Friday, March 24, 2017

#99c #SALE! Hot #Romance + #Haunting Mystery #FridayReads #Kindledeals

Short and sweet post today ~ my publisher has put my latest release on sale, which means the ebook format is available for less than a latte!  HAUNTED SOULS, a hot military romance mixed with a ghost mystery, is marked down from the usual price of $5.99 to only .99 cents!  An excellent deal for hours of entertainment, so grab your copy today and escape to Cape Cod for steamy romance plus spooky suspense.  A perfect weekend read!  Links below:

Haunted Souls was voted one of the Top 3 Books of 2016 at Read Freely!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Exploring #Falmouth Cape Cod #CapeCod #Travel

I've lived on beautiful Cape Cod for nearly 20 years now, and I'm still discovering the rich history, diverse geography, and breathtaking beauty of the 15 towns of the Cape, as well as the nearby islands.  I've done a few posts on My Favorite Spots on Cape Cod, Haunted History of Barnstable, Visiting Cuttyhunk Island, and A Whirlwind Tour of Cape Cod, and while a few Falmouth locations are mentioned (Coonamessett Farm, the Shining Sea Bike Trail, and the Woods Hole Aquarium), I've never done a post specifically on Falmouth, a neighboring town I'm in at least once a week, if not more.  And while it's easy to miss discovering the amazing sites in our own figurative backyards, due to...well, life...I got a chance to explore Falmouth's history with my son as I drove him around to take pictures for a high school geography project.  I've driven by many of these places for years without knowing much about them, and I'm excited about all I learned on our trip!  So I'm sharing some of the town's fascinating history below.

A tip of Washburn Island in the background - we had quite
an experience camping there one night - very rustic!
We stopped first at the Waquoit Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve, which is both a Massachusetts State park and a center for education and research.  From there, we took pictures across Waquoit Bay of Washburn Island, an important part of the Reserve only accessible by private boat.  Washburn Island is one of the few large undeveloped coastal areas on the Cape, although it does feature a few rustic campsites which nature lovers may reserve in advance.  During WWII, the island served as an Army camp, and remnants of the abandoned base can still be found.  In addition, Native American artifacts dating between 450-1000 years ago have been found on the island as well.  

An example of a Wampanoag wetu
at the Waquoit Bay Reserve

Bay View Cemetery along Rt. 28
Following one of the trails along the water leads over to the old Bay View Cemetery, which I, as a writer of ghost stories, obviously found fascinating.  Many of the graves dated back to the 1800s.

From there, we got back in the car and drove to downtown Falmouth to the historic Village Green off Main Street (Rt. 28). This area has served as the town center since 1756, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  A few pictures from our walk around the Green are below; of particular note is the home of Katharine Lee Bates, the author of "America the Beautiful".

The home of Katharine Lee Bates, built in 1820.
Katharine was born in the house is 1859.

First Congregational Church, circa 1796;
contains a bell manufactured by Paul Revere.

Oldest home on the Falmouth Village Green - 1790
Dr. Francis Wick's house - Federal style

From Falmouth's historic district, it's a short drive down to Woods Hole, located in the southwest corner of the Cape.  There is a great deal to see here in terms of history and geography, including many famous marine science organizations, a Coast Guard station, and the Nobska light house, pictured below.  I've actually been up to the top, as we were at a Coast Guard dinner at the house years ago.

Nobska Lighthouse, 1828.  The house is used by the
commander of US Coast Guard Group Woods Hole,
now renamed CG Sector Southeastern New England.

