Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Nut Mix ~ #recipes Homemade Gift idea #Christmas

I am not a crafty person.  I'm creative, in terms of dreaming up plot twists and developing characters, but the closest I usually get to designing gorgeous gifts or beautiful centerpieces is adding pictures I love with instructions I know I can't follow to my Pinterest boards.  I'm in awe of people who have that kind of talent.

But I *can* follow simple recipes, and a few years ago, my sister-in-law, who always hosts Christmas with a dazzling display of gourmet food and stunning displays, served a nut mix that I just couldn't get enough of.  And hey, it's nuts--a good for you food, packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  Even with the seasoning, it's a better choice than baked goods filled with refined flour and sugar.

So I asked her for the recipe, and now, around the holidays, I make huge batches to send to friends and family.  It's both spicy and sweet, and--warning--highly addictive.  I buy cute jars with chalkboard labels to package them in, and I send them out to the people I won't be able to see over the holidays and to the people I want to thank for making my life easier throughout the year.  Here's her recipe, in case you want to try it:

Love these cute
chalkboard jars!

2 1/2 cups of assorted unsalted nuts - I used cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans

2 T fresh coarsely chopped rosemary - luckily, I have a rosemary plant on my patio!

1/2 t cayenne pepper - use less or leave out if you're adverse to spicy

2 t dark brown sugar

2 t sea salt

1 T melted (unsalted) butter

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Mix the remaining ingredients.  Toss the nuts with the mixture in a large bowl.

Yes, that easy!  Enjoy :)

And remember - reading is the ultimate stress-reliever, so if you need a good book to help de-stress during the holiday rush, try one of my romance/ghost mystery mixes...many of them have been #1 Kindle Bestsellers, and they offer hours of page-turning relaxation and entertainment.  Gull Harbor is everyone's favorite--arriving in Cape Cod, psychic medium Claire Linden is ready to try to rid her temporary home of a dangerous poltergeist...but she's stunned to find her ex-boyfriend, the man who once promised to love her forever, hiding out in the same small town.

A #1 Bestseller, a Top 10 Read at MyShelf Reviews, a Reader's Crown Finalist

Claire was such a popular character, she returns for a cameo in Haunted Souls, my most recent release...but the main characters have their own story that revolves around a soldier returning from combat to discover he has a son, and a desperate single mom trying to make things right as she confronts a haunting mystery.  

A #1 Bestseller, a Reader's Crown Finalist, an Amazon Encore selection

Silver Lake brings a group of former friends back together to try to solve the mystery of their friend's disappearance, after they begin to suspect she's trying to communicate from beyond the grave.  What really happened to Brandy?  (Read for free if you're a Kindle Unlimited member!)

And if you enjoy Young Adult novels and/or more traditional paranormal romance, try Divine Fall, a story about the world's last an outcast from both worlds, he'll risk his life to seek his revenge...but will he risk hers?  Relive first love and lose yourself in supernatural secrets and suspense! (Only 99c on Kindle!)

Winner of the Reader's Choice Award in Young Adult and a Reader's Crown Finalist

Look for the "Give as
a Gift" button on the left!
If you have readers on your list, you can also send an e-book as a thoughtful holiday gift for less than a card!  Happy reading and happy holidays!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Signing #Books in #Mashpee! Holiday Fair - Open House #CapeCod #Fitness Co.

As promised earlier in the week in my post on my local events, I'm doing a quick update on the Holiday Vendor Fair and Open House we're doing tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. the 9th, at the gym where I work (my day job, lol) - Fitness Company for Women on Rt. 130 in Mashpee.  While it's a women's gym, this event is open to ALL, men shopping for gifts, non-members, etc., so come on by if you're in the area!

I'll have my book table set up, and I can sign and personalize copies of any of my novels--a great and thoughtful gift, for yourself (we all deserve to de-stress during the holidays, and what better way that shutting the outside world down, putting your feet up, and getting lost in a page-turning story?) or for the readers on your list.  In particular, two of my romance/ghost stories are set on Cape Cod (GULL HARBOR is set in the Wellfleet area, HAUNTED SOULS in Barnstable Village), which is a nice local tie-in.  A little steamy and a little spooky...there's something for everyone!

