Friday, December 25, 2015

New #Kindle? Try Steamy #Romance + Spooky #Suspense! #Ghost #Haunting #KU #KindleUnlimited

Anyone get new technology for the holidays?  This year, our phone upgrade went to our younger son, which means now both my kids have an iPhone 6, while I'm still messing around with my 4. But that's okay, because my free time is spent reading, and I've got my Kindle.  If you have a new one to fill up, check out my books below!  There's something for everyone: suspense, mystery, and romance fill the pages of all three.  And don't forget, it's free to download samples from Amazon to see what you might like!  The links are included in the colored font below.  Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

GULL HARBOR is most people's favorite--this title has been a #1 Kindle Bestseller on several occasions, as well as a Top Ten Reviewer Pick at MyShelf Reviews and a RomCon Reader's Crown Finalist.  A mixture of steamy romance and spooky suspense, this story follows psychic medium Claire Linden as she tries to rid a haunted house of a destructive spirit, while also unraveling the secrets Max Baron is keeping about their past.  A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...

SILVER LAKE is my debut title, recently purchased by a larger publisher and also a RomCon Finalist.  The premise of this story is a reunion between a group of former friends who became estranged when their friend Brandy vanished their senior year of high school.  Five years later, the group returns to a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the disappearance. Rain Anderson is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also anxious to reconcile with Jason Lansing, the man whose heart she broke.  As the paranormal activity escalates throughout the summer, it soon becomes clear Brandy's ghost has a message to share...and she's willing to put her friends in danger in order to expose the truth.  A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past...

DIVINE FALL is my Young Adult title, suitable for teenagers as well as adults who enjoy YA. This book recently won the Reader's Choice Award in the Young Adult Romance category from The Romance Reviews.  And it's only 99 cents right now!  As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan Reed is an outcast in both worlds. He'll risk his life to seek his revenge, but will he risk hers?  This title, filled with forbidden first love and supernatural secrets, has been recommended by reviewers for fans of Twilight and The Mortal Instruments.  Revenge, romance, and a rogue fallen angel...

GULL HARBOR...a #1 Kindle Bestseller

Sunday, December 20, 2015

History of St. Nick + Santa Claus -- #Christmas Traditions #Santa

I love doing posts about the origins of our holidays and the reasons we celebrate in certain ways or fear certain dates.  Some of my most popular posts have been on the Origin of HalloweenFinding Easter's DateThe Number 13, and Origins of Superstitions.

When my kids were younger, I taught Sunday fact, a passage from the Book of Genesis about the Nephilim, the offspring of male angels and human women, inspired my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  For years, I taught the class every week, and my favorite lessons touched on the historical and religious roots of our holidays.  The lesson on Saint Nicholas was obviously something I made sure we discussed every December.  While most people are familiar with the story of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, many are unaware of how a 4th century Bishop influenced the legend of Santa Claus.

Saint Nicholas, or Nikolaos of Myra, was a bishop in an ancient town in Lycia--now Demre, in the Antalya Province of Turkey.  One of his most well-known deeds involved giving unexpected gifts, one of which landed in a stocking.  In the story, Nicholas wanted to help three young girls, whose father had no money for their dowries.  At that point in history, such a fate would result in a life of prostitution. Not wanting to embarrass the poor father, Nicholas threw bags of gold coins through the windows.  In one version of the tale, the father laid in wait to discover who was doing this...and so instead of throwing the third bag through the window, Nicholas dropped it down the chimney, and it landed in a stocking hung to dry by the fire.

Sinterklaas rides
a white horse
The Dutch figure of Sinterklass is based upon Saint Nick, and he more resembles the white-bearded man in red we're all familiar with. In turn, our Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklass, and it's widely believed that he was introduced to North America around the time of the Revolutionary War, by inhabitants of New York City, which was once New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony.

Of course, many other sources have combined to shape both the modern-day image of Santa Claus and the various legends and traditions which have evolved (decorating trees, sleighs pulled by reindeer, winter feasts and festivals, etc.).  Those will be topics for another day and another blog!

I'm hoping my blog readers who celebrate Christmas have finished the gift-buying and food preparation that comes along with the holiday, and have some time to relax and enjoy the magic of the season.  And if you need a book to help you de-stress, check out one of my novels - each one is filled with romance, mystery, and suspense - something for everyone!  Also perfect as a last-minute gift, since all you need to send someone a Kindle copy is an email address.  Each one is less that the price of a card, and DIVINE FALL is only 99 cents right now!  The tabs at the top of the page will take you to the blurb for each book, but I've also included links below.  Happiest of holidays!

SILVER LAKE - A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past

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

DIVINE FALL - Romance, Revenge, and a Rogue Fallen Angel

Monday, December 14, 2015

#Free Cookies + Cocktails #Recipe Book! Holiday #Baking #TWRP

Every December, my publisher puts out a free gift--the annual "Holiday Garden Gourmet" Recipe Book.  In the fall, our marketing directer puts out the call for ideas for themes, and the authors of The Wild Rose Press vote.  This year, we came up with "Cookies and Cocktails"--the perfect combo for celebrating with family and friends this season (not to mention a few of my favorite things!).

