Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mixed Messages

In June of 2016 I wrote Black King Takes White Queen for my daughter for her birthday that month. It's a long book because I did world-building and had dozens of characters to introduce in this first in a series novels. It's sort of magical realism/urban fantasy/cross genre writing.

At the end of October 2016, on the spur of the moment, I submitted it to Chanticleer reviews OZMA Award contest for fantasy. It hadn't even been thoroughly edited yet. I'd done a lot with it, but it wasn;t exactly how I wanted it to be yet, but I sent it anyway. In January 2017 I was informed via email that the novel was a finalist for the short list. In February it advanced and was short listed. That's as far as it got, but as a shortlister I was invited to be at the awards ceremony and sell my novel in the authors room. I couldn't fly to Washington state because John had lost his job and I was having RA issues due to all the stress in my life. But I was thrilled, excited, and happy to have my novel short-listed.

So, in April I entered it in Writer's Digest's Self Published Novel Contest. I had further edited and revised the novel, given it a cover upgrade, and overhauled the interior to make it look as professionally published as possible.

I got the results back today and it sort of pulled the rug out from under my feet. The female judge was harsh. She marked me low on just about everything except appearance of the book (which was what I had been marked the lowest on when I'd entered The Archetypes-First Generation and My Magical Life in the same contest two years ago while the stories themselves got high marks, although unconventional)

It's discouraging to get a bad "report card" on the same novel that was short-listed in another contest (the improved version even!)

But, here's the lesson learned here- some people will like it, and others will not. It's a matter of personal preference. A writer can't let someone else's issues interfere in their creative process. There were tidbits of good advice in the critique but the whole "report card" was just very off-putting in tone; not in what was said, but in the speaking-down-to-you attitude that came across the page.

My reaction- get off your high horse, lady! I do all the work myself from writing to editing, proofreading, interior layout design, cover design, back cover copy writing, publishing, etc.- I wear a lot of hats. I've only been doing this for two years. And I also work a full time job to help support my family. But, I would never play the superiority card on anyone!

Please don't ever let me get that full of myself that I forget how hard writers work- and how we all have different styles, different and unique voices. We don't all conform to the whims and ways of big name publishers- that's why we SELF Publish!

Rant over!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Remember November

One of our favorite movies in this house is 'V' for Vendetta. Remember, remember the fifth of November...  We're not from the UK, but the movie has a message. Plus it's just downright creepy and disturbing.

November is also the month in which Thanksgiving falls. With everyone offended by virtually everything that's ever happened in history the celebration of being thankful for friendship and a good harvest has turned into a slap in the face to the native Americans, so Thanksgiving has lost much of its status and turned into more of a Harvest Day celebration so none of feel guilty,,,when in reality only a very tiny percentage of current Americans can trace their ancestry back to the Pilgrims and other early immigrants to this country. I'm only a second generation American myself. My father's family didn't arrive here until the very late 1800's. They were Polish refugees who settled in CT and farmed onions and potatoes. My Dad was born in Hatfield in 1928 where his parents had moved to from Suffield, CT. They were still farmers. I'm third generation American on my mother's side. My grandfather was born in Greenfield in 1905, my Mom in Griswoldville in 1930. My grandfather worked in Kendall Mills as a truck driver between the two mills in Colrain. My mother's relatives came from southern Italy and through Canada as French-Canadian immigrants in the late 1800's. They were all poor, came to this country with a lot of other immigrants looking for a better life, worked hard, struggled, went hungry, learned to speak English before they were allowed to go to school, fought in wars for this country, worked hard, raised families, and cared about everyone, not just themselves. So, every November, Thanksgiving doesn't really mean anything to me other than I'm thankful my relatives were welcomed into this country and through their own hard work made something of themselves without stepping on anyone else's rights or taking anything away from them to do it. We can't change history- it's already written. What we can change is how we behave toward one another now in the present day because we are writing OUR history now, and I for one don't want to be lumped into the Jerks and Assholes who ruined this country category in some future history lesson. History is more than just a generalization of events and their outcomes. I'm just thankful for the simple things in my life- my family and friends and my ability to write. Everything else- well, I've worked for that. (I am stepping down off my soapbox now.)

November is also NaNoWriMo month- National Novel Writing Month. This is my 6th NaNo. I began participating in 2012 and have written a novel each year. I've self-published the NaNo novels I've written. In 2012 it was Talon: An Intimate Familiarity about a young woman who is different from her peers who is hired as the night shift receptionist/secretary at City Morgue. The old ME passes away and the frosty, difficult younger ME takes his place. But he's more than just a doctor- he's also a grim reaper and he's chosen Bryce as his portal long ago, but their relationship is volatile because Bryce is not just your typical portal- she's also in the angelic ranks and a healer. He's also never experienced this type of powerful intimate attraction to a portal before, and being an immortal supernatural being, he finds it difficult to deal with Bryce's human side, her emotions and feelings. In 2013 I finally wrote the first novel in the Amberton Paranormal Investigation series, The Fairlawn Investigation. I wrote The Victoria Wayfarer Inn Investigation, the second novel in 2011. In 2014 I took a Halloween novelette I wrote for Kelly when she was in middle school and added a new beginning and a new ending and rewrote the novelette to blend it all into one new adult novel, The Unwilling Witch (formerly called Medea). It received it's new titled in late September this year as it was the last book I revised and changed the cover art of during this year of revising and polishing all my books. In 2015 I took the premise of nearly two dozen attempts at a story written throughout the previous year and wrote Remy and Lissa's story, Life Skills, a contemporary novel about two young people from abusive homes who had been Life Skills class partners in high school where she did the majority of the work because he was already twenty-one years old but part of his former juvenile sentence was that he had to complete high school, not go the GED route- so he's already out in the real world working while also attending school and doesn't have the time or patience or desire to do outside classwork. But when Lissa has a breakdown one night he's the one who takes her in because he's always cared about her and understands some of what she's been going through. His dysfunctional family embraces her and welcomes her, and helps heal the rift between her and her abused mother. And there are some pretty wonderful German Shepard dogs that the Brice family owns who play a role in the novel also. Last year my 2016 NaNo novel was the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, my magic/fantasy realism novel that was shortlisted in 2016 for the OZMA Award. Black Knight, White Rook continues Romney and Ivy's story. Now that the threat of his being killed by his evil sister has been dealt with, things have been peaceful as they've continued to work on uniting white and dark arts practitioners. But then Ivy's sister returns with a cruel, evil warlock as her husband and they begin trying to wrench Romney and Ivy's bond apart and ruin everything they've worked so hard to attain so far, and steal their son, Ezra, the future king. It continues Ivy's journey of self-discovery begun in the first novel- from white witch/druidess living an unassuming life working in her grandfather's nursery growing things to Romney's queen has not been an easy transition, but she's found strengths within herself she never knew she had. She's going to need all those still newly discovered strengths and more to cope with everything Holly and Wheaton Trowbridge throw in her and Romney's path in this sequel.

2017's novel will be The Clockmaker's Son- the lycanthrope novel that was inspired this past spring by my first real life sight of the mechanical clock tower here in the town I live in open at high noon one day. During the remaining ten minute ride home the idea for the novel developed. I made a few attempts to write it...but was busy with the book revisions still, and other things, like putting together the WhipCity Wordsmiths writers group, and working full time. I'm going to try to write this darker novel this month.

If I'm not here much, it's because I'm working or writing...this is going to be a crazy month!! See you in December!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On the Radio

Back in April during Articulture, locl author Melissa Volker and I were invited to be on Bob Plasse's radio program on local station WSKB 89.5 FM which is broadcast from a small studio on the campus of Westfield State University here in town.We set a date for June 2017.

In May Bob advised us that he had overbooked for the show, so we rebooked for October 24th.

I kind of put it out of my mind because I am by nature a quiet person, and Kelly is even worse than I am at not talking much, and she had also been invited to join us because she had just self published her first novel and her first novella.

Well- Melissa came down with an upper respiratory virus and didn't want to be exposing us to it in a small studio, so she volunteered to be a phone in guest. In for a penny in for a dollar, Kelly and I decided that if we were going to do this then we were going to go to the studio and just do it- so, at 5:45AM this past Tuesday I rolled out of bed and threw on some clothes, combed my hair and brushed my teeth, then rousted Kelly at 6:03AM, and she pretty much did the same thing. We lft the house at 6:18AM in the pre-dawn darkness and headed to Little River Dunkin Donuts so she could grab some breakfast- chocolate milk and a plain bagel as is, and a bottle of water for me...too nervous to eat and drive.

We made our way on surprisingly busy streets to the college campus, found the faculty staff lot where we could parking, stuck our two hour temporary parking permit on the dash, then headed to Ely Hall and the third floor radio station.

The anteroom door was propped open with a wastebasket. We let ourselves in. Bob was on the air in the studio, but smiled and waved in greeting. Kell and I took seats and sat quietly talking until Bob came out to ask if we were ready for the program. We nodded and followed him into the studio. Music was playing so he got us settled into task chairs, adjusted the green milk crates to rest our feet on, then showed us how close we had to have the microphones in order to be heard, and how to hear everything through the headsets.

