Of Scary Stories and Reviews

This week isn’t even half over yet and already, it’s been kind of crazy.  Before it ends, it’s going to get a lot crazier.  I have like, a million things I need to remember to do and unfortunately, I’ve been sick for the last two days which means all I want to do is lie on the couch in my sweatpants and read.  Granted, that’s what I do a lot of the time anyway, but with less than a week before my next book comes and with more than a few book events and speaking engagements on the horizon, not to mention a meeting tonight at church and cat-sitting, I don’t have time to be sick and feel sorry for myself.

Then, of course, there are the new stories that I’m continuing to work on for the rest of the month.  One, of course, is the sequel to Backstage.  That one is just pure fun.  I seriously love writing YA.  I love writing ghost stories too, but they require a certain level of depth and emotion, and it can be draining to pour all that heavy onto the page.  Stories about boy bands however?  Pure fluff.

The second story is for the second book in the Lurking Anthology series called Lurking in the Shadows. I can’t give you too many details about the story itself, but I can tell you it is by far the darkest thing I’ve ever written.  It makes Cemetery Tours look like The Princess Diaries.  I’ve got to be honest, I’m really hoping I’m not inviting in any dark energy or anything by writing this.  I’ll make sure to keep my Bible on hand.

Speaking of Cemetery Tours, as I was writing this, a package arrived on my doorstep…

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After Death, the third book in the Cemetery Tours series, is here!  And it looks amazing!  I’m so, so, so excited!  I can’t wait to share it with all of you next Tuesday!  It’s kind of weird to think I’ve officially written a trilogy.  Of course, it won’t be a trilogy for long.  There are two more books coming!

Finally, I’ve been making a point to read and review the stack of books I’ve had sitting by my bedside for forever.  I’ve been making progress.  One book, Moon Tears by M. M. Frische, I really enjoyed. Well-written, historical fiction about the author’s cousin, I highly recommend it.

I’ve read a few other books, however, that I can’t say I enjoyed, or even finished.  I always feel so guilty when I don’t like a book.  It sounds weird, right?  I never feel guilty not liking a song or a movie, but when it’s a book, I almost feel like it’s personal.  Maybe it’s because I’m an author myself.  I don’t know.  I especially feel guilty when I’ve met the author in person.  Now, I’m not going to say which books I didn’t like.  I don’t want to do that to a fellow writer.  If I don’t like a book, I simply won’t write a review.  And maybe that’s wrong.  Maybe a lousy review is better than no review at all.  But I almost feel like I owe it to the author to give them a good review, just because I know how much time and effort and love they put into a story.  Even though, on the flip side, I know I owe it to fellow readers and reviewers to be totally honest in my recommendation.

Anyway, I suppose I better be off!  I’ll talk to y’all soon!  Keep reading, keep writing!

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One Week!

Exactly one week from today, After Death, the third installment in the Cemetery Tours series will be available on Amazon.com and Kindle.  It will be available on Barnes and Noble.com and Nook shortly thereafter.  I am so excited to share this book with y’all.  It’s a book I began over a year ago, but after completing the first draft, I realized I hated it.  It didn’t have a plot.  It was just a bunch of people sitting around and talking.  I couldn’t give you all that, and I certainly want to do better by my characters.

I’m so pleased with the final draft of After Death, and I’ve received very positive feedback from my editors and beta-readers.  I’m hoping y’all like it just as much.  I want to give my characters a good story, and most importantly, I want to give all of you a good story.  You deserve it.

I’m a bit under the weather today, so this is going to be a rather short blog post.  I do, however, want to share the first two chapters of After Death with you here! Enjoy!

After Death Chapters 1 & 2

After Death on Pinterest

After Death Soundtrack

After Death on GoodReads

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Jazzed About The Library

This last Saturday, I participated in my second Meet the Authors event at the Colony Library.  As always, it was a fun event.  The people at the library are all just so lovely, as are the authors who participate.  I came home with several new books I am itching to read.  Since After Death will be coming out in just a WEEK, I might actually have a little extra time to read soon!  Hooray!

