New Release: Lazy Days by Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie #Family #Adventure

I have a first time guest on my blog today—or more precisely, guests. Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie, sister authors, are celebrating the release of their new book, Lazy Days. I’ve read two of Anita’s wonderful novels, Let it Go and Secrets already, and Jaye’s are on my list. I will be adding this co-authored work to my TBR as well. I hope you’ll make them feel welcome and check out Lazy Days. They also have a very active blog and welcome new followers. You can find connect with them here.

And now, here’s Anita with a guest post to tell us how their journey toward writing began:

Book tour promo ad for Lazy Days by Anita and Jaye Dawes

Two years ago, when I first started hearing about Indie publishing, I never thought it would be something I could actually do, as the thought of anything to do with a computer filled me with dread.

I had been writing for years, and submitted my work to most of the mainstream publishers. Very nearly made it too, but as they say, a miss is as good as a mile! Which was a shame, for many people liked what I wrote.

So it didn’t take long for the idea of doing it yourself to become something I was determined to do. I enlisted the help of my sister, Jaye, as she is far more computer literate than I. More stubborn too!

What Jaye had to learn was incredible, and unbelievably hard. I tried to keep up with her, but there were days when even she was pulling her hair out. Some of it was easy, which tended to lull us into a false sense of achievement, but we persevered.

Eventually, we learned how to upload one of my manuscripts to Amazon, and I was finally a published author. (Well, sort of).

We didn’t stop there. We wanted to upload my other books and create paperback copies too, proof positive that I was truly a writer. One little success meant there could very well be others, and that was the best incentive in the world.

Learning how to do all that was a nightmare, but soon, four of my books were on Amazon and we were like a couple of Cheshire cats. We were tempted to stop there; after all, I now had four paperback copies of my books on my shelf, as well as the Kindle editions.

But we soon discovered that this was only half of the battle. Apparently, you need a platform, a reader friendly website to promote my books or they would remain in limbo. Then there was all the socialising and networking. So many writers were publishing their own books; we were a very small pebble in a very large pond!

We managed to create a passable website and established a presence on the internet. Not that this is the end of the story, there is no way you can rest on your laurels (that is if you even have some!)

Even if nothing monumental comes from all our efforts, we know we have tried our hardest. But we won’t stop writing, for that’s the fun part!

Book cover for Lazy Days by Anita and Jaye Dawes shows trees over stream, idyllic settingLazy Days Book Blurb:
This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

banner for Lazy Days Book tour Quiz with starry sky background

Click HERE to join the Lazy Book Tour event on Facebook and take the quiz!

Connect with Anita and Jaye at the following haunts:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Anita’s Amazon Page | Jaye’s Amazon Page 

Purchase Lazy Days from Amazon 

 

Pre-Order Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree

Banner for the book Ninja School Mom by Lizzie Chantree

Today, I’m participating in the blog launch tour for Lizzie Chantree and her new book, Ninja School Mum. Isn’t that a cool title?  And how about the cover—very snazzy!

The official release date is January 30th, but you can pre-order below. I’ve already reserved my copy and look forward to diving in!

Since this is the first time Lizzie has been on my blog, let’s get to know her better through a quick Q & A:

How do you celebrate when you launch a new book?
I jump up and down a lot! 🙂 I don’t usually do too much as my family are all a bit bewildered by the whole process. It’s hard to explain the emotional attachment you have to the stories that have taken so much time and energy to write. Launching them into the world for others to read is pretty scary!

So true, and I don’t think that ever gets easier. I do like your enthusiasm with the jumping up and down, LOL. What’s the best way to market your book?
Networking. Making contacts and actually interacting with them. Don’t just bombard people with marketing, get to know them and tell them about yourself and your writing.

Speaking of writing, what is your process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a panster. I have a basic idea of the story and work out chapter ideas and then I make it up as I go along! The story unfolds to me as I write it. It makes the process so exciting, as I feel like I’m reading the story while I’m writing it and I can’t wait to see what will happen next in the story.

I definitely relate to that. I’m a panster too. What is your favorite color?
Any shade of blue. It relaxes me and I find it inspiring to look at. I love to sit and write by the sea.

Great choice. Blue is my favorite too, with green a close second. How long did it take you to write Ninja school Mum?
It has taken about ten months to write, edit, proof and get Ninja School Mum ready for publication.

