Sunday, October 26, 2014

$100 #Giveway Halloween Blog Hop + Win a Ghost Story #Romance

Welcome to my stop on the Snarkology Halloween Blog Hop!  It's the season for all things spooky, and graveyards offer the perfect spot for all kinds of paranormal activity.  Picturing a visit to a cemetery on a crisp autumn night easily conjures up images of wispy shadows darting amongst the tombstones.  Those are the types of scenes I love to describe in my books, but then I have a bit of an obsession with ghosts.  I've done multiple posts on both my experience with ghosts and actual hauntings, so I thought this October, I'd delve a little deeper into graveyards, the final earthly destination for many restless spirits.

A graveyard refers to a burial ground within church property; this location within the church's yard indicates a burial area associated with a single place of worship, consecrated for use by a specific denomination.  The graveyards were initially for people who could not afford to be buried within or beneath the church.  Spots close to the church and to the east were reserved for those of higher status, while the north corner was the least favorable location.

Eventually, graveyards became overcrowded hotbeds for disease, as more and more bodies were packed into limited space.  Concern over infectious outbreaks near graveyards located in populated areas led to an alternative solution.  Cemeteries were created away from town centers, and these new burial places were not necessarily connected to a particular church.  While we often use the words "graveyard" and "cemetery" interchangeably now, "graveyard" is a much older term.

Catacombs of Paris - Wall of Skulls
In 18th century Paris, the overcrowding became such a problem that the Holy Innocents' Cemetery was closed and condemned.  Bodies buried there were exhumed and transported to the Catacombs beneath the city.  This turned the remains of old stone mines into a massive underground ossuary: a site, or thing, such as a box, which is made to hold skeletal remains.  The bones of approximately six million people were moved into the Catacombs during a two-year period, and as it was impossible to match the remains with identities, display walls were created by stacking femurs and skulls.

A Potter's Field refers to a mass graveyard for the poor or unknown dead.  The term "Potter's Field" actually comes from the Bible.  Before hanging himself, Judas cast away the silver he'd received for betraying Jesus.  The priests did not want the tainted money to go into the charity box, so they used it to buy land for the burial of strangers.  The field they purchased was considered land of poor quality--consisting of clay used by potters as opposed to rich soil useful in agriculture--hence the name.  Interestingly enough, Judas plays a part in many morbid superstitions--see my posts on The Number 13 and The Origin of Superstitions.    

A dangerous ghost & an
ex-boyfriend await Claire
Linden in Gull Harbor...
If you enjoy a suspenseful spooky story mixed with some steamy romance, leave a comment below to enter the giveaway for a FREE e-copy of my ghost story/romance GULL HARBOR.  This book was a 19-week Kindle bestseller, and it's a perfect Halloween read!  Please don't forget to leave an email or twitter handle where I can reach you should you win. Facebook and twitter follows/likes will gain extra entries into the GULL HARBOR giveaway - please note in your comment.

If you like $100 gift cards to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (ha ha, who doesn't?), here's the Blog Hop Rafflecopter! Extra entries to win $100 can be gained by the +1 options. Plus, there are two second prize winner who'll receive $15 cards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are a whole bunch more stops on this blog hop, filled with fun Halloween/Fall posts...and more swag to win along the way.  Below are the links to guide you through the hop!  Happy haunted hopping :) P.S. The hop begins on 10/27 and ends with the drawing on 10/31 - enjoy the trick-or-treating!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#99c Revenge, #Romance, and a Rogue Fallen Angel #Kindledeals

Happy Halloween!  This is a big month for supernatural stories, and I have several ebook offerings for less than a dollar.  First off, my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL, is currently on sale for .99 cents!  That's a savings of $3.00 off the current price, so if you have a Nook or Kindle, grab it now!  It's a great deal for this tale of first love, forbidden lineage, and suspenseful secrets.  The reviewer at Read for Your Future compared it to Twilight, which I personally loved.  So if you'd like to give it a try, I've added the links below.

I also write novels for the over-18 crowd, and one of these books is part of a multi-author "Hot, Haunted Halloween" giveaway!  Four of us are hosting the Facebook party and each author is giving away an ecopy of her spooky ghost story + steamy romance to the winner!  Make that winners, actually, as we'll pick 2 names from the commenters on our event page throughout the event.  I'll be giving away GULL HARBOR, Kelly Moran is giving away THE DRAKE HOUSE, Joya Fields is giving away ALTERED FREQUENCY, and Denise Moncrief is giving away LAUREL HEIGHTS.  There's nothing to lose and possibly 4 books to win, so stop by and enter!  All you need to do is join our FB event on this page, check out the pinned, starred post at the top that asks you to FB Like or Twitter Follow the participating authors (links provided), then comment "Done" and you are in the drawing!  These books are worth the effort, so come on by!

