Friday, August 23, 2013

$0.99 #Kindledeals - Paranormal Romance Silver Lake!

A celebratory 99 cent sale on all e-formats!  Kindle link:

It's my baby's first birthday!  No, not one of my wonderful sons--they are well past the toddler stage.  But a year ago this week, my debut novel, Silver Lake, was published by The Wild Rose Press.  While the "official" release date was September 14th, 2012, there are occasions when different vendors will make a title available before or after the publisher's release date.  So one night last August, as I was playing around on the internet to avoid being productive (something I never do, wink wink)...I typed the title Silver Lake into the Amazon search box and THERE IT WAS!  My beautiful cover and 4 years of hard work, finally available.  I was ecstatic, overwhelmed, and terrified.

After waking my husband to share the news and texting the friends who would overlook the fact that it was 11:00 pm, I went to bed.  I did not, however, sleep.  I was way too keyed up.  Would people like it?  Would reviewers be kind?  The day I'd dreamed of for 4 years had arrived...sleep was out of the question.

My excitement spawned a stretch of insomnia like I've never experienced.  I love sleep.  But that week, it was physically impossible.  And while I didn't regret it a bit, I was disappointed that it happened the very same week my sister had her second baby.  I was on deck to visit the following week and help take care of the baby.  I showed up floating on cloud 9 and half out of my mind with exhaustion!  But between the two of us and her amazing husband, we managed to each carve out some REM time as we cared for a newborn and her less-than-thrilled 3-year-old sister.

My new niece

Since then, it's been a roller coaster year with thankfully more "ups" than "downs".  My second paranormal romance, Gull Harbor, released in February, and has remained a Kindle bestseller in its category since April.  In June, Silver Lake was one of 14 paranormal romance finalists at the 2013 RomCon.  I've spoken at presentations, signed at book stores, and discussed my books on radio and television.  Has it been stressful?  Oh, yes.  I've had to come so far out of my comfort zone, I'm not even sure I can find my way back.  But my books mean that much to me!

I've included the blurb and links for Nook and Kobo below.  I hope you'll take advantage of the anniversary sale and try Silver Lake!




Rain Anderson can’t decide which is more unsettling—encountering the ghost of her missing friend, or reuniting with the man whose love she foolishly rejected. But one thing is certain: the past has come back to haunt her, quite literally.

Five years ago, Rain’s tight-knit group of high school friends unraveled when one vanished during their senior year. Now, a parent’s deathbed request has reunited the friends at Silver Lake, including Jason Lansing, the man Rain discarded.

Rain and Jason discover the powerful attraction between them has survived, but though Jason is willing to forgive, he can’t let himself forget. The possibility of falling for Rain again is too risky.

Slamming doors, crashing objects, flaring fires—clearly the ghost has a message to share. As Rain and Jason struggle to unravel the truth, they must face a desperate spirit in need of help…and a burning passion that refuses to die.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My favorite #ghost stories - Kathryn Knight

I love ghost stories, which is probably abundantly clear from my own novels.  My favorites have a mix similar to what I write--a tension-filled romance combined with a spooky and suspenseful haunting.  That said, I enjoy ghost stories that veer closer to the horror genre as well (and often therefore lack a Happily Ever After).  Of course my books have a special place in my heart, but in order to avoid bias, I won't be including them in this list.  Here are my favorites:

1.  Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp. 

The novel that started it all for me.  One of my all-time favorites, this YA book is both a sweet romance and a spooky ghost story.  In fact, I would call this book a huge inspiration for my writing, as it's that combination of ghost story/love story that I find addictive.  My father brought Jane-Emily home from the library when I was around 8 years old, and I read it over and over, then requested it regularly when I needed my Jane-Emily fix.  A few years back, I purchased my own copy (finally!) from ebay and read it to my kids.  The ghost of 12-year-old Emily still delivers chills even after all these years as she unleashes her wrath on 9-year-old Jane--but of course the romance piece was there as well between the hunky Doctor and Jane's young aunt Louisa.
2.  Midnight Bayou, by Nora Roberts
I could not put this book down...literally.  I loved the New Orleans bayou setting and intertwining of past and present.  A sassy Cajun heroine and a hunky ex-lawyer-turned-carpenter embark on a passionate journey to uncover the dark secrets of Manet Hall.  Sadly, I lent my nice hardcover copy to someone and it has not yet been returned.  I'll have to purchase another for my shelf of favorites if it doesn't make it back eventually!

