Thursday, March 31, 2016

Galley Copy- the Last Step in Book Production! #amwriting #ghosts #romance #military

I had a wonderful Easter surprise yesterday, in addition to the Lindt Dark Chocolate and Coconut bar left on my laptop (thank you Easter bunny!)—an email from my editor with the final galley copy of HAUNTED SOULS attached!  The galley copy of a manuscript is the last step in production at my publishing house.  The pre-galley file comes from production back to the editor and author formatted for printing and e-files.  No more writing edits are allowed at this point—only line corrections that may need adjustments due to the formatting process.  Each correction goes back on a master list with the page and line number associated with the change.  Once these small changes have been made, the galley comes back, ready to go, once the author signs off.

I’m a perfectionist, so I had gone through the pre-galley with a fine-toothed comb and retained the list of any issues I found.  With that list, I was able to go through the galley quickly, en route to Easter brunch at my sister-in-law’s house, and double-check each correction to make sure nothing was missed.  Happily, it was perfect, and I was able to sign off with a joyful electronic signature and celebrate this last step at our family get-together.

So, what’s next?  With the galley finished and approved, the manuscript gets into the queue for a release date.  Marketing estimates a June release date with pre-sale up on Amazon by mid-April!  So excited for this ghost mystery/military romance to be available to readers!  In the meantime, please enjoy the blurb below, check out the Pinterest storyboard, and give one of my other novels a try if you like spooky suspense mixed with steamy romance!  Happy reading.

Absolutely LOVE the cover!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Writing Inspirational Quote #amwriting #writingtips

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s First Female President

Writing a novel was my dream.  Getting started was the hardest part, because with a dream that–at the time, with my schedule and inexperience–would certainly take me years of work (two and a half to finish the first draft, to be exact), then take years to edit, submit, wait, revise, resubmit, wait more (one very long year), and might possibly never even succeed in terms of getting contracted, the list of reasons to NOT begin such an overwhelming task stack up quickly. Because it’s scary.

A printed out first draft -
that's a lot of red pen!
But it was my dream, and I told myself if I didn’t even try, I certainly wouldn’t achieve it.  And then I finally typed up those first pages (which are long gone from the final novel, but apparently still exist, as I discovered when I cleaned out a desk in the basement), then I had started, and when I start something, I rarely stop until I’m finished.  Even if it takes years.

So embrace those scary dreams.  The time will pass anyway, whether you are going after your goals or not.  That first novel of mine, SILVER LAKE, was eventually acquired by a bigger publisher, and recently hit the #1 Bestseller ranking in Ghost Mysteries on Amazon, almost four years after the original publication.  That’s a dream I never even entertained when I began this journey!  So dream big, push the fear down, and go for it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Finding #Easter Dates - Golden Numbers + Full Moons

I enjoy learning about the reasons behind traditions and beliefs...for example, I've done popular posts on Why 13 is Considered UnluckyThe Origin of Halloween, and Why People Fear Black Cats.  As you may notice, these topics have a common element--the paranormal--one of my favorite subjects, as well as the inspiration for my novels.  My first two novels, SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR, as well as my upcoming release HAUNTED SOULS, combine steamy romance with spooky hauntings.

My Young Adult novel, DIVINE FALL, is a little different.  When my children were younger, I taught Sunday School, and a passage from the Book of Genesis inspired a new supernatural idea.  Divine Fall is the story of the only surviving Nephilim--the offspring of heavenly angels and human women who roamed the earth before the Great Flood.  Divine Fall recently won the Reader's Choice Award in Young Adult Romance at The Romance Reviews, which was an exciting achievement...and it's a reviewer nomination for the upcoming BTS Red Carpet Book Awards, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

As a Sunday School teacher, I was asked unusual questions, which I didn't always have the answer to.  Kids are unbelievably insightful sometimes.  Why, they wondered, was Christmas always December 25th, while Easter moved around?  Excellent question...and not a particularly easy one.

According to documents from the 3rd and 4th centuries, Christians relied on their Jewish neighbors to determine the week of the Unleavened Bread; the Sunday that fell within that week would be Easter.  Following the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the date of Easter was separated from the Jewish calendar and its computations for Passover.