Ahhh....bliss!  The best thing about reading is that you can't
think about anything else while you're doing it!  The only
multi-tasking needed is putting up your feet and sipping a beverage!

And if you're shopping for a younger reader, I do have one Young Adult book, DIVINE FALL...a traditional paranormal romance filled with forbidden love and supernatural secrets, appropriate for ages 13 and up.

Oak Blush
Another one of our gym employees also has another business (Cape Cod Nail Company) and she'll be setting up a table as well, raffling off packages and offering specials.  Her company is unique in that she will travel to YOU for group events (bridal parties, ladies night out, etc.).  And she recently started her own line of nail polish, which makes a perfect stocking stuffer!  The logo on the bottle features the familiar outline of the Cape, and the names are plays on our local spots and sayings ("Oak Blush" instead of Oak Bluffs, "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat", a nod to Jaws being filmed here on Martha's Vineyard as well as the recent influx of great white sharks in our waters!) 

We'll have other vendors as well, food and drink, membership specials, salon and massage specials, gift certificates, and raffles, with proceeds going to Toy for Tots.  

11:00 - 3:00 at The Fitness Company!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Signing #Books in #Falmouth! Holiday Shopping, Bingo, Raffles #CapeCod Cape Cod

I have a couple of events coming up this week...Wednesday the 6th, I'll be in Falmouth, at a Bingo Night and Holiday Shopping Event.  This is always a good time!  The suggested donation is $20 (proceeds this month go to West Falmouth Preschool), and that gets you 20 games (wear red and green or something holiday-themed for a bonus card!). Complimentary light appetizers and a cash bar and buffet too!

The entire room is lined with vendor and artist tables, and in December,
the shopping will extend to other rooms as well!

Where do I fit in to this event?  There are a whole bunch of local artists and vendors setting up for shopping before and in between the games, and we've all donated to the cause as well as offered prizes for raffles. The complete list of vendors is below, so if you're in the area, please consider stopping by!  

Wednesday, December 6th
5:00 at the Holiday Inn Cape Cod
291 Jones Road Falmouth

Enjoy a fun night out for a great cause ~ Play bingo and shop for the holidays with local vendors and artists, with a portion of the proceeds going to West Falmouth Preschool!  *Complimentary light appetizers, CASH bar and food buffet available!* Hundreds of Dollars in vendors' products will be 20 games for the suggested donation of JUST $20!

Shop with our vendors and artisans throughout the night before and in between Bingo games! 

Doors open at 5:00 pm & BINGO begins @ 6:30 SHARP!

Join Us Early and Shop from our Amazing Vendors:

PartyLite ~ Christina McMenamy & Michael Murphy; LuLaRoe by Brooke ~ Brooke Wood; Thirty One ~ Diane Leal; The Pampered Chef ~ Kelly Washburn; Paparazzi Jewelry ~ Annabelle Morrison; Younique ~ Leah Lutke & Aimee Cheney; Ruby Ribbon ~ Amy Levitt; Reine's Creations ~ Tariesa J. Reine; Nanny's Knits ~ Tariesa A. Reine; Limelight by Alcone ~ Kerry Houde; LuLaRoe by Heather ~ Heather Hurley; Tupperware ~ Michelle Brown; Dragonfly Dreams ~ Jodi Thompson; Mary Kay ~ Mary Pollard; Usborne Books ~ Melissa Zawadskido; TERRA ~ Jennifer Glydon; Athenas ~ Meaghan Mort; Avon ~ Kim Dawson; K.G. Bodyworks ~ Kate Grant; Kathryn Knight Books ~ Kathryn Knight; Painted Fancies ~ Susan Hawley; Designs by Priscilla ~ Priscilla Alden; Rodan + Fields ~ Katy Lankford; Stampin' Up! ~ Ginger Rabesa; Nerium International ~ Linda O' Neill & Sharon Ghelfi Adams; Beachbody ~ Jenna Horne; Katie Frey Photography ~ Katie Frey; Park Lane ~ Tiffaney Dieter; It Works! ~ Nicky Fountain; Silpada ~ Barbara Surrette; Cape Cod Comfort Therapy Bags ~ Lisa Houde; LulaRoe with Kayla and Jo ~ Jody Coyman; Origami Owl ~ Ellie Russo; Wreaths by Holly ~ Holly O'Keefe; Premier Designs Jewelry ~ Lisa Morris; Traveling Vineyard ~ Kim Aliczi; The Pirate's Treasure & Cindy's Creations ~ Cindy Gould; Sylvia Clan Studio ~ Kathleen Sylvia

