Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Haunted History of #theDakota ~ #NYC #NewYork #Travel #paranormal #ghosts

View of the Dakota from Central Park
Because I have a strong fascination with all things spooky, I tend to seek out haunted places to visit when we go on trips.  When we spent a day in Paris during a London trip, I insisted on exploring the Catacombs.  We also spent a day at the Tower of London, which is surely home to some restless spirits.  In Maryland, I've explored the abandoned Glenn Dale TB Hospital.  Closer to home, I've taken tours of the Old Jail (oldest wooden jail in the entire country), and haunted locations around Barnstable Village

More recently, between Christmas and New Year's this winter, we went to New York City to spend some time with our best friends again...with our family in MA, and theirs in VA, NYC is an excellent--albeit expensive--half-way point.  And there's so much to see packed into such a small area!

Looking up from the street...I can believe this building is haunted

When I looked up a list of haunted places in NYC to see what would come up, I was intrigued by The Dakota.  This is an exclusive apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, built in 1884 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The list of celebrities who have lived--or currently live--here is very long, but one of the most well-known residents was John Lennon of the Beatles, who was murdered at the entrance of the building in 1980.  Some claim to see Lennon's ghost, but John Lennon himself apparently spoke of some supernatural encounters in the building before his assassination.  He mentioned an encounter with an apparition in the hallway, who he dubbed "the Crying Lady Ghost".

Site of John Lennon's assassination
Another frequently seen spirit is a little blonde girl dressed in early 1900s clothing, sometimes bouncing a ball.  There have been reports of other apparitions, including a figure resembling Edward Clark, head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, who built the Dakota but died before the building's completion.

Residents and employees have reported seeing objects move on their own, including things too heavy for a person to lift.

The exterior of the building is a Gothic blend of gables and dormers, arches and balustrades, with ornate iron details.  It is imposing and intimidating enough to have been chosen to represent The Bramford in the horror movie Rosemary's Baby, in which a Satanic cult in the building try to impregnate a new resident with the Devil's baby.  Thankfully, that is a fictitious tale created by Ira Levin in his book of the same name.

This intricate & somewhat sinister ironwork goes all the way around the building

I would have loved to explore the interior of the building, but as I mentioned, it's the home of many famous and affluent residents, and there is security at the entrances.  But I took plenty of photos of from outside, and while I don't think I caught any ghosts on camera, it did give off a spooky vibe that sent a few shivers down my spine.

This was as close as I could get...at one time,
these arched entrances allowed carriages inside.
A Christmas tree was still on display in the courtyard.

Monday, January 22, 2018

New #Writing Course in #Falmouth! #CapeCod #amwriting

I'm thrilled to be teaching a new "Fiction Writing and Publication" course this winter, back at The Lawrence School in Falmouth.  For the last few years, I've taught this popular class for both Cape Cod Community College's Center for Corporate and Professional Education and for the Town of Falmouth's Community School in a number of locations, and I've met so many aspiring authors and hopefully helped them on their writing journey.  I've even read some of their finished manuscripts and visited their writing groups, which has been so rewarding.  If you're interested in writing a novel, or exploring publishing options, and you're in the Cape Cod area, consider joining us!  The press release is below:

Ready to Write That Novel?

A course offered this winter in Falmouth provides instruction on writing fiction and guidance on publishing options.

For many writers, a quote by Nobel Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison summarizes the beginning of the journey: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Many people dream of writing a novel, but aren’t sure how to begin.  Even once a manuscript is finished, the choices within the publishing industry seem to grow every day.  Literary agents continue to seek clients for the big publishing houses, smaller electronic presses have become a force in the new digital world, and more options than ever exist for those looking to publish independently.  Unfortunately, this type of growth has also resulted in many sites looking to take advantage of authors eager to publish and promote their work.  The entire process can become overwhelming quickly.

A five-week evening class offered by Falmouth Community School aims to offer guidance to aspiring authors.  “Fiction Writing and Publication” will be held at the Lawrence School on Tuesday evenings, January 30th - March 5th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Bestselling author Kathryn Knight will teach the elements of successful fiction writing and outline the various options in the rapidly changing publishing industry.  Key concepts such as voice, POV, the hook, Goal-motivation-conflict, and character development will be discussed. Idea inspiration, common pitfalls, and query letters will also be covered.  Finally, avenues to publication - from self-publishing to small and digital presses to seeking agent representation - will be explored.