Seven o'clock rolled around and we went live on the air! There were some ice breaker questions and stuff to make us laugh and relax, and then we got Melissa involved on the phone as she had called in. We discussed acting, books, jobs, ghost stories, vampires...and I got to talk a little bit about my newly released contemporary vampire novel, and our writers group, Out. Melissa spoke about her upcoming sequel to The Thirteenth Moon. Kelly talked a little about Teleport and Parapsychology. Bob was made an honorary WhipCity Wordsmith during the show.

The hour literally flew by! It was easier than I thought it would be, and because I have known Bob for years and he is a very personable man I felt comfortable and was able to talk more than I usually would.

It was gloomy gray out just past 8AM when we left the building to head home. I definitely would do this again because it was fun, and now that I've done it once and survived I'll be more relaxed and prepared for it the next time, because he did invite us back, and hopefully Melissa will be able to get into the studio in the future too!

Turns out my husband who has never shown any interest in my books but has snooped through my files in the past, tuned into the radio program and listened. That surprised me...that he admitted to listening, not that he actually did listen.

I definitely would do this again because it was fun, and provided exposure which is something every author needs to have if they want to sell books!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can Someone Please Stop The Calendar!!!!

It seems like I just blinked and already more than half of October has passed. Can someone please stop the calendar, or at the very least slow it down?

I have been crazy busy with author events this month, and working on the WhipCity Wordsmiths that I haven't had much time to work on the not one, but two books that I've started. My NaNo novel looms on the horizon of approaching November. With so much stress in my personal life with my husband still jobless after 20 months, our health insurance coverage ending at the end of November, the usual bills still rolling in unrelentlessly, and so on and so forth I feel like a small pat of butter spread every so thinly across a slice of bread as large as my kitchen table!

The Art&Author event during PumpkinFest went very well on the 14th. The dynamics in the author's room were amazing! Four of us are Wordsmiths and by the end of the fifth hour the fifth author had earned honorary Wordsmith membership- we all felt as if we'd known her all our lives! Connie Bombaci had written a book about her deaf dalmatian, Hogan. She brought with her her deaf dalmatian, Judea, who is also her service dog. As soon as Judea's service vest came off she was just an ordinary, beautiful dog aching to pounce on the shadows playing across beams of sunlight on the floor in the room, but there were a lot of people flowing through the room so she had to be kept on a close lead. She received an acre of attention from people of all ages and performed some tricks for us which amazed us all. It was a great day!

Next up for me is the official launch for Out, my unconventional vampire romance. It received a very nice 4-star review from an advance reader. I believe she actually got the intent of the book, which please me immensely! This is Out's second 4-star rating! I'll be discussing a little about folklore vampires and how vampires morphed into media stars thanks to authors and the movies. My book is bringing vampires back to be more in line with folklore vampires, but these are modern day vampires.

Immediately after te author event is the second official WhipCity Wordsmith's meeting. The agenda has changed several times, so I'm not really sure what will take place, but I have ten or so items in my notebook to discuss when we start.

Ghost Stories LIVE! will take place on October 28th. I wrote one new ghost story but there's a lot of B-L-O-O-D in it (Kelly doesn't do well with blood, or even the thought it, so if I choose to read this story, she's going to have to step outside until I'm done!).

Hoping to be able to get a table at a local church craft and vendor fair on November 18th to promote the seven little Christmas books- 3 stand alone novellas (A Major Production, The Red Velvet Suit, and The Winter Solstice Ball) and 4 story collections (Christ With the Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past and Christmases Present). I've been told I should write for Hallmark. These stories were written over the past 20 years for family and friends. I have no clue what this year's story will be...it'll be written in December.

It feels as if this year has flown by, like in the hurricane force winds that devastated so many places this past summer. I have so much I still want to accomplish this year...and the days are flying by!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Been Awhile

I realized that I haven't posted anything here since September 28...things have been busy here with the arrival of October. All four Saturdays this month are booked solid and then some! This past Saturday I had hoped to go see authors Shawn Flynn and Connie Bombaci at 1PM at the Barnes & Noble closest to my home. But then I remembered that I'd been invited to an author event at Blue Umbrella Books here in town at 1PM. Also, I'd been invited to my best friend's mother's surprise 80th birthday party...at 1PM. And then there was my co-worker's wedding reception at 4PM that afternoon. I also needed to do a lot of the preparation work for the author event during PumpkinFest this coming Saturday- making signs, getting my books organized and ready, creating raffle tickets and ticket buckets, putting together the raffle prizes which included shopping for last minute pieces for each.

I made it to two events- the Blue Umbrella author event which was downtown near the Italian club where the surprise party was being held. I managed to get to both spending an hour at each before heading home to make decorations and signs for the rest of the afternoon and straight through to midnight when I finally called it a night.

On October 1st I began writing the third book in the Romney & Ivy series that started with the shortlisted Black King Takes White Queen and continued in Black Knight, White Rook. This one is tentatively titled A Bishop Among Pawns, but is currently under the title An Army of Pawns. I don't know yet which it will be but I've been averaging 5400 words a day (well for the first 4 days anyway). I hit the stall point when I had to stop to prepare for PumpkinFest.

I've also been busy getting ready for my author event to promote Out, my new vampire novel on the 21st, and the monthly WhipCity Wordsmiths meeting, also on the 21st immediately after my author event.

And then I've been helping work on an anthology for Ghost Stories LIVE! and need to write a new story for that event. In talking to the host it occurred to us we're down two cast members with them being off to college, so I scrambled last night to bring onboard a new permanent cast member-yea! She (Melissa Volker) is awesome!

I also created my NaNo novel, The Clockmaker's Son, and wrote the synopsis so I'm ready for November 1st. And yes, this is the werewolf novel from months ago! It'll finally get written!

And yes, I'm working full time days as well as working full time nights on all this other stuff I'm doing while wearing my author hat!

Burn, burn little candle, at both ends! I'll meet the flames in the middle and we'll see whether or not I'm fireproof!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2017


A previous blog post mentioned that Kelly and I were putting together a mother/daughter anthology of creepy stories. Well, that's what I've been working on putting together since she sent me her five stories. I contributed 13 ghost and unsettling stories...and then threw in my one and only horror story at the end, despite having to actually read it and edit it- ugh! But, I got it done and uploaded it last night after a search of our photo archives to find the creepiest picture I've ever taken- of the alien-like eyes staring into our from window from the truck of the linden tree!

We didn't have a name for the book- but inspiration struck when I said, "You know, that picture is really disturbing." Therefore, the volume of 19 stories is titled, Disturbing.

I prefer to think of myself as the writer of some pretty good Christmas stories (something I've been doing since 1997), but somehow, in my hometown, I've become known best for my "Halloween" stories, which I really just began writing in 2014, although I dabbled a bit with Halloween-themed children's story when Kelly was younger (thus the revamped Halloween Story which is now known as Isabel's Initiation, and Medea which was expanded into a novel and was just revised and renamed The Unwilling Witch. It's the stories in Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I that launched me into the realm of supernatural, paranormal and ghost stories.

So, now that October will be arriving on Sunday, it's time to put on my Halloween Hat and come up with a couple of new ghost stories. And after that, it'll be time to think about this year's annual Christmas story. (I just created 7 5x8 small volumes from the original three 6x9 larger volumes of holiday stories- so look for The Winter Solstice Ball, A Major Production, and The Red Velvet Suit as independent novellas, and Christmas With The Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past, and Christmases Present as smaller story collections that would be perfect for tucking into holiday gift baskets, giving to elderly family members in assisted living or nursing homes, tucking into stockings of those who love Christmas, as Secret Santa gifts, teacher gifts, co-worker gifts, etc.
The books are available as print books on Amazon.com and also as Kindle e-reader books in the Kindle store.

The Halloween books are also available that way.

I think al my books have now been converted to Kindle ebooks, but can also still be ordered and purchased as print books.

Now, off to practice grant writing, something new for me to learn!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WhipCity Wordsmiths

Last December, I was approached by a member of Artworks of Westfield, Inc. and asked to consider starting a writer's group in my hometown. At the time a writer's group was already in existence and I wasn't inclined to step on the toes of the writer/author who was running that group because she was my friend. I declined.

In the spring, when the writer's group dissolved, I was approached again, and I still didn't want to do it because I work full time and write in my free time, plus I have health issues that sap my energy at times...so I wasn't sure I could dedicate myself to a writer's group.

Then Kelly said she'd help, and we began discussing it. In May I agreed to start a group, but delayed the official start until September due to vacations, traveling, and school being out during the summer months. However, in June we launched the WhipCity Wordsmiths blog and began soliciting membership from writers and authors she and I have met at author events at Blue Umbrella Books, the Agawam Public Library's ReadLocal events, and the Southwick Public Library's recent author event. We garnered additional members from facebook postings on Westfield sites and our own facebook pages.

Membership grew quickly, and members stayed connected via the blog and monthly newsletters throughout the summer while anticipating the first group meeting in September.

That first meeting took place today and was well-attended. New members arrived and completed their membership forms. Several members sent text messages about being unable to attend, which was considerate of them.