***Receive a 'Bonus Bingo Card' when wear red & green or your favorite festive attire!  All participants must be at least 18 year of age​​​.

On Saturday, I'll be participating at an Open House and Holiday Shopping Event at the gym where I work, The Fitness Company on Rt. 130 in Mashpee.  It's open to the public, and we're offering raffles, prizes, and gym specials in addition to the holiday shopping tables and healthy treats!  11:00 - 3:00.

I'm also DETERMINED to finish my 5th manuscript this month, and my first audio book, Haunted Souls, will be coming to me for review before it goes up on Audible for purchase.  I'm also gearing up for a new joint venture with 11 other authors...stay tuned!  Somehow, during all this, I'll have to get my own family ready for the holidays!  Wish me luck, and hope to see you at the events if you're in the area.

Haunted Souls will be available on Audible in 2018!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A #Free #Book of "Hacks" for the Holidays! #Recipes #Christmas #Lifehacks

Every year, my publisher offers a free recipe book, as a gift to our readers, filled with contributions from the authors of The Wild Rose Press.  We vote on different themes each year, and we've offered Garden Gourmet collections featuring easy meals and snacks, international recipes, cookies and cocktails, and healthy recipes in the past...these books are still available, for free, on our website!  This year, we did something a little different...our "recipes" for Garden Gourmet 2017 are actually "hacks" - shortcuts or tricks to make tasks more simple, whether they involve cooking, cleaning, or just life in general.

So grab you free ebook here: A Holiday of Hacks, and discover some new ways to save time and effort!  You can easily check out on our website via Amazon, and we offer downloads for Kindle (mobi), Nook (epub), and for your laptop (pdf).

Here are the previous years' recipe books as well...Enjoy!  Happy Holidays!

2016 Holiday Garden Gourmet ~ Comfort Foods

2015 Holiday Garden Gourmet ~ Cookies and Cocktails

2014 Holiday Garden Gourmet ~ Quick and Easy

2013 Holiday Garden Gourmet ~ International

Also, if you're looking for simple recipes for goodies that can serve as edible gifts, check out my go-to: Rosemary Nut Mix.  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Visiting #Newport #RI ~ #CliffWalk Mansions #Travel #RhodeIsland

My best friend and I have many adventures (or misadventures?) together, and this past weekend was no different.  Although we live 8 states apart, we manage to see each other several times a year.  We've been friends since freshman year of high school, and we've had countless crazy adventures together...seems there's always some sort of bizarre mishap when we're together, too (see the Zip Line fiasco), and our mini-vacation in Newport was no exception.

My friend used some airline miles to book a ticket into Providence, Rhode Island, and I used some of our Marriott points to get us an overnight stay at their Newport hotel right on the water.  Since it was a Thursday night, we asked for--and were given--an upgrade to a harbor view, and it was so breathtakingly beautiful from our balcony, we set an alarm to ensure we actually left the room to experience some of the Newport restaurants and bars!

The view of the marina from our balcony...we could have sat there all night!

It was Restaurant Week, too, but instead of taking advantage of one large meal at one location, we instead ate small plates and had a drink at several places so we could see more.  We went to The Mooring, The Speakeasy, and Buskers before calling it a night.