Lawrence School is located at 113 Lakeview Ave.  Pre-registration is required; please visit Falmouth Community School online or call 508.548.5739 to register.  Cost is $149, no materials or experience needed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Favorite #Reads of 2017! #Books #amreading #reviews

Once again, it's time for my annual write-up of favorite reads, a post I love doing each year, since I'm passionate about reading and sharing the books I've enjoyed.  This year, I got even more books in, as I joined Audible and began listening to books as well as reading.  Now, I listen to about 3 books a month this way, and I'm thrilled that my publisher will soon be offering two of my novels, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, on Audible.  They are both in production right now, and I can't wait to hear my own novels as audio books!    

Now, on to my 2017 list!  I enjoy reading almost every genre, so there are a few represented here, but of course I have my preferences. Some of my picks don't necessarily fall neatly into a single genre, either, and I guess it's no surprise that these are my absolute favorites, given that I also write in a mixture of genres (steamy romance combined with haunting mysteries).  So I'll start with those two novels, which both have elements of three different genres.

Mixed Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Suspense

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

Black Rabbit Hall was one of my favorite books of 2016, and I was beyond excited when I saw Eve Chase had another novel out. The Wildling Sisters did not disappoint. Chase creates haunting, poignant, atmospheric tales, written so beautifully I have to re-read sentences to make sure I'm appreciating every word. In both books, she manages to capture the past time periods of the dual-time lines with details and descriptions that draw the reader in, and similarly in both books, the houses serve as mysterious characters in their own right. There is intrigue, suspense, and family drama, both in the present and the 1959 timeline.  While the pacing might not work for readers anxious for revelations, I savored every bit of the journey, especially the languid, hazy summer days of the Wilde sisters, filled with nostalgic reminders of being on the cusp of adulthood, filled with longing, impulse, and fleeting moments that become etched into memory.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I didn't realize this was Kate Morton's first book--for me, it's the fourth I've read, and I think my favorite so far. This is an amazing story reminiscent in many ways of Downton Abby, but the layers go much deeper and the story blends the past with the present in the form of a confessional narrative. Morton's writing is beautiful and the imagery she creates with words is impressive. A great read with romance, intrigue, secrets, and history.

Historical Fiction ~ based on true events

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

An incredible and poignant read that I have recommended to everyone. Although I'm no expert on this time period, it's obvious this true story is meticulously researched, both from the details included and the author's note at the end. The three Points of View make it even more compelling, allowing the reader to become immersed in the story from different perspectives. It's a mesmerizing book, horrific in places and hopeful in other places, and a beautiful testament to the human spirit.

Young Adult Fantasy Romance/Historical Romance

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I saw this book on a list of suspenseful must-reads, and decided to give it a shot. I was hooked right away. Like many books I enjoy, the genre is a bit hard to describe...YA historical fantasy romance maybe? The world-building was superb, the prose was lovely, the storytelling was well-paced, and the characters were compelling. There's a lot of conflicts in this book, the main one being Shazi's struggle between her quest for vengeance and her feelings for her new husband, spurred by her growing suspicion things are not as they seem. That along with her affect on the "cold-hearted" boy keep the romantic element intriguing. There a themes similar to Twilight (boy who should/wants to kill the girl but can't) and The Hunger Games (using strength and wits to be the lone survivor against the odds), but wrapped up in a very different story, and set in ancient Persia (I think) where magic exists. 

Literary Fiction

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things  by Bryn Greenwood

Warning: very difficult subject matter.  This is a powerful and compelling story with characters that literally came alive for me. Because it deals with a very taboo subject, it's not going to be a book for everyone. But for me, it was an un-put-downable journey into a desperate world many of us thankfully know little about, and despite the darkness, there are pinpoints of bright light; love and resilience in the face of heartbreaking tragedy and neglect. The title is perfect...real life is full of both ugly and beautiful things.

Psychological Suspense

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Another warning:  some difficult subject matter; but I am able to remind myself with fiction that it didn't really happen.  However, this talented author did have me worrying about the main character and upset about some of the things that happened, which means I was completely engaged.  In fact, I found this nearly impossible to put down; probably the best Psychological Suspense I've read this year, and I've been reading a lot of that genre! Disturbing, creepy, suspenseful, and compelling, this book kept me up past my bedtime. Did I like all the subject matter? Of course not, there was a psychopath in the book, and we needed to see just how evil he was and to what lengths he would go in order to feel the danger to the other characters. I shudder just thinking about him! 

If you're interested in any of my past lists, see:

Favorite books of 2012

Favorite books of 2013

Favorite books of 2014

Favorite books of 2015

Favorite books of 2016

One of my romance/ghost mysteries, Gull Harbor, just recently became a #1 Bestseller on Amazon again, and hit the #1 spot in a few categories on Barnes and Nobel as well, which was thrilling.  If you enjoy the combination of steamy and a little spooky, give it a try...it's still on sale for just a few more days!