Book cover for Ninja School Mom by Lizzie Chantree. Black silhouette of a young woman ninja, hair blowing in a breeze, orange background

BLURB:
Obsessive-compulsive  school  mum, Skye, is a lonely  elite  spy,  who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

Author, Lizzie ChantreeABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree

Connect with Lizzie at the following haunts:
Website | Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF NINJA SCHOOL MUM

Charles Yallowitz on Writing a Series #tips #epicfantasy

I’m kicking off the New Year with a guest post from fellow writer, Charles Yallowitz. Charles has just released the final book in his Legends of Windemere series. Last summer, I completed the final book in my Point Pleasant Series, and found the experience both challenging and rewarding. It was my first time creating story arcs that spanned multiple books. Three books to be precise. The Legends of Windemere spans fifteen books. Mind-boggling! How does Charles maintain the focus and energy needed to write such an involved series? Check out his tips below—and don’t forget to check out the Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age while you’re at it!

Book cover for The Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age by Charles Yallowtiz

Thank you to Mae Clair for letting me write a post for her blog and helping to promote, Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age.  This is the final book of my fantasy adventure series and it’s been a long road that has spanned 19 years and 15 volumes. It isn’t easy to keep things flowing, especially when you’re publishing 3 books a year. This goes along with a heavy outlining, writing, and editing system, which wear on the mojo. Avoiding burn out is a key to making it through such a massive project, so here are some tricks that I’ve used over the years to push forward.

  1. Rewards for finishing a stage of the process can be a great motivator. I know many say that writing and publishing are their own rewards.  That’s true, but you can’t have enough bronze rings on a long journey.  Just ask Sonic the Hedgehog.  This can be anything too.  I use pizza to celebrate finishing a first draft and publishing a book, which is something I don’t treat myself to when I’m working.  So, there’s a denial aspect in here too.
  2. Side projects can help because they take you away from the main one. You know how people tell you to leave a book alone before you edit?  Well, this is the same thing only it adds the idea of doing something else. Now, this can be poetry, another book, or even something that has nothing to do with writing.  By the time you finish this other project, you’ll be returning to the main one with renewed energy and excited.
  3. Push yourself to the limit, cry in public, and rant about how nobody understands artists. Throw in at least one mention of ‘suffocation’ or ‘stifling’.  End this by thanking everyone for coming over for the holidays.  You can get a good week or two of focus out of this one, but it might cost you some birthday cards.
  4. You know how I hinted that sitting there and doing nothing might not be a good idea? Well, don’t knock lounging around for a weekend or week. It really depends on how worn you are and what you want to do for recovery.  My favorite thing is to choose a DVD boxset and watch that while keeping a notebook nearby.  I don’t consider outlining and character designing as heavy work, so they’re part of my relaxation period. Other options are reading a book, doing a thorough cleaning of the house, and seeing if your family remembers who you are.
  5. Never be afraid to take a day off from writing if you feel that something is off. I’ve had quite a few instances where my mood wasn’t right because of something going on in my life or some other outside influence. Even the weather can wear me out in hours, which puts the writing at risk. Pushing yourself through these periods can work in your favor, but it’s just as likely that you burn out. This sensation of feeling off could really be the onset of a writer’s block or doubt, so pay attention to your instincts.
  6. Believe it or not, exercising can be a good energy booster. It surprised me too when I started using my stationary bike every other morning. Aside from building up some adrenaline and waking up your body, you can let your mind wander on the writing of the day.  Consider the scenes and decide on the points you want to hit or simply imagine what it might turn out like.  This has a secondary benefit of helping you go into the writing with less mental clutter since you’ve already sorted through stuff to some extent.
  7. Talk to other authors. Sure, we aren’t known as the most sociable bunch, but that’s only with outsiders. When you need someone to understand your worries and pains, another author is the way to go. Maybe somebody has a tactic to help you over a hump or you’ll find inspiration for something that was giving you trouble. In the end, it’s just nice to share your thoughts without being judged.

Again, thank you to Mae Clair for giving me this time.  Please feel free to check out Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age or help spread the word to those who love fantasy adventures.  Enjoy the adventure.

Author, Charles YallowitzAbout the author:
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Connect with Charles at the following haunts:
Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Website

All cover art done by JASON PEDERSEN

Catch the rest of the LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE on Amazon!