Even more stunning in the daylight!

The view was no less beautiful in the morning.  But we had things to do before a cold front came in, so we started our day walking over to the popular breakfast spot, The Corner Cafe, before heading over to the famous Cliff Walk.  If you've never been, it's truly something to its name suggests, it is in fact a walk along a cliff, but it's so much more. 

The back of The Breakers, Italian Renaissance style, built 1895 for
Central Railroad President Cornelius Vanderbilt.  138,00 square feet. 

This 3.5 mile National Recreation Trail winds its way along the eastern shore of Newport, offering breathtaking views of the ocean.  But along the other side, built to take advantage of these stunning views, are the backs of mansions built for extremely wealthy families during America's Gilded Age (late 19th century), for use during the summer months.  They were actually referred to as "cottages", but they are anything of the mansions, The Breakers, built for the Vanderbilt family, boasts 70 rooms, 27 fireplaces, and bathtubs with fresh and salt water faucets.  Another mansion, Rosecliff, built for a silver heiress, has been used to film a number of movies, including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and Amistad.

The start of the walk...I have the map!  ^^

All of this information came from a map I'd purchased in the past, and I was extremely proud I'd remembered it, as it had an informational blurb on each mansion along the walk.  I not only remembered to bring the map on the trip itself, I also remembered to bring it along with us that morning.  I was all set to educate us on each magnificent property along the way.

But, of course, we stopped to take a picture, and I set the map down on the stone wall preventing people from tumbling down into the ocean.  And then the wind blew the map off the wall and into the brush below.  It was somewhat funny, but also disappointing...we'd just started the walk!

The mysterious broken ladder that leads
nowhere...maybe inspiration for a new novel?
As we leaned over the wall to see if there was any way to retrieve it, we noticed a broken wooden ladder, propped up against the ocean side of the wall.  Why was it there?  There was absolutely nothing down there but a small shelf off rocks and brush that quickly dissolved to cliffs and water. was there.  It seemed like a sign, even though one side was broken at the top and it looked a bit weathered and worse for the wear.  So, after some discussion about what we would do if it did not hold my weight and I couldn't get back up (not sure if we came to a conclusion on that), I hung off the top of the wall until my feet found the first rung, climbed down successfully, secured the map, and made it back up without breaking any rungs or bones.  Victory!  Was it a good idea?  Definitely not.  But I often do things that are ill-advised (see Exploring an Abandoned TB Hospital for example).  Anyway, it made a good story and we were able to continue our walk with our trusty map.  

I got a few looks from passersby...

Got it!
It was only later that we noticed a new installation...plaques with those square bar codes had been placed along the way, so walkers can scan it with their phone to get more information.  Oh well.  We had a lot of laughs both during and after the great map retrieval event, so there's that!

After completing the cliff walk, we walked around the front of the mansions and then back to the hotel, then ventured back out for lunch and shopping.  Overall, we logged in an incredible amount of steps--over 11 miles--in just a few hours, and we had a blast doing it.  We had to leave around 3:00 for the nearly 2 hour drive back to the Cape, because I don't like to drive in the dark.  When it comes to risky behavior, I only like to climb down cliff walls via mysterious rickety ladders to retrieve $3.00 maps, apparently ;)

Have you ever been to Newport?  Share your stories!  And if you haven't, it's a must-see!

The Forty Steps, one of the major landmarks along the Cliff Walk...
Originally built in 1830 out of wood and used by the Irish staff from
the mansions as a gathering spot
to play music and dance during their time off.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Signed #Books for #SmallBusinessSaturday! #ShopSmall #SaturdayMorning Give the Gift of a Page-Turning Read!

