Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ready to Write? Fiction Class #Plymouth #CapeCod #amwriting #NaNoWriMo

My "Fiction Writing and Publication" course is coming to Plymouth, MA, this fall!  In this 6-week class, we'll meet on Tuesday evenings beginning September 29th, from 6-8 pm, and we'll cover a multitude of topics related to writing fiction and getting it published.

There's something for writers at every stage in this class.  We'll go over some of the basics, such as identifying genres in commercial fiction (necessary for meeting reader expectations, writing query letters, submitting to small or digital presses, and/or listing your book in Amazon categories), idea inspiration, staying on track and word count goals.  Once we've covered the basics, we'll move on to showing vs. telling, Goal-Motivation-Conflict charts, character development, and the hook. Common pitfalls will be covered, such as info dumps, cliches, Mary Sues, and POV (Point of View) issues/head hopping.

Finally, we'll get to querying agents or presses and writing the dreaded blurbs and synopsis. We'll go over all the different publishing options available as well as promotion and marketing.  And if you're considering trying NaNoWriMo, we'll finish up right in time!  Follow the link for registration info: Cape Cod Community College Plymouth Schedule.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Visiting Cuttyhunk Island ~ #Cuttyhunk #CapeCod #vacation

Living on beautiful Cape Cod comes with a lot of summer house guests, and I wrote a post last year on some of our favorite places to take our visiting friends and family.  Since then, we discovered another amazing location within an hour's journey.  It's not a particularly easy place to get to, which surely lends to the mystique and charm.  But it was on my bucket list, so we set up a plan with our neighbors to explore Cuttyhunk Island one day when the seas were calm.

Approaching Cuttyhunk
Cuttyhunk is the very last island in the chain of the Elizabeth Islands, which extend from Woods Hole at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod.  The Elizabeth Islands consist of: Nonamesset, Veckatimest, Uncatena, Naushon, Weepecket Islands, Pasque, Nashawena, Penikese, and Cuttyhunk.  All of these islands, with the exception of Penikese and Cuttyhunk, are privately owned by the Forbes family.  Penikese, the past site of Massachusetts's only leper colony, is now a bird sanctuary with no permanent inhabitants. Cuttyhunk is more accessible to visitors; but just because it's open to the public does not mean it's an easy exit off a turnpike!  You either need a private boat--and somewhere to tie up--or a ticket for the one ferry service out of New Bedford.

We had the boat part covered, and thanks to one of our friend's connections, we secured both a place to tie up and a golf cart, which is how most people get around the island.  We did not see many cars.  It truly felt like being in a different world.  About 86 people live on Cuttyhunk year round (that number swells to 400 in the summer), and at the time of our visit, the one-room school house only had 2 students enrolled - a pair of siblings.

Old Coast Guard Station
On our way in, we passed an old Coast Guard station, which I had to take a picture of, since my hubby was an officer in the Coast Guard.  The station has not been active since 1964, but there are still a few signs of military presence on the island.  Lookout Hill is the highest point of the island (154 feet above sea level), and it was home to one of the six defensive bunkers built by the Coast Guard in 1941 to watch the surrounding seas for Nazi U-boats.

Once we'd tied the boat off, we got our first look at the "Fish Dock", an adorable little boardwalk with a few shops dedicated to food or fishing.  There's actually only one "store" on the island, which we visited, plus another tiny indoor/outdoor boutique where I bought an old bottle that had washed up from the ocean.  Supplies and mail come in from the New Bedford ferry trips, and in many ways, that's the lifeline to the mainland.  There is no doctor on the island.  One church serves all religions, with time slots set up to accommodate all.

The Fish Dock
On the same street as the church, you'll find the Cuttyhunk Historical Society and Museum of the Elizabeth Islands, a treasure trove of information staffed with friendly volunteers.  A large part of the exhibit is dedicated to the history of the Cuttyhunk Club, an exclusive fishing club formed in 1864 by wealthy and powerful men from New York, who purchased a large portion of the island. The Cuttyhunk Fishing Club is now a tranquil Bed and Breakfast with eight guest rooms.

