Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cover Art

Without further ado, I introduce you to the new cover for Epitaph!

I may have mentioned, putting together covers can be tricky, and as you saw a couple of weeks ago, the models seemed right, but getting the right pose along with the write fonts and colors... not to mention this model for "Kevin" looks better when he's not smiling. Not sure I'm 100% sold on the "Amy" model, but sometimes you gotta take what you can. At the end of the day, I'm happy. What do you think?

The new release is expected January 10, but with the holidays, you can pre-order the electronic version so you don't forget! (Or add it to your wish list for someone else to pre-order for you). Pre-orders will automatically download to your e-reader on January 10.

Want more information? Visit my Epitaph page, and make sure you've signed up for my newsletter (check the menu above) to be reminded when Epitaph goes live.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

GMC for ghosts

With the holidays approaching, I'm reminded of some famous ghosts in literature. The first that comes to mind is Marley from A Christmas Carol (thank you, Mr. Dickens). "Marley was dead to begin with...."

As I look into the backstories of the ghosts in my Epitaph series, I am reminded that ghosts, even as secondary characters, need goals, motivation and conflict. They have a full character arc, much like the main characters do, especially since the reader needs to know how they died, why they died, and why they haven't moved on to the next realm.

In A Christmas Carol, Marley died an unremarkable death, but it was his life that draws the focus. As a miserly sort, he forged a chain of all his misdeeds and his inattention to human need where he might have made a difference. His appearance in the book - his goal - is to convince Scrooge to pay attention. His motivation: there's still time to make a difference in the world. The conflict: Scrooge doesn't/might not believe him. And then, of course, there are the three Christmas ghosts, each of which serve a purpose in Scrooge's life. These ghosts aren't trapped on "the wrong side," but are sent as messengers.

If you were a ghost, what would keep you from moving on? What would send you back among the living? What's your favorite ghost story trope?

Next week -- cover reveal for Epitaph 1!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. In addition to all my other blessings, I am thankful for the readers who share my journey with me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Writing a New Book

I have my new cover! (Spoiler, it isn't either of the ones I posted last week!) I will reveal all after Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, I've begun work on Epitaph 3. It's a strange feeling for me, since my books are usually published more quickly. Epitaph 1 is complete, Epitaph 2 is "all but" complete (still working through the editing process), and Epitaph 3 has been tapping me on the shoulder.

Starting a new book is always an exciting time for me. It's like making new friends (even though most of the characters in this series flow through all the books). The spotlight shines on different people and their individual lives, so I'm getting to know the supporting characters from the other books more "up close and personal."

When I start writing, some books take several chapters before the characters really "talk" to me and open up. Often, that means reworking some of the earlier chapters to show their personality in more depth. In the Epitaph series, I already have a good sense of who everybody is since they were introduced in the first book (siblings of the main characters in Epitaph 1), which makes writing this series easier. It will still be a challenge to manage the plot points, the victories and pitfalls they will encounter along the way.

One of the toughest things is trying to decide what my characters do for a living. This often leads me to research, asking people what their average workday looks like (which reminds me I need to pick one of my girlfriend's brains! Get ready, Sarah!)

Do you work in an occupation you never see in a book? Or is there a segment of the work force you enjoy reading about more than others? Maybe one that is underrepresented?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Decisions, decisions

I have a different election for you!

I'm trying to pick a cover for the new book! Care to weigh in? The EPITAPH series is romance, as you might expect from me, with ghost-related mysteries to be solved. As the author, I sometimes get invested more in one character than another. I get distracted... And a subplot might stick with me, which makes cover art murky when you want to kick those background things to the front (where they don't belong!)

Here are two options I've been toying with. Which one do you like better?

Option 1
Option 2

As of today, I am expecting a January release of EPITAPH. EPITAPH 2: THE TWINS is expected to follow at the beginning of April. EPITAPH 3: THE MAN IN THE MIRROR is looking like July (fingers crossed).

If you'd like to sign up to be an early reviewer, hop over and visit me here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Saints Day

In keeping with the holidays this week, as mentioned in a previous post, Halloween is the "een" before All Hallows, or All Saints Day, November 1.

All Saints Day is a time to remember all those we've lost during the past year, and I'd like to take a moment to remember my mother, who I lost earlier this year.

Relationships with parents are different for everyone. Some people are best friends with their mom or dad, some people have strained relationships with their mom or dad. And then there are people in between. As with any relationship, it takes effort on all parts.