A dangerous ghost
& an ex-boyfriend
await Claire in
Gull Harbor...
The holiday shopping season is upon us, and today is Small Business Saturday.  So I wanted to do a quick post to remind people that I will gladly send out signed and personalized books to give to readers as gifts!  It’s a thoughtful and unique gift that supports small business, and my books have something for everyone—steamy romance, spooky suspense, haunting mysteries, second chances, and the page-turning unraveling of secrets from the past.  Both SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR have been #1 Amazon Bestsellers on several occasions, and my Young Adult novel, DIVINE FALL (appropriate for teens), is an award-winning RomCon Reader-Rated pick.  My latest novel, HAUNTED SOULS, combines a military romance with a ghost story in a Cape Cod setting, and it was voted one of the Top 3 Reads of 2016 at Read

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

I ship for FREE within the US, so if you are interested in purchasing a book, or books, as a gift, please contact me via the form on the tab above.  Payments are arranged via PayPal or Square.  

Click the orange "Give as a Gift"
button to send an ebook for
less than the price of a card!

If you'd like to give someone an ebook, it makes a great gift and all you need is an email address!  You may as well pick up one for yourself, too, while you're at it...put your feet up and get lost in a page-turning read!

Monday, November 20, 2017

De-stress w/ a new read for #Thanksgiving! #Ghosts #Romance #Books #Kindle

My happy place!
The holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving is almost here, and whether you're traveling or cooking, you need to find some time to relax during what can be a hectic month.  My favorite stress-reliever is reading, and right now I'm caught up in a page-turning Psychological Suspense that I can't put down...which is a bit of a problem, since I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time, and my guests begin arriving tomorrow!  If you'd like an entertaining escape, try one of my #1 Kindle Bestsellers, full of steamy romance and spooky suspense.  Load up your Kindle or Nook now, and then while you're traveling, waiting in lines, or trying to carve out a few moments for yourself, you can transport yourself to Cape Cod's Gull Harbor, where a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire Linden.  Links and blurb below!  Happy Thanksgiving :)

A #1 Kindle Bestseller

Want to see the story board?  Check out the pictures I used for inspiration on Pinterest!

When Claire Linden’s job sends her to the sleepy town of Gull Harbor, she never expects to encounter her ex-boyfriend. As a medium, the prospect of tackling a haunted house is less daunting than seeing Max Baron again. Throughout their passionate college relationship, he promised to love her forever. Then, without explanation, he abandoned her on graduation day.

Max never intended to break Claire's heart—a cruel ultimatum forced him to disappear from her life. While he's shocked to find her in Gull Harbor, he isn't surprised by the bitter resentment she feels for him...or the fiery attraction that remains between them.

Claire is determined to rid her temporary home of its aggressive ghost, but Max soon realizes she's facing a danger beyond the paranormal. When Claire risks everything to help a desperate spirit, Max must race to save her—before another tragedy tears them apart forever.

Gull Harbor tends to be a quick read, since it's exciting and fast-paced.  If you enjoy it and need some more new reads, try #1 Kindle Bestseller SILVER LAKE (A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past...) or my latest release, HAUNTED SOULS (Claire Linden from Gull Harbor makes a guest appearance in this novel, voted one of the Top 3 Reads of 2016 at Read!) 

A few quotes from editorial reviews of Haunted Souls

Monday, November 13, 2017

My #Furbabies ~ #cats #dogs #rescue #pets

One of the authors who also writes for my publisher came up with a great idea for a blog series:  "Furbaby Friday", a weekly post highlighting authors and their beloved furry writing buddies.  I'm reposting my story to share here on my own blog...and I'd love to hear about the pets that enrich your life!

I come from a long line of animal lovers, and growing up, we never had less than three pets at a time.  Generally, in my adult home, that’s how many we still have, although we’ve occasionally had four.  I’m passionate about rescuing shelter animals, so I try to balance my desire to “save them all” versus the reality of the size of our house, but right now we have two cats and one dog, and everyone gets along well.

A pet triangle on the couch.  Don't worry, guys,
I'll find another place to sit...

