I’m not quite “leaving” today…just doing some preliminary packing before I head off to New York City for Bright Lights, Big Stories, the RWA National Convention.
I’m excited about this trip. For one, I’ve never been to New York, so that will be an adventure in itself. The second reason is that three years ago, I was to have been in San Francisco, for the conference there. I had to cancel out at the last minute for my daughter’s brain surgery. It sure was a scary time. Even the book I was writing at the time is so imbued with my tumultuous emotions that I’ve never been able to finish it (answering the question, for me at least, of whether books can be haunted). This upcoming conference will be my celebration that with all we’ve been through in the past, a bright future awaits.
Look for me at the conference and at the literacy signing where I’ll be signing copies of Wild Ghost Chase, whom I dedicated to my beautiful, smart, vivacious daughter.
It’s been ages (okay, just six months, but still…) since I’ve gotten new cover art. I have to say that this one was well worth waiting for!
Designed by Linda Houle
I’m tickled ‘blue’!
Then, to celebrate, I put together a book trailer to showcase my pretty shiny cover.
Suitably spooky? I hope so… Now, go read the book.
Oh, don’t take my word for it —
What an interesting take on ghosts. Take non-believers and believers with old legends and add some reality television to the mix with a few romantic sparks and you have all the makings of Wild Ghost Chase. Great characters and a fun entertaining storyline keep the reader amused from
start to finish” —Matilda, Coffee Time Romance & More
“A scary, thrilling ride through a haunted house story with a twist. It’s a page-turner”
—Yolanda Sfetsos, author of otherworldly tales, including her latest release, Numb6r of th6 B6ast
Perhaps it was a Freudian slip that I sent my mother home from her two-week visit the day before Mother’s Day. I apologized, but as I got up this morning to hugs and kisses from my children and a leisurely day stretching ahead of me, I realize that it might not have been as unconscious a mistake as I thought.
Most mothers and daughters have complicated histories. I’m sure my story isn’t all that unusual: unrealistic expectations on her part as to the person I am versus the person she wanted me to turn out to be, feelings of inadequacy as I strove for far too many years to appear to be the person my mother wanted me to be, and animosity on both our parts.
Now, as I embark on raising my own family, I find myself struggling not mold my children into things they are not. My daughter, like most teenagers, spends entirely too much time on her appearance, but I endeavor not to chide her about it. She is who she is. Of my sons, one is firmly attached, great in school, and quite the little sweetheart. It’s not hard to overlook the times when he’s not quite an angel — but I have to be diligent about punishing him when he does break the rules. My other son struggles daily with attachment and obeying even the simplest of commands. If I enforced every rule and expectation for him, he’d be grounded till he’s fifty. Tolerance is the name of the game with him.
Occasionally, I dream of having a ‘normal’ family — then, I laugh. I do! No one is perfect, everyone struggles with themselves and finding their way in the world. We’re no different from anyone else, yet perfectly unique.
So, today I celebrate my own brand of Mother’s Day. The only thing I wish is that I hadn’t waited XXX years (I’m not saying how many, only pointing out that there have been too many) to figure out that this is the way it’s “supposed” to be — for me, anyway!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there. Have YOUR brand of special day!
I’d hoped and prayed that this post would be a celebratory one. I’d entered a pitch contest back in February that got put off until April. I’d hoped to win, but I didn’t. Right now, the rejection stings, but I’ve had my chocolate and a bit of a cry, gone to the grocery store to hunt and gather this week’s menu items, and am going to set the book aside until tomorrow before I figure out what to do with it. A closed door means an open window, right? It’s just for once, I’d really like to knock on the right door the first time….sigh.
Being an author is uber discouraging at times…so, I decided since I couldn’t celebrate, I’ll share another dark part of my life.
One of my sons suffers from RAD (reactive attachment disorder). He always has to be first, in control, and the center of attention. Unfortunately, ‘good‘ kids, the ones who self-entertain, dress themselves, do their homework with little assistance, and play with their friends without huge drama DON’T get lots of attention. So…my little RAD-let strives to be naughty, naughty, all-the-time. I know I get tired of all the shenanigans, so you’d think his little brain would be absolutely exhausted with coming up with new and different ways to annoy me, no, make that everyone.