Happy Haunted Reading!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#GhostInsideMyChild - #Paranormal Posts #GhostInside

I'm fascinated by ghosts, so when I saw the title of this show airing on LMN, I knew I had to tune in.  I was immediately hooked and a little bit creeped out!  The ghosts I write about are separate entities, lingering forlornly among familiar places until their unfinished business can be completed--usually, this involves my characters unraveling the mysteries behind the restless spirits' deaths and locating their earthly remains.  The Ghost Inside My Child involves a different type of that resides within a new body: i.e., a reincarnated spirit who suffered a violent or sudden death.

Chills, right?  If you've watched the show, you'll see that the memories, facts, and details of past lives surfacing in these children's minds are incredibly accurate.  While there may be other explanations, mere coincidence or active imaginations don't seem likely. 

I maintain a Pinterest board specifically for spooky stories and photos to use as inspiration, and one mystery I found there reminds me of this LMN show: the story of the Pollock twins.  These identical twin girls were born a year after their older sisters died in a 1957 car accident.  One of the twin girls (who should have had identical markings) had two birthmarks that matched one of their deceased sisters'.  Both girls had memories that seemed to belong to their sisters...for example, they asked for toys they'd never seen that had belonged to their sisters.  The parents moved the family after the accident, but when they returned to visit the English town, the girls were able to request a visit to a park they had never been to...and describe it in detail.

The word "reincarnation" is derived from Latin and means "entering the flesh again".  There are, of course, a lot of religious beliefs surrounding the existence of this phenomenon, but that's way beyond the scope of this blog.  I'm a fan of anything paranormal, and even non-believers will find the show an interesting source of historical periods and events. 

My first introduction to the concept of reincarnation came about, like most things in my life, via the pages of a novel.  Library trips came once a week when I was a kid, and although I always brought home a huge stack, it was never enough.  I'd reread my favorites, and I often went back to the old standbys lining my bookshelf: Charlotte's Web, Summer Pony, Winter Pony, Benji, The Incredible Journey, and my favorite ghost story, Jane-Emily.  When I needed a fresh, never-before-read story, I raided the bookshelf in my parents' room.  Of course, these choices were rarely age-appropriate, but I was a mature reader and my mom was too busy with my younger siblings to worry about my reading habits.

I went through all the Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Higgins Clark, and even a few David Morrell.  Even then, I had a passion for gothic and spooky, and there was one paperback with a terrifying cover: Audrey Rose, by Frank De Fellita.  It was about--you got it--reincarnation--specifically a couple with a daughter, Ivy, displaying odd behavior.  This coincides with an alarming visit from a man claiming Ivy is actually his daughter Audrey Rose, who died a horrific death, trapped in a burning vehicle with her mother.

A quick look at the book's Goodreads page shows I am not alone in having been impacted by the frightening cover.  While there were a couple different editions, the cover to the left is what was in our bookshelf at home.  From what I remember, this was actually more of a supernatural drama than a horror book, but I'll never forget that cover...or the ending of the book, even though I read it too many years ago to reveal here!  I'll leave out the spoilers, in case anyone wants to check it out.  For more spooky and suspenseful reads--with romance, which guarantees a happy ending--check out ghost stories SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR, or my new YA release about a dangerous fallen angel, DIVINE FALL (only 99 cents this week on Kindle and Nook!).  After all, it is the perfect month for paranormal!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Origins of Superstitions - #Paranormal #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.

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. 

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 have plenty more coming, including an opportunity to win 4 paranormal romance books - join this FB event to learn more!

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

Happy haunted reading!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shaving Time Off Those Annoying "Must-Do" Tasks

What would I do
without coffee?
Everyone is busier than ever these days.  We’re connected 24/7 to our devices, so we rarely have an opportunity to be blissfully unaware of our obligations.  Plus, we’re all trying to balance busy schedules with family and/or free time, while not letting any of the balls we’re juggling drop.  Personally, I’m trying to manage a family that includes two teenage boys who take challenging classes and participate in multiple sports, plus my husband’s frequent business travels and the needs of our rescue pets.  Then there are my jobs: I teach fitness classes every morning, teach a writing class in the evenings, and somehow find time to write romance novels for a New York publisher.
It’s a lot to balance, and I’m always looking for ways to save time.  I’ve become very efficient through the years—doing two things at once is my specialty!  So I was inspired by the Dollar Shave Club’s "Shave Time/Shave Money" motto to come up with a post dedicated to the ways I shave time off of the stuff I have to do to make time for the things I want to do.
For me, trips to the grocery store are the biggest time suck.  My boys eat a ton, and I always seem to forget something.  That’s where the Dollar Shave Club comes in, because razors are not something on my radar when I’m shopping for lunches and dinners for everyone.  But three out of four of us in this family shave--with the fourth to likely start soon--so it’s a literal pain when new blades are needed and the package is empty.  I’ve linked the website—you can get new razors monthly, or every other month, for as low as $1.00…one less thing to think of!