The writers and authors who met today had varying levels of skill from beginner to impressive portfolio of accomplishments. Yet, every person brought energy and creativity to the table. Being the inaugural meeting it was a little dry with the let's get to know one another stuff and layout what we hope to accomplish, but then we got into our first prompt- with everyone having brought a favorite word that was put into a hat. We all drew a word from the hat and wrote for five minutes using the selected word in whatever we wrote about. One writer wrote a poem. Another turned her word into an anacronym, assigning each letter a new word and then using the word plus all the new words in the anacronym in her prose. Some pieces were thoughtful, thought evoking, humorous...everyone participated and read their piece. It was interesting to see what we all came up with in the allotted five minutes!

I was nervous when I arrived, caught off guard by a surprise phone call from an author friend in Vermont who just wanted to wish me luck and show his support, and astounded by the number of people who did show up. Overall, I was pleased with the group and all the Wordsmiths in attendance today.

I only began sharing my decades of writing with the public in June of 2015. Since then I have self-published 30 novels and story collections. At the beginning of 2017 I revised all the earlier books, giving the interiors a revamp to make them look more professionally published, and updating covers to amp them up as well from my original choices. I also began using my own photographs for covers. I self-published a few books this year, then revised the three Christmas story collections that I'd left until the end of summer to revise. Then I had an idea about creating smaller stocking stuffer sized holiday story books, so the three larger books were divided down into seven separate books with 3 independent novellas, and four small collections of past, present, inspirational, and family-related holiday stories. Then I pulled two novellas from the Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales volumes- The girl with the Ivy Tattoo and The Magic of Cross and Crowe and made small books from them for Halloween. Next I took Halloween Story which had been published under a pseudonym and revamped it completely into a 9-12 year old age group chapter book, and gave it a vintage postcard cover. After all that was finished I tackled Medea...the 2014 Nano novel that was the first book I self-published and the worst of the lot, even after a cover update and interior revision early on- it was still horrible. A small book with revised interior and new title and cover art called The Unwilling Witch was the result of this major revision and facelift. It is now self published under my own name just as Isabel's Initiation is.

Now, with all that preplanned work accomplished, I have time for a writer's group and for doing more author events.

I'm happy with the group, and with rotating moderators it lessens the burden on me to prepare for each group meeting. At some meetings I can attend as a member and let another member run the meeting. That works out well for all involved because it keeps the meetings fresh and interesting- we're all different. We all have something to offer so the group offers a perfect opportunity to discuss these things.

I'm glad this is working out and that I agreed to do this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mother/Daughter Anthology in the Works

I was just sitting around tonight, kicking around project ideas and hit on a pretty good one. Kelly has been house hunting since January and will keep looking for the perfect house for her and her various collections, plus her library...but in the meantime she's still living here, so why not throw together a mother/daughter anthology of our ghost and other creepy/disturbing stories?

About three years ago now this coming October, she and I started writing a book together about demons and fallen angels, magicians and so forth, alternating writing chapters. We got maybe five chapters in, then it was my turn to write but we were home by then and it was back to work, and then it was November and we both were writing our NaNo novels. It never happened.

But, both of us have been writing ghost stories for Ghost Stories LIVE! and to amuse ourselves, and we both have other creepy stories that don't necessarily involve ghosts. So, tonight I began putting them together for a mother/daughter anthology. I have 4 books that begin with Miss Peculiar. I am Miss Peculiar- always have been that way, seeing the absurd and weird in every day life. Kelly inherited that trait evidently. So, for every two of my Miss Peculiar stories, there is one Miss Spectyr (that's her moniker) story. She needs to write one more and the book will be about done, other than a final edit and a cover and back cover text copy- simple enough as we've had lots of practice!

Hopefully, this co-authored, joint venture, anthology will be available for the October 14th Fall Family Festival and Pumpkin Carving Event in town where she and I will be among the authors offering literary fare with the artists in the Old Town hall opposite the green.

I also plan on having a 9-12 year old chapter book, Isabel's Initiation, at the event, plus two novellas, The Magic of Cross and Crowe and The Girl With the Ivy Tattoo, plus a novel, The Reluctant Witch (formerly called Medea and published under a pseudonym). I might have a few copies of Out, a vampire novel, and Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I, Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I, and 13.\ Kelly will have copies of her novel, Parapsychology, and her novella, Teleport available, in addition to the as yet unnamed joint anthology if we get it all together in time!

After this October 14th event, I have an author event on October 21st at Blue Umbrella Books for the launch of Out, and then Ghost Stories LIVE! on October 28th, also at Blue Umbrella Books..Fingers crossed, there will be a Ghost Stories LIVE! Anthology II available at the event!

Then, after October comes NaNo Novel Writing month- so you know where I'll be- at my kitchen table every night and on weekends writing like a madwoman!This will be my 6th NaNoWriMo. The five NaNo novels I've written so far are all available on Amazon and Kindle: Talon:An Intimate Familiarity, The Fairlawn Investigation, Medea (which will now be known as The Unwilling Witch published under my own name starting in October), Life Skills, and Black Knight, White Rook.

There will be a lot going on downtown on October 14th, so if you're local or can make it to Westfield, MA- the event runs from noon until 7PM. Authors will be in the Old Town Hall from noon until 5PM or so- depending how foot traffic is through the building.

Check back for an update as the mother/daughter anthology nears completion and publication! It should certainly have a title by then!!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Preparing for the Holidays

I spent Labor Day weekend creating 5x8 versions of some Christmas novellas and story collections- using stories I've written over the past 20 years that are gathered ion three large volumes of holiday stories and cutting them down to three stand alone novellas (The Winter Solstice Ball, A Major Production, and The Red Velvet Suite, and four story collections by type of story- inspirational, Christmas past, Christmas Present, and Christmas with family.) I've been asked why I'm producing holiday books now. The answer is that I work full time and my extra activities calendar is getting pretty full, so I am not going to have any time until November to do anything, and by then it will be too late to start working on Christmas stuff, because these days, Christmas starts as soon as the Halloween leftovers are swept off the shelves. Thanksgiving is like a tattered ribbon caught in a holiday maelstrom of product promotions. I need to have my stocking stuffer sized books ready. So between working five days a week, and weekend schedules already booked through the end of October, I need to get stuff done ahead. That's why I dedicated the three day weekend to Christmas books.

Now I'm working on Halloween books for the October Fall Festival, my author event, and a Ghost Stories LIVE! event that will fill my October weekends. September is already booked with various things like a button show this weekend, writer's group the following weekend, and a family birthday.

November, if you haven't realized it yet, will be consumed by NaNoWriMo novel writing. There is no time for anything else in November.

I was never a scout, but the be prepared motto is one I've embraced throughout my entire life. My husband is a "wait and see" type person who seldom accomplishes anything and misses the boat on everything else (and never blames himself for anything that doesn't get done.) I can't be like that. I'm a get things done type of person. I've just always been that way.

I think I'm on track with all my myriad projects....at least I hope so!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Art Drop Day and Catching Up

Tuesday, September 5th is international Art Drop Day. It's basically been for artists, but this year in Westfield we're including literary artists because writing is an art form. An author creates a story, a setting, a cast of characters that through the use of words alone they bring to life in the reader's imagination in a vivid, realistic or fantastical manner that leads the reader on a journey into a world created solely out of words.

Kelly and I will be dropping off books at certain locations around town tomorrow and posting clues on social media as to the location of the books so they can go and be discovered.

It's a wonderful scavenger hunt type of event with beautiful gifts from artists and others who participate that are yours to take home and cherish.

My book is a prototype, one of a kind cover, copy of Black King Takes White Queen, my shortlisted for the OZMA Award 2016 fantasy novel set in a fictionalized rural northwest corner of Massachusetts where white arts and black arts practitioners have lived their separate lives for centuries. It is also a story about families and friends and the bonds they share. It is young Ivy Greenaway's coming of age story as she suddenly finds herself married to a black arts warlock who is now the King when his father is murdered and his sister also wants him dead. Ivy and Romney must find a way to unite the two very different groups of practitioners o fight the evil Rayna Sharpe has released in the world as she seeks to destroy her brother and claim the treasure hoard he protects for the sake of all practitioners both black and white, as her own.

Kelly will be placing her novel Teleport, a sci-fi thriller someplace in Westfield on her way to work tomorrow.

On the home front- Kelly and I cleaned up the interior file copy of her trolley motorman/writer friend's first book, a collection of five connected trolley ghost stories set at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, CT that he wrote earlier this year. He's self-publishing his book this month and using a photo she shot in Ohio, I believe, on the cover. We knew he had a book in him all the while he was doubting his ability to sustain the stories beyond the first one. He did a great job...and not surprisingly, is planning his next book!

I beta read two other books in August and both are being published. Yea!

As for my own work- I haven't written anything new lately. I've been preparing for the launch of our (Kelly's and my) writer's group, WhipCity Wordsmiths which will be Saturday, September 23rd at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA. We have a great group of writers and authors onboard so it should be interesting!