Free Download!
The authors offer up with original recipes, often passed down through the family, and contribute to the book, which is then offered on our website as a free pdf download.  You can find it right here: Cookies and Cocktails.

While you're there, you can check out the offerings from previous years in our Free Reads section, as they are still available for download.  Last year's theme was quick and easy meals.  I've contributed every year since my first book came out, in 2012.  This year, I share my family's Holiday Rum Punch recipe.  Christmas brunch didn't feel complete without it, and my siblings even gave me a beautiful glass punch bowl as a wedding gift so I could continue the tradition.

A dangerous ghost & an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium
Claire Linden in Cape Cod's GULL HARBOR

And don't forget that reading is a healthy way to reduce stress, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the holidays.  My novels are a page-turning mix of haunting suspense and steamy romance, so consider downloading the #1 Kindle Bestseller GULL HARBOR for when you have a little downtime!  My other titles include SILVER LAKE and the Young Adult paranormal romance DIVINE FALL, with the new HAUNTED SOULS on the way.  Happy Holidays!

A good book and a glass of wine - bliss!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Guest Teaching a H.S. Creative Writing Class! #amwriting #HONY

Tomorrow is a big day!  Before Thanksgiving, I received an email from an ELA teacher at the local high school, asking if I'd like to come in as a guest speaker in his Creative Writing Class.  Of course I said yes--what an opportunity to share my passion for writing!  I've been teaching a course on Fiction Writing for the local community college for a while now, and my adult participants have all seemed to really enjoy it--but I have little experience creating a lesson plan for a single visit to a class of high school students.

The teacher and I exchanged emails until we worked out a topic for discussion: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which is something I spend quite a bit of time on in my own class.  But with the time constraints, we needed to come up with some short examples to analyze after the lecture.  We tossed around a few ideas, and then I hit on something I hope will be engaging, interesting, and effective: two Greek myths full of drama, action, and tragedy.  Once I review the concepts of GMC, we will work as a group to build the GMC charts for several of the characters in each myth.

Then the teacher came up with a great idea for an accompanying exercise for the students after the discussion.  They're going to break into groups and visit the amazing Humans of New York site (HONY).  Many of the stories that accompany the photos reveal the subject's struggle--and often, in the longer stories, it is possible to discern the very real elements of GMC that people face every day.  Students will pick one of the photos and tell us about that person in terms of their goal (what they hope for or dream of), their motivation (why they want this), and the conflict (what they will have to overcome to achieve their dream).  This should be a powerful discussion.

I truly hope the class finds the lesson useful and educational.  And in an odd twist, I discovered that the Beta reader I worked with for DIVINE FALL, my Young Adult Paranormal Romance, is in the class!  Since the protagonist in the book is a 16-year-old girl, and I am not, I contacted the school's volunteer office a few years ago to see if anyone was interested in taking on the project.  So I will get to thank her personally once again, and perhaps motivate some other aspiring writers to become Beta readers in order to learn more about the process.

It is late and the class is early, so I need to get to bed.  Fingers crossed for a great class tomorrow.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

DIVINE FALL is up for the Red Carpet Award! #YA #angels #romance

Over the summer, DIVINE FALL received a fabulous 4.5 star review from BTS eMag, calling it a "delicious YA filled with love, rich in history, suspense, and enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages".  The reviewer also said it was perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series, which had me grinning ear to ear.

Books the receive high reviews in their magazine automatically get nominated for their Red Carpet Book Awards, which is very exciting!  I'll admit, with the voting period over our crazy Thanksgiving travels, I'm way behind on asking people to vote.  But I'd still love to get a few before the voting closes on December 8th.

So if you have time for one click -- no sign in, no registration -- I'd appreciate it!  The voting link is HERE, and Divine Fall is a little less than halfway down.  Thank you!  And if you want to give it a read, it's currently only 99 cents - less than a cup of coffee for hours of entertainment involving forbidden first love and supernatural secrets.  Find it on Kindle here and the blurb and other retailers here.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Signed Books Make Great Gifts! #shopsmall #SmallBusinessSaturday

Looking for a unique gift for the readers on your list?  A signed and personalized paperback is the way to go!  I send out some by request every year, so if you'd like to support a small business and give someone hours of entertainment while introducing them to a new author, send me an email at and we will get your order in.  I combine shipping for multiple books ordered!

GULL HARBOR is most people's favorite, as well as the least expensive, priced at $12.99 for a paperback.  This title has also been a #1 Kindle Bestseller on several occasions, as well as a Top Ten Reviewer Pick at MyShelf Reviews and a RomCon Reader's Crown Finalist.  A mixture of steamy romance and spooky suspense, this story follows psychic medium Claire Linden as she tries to rid a haunted house of a destructive spirit, while also unraveling the secrets Max Baron is keeping about their past.  A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...

