Tuesday, September 26, 2023

I am inspired!

The new book is out! (in case you hadn't heard, you can buy THE DEMON FROM THE CRYPT here!) But you know that... or at least I hope you do! So I won't bore you with the details, although I hope you'll get your copy!

Work has started on Elspeth's third book. I took a trip to unwind, reinvigorate, play with my friend, get inspired. Jennifer took me sightseeing in one of her favorite playgrounds and together we spotted many things that tugged on the imagination. From trolls at the botanical gardens (Thomas Dambo is really spectacular for those of you who don't have exhibits close enough to visit), to Bar Harbor, to Acadia National Park, to tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House, to Cadillac Mountain, there were so many beautiful sights and sounds. And some haunting sights, as well. Allow me to share some of my photos:

Playful trolls

Secret treehouse?

A pointing tree

Devilstone cottage

The Margaret Todd

Did I mention the book release? Oh, yeah. Don’t mind me. Let me know if you got your copy!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Empty Nest Syndrome?

I have to say it's a wonderful feeling when I get final edits back and I can address them in the span of two hours. Shocked and amazed, I moved on to the final proof of THE DEMON FROM THE CRYPT. Having Word's "Read" function read the text back to me for those typos that slip by my eyes but which can't escape the ears. The narrator for the Elspeth series will begin work for the audiobook version shortly.

I've sent the book out into the world, rather like a child moving away from home. I’m feeling somewhat melancholy as I wave goodbye and hope it thrives out there in the real world, but it will never be far away. 

And so I've begun writing Elspeth's third book. Interviewed a source, picked up a book from the library, and embarking on more "physical" research. The book has a plan, but I still need details. Taking a breather to gather my thoughts and assemble the research. 

If I don't see you next week, I'll be back on release day. In the meantime, here are the preorder links again, in case you're anxious to meet my newest fledgling.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023


I'll have final edits back on Friday, so as I twiddle my thumbs (I have a new story in queue, but with interruptions abounding, it consists mainly of notes), I've been doing research and taking field trips. 

Field trips are fun. The weather is not. As with most of the country, we are in a final (one would hope) heat wave as summer makes its last stand, along with high humidity. Earlier this summer, I got a short haircut to deal with the weather because I have curly hair. Thick, curly hair. Humidity has a tendency to like to run its fingers through my hair and leave it standing on end, or straight out from my head. When it's short, it just curls into tight little curls. Because we're at the end of the summer my hair is getting longer again. Which means the humidity is gleefully mussing up my hair again.

 Here's the thing. Nobody likes their own hair. At least most of the time. If I'm honest, I do like my hair. Most of the time. After years of not being able to tame the mane, I've finally learned how to control it. Most of the time. I have a family member who tells me she ties hers into a ponytail after she washes it to control it, and at the end of the day when she releases, it's fine (and still damp!). I use product on mine. She tells me using product on her hair is like making it dirty again right away - putting something on clean hair seems counterintuitive to her. She doesn't have my hair issues. If I did her ponytail thing, the minute I took out the ponytail, I'd have the lion's mane once again.

When I started getting of an age where high school reunions began, I had a message from an old classmate who used to live a couple of blocks away. He asked if I remembered him, and my first thought was "we had the same hair." (I remembered him for other reasons, but we traveled in different crowds in high school.) I asked how he managed his hair now that we're all grown up. He said he keeps it very short (shout out to Steve). 

When we went to Spain for my niece's wedding, I was concerned about my hair. I kept it long, figuring it would be easier to tie it back in an attempt to control frizzy hair. I was wrong. Fortunately, I found a stylist in Spain who tamed it so I was presentable for the wedding. Muchas gracias! 

Neatly styled (after)
Tied back, but still "crazy" (before)

I'm growing it out again for winter (winter wool, doncha know). Overall, I find it IS easier to maintain when it's longer. Is your hair the kind that expands in humidity, or does it go limp?

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

I'm not a patient person

I want to be done with the new book, but I still have to clear final editor comments. In this same vein, I want it off my plate. Because I'm not a patient person. Because I'd already reviewed it and edited it, and even though I knew that one section didn't really work, I was tired of looking at it. 

Deep breath.

A month later, I have fresh eyes and more patience. I took another look at everything and fixed that section that didn't work. Hopefully. And found some other spots that I'd thrown a band-aid on that didn't stick. In the end, they're easy fixes, but why can't I see all that on the first pass? Or the third pass? Often, those band-aids are on top of band-aids, so they stem the bleeding, but don't help the wounded part heal. To continue with that metaphor (cuz you all know how much I love an analogy), to prevent infection, you have to clean the wound, treat it and wrap it so it stops bleeding. Slapping that quick band-aid is just a quick fix.

Fresh eyes. Recovery time. Time away from the story. They are essential parts of editing. Generally, that time away is the time the editor is looking everything over, so when comments come back, everything I missed the first hundred times is crystal clear. 

And so I wait. It's in my editor's hands now (the "healed" version). Here's hoping I fixed all those rough spots and her comments are few. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

We're Having a Heat Wave... 🎜🎝

Oppressive heat and humidity make good reasons to hide out inside and/or to think of "ideal" vacation spots.

My critique partner sent me a blog post to read yesterday about a boutique hotel/BnB in Maryland that boasts ghosts, among other things. So, of course, I want to go. I mentioned it to the Big Guy, pitching a visit to his family while we're there. His response? "I don't care about ghosts." Well, of course he doesn't, but Elspeth Barclay does! Inspiration is everywhere if you only look. 