Otis came to us via PetFinder, a wonderful website that connects people looking to adopt a pet with animals available either in their area or even farther away, if transportation is available.  When we found Otis, I was looking for a younger dog, since we already had an older dog at home.  With two teenage boys and a husband who loves to jog long distances, we thought we would be a good fit for a more active dog that needed plenty of exercise.  Otis at the time was a 6-week-old puppy, likely a Border collie mix, who was found by the side of a highway in Alabama, along with his brother and mother.  A kind person brought them to a vet before they could get hit by a car, and from there, they made their way to foster care and were put up for adoption.  Once our application was approved, Otis (and his brother, Milo) were transported to New England via an amazing tag team of volunteers who take turns driving animals from states with overpopulated shelters to states with room to spare or new families already waiting. 

This was a tough case to crack

As a puppy, Otis would nap under the stool I sit on at the kitchen island that serves as my writing desk.  Knowing my tendency to lose myself in my fictional world, I would make sure a leash connected him to the stool’s leg so I would know he wasn’t sneaking off and getting into trouble.  Apparently he’s smarter than I am, because he quietly chewed though three leashes to sneak off without me knowing.  For the most part, socks, gloves, and papers were the only losses, but those were the puppy days of mischief and teething.  Now, Otis is a well-mannered and beloved part of our household.

Otis and Jinx

Our cats came to us via a local shelter.  About a year after Otis joined us, our beloved 17-year-old cat passed away, 4 years after his brother.  I was devastated.  But I knew it was an opportunity to provide a forever home to some cats in need.  I like to adopt cats who are already in bonded pairs, as they can sometimes be more difficult to place.  And I particularly love black cats, which might be related to my affinity for all things considered spooky and mysterious.  After all, I do write stories set in haunted houses.
Jinx and Max are another set of brothers, littermates who shelter volunteers hoped could be adopted together.  They keep each other entertained with their sneak attacks and their wrestling matches, and one thing they can agree on is that they’re always hungry.  They know how to bring that to my attention, too—they take over my writing space if they feel I’m not getting the message.

We interrupt this scene for a hungry alert 

Because I love pets so much, I tend to create characters that also have animals.  The heroine of Haunted Souls is actually a vet tech, and she and her son have a rescued tabby cat named Terrance.  And when a ghost follows them home from a haunted tour of an old jail, Terrance is immediately aware that an otherworldly presence is in the house…

Thanks for stopping by, and share your furbaby stories below, I love comments :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Will Leave the Reader Breathless" #Book #Review ~ #Romance #Ghosts

I was thrilled to see a new review of my latest romance + ghost mystery, Haunted Souls, up at Reader's Favorite Book Reviews on Halloween!  Adding to the excitement, a few days later, I got an email from my publisher with the first 15 minutes of Haunted Souls being read by the narrator we December, the audio version of this steamy romance mixed with spooky suspense will be released on Audible!

A damaged soldier, a secret baby, and a haunting mystery
collide in Haunted Souls

In the meantime, I'm working hard to finish my fifth manuscript, tentatively entitled Dangerous Currents.  I was hoping this month to use NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as inspiration, but these days, I've found I prefer to write at a slower pace, revising and attempting to get each word right the first time, rather than going for speed and editing later.  And that method is not conducive to writing an entire novel in a month!  The good news is, I already had quite a bit done, so at this point I'm closing in on 70,000 words...which means I have about 4 more (extremely emotional and tense) chapters to get to the end.

So, this is a short post, since I need to get back to it!  The new review gave me a shot of energy, which I could really use.  One of the best things about it is that while the reviewer did not care for the hero, Brett, at first, that changed as his backstory was revealed.  Any time an author can evoke emotions about a fictional character--whether positive or negative--is an achievement, in my opinion, because these people spring from our imaginations.  We often create them from nothing.  Of course, most of us want a character we love to be likable to readers, but in this case, I was thrilled to change someone's initial impression with the eventual explanation of Brett's past.  And then, there's my favorite line: "From the characters to the theme of love, Knight creates a dark, yet tender world that will leave the reader breathless."  That very eloquently sums up what I set out to do!  I hope you'll check out the full review here, and if it sounds like something you'd enjoy, add Haunted Souls to your To-Be-Read list!  And whether you're a professional reviewer on a site or a reader who's never left a review, know that authors sincerely appreciate the feedback, and that it makes our day to hear someone enjoyed a story!  