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I also participated in a new event this year called Jazzed About the Library, a dinner and fundraiser for the library.  It was quite the glamorous event with two live jazz bands, a photo booth, a wandering magician, and eight local authors (myself included).

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My favorite moment of the night, however, was near the very end when my new friend, Chase (author of the self-help book Have a Chase Day: IChase IDream), and I were packing up to leave.  We’d been talking to this one little girl and her brother all day.  She was a third grader, he was in Kindergarten.  This little girl is one of the brightest girls I’ve ever met.  She was happy talking to us for hours about animals, everything she learned in school, and our favorite Disney characters.  At the end of the night, Chase and I both told her that if she ever had any questions or if she’d ever thought about writing, to contact us.  It was then that her dad took her by the shoulders and said, “You see them?  You see how hard they’ve worked and what they’re doing with their lives?  That is what I want for you.”

That, my friends, is the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life.  I was so touched, I didn’t know what to say.  I know this little girl will go on to do whatever she sets her mind to.  She just has that spark.

As for me, my new goals for the year include reading and reviewing a stack of books (mostly published by fellow Indie Authors) that I’ve had sitting by my bed for forever.

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I think that is a fairly attainable goal.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Dear Author,

A Well Read Woman

Recently, I read a blog post by an Author who was having a difficult time selling her books. She blamed everything from the glacial pace of book reviewers, suggesting some take books and don’t leave a review at all, to not feeling comfortable “spamming” her family and friends on social media with links to buy to her book.

To say that my eyes glazed over while reading her post is an understatement. And for the record, I haven’t worked with this Author before.

First, I would like to defend book reviewers as a whole. Book bloggers like me are inundated with books EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have MASSIVE to-be-read lists. I am right now at a one year waiting list, (but I do offer an expedited service, where for a fair price, I can offer a review within seven days). We are not taking books and not leaving reviews……

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Five Stars

Last night, I added Backstage, the sequel to Boy Band, to GoodReads.  And, since I like to add my books to lists and you can technically only do that if you’ve “read” them, I went ahead and gave my book a five-star rating.  Of course I’ve read it!  I’m the author!  Even though it technically may not be all the way written yet.  Regardless, of course I’m going to give it five stars.

Then I logged on to Twitter and remembered that I have this nifty little GoodReads feature that shares whenever I rate a book.  Usually, I like sharing my ratings.  Last night, however, I was thinking, “Oh great.  Now everyone is going to know I rate my own books.  And that I give all my books five stars!”

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That’s a lot of stars.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, “You know what?  It’s okay to be proud of my books.  It’s okay to think my books are worth five stars.  In fact, if I thought my books were worth anything less than five stars, I probably shouldn’t be publishing them.”

As an author, you deserve to feel proud of yourself and your work.  Do you have any idea how many people want to write a book and how few actually succeed?  It takes a lot of time and effort and dedication to get all those words out onto the page.  But it’s all worth it.  A million times over, it’s worth it.

As an author, you should think the very best of your work.  That’s not to say that everyone will.  There will more than likely be some negative ratings in there.  And that’s okay!  Even JK Rowling gets one-star ratings every now and then.  Just remember that no one else can offer what you can offer.  No one else can write your story the way that you can.  You are giving the literary world something brand new, and that’s what I love about books and writing.  It’s always changing, always evolving, always new.  And we all have something to contribute.  We’re not like other artists.  We don’t compete for the same roles or fight for the number one spot on the charts.  We get to work together.  And that’s incredible.

Love your work.  Love what you do.  And most importantly, love yourself.

And remember… It’s okay to rate your own book.  Because you know it’s worth five stars.

Backstage

Of Pumpkins and Formatting

Today is officially the first day of autumn!  I plan on celebrating with pumpkin spice candles and catching up on some long overdue reading.  Pumpkin bread and some good Halloween movies might also be on the horizon.  For now, however, I wanted to share some excited news!  Two things, actually!

