Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fiction #Writing Course in #Falmouth Cape Cod #amwriting

Short and sweet post - my latest Fiction Writing and Publication course begins soon!  This one is offered by the Falmouth Community School, and the description and registration info can be found here:  Course link.  

Writers at any stage of their journeys are welcome.  The course is a 5-week evening class from 6-8 pm.  If you're in the Cape Cod area, and writing a novel has always been your dream, check out the link!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Kept me on my toes" L&S #Review of #Haunted Souls #romance

Reviews are hard to come by these days, so I was thrilled to see Long and Short Reviews, a prominent and popular review site, chose to review Haunted Souls, and even more thrilled, of course, that the reviewer enjoyed the story!  The reviewer said it "kept me on my toes wanting to know more" and that the author "didn't disappoint."

Haunted Souls was one of the Top 3 Books of 2016 at Read!

I particularly love the introduction, which points out that the title refers to Haunted Souls as "both the paranormal ghost variety and live souls/people with pasts that haunt them day and night."  There is a desperate spirit in this book, but the main characters, Emily and Brett, both have had experiences and made choices that haunt them.  
The link the review is below, and the Amazon link can be found here.  If you're looking for "a great romance with a hint of mystery", give Haunted Souls a try!

Steamy Romance + Spooky Suspense ~ "a perfect combo"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#Books for Boys~ Teen Version Upper #YA #amreading

My younger son, attempting
to read while standing up
on the crowded tube in
London (the A Song of Ice
and Fire series)
Hands down, my absolute favorite pastime is reading...even more so than writing.  I've literally never been bored in my life, thanks to my love of reading, and things like waits in airports and doctors' offices make me happy, because it's an excuse to read.  I've done my best to instill my love of reading in my kids, but it hasn't always been easy.  It requires a bit of work on my part, in terms of searching out the type of books that capture their attention fast, and that can actually compete with all the technology available to kids today.  But I'm up for the challenge!

My first Books for Boys post (written in 2014, when my boys were 12 and 15), was so popular, in terms of hits, that I followed it with More Books for Boys a few months later.  Now, my kids are 15 and 18 (how did that happen?), so I thought I'd write about a few other series that have been favorites of my sons in the past few years.  Both boys are very picky, one because he's a reluctant reader, and the other because he's such an avid reader, with an author for a mother, that he's able to quickly vocalize things he doesn't like...i.e., he'll tell me there's no hook, the pace is too slow, etc. -- what can I say to that?  Those are all valid complaints, and I can't argue that he's at least picked up some of the topics I teach in my writing classes.  So hopefully these suggestions will work for other teenage boys looking for page-turning entertainment!  Fair warning, me, my boys appreciate some pulse-pounding, life-or-death action, as well as some scary scenes that up the stakes for the characters.  Younger teens or those who don't like that sort of thing might want to avoid the scarier titles.

The Loners (Book 1 of The Quarantine series) by Lex Thomas: a YA dystopian thriller series described as "Lord of the Flies in a 21st century high school setting".  When a high school devolves into chaos following a military quarantine, survival becomes a desperate challenge.  With no adults left inside to fill the vacuum of authority, violent gangs form as social cliques band together to maintain strength in numbers.  But protagonist David Thorpe and his younger brother, Will, have been always been loners...and now, it's just the two of them against the rest of the students.

My kids could NOT put these books down, even my older reluctant reader.  In fact, when I packed the second in the series for him for our trip to London, he finished it in a few days and I had to download the next one and share my Kindle!  Comparisons have been made to popular YA novels The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Gone, so any fans of those books might want to give this series a try!  The books are: The Loners, The Saints, The Burnouts, and the latest release, The Giant.

These covers alone are super creepy!

Lockdown (Book 1 of Escape from Furnace series) by Alexander Gordon Smith: another survival-type thriller, this time set in a hellish prison for teen offenders called Furnace.  There are many terrors lurking in the prison, and when the protagonist Alex realizes justice will not help save him from this nightmare, he devises an escape plan--but the secrets he learns about the Furnace soon put him in even more danger.  Fast-paced action and enough scares to keep readers engaged.  Books in the series include Lockdown, Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitives, and Execution.  