I’ve been trying to be more of a therapeutic parent…to not parent the way I parent all my other kids, but to be more understanding, empathetic, and tolerant, and it’s TOUGH, tough, tough. I try to ignore those pesky attention-getting behaviors, the ones he pulls to make sure I’m watching him like a hawk (I am, believe me, it’s the only way of keeping my hair gel out of my contact saline solution or the toothpaste from being squirted into the drain until it clogs the sink. (Yes, I know, all kids do things like this when they are two, three, sometimes four. My RAD-let is almost 8 — old enough to know better).
For the past three years, his favorite morning stunts are putting clothes on backwards, wearing shoes on the wrong feet, refusing to eat what everyone else is having for breakfast (lunch, or dinner) but wanting something different. Now, it would be another story IF he knew what he wanted. He might, but it’s not about the food, it’s about the control. He wants me standing at attention, waiting for a word to fall from his royal highness’s lips. If I try to walk off, he’ll call me back stating that he’s made up his mind. Don’t be fooled, he hasn’t. If you do turn your attention back to him, he’ll pretend to think, and think, and think some more while the clock is ticking closer and closer to the time to leave for school, church, or wherever. Then, when he finally makes up his mind, there’s no time to eat, so he cries all the way to school. Yes, I know, OTHER kids do this….but do they pull the same stunt EVERY SINGLE MORNING? Day after day until you feel like you are losing your mind?
Last night, I bit my tongue when he put his pajama shirt on backwards, ignore the behavior and it goes away, right? Then, when I *approved* of the red socks he wanted to wear to bed, he changed out of them (and I ignored that, simply rolling up the red ones for him to wear another day as they were still clean). When I still didn’t remark on the change, by the time he climbed into bed, he’d changed them again.
My new favorite quote for my RAD-let is from Monster’s Inc. “I’m watching you….always watching you.” Roz
I watched a show on Killer Ants just last week. As a result, some of those vicious beasties showed up in my WIP (imagine that). Amazingly, these creatures aren’t just killers, they are helpers. Want to know more? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ants/
And I’m still in search of an answer to the age-old question — if you die in your dream, do you really die? I’m exploiting that concept in the novella I’m currently working on. Here’s some of the links I found interesting:
Yep, you heard me right. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision. I’m addicted to books…reading them, writing them, owning them. If it wasn’t for the “pitching” gene I inherited from my mom, I would be in danger of showing up on an episode of Hoarders. Luckily, my local library takes donations and I have a few friends who are, quite possibly, more voracious readers than I am.
But I digress.
Giving up buying books has enabled me to work my way through my staggering To Be Read pile. I think I’m down to three novels and two craft books on a shelf that’s been groaning for years. Because of sheer desperation, I’m also working my way through my virtual bookshelf, too. I’m reading books that I purchased and won YEARS ago…some are so ancient that the publishers don’t exist any more. Sad, I know. If I find the title on Goodreads, I’ve been giving feedback and writing up little reviews to share my impressions of the books.
If I time this right, I won’t run out until Easter. But I certainly know what I’m doing right after church. You guessed it. I’m hitting the bookstore and feeding the addiction.
So, what did you give up for Lent? Or, if you aren’t of that particular religious bent, how do you tame the savage To Be Read pile?
Two reality-show ghost-busting teams versus one haunted house – the first team to successfully exorcise the spirits wins the renewal of their television contract. It sounds like a pretty straight-forward competition, but something or someone at Harrington House has another agenda.