Normally speaking, he indulges me when I say I want to visit something purported to be haunted. When we went to NOLA, we stayed in a haunted hotel (although every hotel in NOLA promises to be haunted). No, we didn't see any ghosts. And you know what else we didn't do? A ghost tour. (Which was TOTALLY on my agenda, but I forgot because... vacation...) He likes sightseeing as much as anyone else, so he overlooks my quirks in favor of everything else there is to do. (This is where I tell you he suggested another trip before I even mentioned the boutique hotel to do something I've always wanted to do... He's a good guy, doncha know.)

In the meantime, my critique partner suggested a writers' retreat to the boutique hotel. She isn't so much interested in the ghost aspects, but the setting should be conducive to the craft, and it's owned by "Nora." IYKYK. My crit partner is a big Nora (or, more accurately, her alter ego) fan. Me, not so much, although I respect the hell out of her. So there may yet be a trip to Maryland in my future! In the meantime, I have another trip coming up that I'm chomping at the bit over. 

I'm grateful for the opportunity to travel, especially after the past several years. It's no longer something I take for granted, and something I consider more carefully as I take into account my carbon footprint -- which contributes to the heat wave that started this ball rolling in the first place!

With the summer coming to a close, do you have any vacation plans? Are you planning ahead for next year?

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Business End

While I wait for my critique group to finish, and then my editor's comments on, THE DEMON FROM THE CRYPT, I'm concentrating on the business end of things. There's so much more to writing a book than writing a book. 

I've been setting up trailers and ads and graphics, oh my. How do I get a reader's attention? I should also add to that question "in an ever-changing environment."

Welp, here's the trailer I put together. Picking the highlights from the book to add is a challenge, especially when my highlights as an author (i.e., those things that inspired me to write) might only have a minor place in the book as a whole. (For instance, the photo - in my cover reveal post - that kicked this whole process off.)

Then there's the process of condensing an entire novel into one or two sentences (also known as an elevator pitch). Sort of leaning toward: Elle would do anything for her sister, even face a demon.

I'm also booking personal appearances in case anyone wants to buy a book from me live and in person (see Karla in the Wild).

You know. The business end of things. 

Oh. And then there's the next book to write. Often, I'll have a start on the next one while I'm waiting for this one to go through the finalizing process. What do you think? Are you guys enjoying Elle Barclay?

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Are Ghosts Real?

One of the most common questions I get about my ghost books is, "Do you believe in ghosts?"

That, right there, is a very complicated question. I normally reply with, "I don't NOT believe in ghosts." Have I had "extra" normal experiences? Yes. Do I believe in a psychic connection, even with living people? Yes. Not like you see on television or on those silly ghost hunter shows or even on the scary movies. Call it intuition, if you like (which is how my characters generally have "an overdeveloped sense of intuition"), but when you know someone really well, you often have a sense about them. 

I remember writing a Christmas letter to my godfather years ago when I stopped midsentence. I was overwhelmed with a sense of him, many states away, even after not talking to him in quite some time. I stopped dead in my tracks and called my mother to see if she'd heard from him recently--to see if he was all right. She hadn't heard from him. At the time, he was well, or at least he said he was. I say, "he said he was," because it was a short time later that he passed away. He was on medication that has since been pulled as treatment because the benefits no longer outweigh the risk. I credit that experience to "tuning in to him" while I was writing the letter, which allowed me to feel "something" I might have otherwise ignored. I was relieved to know I was wrong, but was I?

I've had friends that I haven't heard from that I get a sense about. Then, when my phone rings, I'm almost afraid to answer because I almost know what they're going to tell me. Some of it is intuition, or deductive reasoning based on what I already know, but it's still spooky. Sometimes you can anticipate news. That doesn't make it any less eerie when you're right. 

And then there are the ghosts. When I went to New Orleans, I remember going to sleep one night in a "haunted hotel," and telling the ghosts I was too tired and not to bother me if they were really there. There are times when I'm more receptive to a visitation than others, but I have yet to have an encounter with a spirit from beyond the veil. Maybe I should revise that - I've never seen a spirit. I have seen things that indicate there might be one nearby, or one who wants my attention for one reason or another. Seeing a ghost is a choice, both on the part of the spirit and the visited person. Do I want to see them? 

At the end of the day, I'm a coward. I don't WANT to see a spirit. At least, not most days. I choose not to acknowledge certain things, or not to search out certain things, as I'm also certain those things are out there if we look for them. As my Elspeth Barclay character says, I don't want to anchor anyone to this life for any reason. I prefer to think of them as moving on to their ultimate reward. Toward the ends of their lives, my parents frequently talked about their impending deaths. To add some levity to one of those conversations, I jokingly asked if they would come back to be my guardian angel, to which my father immediately responded -- emphatically, I might add -- "No." Alrighty then! But I get it. They've done their time in this realm and are ready to move on. I'm okay with that. I'm willing to let them go, even when it breaks my heart.

I have a friend who has told me she enjoys my books because they make her feel closer to her husband who left us too soon. She often sees signs of him, a way that he lets her know he's still with her, and my books reinforce that feeling. Likewise with another widowed friend. I have no doubt it's true in both cases. Some people might say they're looking for things as a source of comfort, to ease their grieving. While that may be true, to both of those friends I'd just like to say--

I do believe in ghosts.