Saturday, April 30, 2016

Articulture-Westfield Event

Today I will be doing a meet & greet the author and book signing at the first ever Articulture event here in my home town. It's a 10AM to 10PM full day of dance, music, art and literature. I am one of five local authors attending the event.

It's an exciting day for me because, while I have been writing for most of my life I have only recently begun sharing what I've written with the public. Family and friends have been entertained since I was a teenager by the stories I've written- and I certainly have grown up and matured as a writer over the years, but find that even now my style is evolving and changing wit every book.

The challenge is confine me to a single genre. All of my stories have romance in them to various degrees but are not true bodice ripper romances. Neither are they contemporary romances because some are action/adventure, some magic/fantasy, some supernatural and spooky...I don't exactly know where I fall should my books be on the shelf in the local bookstore.

I also write holiday stories. Many of the stories in the three volumes published so far of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales were originally written to entertain family and friends at Halloween time. There are three volumes of collected annual Christmas stories, also written to entertain family and friends at the holidays.

One of the secrets in anything I write is I always put at least one element from  my real life into every book. It could be a family tradition, a favorite food, a place that we've visited, a phrase that one or the other of us commonly uses, an object, a started out as a game for my daughter when she was little and I wrote stories for her. I'd read them aloud and see if she picked up on the real life thing I'd incorporated into the story- usually she did. In 2014 I began writing people I know into stories as fictional characters. My late 92-year old surrogate Mom appears in several stories as a character. I still remember visiting her on a Sunday and leaving a new story called The Weeping Angel in manuscript form for her to read. She loved reading my short stories. On Monday evening she called me and during the course of our conversation she remarked that she'd read the new story. I asked how she liked it. There was a hesitation, and then in a somewhat emotional voice she asked, "Is that me in your story, the shopper in the bookstore who buys the romance novels?" I said, "Yes, that's you." And she got all teary. She was touched that I'd worked her into my writing. The next story I wrote had both me and her as characters and was pretty close to true life. Her health was failing and I wanted to give her something but she didn't want anything from me except my stories to read at night when she couldn't sleep because it made her feel as if I was there with her. So I wrote a story called An Intangible Gift in which the writer character goes to visit her elderly friend who is now on hospice, and she brings her some new stories. During the course of the visit, as she is preparing lunch in the kitchen, she thinks of the perfect gift for her friend. While they're eating she tells her she has a gift for her, and goes on to explain that she is going to continue to write her into stories, even after she is gone from this life she will continue to live on in those stories and the writer will hear her voice through the character, that when she is missing her and wants to feel her presence she will write her into a new story and be comforted by remembering her in that way. The elderly woman is a bit taken aback by this and quiet for a few minutes, but then she asks, with a twinkle in her eye, "Are you telling me that you think I'm a real character?" thereby letting the writer know that she's touched by this gift- literary immortality. In real life, I gave her the story and she read it after I'd gone home. The next night she called me and told me, "I'm putting this story in my safe deposit box." That she treasured it that much meant a lot to me. And I've kept my promise to her to keep her alive in my work. She passed in September of 2014 and that December I wrote her into a holiday story called Christmas Cakes. I didn't just use her as a character, I also used her actual house in the story as well, although I set it all in a fictional town, gave her a fictional name and surrounded her by fictional characters with whom she interacts much as the real woman would have reacted. The way she speaks, the way she acts with kindness and generosity and love is exactly how my dear friend acted during the thirteen years I was fortunate to have known her. My daughter called her Grandma one day and she wept. She'd had only one son and he'd never married, so she had no real grandchildren, but from that day forward she called Kelly her granddaughter. I was happy to have given her the grandchild that filled her heart with joy.

So, today I am taking my history as a writer, currently contained in 7 novels, 9 short story/novelette/novella collections, one young reader and one young adult novel to Articulture and sharing with my hometown what I have been creating for years while living and working in this community. It's a big day for me because I am a reserved, quiet to put myself out there is a huge step forward for me. I'm just glad I will be in the company of many other talented, creative people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Abandonned Post

 I started ranting and raving earlier and then deleted the post. I sent it to the abandoned post yard where bad prose, awful poetry, horrible writing and poor thoughts get discarded. It's a veritable field of wasted words with sad little commas and question marks lie discarded amid sentence fragments and half formed ideas.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to wander through this land of abandoned posts. What might I find here that could be used in a future story? Is there another half idea that could be woven together with a second half idea to make a new idea?

These are the things I think about after midnight, after an early morning, a long day, when sleep still eludes me and the cats are racing around the house while everyone else is already asleep. One writer's trash may become another writer's treasure...right?