Siblings Monica and Malcolm McFee comprise the team for Happily Ever Afterlife. The show is a mixture of science and supernatural, for although they are twins, they couldn’t be more different. Monica is a skeptic. She grew up normal in a paranormal family, and she’s never met phenomena yet that couldn’t be explained away by cold hard science – even love. Her brother is a medium who can see and speak to the dead. Ambitious and proud, he’s the seventh son of a seventh son and determined to sustain his heritage by only dating women who believe in the paranormal. It’s led to some interesting matches, but none so exciting as the one he experienced years ago with a ghost. A ghost who seems to have come to life in the persona of Kylie Harrington, the owner of Harrington House.
Their rivals are Enigma Mysterio and Irene Hopkins. Their show is Bump in the Night, where investigative team participants pay thousands of dollars to be scared to death by either the ghosts or the dramatics. Up until two years ago, Enigma just had a funny name. Dying three times after a car accident changed all that. Now he has the ability to see through the veil separating life from the afterlife. It’s a gift he neither wanted nor asked for, but a man has to make a living somehow, and being the stooge for a beautiful woman on a hit television series isn’t so bad. Or so he thought until he meets Monica and loses his heart to the one woman who can’t see past his psychic ability to the man inside. Irene isn’t a psychic; she just plays one on television. Besides being married to the show’s producer, her one true talent is screaming on cue.
The paranormal investigation was Kylie’s idea; however, the competition wasn’t. All she wants to know is where her ancestor, Amos Harrington, hid his ill-gotten gains so that she can get out from under the mountain of debt she’s inherited along with the supposedly haunted house.
Over the course of the weekend, the two teams with their respective technical advisors, a supposedly impartial network executive, and the beautiful owner of Harrington House find it isn’t just the ghosts who are running amok. A killer is on the loose and if they don’t work together, they could all become permanent residents.
Monica is the skeptic of the team and as such, she’s got the rules laid out in Fiona Broome’s article memorized. If you are investigating a haunting, you might want to keep a few of these in mind as well.
Sometimes, people are understandably eager for something to be a ghost. A haunted house or graveyard can seem so exciting. A “real” ghost experience grants instant celebrity to the storyteller.
Sometimes the obvious is most easily overlooked, especially under stress, late at night, and in an unfamiliar setting where everyone’s nerves are on edge.
Do a reality check before deciding that an odd experience is a ghost.
* If an object seems to move by itself, check the floor or surface with a carpenter’s level. You can pick up a cheap one for under $2, and it’ll fit in your purse or pocket. If the object is lightweight, check for drafts, too.
* If you sense a cold spot, check it with a thermometer. Use a candle or other draft detector, to see if you can find where it’s coming from. In old houses, I often find drafts from electrical outlets on outside walls that are not insulated. Check around light switches, too. Carry a roll of masking tape with you, as a short-term way to shut out these drafts.
* If you hear ghostly footsteps, wait until the phenomenon has stopped (or until daylight, if you’re more comfortable) and try to duplicate the sound by walking wherever the footsteps came from. Was it really footsteps, or the house settling or shifting as the temperature dropped at dusk?
* If windows open themselves, check the hardware. Make certain they’re really closed. Try the window to see if the counterweight isn’t right, and the window opens too easily.
* If windows close themselves, try propping them with a piece of pipe or other solid object. Ghosts pop those props out, gravity usually doesn’t.
* Snapping window shades can mean defective hardware. Or, maybe the coil has been too-tightly or too-loosely wound. Let it release, and then rewind it yourself.
* If you genuinely think it’s a ghost and you’re in the dark, use caution when turning on lights. In our experience, lights usually banish the phenomenon. However, shortly after turning the lights off again, if it was a ghost, he/she may return with a vengeance. If you’re nervous, leave the location and return again in daylight hours to look for natural causes of what you witnessed.
* Poltergeist phenomena is its own animal, so to speak. First, try to repeat the incident yourself, using natural means that could have occurred the first time. (A dish can fall off a shelf if the shelf is shaky. A dish cannot fly across the room and smash on the wall unless someone threw it, or rigged it.)If you cannot duplicate what happened, keep a log of similar events that occur at this location in the future. Often, the energy source for poltergeist phenomena is a teen or pre-teen. (Though the spirit itself may be very real, and is not always the same as the “focus” of the energy.)
