finally pointing out that at the very least, I will have finished a novel, published or not, and that is no small thing.

I started the next day.  And now my fourth novel is awaiting a release date.


These days, I teach a class on writing fiction to aspiring authors.  And the biggest hurdle is usually convincing them to start.  It's the only way to get it done.  So don't wait for some magic guarantee of success--it won't come.  Just write.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fiction Writing + Publication Class in #Falmouth #CapeCod #amwriting #writingtips

My "Fiction Writing and Publication" course is coming to Falmouth, MA, this winter!  In this 5-week class, we'll meet on Tuesday evenings beginning January 26th, from 6-8 pm, and we'll cover a multitude of topics related to writing fiction and getting it published.

There's something for writers at every stage in this class.  We'll go over some of the basics, such as identifying genres in commercial fiction (necessary for meeting reader expectations, writing query letters, submitting to small or digital presses, and/or listing your book in Amazon categories), idea inspiration, staying on track and word count goals.  Once we've covered the basics, we'll move on to showing vs. telling, Goal-Motivation-Conflict charts, character development, and the hook. Common pitfalls will be covered, such as info dumps, cliches, Mary Sues, and POV (Point of View) issues/head hopping.

Finally, we'll get to querying agents or presses and writing the dreaded blurbs and synopsis. We'll go over all the different publishing options available as well as promotion and marketing.

Some of the quotes I received in feedback from my latest class: "Sequential and well-planned lectures.  Kathryn gave ample opportunity for discussions and questions...presented a wealth of information"..."Very good class, covered everything"..."Teacher was great!  Knows her subject!"

So if you're near Falmouth, follow the link for registration info: Falmouth Community School.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My Favorite Reads of 2015 #amreading #mustread #books

I began this blog in 2012, shortly after my first novel, SILVER LAKE, released.  Since then, I've done an annual January post highlighting my favorite reads of each year.  While some writers get so busy they find themselves with little time to read, that is not a situation I can handle for long. Yes, my reading slowed in the early months of 2015, as I buckled down to finish HAUNTED SOULS. But reading is my passion, my stress relief, my favorite past-time.  I simply can't sleep until I've done some reading, and any free time I have is eagerly devoted to whatever book or books I'm enjoying.

Of course, my absolute favorite thing to read (and write) is a combination of tension-filled romance mixed with a haunting mystery.  But that's not the easiest thing to find, which is one of the reasons my imagination began creating stories of this genre mix--so I could get my fill!  But I enjoy reading all genres, and I often leave my own genre out of the list in order to focus on others.

So along with links for 2012, 2013, and 2014 favorite reads, I'll give some brief thoughts on the books that stood out on my Goodreads list this year.

Historical Fiction: Belle Cora by Phillip Margulies

I can't believe more people don't know about this book - I thought it was fantastic.  I'd never heard of it, either, so I found it by chance--I happened to walk by it propped up on a shelf as a recommendation at the library.  The cover grabbed my attention and the blurb did the rest.  This is the story of Arabella Godwin, a/k/a Belle Cora, a good girl who, through a series of misfortunes, falls from grace.  Set in the 1800s and loosely based on the life of a real madam, this book has everything: history, romance, secrets, suspense, betrayal, triumph, and tragedy.  It is long, which only makes it more epic in scope...I felt like I knew Belle intimately by the end.  And the research and attention to historical detail is evident throughout.  I learned quite a bit in the best way possible--immersed in an unputdownable book.  My #1 favorite read of the year.

Historical Fiction: Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope

Yes, another historical fiction made my list.  I saw this book in the free monthly BookPage magazine made available from my library. The blurb sounded fascinating so I gave it a try, and I'm really glad I did.  The story actually spans several centuries, linked together by an ancient brooch, although mostly we flip between 1994 and the end of WWII.  The main setting is a kibbutz in Israel, and learning about this type of community was fascinating.  Again, this book touched on a lot of elements beyond history: love, loss, hope, loyalty, and struggle.  I was hooked by page one.  I really, really enjoyed this book...a great, original story with realistically flawed characters dealing with solid conflict.


Suspense: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

This was another pick from the monthly BookPage magazine at my library (I'm at the library a lot). First off, this book is a bit dark, but I enjoy that type of thing, and for me, this was a page-turner through-and-through.  The main character is the one "lucky" victim who survived a serial killer. With no memory of the events that led to her waking in a grave with the bones of the other "Black-Eyed Susans", she testifies as a child under pressure to convict the killer for the woman who no longer have voices.  But two decades later, with the murderer's execution looming, she has reason to believe she may have helped convict the wrong man.  If you like dark psychological suspense in the same vein as Gone Girl and Girl on A Train, give it a try.


