Monday, March 30, 2015

Finding #Easter Day's Date + #Giveaway - Spring #LASRBlogfest #amreading

My post helps kick off the party
on March 30th!  Come join us!
Hop on over to Long and Short Reviews to celebrate the Spring Blogfest!  You'll find tons of spring- and Easter-related blog posts, along with giveaways and a chance to win a $25 gift card. My post gives some insight into why Easter's date fluctuates each year and how the date is actually calculated.  And if you leave a comment over there, you'll be entered into the drawing for a free e-copy of your choice of Gull Harbor, Silver Lake, or Divine Fall!  So come celebrate the season and enter to win all kinds of beach reads for those warm, sultry days ahead...they're coming soon, and I for one can't wait! Just click the link below to visit:

Finding Easter's Date Blogpost & Giveway on LASR

Treat yourself to some new reads this spring!
Steamy romance + spooky suspense =
page-turning entertainment!

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ghosts + #Romance - Steamy #TeaserTuesday #amreading

I'm celebrating my second novel's second birthday with a little excerpt today. GULL HARBOR is both a steamy romance reuniting first loves as well as a suspenseful mystery involving a dangerous ghost.  It was also a #1 Kindle Bestseller in several categories!  Psychic medium Claire Linden is spending the summer in the seaside town of Gull Harbor in order to rid her temporary home of a destructive spirit. But she never expects to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation on graduation day.  Five years have passed since then, and Claire's becoming aware there might be something more to Max's disappearance than she knows about.  This scene occurs on a night Max has taken 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.

Continue the Story!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Series vs. Stand Alone #amwriting #amreading

My latest release, Divine Fall, has garnered many requests for a sequel as well as a prequel, and I'm thrilled about that.  It's truly gratifying to know that readers aren't done with my characters and want to stay in their world a bit longer--writing characters people care about is what it's all about.  While I've left the door open to possibly continue Jamie and Dothan's story, Divine Fall is very much a stand alone novel without a cliffhanger ending.  All my books are, in fact, and I think that has a lot to do with my own reading preference--which, not surprisingly, is guessed it, stand alone novels!

In Divine Fall, the last Nephilim
will have to make a choice--
continue his quest for revenge, or
protect the girl he's grown to love.
Don't get me wrong--I do understand the appeal of revisiting characters you know and love.  And sometimes it makes perfect sense that the circumstances of the overall story arc will create enough action to keep characters fighting against plenty of conflict and tension. But a lot of the time, it doesn't, and things go south in terms of the plot.  Especially when writing romance, where the author has to keep the couple apart for a good portion of the time.  A content couple with no obstacles to overcome to achieve that happiness makes for a very boring storyline.  In my books, both the hero and the heroine have significant conflicts - both internal and external - keeping them apart.  I want the reader to be desperate for them to finally get together, and to be gratified when they finally earn their Happily Ever After.  Plus, I always throw in a climactic danger scene, because again, I like a plot that involves more than just complex emotions and character development.

Silver Lake and Gull Harbor
are both reunion romances
mixed with ghost stories.
So, after about 300 pages of sexual tension, spooky suspense, and shocking revelations, coupled with an edge-of-your-seat climax, I feel like my characters have had enough.  They deserve their happiness, and I want to give it to them.  Sure, I could find another way to rip them apart in Book 2, and then let them find their way back to one another once again...but honestly, how much more could I throw at these two people and still come across as believable?  Even though real life gets awfully complicated sometimes, fictional characters do tend to be burdened with more than their fair share of bad luck, family strife, damaging secrets, devastating betrayal, and life-or-death situations.  As a reader and a writer, I prefer believable scenes and events.  Even within the paranormal, it's important to me to have enough details and explanations to keep a supernatural element from veering too far out into left field.