While we couldn't visit every point of interest in Falmouth in the time we had, we did hit a few more...Highfield Hall and Gardens, Beebe Woods, cranberry bogs, Old Silver Beach - there's so much to see in the Cape's second-largest town.  And, as a post-script, my son received an A on the Falmouth project - 100% - and we both learned a lot along the way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

History of #StPatrick #StPatricksDay #StPatricksWeekend

I love learning more about the meaning of our holidays and traditions--I've done posts on Celebrating New Year's DaySt. Nick and Santa Claus, the Origin of Halloween, and Finding Easter's Date.  This year, St. Patrick's Day is taking on a little more meaning, because I recently got my DNA results back from 23andMe (an awesome birthday gift from my hubby) and I discovered I have a lot more Irish blood in me than I thought!  I did know I had a Sullivan on my father's side of the family a few generations back, but the results say I'm 61% British and Irish.  I've always enjoyed taking part in the holiday 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 rather than offering a recipe, 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, although I did get to London and Paris last year.  But it's absolutely 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 :) Links are all along the top tabs or with the book covers along the right side column. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 10, 2017

#Giveaway! #Ghosts + #Romance HAUNTED SOULS #FridayReads

An ebook copy of HAUNTED SOULS is up for grabs over at The Romance Review site - you can enter to win from March 10 - 12, all you need to do is put in your email (which will be kept private), so hurry! (There are 7 other contests running too, so you can check out all the books and sets being offered!) 

If you enjoy romance, you can also participate in their 6th Anniversary Party, which is going on all month.  You have to register to play the games, but it's free and easy.  There are slews of prizes, from ebooks to paperbacks to swag, with a $50 Amazon gift card grand prize.  

Here's the link for the contest to enter to win Haunted Souls, and the link to the party fun.  Good luck if you enter/play!

A damaged soldier, a secret baby, and a haunting mystery collide in
Haunted Souls ~ Steamy Romance + Spooky Suspense

Thursday, March 2, 2017

#Psychic Fair in #Mashpee Cape Cod #CapeCod

I'll be signing books again this year at the annual Psychic and Health Fair sponsored by the Mashpee Boosters!  This is a great opportunity to connect with those who have passed on or explore your future for a discounted fee.  Private readings are offered with a variety of mediums, tarot readers, and psychics, plus local vendors will have tables set up for shopping - that's where you can find me and my paranormal romantic suspense novels!  Many of my books incorporate a ghost mystery or haunting, and are set on Cape Cod, so this event is a great fit for me.  In fact, the main character in Gull Harbor is a psychic herself...and when her job brings her to a sleepy little town on Cape Cod, she not only encounters a dangerous ghost, but also the man who promised to love her forever, then disappeared without a hint of an explanation five years prior.

Check out Gull Harbor ~ a #1 Amazon Bestseller!
A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire
in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...
Steamy Romance + Spooky Suspense = a page-turning read!

The 10th annual Psychic and Health Fair will be held on Saturday, March 4th from 10am to 4pm at KC Coombs Elementary, at 152 Old Barnstable Road (near the Commons) in Mashpee.  Come connect with the past and/or explore the future, shop locally, find a new read, and help our post-prom committee raise funds to keep kids safe on prom night.  Admission is $2.00, private readings are extra and you make an appointment(s) with the reader or psychic of your choice. Many people arrive early to book their appointments in order to get the slots they want, so arrive early if you have a specific reader you'd like to sit with!  Please find the list below - hope to see you there if you're in the Cape Cod area!

Featuring mediums, tarot readers, psychics and an assortment of vendors. (see list below)

Proceeds benefit Mashpee Boosters’ Post Prom Committee providing a safe, alcohol-free environment for students.

Readers at this year's event:

Patricia Mellman Medium, Astrologer, Tarot
Nancy Foley Astrology, Tarot
Tom Foley Tarot
Myrna Westgate Medium, Tarot
Doreen Tripp Angel Card Readings & messages
Sharon Ferraro Medium
Dotty Repoza Medium
Laurie Leehan Medium & Tarot
Judy Ramos Medium & Cards
Marlene Panish Medium
Mary Lee Medium
Joan Downes Tarot & Medium
Maureen Brown Medium

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#Romance Reviews Party~ #Amazon #giftcard Prize! #TRRParty

I'm one of 350 authors helping to celebrate The Romance Reviews 6th Anniversary Party, and the fun begins March 1st and lasts through the month.  There are more than 300 books being given away, and the grand prize is a $50 Amazon gift card.  Plus, along the way, you'll discover fabulous authors and new reads as you participate in the games.