Please leave your abandoned posts for me to find.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Vampire Novel in Process

I've been working on a new vampire novel for a couple of months now. This one has a unique angle so I am being very careful about discussing it right now. It's mostly written, but now I'm going back and filling in sections and doing some editing while looking for continuity issues since I always write out of my head and never write an outline-so I need to make sure the story flows right. The lead character is a young woman who lost her lower left leg in a biking accident when she was twenty-years old. It's about 3 years later and she now works as a cosmetologist for a late-night television talk show hostess known for her confrontational and provoking manner. That's about all I can reveal right now. The story is based on a short story that appears in Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume III. While the characters names and basic personalities remain the same, the novel is somewhat different and much more developed than the short story. The short story is stand alone and should not be considered a part of this novel.  I sometimes will take a short story I've written and make a novel from it so I just need to clarify that the short story is just that, a short story and not an excerpt from this forthcoming novel.

My feline writing companion has pulled my fleece jacket and good sweater off the back of the dining room chair and made himself a cozy nest in a sunbeam on the dining room floor this morning. He's miffed that we don't have the door open for fresh air, but the tree pollen is bad out there right now, and some of the neighbors' yards are abloom with dandelions.. My eyes were itching like mad last night (bought some new drops this morning), and Kelly's nose is running like crazy, even with her allergy med. Yet, I wouldn't trade living in the woods for anything despite how miserable we are in the spring when the tree pollen is horrendous like this.

I'm still preparing for the Articulture Westfield event next Saturday- making sure I have everything I need for the day...looking forward to that. Looks like weather will ne nice- mid-60's with sun. Should be a nice day to explore Westfield's artistic, literary, music and dance culture.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Chaos Reins Supreme

I always thought I lived a quiet life. I am a very laid back, easy going person. I used to be able to handle any sort of crisis without batting an eyelash. Life was a breeze..

So what happened? Everything lately is a major crisis! I can't be more specific than that because real live people whose identities cannot be revealed are involved...but let's just say, they are close to me. I am suddenly related to the goofball, the fruitcake, the hysteric, the grouch, the self-pitier and the oblivious one.

I ought to write a book about this stuff that's going on around here, but it's probably too fantastical and people would think it was pure fiction, not the new reality in my life.

I guess this is the new life on the edge of chaos and catastrophe. I'd better get used to it.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Home recovering from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic medication I was put on last Friday. Had to have a shot of Bendryl today to calm down the reaction...and then was sent home where I crashed for three hours with Revere who tucked his paw into my hand and napped with me. He's such a good cat- such a loyal companion.

There was so much I wanted to accomplish today but was feeling so woozy and shaky I didn't manage to get anything done this morning. I'm thankful I work in a medical office (one of the MDs is my primary care doctor now since my former MD in Holyoke retired last summer) and was able to be seen quickly today. Although this doctor had never seen me before he immediately figured out what was wrong with me (I was seen for severe muscle cramps and muscle spasms- which is part of my rheumatoid arthritis. Another practitioner had taken me off my RA medication to put me on the antibiotic last Friday which resulted in a flare-up in addition to the allergic reaction.) Life is never easy with health issues but I'm feeling better tonight, more like myself and plan on being in bed early tonight!

I did manage to go into CreateSpace to finish the cover design for the fourth Talon novel I'd started it last night but something didn't go right. That was only the second time since using CreateSpace that I'd had a problem with the cover design. Tonight I was able to delete the stuck original cover and do it over again-and it went smoothly. The novel is now in their review process, and I should be able to order a proof copy tomorrow.

Meanwhile, three cartons of books were delivered this evening earmarked for the Articulture event here in town on April 30th where I will have a table with other local authors. I've chosen Halloween story and Medea, my young reader and young adult novel published under my pseudonym, Victoria Bell, and My Magical Life, The Archetypes-First Generation, Love Me Knots:A Sweet Hearts Collection, and Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I for this event. I plan on having a few copies of my other books on hand should anyone ask for them. My friend Darlene has been recruited as my assistant for that day. My brother and sister will be volunteering at the event also. I'm really looking forward to this- there are a lot of people with various talents in the community. To have them all in one place on one day is pretty amazing!

So, for a day where I really didn't feel well and spent part of it napping while recovering, I guess I did manage to get a few things done, although I unfortunately missed the call from the Archway/Simon Schuster consultant this morning, but I managed to send him an email to reschedule our next talk for the first week of May.