  1. After Death is all pretty and formatted and review/proof copies are on the way.  I can’t wait to see it!  Especially with the other two books!  It’s going to look so pretty. 11855709_284882665020055_753171641304509198_n
  2. I’ve been asked to participate in a series of NaNoWriMo meet-ups for one of the local libraries!  I’ll be talking about my experience participating in NaNoWriMo and encouraging other writers on their journey.  I am so excited!  I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo.  I used to have this really rotten attitude about it.  I though, “Psh… I don’t need a bunch of people telling me to write a novel in a month.  I’ll write a novel whenever I damn well please!”  But the thing about NaNoWriMo is that it challenges you to try something new, to maybe write a book you hadn’t planned on writing.  And it’s SO much fun.  It’s such a great way to open up your mind and take a chance on something that you previously hadn’t given much thought.  If I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo, Boy Band wouldn’t exist.  And guess what?  It’s only been out a few months and it’s done better than my other two books put together. So yeah.  I love NaNoWriMo and I’m really looking forward to meeting with other writers, sharing my experience, and encouraging them to keep writing!

As for my personal work, like I said, I finished formatting After Death yesterday and the proof copy is on its way.  It still needs a final read-through and last minute edits, but for the most part, I’m feeling really good about this book.  I’ve also found that the more I write, the easier the editing and formatting process gets.  At first, it was so daunting and intimidating and to be honest, I was kind of terrified of the idea.  But now, I actually look forward to it.  It’s so much fun to see your manuscript become a real book.  It’s also such a left-brained project.  Sometimes it’s really nice to turn off the emotional, creative, la-de-da side of your brain and just rely on the driven, logic-based, task-oriented side.  It’s not a side I consult very often, so whenever I do, it’s very efficient and eager to prove itself.  And it rarely lets me down.  My right brain is very talented, but it’s so easily distracted and it has to have like ten things to focus on at once or it gets bored and it’s very emotional and sometimes hard to work with.  My right brain is basically Dory from Finding Nemo.

That being said, I think I’m going to head out.  My dad is at the eye doctor again, this time for a consultation for cataract surgery.  Good times.  After that, however, I really want to try and make pumpkin spice muffins.  I also need to get started on a new short story for the next Lurking anthology.  Then I might just learn to crochet.  See?  That right brain is never fully satisfied.

My Ghost Story

In just a few short weeks, the third book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available on Amazon and Kindle (and Nook shortly thereafter).  I can’t wait.  This is a book I’ve been working on for over a year.  I knew what I wanted for it, but for some reason, it took TWO rewrites to get it to where I wanted it to be.  It would have been easy to simple finish the first version and publish it, but I would not have been happy with it.  There was no real plot.  My characters and especially my readers deserve better than that.  So I started over from scratch.

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Two days after the release, I will also be speaking to a small group about me and about my books.  I’ve got to tell y’all, I’m not that great at talking about my books, but I’m even worse at talking about myself.  I’m just really not that interesting.  I have interesting stories.  But me as a person?  Kind of boring.

I’ve been trying my best to come up with ideas for my presentation.  I will certainly include a synopsis of the first book as well as a little bit about the next two.  But you know, the question I get asked most often is, “So what inspired you to write a ghost story?”

I know I’ve answered this question multiple times on my blog, but those posts are lost in the binary infinity that is the internet.

My love for ghost stories began at a young age.  I grew up in a house that celebrated Halloween the way most people celebrate Christmas.  My whole family just loves it.  Ghosts, witches, vampires, zombies, I could never get enough.  My mother and I were (and still are) particularly fond of all the ghost-hunting and unexplained mystery documentaries that aired around All Hallows Eve.  I remember learning about notorious haunting grounds, such as the Del Coronado Hotel.  I knew then that I wanted to have a ghost experience of my own.

It never occurred to me to actually write a ghost story until 2010, when I suffered a very sudden and unexpected loss in my family.  Long story short, I was devastated.  I’d never hurt like that before.  I actually felt my heart breaking.  I turned to my faith in God to help see me through.  But I also turned to the paranormal.