There are three beaches on Cuttyhunk: Barges Beach, The Channel Beach, and Church's Beach.  We got to see all three, courtesy of our borrowed golf cart.  We also brought our lunch up to Lookout Hill, which offers picnic benches along with a stunning view of the island and the surrounding water.

A view from Lookout Hill

It was such a memorable day, and a fascinating peek at life on a remote island paradise. Someday we hope to go back and stay for a few days.  If you ever have a chance to visit, it is worth the effort!  And until then, if you'd like to visit Cape Cod through the pages of a book, GULL HARBOR will bring you to our sandy shores as psychic medium Claire Linden struggles to unravel a mysterious haunting...and deal with the sudden appearance of her ex-boyfriend, who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her on graduation day without a hint of an explanation.  Steamy romance and spooky suspense combine to make it a page-turning read...and right now, this #1 Kindle Bestseller is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time!  Grab your copy, put up your feet, and come to the beach.

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend
await Claire in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday #Fitness - 7 Day Detox Challenge #nutrition #health

While I usually cover topics pertaining to my writing career on this blog, occasionally on Fridays I dedicate a post to fitness, my other passion.  I've been a group exercise instructor and personal trainer for 25 years, and along with that comes an interest in eating healthy in order to fuel my body.  But of course, eating healthy isn't always fun--it isn't even always possible--and I allow my cravings to get the better of me more than I care to admit.  So when the head trainer at our gym suggested a (voluntary) 7-day "detox" for employees and members interested in cleansing their system after summer indulgences, I decided to join in.  Misery loves company, after all, and at least this way I would have the support of a group!

Then I saw the instructions:  (side note:*I am not a doctor--check with one before a cleanse*)

• No alcohol
• No added sugar of any kind (includes anything that ends in “ose”, agave ,honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners such as stevia and truvia)
• No dairy (includes whey protein)
• No grains or gluten (includes bread, rice, wheat, oats or gluten free snack foods)
• No canola oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
• No legumes (any beans or peanuts or peanut butter)
* Only healthy fats, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil

* Try and eat foods that are antibiotic-free, organic, wild caught, and grass-fed
* Fruit is allowed
* A gallon of water a day

I admit, I balked a bit.  It's so restrictive!  But we all told ourselves we could do anything for 7 days, and I'm proud to say that today is Day 5, and aside from breaking down and pouring some skim milk in my coffee, I've stayed strong.  It was especially hard on Tuesday, when we found out my son's mysterious fever was in fact mononucleosis, and he would not be able to play soccer for weeks, which was a huge blow for him.  I was so upset I could not fall asleep, and the little voice in my head suggested I go get a glass of wine.  But I resisted, and while I will admit the first few days of this detox made me feel horrible (apparently that's a normal response as the body cleanses itself), I do feel much better now.  And once I get to Day 7, I know I'll add things back with a greater attention to ingredients and nutritional value.

So what did I eat?  Here are some of the things I've relied on to get through this:      

I made an egg bake to eat all week for breakfast: - greased a casserole pan with coconut oil, mixed eggs, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes and baked until firm.  Would have been better with cheese but all in all it was not bad.

To have a snack ready to heat up, I made a casserole of roasted veggies: eggplants, sweet potatoes, red onions, and butternut squash, tosssed with olive oil and rosemary.  Quite delicious!

I had bags of salad ready to go, which I garnished with black olives, chicken strips, and sesame seeds or almond slivers.  Olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Since mayo was not allowed, I mixed drained tuna with avocado.  Really good, if you can get past the green color!

I made plain ground turkey and mixed it with fresh salsa, with carrot sticks and cucumbers dipped in fresh guacamole as a side.

Stir-fry became a staple, and I did lots of chicken, peapods, peppers, and mushrooms in sesame oil.

For snacks, I did almond butter on apple slices, deli turkey wrapped around dill pickles, assorted nuts, and fresh fruit smoothies.  And lots and lots of water, per the guide!