But, the grocery store is inevitable, and I really try to minimize the amount of time I spend there.  I write my list beforehand, organizing the order in terms of the layout of the store aisles.  I also keep a recipe box of coupons filed in the same order.  That way I can quickly pull out what I need to save money!  I also check the store’s website for the weekly sale items and try to plan meals around those offers.
Making dinners is another task I try to approach with as much efficiency as possible.  I purchase value packs of meat whenever possible and prepare several meals at once.  For example, I’ll cut up chicken breasts into smaller pieces, store them in a ziplock bag, and add a marinade.  I freeze that for a future date, and as it defrosts, it marinates.  Then I do one of my quick go-to meals for that night…one of my family’s favorites involves just putting sliced chicken breasts in a baking dish, smothering with bar-b-que sauce (I use Stubb’s – all natural and no corn syrup), and baking.  Easy!  I can throw some foil wrapped potatoes into the oven a little earlier as well to have everything ready at once.

The crockpot is also my friend.  Another favorite involves putting chicken breasts in along with a jar of salsa in the morning.  By evening, you have Mexican shredded chicken to use in tacos or on nachos.  You can see some of my time-saving (and fairly healthy!) recipes on my Pinterest board.
For makeup and skin care items, I look for items that do double duty.  For example, my foundation is a tinted, mattifying moisturizer that contains sunscreen.  I get coverage, sun protection, and shine control all in one.  I brush on loose mineral power that minimizes lines and absorbs excess oil, sweep some bronzer or blush over cheekbones and eyes, and add lip balm that contains both shimmer color and SPF.  Ready to go in less than 5 minutes!  For my husband, I get the Dr.Carver’s Post Shave, as it serves as an aftershave, a moisturizer, and contains antioxidants to fight aging.  Some of my favorite products are on my Health and Beauty Pinterest board.

I also spend A LOT of my time acting as a chauffeur for my kids.  When they are actually in the car with me, I use the time to get conversations going.  But of course that’s only possible for one direction—otherwise it’s just me in the car, headed to pick them up, or driving back home after dropping them off.  Since I absolutely love to read, I decided to use that time to find another way to enjoy books.  My to-be-read list is enormous, so any book on the list that’s available as an audio download comes with me in the car.  That means I’m reading one book at home and listening to one book in the car, but as I said, I’m used to doing several things at once.  Often I’m reading up to three books at the same time.  Studies have shown that reading is one of the best stress-reducers there is—what busy mom doesn’t need that?
My favorite reading spot...can't
you just feel the stress melting away?
My goal has always been to write books that people can get lost in…engaging reads that provide suspense, mystery, and romance to keep the pages turning.  Writing is my passion, but it also takes a lot of time to write a quality novel.  Using the tips above help allow me to keep everything running smoothly so I can do what I love.  What are your tips to save time?  Feel free to share below in the comments section – I’m always looking for new ideas!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#Fashion Inspired by My Passions - #amwriting & #Fitness

I'm the first one to admit I'm no trendsetter, although I do enjoy attempting to be fashionable.  It gets a little challenging, though, since my work attire does not usually include a sharp business suit and killer heels.  In the morning, I go teach classes at the gym.  I do try to look put together, since I'm representing my place of business, not to mention standing in front of a large crowd of women.  Still, I don't bother showering before teaching a fitness class, so the hair usually leaves a lot to be desired.

After I do get a shower in, it's time to get to the computer to write until the kids get home...and since my workstation is located on my kitchen island, there's really no one to impress except the pets.  But autumn brings soccer season, back-to-school events, author presentations clustered around Halloween, and a class in Fiction I'm teaching at the local community college.  I'm going to have to look varying degrees of presentable for these engagements.  And when I can, I like to add some personality to my wardrobe with a little hint of my passions - writing and fitness.

Me modeling my favorite hoodie!
Lots of great workout clothes at
Strong Girl Clothing
This one's my favorite because it actually brings both those passions together - I found this "And though she be but little, she is fierce" hoodie on etsy.  If it's chilly and I want to wear a cover up to class, it has to be something with a front zip, because I wear a mic on my head and I can't pull anything over it once I'm warm.  Usually I only require a few in nice colors at reasonable prices, but this one is so original because it has a Shakespeare quote!  Specifically, it's said by Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Not only is the quote fitting for me, since I'm a little under 5'2", but obviously the author of the quote is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.  He's well known for his tragic romantic couples, and coined the phrase "star-crossed lovers".  For me, this was a bargain at $27.99.  You can find this hoodie at Strong Girl Clothing on Etsy.