I became obsessed in proving to myself that life did continue on after death.  I visited libraries and bookstores seeking rock solid testimonies of psychics, mediums, religious figures, and those who’ve endured Near Death Experiences.  I scoured Scripture for passages that referred to death and life eternal.  Perhaps most importantly, I began tuning into ghost hunting shows, particularly one called Ghost Adventures.

It was during that time that I began writing a story about a guy who could see ghosts and a girl who was haunted by a spirit of a loved one.  It was a mess.  Of course, I never really intended to publish it.  It was just a story that I began writing to make myself feel better.

It didn’t really become something more until I was over at my friends’ apartment one night watching Criminal Minds.  Now, I’m a huge fangirl.  You all know this about me.  That night, I was introduced to Dr. Spencer Reid portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler and let me tell you, it was love at first sight.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But I knew then and there that I’d found the inspiration for my main character.  He just looks like the kind of guy who would see ghosts and who would be an adorable mess trying to figure it all out.

Shortly thereafter, I realized my story was missing one key element: An enthusiastic ghost hunter.  Cue Ghost Adventures and the creation of Luke Rainer.

After that, the story naturally fell into place.  I knew going in that there would be at least two books in the series.  That soon turned to three.  Now the plan is five.  Both books are already planned out and I can’t wait to write them.  I can’t tell you a lot, but I can tell you that the fourth book is going to be set in Scotland.  It’s going to be so much fun to write I can’t even tell you.  Hopefully it will be just as much fun to read, if not more so!

Until then, I hope you enjoy After Death. And if you haven’t read the first two, I hope you’ll enjoy them as well!  Preferably before you read the third.  But you know, there’s no law that says you have to read a book series in order.  Just do me a favor and don’t tell me if you do.

Love you all!  Talk to you soon!

IndieVengeance Day 2015

Hi, friends!  This weekend, along with spending a small fortune at the movie theater, I also participated in the third annual IndieVengeance Day, celebrating Indie Authors from all over the world.  I thought I’d share a few pictures from the event!

Warning: Most of them are just my books looking pretty.

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The new book covers were there too.

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Pretty snazzy.

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It was fun this year, crew!  Until next time!

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How M. Night Shyamalan Got His Groove Back

Okay, so my sister and I have this tradition around Christmastime.  It’s called Double Movie Day.  The day before Christmas Eve, we pick out two movies and spend the entire day at the theater.  Last year, we saw The Theory of Everything and Night at the Museum 3.

This year, we decided to push Double Movie Day up a few months because A) my sister was home for the weekend B) and we had two movies that we REALLY wanted to see.

The movies we saw fit right in with the impending Halloween season: The Perfect Guy and The Visit.

As usual, this post WILL contain spoilers.  However, given that one of the films is an M. Night Shyamalan production, I will do my best to keep them to a minimum.