I self-published five books beginning at the end of July to clean up projects lying around on the dining room table. The Fairlawn Investigation and the Victoria Wayfarer Investigation are the first two novels in a paranormal ghost hunters series started back in 200?, and finally written in 2011 and 2013. It was way past time for them to be completed. Then Bending Birches was finished. It's two connected novellas set seven years apart and set at a fictionalized Mount Holyoke College, and also Amherst and Stockbridge, MA. Then I put together a collection of stories in which cats, kittens, dogs and puppies play a role, Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs. On my mother's side of the family there are distinct dog lovers and distinct cat lovers. We had both when I was growing up, and my sister has a dog and a number of cats. Recently one of my mother's cousins, a dog lover, took in a cat and now loves both. Lines are being blurred! These stories are for animal lovers who also like romance. There are even a ghost dog and a ghost cat story in the book! Finally, after lengthy debating and numerous proof copies and revisions, my vampire romance that is also about tolerance between different groups of people, has had a soft release. Out will be officially released at my author event October 21st at Blue Umbrella Books at 2PM.

This long Labor Day weekend I've been putting together holiday novellas for Christmas. I have been writing annual Christmas stories for family and friends since around 1997. The best of them have been collected in Yuletide Stories, Always Christmas in My Heart, and Together for the Holidays. The three Christmas stories volumes were put aside at the beginning of the year when I revised the interior copy layout and cleaned up minor grammar and punctuation issues in ALL my other novels and story collections. I left the holiday books for later in the year- and the time has arrived to clean them up so this has been accomplished over the past two weekends. Always Christmas in My Heart and Together for the Holidays received revised covers in the process. The cover of Yuletide Stories also received a little tweaking in the back cover copy but the rest of the cover is the same as it was.

The weekend I've been creating 5x8 inch stocking stuffer versions of holiday novellas and novelettes. The Winter Solstice Ball, The Red Velvet Suit, and A Major Production are all in the proof stage. I photographed the cover image for The Red Velvet Suit myself yesterday morning. I'm now trying to use some of my own photographs for covers (butterscotch-a collection of stories and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs have my photos on the covers.) I have maybe two more stocking stuffer size books to create- one of inspirational holiday stories, the other of family holiday stories.

Also, I have revamped a young reader chapter book for Halloween. The book was originally written using two lines of text I'd written when Kelly was in grade school. "I woke to the now familiar hollow rattle and racket that came clearly through the thin walls. Yes, definitely, it was Mother in the closet again, cleaning the bones." The bones being cleaned belong to four skeletons that are hung from hooks on the front porch of the Doorlin home every Halloween. Isabel Doorlin is a 12-year old, soon to be thirteen. This is the Halloween when she will be inducted into High Tor Coven where all her female ancestors have been esteemed witches through the centuries. Once initiated, Isabel returns home where mischief makers are frightened by a skeleton brought to life who chases them down the street, a less than friendly classmate Isabel has cast her spell upon who comes begging for her assistance in finding her lost little brother as it grows late, assistance from her phantom father, several visits from the local patrol officer, and a surprising discovery about her parents. Isabel's Initiation: A Halloween Story will be available for Halloween this year.  I also have a new adult novel that may be revamped in time for Halloween also.

I have begun working on an anthology of ghost stories with Russell Atwood who edited the first anthology last year. I have about six stories to review and prepare for publication while he works on interior artwork and images. We hope to have it available for the next Ghost Stories LIVE! event on October 28th at Blue Umbrella Books.

Finally, on August 12th I was nominated and voted in as a director of Artworks of Westfield, Inc. I'm excited to be a part of this non-profit group that helps promote cultural arts of all types in the city. They are a huge supporter of artists, photographers, visual media arts, multi-medium arts, literary arts, musicians and bands, etc. in Westfield, helping to organize, host or co-host, or support, and promote local cultural events in Westfield.

And I sit around in free moments thinking that I'm not accomplishing anything in my life!

Friday, August 25, 2017

August Catch-Up

I've been wicked busy this month doing three beta reads for author friends, and now editing up a book interior text copy version of one of those author's five connected stories so that everything is ready for this first time self publisher to upload his book and complete the design process when Kelly and I send the almost ready for publication file to him (he just needs to plug in his copyright info, dedication, and author bio!) I have 50 pages to go before putting the project back in his hands.

Meanwhile, I've been tweaking two of the five recently released books I self published. I wasn't happy with the cover fonts I chose (well, I liked them just fine, but they proved difficult to read ont he actually book covers front and back) so I pulled them, changed the fonts on both Bending Birches and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs, and also cleaned up a few minor issues I found in each book, plus the I don't have a clue how it happened spacing issue in the last ten or so pages of Bending Birches. There last section of the book never got justified! Very strange since I did the entire text at once...but, stuff happens. Stuff gets fixed. Both books were off the marketplace for just 24 hours or less.

Another project for me this August is finishing all the book revisions I began earlier this year. I have the three volumes of Christmas stories to revise the interior of (I published them before I knew how to justify the text.) As the holidays approach I want to get them done, looking their best, and also upload them as Kindle books like all the rest are. I also need to redo Halloween Story which was published under Victoria Bell, my pseudonym for young reader and young adult books, of which there are just two, Medea being the young adult/new adult novel. I might redo Medea also. I'm still thinking about that. First up, though, are the Christmas volumes. I have one re-edited and started the second this morning.

Also, I'm happy to announce here that Kelly is a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo this year. November will be a busy month for us with each of us writing a novel, and her hosting local write-ins, etc.

WhipCity Wordsmiths has its first meeting September 23rd here in town. I planned the meeting agenda the other day, have some materials stockpiled, and a fun writing assignment lined up for this inaugural meeting. The membership response has been more than I had hoped for- what an amazing group of people! Many of the group members are included in my dedication in Out to A League of Extraordinary Authors/Writers- all of them local authors I admire.

I've been catching up on some reading and posting a few book reviews this month also.

I also scheduled an author event for October 21st for Out, my vampire romance novel. I'll talk about the book, the journey involved in writing it, the four revisions, read from the book, and will either discuss vampires in literature, or vampire legend and lore- haven't decided yet. Last year when I did an author event for Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales I had a scavenger hunt for Miss Peculiar's Curiosities afterwards in the store that was fun. Everyone who attended went home with an armload of Halloween d├ęcor goodies and treats. Not sure what I'll do this year!

Meanwhile, Out is currently a goodreads giveaway. The giveaway is for seven signed first edition copies. The giveaway ends September 30th. It started August 22nd and has already drawn interest from over 150 people!

There's a hint of approaching autumn here in western MA this evening with acorns thudding down through the green leaves of the oaks into the lawn, and a distinct coolness in the air now that the sun has set. Perfect sleeping weather! Also the perfect weather for a cup of tea and to pay some attention to all these story ideas percolating in my brain. There's a Ghost Stories LIVE! event coming up October 28th- I had a scary idea pop into my head while at work this afternoon! I really need to develop this one. I don't usually write stuff that's too terrifying- but this idea has the potential to be more chilling than usual!

There are a dozen other story ideas circling around waiting for their chance to be fully heard. But first,  I need to get all these projects I've tackled this month done before I can go back to writing new stories and novels.

Time for tea! My toes are cold sitting here barefoot at the kitchen table with the back door open, crickets chirping, frogs croaking, and the occasional trill of a mockingbird disturbed by the ballgame on TV while trying to sleep in the rhododendron outside the open front window. (Or maybe it likes TV commercial jingles? I don't know!)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Next goodreads Giveaway Scheduled

Beginning August 22nd a goodreads Giveaway will begin for 7 signed first edition copies of my two-years in the writing/fine tuning of my contemporary vampire romance Out. I wrote the book and then realized that there were a lot of characters in it that needed some background and more definition, so I went back and wrote excerpts as if from various media sources about each vampire and inserted them in a sort of chronological order which also touches upon what was or is happening at the time in society as vampires are being outed, the publics reaction to "the monsters" in their midst (their perception of these vampires as monsters when in fact they have been living among the normal human populace for centuries), and a splash of horror that leads to change.

It's difficult to classify this novel because it is not your usual horror-laced or campy vampire tale. To understand what I mean, I guess you need to read it.

Out is currently available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle book in the Kindle store. I will be delivering a few copies to Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield, MA this Saturday sometime.

Look for the black book with the deep purple roses on the cover!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Keeping Busy

Most days I wake up feeling as if I haven't accomplished anything in my life. I go off to work five days a week wishing I had more time to write and promote my work and attend author events, but work and dealing with/coping with health issues often consume much of my time. I try to write a little bit every night, but sometimes household tasks and errands chew up a couple hours of evening time. Therefore, I often go to bed thinking about all the writing I want to do and feeling disappointed that there is not enough time in a day to accomplish it.

It's almost mid-August, so this morning I've been thinking about what I have accomplished so far this year. In February I published 13, a little volume of supernatural and psychologically disturbing stories I had planned on publishing the previous October, but it got set aside. I polished it up and got it out there and was happy with it. Simultaneously, I also finished the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, Black Knight, White Rook and published that novel.

I did some beta reading for author friends as spring approached. Then I put together a collection of just ghost stories and published Niss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I in June, and also a group of contemporary stories called butterscotch-a collection of stories, also released in June.

Then in July I tackled a pair of ghost hunting novels that had been sitting in binders in a milk crate, woefully neglected since 2011 and 2013. They both underwent revisions and editing because I had written the second book two years before the first book in the series, so had to fix continuity issues so the books would flow together more seamlessly. The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation were released at the end of July and beginning of August.

