Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Going down the rabbit hole

One of the fun parts about writing is learning new things.

One of the hazardous parts about writing is chasing those new things down rabbit holes or, to use another analogy, chasing squirrels.

Sometimes, in the interest of adding authenticity to a story, it's necessary to do a lot of research. Sometimes, that research drops in your lap. Which brings me to where I am right now.

I've been writing the second book in the Hillendale series, and in December, I went to a winter solstice party. Essentially, it's a celebration of the changing season, and what better ritual to incorporate into a book about two "maybe" witches? Since my new book also takes place in the summer, I switched the calendar to observe a summer solstice, but with summer comes different rituals.

And down the rabbit hole I go.

Google is a wonderful thing. You can find out dozens of things about dozens of cultures and rituals. I even found a street sign I was looking for on Google images when my friends who live in the area I was looking for "forgot" to get back to me. Seriously, people don't understand why I ask certain questions, I mean what could be so exciting about a street sign? Nothing, but I was looking for authenticity. Which takes me back down the rabbit hole.

As an author, I'm entitled to engage in artistic license. As fellow author Mary Doria Russell said when I saw her recently, "fiction means I get to make sh!t up." So yes, I can make up everything about how indigenous people might celebrate the summer solstice, and I can make up everything about how witches might celebrate the solstice, and I can make up everything about how paganism intersects with Native American customs, but I'm looking for some measure of authenticity.

The funny thing is that once I get the information I'm searching out, a lot of it doesn't actually make it into the book. Nobody wants to read an author recounting her research in the middle of a story. As they say, the devil's in the details. It's in the nuances that the authenticity comes through, but you don't get those nuances without understanding your subject matter.

That artistic license often becomes a conglomeration of everything I learn. Take, for instance, COOKIE THERAPY. I interviewed three different firemen for that story, and each of them told me something different. From the "expert" who counsels writers, to a friend who said "It's fiction. Make up whatever you want," to the third guy who said, when I ran a scene by him based on information provided by the first two, "If you do that, the fire's going to kill him." This is where the author throws her hands in the air and cries uncle. Enter artistic license, and a disclaimer that any mistakes are the fault of the writer. In the end, I think I got it right, and attending the Writers Police Academy (which also had firefighters) confirmed it.

Tapping my sources, but soliciting others. Do you know anyone who celebrates the summer solstice? What rituals do they practice?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


By now, you know that I have a NEW RELEASE today (you did buy your copy of FAMILY ALCHEMY, didn't you?).What's it about? Well, let me put it this way. If you liked PRACTICAL MAGIC, I think you'll like FAMILY ALCHEMY.  So, without further ado, here's an excerpt.

Buy it here!

Let me know what you think. This one has all the supernatural without the love story. Thmbs up? or thumbs down?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Walking through the past

How was your holiday season? Did you survive? Are you happy it's behind or are you missing the company of friends and family?

Where I am, the weather has been unseasonably warm, so we've been making the most of it by going out for walks every chance we get. I've seen some fun things, which I post on my "Out and About" posts on Instagram, and in an effort to get out of the house, I talked the Big Guy into a trip to my hometown to see an outdoor light display.

Overlooking the koi pond
When I was a kid, my sisters and I walked to school (not going to call up the folk story about "two miles uphill through a foot of snow" stuff). It was about a mile each way, though, and yes, sometimes it snows in Illinois. The best part of the walk was the place that makes Lombard, Illinois famous--Lilacia Park. Every year the town has a Lilac festival, and the park blooms with several colors and varieties of lilacs and tulips. My sisters and I often walked through the park on our way to school. I remember stopping to read the sundial (never did figure out how that worked) and looking over the koi pond (before koi ponds were fashionable).

A few years ago, I'd heard they did a Christmas light display in the park, but I'd never taken the time or found an opportunity to go back. Through the magic of social media, I'd seen some of my family and friends who still live in the area post pictures, and while the Big Guy and I were sitting around on New Years Day, we figured we needed an adventure, so we made the trek--quick before the display ends.

On one end of the park, there is a deer statue that children have climbed onto for as long as he's been there. His name is Rastas, and he has stubs where his antlers should be. Naturally, Rastas was my first stop.

As I led the Big Guy along the familiar paths, past the light displays, beside the knoll that used to be shrouded in trees making for a secret hiding spot, past the wishing willow tree, I saw so much more than the abundance of colored lights and Christmas designs that decorated the park. Memories filled in all the spots left barren in the winter. The time spent with friends and family. The building inside the park where I bought my summer pool pass. The library where I spent so much time growing up.

Moving lights - a Christmas train

Sometimes when you need to recharge after the holidays, it's nice to revisit those places that are dear to you (or revisit the deer!). What are you doing to "recover" from the holidays?