A few of my favorite quotes from other Haunted Souls reviews

Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Drawing Inspiration from #NaNoWriMo ~ #amwriting past #writersblock #NaNoWriMo2017

Last year, I wrote about how I'd used NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, to find the inspiration to get back into writing my fourth novel, Haunted Souls, which has since been contracted and released (and is going to be made into an audio book before the end of the year!).  I was again in a rut last November, in terms of finding the time and motivation to write, so I decided I'd try to use the momentum of NaNoWriMo again to at least get a good start on my fifth novel, tentatively titled Dangerous Currents.  This manuscript has been a real challenge for me, as it has no paranormal element, but I do like to grow as a writer in terms of doing different things, and of course, I have to write the story that comes into my head.  So I got busy on November 1st, and things were going well.

Then...I got derailed.  I got the news that my Dad had a tumor.  Meanwhile, we were finishing up my older son's college applications and awaiting news.  All the emotional upheaval took its toll, and my word count had to be put on the back burner.

I visited my Dad in Maryland when I could, we went on college visits, we celebrated the holidays and all our winter birthdays.  In April, my father lost his battle, and we planned his funeral.  In May, my son accepted his offer of admission to University of New Hampshire, and we began planning for his college career.  Summer came, with welcome visitors and sunny beach days.  It was cathartic and chaotic and wonderful, but it was also a countdown to my oldest son leaving home.  I tried to enjoy every minute, and along the way, I stopped writing completely.  A part of me felt empty without it, but I knew my family needed me more than my fictional characters, and I didn't have an ounce of emotion left over for them anyway.  I hoped they'd be waiting for me when I was ready again.

I did get A LOT of reading done during my "hiatus"...check
back for my fav books of 2017 this January!

Once we'd settled my older son in his new home away from home and my younger son had begun his sophomore year of high school, I decided it might be time.  But, I was had been months since I'd written anything, and I was fairly certain writer's block had made itself comfortable on my imagination's couch.  

I convinced myself to start slowly.  Reading back, revising, editing, getting acquainted with my characters again...each day it got easier.  October is always a busy month for me in terms of events, as a lot of my novels involve ghost mysteries or other supernatural elements, but by the end of the month, I realized I'd made significant progress since I started back in September.  In fact, I had 65,000 words...more than enough to qualify as a full-length novel, except for the fact that it wasn't done.  It was going to take about 4 more highly emotional chapters before I could allow my characters their Happily Ever After and type "The End".

So, that's my NaNoWriMo goal.  I know it's not the traditional definition of "winning", but if I actually finish this book, I will be overjoyed.  I'm going for 1,000 words a day, with breaks planned for my best friend's visit and my family's visit (and my older son being home!) over Thanksgiving.  I'd like to think that another 20,000 words will get me there, or at least, very close.

Will I be able to sell it?  I can't predict that for certain.  But just to finish Dean and Malorie's story will mean a lot to me, in terms of overcoming writer's block.  And that, to me, will be a victory!

Happy writing, NaNoWriMo-ers!  One word at a time :)

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Origins of #Halloween ~ Happy Halloween #Halloween2017 #Samhain #amblogging

The month of October conjures up images of turning leaves, hayrides, pumpkins, scarecrows, black cats, and of course Halloween decorations.  I love learning about the origin of the holidays we celebrate, so I did a bit of (admittedly rudimentary) research to discover some of the reasons we dress up and try to scare each other on October 31st.

Originally known as All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain.  This last day of autumn was considered the time of year when the barrier between the paranormal and physical worlds grew thin. 

The Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) also influenced Halloween.  It was said that the souls awaiting release on November 1st had one last night to extract revenge on their enemies before leaving the earth.  Cautious Christians would disguise themselves with masks to avoid recognition.