Read the blurb: GULL HARBOR
$12.99 + $3 shipping

SILVER LAKE is my debut title, recently purchased by a larger publisher and also a RomCon Finalist.  The premise of this story is a reunion between a group of former friends who became estranged when their friend Brandy vanished their senior year of high school.  Five years later, the group returns to a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the disappearance.  Rain Anderson is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also anxious to reconcile with Jason Lansing, the man whose heart she broke.  As the paranormal activity escalates throughout the summer, it soon becomes clear Brandy's ghost has a message to share...and she's willing to put her friends in danger in order to expose the truth.  A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past...

Read the blurb: SILVER LAKE
$13.99 + $3 shipping

DIVINE FALL is my Young Adult title, suitable for teenagers as well as adults who enjoy YA. This book recently won the Reader's Choice Award in the Young Adult Romance category from The Romance Reviews.  As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan Reed is an outcast in both worlds.  He'll risk his life to seek his revenge, but will he risk hers?  This title, filled with forbidden first love and supernatural secrets, has been recommended by reviewers for fans of Twilight and The Mortal Instruments.  Revenge, romance, and a rogue fallen angel...

Read the blurb: DIVINE FALL
$15.99 + $3 shipping

Saturday, November 21, 2015

SILVER LAKE is on the #Amazon 50 #Kindle Book Deals List! #Romance #Ghosts #Kindledeals

In August, I announced the exciting news that the electronic rights to my debut novel, SILVER LAKE, had been sold to Amazon Publishing's Encore imprint.  This reunion romance/ghost story is now exclusive to Kindle as an e-book, and has also been entered into the Kindle Unlimited program.  This has been really great for increasing the visibility of this title, and November brought another nice surprise--Amazon put Silver Lake on sale and added it to its "50 Kindle Book Deals for $2 Each" list for the entire month!

It will be half-price at $2 until November 30th, but grab your copy now to ensure you have a page-turning mix of second-chance romance and spooky suspense for your holiday reading! Shopping, traveling, entertaining, and visiting with family can all be stressful at times, and reading is a proven load up your Kindle now with November's Kindle Deals and make sure you factor in some time to sit back and get lost in a book.  Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

DIVINE FALL won The #Romance Reviews Award! #YA #Angels #horses

I was thrilled when my YA paranormal romance DIVINE FALL made it through the nomination rounds for the Reader's Choice Award over at The Romance Reviews site.  Fifty votes were needed to advance into the final round...a voting period that lasted almost the entire month of October, one of my busiest months in terms of promotion since I write what can best be described as "paranormal romantic suspense"--romance mixed with a haunting mystery or supernatural secrets, which are especially popular during the Halloween season.  But I tried to remind my readers to vote as I scrambled to keep up with other commitments.  And then this week I received some exciting news--my book won the Young Adult Romance category!

Most of my books are considered cross-genre, and this one is no exception.  It's classified as "YA Paranormal Romance", but the tag line I use is "Forbidden First Love and Supernatural Secrets". A reviewer at BTS Book Reviews used this quote: "This delicious YA novel was filled with love, rich in history, suspense, and enough twists to keep the reader turning the pages." This reviewer's 4.5 star write-up actually put Divine Fall into the BTS Book Review's nominations for their Red Carpet Award.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

While my books always involve romance, I do try to mix in plenty of conflict, tension, and mystery, as well as enough details about the setting to make the reader feel like he or she is right there.  This novel is set in a fictional town, Huntsville, Maryland, close to where I grew up.  The rural town is located in the very real Frederick County, near the very real Monocacy National Battlefield, site of the Civil War Battle that "saved Washington, D.C.".  As a kid, I spent a great deal of time at the huge farm owned by good friends of the family, and their little girl and I whiled away countless hours riding the horses, playing with the barn cats up in the hayloft, throwing sticks for all the dogs that roamed the property, and exploring the surrounding woods.  These wonderful memories inspired "Fox Run", the barn where Jamie boards her horse Beau, and where the mysterious Dothan Reed works as a new stable hand.

If you'd like to give this book a try, it's only 99 cents on Kindle and Nook!  All links to retailers are in the colored links above or on this page ~ DIVINE FALL.  Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Writing Inspiration ~ #amwriting #Nanowrimo

photo (1)Last November, I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time ever, and while I didn't finish a complete manuscript in one month, I did "win" in terms of word count.  By February, I had typed "the end" to my fourth novel, and now Haunted Souls is awaiting a release date.  I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, as I've branched out into teaching writing classes as well, and to say I'm over-scheduled at the moment would be a tremendous understatement.  But I wanted to cheer on all the writers working on getting their daily word count in by posting the inspirational quote I keep on my keyboard.  And if your fingers need a break and you care to read the story behind the quote, I've included it below.  The original post first appeared as one of my contributions to The Pearls of Writing Wisdom ~ a blog co-written by ten published authors dedicated to sharing weekly writing tips on Tuesdays and inspiration on Fridays.
The quote taped to my keyboard came to me in a fortune cookie on New Year's Eve in 2010. It seemed appropriate for what I was feeling, since my resolution was to begin sending out queries for my first manuscript, Silver Lake.
Real courage is moving forward when the outcome is uncertain. - Michael Angier

Now, I'm not comparing writing to the kind of courage it takes to go into battle to defend your country or something like that.  But it does take courage to go after your dreams, especially when the dream is as big as writing a novel and getting it published.  It's easy to say "Someday, I'm going to write that novel." It's much harder to actually do it.  Even once those first words get typed, there's no guarantee your energy and inspiration will hold out until you get to "The End". A writer pours blood, sweat, tears, caffeine, and days spent in pajamas into a manuscript, and the outcome IS uncertain.  Will it all come together?