Of course, there are exceptions.  A story about a detective or a private investigator, for example, easily lends itself to a series--the very nature of the job will thrust the main character into new danger, deceit, and mystery with each case.  Or a series that uses the same setting, family, clan, etc. as a connection, focusing on different main characters with each new novel as opposed to the same two main characters.  For example, fans of Whitney, My Love (which includes me) needed more of Whitney and Clayton, and Judith McNaught answered the call by creating the Westmoreland Saga.  Each book can function as a stand-alone, but characters are connected as relatives of the seductive Duke of Claymore, and we get to see brief appearances of beloved characters from previous novels, or in the case of A Kingdom of Dreams, ancestors dating back to 1497.

Only a few trilogies or sagas featuring the same main characters have truly kept my interest through the entire journey.  The Twilight Saga spanned four books, yet the conflict was strong enough, and the world-building intriguing enough, to keep me enjoying each new book.  Yes, I loved Twilight, and when an editorial reviewer said Divine Fall reminded her of Twilight, I was thrilled.

One of my absolute favorite books, The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, left me scrambling for the next in the series, Tatiana and Alexander.  I thought the second was nearly as good as the first, and the ending was perfect.  But then I went ahead and read the third, The Summer Garden, and I was so disappointed.  It was a strange combination of childhood flashbacks that went nowhere mixed with sad details of present day life, and one of the characters did something I hated.  Now, when I recommend The Bronze Horseman, I tell people to read the first two books and leave it at that!

Chime in - what do you prefer, stand alones, series, or both?  What are your favorites?  Why? Let's hear your opinion!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

History of St. Patrick - Happy #StPatricksDay #StPatrick

I love learning more about the meaning of our holidays and traditions--I've done posts on Celebrating New Year's Day, St. Nick and Santa Claus, the Origin of Halloween, and Finding Easter's Date.  While I'm not exactly Irish (although one of my great-grandfathers was a Sullivan), I do enjoy taking part in the fun--wearing green, drinking beer, and serving a traditional Irish meal.  You'll notice I said "serving", not "cooking" is not one of my strengths; however, writing is.  So I'm dedicating this blog post to some facts about St. Patrick and his holiday.

As a teenager, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken from his home country of Great Britain to Ireland as a slave.  A rough start, for sure, but although he escaped after six years and returned home, eventually he went back to Ireland as a cleric.  The exact dates of his life are uncertain, but it is generally agreed that Patrick was an active missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.  He was also an ordained Bishop and eventually became the primary patron saint of Ireland.  St. Patrick's Day became an official Christian Feast Day in the early 17th century, observed on March 17th, the date of Patrick's death.

The day not only commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, it also celebrates Irish culture and heritage. There are parades and festivals to mark the occasion, as well as religious services.  Because the church lifts Lenten restrictions for the day, drinking alcohol has become a custom associated with St. Patrick's Day.

The shamrock as a symbol comes from legends involving St. Patrick using the three-leafed plant to describe the Holy Trinity--the concept of three persons in one God. Obviously, shamrocks are green, but the phrase "The Wearing of the Green" comes from an Irish ballad of the same name.  The song refers to the persecution of those who supported the 1798 rebellion against British rule. The lyrics state, "They are hanging men and women for the wearing of the green" - the color adopted by the revolutionary United Irishmen.

Some stories credit St. Patrick with driving all the snakes from Ireland; however, all scientific evidence suggests no snakes ever existed on the Emerald Isle to begin with.  Another legend related to a serpent involves St. Patrick killing a large serpent in a lake, thus turning the water red with blood and creating the name "Red Lake" or Lough Derg.  It is said that God showed St. Patrick a cave or pit on an island in the lake, revealing the spot as an entrance to Purgatory.  St. Patrick's Purgatory is now an ancient pilgrimage site which still draws pilgrims annually.

Upon his death, the struggle over possession of the saintly corpse gave rise to the Battle for the Body of St. Patrick (according to the Annals of the Four Masters - chronicles of medieval Irish history).  He is said to be buried along with St. Brigid and St. Columbia at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, but this has never been proven.