Now available in audio!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

Have to keep moving forward. One of the last things someone I loved very much said to me.

With the new year comes a new release. It’s something different for me, and yet kind of the same. This one isn’t a romance (which isn’t to say it doesn’t contain some romantic elements). FAMILY ALCHEMY has the magical, paranormal feel you might expect from me, with characters who have “extra” gifts. Does a talent for alchemy, for creating something special out of ordinary ingredients, make you a witch? What about making a wish that comes true, except not in the way you intended? It’s a coming of age/new adult novel with a twist and provides a foundation for a continuing legacy that will follow through the series, set in a unique little town (my inspiration for this book!).

The book releases January 14. I hope you’ll love it! And I hope you’ll let me know what you think!

You can pre-order here!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

'Cuz We Need a Little Christmas

Sometimes life doesn't go the way we expect it to, and in those moments, we need something to shine light into the darkness.

For me, that part of my brain that multitasks gets stalled out, which means I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, so here's what I've been doing.

Buy it here
WHILE WE WERE SHOPPING released in November (did you get your copy yet?). If you're in the mood for a sweet, fluffy holiday read to go along with watching Hallmark movies, then you'll love this Christmas romance.

Buy it here
I also had the audio for EPITAPH in the works, so once the Christmas book was released, I took time to listen to the audio files to make sure they were good to go. Jane Oppenheimer does a wonderful job bringing Amy and Kevin and all the characters to life. I have approved the files, and they should be available for sale in the next week or so.

Buy it here
I've also been working on FAMILY ALCHEMY, my next release and first in a new series. While I was attending to my other projects, I was trying to get this finished, as well. I had done a final "proof listen" and had set it aside for one last visual proof, which I have now completed. Release day is January 14 and I'm very excited for you to see it. It's a New Adult/women's fiction/"witchy" novel - a departure from my usual romance fare, but my fingerprints are all over it for those of you used to reading my books. You can click on the link in the right-hand column to find out more.

Which takes me to the next project, which I had started, but with everything else, yes, I had to set it aside while I finished one thing at a time. I'm now full speed ahead on the second in series, but we are also in the midst of the holidays. So I know you'll understand if I tell you I'm taking a blog break to spend time with my family, because we need a a little Christmas, right this very minute.

I will be sending a newsletter in January announcing the audiobook and the new release (nudge, nudge. Make sure you're signed up!). Until then...

May the peace and love of the season be with you. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Circle of Life

There are times in life when words fail.

I am blessed to be part of a close family. I have my parents to thank for that, and in their absence, my sisters. We talk regularly during the good times, and when trouble strikes, we band together. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that my parents had four of us.

Today, I want to tell you abour my oldest sister. She would HATE that I was talking about her in public, but there is so much I want to say.

When we were little, we weren't allowed to come downstairs on Christmas morning until a certain time, so the four of us would sit on the top steps while my oldest sister kept track of the time with her watch. She made "sculptures" out of stacks of presents, like reindeer (at Christmas) or crabs (for bridal showers). For years, she was the one who organized the family reunions that brought us all together.

She was always up for an adventure. Anytime we asked if she wanted to take a road trip, she was ready to go. We'd get tickets to go to a show in the city, or spend time together on a "sister weekend." When my parents were ill, she and I often rode together to visit them since we live in promixity, giving us time to talk through our emotions before we arrived so we could put on a brave face. She was never judgmental, and there wasn't anything I couldn't talk to her about. And we often did talk, for hours at a time. Weekly. She gave so much of herself to her family and to her friends.

I lost my sister this week, and I don't know how we'll ever fill the void she left behind. She was such a very special person to all of us. There are no words at times like this. Mortality is something we all must face, and something we all take for granted. None of us knew how little time we had left with her, and she didn't know how little time she had. I thank God for her life, for her presence in our lives, and for the love she shared in abundance.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

So many things to be thankful for this year.

Every year is fraught with struggles, and yet we go on. I'm sure I could come up many nuggets of encouragement to keep us going through the difficult times, but my favorite is "Rainbows come after the rain."

Time claims its due and we lose people we love, but God has blessed us with people who share our loss and the strength to continue on our journeys. New lives are added in the form of babies or friends. I am thankful for each of these things. For lives well lived, for family to help us carry on, for new lives added. These blessings are gold.
Bailey's Cheesecake balls

As an author, I'm thankful for those readers who keep me going, who encourage me with their kind reviews when they relate to my words and stories. This year I'm thankful for audiobook narrators who bring my words to life (Epitaph will be available in January!).

Homemade cinnamon rolls

I'm looking forward to baking wonderful, traditional treats for Thanksgiving and in preparation of Christmas. and because #MyLifeIsAMusical, the soundtrack to this post? My Favorite Things.

Happy Thanksgiving!