But if you don't start, you definitely won't finish.  And if you don't send queries out and risk rejection, you won't find a publisher willing to back your story. Putting your creation out there is nerve-wracking at best.  I knew I was about to enter a very unpleasant stage of the process for most writers.  And there was no guarantee that if I stuck with it, my novel would find a home.

I weathered the rejections.  I rewrote and made cuts.  I tried again.  I began receiving full requests, and then an R&R (a request to Revise and Resubmit) - with suggestions on what needed to be fixed.  Again, no guarantees, but I did the work.

And the day that contract offer came for my debut novel was one of the best days of my life.  December 16, 2011, almost a year after I opened that cookie and found the words of encouragement that remind me daily not to give up.

Keep at it, writers!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Same Costume, 9 Yrs. Later - #Halloween #JackSparrow #PiratesoftheCaribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean was always one of my favorite Disney rides, and the movie based on the theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean ~ Curse of the Black Pearl, came out in June of 2003.  At the time, I had a one-and-a-half-year-old son and a four-and-a-half-year-old son, so it's safe to say I probably never saw it in the theaters.  But somehow by the time my younger son was almost four, we owned the DVD and it seemed to be playing constantly in our house, much like Frozen is today at my sister's.  To be honest, I think I loved the movie more than my favorite form of entertainment combines forbidden romance with some supernatural mystery and danger--that is the mix that inspires the books I write.  So I was just fine with the fact that I knew many of the lines by heart.  In fact, my kids decided the necklace I wore (a silver heart) was our "medallion", and we played pirates quite a bit.

So it was no surprise when my younger son decided he wanted to be Captain Jack Sparrow for Halloween in 2006, when the movie alternated with the latest Star Wars film on a seemingly endless loop on our television.  While I'm not particularly crafty, I decided I could make a convincing costume for him, and I set about stringing beads, buying fabric, and sewing, gluing, and pinning things together.  I loved the costume and I still think it's the best one I ever "made".

Nine years later, I pulled the old DVD out because I assigned it to my writing class for homework. Yes, that's right, they had to watch a movie--this one is a good exercise in Goal, Motivation, and Conflict for the characters.  My son found me watching it and settled in.  By the time it was over, he had decided what he wanted to be for this Halloween--Captain Jack Sparrow, again.

I'm fairly organized, and those old pirate accessories I made were still packed in our costume box.  Of course, he was much too big now for the shirt and vest.  He declared the plastic sword "too small" and insisted he needed the hat and dreadlocks this time.  But as a nod to the past, I was able to reuse the strings of beads from the headpiece, the sword belts, and the long red-and-white sash.

I couldn't resist snapping a picture in the same spot, all these years and feet and inches later, and making a little collage.  My heart twinges a bit at the incredible changes that have occurred in less than a decade--where does the time go?  But the memories make me smile, and my teenage boy is still the sweet kid he was in pre-school.  Just another reminder to enjoy every second!

Captain Jack Sparrow - 2006/2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ghost #Suspense + Steamy #Romance for Haunted #Halloween Reading! #Kindle #paranormal

It's my favorite time of year!  All the spooky stuff is highlighted this month, and I love to get a shiver up my spine...especially when it's combined with some steamy romance between star-crossed lovers.  Since that's what I like to read, that's what I write...I have two ghost story/romance novels out now, with a third on the way.

In SILVER LAKE, a group of former high school friends agree to reunite in a final attempt to solve the five-year-old mystery of their friend Brandy's disappearance.  Rain Anderson is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also anxious to try to reconcile with Jason Lansing, the man whose heart she broke back in high school.  As the paranormal activity in the lake house escalates throughout the summer, it soon becomes clear that Brandy's ghost has a message to share...and she's desperate enough to put her friends in danger in order to expose the truth.

GULL HARBOR is a #1 Kindle Bestseller set on Cape Cod.  Claire Linden arrives in the coastal town of Gull Harbor ready to take on an aggressive ghost.  Now that she's embraced her gift as a medium, she's confident she'll be able to rid her temporary summer home of the restless spirit that drove the owners of the house to hire her.  However, she never expects to also encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then disappeared suddenly from her life five years ago without a hint of an explanation.  As Claire begins to unravel the truth behind the haunting, Max is forced to share his secret in order to stay close enough to her to try to protect her from a danger that extends even beyond the paranormal.