This shirt is available for only
$19.95...see the link
My teenage son loves American Eagle, and we go to the mall once every few months (he's growing fast!) and stock up.  On our last trip a few weeks ago, I saw this shirt, with "ROMANCE" written across the front.  How could I not buy that?  Perfect for the soccer field with a jean jacket or open sweater.  I bought an AE gray cotton open pullover to go with it.

Since I only have boys, I'm not very attuned to what teenage girls like...but I needed a gift idea for my character Dothan to give Jamie in my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  I put out a call for suggestions on my FaceBook page, and the overwhelming response at that time was Alex and Ani bracelets.  I wasn't entirely sure what those were, but I looked it up and they seemed perfect.  Dothan gave Jamie on with the initial "J", a horse charm, and of course an angel charm.

I love this bracelet set
created from Alex & Ani and Silpada

The white feathers
falling reflect Dothan's
Fallen angel lineage
My best friend then gave me my first one for my birthday - an antique gold one with the initial "K".  I combined it with some of my Silpada beaded bracelets so I could achieve the sort of look I saw online.  When DIVINE FALL released, I decided I deserved to treat myself to another Alex and Ani bangle.  I chose a feather, in honor of Dothan's Nephilim lineage, and to echo the feathers on the beautiful cover of the book.

I look for other fashion ideas on Pinterest, and that really helps me pull outfits together, especially for author events.  I even found a fantastic pair of shoes created by someone with a love for Romance can see them on my Pinterest Fashion Board.  I'd buy them in a heartbeat, if only they were for sale!  Maybe I can channel my crafty side (it makes brief appearances occasionally) and try my hand at making my own?  I know which three covers I'd start the collage with!  If you need some great paranormal reads to get in the Halloween mood--steamy romance mixed with spooky suspense--try my ghost story/romances GULL HARBOR or SILVER LAKE.  And my latest release is a Young Adult novel, DIVINE FALL, involving a Fallen angel, filled with forbidden love and supernatural secrets, and appropriate for ages 13 and up. 

Enjoy the fall!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Anxiously Awaiting #Annabelle - #paranormal postings

As a fan of all things paranormal, I've been anxiously awaiting October, and all the spooky stuff that comes with it.  First and foremost on my list is Annabelle, the new horror film releasing this Friday.  Annabelle is a prequel to The Conjuring, which I watched with my sister, who is equally obsessed with scary much so that she named her daughter Reagan!  Anyone familiar with The Exorcist will recognize that name--we've watched that movie too many times to count.  I even did a blog post on the supposed curse surrounding the making of that movie, which you can read here.

I had to know more about The Conjuring once I'd seen it--after all, I write ghost stories, so I'm always looking for inspiration--and this movie was apparently based on actual events.  The Warrens are real paranormal investigators who deal with prominent hauntings...The Amityville Horror, one of my favorite books, was inspired by their reports.

While Ed Warren passed away in 2006, Lorraine Warren still resides in Connecticut and helps run a private Occult Museum located in the back of her house.  It is in this museum that visitors can view the actual Annabelle doll.  According to the Warren's website, the doll was often found in different positions or even entirely different locations.  Is there anything more creepy than a moving doll?  You can read the story of the real Annabelle doll here.

This isn't Annabelle...this is one of 8 plastic-covered
dolls one of my sister's patients gave her.
This text made me laugh hysterically...but I
wouldn't want them hanging around either.

If I recall correctly, the doll made an appearance in the opening of The Conjuring.  While Vera Farmiga stars as Lorraine Warren in the film, Ms. Warren herself actually has a cameo.  Vera Farmiga currently appears in another scary show--Bates Motel, the television series prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.  And I recognize her sister, Taissa Farmiga, as Violet from the first season of American Horror Story, which involved a haunted house--so it was a show I obviously couldn't resist.

While I admit I find hauntings fascinating, the idea of actually experiencing such a thing is terrifying.  But I have to admit, I would really like to get a look at that museum!  Hmm...I am going to be taking a trip to Connecticut this month, for my husband's reunion at the Coast Guard Academy.  Do I dare????

I plan to enjoy being screaming my head off in the movie theater this weekend...that's probably as close as I'll get the actual Annabelle.  For a peek at some of my other favorite ghost movies, look here.  And I've made a list of my favorite books involving ghosts as well, here.  And if you need some steamy romance reads to counteract a bit of spooky suspense, try SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR.  Happy hauntings!