And then I dug out Bending Birches, a novella I'd written in 2014 or 2015. It has a local setting, fictionalized (partially as there are some real western MA locations mentioned as well). There was a partial sequel set seven years later that took me some searching to locate because I couldn;t remember what its title was. Seventh Year Itch was finished and the two novellas were put into a volume called Bending Birches and published.

And then I'd been thinking about putting together stories in which cats, dogs, kittens and puppies played a role in romances. I gleaned a number of stories from previous published story collections and added one previously unpublished story with a ghost cat, and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was released last week with a picture of Kelly's and my cats on the cover, no less!

Finally, I had a vampire novel written two years ago and was talking to a publishing companies self-publishing subsidiary when John lost his job. With 5/6 of our income gone I couldn't afford to pay their fee and just set the book aside, although I did write new sections and insert them into each chapter, and then did revisions to fix continuity issues. I left it alone for over a year, then began fixing it up some more, ordering a proof copy after each revision. Red, Green, Yellow print on black covers. Then I chose deep purple roses for the new and final cover...and ordered a fourth proof, while considering submitting it to a publisher in Pepperell MA that only publishes quality vampire fiction...until I read the disclaimer that authors are responsible for promoting their own work. Well, I already do that, so I decided to just release it on my own. I did the last major overhaul and Out was released this week.

Nine books in eight months. Viewed that way, I see that I have accomplished something- maybe too much something, but I guess my main issue is that this was all (except for Black Knight, White Rook, previously written material, of which I have a mountain of! I really haven't written much new material-although I've started a lycanthrope novel, two contemporary novels, and a few stories.

And I've been beta reading for three author friends- two beta reads completed, one BIG one to go!

So, I don't know why I feel I haven't done anything...I think it's just I set the bar too high for myself, and right now I am tired with summer dragging on with hot humid days and cool rainy weather alternating, which wreaks havoc on arthritis and mood in general. It's been draining energy wise.

At least I can read this and remind myself that I have been keeping busy- even when I don't feel that I've done much at all!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Out is out

Well...after doing additional thinking about things, I came to the conclusion that I still prefer to remain in control of my own work- therefore, I approved Out this evening and it will be available shortly on Amazon. It will be released as a Kindle book shortly.

Out is a different sort of vampire book. It is part romance, part social commentary on tolerance of different people, and a smidge of horror, which is a genre I do not ordinarily write. Basically, it's the story of a young woman with a prosthetic lower limb who has had a crush on a wealthy businessman since she was a girl. He has also been attracted to her. Their very different worlds collide, and it's up to the two of them to bring about change in the world. (If you've read Black King Takes White Queen the theme is similar, but given a vampire spin and another twist so that the story alternates between excerpts from the media in all its myriad forms, to the past and present as related from Irina's point of view, Irina being the very human young woman who lost part of her left leg in the opening salvo between rival vampires.

That's all I'm saying about the novel.

I will do a goodreads giveaway in the near future. A few copies will be placed at Blue Umbrella Books once I have them in hand. Otherwise- you'll have to get it on Amazon or on your Kindle.

This is book #30 for me.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Four Books in Two Months and Now to Get Serious

On May 31st I was finished with The Fairlawn Investigation, closely followed in June by The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Those two novels were written in 2013 and 2011 respectively, then joined the ranks of unpublished material in binders sitting around in milk crates and file boxes for 4 and 6 years. Not feeling well enough to tackle a new writing project, I've spent the past two months polishing up stuff already written and getting it out there. Bending Birches was written in 2015. It's sequel was partially written then abandoned when my friend Pauline (Mrs. Thayer in the novella) passed away in September of that year. I cleaned up Bending Birches, tracked down the sequel (having to open and start reading a number of files because I couldn't remember the name I'd given it). It was almost finished, so I did finish it, and then backtracked to make sure both novellas meshed. That's how Bending Birches came to be. Finally, thinking about all my cat and dog loving friends and fellow authors, I plucked 9 stories in which kittens, cats, puppies and dogs play a role in the romance going on between two people. Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs was an easy put together since I pulled the stories from previously published books. Only Franklin, a ghost cat story, had not yet been published. I gave it a read through, fixed up punctuation and grammar here and there, and then plugged it into the new book. To perk up the book, I plucked cat and dog quotes by famous writers, authors and others and added them at the beginning of the book, then added a quote of my own. To make it more enjoyable for family and friends, and facebook acquaintances who have seen the boys on my facebook page, I added one of my favorite photos of Riley Beans and Revere as the cover image. It took me about eight hours on a Saturday to pull the stories and put them into a new interior book file, fix up Franklin, then upload the file and create the book. Technical glitches with the internet and CreateSpace created a few delays, but by Monday evening the book was approved and now it's in the hands of family and friends already.

So, for me, it's not a matter of OMG- you wrote four books in two months! No. I have been writing for decades and NOT publishing anything. I have tons of written material lying around my house. I have been writing new books (novels are still fairly new for me) and ghost stories in between and publishing them also, so that's what gives the illusion that I'm some sort of writing whiz. I write daily (well, I do occasionally take a day or two off to read). I am a disciplined hobbyist writer. I also write to relieve stress. I write because I enjoy writing. I love words- putting them together so they tell an entertaining story.

But- now, I have one novel that I have been working on for two years. I just finished the 4th printed proof read through- making final tweaks, revisions, and corrections. I think I finally have this novel ready to submit to a real publisher. As you probably know, I do not like loosening my control over my work...so offering this manuscript to a publisher is a humongous step for me. I'm only doing it because I have had good experiences with novels I've submitted to contests with The Subtlety of Light and Shadow earning a 10 of 10 from a judge in The Golden Heart Contest in 2015, and an overall 7.49 rating (I don't write straight out romance- this was my one and only attempt at that. Then My Magical Life and The Archetypes-First Generation garnered positive comments in the Writer's Digest Self Published Novel contest last year with the judges really liking the story, but marking me down on the covers and such things as starting the chapters too high on the page (technical stuff), and the stunning surprise of Black King Takes White Queen being shortlisted for the OZMA AWARD 2016 earlier this year. Black King Takes White Queen is my 2017 Writer's Digest Self Published Novel entry this year.

So, Out is going through its revisions this weekend and if I get it done by Sunday I'll begin drafting a query letter according to the publisher's specifications (include an author bio and first three chapters for esubmissions). We'll see what happens. If it gets rejected, I'll look into one more local publisher...and if that fails, I will release the book with its current deep purple roses cover.

So, yes, during the course of my life so far, I have been a prolific writer. I have not written all of these stories in the past two years. I have written the majority of the 13 published novels over the past 6 years. I have one more I really want to finish that would probably fall into the romance category. If you've read The Winter Solstice Ball in Always Christmas in My Heart then you've read a novella based on the novel.

I will not be putting out another book for a while because I have beta reading to do for other authors and a writer's group to get started. I will be writing a NaNoWriMo novel in November, more ghost stories, and my annual holiday story/-ies, but will probably not have a second Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories out this year. I have two longer holiday stories written last year. Not quite enough for a new book yet. However, I still have the three already self published Christmas books to do some revisions in that I did not get to when I redid all the previous books covers and spiffed up the interior copy. Still a lot of projects to tackle, but making some sow and steady progress!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs Released

I put together a collection of 9 stories for cat and dog lovers over the weekend, gleaned from previous story collections such as Love Me Knots, Auspicious Beginnings, Cupid's Darts (from the Sweet Hearts Collections), Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I and Miss Peculiar's Ghost Stories, Volume I (because who hasn't been haunted by a ghost cat or dog in their lifetime?) Each story has some romance in it, of course. There is one previously unpublished story in this volume, Franklin, which is a ghost cat story!

When it came to designing the cover the ONLY choice I could make was to grace the cover with one of my favorite photos of my boys- Revere and Riley Beans. Actually, Revere,the domestic shorthair tuxedo cat, is Kelly's boy while the fluffy gray and white long-haired cat is my Riley Beans. They were both adopted in 2011, Revere in June after we lost Isador, and Beans in November after the sudden death of Diego (our former tuxedo cat). They were both adopted from the Homeless Cat Project here in Westfield, not too far from where we live. They are the sweetest boys, and though they are a few months apart in age and not related at all, they are the loving brothers and get along very well.

Now I just need to keep their being coverboys from going to their heads!!

Life, Death, Love, Cats & Kittens is available on Amazon.com and will be a Kindle ebook in a day or two.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bending Birches

I haven't fall off the face of the planet.

I've been plagued by health issues since the beginning of the year including rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic, diabetic neuropathy, right hip bursitis, and sacroiliitis-all very painful when a person is also allergic to the medications nonallergic people can take like ibuprofen, Aleve, and other analgesics in the NSAID class, and the biologics that are available for RA like Enbrel and Humira. Oh yeah, did I mention I was allergic to prednisone and cortisone shots?

It's discouraging and sometimes I get a little depressed about it so that just getting up every day and going to work can be a monumental challenge. I'm not ready to retire. I want to stay as active as I can because if I just sit around it would all get much worse. Therefore, most nights lately I haven't felt like writing or doing much of anything, but then I get angry with myself for not accomplishing something and push myself harder...which can also not be a good thing because a big part of RA is the chronic fatigue that can make a person feel like they're pinned down in place, too tired to move.