Click the colored links to take you to each book's Amazon Kindle page to read more.  Longer blurbs and more ebook format links are also available under the title tabs above.  Grab your copies now and settle in for some suspenseful and steamy entertainment just in time for Halloween...Happy Haunted Reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

History of Superstitions ~ #Paranormal Postings #Halloween #Ghosts

Some of my most popular posts have discussed the origins of certain superstitions--specifically, ones that are considered bad luck.  A superstition is a long-held belief or behavior with no rational basis.  As a fan of all things spooky, I like to research the history behind the more sinister superstitions we hold, especially around Halloween.

I love (and rescue) black cats, so it's safe to say I don't believe I'm in trouble if they cross my path.  There are many reasons black cats came to be associated with magic, witchcraft, and the occult, and I've gone into further detail in this post.

Another "unlucky" symbol I can't accept (because it's the date of my birth) is the number 13.  There are a whole host of reasons for the fear of this number, many of them stemming from different religions.  I take a deeper look into Triskaidekaphobia in this post.

I thought I'd research a few more well known "causes" of bad luck for my October Paranormal Postings series.  Many of these superstitions date back to ancient times, so tracing the exact sources can be tricky.  Sometimes several factors seem to combine to create the belief or behavior.

One example is the belief that walking under a ladder brings bad luck.  One theory is that this dates back to ancient Egypt, where triangles were considered sacred (think pyramids).  A ladder propped against a wall forms a triangle; walking through would desecrate the triangle.  The Christian religion, with its concept of the Holy Trinity, also contributed to the idea that violating a triangle would be unlucky.  Finally, some sources point to the use of ladders in the gallows.  To walk under the ladder was to be caught in the hangman's line of vision.

Do you cringe if you spill the salt?  At one time, salt was a very valuable commodity, so spilling salt could have indeed been truly unlucky.  If you consider our word "salary" comes from the Latin word "salarium", which means salt cellar, the value of salt throughout history becomes even more evident.

Another explanation involves the Last Supper, during which Judas Iscariot--the betrayer of Jesus--apparently spilled the salt.  In the painting The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Judas is the second to the left of Jesus; his hand is clutched around a bag (of silver, most likely), and his arm has knocked over a cellar of salt.  You can better see the detail in this copy of the painting.  Judas is the only one with his elbow on the table; the spilled salt is near his wrist.

Da Vinci's Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli   Attribution: Alberto Fernandez Fernandez, Wikimedia Commons

The way to possibly ward off the bad luck associated with spilled salt is to scoop some up and throw it over your left shoulder, into the Devil's eyes.  This stems from a belief that the Devil stands behind a person's left shoulder.

Breaking a mirror is said to carry a whole seven years of bad luck.  I don't put a lot of stock into most superstitions, but I admit the thought of breaking a mirror makes me nervous.  Like salt, mirrors held a great deal of value at one time--they were both expensive and rare.  Breaking one was a loss, and the guilty party might well be considered rightfully unlucky.  Another explanation goes back to the idea that a person's soul is revealed in their reflection; breaking a mirror would then equate to breaking one's soul.

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out my post on the Origins of Halloween as well.  Please note that the giveaway associated with that post is over, but I will have plenty more coming as I prepare for the release of HAUNTED SOULS!

An ex-boyfriend and
a dangerous ghost await
Claire in GULL HARBOR 
If you like some steamy romance mixed with things that go bump in the night...try my ghost stories SILVER LAKE and the #1 Kindle Bestseller GULL HARBOR.  My new YA Paranormal Romance involves supernatural secrets and forbidden love - check out DIVINE FALL as well.

Happy haunted reading!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

DIVINE FALL made the "Perfect #Books for Autumn" List! #amreading #Kindle #romance

Revenge, Romance, &
a Rogue Fallen Angel...
The publishing industry is not an easy should come with a warning label.  And lately, I've had to deal with some of the toughest choices in my career.  I'm a big ball of stress, and it's not fun.  But then something happened to brighten my week - one of my readers sent me a link on Facebook.  "Divine Fall is on the list!" it said.

What list? I wondered as my stomach flipped.  But the title read "14 Perfect Books to Get You in the Mood for Autumn" and the site was the very prestigious I figured it couldn't be a bad thing.  And it wasn't.  In fact, it was so unbelievable, I found myself stunned.  Because this list, compiled by the very respectable Bookbub site, includes novels penned by Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, Sarah Addison Allen, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Lowell...and Diane Setterfield, author of one of my all-time spooky favorites, The Thirteenth Tale.  The list goes on, with New York Times Bestsellers, USA Today Bestsellers, award winners, and books with cover quotes from Stephen King.  And then there's my YA Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL, sitting right in the middle.  It's no major bestseller, for sure...but it's had some highlights: one of five finalists for 2015 RomCon Reader's Crown, a reviewer pick for BTS Review's 2015 Red Carpet Award, a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Review's 2015 Best Kindle Book Awards.

At the moment, it's up for the Reader's Choice Award in Young Adult Romance at The Romance Reviews.  With everything that's happened this month, I haven't had as much time as I'd like to ask readers for votes.  But it's easy to sign in via Facebook and click the Vote Now link once you're in!  I truly appreciate each and every vote.  Even if I don't win, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the mystery of having my book on a Bookbub list with amazing authors I could only dream of meeting someday.