Since then, Easter Day is always the Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the Northern spring equinox, which is based on an ancient ecclesiastical computation, and does not correspond to the astronomical equinox.  The church defines the spring, or vernal, equinox as falling on March 21st.  Easter falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the equinox.  This full moon will occur somewhere between March 21st and April 18th, inclusive.  Therefore, Easter cannot be earlier than March 22nd or later than April 25th.  In 2008, Easter was particularly early, falling on March 23rd.  That hadn't happened since 1913, and will not happen again until 2160.

Of course, there are handy tables available to find the date.  But those tables are derived from something called "The Golden Number" and "The Sunday Letter".  The Golden Number is computed by taking the year, dividing it by 19, and adding 1 to the remainder.  For example, 2014 divided by 19 gives 106, with a remainder of 0. Adding 1 to the remainder gives a golden number of 1.  Finding the Sunday Letter involves determining the first Sunday of the year, with the choices ranging from A through G.  For example, if the first Sunday in January falls on the 1st, that year is an "A" year.

There are more computations, explanations, and nuances surrounding leap years, but for the purposes of the kids in my class, my summation was enough to explain the phenomenon.  The short answer, really, is that Easter moves around from year to year in order to maintain the connection between the astronomical events (the phase of the moon and the season) which would have occurred during the Resurrection and the annual date on which we celebrate this holiday.

Whatever spring holiday or event you celebrate, I hope it's filled with family and happiness.  Take some time to enjoy nature's resurrection--the new life, strengthening sun, and longer days that characterize this season.  And if the Easter bunny visits (that's a whole 'nother post for next Easter maybe?), remind him to put some paranormal romance reads in your basket!

SILVER LAKE ~ A haunting, an old flame, 
and secrets from the past

GULL HARBOR ~ A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic Claire Linden in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor

DIVINE FALL ~ Revenge, Romance, 
and a Rogue Fallen Angel
Easter moves around from year to year in order to preserve its relationship to the astronomical phenomena (i.e., the season of the year and the phase of the moon) that would have occurred at the time of the resurrection (traditionally reckoned as having taken place in 30 A.D.).

Easter moves around from year to year in order to preserve its relationship to the astronomical phenomena (i.e., the season of the year and the phase of the moon) that would have occurred at the time of the resurrection (traditionally reckoned as having taken place in 30 A.D.).

Easter moves around from year to year in order to preserve its relationship to the astronomical phenomena (i.e., the season of the year and the phase of the moon) that would have occurred at the time of the resurrection (traditionally reckoned as having taken place in 30 A.D.).


Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Signing at the #Psychic Fair #CapeCod #amwriting #ghosts + #romance

SOULS was available,
but I'll have postcards
with release date info!
Our town's annual Psychic and Health Fair is returning this weekend, and I've been asked to set up a table and sign books at the event. Checking my blog, which sometimes proves more reliable than my memory, I see that when I did this event in 2013, it went really well.  At that time, I only had SILVER LAKE available; now, I have a book that actually features a psychic medium as a heroine (GULL HARBOR) as well as a Young Adult Paranormal Romance appropriate for teens (DIVINE FALL).

The proceeds for this event benefit our High School's "Post-Prom", which is an all-night event after prom designed to give kids a safe, alcohol-free place to continue the fun.  With my oldest son going to prom this year, I'm especially interested in making this fundraiser a success!

I'll be signing books all day, but visitors to the fair have the opportunity to make an appointment with one of the psychics for a small fee.  I wish I could make an appointment as well...I had an incredible encounter with a psychic at a Christmas party that convinced me I was hearing from my mother.

If you're in the Cape Cod area and would like to come by, the info is below and can also be found on the event FaceBook page.

Saturday, March 19th 10-4
KC Coombs Elementary School
152 Old Barnstable Road

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

History of St. Patrick ~ Happy #StPatricksDay #StPatricks

I love learning more about the meaning of our holidays and traditions--I've done posts on Celebrating New Year's DaySt. 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 :) Links are all along the top tabs or with the book covers along the right side column. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Creating Tension + Suspense in Fiction #amwriting #writingtips