Also, back on my RA med tonight...hoping things will improve and the muscle cramps and spasms won't keep me up half the night again!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

John Wants An Audio Book

I posted on facebook this afternoon that the proof copy of a new novel had arrived and I was anxious to tackle it with my trusty blue pen. My friend, John, who is the little boy I babysat when I was a teenager, commented that he wanted an audio book...with me as the narrator.

That would have DISASTER written all over it and here's why-

As the author, I am privy to all the background info of all my characters. They all have back stories. In narrating any of my novels I would be digressing constantly to explain the character's deeper motivation, why they behaved the way they did, what had happened in their past to make and mold them into the person they are in this present moment, and then I might be relating alternate paths the characters might have taken and the results...

I am like Holden Caulfield- always digressing. It's amazing to me that I ever get any book completed.
An example of this is sitting in my dining room in a green binder. Last year's NaNo novel is the culmination of ten or eleven digressions, or rather short stories and novelettes featuring the main characters. They had a story to tell but they themselves weren't exactly sure of what that story was. They knew they belonged together. They knew some bad things would happen. Lissa was badly injured in a biking accident in several of the stories before the person who was causing her injury was revealed in another. Remy was rougher, cruder but he evolved. I let their voices tell these stories even though I knew it wasn't working the way it was supposed to. I filled a binder with digressions before sitting down and pounding out a 130,000-plus word novel in which Lissa and Remy's story was finally told the way it was meant to be told.

If I narrated Life Skills I would go off on a tangent and talk about Life Skills class in high school where they were paired as a pretend couple- how frustrated she was with him, how annoyed he was by the whole class when he was already using real life skills to cope with his adult life while she was still a teenaged high school senior pretending to be his wife in class. They fought like cats and dogs. They spent a lot of time on the beach. Her friends really couldn't stand him, but he was always there on the fringe of Lissa's life, watching her and waiting for her to grow up. The novel touches on this and I would be tempted to bring it

Great idea, John, audio books so you could listen to my stories while you're driving, but seriously, the narrator would have t be anyone else but me. I'm too involved with these characters. I know too much about them. Let's leave the narration to a stranger who doesn't know all the stuff I know about the characters and let it go at that.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Articulture Event

On April 30th, from 10AM-10PM, there is a first of its kind in Westfield event called Articulture taking place at the Westfield Women's Club. There will be local musicians and bands playing on the main level stage all day. Downstairs in the function room there will be local artists and local authors showing their art, selling their books and perhaps doing readings from books.

I'm excited to be one of the local authors who will be at this event. This will be my first official public appearance as an author. My friends, family and circle of acquaintances have been aware of what I have been doing in the world of self publishing, but the local newspaper declined to publish my publicity release last fall and told me I should pay for an advertisement instead. Needless to say, I got annoyed by that response and decided to wait until I was more prepared to deal with things like that. So, I was excited to see a group form specifically for local talent.

I attended a meeting to express my interest in being involved in this group, and knew some of the people there- my dentist and his wife, with whom I ran a number of book fairs with when Kelly and their kids were in elementary school, and their son Tony who is a musician.

I'm excited to be a part of this event and am doing all I can to help promote it. It is a family friendly all day into the night event with things for kids to do outdoors also to explore art and music, and maybe writing. I'm choosing which books to take- most likely Halloween Story (young reader), Medea (young adult novel), My Magical Life, The Archetypes-First Generation and Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I. I may bring a few of each of the others as well, but will be primarily promoting these books as there are sequels to The Archetypes and additional volumes in the Miss Peculiar series, and a sequel planned for My Magical Life.

The third book in the Talon series is in the proofing stage. Kelly just finished her editing of the fourth book in that series. Now I need to make all the fixes and then give it one last going over before creating the book.

I'm gathering up the things I'll need for the 30th and hoping that the event is going to draw a lot of people. (I even talked my sister and brother into volunteering since they live a block away and my sister has been involved in the Women's Club for many years.)

Looking forward to this first appearance as an author in public and getting my books before a local audience of readers.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Painting Pictures with Words

When I was a teenager I fell in love with pen and ink drawing. I liked doing a beautiful drawing with black India ink and then adding some delicate glimpses of color with Higgins colored inks. I did some acrylic painting too back then and explored watercolor painting. All the time I was doing art with pen and ink and paint I was also writing.

I was out of college by the time I realized that the prettiest or most striking pictures I had ever painted were the ones I had painted with words.

