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!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Steamy #Romance + Spooky Suspense for Valentine's Day! #ValentinesDay

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend
await Claire Linden in Cape Cod's
Need a super-easy gift for your Valentine (or for yourself)? Send an ebook!  For less than the price of a card, you get hours of enjoyment...experience the emotional roller coaster of falling in love, along with the spine-tingling suspense of a haunting mystery.  Both SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR combine the elements of a second-chance romance between first loves, a spooky ghost story, and a sultry summertime setting--an added bonus in February, if you happen to be buried under two feet of snow like those of us in New England!

Sending an ebook as a gift is easy on Amazon--you just click the books link (see the bolded titles above), go over to the yellow "give as a gift" box on the right side of the page, and fill in your recipient's email address.  Then you can include a personal "Happy Valentine's Day" note if you wish, and you're done!

Can Jason protect Rain from a
ghost determined to expose the truth?
Former friends and sweethearts reunite at a
haunted lake house in SILVER LAKE...

Barnes and Nobel also has a similar "Buy as a Gift" option (to the right of the orange "Buy Now" button) if you need a Nook format!  Each book tab at the top of my blog has links for the different retailers.

So treat yourself--or your favorite reader--to a love story this Valentine's Day!  And then curl up by a warm fire and lose yourself in the passion, mystery, and suspense--Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

HAUNTED SOULS is Finished! #amwriting #romance + ghostly #suspense

Haunted Souls, like Gull Harbor,
is set on beautiful Cape Cod
Today, I typed the final sentence of HAUNTED SOULS, my fourth novel.  I'm still kind of in a daze...I wrote this novel very quickly.  It's now complete at 80,000 words, another steamy romance mixed with a suspenseful haunting, which is my favorite type of book to write (and read)!

I finished my first Young Adult novel, DIVINE FALL, in December of 2013.  Between edits for that book and author events for my other novels, I didn't have a lot of time or energy to work on anything else.  But I did have an idea brewing, and as writers know, eventually the characters and the story win out.  I did mountains of research, pages of timelines and character Goal-Motivation-Conflict charts, and managed 20,000 words before the summer release of Divine Fall.

A haunting mystery intertwines
with a reunion romance in
Haunted Souls
After that, I was toast.  New release promotion plus tons of events in October (a huge month for me, as all of my novels have a paranormal element) left me zero time for anything.  I didn't even buy a pumpkin until a few days before Halloween.  But all the time, those characters were relentlessly creating dialog in my head, and my mind was constantly spinning plot twists.  As busy as I was, I felt empty without a work-in-progress underway.  That file with 20,000 words entitled "Novel #4" stared at me from my desktop.

So, I decided to use the start of NaNoWriMo as inspiration.  I told myself when November 1st hit, I'd start writing again, full-force.  I had no expectations of finishing in one month--that's not the way I write. But it was great motivation and I managed about another 20,000 words--not bad for a month filled with my son's birthday and the Thanksgiving holiday.

Then, in December, I entered the first page of Haunted Souls into a contest, and it won an exclusive submission to a literary agent!  How's that for motivation?  But of course, agents can't do much with partial manuscripts.  I decided to wait to submit until I had it finished.

Now I knew I could do 20,000 words in a month.  And I did it--60K by the end of Dec., even during the crazy holiday rush!  A little over a month later--today, February 4th, I finished the last chapter, and it clocked in at 80,078.  I'd done another 20K in about 30 days.  Whew!

So, tonight is celebration time!  I'm going to crack open a bottle of champagne when my hubby gets home.  It almost feels like I'm returning to the land of reality, after submersing myself into my characters' world so deeply for so long.  Soon, I'll feel that familiar ache that comes with the story being over.  But tonight, I'm over the moon.

Tomorrow, I'll think about that dreaded synopsis...yep, tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Memories of Blizzards Past #blizzardof2015 #Snowmageddon2015

So far, here on Cape Cod, at my house anyway, we've been spared any major damage from Juno, also known as Stormageddon 2015.  We haven't lost power, just days of school and work. My husband is outside snowblowing, so I can't really say how he feels about the storm at the moment, but I've been happily typing away in my writing cave all day.  Coffee's hot, fire's burning, and my kids are entertained because we got friends over here to keep them company before we were snowed in.  So, yes, there are a few extra people in the house, but they're having fun.

Our tree took down
the entire neighborhood's
power and started a fire.
Since I started this blog in 2012, shortly after my first novel, SILVER LAKE, came out, I've written about a number of memorable storms and blizzards.  There was a Nor'Easter that hit us right after Hurricane Sandy did so much destruction further south.  This particular storm hit our area worse than Sandy had and also started a fire in our tree.  It also happened to be the day of my very first book discussion and signing at a local library--you can imagine how that turned out.

In December of 2013 there was the storm that hit while we were on a ski trip, contributing to a series of events which led to one of the most disastrous "vacations" we've ever had.  While I can laugh at most of the things that happened now (see: faceplant off the ski lift) and I've recovered the feeling in my finger (it took a year), that weekend did convince me to hang up my skis forever.  Seriously, I'm done.  No great loss for the skiing community--I was never very good.  So, actually, the mountains are a safer place with me inside the hotel room, writing novels or catching up on my own reading list.