Hope I've offered some helpful recommendations for readers here--and I'm always looking for great new reads, so feel free to share your favorites in the Comments section below.  Happy reading and Happy 2018! 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Final #Sale Days! Second-chance #Romance + #Ghost #Mystery ~ A #1 Bestseller! #SaturdayMorning

A few more days to grab Gull Harbor for just 99 pennies!  That's a huge discount of the regular price of $4.99, so if you need a new read, grab this steamy, second-chance romance mixed with a haunting mystery while it's on sale!  It's a #1 Bestseller on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with something for everyone: romance, suspense, secrets, mystery, danger, a beach-side Cape Cod setting, a psychic, and a ghost.

So treat yourself to a new read for less than a buck on Kindle or Nook, put your feet up, and get caught up in Claire and Max's story.  And if you need to see more of them after you've finished, they do make an appearance in Haunted Souls as well!  Happy Reading!

My favorite way to spend an evening!

Friday, January 12, 2018

#FridayFitness Round-up! #Fitness #Nutrition #FridayFeeling

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

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

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

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

Friday Fitness #3: Plyometric Exercises

Friday Fitness #4: Zumba

Friday Fitness #5: The Importance of CPR Certification

Friday Fitness #6: Training for Triathlons

Friday Fitness #7: White Foods and Nutrition

Friday Fitness #8: The Importance of Stretching

Friday Fitness #9: Building a Backyard Soccer Goal

Friday Fitness #10: Dealing with Patellar Tendonitis

Friday Fitness #11: The 7-Day Detox Challenge

Friday Fitness #12: Trying Whole 30

And if you need a book to read while putting miles on the treadmill or stationary bike, try one of my #1 Amazon Bestselling ghost story/romances--SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR (you can still get Gull Harbor on sale for 99c if you hurry, on both Kindle and Nook formats!  A #1 Bestseller on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

My latest release, HAUNTED SOULS, also combines steamy romance with a haunting mystery, and it was voted the Top 2 Read of 2016 at Read Free.ly!  Plus, 99 cents will get you a copy of my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  I try very hard to create page-turners, so usually readers are hooked right from the start--the workout will fly by!  Happy, healthy 2018!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Gull Harbor is a #1 Bestseller on #Amazon + #BarnesandNoble! #Ghosts #Romance #99c #sale #amwriting

Seeing the orange banner under
your book never gets old!
My birthday came early this year!  This weekend, my novel, Gull Harbor, hit #1 Bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites at the same times, in multiple categories!  On Saturday night, this second-chance romance/ghost mystery was within the Top 100 Bestsellers list overall on both sites, hitting an overall ranking of 92 on Amazon and landing in the top 10 overall on B&N's list of Bestselling Nook Books.  What a thrill!  It definitely gave me a warm, fuzzy glow on a bitterly cold weekend that made just going outside a brutal prospect.

Gull Harbor hit #1 in both Paranormal Romance and
Paranormal Contemporary Romance at Barnes & Noble,
coming in at #10 Bestseller in all Nook Books that day

#1 in three categories! Happy dancing!

This book has long been my most popular, and has earned a #1 Kindle Bestseller banner on several occasions, almost every time it goes on sale.  This time, the sale was picked up by BookBub, which is a very discerning site and newsletter promoting deals on books they select.  I was so excited when they chose to advertise my sale to their subscribers, but I wasn't expecting such phenomenal sales!

My biggest hope, though, is that the readers who purchased my book enjoy it.  That's really what it's all about, and that's the sole reason I decided to pursue a writing career...there are few things I enjoy more than getting lost in a page-turning read.  Every year, I post my favorite reads of the year here, and I'm currently working on my 2017 list.  Reading is my absolute favorite form of relaxation and entertainment, and my goal is to provide that for my fellow readers with the stories that come to life in my very active imagination.  Since I love both the roller coaster of emotions that come with romance as well as the chills and thrills of spooky suspense, I try to combine those two elements into hard-to-put-down reads.  

A dangerous ghost & an ex-boyfriend await
psychic Claire Linden in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Gull Harbor while it's still less than a buck, the links are below.  A huge thanks to the readers who sent the book to #1...you made my weekend!  Enjoy visiting the shores of Cape Cod for some steamy romance with a haunting mystery :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

A #99c Sale! Ghosts + #Romance ~ #1 #Kindle Bestseller #sale #books #amreading #FridayReads

Starting today, my second novel GULL HARBOR will be on sale for a short time!  This combination of steamy romance and spooky suspense has topped the charts on Amazon as a #1 Bestseller on several occasions, so grab your copy while it's less than a buck!  The offer is available for both Kindle and Nook formats, and this limited-time promotion is even running in the very discerning BookBub newsletter!  I've included the links below along with the book's description and an excerpt.  Treat yourself to some time on the sandy shores of Cape Cod, where both a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire Linden...