I have always been a voracious reader. I was bored in school because once I learned to read I read every book in the house. My mother always encouraged our love of reading. She had my Dad tear down the walls in the long hallway of our four bedroom ranch house and replace the walls with floor to ceiling bookcases thereby making the hallway our library. You could always find one or two of us sprawled on the hallway floor reading. Our best road trips were to Bookland in Northampton and Holyoke- this was before Barnes & Noble arrived in Holyoke. Then came Walden Books. While my peers were buying clothes and make-up I was buying books ad writing stories.

I even read the dictionary, probably a Websters when I was a teenager. I retain individual words better than I retain phrases. I can't remember a joke to save my life. But say a word and I can pretty easily list five or six synonyms just off the top of my head without really thinking about it.

When Kelly was born I would get up to feed her in the middle of the night and while she had her bottle I would grab a book off the bookcase already present in the nursery and read it to her and show her the pictures. Every night I read picture and storybooks to her from her library. Between ages two and three she nearly fell on the cement steps in the back walkway and said, "That could have been a catastrophe!" Around that time she liked to wear hats and march around the dining room table at my parent's house. One day she handed a Greek fisherman's cap to my Dad, put on his bucket hat he used for yard work and said, "Let's form a procession!"

Those two instances opened my eyes and ears to the fact that small children are sponges that absorb everything they see and hear. They have minds like computer processors, matching new words to actions, objects, emotions... I never talked baby talk to her. I never parked her in front of the television. We danced in the kitchen to every kind of music imaginable because I did not want to limit her horizons to the walls of a small box. I gave her the whole world ad let her explore it.

Picture books and storybooks come with age ranges. I ignored them. We read wonderful stories above her age level, often reading the same books over and over because we loved them so much. And in not dumbing down her ability to learn she easily learned to read and loves to read to this day. She also writes some pretty amazing books in her own right-although she hasn't buckled down and published anything yet, except on wattpad.

She is a minimalist painter with words, but she has the ability to choose the perfect word from her extensive vocabulary so it is like the exact brushstroke and evokes the exact emotion she wants the reader to feel.

My writing is a little more descriptive and dense. I find myself writing too much sometimes so I have to go back and pare out the excess verbage, distill the image, idea, emotion to it's purest form. Where Kelly is concise, I am expansive. We have totally different writing styles. But if you see us together and listen to us talk you will witness a duel of words as we aren't afraid to use the choicest words we can dredge up from memory for ordinary everyday things. Where someone would walk into a furniture store and see chairs, tables, couches, and lamps Kelly and I see a vast assortment and variety of chaises, settees, divans, illumination devices, candoliers, club chairs, wingchairs, Morris chairs and so forth. It drives my husband crazy but occasionally he joins in one of our conversations and coughs up a cool archaic word. Language- both oral and written is certainly not dead in our house. I don't use abbreviations or texting shortcuts on social media. I shall not slaughter the English language is my motto.

Language is beautiful. By utilizing carefully chosen words in the body of a text a writer/author can create beautiful images that paint pictures in the mind of a reader, enhancing the story being told with the visual imagery.

The fiery red fox streaked across the sloping green lawn like a flaming arrow shot from the bow of the earth. That is what I saw the other day- a fox running across the back yard. How would you write that sight on facebook?

Paint pictures with words and make the world a more beautiful place!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Sounds of Spring

It's 7AM Tuesday morning. I'm sitting at the kitchen table checking my email. There's a conference call scheduled for 7:30PM this evening- the first time the club Officers and Board of Directors is attempting this. Kelly has just left for work. My husband is awake and already stressing about not being able to find a new job.

Outside the open kitchen door (even though it's only 51 degrees out I'm allowing Revere a breath of fresh air) I hear rain- a slow but steady spring rain. The blue jays are screaming and calling to one in the woods just behind us. Smaller birds are chirping in the arbor vitae hedges to the left and right of our property. Rain is gurgling in the downspout. Listening carefully through the rain I can just discern the rush of water in the brook down in the ravine behind us. It's running faster due to the rain- even though it was a fairly dry winter we have had some rain, heavy at times so there is plenty of water in it.

I like listening to the rain...although it kind of makes me wish I could crawl back into bed and sleep for another few hours.

Leaving for work in half an hour...time for a cup of tea before I go.

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Tiny Dream

I was talking about this on my goodreads blog the other day.

I have a tiny dream.

My husband watches the TV program Tiny House. I get a kick out of whole families wanting a tiny house (how unrealistic is that? My family would be a pack of snarling dogs crammed into too small a space!)

My dream is to have a tiny house for writing in my backyard. It would be in the Carpenter's Gothic style with a tiny front porch, screened in so Revere and Beans could come and hang out with me while I write at my tiny desk in front of a window that looks out over the woods and the brook in the ravine beyond the path. It would have to be wired but not necessarily plumbed. It would have a loft with a place to rest and reflect. And all the walls would be lined with floor to ceiling bookcases for reference books and some of my favorite novels. I might add a fold down desk for when Kelly comes to visit and we write together.