Horror: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I wanted a good horror book for Halloween, and this came recommended from a friend.  I'd call this horror mixed with psychological suspense, a thrilling combination that had me turning the pages to see what happened next.  A fresh twist on a post-apocalyptic theme that taps into a very primal fear...I think fans of The Walking Dead and/or Stephen King would enjoy this read.


NonFiction: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Speaking of Stephen King...Okay, I admit, reading nonfiction is not a preference for me.  So despite being a lifetime Stephen King fan, I just read this in 2015, along with some other books on writing, as additional preparation to teach my own Fiction Writing and Publication class. Although at this point some of the querying information is dated, the good advice offered on writing still holds true.  And I really enjoyed the sections on King's early years that made an impact on the person and author he is today.  Plus, it's all delivered in Stephen King's captivating voice, which could probably make a grocery list interesting.  Excellent reading for both SK fans and writers.


So there you have it--my favorite picks from last year.  What were your favorite reads of 2015?

Monday, January 4, 2016

#Fitness for the New Year! #MondayMotivation #FitnessTips #Workout

It's a New Year, and with that tends to come resolutions that often involve striving for a healthier lifestyle.  Fitness is one of my passions, and one of my jobs, so every once in a while I dedicate my blog to a topic related to nutrition or exercise.  So, I've decided to list a roundup of my "Friday Fitness" posts, just click a title to open the link of any subject that might help you achieve your goals!

Friday Fitness #1: Multi-Tasking - Working Several Muscle Groups at Once

Friday Fitness #2: Low-Impact Cardio - Moves that Will Raise Your Heart Rate, Not Hurt
Your Joints

Yoga can be a great place to start -
strength, stretching, and relaxation!

Friday Fitness #3: Plyometric Exercises

Friday Fitness #4: Zumba

Friday Fitness #5: The Importance of CPR Certification

Friday Fitness #6: Training for Triathlons

Friday Fitness #7: White Foods and Nutrition

Friday Fitness #8: The Importance of Stretching

Friday Fitness #9: Building a Backyard Soccer Goal

Friday Fitness #10: Dealing with Patellar Tendonitis

Friday Fitness #11: The 7-Day Detox Challenge


And if you need a book to read while putting miles on the treadmill or stationary bike, try one of my ghost story/romances--SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR.  Plus, 99 cents will get you a copy of my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  I can promise they are all page-turners, so you'll be hooked right from the start and the workout will fly by!  Happy, healthy 2016!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! New Year's History + Traditions #NewYearsDay

Happy New Year!  Although often bitterly cold here in the Northeast, I like January--it's my birthday month and my son's.  It can be a chance to relax and renew after the frenetic pace of the holidays.  Plus, there's the whole idea of a fresh start and making resolutions.  

Many of my most popular blog posts have discussed some of the history or mythology behind holiday traditions, for example, St. NickFinding Easter's date, and the Origin of Halloween. For the first week in January, I thought I'd list some facts about New Year's Day and the month of January itself.  (Also, my January birthday is on the 13th - see this post for reasons people fear that number).

New Year's Day is the first day of January according to both the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC) and the Gregorian calendar (named for Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in 1582).  The difference in these two calendars is a .002% change in the length of the year.

The Roman god Janus,
looking both forward and back

The Julian calendar was based on the Roman Calendar, and the name of the month of January is generally attributed to the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, who is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions: into the past as well as the future.

Since the Gregorian calendar is now used, at least in practice, by most countries, New Year's Day is considered the world's most celebrated public holiday.

The ancient belief that the beginning of an event impacted the whole led people to offer good health and well wishes on this first day of a new year, as the long, dark days surrounding the Winter Solstice were being left behind.  A prosperous January first with plenty of food and drink would hopefully lead to the same for the entire month and year.

Of course, local traditions abound to mark this day, and a big one in the United States is the making of resolutions.  For many people, this involves a commitment to a healthier lifestyle--as a fitness instructor, I see my classes absolutely explode each January!  My own personal resolutions, since I'm also a writer, usually involve devoting more time each day to my craft so I can meet deadlines without the stress of a last minute rush.

This year will also bring a release date for my fourth novel, HAUNTED SOULS, so I'm excited about that!  Aside from that, a great deal of time in 2016 will be devoted to my older son's college search.  It's an overwhelming process!  (And where did the time go?  Yikes.)

Best wishes, everyone, for a happy, healthy, and meaningful 2016.  Happy New Year!

PS - if your resolutions include more reading (one of the best stress-reducers, by the way!) - check out my books.  Romance and spooky suspense - something for everyone :)