Looking Back at 2017

Here we are with only a few days of 2017 still remaining.  Like most, I look back and think the months blasted past in the wink of an eye. Another year already? It seems impossible, yet 2018 will soon be ushered in with champagne toasts and confetti. As I normally do at this time of year, I like to reflect on the good tidings the year has brought with a quick breakdown.

WRITING
As a writer, I signed a new three-book contract with Kensington Publishing’s Lyrical Underground imprint. After finishing my Point Pleasant Series, I thought I was done with deadlines, but I couldn’t say no when the publisher asked me to submit something new. Thinking about that still has me on a cloud, and I can’t wait to introduce everyone to Cusp of Night, the first title in my Hode’s Hill Series, which will release in June.

June 2017 saw the release of A Desolate Hour, the last book in my Point Pleasant Series. I was sad to say goodbye to those characters, but gained a sense of accomplishment for finishing my first series. A bit of a rush. 🙂

Book sales were up for the third year in a row (YAY!) but I’m  worried about the first two quarters of next year. I don’t have anything releasing until the summer of 2018, which is certain to impact what I earn. I guess it’s a good thing I work a full-time job. I have a feeling it will be years (if ever) before I earn a steady income from writing. Still, it’s nice to see a return from doing something I love and connect with new readers in the process.

Banner ad for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair features Man standing in a dark mysterious forest with bloody lake in foreground

My short story, Family Tree, was accepted for publication in the time-travel anthology, Quantum Wanderlust. If you haven’t already picked up a copy, treat yourself to an early New Year’s gift as Quantum Wanderlust is free and contains an eclectic mix of stories from various authors.

Banner ad for short story time travel anthology, Quantum Wanderlust

READING
It’s no secret I love to read. Each year I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Last year I surpassed the number of books I set for myself, but this year I fell short—probably due to the aforementioned writing deadlines. That said, I managed to read 60 books. My goal was 75. I guess I need to dial that back for 2018.

Goodreads gave me some other cool stats about my reading. The shortest book I read was Belle’s Christmas Carol, a 33 page novella. The longest? That would be Paul McCartney: The Life at 864 pages. Quite a difference. The average length of the books I read was 209 pages according to GR.

AUTHOR PRESENTATIONS
I gave my first author presentation in October, themed on folklore and urban legends. Afterwards, I sold books and made a number of connections. I considered the evening a huge success and can’t wait to do a presentation again. Who knew it would be such fun!

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
I met the membership requirements to join two professional writer’s organizations—The Mystery Writers of America and The International Thriller Writers.  I am so honored to be a member of these groups and hope to better utilize those memberships in 2018. Yet another step in my ongoing journey as an author.

STORY EMPIRE
The authors of Story Empire are such a blessing to me! I am thrilled to be part of a group blog devoted to writing and helping other authors succeed. This year, Story Empire was nominated for Favorite Writing Blog at Positive Writer. I just found out that winners will be announced in January, so we have our collective fingers crossed. Thank you to everyone who voted for us.

I know I speak for all of the SE authors when I say we are grateful to our readers for their support and the time taken to visit our small corner of the blogosphere. We have some new features planned for 2018 and I hope you’ll stick with us as we explore and share those together.

PERSONAL STUFF
I don’t share a lot about my family on my blog, but I am so grateful for each and every one of them, especially my wonderful husband, who I met in high school. All these years later, he’s still my soulmate and my one-and-only!

We had some fun this year with a trip to Cancun in the spring, and one to Florida in the fall. No, that’s not hubs below, but the pic is from our first night out in Cape Coral—at an open air bar/restaurant called the Yacht Club. We liked it so much we went back twice. The Captain was there to greet visitors.

With a large statue of Captain Morgan outside of the Yacht Club restaurant in Cape Coral, Florida

We also did some major renovations on our house, installing zoned heat and air conditioning and completely gutting our kitchen and dining room—removing a wall and creating one large room. Someday I’m going to get around to sharing the story of remodeling….with a cat 🙂

Cute black cat looks into camera from unfinished cabinet section

Which brings me to Raven. She joined us late in 2016, and makes every day entertaining. Pets bring such joy, and I’m thankful we found her and she found us—even when she’s climbing into things she shouldn’t be!

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to my readers and wonderful circle of blogging friends. I value each and every one of you. Over the last five years, I’ve learned that writing is not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t do this without you guys. Who else would understand the triumphs and hurdles of a writer’s life? 🙂

I wish all of you a Happy New Year with good health and good cheer. Here’s to a fabulous 2018 for all of us!