And if you haven't read it yet, the Halloween season is the perfect time for some supernatural secrets mixed with forbidden first love.  The best part is the price - 99c on Kindle and Nook!  So treat yourself to a "perfect autumn read" and send me your thoughts for other great fall reads...because losing myself in a page-turning read is the best stress reducer I can think of!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

#TWD is Back! Some #Zombie History to Get Ready #TheWalkingDead

I am so excited for the return of The Walking Dead!  I'm a huge fan of all things paranormal, and October is the perfect month to celebrate the spooky.  So to get ready for Sunday's premier, I did some research on the history of zombies.

I deal with the supernatural every day, at least in my imagination.  Several of my books, while romance, also revolve around 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'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 more recent movie)  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 #1 Kindle Bestsellers 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 ~ and October is the perfect month for that!  

PS - SILVER LAKE is FREE on Kindle if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Take an #amwriting break to vote! #Romance Awards #YA #Paranormal

Writing is such a labor of much goes into a book: creativity, energy, time, blood, sweat, tears, occasional break-downs, days you forget to bathe, etc.  So it's exciting when a good piece of news arrives in this very tough industry.  And I got some this week - my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL is up for a Reader's Choice Award at The Romance Reviews website!

I'd love your vote if you have a minute - it's easy to sign in via Facebook or Twitter, and it's a very safe site.  All you have to do is click the blue box above the book cover here on this page, once you've signed in: Divine Fall Vote.  And if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, the good news is you can get it for only 99 cents!  October is the perfect month for paranormal, so immerse yourself in forbidden first love and supernatural secrets for less than a latte...and check out all the great books up for awards at The Romance Reviews.  And a HUGE thank you for voting!

As the last remaining Nephilim, he's an outcast in both worlds.
He'll risk his life to seek his revenge...but will he risk hers?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ready to Write? Fiction Class #Plymouth #CapeCod #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

My "Fiction Writing and Publication" course is coming to Plymouth, MA, this fall!  In this 6-week class, we'll meet on Tuesday evenings beginning September 29th, 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.  And if you're considering trying NaNoWriMo, we'll finish up right in time!  Follow the link for registration info: Cape Cod Community College Plymouth Schedule.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Visiting Cuttyhunk Island ~ #Cuttyhunk #CapeCod #vacation

Living on beautiful Cape Cod comes with a lot of summer house guests, and I wrote a post last year on some of our favorite places to take our visiting friends and family.  Since then, we discovered another amazing location within an hour's journey.  It's not a particularly easy place to get to, which surely lends to the mystique and charm.  But it was on my bucket list, so we set up a plan with our neighbors to explore Cuttyhunk Island one day when the seas were calm.

Approaching Cuttyhunk
Cuttyhunk is the very last island in the chain of the Elizabeth Islands, which extend from Woods Hole at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod.  The Elizabeth Islands consist of: Nonamesset, Veckatimest, Uncatena, Naushon, Weepecket Islands, Pasque, Nashawena, Penikese, and Cuttyhunk.  All of these islands, with the exception of Penikese and Cuttyhunk, are privately owned by the Forbes family.  Penikese, the past site of Massachusetts's only leper colony, is now a bird sanctuary with no permanent inhabitants. Cuttyhunk is more accessible to visitors; but just because it's open to the public does not mean it's an easy exit off a turnpike!  You either need a private boat--and somewhere to tie up--or a ticket for the one ferry service out of New Bedford.

We had the boat part covered, and thanks to one of our friend's connections, we secured both a place to tie up and a golf cart, which is how most people get around the island.  We did not see many cars.  It truly felt like being in a different world.  About 86 people live on Cuttyhunk year round (that number swells to 400 in the summer), and at the time of our visit, the one-room school house only had 2 students enrolled - a pair of siblings.

Old Coast Guard Station
On our way in, we passed an old Coast Guard station, which I had to take a picture of, since my hubby was an officer in the Coast Guard.  The station has not been active since 1964, but there are still a few signs of military presence on the island.  Lookout Hill is the highest point of the island (154 feet above sea level), and it was home to one of the six defensive bunkers built by the Coast Guard in 1941 to watch the surrounding seas for Nazi U-boats.

Once we'd tied the boat off, we got our first look at the "Fish Dock", an adorable little boardwalk with a few shops dedicated to food or fishing.  There's actually only one "store" on the island, which we visited, plus another tiny indoor/outdoor boutique where I bought an old bottle that had washed up from the ocean.  Supplies and mail come in from the New Bedford ferry trips, and in many ways, that's the lifeline to the mainland.  There is no doctor on the island.  One church serves all religions, with time slots set up to accommodate all.

The Fish Dock
On the same street as the church, you'll find the Cuttyhunk Historical Society and Museum of the Elizabeth Islands, a treasure trove of information staffed with friendly volunteers.  A large part of the exhibit is dedicated to the history of the Cuttyhunk Club, an exclusive fishing club formed in 1864 by wealthy and powerful men from New York, who purchased a large portion of the island. The Cuttyhunk Fishing Club is now a tranquil Bed and Breakfast with eight guest rooms.