However- I'm not a whiner or complainer (really!). I just carry on, maybe not at full speed anymore, but I move forward, and do what I can.

While unable to sleep one night recently, I thought of a novella that I'd written a couple of years ago- Bending Birches. It's set at a fictionalized Mount Holyoke College (called Bircham College in the story), but in the very real towns of Hadley, Amherst, and Stockbridge, MA with mention of Lenox, MA, Hancock Shaker Village, The Red Lion Inn, The Mount, and Friendly's just off the Mass Pike in Westfield, I used the area I've lived in all my life-beautiful, scenic western MA (AKA "The Sticks"  or "The Boonies" by friends from eastern MA. My best friend from Peabody thought we were taking her "into the wilderness" when we brought her to Westfield for the first time from Fitchburg along the Daniel Shay Highway! She was really very nervous as my mother flew around those unlit corners with what must have seemed like rash bravado to Carol! Recently, Kelly and I took her friend Bethany from Bridgewater to exotic, uncivilized towns like Granville, Southampton, Deerfield, and Wyben- a rural part of Westfield at the edge of" "the Hilltowns.") What western MA kid hasn't learned to drive at night with confidence on streets without streetlights and wanted to slap on a pair of sunglasses when reaching an area with those lights on sticks? It's a rite of passage, and also perfectly routine and normal, something we grew up with when we went for night drives with our parents on sultry summer nights with all the car windows rolled down and mosquitoes whining in our ears, the wind whipping our hair into wild tangles.

Bending Birches explores a developing relationship between an English professor and a soon-to-be-graduating senior who has been working  on the college arts & literary magazine since her freshman year, when she was a student in Professor Lockwood's Dickens class. Just as he begins to make his more personal feelings toward her known, a sex scandal erupts in the English department. It's Jordan James' elderly landlady who quietly plays matchmaker for the professor and the graduating senior, and Professor Lockwood who takes Jordan to Stockbridge to try to land a job as a photojournalist/staff writer for Berkshire Life magazine. Lockwood has to act before Jordan graduates and decides to return to sunny southern CA where she is originally from.

I partially wrote the sequel novella set nearly seven years later. Reid is still a professor at Bircham College, living in his restored Victorian house in Amherst. Jordan is living at the couple's Victorian Stockbridge cottage and working on the magazine full time while raising the couple's now three-year old son, Charlie (named after Dickens). Reid spends the summer with them in the Berkshires because he teaches a summer course at Wisteria Academy and either produces or directs a play at the Stockbridge Playhouse. Jordan reaches a cracking point as a stressed out, basically working mom. On the night that Reid hosts the department staff meeting at the Amherst house, Jordan has had enough that same night, loads Charlie in the car and heads home on the Mass Pike. Meanwhile, a former classmate of Jordan's, now a professor at Bircham, has stayed late to "help clean up" after the meeting and she sets about seducing Reid. He receives the call from the state police before things go too far, but they've gone much farther than they should have. The remainder of the second novella, Seventh Year Itch, has Reid and Jordan grappling with their issues and working out the problem of their living in two places because neither wants to lose the other-so compromises must be made if they are to survive as a couple and a family.

My late button collector friend Pauline Johnson is fictionalized in Bending Birches as Jordan's landlady, Mrs. Thayer. I promised her before she passed that when I was missing her I would write her into a story- and through her character, I would hear her voice once again and not miss her so much. It's my way of letting her know I love her and always will- immortalizing her in my writing.

I remember that I had a crush on one of my high school English teachers (all the girls adored him) at Westfield High in the mid-70's. I also had a totally cool Advanced Placement English teacher there. Then, I  had some pretty awesome college English professors including a charismatic English professor my freshman year of college (who sort of reminded me of Stephen King, oddly enough) at Fitchburg State. He was from South Hadley. I also had some pretty amazing English professors at Westfield State, but I only worked on the arts & literary magazine at Fitchburg my freshman year. This is not a biographical book by any means. Strictly fiction!

So, if I am behind in beta reading, I apologize. I do what I can when I can after work and on weekends, but I've been moving like molasses lately due to the increased joint stiffness and pain, and a flareup of tendinitis in multiple places which was a reaction to an antibiotic for an infection...can we say train wreck? Recovering, slowly moving forward, but at least feel like I've accomplished something the past two weeks!

The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation, the first two novels in the Amberton Paanormal Investigation Society series were also released as print books and as ebooks on Kindle in the past two weeks. They're my ghost hunting novels. Book 3 is partially written.

I changed the cover of butterscotch, when I made corrections to the story Poppy inside. I got the copy I ordered in the mail today and realized that I forgot to change the font color, so the title virtually disappears into the candies on the cover. Changed it back tonight to the original cover when I was on CreateSpace approving Bending Birches. Why tamper with There's Nothing Wrong With It when there really was nothing wrong with the original- except I added the author photo to the back cover because when you submit a self-published book to a contest they kind of want to see the author on the cover or inside on the bio page- horror of horrors! I do not like being photographed but am using a selfie I shot in a dark room that I'm okay with (as long as you don't blow it up and notice the tiny smear of chocolate ice cream under my lower lip-haha!)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Project List

I've ticked several items off my Project List this week. Both The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation are now available on Amazon.com and as Kindle books. butterscotch-a collection of stories is also finally available as a Kindle book. It kind of got lost in the shuffle a couple of months ago.

Out is here at the house in its fourth print proof copy version. I did some Gordon Ramsey-type ranting after finding a minor continuity error in the very first chapter, but have calmed down and am methodically prowling through the book in search of any other issues that might still exist. It will be on its way to a real publisher once this final raking over the editing coals is completed. I am giving it a shot, despite my maybe not so well-known OCDism of wanting absolute control over my own work. Maybe I'm ready to let a project go out into the mainstream world. I don't know. If I change my mind, as I am often prone to do, Out will be self-published. I don't ever really know what I will do until I do it.

I have two new novels started, The Lakeside Manor Investigation (3rd in the Amberton Paranormal Investigation Society series) and Cherry (tentative title), and have just finished proofreading and editing a novella, Bending Birches which I might combined with several novelettes or short stories into another book, although I could complete the sequel to this novella and publish them both in one book...that's another option. I just don't remember what I called the sequel, but I did see a typed copy of the story someplace when searching for Lakeside Manor recently.

A few health issues have slowed me down this summer. I'm trying to cope with them and keep moving forward. I've also been doing a little more preliminary work in preparation for WhipCity Wordsmiths, the authors/writers group Kelly and I are launching in September. And I've been doing some beta reading for author friends, and catching up on other reading, too.

Crazy busy as usual despite everything going on! I don't feel as if I am quite on track where I want to be, but I'm not lagging too far behind at this point in time!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What's New From My Kitchen Table

I'm awaiting the new printed proof copies of two paranormal investigation novels- The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Meanwhile, since last weekend I've pounded out a little less than half of the third novel in the series, The Lakeside Manor Investigation. The novels are set in the Burlington, Vermont/Lake Champlain area, but a lot of The Victoria Wayfarer is set at a seacoast inn haunted by numerous spirits/apparitions. Book three is back in Vermont, and will have characters that visited in book one returning for this investigation. Several of these characters are interesting because they are fictionalizations of my office manager and a co-worker. I just asked my office manager if I could reprise her fictional character in book three and received the nod to do so. My other co-worker was on vacation this week, so  I'll have to get her permission on Monday if she's back. Also, in book three I'm working in three characters from daughter Kelly' first novel, Parapsychology. She mentioned the founder of my novels' paranormal investigation group, plus referenced the group in her novel. I just had to look across the kitchen table to ask her permission to include her characters Holly St. Stephens, Milo French, and Jacob 'Jake' Euler, plus a mention of the head of their organization, Dr. Aubrey Winters. My book is set about a year before her book occurs.

Thus is the life of mother/daughter authors!

Yesterday I ran a couple of copies of Kelly's new novel, Teleport, downtown to Blue Umbrella Books where author Russell Atwood was behind the counter. He happily accepted the books to sell on the local author shelf at the store. And then he had a surprise for me. He'd recently learned that I collect vintage decks of playing cards. He'd found a deck of Louis L'Amour western theme (gunslinger) playing cards while antiquing. The cards are a poker deck, mint in the plastic inside the box with great cowboy with drawn gun graphic on the box. I was thrilled (and maybe somewhat inspired to include a western in my writing experience in the future?) I was also happy to hear he has some writing projects going now that his schedule has stabilized. I really enjoyed his PI novels East of A and Losers Live Longer (which has an ending I never saw coming!)

This morning I finally got around to setting a radio appearance date with Bob Plasse. I suggested that he have Kelly and me on his program for several reasons- we'll have 30 novels and story collections self published by the time October 24th, the date we agreed upon, rolls around, we're probably the most prolific mother/daughter authors in Westfield, and she and I just established a group for authors & writers in Westfield called WhipCity Wordsmiths which has already had a soft launch with a core group of local authors and writers, but will have its official launch in September after things settle down from vacations, kids out of school, traveling and summer activities and events.

I did find a second version of The Victoria Wayfarer and beyond that I'd been working on years ago...read two thirds of it Friday night and yesterday before concluding that while it has a ton of good stuff in it, it wasn't really going anywhere definitive so that must be why I'd abandoned it in the first place. I still won't delete the file, but I will most likely consign the printed manuscript pages to recycle in the near future to downsize the clutter in the dining room.