There have been a few different covers
for these amazing books

A Game of Thrones (Book 1 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin: *not* a YA series, but the inspiration for the very popular HBO show featuring the dark high fantasy series filled with amazing characters, dramatic plot twists, epic battles, and unrelenting action in the quest not just for power and control, but for human survival as well.  

As I mentioned, this is not a YA series, and there is heavy subject matter and scenes with sex and violence.  Unfortunately, actual history is filled with similar incidents, so we use these topics as a springboard for conversation (for example, the main plot is loosely based on The Wars of the Roses in England). So, yes, I let my teens watch the show, which certainly employs some racy scenes.  But there are only a few things my two teen boys want to do with me, and watching the show based on books I raved about is one of them.  The show veered away from the books in a number of very significant ways, so I mentioned they might want to read the novels to not only see what happens in the books, but to discover plot points, backstories, and characters that never made it into the show.  This worked on my younger son, and he tore through all five huge novels, and now we both anxiously await the sixth.  The books are: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons.  These books were also part of my annual "Favorites Books" post for 2012.

The Gunslinger (Book 1 in The Dark Tower series) by Stephen King: Another epic high fantasy series with a memorable cast of characters on a quest to find The Dark Tower, complete with touches of the spine-tingling horror King is known for.  The journey through this world, which has "moved on", takes readers through bleak landscapes, deserted cities, desolate beaches, and magical spots that connect to our own world.  While my kids haven't read these yet, almost everyone I know who has liked Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has also enjoyed The Dark Tower.  It's now being made into a movie, so I've purchased the first book to get them started before it comes out.

So there you have it, what my teens have been reading this past year.  Feel free to add your own suggestions in comments below!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Why We Fear #13 ~ #Friday13th Friday the 13th

I embraced the number 13 long ago, since it is the date of my birth...and this is hardly the first time my birthday has fallen on a Friday the 13th!  I do sometimes wonder if being born on the 13th has anything to do with my love of all things spooky, though.  All my novels incorporate some type of supernatural suspense, whether it's a mystery surrounding a haunting (HAUNTED SOULSGULL HARBOR, and SILVER LAKE) or a quest for revenge undertaken by the world's last half-angel (DIVINE FALL).

Some of my most popular posts discuss the reasons behind our superstitions.  This one delves deeper into the number 13 - while I consider it a lucky number for myself, many people don't!

A fear of the number 13 is known as Triskaidekaphobia.  I actually once worked in a building that lacked a 13th floor.  To me, this made little sense...did the people on the 14th floor not realize they were actually on the 13th floor?  Still, the button in the elevator did not exist.  Why does the number 13 get such a bad rap, anyway?

Some reasons stem from various religions.  In Christianity, for example, 13 people sat down to The Last Supper: Jesus Christ and 12 disciples.  The last to sit down, the 13th, was Judas Iscariot, who would betray Jesus. 

da Vinci's The Last Supper - Judas (fourth head from left) in the only one with
an elbow on the table, his face is shadowed, and he is clutching a bag

According to Norse legends, the 13th (uninvited) guest to arrive at a banquet of the gods was Loki, who then killed another god and set in motion a series of tragedies.

Historically, condemned people climbed 13 steps to the gallows.

A coven was traditionally made up of 13 witches.

In the deck of tarot cards, XIII is the card of death - a pale horse and rider.

Apollo 13 was the only unsuccessful mission to the moon; the oxygen tank exploded, putting the lives of the astronauts at risk.

Finally, 12 is considered a perfect and magical number in many disciplines and traditions.  There are 12 months, 12 zodiac signs, 12 days of Christmas, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Christ, 12 principal Olympian gods of the pantheon...the list goes on and on.  It follows, then, in some people's minds, that to add a number to 12 would make it unlucky.

That Friday the 13th is particularly scary may be the result of Friday's connection with executions.  The Crucifixion took place on a Friday, which was the day of the week executions were generally carried out in Rome.  America also has a history of holding executions on Fridays; thus, a day that combines two "unlucky" features becomes even more ominous. 