3.  Madeleine's Ghost, by Robert Girardi
One of my all time favorites--a captivating mix of romance, history, and the paranormal.  An original storyline with quirky and believable characters, this book has it all: intrigue, mystery, secrets, star-crossed lovers, and a haunting.  This novel moves between the past and the present, revealing the layers that make the characters come alive.  The descriptions of both New York City and New Orleans are so vivid I felt like I was right there...and I enjoyed every minute spent traveling between the gritty East Village and the humid bayous of Louisiana.
4.  Bag of Bones, by Stephen King
This one is more horror than romance, and in true King fashion, not everyone survives.  But the haunting at the house at Dark Score Lake sent shivers up my spine in a way not many books have.  The premise of two spirits fighting from the beyond--one intent on exacting revenge, one determined to prevent the continuing tragedies--is truly unique.  This concept inspired me to look for ways to make the ghosts in my novels really have to work around barriers to communication--it should never be as easy as simply leaving clues.  If it were, any ghost could simply write out what it needed to convey with no struggle. 
5.  Vaporetto 13, by Robert Girardi
Another atmospheric ghost story by Girardi, this one transports the reader to the damp, stagnant canals of Venice.  It's been many years since I read this one, so I'm due for a re-read.  But I can clearly remember the desperate longing between Jack and the mysterious Caterina, the eerie and evocative descriptions of Venice, and the suspense building as Jack unravels the truth.

Well, that's the first five, anyway...making this list I realized I have read plenty more worth mentioning!  But it's late, so that's a blog post for another day.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your own favorite ghost story, I'm always looking for recommendations!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Adventures in #ZipLining - #HarpersFerry #WVA #Travel

I love being scared when the actual risk of danger is relatively small: riding roller coasters, visiting haunted houses, reading (and writing) ghost stories, watching scary movies, etc.  So when my best friend suggested we take our families on a 3-hour zip line “Canopy Tour” in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, I agreed enthusiastically. 
My two boys have inherited this adrenaline-rush-seeking gene from me, and my husband is usually game for anything athletic.  My friend’s husband and her two daughters were on board as well.  After all, the 8 of us had visited the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas together and all tackled the steepest, longest waterslide I’ve ever seen.  If we could do that, we could do this.

We did ask our 19-year-old lead guide if anyone had ever died on the course.  He assured us that had never happened; if it had, the park would no longer exist.  The safety measures they had in place were very impressive.  But once you started that course, you were up in the treetops for the duration—there is no way to get up or down.  So we were told that everyone needed to use the bathroom before hand, because if they have to rappel you down, you are done. 
He and our other guide went through all the possible scenarios and procedures with us, and he probably thought he’d covered any situation.  He said he’d seen it all…but we ended up proving him wrong in the first 15 minutes!
The view from the treetops - 3 states visible: MD on the left, VA in the middle, WVA on the right
Throughout the course, each group has 2 guides with them, one who goes first to help catch you and unclip you as you land, and one who is at the start platform before you go, hooking you onto the line.  In the meantime, you are ALWAYS hooked to a tether on the platform.  So you are always hooked to something, either the center of the platform or the line.  There are 8 tethers plus 2 for guides and that’s the max that can go together.

There I go!
Our group got through the first 2 stations, and then there was a wooden suspension bridge you have to cross, since you’re headed up to a higher platform and a zip line alone won’t work.  So it’s shaky footing but your zip lines are attached to a cable above.