New years eve celebration background with champagne and confetti. Wishes for a magical 2018 from author Mae Clair

What Do Christmas and a Gettysburg Legend Have in Common?

I’m happy to have my good friend, Staci Troilo, on the blog today, along with her delightful novella, When We Finally Kiss Goodnight. If you’re looking for a Christmasy read you’ll want to grab this one—especially since Staci is offering it at such a fabulous price. She’s even brought along a bit of folklore and history to introduce it. Take it away, Staci . . .

Banner ad for When We Finally Kiss Goodnight by Staci Troilo shows ereader with book cover on parchment style background with text

Hi, Mae. Thanks for having me back today. I’m happy to be here, visiting with you and your readers. (Hi, Mae’s readers!)

There are two things that interest me. Okay, there are a lot more than two, but these two are near the top of my list—romance and the supernatural. If I can mix the two together? That makes me really happy.

And that’s what I got to do in my Christmas-themed novella, When We Finally Kiss Goodnight.

Although the story is primarily set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (I grew up in a small town near there and went to college in the city, so it’s a favorite setting of mine), the characters, both of whom are archaeologists, take a day trip across the state to visit Gettysburg.

Gettysburg, as you probably know, is rife with historical lore. It’s got its share of ghost stories, too. As a bit of a history buff and a fan of the paranormal, I had to write about some kind of supernatural lore surrounding the city. I chose a folk legend surrounding star-crossed lovers and the Jennie Wade House.

Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade was a seamstress who was engaged to Corporal Johnston “Jack” Skelly. While Jack was fighting in the war, Jennie, her mother, and her sister used to bake bread to serve to the Union soldiers. On July 3, 1863, around 8:30 a.m., Jennie was kneading dough when Confederate soldiers sprayed the house with more than 150 bullets. One of them passed through two doors and struck Jennie in the chest, killing her. Jack, her fiancé, never learned of her passing. He was captured and killed on July 12.

The door on the Jennie Wade House has never been repaired or replaced, and there is a legend regarding its bullet holes—if a woman (18 or older) places her left ring finger through the hole, she will be proposed to within a year. It is believed that Jennie wishes for and helps bring about a lifetime of love for others because she was denied her happily-ever-after with Jack.

The Jennie Wade House in Gettysburg, Image in public domain

And whether you believe or not, nothing can change the fact that the Jennie Wade House Museum receives letters from many of their visitors to report an engagement after visiting.

In my novella, Chloe and Britt go to the Jennie Wade House, and Chloe ends up putting her left ring finger through the door. Does she get a proposal and happy ending within a year? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out.

Book cover for When We Finally Kiss Goodnight by Staci Troilo When We Finally Kiss Goodnight Blurb:
Chloe Upshaw suffers from what she calls the trifecta of awful—unfulfilling job, disappointed family, bad luck with love. Just before Christmas, she travels to Pittsburgh hoping to land a job that will change her career. But not only is she in stiff competition for the position, she angers her mother by rejecting her matchmaking efforts and not going home. Worse, she runs into the guy who got away—and this time, no matter how many lies she tells to protect her heart, she leaves herself vulnerable to hurt.

Britt Garris’ callous and careless behavior in college cost him his dream girl. When fate crosses their paths ten years later, he thinks it’s serendipity. And he launches into one deception after another to win her back, including an auspicious trip for the two archaeologists to Gettysburg. Britt plays on Chloe’s love of history to spend time with her. He doesn’t count on the local lore and legend predicting their future—a future his duplicity puts at risk.

When their lies finally crumble, their budding relationship is threatened. Their dishonesties and disillusions may be impossible to overcome. But maybe the magic of the season can make their dreams come true.

This holiday-themed steamy romance novella is available for 99¢. Click here for purchase information.

Bio box for author, Staci Trolio

 

Connect with Staci on Social Media
Web | Blog | Newsletter | Facebook Group | Twitter | Facebook | Other Social Media Links

 

 

Is this what it’s come to?

angry cat hissingI’m ticked right now. See the cat on the right? That was me a few nights ago.

Let me explain.

Lately, there’s a trend for authors to band together and offer free ebooks in a mass giveaway. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve even participated in the past. Authors get to collect email addresses for newsletters—hoping to convert the reader into a fan—and readers get to discover books they may not have chosen otherwise.