Otherwise, today we looked at four potential first homes for Kelly- but each one had various issues from the first one needing an entire gut job to the fourth one having a mysterious small puddle on the cellar floor with nothing dripping above it and no crack where seepage could come up through the floor beneath it. Just kind of weird in an empty basement. The second house was cute, but had an open staircase to the basement in the kitchen, and multiple small rooms in the basement that gave it a totally claustrophobic feel, plus tall Dad whacked his head on an oddly place low header which put him in a bad mood. House three was all knotty pine and 70's Aztec gold and would need a ton of reno work to make it suitable for Kelly and her myriad collections- plus it was dark and dingy and smelled weird- like old and musty and damp. Sigh...still looking...

Finally-the fog of RA is lifting so I'm feeling more productive after 5 or 6 weeks of barely being able to haul myself to work and get the editing and revision work on the two paranormal novels done. Feeling more productive!

Had to break out my Dell netbook to post on the blogs today- my HPStream has Alzheimers (memory issues)...not enough memory. I can write on it, but when I try to get into my blogs to post it just sits and spins looking for memory it doesn't have. I'm rapidly reaching the conclusion I need a real laptop with a ton of memory and disc space! I'll put it on my wish list!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Search for Amberton Paranormal Society Investigation #3

I am nearly finished with editing, proofreading, and preparing the first two novels in the Amberton Paranormal Investigation series for self-publication. I knew I had started a third in the series and a fourth, but I searched through the computer files and found The Rose Hall Investigation and then the Persian Garden Theater Investigation...but when I opened them, I discovered that they were the same story with different titles. Rose Hall is supposed to be the third novel. Both Kelly and I remembered reading what I'd written so far, and could recall that it followed the events of The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. We knew how it started and what was happening so far- but we couldn't find the file and were finding too many Rose Hall Investigation and Persian Garden Investigation binders int he dining room-all with the same story beginning in them that was not the right story.

So, I very carefully opened every file associated with this series of novels and read the beginnings. There were, curiously, two Rose Hall investigations saved  and when I opened them they were both The Persian Garden beginning! I was getting extremely frustrated with myself.

So, the other night I very carefully scrolled down the list of titles in my computer files...and found a file titled The Lakeside Manor Investigation- and guess what I found? Yup, this is the story we remembered as being book three, and it even says it is the third in the series under the title...so I guess Persian Garden comes fourth and Rose Hall will be fifth in the series.

I need to get a little better organized around here and not keep putting the same story in binders with the same name and different names!

By the way, Kell and I couldn't find a Lakeside Manor binder...anyway, mystery solved and moving on!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jury Duty & Proofreading

Well, jury duty is a pretty darn good place to accomplish some much needed proofreading and editing! I took the vampire novel with me and got through several chapters. This is version #3 in print...and still I am finding stuff that needs changing and correcting. There are missing letters and commas. Sigh...sometimes I think there is a gremlin at CreateSpace that deletes random letters when it's transforming the file from word to PDF or whatever it does.

I was going along great guns, but there were only 2 cases scheduled in Chicopee District Court today and both settled without going to trial. I was there all of two and a half hours...well, 3 hours total because I got there just after 8AM without running into expected traffic and road construction delays.

Then I was distracted by my favorite thing- storm clouds, and one of my least favorite things, laundry. Took an awesome shot of a shadowy male head and shoulders emerging vertically from a fluffy white cloud. Behind him is the snarling face of a male lion or a Foo Dog- whichever one you prefer to see. I think it's one of the coolest cloud pictures I've taken since the Old English Sheep Dog puppy cloud and the black faced sheep cloud!

I should have jury duty more often...I can accomplish a lot sitting around doing nothing else constructive while waiting for lawyers to work the art of plea bargains and deals. In 35 years since the state of Massachusetts switched to the one day one jury system I've been summoned for jury duty numerous times...and NEVER have I  made it into a courtroom to even be considered as a juror. I am so bitterly disappointed in the system! However, I did find out today that if you're 69 you can write on your form that you no longer want to be summoned for jury duty once you're 70 years old! Woohoo! I don't think I'll be wanting to sit in a stuffy little jury room at that age anyway. So, the way it's been going, I doubt very much I'll ever sit in the juror's box and listen to a court case. Thank God for Perry Mason reruns that satisfy the desire for a little courtroom drama in me!

Back to editing The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. Vampire novel is back in the holding pattern.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slow Going

I've been sidelined by an especially bad RA flare. I am NSAID intolerant and refuse to take opioids because I don't like how they make me feel and I can't focus or think on them so have always refused- even after surgery! Not for me. Therefore, ice and heat as needed, rest, and not overdoing it because it affects my joints and tendons making me feel like a disjointed marionette with lose strings attached-wobbly and unbalanced.

I did make it downtown for an hour yesterday during Busker's Day to listen to some of the musicians playing on the sidewalks, to sit and chat with friends under the Artworks tent and to visit authors Melissa Volker and Tom Deady at the tent they shared on the green for the library's Summer Reading event. Then I stopped into Blue Umbrella Books to chat with Jessica and Joyce about the WhipCity Wordsmiths. I need the local indie bookstore onboard as we'll be looking to utilize their open floor space beginning in September. It was a beautiful sunny, hot but breezy day. I grabbed a soda at Runtz mini hot dogs stand where Marion Dunk and Chip were playing their guitars.

Came home and reclined in my chair with Revere purring on my chest. Did some more editing in The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation. I'm done with The Fairlawn Investigation but haven't corrected the digital version yet. Slow progress due to fatigue and low energy.

Kelly, meanwhile, was motivated by my editing Teleport to do her own read through and edits. Happy to say she has released her second novel and it's available on Amazon, but not yet in the local book store.

I plan on going to the Agawam Public Library's ReadLocal event tomorrow evening. It's Kelly's birthday, I have to work, so I'm hoping I'll have enough energy left at the end of the day to drop by and visit with the authors and see what's new with them, and maybe add to my pile of books to read!
Hoping to see some familiar faces there and meet some authors I haven't hd a chance to meet yet.

Kelly's a motorman at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. We took separate vehicles to Dunkin Donuts this morning as she had to leave from there to get to the museum and I had errands to run. She was dressed in her navy blue pants, black shoes, black vest, white shirt and motorman's hat, with her pocket watch and fob clipped to her vest and tucked into the vest pocket. She received a sort of startled look from the girl behind the counter and then a smile. Then all the patrons were looking at her and smiling. She looked like a living anachronism- because seriously, who dresses like that these days? It's fun to watch people react to her out of the context of the trolley museum, and I think she gets a kick out of being a walking advertisement for the museum.

Hope to write something today...it's been awhile because RA also causes mental fog apparently- can't stay focused which is a huge disappointment and frustration. It's also worrisome because if this is progressive, then how many more years do I have to write if I'm not going to be able to think and get into the zone I need to be in? That, to me, is scary stuff because writing is my passion and I don't want to lose it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Just Doing It- A Writer's Group Emerges

Well, Kelly and I have been kicking this around, and at first I was all No, no and NO, I will not even attempt this...but people kept asking and expecting, and I am not the kind of person who likes to disappoint, so I reconsidered and we kicked the idea around some more. Next, I reached out to a few local author friends and acquaintances and received enthusiastic responses.

Next came the formulating of the group because there are a million writers groups out there where writers of various skill levels sit around a table and write to prompts and then critique one another's work and maybe discuss a subject and then go home and do their own thing until the next meeting with possibly no contact between members in the interim.

I once belonged to a group like that. It rapidly grew tired and monotonous.

Therefore, on the membership applications I asked what each applying member wanted from the group and a lot of them said they wanted to learn something, improve their writing, and enjoy socializing with other authors/writers and developing a camaraderie among local writers.

I took all this input and created a group that will be member driven with a moderator for each meeting- a member volunteer or one assigned or selected at the preceding meeting who would basically act as the referee/ringmaster and make sure the topics remain on writing and writing related matters and not gardening and an exchange of recipes. Members will be given an opportunity to discuss their current or past projects, their triumphs and dismal disappointments. Everyone will bring something to the table, And occasionally we'll have fun flash fiction prompts and write and do the traditional critiquing, back patting and ego stroking if so inclined, and grow comfortable with one another.

I want authors/writers to step up and mentor new and young writers, and beta read for members who are seeking feedback on their projects. Kelly and I have accepted the application of a book reviewer who might have time to write one day in the future. Picking the brain of a book reviewer- what author doesn't want to know exactly what makes them tick?

I also want the group to host several local author fairs over the course of each year, host read-ins at bookshops and other locations as allowed, and we would have one all-day writer's retreat with a potluck picnic just to have fun and talk among like minded people about writing, and maybe other things because it will be a very relaxing day. A possible segment of the day might be Sparks- where we sit around an bounce story ideas off one another trying to spark someone to write something outside their wheelhouse or comfort zone.

I want this group to have full membership participation- members don't have to stand up and lecture on the pro and cons of traditional versus self-publishing or whatever, but everyone should have a voice that's heard.