Me shortly before I gave
myself a frostbitten finger
After this momentous decision, we chose to head south for February break in 2014.  But of course a huge blizzard rolled in the night before we were supposed to leave for Disney, adding an enormous amount of stress to the usual drama of going away for a week.  Would we be able to get to the airport?  Would our flight even still be scheduled?  Was it safe to leave the house with no power or heat in the middle of a blizzard? Would the poor kitty be okay in the cold?  And, if we didn't make it to Orlando, would any of the parks refund our money for the tickets and events we'd scheduled and paid for already?

But the one blizzard that sticks in my memory the most happened well before this blog existed--right after Christmas, in December of 2004.  My kids were 2 and 5.  We lost power for days, and with it heat and hot water.  Neither my husband or I had anything resembling a Smartphone, if they were even around then.  Since we have so many pets and the kids were so young, a hotel didn't seem like a good solution...not that any rooms would have been available anyway.  One night, we managed to drive to the YMCA, which had power, and we stayed there almost all evening--took the kids swimming, and finally took hot showers.  On the way home, we found an open store that actually had a few battery-powered lanterns left, so that was a big night.  Being thrown into total darkness at 4 pm each afternoon makes for very gloomy days.

But when our power finally returned, we learned the horrible news that had stunned the world: the Indian Ocean tsunami had decimated coastal areas across South Asia, killing 227,898 people.  It was the single worst tsunami in history, and the destruction was devastating.  The news coverage quickly put my perspective in order: we had been cold, smelly, and frustrated, but we were alive and well and safe in our home.  I felt terrible for every complaint I'd uttered during our storm.

So my hope is that no tragic consequences result from this historic blizzard of 2015.  Right now, the communities closer to the water are getting pummeled, and the news is reporting that Nantucket is "off the grid".  I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound good.  My thoughts are with everyone affected by Juno--stay warm and safe!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How Writing Has Changed My Reading #amwriting #amreading

Having undergone the rigorous journey of writing three novels (which always includes a number of rewrites, several attempts at creating intriguing query letters, the painful process of summarizing the stories into 3-page synopses, and--after that amazing contract offer--three additional rounds of edits to produce the final product), I now approach reading for pleasure in a whole new way.  I'm not sure it's better in terms of my enjoyment of my favorite hobby, but after everything I've learned about writing these past 7 years, I think my new frame of reference is here to stay.

A good book, warm covers, and
a glass of wine?  Nothing makes
me happier!
Reading has always been my passion, and I appreciate good stories in all genres.  That hasn't changed.  But when I was younger, I rarely gave up on a book.  I had it in my head that once begun, a book had to be finished.  This applied whether I was enjoying the book or not.  I can only remember one book that I simply had to give up on--Lady Chatterley's Lover.  After discovering a classic novel with a racy title like that, I assumed I was in for a great read.  But I found the writing dry and tedious; the characters boring and one-dimensional.  I have no idea if the sex scenes were of any interest--I simply couldn't go on with the book.  The fact that I remember this, twenty years later, tells me that I still feel a bit guilty for abandoning the story.

But twenty years ago, I did not have a husband, kids, pets, and a house.  I had plenty of time to read.  Now, my reading time is a precious commodity which I refuse to waste on something I don't love.  Once I combine that reality with the knowledge I've gained throughout the writing process, the guilt disappears.  If, after the first few chapters, I'm not looking forward to continuing the book, I don't.  Unless there's a very compelling reason to keep going, it's time for me to move on to the next one.  I want a book I can't wait to read once I finally have some down time; not one I have to slog through because of some imaginary obligation. (For some of my favorites, see my lists from 2012, 2013, and 2014)

There are a couple of things in particular that will make or break a book for me now.  First and foremost, I have to care about the characters.  I want to feel connected to them, to feel their emotions and root for their success.  If I don't care what happens to the main character, I lose interest fairly quickly, even if the plot seems promising.

One of the most useful things I learned when I began writing was the importance of getting the conflict out in the first 3 pages.  I worked very hard to actually get it onto the first page in both my novels--hopefully the reader is hooked and wants to read more.  When reading, I like to see this as well.  However, I don't necessarily give up on a book that takes me a while to "get into"--Outlander was one of my all-time favorite books, and I was definitely not hooked by the first chapter.  But in that case, enough people I trusted had recommended the series, and I'm so glad I kept going.

Point of view problems are another thing that I may not have noticed before writing my books--but now, they will pull me right out of the story.  Occasional head-hopping is sometimes necessary, especially in romance, and I'm okay with that.  It can be done seamlessly in a way that allows the reader to experience what both characters are feeling.  But omniscience bothers me.  If I'm connected to a character, experiencing events through him or her, and suddenly the narrator tells me something the character can't possibly know, I immediately cringe.  It doesn't mean I'll stop reading, but I do notice it, and it disrupts the flow of the story for me.

It's not just negative things that attract my attention.  When a writer uses a fresh, original metaphor or a wonderfully descriptive phrase, I'll read it over a few times with appreciation.  That's a good thing for a writer to note--but as a reader, it still slows me down and takes my focus from the story to the actual writing.  Not necessarily the best practice when reading for pleasure, but it's something I can no longer help.  Funny dialog, powerful sentences, clever segues into flashbacks: these are all things that grab my interest.  While picking up on these things may momentarily break my concentration, it can also serve as inspiration for my future writing endeavors...and that's a price I'm willing to pay.

If you need a good read with a first page that grabs you right away, try one of my books!  All contain a mix of romance, mystery, suspense, and supernatural secrets to keep the pages turning well into the night!