There are three beaches on Cuttyhunk: Barges Beach, The Channel Beach, and Church's Beach.  We got to see all three, courtesy of our borrowed golf cart.  We also brought our lunch up to Lookout Hill, which offers picnic benches along with a stunning view of the island and the surrounding water.

A view from Lookout Hill

It was such a memorable day, and a fascinating peek at life on a remote island paradise. Someday we hope to go back and stay for a few days.  If you ever have a chance to visit, it is worth the effort!  And until then, if you'd like to visit Cape Cod through the pages of a book, GULL HARBOR will bring you to our sandy shores as psychic medium Claire Linden struggles to unravel a mysterious haunting...and deal with the sudden appearance of her ex-boyfriend, who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her on graduation day without a hint of an explanation.  Steamy romance and spooky suspense combine to make it a page-turning read...and right now, this #1 Kindle Bestseller is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time!  Grab your copy, put up your feet, and come to the beach.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday #Fitness - 7 Day Detox Challenge #nutrition #health

While I usually cover topics pertaining to my writing career on this blog, occasionally on Fridays I dedicate a post to fitness, my other passion.  I've been a group exercise instructor and personal trainer for 25 years, and along with that comes an interest in eating healthy in order to fuel my body.  But of course, eating healthy isn't always fun--it isn't even always possible--and I allow my cravings to get the better of me more than I care to admit.  So when the head trainer at our gym suggested a (voluntary) 7-day "detox" for employees and members interested in cleansing their system after summer indulgences, I decided to join in.  Misery loves company, after all, and at least this way I would have the support of a group!

Then I saw the instructions:  (side note:*I am not a doctor--check with one before a cleanse*)

• No alcohol
• No added sugar of any kind (includes anything that ends in “ose”, agave ,honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners such as stevia and truvia)
• No dairy (includes whey protein)
• No grains or gluten (includes bread, rice, wheat, oats or gluten free snack foods)
• No canola oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
• No legumes (any beans or peanuts or peanut butter)
* Only healthy fats, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil

* Try and eat foods that are antibiotic-free, organic, wild caught, and grass-fed
* Fruit is allowed
* A gallon of water a day

I admit, I balked a bit.  It's so restrictive!  But we all told ourselves we could do anything for 7 days, and I'm proud to say that today is Day 5, and aside from breaking down and pouring some skim milk in my coffee, I've stayed strong.  It was especially hard on Tuesday, when we found out my son's mysterious fever was in fact mononucleosis, and he would not be able to play soccer for weeks, which was a huge blow for him.  I was so upset I could not fall asleep, and the little voice in my head suggested I go get a glass of wine.  But I resisted, and while I will admit the first few days of this detox made me feel horrible (apparently that's a normal response as the body cleanses itself), I do feel much better now.  And once I get to Day 7, I know I'll add things back with a greater attention to ingredients and nutritional value.

So what did I eat?  Here are some of the things I've relied on to get through this:      

I made an egg bake to eat all week for breakfast: - greased a casserole pan with coconut oil, mixed eggs, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes and baked until firm.  Would have been better with cheese but all in all it was not bad.

To have a snack ready to heat up, I made a casserole of roasted veggies: eggplants, sweet potatoes, red onions, and butternut squash, tosssed with olive oil and rosemary.  Quite delicious!

I had bags of salad ready to go, which I garnished with black olives, chicken strips, and sesame seeds or almond slivers.  Olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Since mayo was not allowed, I mixed drained tuna with avocado.  Really good, if you can get past the green color!

I made plain ground turkey and mixed it with fresh salsa, with carrot sticks and cucumbers dipped in fresh guacamole as a side.

Stir-fry became a staple, and I did lots of chicken, peapods, peppers, and mushrooms in sesame oil.

For snacks, I did almond butter on apple slices, deli turkey wrapped around dill pickles, assorted nuts, and fresh fruit smoothies.  And lots and lots of water, per the guide!

I'm glad I've stuck with it in order to give my body a chance to get rid of the toxins it absorbed over a very busy and fun summer!  But I'll admit I'm looking forward to that first glass of least it's a natural product, right?  Two days to go!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lunch with the Authors of #TWRP! #amwriting #romance #suspense

Now that school has started for us here on Cape Cod, I've had a moment to a) breathe and b) reflect on how quickly our summer passed!  First, due to a long series of terrible blizzards here this winter, the last day of school stretched until the very end of June.  My youngest son promptly left for a 3-week science and technology sleepaway camp, which required quite a bit of supply-gathering and transportation issues on the weekends, when the Cape is at its busiest.  After that, the entire family left for a 10-day road trip, during which we found ourselves visiting 4 states plus the District of Columbia, not to mention the 8-hour drive just to get to our friends and family.  I taught my Fiction Writing and Publication Class for Cape Cod Community College in Hyannis. My debut novel, SILVER LAKE, was purchased by Amazon's Encore Imprint and re-released in August, and I organized an all-day Facebook party with 16 fabulous authors from The Wild Rose Press whose books also were also acquired by Encore.  I also had to show up for my job teaching fitness classes every day, with enough energy to jump around, or enough caffeine to fake it.