Thoughts on The Perfect Guy

  • This movie kind of looks like an adaptation of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks.
  • It also kind of looks like a high-budget Lifetime Movie.
  • I can’t wait.
  • Script is a little weak at first, but it tells us what we need to know.  Leah wants to get married and have kids.  Dave doesn’t.  So she ends it.  Fair enough.  Sorry, Dave.  You blew it.
  • Even though I know from the previews that Carter is a creepy psychopathic stalker, the guy playing him is really attractive.
  • His character, however, is so smooth you know that something’s off about him.
  • Public bathroom inside a hole-in-the-wall dance club.  Perfect place to consummate a relationship.
  • AW, she has an orange kitty named Rusty.  I had an orange kitty named Rusty!
  • Oh PLEASE don’t let anything bad happen to Rusty!
  • I don’t think I even need to talk about how fast you run after you see your boyfriend beat someone else to a pulp.
  • Leah, no.  Do not listen to your friend.  She is giving you terrible advice.
  • Karen, you’re the worst friend ever.
  • No!  I KNEW that sicko would take Rusty!  I knew it!  Poor kitty!
  • Oh, good.  Dave is back.  I like Dave.
  • Leah is not a believable single woman.  If my cat was missing, I wouldn’t know how to function.  I wouldn’t be able to live.  I would be curled up in a ball, crying, until she came home.
  • WTF. WHAT. NO. *Spoiler*
  • I feel like this entire movie is a commentary on how the system can’t help victims of stalking/harassment until something bad has already happened.  Leah knows Carter is dangerous.  She knows he’s stalking her.  He has gone out of his way to ruin her ENTIRE life and everything she’s worked for.  But the way the system is set up, no one can actually help her until he does something dangerous and drastic.
  • I do like how the detective is really trying to help her.
  • This is like Criminal Minds with a really good-looking unsub.
  • The house Leah lives in is actually really creepy.  It’s all modern and designer with really big open windows.  I could never live in a house like that.  I wouldn’t feel safe at all.  Plus it’s just not very cozy or homey.
  • I do like the pool though.
  • Provoking crazy people. Such a terrible idea.
  • Oh thank GOD she got Rusty back!
  • Again, you go, girl.

Thoughts on The Visit

  • Okay, M. Night. I love The Sixth Sense, Signs, and The Village.  It’s been a while.  I’m expecting good things.  Good scary things.
  • Small white child rapping.  Stop.  Please.  Stop.
  • Aw, I like the snow.  I know I won’t like it when it’s falling from the sky in February, but since it’s between the months of September and December, I like snow.
  • Old people houses are so creepy in movies.  What’s the deal?
  • Granted, this is supposed to be a creepy movie so I get it.
  • Bedtime at 9:30 and no wifi? That’s a horror movie in and of itself.
  • OLD LADY VOMITING NOOOOOO. EWWWWWW.
  • OMG the game of hide and seek?  This movie is already terrifying.
  • I’m really seeing a lot of classic M. Night in this movie.  Rural setting.  Isolated.  Inside a home where you’re supposed to feel safe.  Eerie nighttime noises that let you know that you’re not alone in the house and that whatever is in there with you is REALLY EFFING CREEPY.
  • I bet the lady playing the grandma had so much fun filming this movie.  It’s probably not often that she gets to scare the pants off of people.  She’s such a cute lady.
  • Okay, I’m beginning to get the impression that the mom is a huge flake.
  • Trying to figure out what the twist will be.  Thinking it probably has something to do with demons or witchcraft or maybe an ancient spell discovered at the well.  There’s sort of an underground/water theme going on.
  • I know the grandma is kind of the possessed one, but the grandpa is freaking me out too.
  • Okay, this might not be the scariest M. Night film of all time, but I think it’s the one that scares me the most and it’s because your grandparents are supposed to love you and take care of you.  They’re not supposed to scare you.
  • Okay, I’ve got to know what this gossip is that everyone keeps talking about.
  • What.  WHAT.  WHATTTTTTT.
  • OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.
  • I am freaking out right now.  I’m not even kidding you.  This is terrifying.  OMG.  OMG.
  • No no no no no no no no no no.
  • I might just be scarred for life after this movie.  Oh my God.
  • Hey, lady next to me on your cell phone.  SHUT UP.
  • Good she hung up.
  • I cannot get over this movie.
  • Aw, this is kind of sad.
  • OH MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS. YOU’RE ON YOUR CELL PHONE AGAIN?!
  • I am throwing some SERIOUS shade at you, lady.
  • So rude.
  • Oh, no.  White child is rapping again.  I’m out.

In short, I can highly recommend both of these movies.  With The Perfect Guy, you kind of know what you’re getting, but it’s still definitely worth the watch.  I want my mom to see it.  It’s right up her alley.  As far as The Visit goes?  Congratulations, M. Night.  You once again blew my mind, scared me half to death, and kept me lying awake until odd hours of the night telling myself over and over again that there were no creepy old ladies crawling down my hall.