The custom of carving pumpkins originated from a Samhain practice of remembering souls with turnip lanterns.  Trick-or-treating can be traced back to “souling”, a medieval practice which involved the poor and hungry travelling door-to-door and offering to pray for the dead in return for food.

My favorite Halloween tradition is visiting haunted houses.  This year, I dragged my best friend to an incredible haunted house and haunted basement at Paxton Manor in Virginia, when we were there visiting earlier in the month.  We screamed the entire time, but we laughed just as much, and we made it out alive (see below).  I love being scared like that, when you know in the back of your mind that it really is just an attraction (or movie, tv show, or book).

Emerging from the Haunted Basement victorious!

The medium in GULL HARBOR, however, spends her summer in a truly haunted house.  Claire Linden arrives in Gull Harbor ready to take on an aggressive ghost—now that she’s embraced her psychic gift, she’s confident she’ll be able to rid her temporary home of the restless spirit that drove the owners to hire her.  However, she doesn’t expect to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without an explanation five years ago.  As Claire unravels the truth behind the haunting, Max must share his secret in order to stay close enough to help protect the woman he still loves from a danger that extends beyond the paranormal…

If you like that story, try SILVER LAKE as well...another suspenseful ghost story/mystery with plenty of romance.  Will Rain and Jason get another chance at first love before a desperate spirit tears them apart again...forever?

My latest ghost mystery also has plenty of steamy romance to counteract any chilling scenes, and HAUNTED SOULS was inspired by a trip to the Old Jail, a historic building on Cape Cod which is considered actively haunted.  And the title has a double meaning, as Brett and Emily each have their own torturous choices and memories to overcome if they have a chance for a future together.

A picture I took of the Old Jail...seriously, what's up in
the top right window?  And in this pic, there's a red flash
in the lower window that isn't in any of my other shots.

Happy Halloween and Happy Haunted Reading!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

History of Superstitions ~ #Paranormal Posts #Halloween

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, the season that embraces the paranormal.  Of course, many of these superstitions date back to ancient times, so tracing the exact sources can be tricky...and it doing the research, it definitely appears that often times, several factors seem to have combined to create the belief or behavior.

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 have an entire post dedicated to more lengthy details, which I'll link below, but the idea that cats had magical powers dates back to ancient times; some cultures worshiped them, while others feared them.  Being nocturnal animals, they are out at night, gracefully slinking about in even total darkness.  And the color black in particular is associated with sinister forces.  Some believed witches could turn into cats to avoid capture, or that black cats served as their familiars.    

These are my 2 black kitties, Jinx and Max, getting into the Halloween spirit...
(cats are real, crows are just decoration!)

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, and I take a deeper look into Triskaidekaphobia in another post, which I'll also link below.  Many of the reasons stem from different religions: in Christianity, for example, Judas Iscariot (a figure also associated with the spilling of salt superstition discussed below) was the 13th--and last--person to sit down at the Last Supper.  According to Norse legends, the god Loki was the 13th guest to arrive at a banquet, and he then killed another god.  Historically, there were 13 steps to the gallows, covens were made up of 13 witches, and XIII is the card of death in a Tarot deck.       

Another well-known superstition involves 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'd like to read further details on why people fear black cats, check out this post.  And for more on the reasons people fear the number 13, click here.  

An ex-boyfriend and
a dangerous ghost await
Claire in GULL HARBOR 
And if you're looking for a new read that will help get you ready for Halloween, try a steamy romance mixed with a haunting mystery!  I have three ghost story/romantic suspense novels that fit the bill...both Silver Lake and Gull Harbor have been #1 Kindle Bestsellers.  My latest release, Haunted Souls, was a Top 3 Read of 2016 at Read Freely and is on SALE for 99c for the ebook for a few more days!  While my novels are not horror, they are intended to give you a few chills up your spine, but the steamy scenes help balance that out!  But I have a less spooky option as well, a Young Adult Paranormal Romance which involves supernatural secrets and forbidden love, so for revenge, romance, and a rogue fallen angel, check out Divine Fall.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!