It's free to create an account, so head over and join the party here:  The Romance Reviews.  All genres of romance will be represented, including my mix of ghost mystery/romance ("paranormal romantic suspense"), with plenty of prizes along the way...good luck!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

#Books + #Movies That Scared Me #Horror #Suspense

I read all genres, with horror and psychological thrillers being a few of my favorites, but not many fictional things actually succeed in scaring me, as far as books and movies go (although someone in my family walking into a room unexpectedly will almost always result in my screaming and jumping—but that’s an entirely different story having to do with how tightly I’m wound these days).  While many people avoid scary stuff like the plague, I love it…I think it has something to do with the thrill of a heart-pounding adrenaline rush accompanied by the comforting fact that on some level, I know I’m actually safe, sitting on the couch reading or watching.  So I read plenty of horror, paranormal, and suspense, and I love watching scary flicks (find a list of my favorite ghost movies here) although I prefer supernatural and psychological horror over the kind that feature gore or torture.  So for fellow adrenaline junkies, here’s a list of three movies and two books that did truly scare me.  Any spoilers will follow a “Spoiler Alert” sentence, so you can safely stop reading about something you want to try for yourself.  I’d hate to ruin any future scares!

Movie:  The Exorcist.  I can’t imagine it would be possible to spoil anyone regarding the plot of this movie (based on the book by William Peter Blatty), since it was released in 1973 and also, if you’re reading this, you probably like scary things and have certainly watched it.  Even though the film is a bit dated, it’s still one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.  When I saw it as a child (on TV—not sure who approved that—some solid parenting there lol), I related more to the viewpoint of the child, Regan.  Could something like that happen to me?  And if it did, would I be subjected to those giant needles and painful tests?  Would a demon turn my head around and write on my skin from the inside out?  Those scenes struck a visceral chord with me.  As an adult, my fear stems more from the mother’s point of view—talk about a nightmare situation.  An evil entity taking over your child?  It’s not hard to imagine the horrifying helplessness a parent would experience, watching a demon not only possess but also injure his or her child. 

Probably the most chilling thing about The Exorcist is that the book was based on an actual incident which occurred in Maryland, not far from where I grew up.  And then there were the frightening real-life events surrounding the making of the movie which led people to wonder if portraying a demonic possession actually conjured up some evil forces – more on the “Curse of The Exorcist” in this post

Book:  Pet Sematary.  I read a lot of Stephen King, and this is the book King calls the most frightening he has ever written.  That should tell you something right there.  I can’t speak regarding the movie, as I haven’t seen it, but I clearly remember reading the book even though it was years and years ago, when I was a teenager.  And I remember so vividly for two reasons: (1) I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading to finish it, and it was a school night.  And (2) I spent the rest of the night (early morning, actually) scared out of mind, waiting for **!!spoiler alert, stop reading here if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie and have plans to now** …a shambling, undead, murderous toddler wielding a scalpel.  No wonder King found the manuscript so horrifying he almost didn’t finish it!  Very few books have affected me like that, and for the rest of the night, my lights stayed on and every creak in our old home had me watching the bedroom doorknob, waiting for it to slowly open.

Book:  Red Dragon.  The precursor to Silence of the Lambs, also by Thomas Harris.  This is likely to sound twisted, but this book was actually recommended to me by my father, who instilled a love of reading in me early and knew that like himself, I enjoyed a good adrenaline jolt as long as it was fictional.  I was probably about 14 or 15 when he asked if I’d read it, and he then told me it was the scariest book he’d ever read.  Obviously I had to run out and get it.  This is the book in which Harris introduces the now-iconic Dr. Hannibal Lector character.  But the more terrifying aspect of the book was the psychotic serial killer nicknamed “The Tooth Fairy” by the press.  More specifically, it was not only what he did to the families he murdered, but how he got inside their homes, and especially how he chose his victims.  **!!Spoiler alert ahead, I can’t remember when this is revealed in the book, but best to stop reading now if you don’t know**…As it turned out, the killer had a job developing film and movies, and he used this visual information to select families and learn layouts of the houses.  So, yeah, this scared me so much, I actually stopped having my pictures developed for a while, which was a major inconvenience.  When a fictional character makes you change your behavior, you know that book has made an impression!