Group photo after lunch...hope to meet many more of our
talented authors in person in the future!
So I've been so busy, I haven't even had a chance to write about another big highlight of my summer.  Every August, the Cape Cod Writers Conference takes place in Hyannis. I could not attend--yet another event, the commissioning of the impressive Coast Guard Cutter Joshua James in Boston--but I was especially sorry to miss it this year, as the President and Editor-in-Chief of my publishing house, The Wild Rose Press, was there as a presenter.  Luckily, TWRP author Kevin Symmons put together a luncheon later in the week for all local TWRP authors to attend.  We had a lively group, with people traveling quite a ways to meet up!  There was much laughter and networking and it was a fantastic day.  After years of interacting with many fantastic and supportive "Roses" online for years, it was wonderful to connect face-to-face. Hope everyone else had a fabulous and possibly less-hectic summer than I did...looking forward to my favorite season now, autumn...colorful leaves, crisp nights, and a certain October event that celebrates all things spooky and paranormal!

And if you'd like to visit Cape Cod while enjoying some steamy romance and haunting suspense, add GULL HARBOR to your reading list!  This TWRP title has been a #1 Kindle Bestseller on 3 separate occasions!  A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic Claire Linden in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...  Happy Reading :)

The orange banner made it a
very exciting day for this author!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Pearls of Writing Wisdom #writingtips #amwriting

I'm part of a great new blog dedicated to providing writing tips and inspiration twice a week!  Nine authors from my agency take turns posting - on "Writing Tip Tuesday" and "Friday Inspiration". We write in a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone here - please join us by following our blog, The Pearls of Writing Wisdom, and Like our Facebook page too!

Today's post is by yours truly, on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict charts (GMC).  The green bolded title is the link to the post, so please stop by an comment...I'd love to hear from you! Happy Writing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hurry! #99c SALE Steamy #Romance + Haunting #Suspense! #ghosts #Kindledeals

Final days!  GULL HARBOR, a #1 Kindle Bestseller, is on sale for 99c on Kindle and Nook! Claire Linden arrives in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor ready to take on an aggressive ghost.  Now that she's embraced her gift as a medium, she's confident she can rid her temporary summer home of the desperate spirit that drove the house's owners to hire her.  But she never expects to also encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation five years ago...

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire...

A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past...

Also check out SILVER LAKE, re-released last week from Amazon's Encore Imprint.  Five years after Brandy vanished during senior year of high school, a group of former friends agree to reunite at a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance.  Rain is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also hoping to find forgiveness from Jason, the man whose heart she broke when she made the wrong choice. Will Rain and Jason get a second chance at first love before a desperate ghost tears them apart again...forever?

(Silver Lake is also available on Kindle Unlimited!) Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

All Day #Romance Party #giveaway! #giftcards #prizes #raffle #amreading

Mark your calendar!  You're invited to an all-day event featuring 12 romance authors, plus additional author guests, all giving away prizes, free reads, and giftcards throughout the day on Tuesday, August 25th.  Best part?  It's a virtual party, on Facebook, so you can attend wearing anything, from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.  The fun begins at 11:00 am Eastern Time, and wraps up at 8:00 pm.  Anytime from the start to about a half hour after the ending, you can stop by and enter the prize raffles at your leisure!  But if you have time, try to visit throughout the day for more chances to win, plus the opportunity to chat with authors and find some great new reads!

All genres of romance will be represented: historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, western, etc.  The featured titles have all been purchased by Amazon's traditional publishing house for the Encore Imprint, which re-releases previously published successful books with new marketing.  So we are celebrating!  Here's the link to join the party - click and hit "Join", and invite some friends!

Now, I get to go shopping for some prizes to give away!  Hope to see you there :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#99c SALE! Steamy #Romance + Haunting #Suspense ~ a #Kindle Bestseller!

I have a busy week ahead!  Friday kicks off a 99c SALE on GULL HARBOR...have you read it yet?  If not, grab it while it's discounted!  A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend with secrets await psychic medium Claire Linden in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...

Amazon Link           B&N Link

If you enjoy Gull Harbor, you may want to Pre-order SILVER LAKE on Kindle - this title is re-releasing from Amazon's Encore imprint and it will be downloaded to you automatically on 8/25...Will Rain and Jason get a second chance a first love before a desperate spirit tears them apart again...forever?

                       Amazon Link

To celebrate the re-release of Silver Lake, I've teamed up with 12 other authors whose novels are also re-releasing on Tuesday...we're having a virtual party on FaceBook from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.  Click the link below and "Join" the party, and even invite some friends, because prizes will be offered ALL DAY LONG!  Gift cards, jewelry, e books, print books, etc.  Plus chat with authors and discover new great reads!  You can stop by any time during the day and join the fun and enter to win the prizes:

Hope to see you there - Happy Reading!