More poltergeist events will happen when the energy source is nearby, so you’ll have less activity during school hours, for example.
* However, do NOT get caught up in what I call the “Randi complex” (referring to skeptic James Randi). Just because you can make something happen, doesn’t mean that the phenomenon is a fraud, hoax, or error in judgement.Yes, I can probably rig stairs so they sound as if someone is walking on them. No, that doesn’t mean that all stairways have been rigged when people hear spectral footsteps on them.
Most people are careful when taking “ghost photos.” However, even the most experienced photographer can forget the basics.
* Do not point your camera towards the sun, or so the sun can highlight something on your lens. There are devices made to prevent this, if it’s a regular problem.
* Make certain that nothing reflects the sun towards your lens, such as a polished gravestone, a foil candy wrapper in the grass, a metal veteran’s marker, your car windows/trim, rings on your fingers if one hand is supporting the front of the camera, and so on.
* The following will produce false anomalies: fingerprints on the negative; a folded negative; a scratched negative; rushed printing at the one-hour (check the index print, which should be fine); very old film; film left in a hot car for too long, or in the hot sun; film that goes through the “old” metal detectors in airports (most airport scanners are fine now.)
* This will sound silly, but these things can happen at the worst moments: Watch for floating milkweed or dandelion “puffs” that can look like orbs in the sunlight. If they appear, do not take photos until they’re gone. Or write down the frames that will be affected, and keep the notes with your developed photos and negatives.Do NOT think “Oh, I’ll remember that frames 12 & 13 are just milkweed thingies.” You won’t, three years from now when you review your photos as you’re clearing out your files.
* It can never be said too often: If your camera has a strap, remove it or put it around your neck (or wrist, if small) while taking photos. Yes, most straps are black and the rods in photos are white, but let’s be extra careful for skeptics. (And, no, that is not an invitation to debate the camera-strap issue.)
* Take two photos of everything, as closely together as you can, without moving an inch. Then, if it’s a reflection, it’ll be in both photos and the same. If it’s an anomaly, it’ll either move or vanish. Anomalies are usually static. They are actively moving and will be different in two consecutive photos.
* If you’re scanning a photo (with an anomaly) for online use, try to make an uncompressed, unmodified print available for viewers. This prevents people from saying, “Oh, she just increased the contrast to make that look more dramatic.”
In general, it’s important to rule out normal causes for what seems to be a paranormal event. Experience is the best teacher and will save you hours of confusion as well as embarrassment when a simple explanation is found.
When I left the rat race of technical editing and writing to stay at home with my kids for a few years, I honestly thought the only thing I missed were the people. I’d had enough of office politics and stress to last a lifetime.
Or so I thought.
Last year, I wrote almost every day, all day…well, when I look back on my spreadsheets, I didn’t do much writing in some cases. Lots of playing games on Facebook, some critiquing (which is good), sending out reviews for a small publisher (a volunteer position that is my way of paying back to the community), editing reviews (…giving back, blah, blah, blah). What I didn’t have is a lot of edits coming in to be dealt with. Heck, I didn’t even have a fixed deadline for finishing a book.
In retrospect, that was very bad for me. I work best under a deadline where I have to juggle in this, crowbar in that, and can’t pry my fingers off the keyboard. So, when Harlequin posted a Nocturne Bites pitch contest, I was JAZZED. It had a set deadline and since I was already working on one novella, I had lots of motivation to glue my butt to the chair and write. Sadly, because HQ changed their submission requirements for a Nocturne Bite and turned them into Cravings…I thought the pitch had been canceled. I finished my one novella, edited it, subbed it, and found myself playing Facebook games (again).
Today, for kicks and giggles, and because I can’t take a walk for fearing of coughing up a lung thanks to the virus one of my kids brought home from school, I “Googled” the pitch. Hallelujah, it’s back on.
Now, I’m off to make my heroine face her scariest nightmare, and no, it’s not a deadline. (Bwahahahaha)