Movie:  Jaws.  Based on the book by Peter Benchley, this movie released in 1975, so of course, the special effects aren’t really appreciated by younger generations.  Still, the fear of being grabbed and eaten alive by something unseen, under the water, is pretty much universal, so that alone is enough to seriously frighten most people.  And then there’s the way it was filmed, often from the shark’s point of view as it honed in on its victims, along with the terrifying score that accompanied the hunt.  Part of the horror is the randomness of the attacks—it can and does happen to kids and teens as well as adults in this movie—and it often happens right out in the bright sunshine, at a beautiful place usually associated with relaxation and family fun.  

This movie was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard, very close to where I live now, so if you’d like to see some of my photos of iconic movie spots, that post can be found here.  And I have to say, this movie is even scarier to me now, because Great White Sharks have become very commonplace off the Cape Cod shores since the seal population became protected and then exploded.  The last time I went Full Moon Paddling (a once-a-month nighttime kayak expedition I sometimes do), we were out in open water and something hit against the bottom of my kayak, setting me off balance for a moment with a hollow thump.  I’m sure, now, that it was just a sandbar, but at the time, in the almost complete darkness, my heart nearly exploded and I was certain I was about to be an evening snack.  So while I enjoy the nighttime paddles, I’m sticking to the lake and pond excursions for now.  Thanks, Jaws.

Movie:  The Blair Witch Project.  First of all, another horror film set near where I grew up—Burkittsville, Maryland, not far from where I spent a lot of time at our friends’ farm and where I set one of my own books.  So already, the proximity alone creeped me out.  But the even bigger part was that this movie was promoted as being ACTUAL “found footage”, all that remained after the three film students go missing--a brilliant marketing strategy that went "viral" and purposefully added confusion to the question of whether the movie was fact or fiction.  And it was very, very effective, at least in terms of scaring me.  First off, the three went into the remote woods of the Black Hills in search of the ghost of The Blair Witch, a woman accused of witchcraft and banished from the town.  During preliminary interviews, they had also heard horrific stories of a kidnapper who lived in the woods in the 1940s.  Soon the three are lost in these spooky woods, with no way to contact anyone for help, which is a fear most people can identify with.  When creepy things begin happening, all recorded on shaky, hand-held cameras which increase the tension, it’s like we’re watching these helpless people being stalked by some unseen, possibly supernatural entity, and it’s completely unnerving to say the least.  Similar to (and inspired by) early scenes in Jaws, this movie uses the viewers’ imaginations to fill in the predator’s image, and the “not knowing” gives our minds unlimited reign to conjure up something bone-chilling. 

When this movie came out, I was living in a house that backed to the woods, and after seeing it, if I had to go out at night to get my dog in, my heart would be racing, my ears straining for random snaps of twigs, my eyes searching the shadows for dark figures.  And I’ll never look at a pile of rocks or sticks again without a little ripple of unease.

So those are a few fictional stories that scared the daylights out of me!  I tend to aim more for spooky suspense in my own novels, but readers and reviewers have told me certain scenes gave them chills, which is exciting for an author who writes about hauntings to hear.  And since I am such a fan of ghost stories in particular, I’ve made previous lists of My Favorite Ghost Stories and My Favorite Ghost Movies, for more ideas to get your paranormal fix.  And if you have a book or movie that scared you, I want to hear about it!  Thanks for stopping by and happy reading/viewing.