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.

An excerpt for you too!  This scene takes place after Max has brought Claire to watch the 4th of July fireworks:

Lights from her house welcomed them as they crossed through the wooded back yard.  “I guess I’m asking you to trust me, even though I know you’ve got no good reason to.”
He assumed he wouldn’t be getting a response by the time he followed her up the porch steps.  But she turned toward him outside the front door, looking somehow both fragile and strong in the velvet shadows.
“I do trust you.  I have no idea why, but I do.”
“Then I would call this a successful second date.”  He ran his fingers through her hair, cradling the sides of her face with his palms.  Tipping her lips up to his, he kissed her possessively.  The hunger inside him flared brighter, and he closed the distance between their bodies.
Backing her toward the house, he pressed her up against the door.  She returned his kisses with equal passion, moaning when he pushed his thigh between her legs.  Her fingers wandered to the front of his jeans, then hesitated, her nails grazing the skin of his abdomen.
He tore his mouth from hers reluctantly.  If he didn’t stop her now, there would be no turning back.  Bracing his hands against the door, he struggled against his body’s demands.  They would make love when Claire was ready, not before. 
“I should go,” he said, his voice rough.  Their breath mingled in short, quick gasps.  He lifted his head and locked his gaze with hers.
She could see desire in the depths of his dark blue eyes, but there was something else there, too.  Pain.  Her remaining doubts shattered and fell away.  Whatever this awful secret was, they would handle it—together.
He held her captive, caged between his arms.  “You know what will happen if I stay.”
She nodded, her hair sliding against the door.  Unhooking her fingers from the waist of his jeans, she dipped her fingers into her own pocket to retrieve her key.  Silently she turned, unlocking the door.
Her legs trembled as she led him up the stairs.  Moonlight spilled through the windows, bathing her bedroom in a silvery glow.  He caught her wrist in the doorway, pulling her around to face him.
“Claire…before we go any further, you need to know something.  There’s a chance I may never be able to fully explain what happened five years ago.”
She studied his expression in the pale light of the moon.  He held her gaze, his hair falling across his forehead as he bent his head toward hers.  She brushed the strands out of his eyes, then trailed her fingers across the rough stubble under his cheekbones.
“But you’ll tell me if you can?”
“I promise.  But think about how you’ll feel if I can’t,” he said, releasing her wrist.
“Confused, I’m sure,” she murmured.  She gathered the fabric of his shirt collar and pulled it slowly over his head.  “But I don’t think it’s going to make me want you any less,” she added, dropping the shirt to the floor.

Visit the GULL HARBOR Pinterest Board too for a look at the settings and character inspiration.  Happy Reading!

^ Nom de Plume Book Reviews gave Gull Harbor SIX stars!
Things that make an author smile :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

The History of #NewYearsDay ~ #Happy2018! #2018IsHere

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, local traditions abound to mark this day, and a big one in the United States is the making of resolutions.  For many people, this involves a commitment to a healthier lifestyle--as a fitness instructor, I see my classes absolutely explode each January!  My own personal resolutions, since I'm also a writer, usually involve devoting more time each day to my craft.  This year, I'm only two chapters away from finishing a new romantic suspense, so my goal is to finish this month and read it over to get it ready for submission, then start on my next story idea.

Get lost in a steamy, suspenseful,
page-turning read!
If your resolutions include more reading (one of the best stress-reducers, by the way!) - please consider checking out my books.  Each one has a mix of steamy romance and spooky suspense--something for everyone.  My most popular novel, Gull Harbor, a #1 Kindle Bestseller, goes on sale for 99 cents for a limited time beginning Friday, January 5th,  so mark your calendar to take advantage of this amazing deal!  In the meantime, try Haunted Souls, my latest release and another page-turning mix of steamy romance and haunting mystery.  My debut novel, Silver Lake, is another #1 Kindle Bestseller...a reunion at a lake house brings both a second chance at first love and the clues to finding out what happened to the friend who vanished, years ago.  If you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can read this one for FREE!  And my only Young Adult novel, Divine Fall, filled with forbidden first love and supernatural secrets, is currently priced at 99 cents...hours of entertainment for less than a buck!

What happened to Brandy?  SILVER LAKE

Best wishes, everyone, for a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2018. Happy New Year!