So, from No to Go...WhipCity Wordsmiths is now a reality. The public is welcome to read the blog, but only approved members will be given author access to post n the blog, and anything we deem inappropriate will be removed. Let's try to stick to topics on writing and related matters.This blog can be viewed by typing whipcitywordsmiths.blogspot.com into your browser. It's BLUE- you can't miss it!! (If you are a member and an author on the blog then you might get a different view of the blog as such since you can post n it)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mike's Trolley Stories

I just finished reading stories 4 & 5 set at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and written by Kelly's friend (and mine) Mike Brenner. I thoroughly enjoyed his stories. Kelly and I will be helping him ready his work for making the five linked stories into a book. This is Mike's first attempt at writing a book- and I was impressed by the quality of his writing, and the amount of research he put into making all the details in the stories as accurate as possible.

It also touched me because I am a New England girl since birth and every year since childhood there have been a couple trips to the trolley museum to ride the cars. And every year since I was a little girl the motorman has given a speech about how the museum owns the right of way all the way to where the trolley park once stood and how they hope one day to lay down the track and make a little park at the end of the line. I'm in my late 50's now. They did make the current line longer- a mile and a half in length. It was shorter when I was a kid in the 60's. But, I doubt I'll live long enough to see the Connecticut Trolley Museum's dream come true.

Anyway, I really loved the stories- I laughed and cried and felt warm fuzzies and cold chills. I disliked the bureaucrat and loved Trolley Three and many of the other characters. They all seemed familiar to me.

Good job, Mike Brenner! Even if this may be your one and only attempt at writing a book you pulled out all the stops and brought the trolley back to the barn after giving this reader one heck of a ride on the rails to the dark side and back!!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's On My Plate?

I have three novels to proofread and edit- slowly making my way through The Fairlawn Investigation at present, with The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation to follow, and then the vampire novel that poor neglected book!

I just put Mike Brenner's stories 4 & 5 into a binder and will start reading them for him today as his beta reader. I'm looking forward to this because the first three he's sent me have been very good! I expect no less from these two!

Weekends are much too short. I would prefer to work two days a week and write/edit/proofread/beta read/etc five days a week- then maybe I could catch up with things!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three Projects to Finish

I just finished proofreading daughter Kelly's second novel, Teleport. She made all the corrections that I'd found needed to be done last evening while I was getting a haircut. I think she wants to go through it again herself to see if she wants to tweak it a little more before letting it go out there into the marketplace.

Meanwhile, I have my vampire novel patiently awaiting another proofreading and continuity check because I changed things since proof number 2. I also have both Amberton Paranormal Investigation Society novels to proofread. I've been slowly going through Fairlawn since finishing Teleport. Therefore, the three novels are in their almost ready for publication stage.

Tomorrow is the first Local Author Fair at the Southwick Public Library. I need to finish getting ready for this event tonight so I can grab and go tomorrow morning. I'm really looking forward to seeing author friends and meeting authors I haven't had the opportunity to meet yet. I understand there is a child author that will be there, too. And, hopefully, my neighbor, Sonia Ellis will have gotten her application in in time so she'll also be there.

I'll have Black King Takes White Queen with me for this event as I believe we are being limited to one book...that wasn't quite clear.

Next Tuesday morning author friend Melissa Volker and I are supposed to be on an early morning radio program here in town with Bob Plasse formerly of Westfield on Weekends...will have to jolt myself awake with a cup of joe that morning! I owe Melissa a copy of butterscotch-a collection of stories. It's already in my car so I'll have it with me. I just need to remember to take it in with me to give it to her!

Off to prepare for tomorrow! Watching artist friend James Johnson-Corwin paint tonight- he's doing a Stephen King themed painting (maybe Pennywise?) around 10PM. He's painted a wave rolling into shore and a droid so far this week. He's amazing! It's been a great way to unwind after a long day- watching him paint live on facebook!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Felt Good To Write Last Night

I have been so busy this year that I haven't done much in the way of new writing except for ghost stories. I had an idea for a new novel over a month ago, started writing it twice but it stalled both times. Started this novel for the third time at 8:30PM last night and wrote until 11:30PM. I am 5,588 words, 11 pages into it and this is just chapter one where the main characters first begin to interact...and then he takes off for Europe to continue mastering his craft, which is mechanical clock making. He's already adept at it, but he wants to learn everything there is and continue improving n his amazing clock towers. And he has a terrible secret that will follow him wherever he goes.

I didn't want to stop and go to bed, but I had to work today, so made myself hit the hay and sleep instead of staying up writing all night like I really want to.

The work day seems so long when you really want to be home working on your new novel, but someone's got to earn a living in the house, and I guess that's me.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Judith Sessler, Local Author

I have four books by western MA author Judith Sessler- Saints and Sinners or short stories from the bizarre to the sublime,  Fifty Shades of Green Coffeehouse Confessions of the Uncommon Joe,  Fifty-One Shades of Green The Emerald Inn Behind Closed Doors,  and The Legacy of Aidan McManus. I have read and enjoyed them all, and am looking forward to her next story collection.

I first met her last December during a pop-up shop event at the local indie book shop in town. We chatted a little bit, but I knew another author there, Melissa Volker, better so spent the majority of my time chatting with her and her mother who designs t-shirts with book themes.

I have wanted to meet Judith (Sandy) though. We've been friends on facebook since December, and she's sent me stories to beta read and provide feedback on, which I've thoroughly enjoyed doing for her. We laugh at one another's posts and chat message occasionally.

Yesterday I had the chance to really meet her at her book event for The Legacy of Aidan McManus. This book is resonating with me on many levels as it is a story of immigrants coming to America in the late 1800's thru 1900's, settling, struggling, establishing themselves, raising their families, hoping and praying for a better future for themselves and their children. The majority of her characters are of Irish descent, but there are some Italians in the mix because America is the great melting pot of blended cultures, after all.

I am a product of that blending of cultures. My father's family immigrated from Poland in the late 1800's, settling first in Suffield, CT where relatives had already established themselves as farmers. They moved to Hatfield, MA known for its onion, potato and tobacco crops. This is where my father, a first generation Polish American was born in 1928. He couldn't speak English when he started school and was sent home to learn English, which he did. His older brother played the accordion and had his own band on the radio that also played local weddings in the Greenfield/Northampton area.

The paternal side of my mother's family immigrated from southern Italy- Naples and Palermo areas. My grandfather was a first generation Italian American born in Greenfield, MA in 1905, in the middle of a pack of thirteen children. It's from this grandfather, a great oral storyteller, that I've inherited my ability to tell a story.

My maternal side grandmother was from French Canadian stock that immigrated to Canada from France, then migrated south into Maine where some of them remained while others traveled further south into western Massachusetts to work in the mills in Colrain (Kendall Mills) MA. My Mom was born in the little village of Griswoldville, MA in 1930, a second generation Italian/French Canadian American.

I am second generation Polish American on my Dad's side, third generation Italian/French Canadian on my Mom's side. I grew up listening to my grandparents talk about their families. My Italian relatives first settled on Mulberry Street in New York City where they all were barbers. My great-uncle Alfred and his son Donald, and my great-uncle Nino were barbers in Orange, MA and Pittsfield, MA. My uncle Nino had a purple Cadillac that my brother, swears he drove down the sidewalk when he took him and my Dad to get haircuts when we were visiting my great-uncle George who worked for GE in Pittsfield in the 60's. (My brother later drove his AMC Javelin down the sidewalk in Greenfield, MA when he went to college there- wonder where he learned that bad behavior from?)

Getting back to the point, The Legacy of Aidan McManus, was like reading history that had a personal meaning as well because her characters experienced things, lived in tenements, struggled, shared triumphs and tragedies just like my real life ancestors did. The only native Americans are Native Americans, the rest of us all immigrated from somewhere. Although the characters in the book are Irish and Italian, they could be Lithuanian, Czechoslovakian, English, Dutch, German, Ukrainian, Australian, Chinese, etc.

Judith has a way of breathing life into her characters, making them feel like people you might know from your own life. Her stories move along quickly and flow smoothly.

I really enjoyed meeting her again yesterday and having a chance to talk to her more about writing, our shared "hobby" of writing and being authors, our families, and projects we're working on. I firmly believe in supporting local authors and writers and try to make it to as many local events as I can. I've discovered many amazing books. Large publishing houses pick and choose and tend to go with established big name authors. I follow one author, who is up to book 11, about to release book 12 in the same series with the same characters basically rehashing the same thing. I would love to see something fresh and new from her, not the same thing only changed up a tiny bit from book to book. The horse is getting tired and this rider is about to fall out of the saddle and look for a fresher ride.

Judith offers a lot of variety in her writing. She even has some young readers in The Travel Kids series. She's versatile and entertaining. I highly recommend her.

Her books are available on Amazon and at Blue Umbrella Books here in Westfield and can be ordered from either location. Blue Umbrella's phone number for orders is 413-579-5383.

I am now happy to say that Judith (Sandy) and I have a bond as authors and friends. I'm looking forward to seeing her again at the Southwick Public Library's first Local Author event on June 17th from 10:30AM-12:30PM in Southwick, MA on Route 57.

Five stars for local author Judith Sessler from me, an avid reader and fan and it's not just because I'm an author and her friend. I've been a prolific reader forever so know a good book when I read one!