They space you out as you cross.  My friend was well ahead of me when she lost her footing.  She started flying backwards because she was so far uphill at that point.  She could have grabbed any of the stationary ropes along the sides of the bridge, but instead she grabbed her zip line, which of course was moving backwards with her.  Not helpful.  So she was yelling, “I can’t stop” and dragging her heels across the boards to try.
BOTH her shoes came off in this process and fell about 50 feet to the ground.  I had to catch her with my legs to stop us both from continuing backwards.  When we managed to finally get over, the guide asked, “Where are your shoes?”  My friend, who now had only socks and torn up heels, was worried she would hold the group behind us up.  So she said, “Forget it, I don’t need shoes.  I’m fine.”
They never told us we weren't allowed to lose our shoes along the way
But the lead guide said he could not let her continue without shoes.  Since this had never happened, he had to figure out what to do.  In the end, he opened a trap door and rappelled down to the forest floor.  He found her shoes, then had to run back to the start of the course, since there’s no other way up.  He had to zip though (literally), going ahead of others to get back to us.

Meanwhile, we were stuck.  You need 2 guides to move forward (and shoes).  The second guide said the next group might pass us, but I pointed out there were only so many tethers on the platform.  No way could another group of 8 come onto our platform and fit, let alone be tied safely to the platform.  They were stuck too, as was anyone behind them.  So, we held up the entire course for nearly 30 minutes.  Slightly embarrassing.  
Let’s just say we had a lot of laughs, finished the course, and made sure we got out of there before the group behind us made it to the ground.  And our guide got a huge tip.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Friday Fitness - Zumba - Kathryn Knight

I’ve been teaching step aerobics for 22 years now, but Zumba has been the latest craze in cardio classes—and it has proved its staying power.  At the urging of some of my class members, I earned my Zumba certification about 5 years ago.  At first, I was a little frustrated.  I have no background whatsoever in Latin dance, and learning the salsa, cumbia, flamenco, and samba took me way outside my comfort zone.  Not only was I expected to do these dances, I had to be able to teach them to a class of people looking for an hour’s workout with little downtime between songs.

But I persevered, because once I start something, I rarely give up (see: writing two full-length novels, lol).  I practiced at home, forced my regular classes to try out a new dance with me, and attended other instructor’s classes. 

I didn’t love having to fill an hour with just Latin-inspired music, though…and soon I realized other instructors would just take ANY upbeat song they liked and create a dance for it.  Which just proves the age-old adage "everything old becomes new again": the format of specific dances choreographed to popular songs is EXACTLY how floor aerobics began in the first place.  I’d come full circle.

Creative dance moves not being my forte, I quickly discovered a treasure trove of examples: youtube is FULL of Zumba instructors willing to happily share their latest choreography.  I’ll pick a song I like, do a quick search, and instantly have dozens of routines to help inspire me.  Since I’m a perfectionist, I tend to watch every video and pick out the moves I like the best, then piece them together in a way that works for me.  And my packed classes tell me the members appreciate my efforts.

The benefits of Zumba are substantial.  One study showed the AVERAGE number of calories burned during an hour of Zumba is 817.  That is a great deal for an hour’s worth of exercise, and doing the moves with more intensity can propel that number even higher.  Zumba is a full body workout—while you are getting your heart rate up, you are also utilizing many different muscle groups throughout class.  Traditional fitness moves get thrown into the dances: squats, lunges, shuffles, jacks, etc.  But the other key is that Zumba is FUN!  The endorphins start flowing, and daily worries take a backseat as you dance your cares away.

So if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot.  You can find Zumba almost everywhere, and every instructor puts a different twist on their class.  You don’t have to be a great dancer—I get all levels of skill and fitness capabilities.  And although I mainly teach at a women’s gym, when I teach at our other location, I get plenty of men in class.

If you do decide to take the plunge, or if you’re already a fan of Zumba, leave a comment below with the name of the song you enjoy most during class!  I’m always looking for new routines to add to my class.