house with lightI infuse a lot of suspense into my novels, since in addition to romance, each of my books also involves some type of paranormal mystery: either spooky hauntings that need to be unraveled, or supernatural secrets that pose a dangerous threat.  Recently, I was invited to meet with a local writing group as a consultant, and one of the topics they asked to cover was methods of injecting suspense and tension into a story.  While these two things work together and are even listed as synonyms for each other in dictionary definitions, they are not exactly the same (although the definitions are pretty close).  Suspense is "a state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen" (source link).  In fiction, it's that growing desire to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  Tension is "a feeling of nervousness, excitement, or fear" (source link).  In fiction, this is driven by emotions and is the element which causes us to worry about the characters.  It can ebb and flow based on the situation.  To try to give a simple example, in Silver Lake, my ghost story/romance, part of the suspense comes from wondering what happened to Brandy.  Tension comes from the dangerous situations Brandy's ghost's best friend, Rain, finds herself in as she tries to answer this question...assuming, of course, the reader has come to care about this character.  A novel doesn't need to be labeled "suspense" or "thriller" to have these elements, either.  Romance involves suspense and tension in terms of the fate of the couple and the obstacles they must overcome, and so I use the following techniques in both aspects of my novels.

As mentioned, suspension and tension work together, and below is the list I came up with for my class on ways to create these two elements in a novel.  I originally posted this as a feature of Writing Tip Tuesday on The Pearls of Writing Wisdom blog, and I'm sharing it this week on my own blog with a few examples.

*Conflict is key.  There should be conflict in any type of commercial fiction.  To increase tension, load on the conflict, both internal and external, to keep characters from their goals.  (See my post of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict here).

*Escalation of story problems, which add new questions beyond the hook (ex: the mystery of Brandy’s disappearance in Silver Lake—questions move from “Could ghosts be real?” to “Is Brandy’s ghost really trying to communicate?” to “How can we help her communicate?” to “What really happened to her five years ago?” to "How far will this desperate spirit go to expose the truth?", ect.).

*Stack the odds against the protagonist. (ex: In the movie MacFarland, USA, a coach new to a predominantly Latino high school in a very low-income area starts up a track team, recruiting boys with speed and endurance from working in the fields...but they have less time and energy to practice, due to field work, less support from their families, since earning extra income is the priority as opposed to sports, and no money for appropriate shoes and uniforms.  All these disadvantages make us anxious to see these underdogs prevail.)

*Make the stakes high.  This does not necessarily mean the entire world will end if the character does not meet his or her goal, but the consequences of not meeting a goal should be extremely negative or even disastrous for the character.

*Give characters impossible choices (ex: Katniss in The Hunger Games—she either must kill other kids (both morally reprehensible and potentially difficult) OR be killed herself.  Neither is a good choice, but she could decide morals take precedence over her own life.  However, her family’s existence depends on her survival, as she provides the source of food.  Plus, she’s promised her sister she’ll survive.  So now we have a truly impossible choice: Kill other kids, who are trying to survive themselves and kill her, including the friendly boy from her district, OR be killed herself, break her promise to her sister, and possibly condemn her family to death.)

*Have some plans fail. (ex: in the movie The Martian, the character's first attempt to rig a system to create water we are even more worried for his long-term survival.)

*Create urgency.  A time constraint is useful for this (ex: The Finest Hours movie—the Coast Guard rescuers will have to reach the foundering tanker before it sinks into the stormy ocean, or everyone on board will die.)

*Use foreshadowing.  Foreshadowing is used to both build suspense and prepare reader for an event or scenario that otherwise might come out of nowhere.  There are many methods of foreshadowing, from blatant to extremely subtle.

*Make readers care about the protagonist.  Again, there are many ways to do this, including using deep POV to connect reader to character, creating engaging characters with realistic flaws, and avoiding Mary Sues.

*Use dramatic irony to create apprehension.  This can be employed when writing from multiple POVs.  (ex: In Gull Harbor, the reader sees what the bad guy has planned for Claire from his POV chapters.  However, neither Claire nor Max know—this knowledge is only between the reader and the villain.)

These are some of the methods I use...please add your tips for creating suspense and tension! Happy writing!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Encounter with a Medium #ghosts #haunting #amwriting #ABA

I’m the guest this week on Authors Baring All, a popular feature hosted by another author with my publisher to delve into the more personal aspects of the writing life.  This time I’m talking about my encounter with a psychic medium, and how that not only influenced my book GULL HARBOR but made a huge impact on my own life.  And I ask the question: Have you ever seen a ghost?  Click the link below to read and chime in:

And if you’d like to view my very first spot on the ABA blog, you can check out that story here.  Don’t forgot to comment with your experiences!

A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire
Linden in Cape Cod's GULL HARBOR...a #1 Kindle Bestseller