I'm glad I've stuck with it in order to give my body a chance to get rid of the toxins it absorbed over a very busy and fun summer!  But I'll admit I'm looking forward to that first glass of least it's a natural product, right?  Two days to go!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lunch with the Authors of #TWRP! #amwriting #romance #suspense

Now that school has started for us here on Cape Cod, I've had a moment to a) breathe and b) reflect on how quickly our summer passed!  First, due to a long series of terrible blizzards here this winter, the last day of school stretched until the very end of June.  My youngest son promptly left for a 3-week science and technology sleepaway camp, which required quite a bit of supply-gathering and transportation issues on the weekends, when the Cape is at its busiest.  After that, the entire family left for a 10-day road trip, during which we found ourselves visiting 4 states plus the District of Columbia, not to mention the 8-hour drive just to get to our friends and family.  I taught my Fiction Writing and Publication Class for Cape Cod Community College in Hyannis. My debut novel, SILVER LAKE, was purchased by Amazon's Encore Imprint and re-released in August, and I organized an all-day Facebook party with 16 fabulous authors from The Wild Rose Press whose books also were also acquired by Encore.  I also had to show up for my job teaching fitness classes every day, with enough energy to jump around, or enough caffeine to fake it.

Group photo after lunch...hope to meet many more of our
talented authors in person in the future!
So I've been so busy, I haven't even had a chance to write about another big highlight of my summer.  Every August, the Cape Cod Writers Conference takes place in Hyannis. I could not attend--yet another event, the commissioning of the impressive Coast Guard Cutter Joshua James in Boston--but I was especially sorry to miss it this year, as the President and Editor-in-Chief of my publishing house, The Wild Rose Press, was there as a presenter.  Luckily, TWRP author Kevin Symmons put together a luncheon later in the week for all local TWRP authors to attend.  We had a lively group, with people traveling quite a ways to meet up!  There was much laughter and networking and it was a fantastic day.  After years of interacting with many fantastic and supportive "Roses" online for years, it was wonderful to connect face-to-face. Hope everyone else had a fabulous and possibly less-hectic summer than I did...looking forward to my favorite season now, autumn...colorful leaves, crisp nights, and a certain October event that celebrates all things spooky and paranormal!

And if you'd like to visit Cape Cod while enjoying some steamy romance and haunting suspense, add GULL HARBOR to your reading list!  This TWRP title has been a #1 Kindle Bestseller on 3 separate occasions!  A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic Claire Linden in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor...  Happy Reading :)

The orange banner made it a
very exciting day for this author!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Pearls of Writing Wisdom #writingtips #amwriting

I'm part of a great new blog dedicated to providing writing tips and inspiration twice a week!  Nine authors from my agency take turns posting - on "Writing Tip Tuesday" and "Friday Inspiration". We write in a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone here - please join us by following our blog, The Pearls of Writing Wisdom, and Like our Facebook page too!

Today's post is by yours truly, on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict charts (GMC).  The green bolded title is the link to the post, so please stop by an comment...I'd love to hear from you! Happy Writing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hurry! #99c SALE Steamy #Romance + Haunting #Suspense! #ghosts #Kindledeals

Final days!  GULL HARBOR, a #1 Kindle Bestseller, is on sale for 99c on Kindle and Nook! Claire Linden arrives in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor ready to take on an aggressive ghost.  Now that she's embraced her gift as a medium, she's confident she can rid her temporary summer home of the desperate spirit that drove the house's owners to hire her.  But she never expects to also encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation five years ago...

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire...

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

Also check out SILVER LAKE, re-released last week from Amazon's Encore Imprint.  Five years after Brandy vanished during senior year of high school, a group of former friends agree to reunite at a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance.  Rain is determined to find closure for Brandy's terminally ill mother, and she's also hoping to find forgiveness from Jason, the man whose heart she broke when she made the wrong choice. Will Rain and Jason get a second chance at first love before a desperate ghost tears them apart again...forever?

(Silver Lake is also available on Kindle Unlimited!) Happy Reading!