I've never been lucky enough to visit Ireland, but it's on my list of places I desperately want to see--a trip there conjures up images of ancient castles, mystical stone circles, and lush, rolling countrysides.  In fact, it sounds like the perfect setting for a novel!  One of my favorite Nora Roberts' trilogies (Irish Jewels) is set in Ireland: Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon, and Heart of the Sea.  The romance is flavored with Irish folklore and intriguing myths.  While my novels are all set in the States, they also contain haunting if you like a little spooky suspense with steamy romance, give one of them a try...a good book goes well with a slice of soda bread and an Irish coffee :) Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Deer Instead of Disasters! #Ski Trip #skiing in Canada

Followers of my blog may remember the (in retrospect) hilarious details of my traumatic ski weekend--the trip that made me decide to hang up my downhill skis forever.  I gave it a fair shot, I improved enough to make it down the mountain in one piece most of the time, and kept it up for a few winters.  And then, after that last run, I decided that throwing myself down an icy mountain in subzero temperatures is just not my idea of fun.  But, I live in New England now, and this winter has been nothing if not snowy (see: blizzards).  So, when my husband expressed a strong desire to return to our their favorite ski resort over February break, I had to bite the proverbial bullet for the sake of my family's fun.

To be honest, I was fine with the thought of spending every day sleeping late in the comfort of our hotel, followed by more lazing around in my pajamas with a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other.  After all, I certainly needed to wind down after the first half of February--the beginning of the month was a crazy and sometimes stressful ride: Not only did I finish my fourth manuscript, HAUNTED SOULS, I also signed with a literary agent!  I was exhausted after all the hard work and excitement.

As wonderful as doing nothing sounds, though, eventually I needed to move.  In addition to writing, fitness is my other passion (and job).  And a member of the gym where I work happened to be at the same Canadian ski resort as we were...her family goes every year.  So she suggested we try cross-country skiing on one of the days.  I'd done it once before, and although it was two years prior, I seemed to recall it being much more my speed.

First of all, what a workout!  That part I did remember.  Despite the very cold temperatures, I was sweating after the first 5 minutes.  And the best part was that it was a fun workout!  Once I got the hang of it, I could glide along without fear of a collison, chatting with my friend while admiring the pristine, peaceful woods of Domaine Saint-Bernard.

The trail eventually led to a clearing with a little covered shelter, complete with benches and a firepit.  Strung along the trees were dozens of birdfeeders.  As we approached, my friend suddenly whispers, "Kathryn...look to your right."

So beautiful!
A deer was walking along side of her!  When we slowed, gaping at the close proximity of a wild and usually timid creature, the doe gazed back at us with expectant brown eyes.  I quickly put it together--this deer knew the drill--and pulled out the sunflower seeds we'd picked up at the lodge.  Supposedly, they were for the birds, but it was apparent the deer had decided to get in on the action.

No one else was around.  The deer came closer and closer as we tossed the seeds, and only the birds overhead broke the cold, still silence.  My friend held out a hand filled with seeds, and one of the birds landed on her hand and began to eat.  We felt like we were in a Disney movie!  The only things missing were colorful pastel gowns and uplifting songs.

I LOVE animals, and as I shared the experience with my family over dinner, my enthusiasm convinced them to give cross country a try, too.  The next day, they took time off from downhill and we all went together.

It wasn't quite as magical...this time, the clearing happened to be filled with people.  But the deer were there, and some of them were bold enough to eat from our hands!  One actually seemed ready to search my coat pockets once I'd run out of seeds!

Me with a bird on
my hand!
So, a happy and memorable skiing trip this year, with something for all of us.  And I still had most of the days to myself...peace, quiet, and good books.  If you need a winter escape, try one of my steamy romances...they are spiked with suspenseful ghost mysteries to keep the pages turning!  GULL HARBOR is set on the spectacular beaches of Cape Cod, and SILVER LAKE is set by a sparkling lake in Fairfield, Connecticut.  And BOTH novels take place in the sultry summer months...which seem far off in this never-ending winter...maybe the snow will have melted here by then!