Normally, when I see a group giveaway, I’ll scan through the titles and see if anything interests me. I’ve stopped downloading books simply because they’re free, and only download if I intend to read them. My Kindle is overflowing as it is, so a lot of times, I leave these giveaways without opting to download a single title.

Recently, however, a particular book caught my eye. It’s one I had been considering for a while, and since it was being offered through an Instafreebie giveaway, I thought why not? I hopped over, provided my email address, and downloaded my free book.

Great, right?

I thought so too until I reached the end of Chapter 6 and this message appeared:  If you enjoyed this preview, I hope you’ll check out the full book on Amazon!

Huh?

Nothing like being six chapters into a novel and realizing the free “book” you downloaded was only a preview.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work:
Author offers free ebook.
Reader provides email address to the author in exchange for the book.

Simple, right?

I held up my end of the deal by providing my email, but did not get the free book I was promised in return. How does that make me feel?

Cheated.

Striped kitty looking at camera and making funny face. Words "where's the rest?" above

Worse, the author lost an opportunity for a new reader. I was enjoying the story, but suddenly—no more book. At that point, it was 10 o’clock at night and I was on my Kindle Paperwhite which doesn’t allow me to make purchases. I would have had to add the book to my wish list, then hop on my iPhone or computer to finish the purchase. Not likely given how irked I felt.

I started reading something else and don’t know that I will ever get back to the original book again. The author had just released the second book in the series so it made sense to do an Instafreebie–except it wasn’t. There are several book series I faithfully follow that initially hooked me through a free ebook. In this case, I’m sure I would have finished the first book and bought the second, likely becoming a long time fan.

That’s all down the drain given the avenue this author chose to take.

Is this the new trend, or did I miss something in the fine print? As authors we value the readers who provide their email addresses and sign up for our newsletters. There is a certain level of trust that’s expected when a reader volunteers that information. I hope what happened to me was a goof and not something most authors will practice going forward. If you promise a free book, deliver a free book. It should be simple.

Right?

Christmas . . . and #Cats

cute black cat poking out of plastic bag on bedThis is our second year with Raven, my beautiful rescue cat. Look at that face. Pretty hard to be miffed at anything that cute, right?

Last December she was seven months old and filled with curiosity. That led her to camp out in the smaller of my two Christmas trees, sprawling on the branches, and stealing at least a dozen Christmas ornaments. Every morning I’d find sparkly blue and silver balls on the floor or tucked away under the couch. Clever little thing did most of her “hunting” at night.

Because the smaller tree goes in our bow window—one of her favorite hangouts—we decided to forego it this year and just use our larger tree in the family room. She didn’t bother the larger tree last year, so we figured we were in the clear.

Uh…not.

A cat never outgrows curiosity.

The tree wasn’t trimmed more than ten minutes when I found her lying in the branches. Now that it’s been up for over a week, the branch-lounging novelty has worn off, but decorations on the bottom are still fair game. Fortunately, we’ve only had one shattered bulb and I was able to scoop her up before her little paws picked up any glass. The glass bulbs are now clustered mostly at the top.

Progress.

I’ve had cats before—three since I’ve been married, Raven being the fourth—and they were all spoiled. But this one has me wrapped. Worse, she knows it. I keep reminding myself that in human years, she’s about 18-20 years old. What’s the saying—Girls just want to have fun?

She’s definitely doing that!

If you have a cat—or even if you don’t—you might enjoy my paranormal Christmas novella, Food for Poe. It features a clever black feline, a holiday romance, and a creature from myth all wrapped up in a Yuletide tale. You can pick it up on Amazon for just .99 cents.

Book cover for FOOD FOR POE by Mae Clair shows attractive young couple in a winter setting with a black cat and silver Christmas ornaments belowBlurb
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic and paranormal trouble

One reviewer’s take:
“This has become my new favourite Christmas story! I’m going to read it again next Christmas. Poe, a beautiful pure black cat (Not at all unlike my own darling, Rico… Wink.) is the hero of this most magical and thoroughly captivating tale.

It is a tale of love, hope, compassion, faith, superstition, and suspense with a touch of horror… I was hooked from the start. If it was up to me, I’d make it into a Christmas movie and watch it every year.” ~ Kevin Cooper

You can purchase Food for Poe for .99c from Amazon 

Raven and I thank you for your consideration, and send you wishes for a purrfectly Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

A Writer’s Life: Euphoria and Frustration

Happy Last Day of November. Whew! In a little over a month, we’ll be looking at the start of a brand-new year.