Some of the trickiest parts of my writing involve dealing with the relationship between parents and their children. I've covered everything from the worst examples, as in the Northwest Suburbs series, where the characters have all had to deal with difficult parental relationships, to the closeness between Keith and his mother in Heart for Rent, with an Option. In Return to Hoffman Grove, you see the change in family dynamic when a parent "grows up" and takes responsibility for the damage he's done to his child, and that child (Brody) acknowledging that if he was raised differently, he might have become a different man.

It's easy to blame parents for all the things that are wrong in our lives, but one of the themes I try to keep in all of my books is that people are who they are because of who they are. Certainly parents are the first influence, but they are not the only influence in our lives. Our friends, our teachers, our environment, our society all contribute to the people we become. Genetics is definitely at work, but its more than that.

My mom was a good and faithful woman who worked hard to hold her family together. When her time came, she was ready to go, which made it easier on all of us knowing she was at peace. That doesn't stop us from missing her or stopping in the middle of doing something and thinking, "I should call mom to tell her about this," and then remembering she isn't there.

One of the truths about grief - you don't get over it, you learn to live with it.

For those of you who, like me, have someone to celebrate this All Saints Day, peace be with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Missed by *this much*

I'd really hoped to have my newest release out in time for Halloween. I knew it was pushing it, and I knew working with a new publisher would likely push that date back even farther. So here's the 411.

Epitaph is currently in the final stages. While it *might* make it to the real world by the end of the month, I'm not holding my breath. Publishing takes time. I still have cover art to approve (among other things). And in case you're wondering what Epitaph is about...

“Crazy Amy” Benson has an unusual talent for hearing epitaphs as the dead pass on. The men she dates who aren’t unnerved by her ability are usually scared off by Amy’s brothers. When reporter Kevin McCormick shows up to do a story at the cemetery, Amy tells him his dead sister is calling for justice, except Kevin’s sister died in an accident.

Kevin relays Amy’s odd message to his family and unleashes a killer. While Kevin strives to be an investigative reporter, he doesn’t anticipate his first opportunity will focus on the murders of his own family. Now he has to protect the alluring epitaph writer while hunting for evidence against the killer. 

While I'm getting everything pulled together, I'll try to find a good excerpt to share, as well.

Epitaph is the first in a new series for me. Amy is the youngest of four, with three protective older brothers who resemble the front line of a football team. Kevin is the second in a family of five. Their siblings each have a story to tell, and each story includes a ghostly encounter (or in Liam's case, a different sort of paranormal experience!). No, there are no vampires (the acquisitions ED at the new publisher loved the story, but they really wanted vampires), so I'm staying independent with these books. 

As a side note (need to do a little bragging), Cookie Therapy has made it through the quarterfinals in the BookLife/Publishers Weekly prize for Fiction. I'm pretty proud of that, and a big thank you to everyone who has made Cookie Therapy my best seller to date, and for all the glowing reviews! Your love and support mean there will be another in that series -- remember the woman in the bakery? She's got some challenges to deal with while they rebuild the block that burned down, including dealing with the developer. 

Oh, hey. If you aren't subscribed to my newsletter, pop up to the link above for release information on Epitaph and other news. Will keep you all posted on my Facebook page as well as this next book gets closer to publication. Can't wait for you to read it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Books that give you nightmares?

Have you ever read a book that gave you nightmares?

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I grew up watching Creature Features. I loved Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein and The Mummy, et. al. Some of my favorite movies are the old black and whites with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and Boris Karloff and let's not forget Vincent Price. Did you know Jack Nicholson got his start in a horror movie? Back in the day, The Haunting sent chills up my spine when the door to the room the researchers had locked themselves in began to breathe. Or when Stella Meredith came down the steps in The Uninvited. Those were the "real" scary movies, the ones that flirted with your imagination. Much scarier than the slasher movies, in my opinion (although Halloween ranks up there with me). But scary books?

I read Dracula, but I can't say it frightened me. It was a good read, by the way. And, of course, I've read my share of Stephen King books. The one book that scared me the most? The one I couldn't have in the same room with me after I'd finished it? The Amityville Horror. That one creeped me out. Big Time. The movie, not so much, but the book... It's that imagination thing again.

As Halloween lurks around the corner, are there any scary movies you're planning to watch? A Halloween tradition? Or books that you pull out, maybe Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? (or the Horseless Headsman, if you're hungry...)