This is one writer's tiny dream.

Talon: The Familiarity of it All (Book 3)

Kelly did a final read through and edit of Book 3 in the Talon series this weekend. It always makes me nervous when she applies her critical eye to one of my novels, however, there were some moments that will remain with me from this- such as coming into the kitchen to sit down opposite her to work on another project and finding her in tears as she read a certain section. Later, she was laughing, and once when she had moved into the living room and was reading there I walked through and saw her smiling- no, grinning! I know a story is working if I'm able to draw those kinds of emotions from a reader, even if it's her. She is very analytical and black & white sometimes, like her father, but she has also inherited a creative side from me and I'm able to reach that side of her through my writing. When I get a high five at the end of a read through I know the novel works.

Book Three is set two months after book two- Dr. Giles Talon (ME & grim reaper) and Bryce Briscoe (nightshift Morgue clerk and his portal) are rapidly approaching their Valentine's Day wedding when chaos breaks out as her family is attacked and they are attacked by demons and other beasts from the realms beyond. Bryce once again rocks the heavens with her unorthodox improvisations because she is still new at what she does and the High Council continues to debate her merit in emergency meetings. Their wedding finally happens but there's a shock as they leave the reception to begin the honeymoon and once again Bryce is challenged to find a way to remedy a very bad situation as quickly as possible.

Book three includes the bonus holiday story, set five years into the future when Dr. Talon and Bryce's son Cayle is five years old. This is the year Talon gives his portal her heart's desire.

And now off to finish up a final edit of Book 4 (the partial novel I found in the dining room not too long ago!) But first a huge thank you to Kelly for all she does for me! You're the best!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Found in a Notebook

I evidently write poetry late at night- found this in the pages of a small binder with book notes last night:

The silver stars shine
   in the dark pools of your eyes;
I see a gilded moon
   suspended from a lock of your hair-
The lambent light casts
    half your face in shadow,
Bathes the other half in pale moon glow-

You are a being
   from a distant world
Who has come only to kiss me;
   and I surrender to the alien sensation
of cool lips against mine.

This kiss is like a cold drink
   washing down a desert throat;
I am at the oasis-
   oddly shivering,
   oddly scorched.

This may have been written to go with a story I was writing at the time, but I can't think which one. Possibly Cooper's Moon which I don't think I've published yet because I'm incorporating the short story into a novel- one of the four novels I'm currently working on.

Friday, April 8, 2016


We've had a rather mild winter here in western Massachusetts so all the spring bulbs poked their green noses above the earth earlier than normal and proceeded to bask and flourish in the balmy spring-like temperatures that we had throughout most of March. Our daffodils alongside the back walkway bloomed, and looked so cheerful- so bright yellow that they hurt one's eyes!

And then we had about 3 inches of heavy snow this past Sunday and Monday. My daffodils were bowed beneath their snowy mantle. When the snow melted on Wednesday I was sad to see them all lying face down in the bark mulch, still pretty but looking so woeful and defeated by that little blast of winter in April.

Today, as I was leaving for work, I was cheered to see that the majority of the daffodils had managed to straighten their bowed stems. Once again their adorable ruffled faces were turned toward the sun that had just risen over the top of the mountain behind us to the east. Only two flowers were still half bowed. I'm hoping that they will find the strength to stand upright once again- maybe tomorrow.

It brightened my day to see my flowers standing tall again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Talon Series Books 3 & 4

I've been busy writing the past week or so. I have more or less finished Book 3 in the Talon series which was supposed to be the third in the TRILOGY...except while poking around in a file box I found a binder with a fourth Talon novel half finished, so spent Sunday afternoon through this morning finishing writing that fourth novel.

Therefore- while waiting to go to work I had to go and make an adjustment to the covers of the first and second books in the series (Talon: An Intimate Familiarity and Talon: A Sense of Familiarity) because on the covers of those books it reads in the subtitle first and second books in the Talon trilogy and that's no longer the case. They are the first and second books in the Talon Series. It was a quick fix on the CreateSpace website. I zipped in, fixed the covers and resubmitted the files. Now that I'm thinking about it I should probably go back and add the subtitles to the title pages in the books also.

Books 3 & 4 in the Talon series will be undergoing their final editing/proofing review process and then should be available in May.  Book 4 is set twenty-two years after book 3, but I can't say anymore about it right now.