Fresh starts are always great. We set out to achieve new goals and break old habits. When it comes to writing, a fresh start—i.e, a new manuscript—falls somewhere between euphoria and frustration for me.

I love beginning a new book.
There are character names to decide, backgrounds to construct, settings to create, and plot bunnies to round up.

I hate beginning a new book.
There are character names to decide, backgrounds to construct, settings to create, and plot bunnies to round up.

Getting the picture? Euphoria and frustration.

I’m currently constructing book two of my Hode’s Hill series. The original plan for this novel was to tie in the life of a carnival sideshow performer of the late 1800s (think freakshow). What can I say—I like odd. I even spent a good deal of time on research.

It was only after I finished book one of the series, Cusp of Night, that I saw too much similarity in theme. Since I didn’t want End of Day to appear repetitious, I scratched the idea and came up with a new one that utilizes old legends of Church Grims and Folk Memories.

Great, right? I was jazzed about the change until I wrote the opening. I read it through once and thought it was crap. Not the power passage I was looking for to start a new book. It left me feeling like this…

woman with glasses has head down, hands clasped in hair, looking exhausted. Open laptop and blank notebook on desk in front of her

Sulking, I avoided the file for three days before I opened it again. Guess what? Everyone says wait and read with fresh eyes. My beginning needed a few tweaks to spruce it up, but they were minor when I put everything in perspective. Frustration gave way to euphoria.

Close up of woman screaming in excitment

It’s made me realize that as much as I love dreaming up a new project, sitting down and writing the first few scenes is the hardest part of the novel. At least, for me. I second guess everything—and I do mean everything. From the strength of the opening scene to the way my characters behave—to the segues between scenes and chapters, I drive myself batty. I don’t think I truly get comfortable until I’m at least halfway through the manuscript.

As an example, I wrote half of Cusp of Night feeling disconnected from my main character, Hannah Norfolk. It took me that long to realize she needed a stronger background, and the name “Hannah” didn’t fit her. Once she became Maya Sinclair and I beefed up her history, she started to write herself. Of course, those changes—especially her personal background—meant altering earlier chapters and a major plot thread. It’s a good thing I have an understanding and adaptable critique partner (thank you, Staci!).

For now, I’m in euphoria-mode again. I like my beginning, I have direction, and things are going well. I know it’s only a matter of time until frustration rears its ugly head, but I’ll ride this wave for as long as I can.

How about you? What aspects of working on a new project do you find the most maddening? What inspires moments of sheer bliss? Am I the only one who waffles between euphoria and frustration, or is it simply the norm for a writer’s life?

When Your Novel Is Retitled

Sometime ago, I ran a blog post about needing a title for the first book in my new Hode’s Hill series of novels. I submitted the manuscript to my publisher with the title of The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill.

I liked it, but it is long, and probably not the best for marketing. No surprise that the publisher asked for a new title. Many authors have their book titles changed, but this was a first for me. I’ve written six other traditionally published books all without title changes. The hardest part was, I had already written the entire book and was waiting on content edits when the request for a title change came through. My head was already wrapped around The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill. I’d even been blogging about the book using that title. Worse—and I don’t know why this was so hard for me—all of my computer files had that title attached to them.

Title Ideas message on a white background against view of an old typewriter and paper

The good news is that my editor asked me for new titles, rather than the publisher assigning one. I was asked to submit multiple title choices from which the head editor would select. Over the course of four days, I submitted nineteen choices. Titles are not easy for me, so coming up with nineteen was not a simple feat. From those, my editor sent a handful to the head editor. Naturally, the very last title was the one he chose. 😊 Now that I’ve had time to unwrap my head from Blue Lady, I’ve grown fond of it.

So, what did we end up with?

*drum roll*

Cusp of Night

I hope it inspires thoughts of mystery and something lurking in the dark.

I’ve received the official blurb and am just waiting on a cover. The release is scheduled for June 12, 2018. If you like mysteries with dual story lines (one set in the late 1800s, the other in the present), whispers of a mysterious creature from folklore, old spiritualist practices, and ghostly occurrences, I think you’ll enjoy Cusp of Night. I can’t wait to share the cover and blurb with you. Be on the lookout.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before I can unveil both!