Jinx and Max are my second pair
of rescued black cat brothers
I find the reasoning fascinating, but I still like the number 13, and Friday the 13th doesn't bother me a bit.  But I also have black cats, and we cross paths all day long.  But of course, I have my good luck rituals as well...I have to pick up every penny I see on the ground!

I may pick up a few extra today, just to be safe.  Have a happy Friday the 13th, and grab one of my steamy romance + ghost stories for a page-turning read that will both heat you up and send shivers down your spine!

Pick up a ghost story for Friday the 13th!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#Haunted Barnstable ~ Cape Cod History + Hauntings #CapeCod

I love old, spooky places, especially when there's some fascinating history involved.  My latest ghost story/romance, Haunted Souls, was inspired by a visit to the Old Jail, the country's oldest wooden jailhouse, built circa 1690 and considered actively haunted.  This historic gem is located in Barnstable Village, on Cape Cod, not far from where I live.

Over the summer, I was honored to be part of an author panel at a charity event which also included very big names in the industry: Mary Higgins Clark, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Sally Gunning, and Jacquelyn Mitchard to name a few!  It was an exciting night, and as you can imagine, these famous authors helped draw a large crowd.

During our panel discussion, I mentioned how the Old Jail House inspired my latest novel, and one of the audience members later came up and introduced himself as the County Administrator.  We discussed some of the other very old--and reputedly haunted--buildings in Barnstable, and he offered to arrange a private tour for me.  Needless to say, I was thrilled, and a few weeks later, I went on the tour, and, as an added bonus, I receive a copy of a paranormal report done on the buildings by the Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society.  According to the report, some incidents reported by employees included: hearing voices with no person present; objects being moved with no explanation; sightings of human figures that vanish; gray clouds moving up stairwells.  During the investigation, according to the report, an unseen woman was recorded coughing, and the scent of cherry tobacco was detected by several team members.  Temperature changes were also noted.

I'm sharing some of the photos I took, along with the stories, below.

The catacombs beneath the
BarnstableSuperior Court House

Copies of old records line one
shelf in the catacombs-
this is 1882-1886

Our first stop was the Barnstable Superior Court House, which was built in 1831.  A plaque inside notes that the building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the US Dept. of the Interior.  I've been here in the past for jury duty, but I had never known about the catacombs located beneath the building (for my visit to the famous Catacombs of Paris, see this post).  These catacombs were not filled with bones, thankfully, but the space did contain many old records and files, along with a very creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere.  
Many employees refuse to enter the space after experiencing or hearing about paranormal incidents here.

Many of the historical details of the old jail are
being preserved in the remodel - these bars near
the entrance are an example
From the Court House, we climbed the hill leading to the old Barnstable County Jail and House of Corrections - much more modern than the tiny 1690 Old Jail, but still an old, somewhat decrepit building full of history.  This jail was built in 1935 and abandoned in 2004 when the last of the prisoners were moved to a new facility.  Now, thirteen years later, the building is being renovated into office space, so I was very lucky to get to see this site before its destruction.

A central hallway is pictured below, with cells lining both sides.  Metal tables were once bolted in the middle of the hallway for prisoners to use for socializing.

Another area many people try to avoid is the former isolation cells, located on the right in the photo below.  These will be offices eventually.

The doors on the right open to isolation cells

Many of the cells are currently being used for storage, and someone clearly has a sense of humor.  I'm not sure what the skeleton was actually being used for, but it did make me jump!

Below is a photo of one of the two-person cells in another wing.

As I mentioned earlier, this old building is situated at the top of a hill, and many of the cells (which will now be offices) had the amazing view pictured below.  Apparently, when the building was new, the view and shelter made it a somewhat desirable location.  Fisherman who lived on their boats would often attempt to make it their winter home by purposefully getting incarcerated.  In exchange for their freedom, they received warm beds and free meals during the coldest months of the year, and their days were spent in work detail.  Not a bad trade-off!

The view of Barnstable Harbor from the hill top

I hope you enjoyed my summary of my personal haunted, historical tour!  For haunting fiction set on Cape Cod, try Gull Harbor or Haunted Souls ~ Steamy Romance + Spooky Suspense.

link HS and catacombs and MHC event