Hello Tuesday

Hi, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was super busy.

For one thing, my dad had another eye surgery yesterday to take care of a nasty cataract which was a direct result of his last surgery.  Thankfully, everything went well.  It was a simple procedure and he was up on his feet and totally fine within about thirty minutes.  He still can’t drive, so my mom and I are helping him out there, but his vision has improved significantly in just twenty-four hours.  Pretty cool!

For another thing, I have been sending out review copies of my books like crazy.  And I still have more to send!

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I also finally made it to the mall to visit the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.

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I usually don’t post about personal stuff like this, but every year, my sister and I adopt an angel.  I know that it’s always important to give things like food and clothes, practical items to those in need.  But I’ve always loved the Angel Tree because it gives me the opportunity to give those kids something more.  I love the idea of being able to make their holidays magical, to bring them a bit of joy.  By adopting an angel, you’re making a kid’s Christmas dream come true, a wish that may not have been granted otherwise.  So if you have a moment, or a few gifts to spare, stop by your local Angel Tree.  It’s so much fun to play Santa, and a beautiful reminder that this truly is the season of giving, of love, and of goodwill towards all men, women, and children.

This weekend, I also got to spend a bit of time outside, first with my friend and an adorable puppy named Kate, and then with my cousins at White Rock Lake.  I’m so happy to say it is finally feeling like fall.  I’ve been wearing my jeans and scarves and sweaters.  I love it!

Of course, I’ll only love it until December 26, but hey, I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

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Last but not least, I’ve been working tirelessly on Backstage, getting it ready for publication in less than a month!  Agh!

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On a similar and very fun note, there’s a new Twitter account called Niall (Horan) as Books.  I may have mentioned before that even though I am fond of all the 1D boys, I am very partial to the adorable blond Irishman.  Imagine how thrilled I was when this appeared in my Newsfeed:

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This is officially one of my favorite Tweets, along with a Tweet from a similar account, Harry (Styles) as Books!

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Yes, I am still a 1D fangirl and I am eagerly awaiting the release of Made in the AM this week!  I’m probably looking more forward to that than the release of my own book.

Well, maybe they’re tied.

Love you all!

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Book Things

Hello, friends.  Well, today I’ve barely made it out of bed.  It’s just one of those icky sick days that kind of knocks you off your feet and punches you in the face.  Needless to say, I have not been very productive at all.  That’s why this post will be pretty short.  In fact, it’s basically just going to be me sharing a few new reviews and book covers.

The Cemetery Tours reviews go something like this:

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Friendly reminder that the Cemetery Tours eBook is only $2.99 on Kindle!

After Death has a few new reviews too, but this one is my favorite:

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Finally, a few book cover updates!  First of all, I designed the back cover for Backstage, the highly anticipated sequel to Boy Band:

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I also designed a cover to my new NaNoWriMo project.  I’m still not 100% set on the title or on the font, but it’s something!

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How are you this fine October afternoon?

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The past few days have been filled with a lot of joy and a lot of preparation for one of my very favorite days of the year, Halloween!  The days to come will hold just as much if not more of the same.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The fun began Friday with another outdoor excursion into the woods.  The weather was so lovely, it almost felt like a real autumn as opposed to a Texas autumn.

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The next day, I joined my friend and fellow author Paula for Royse City’s annual Fun Fest, where we sold books and ate corn dogs and just had an old fashioned good time.  I even ended up running into some old friends!

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I also got to explore the city a bit.

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Yesterday was more low-key.  I lit a fall candle, curled up with a blanket, and read my very first RL Stine book.  I know, I know.  I’m a disgrace to my childhood and to my genre.  I love spooky things.  I don’t know how I went my entire kid life without reading one of his books.  But better late than never.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Books like his remind me of why I began writing in the first place.  Books are just pure exhilaration.  They’re limitless.  And I love them.

Speaking of which, if you’re a book blogger/reviewer and interested in receiving Review Copies of any of my books, please check out my new Review Copy Requests and Policies.

Later, Gators.

After Formatting, After Editing, After Death

Tomorrow is the day.  The next book in the Cemetery Tours series, After Death, will be available!  To share a little secret with you, the Kindle eBook was available last night, but then I was told that there’d been a technical error with the file and I had to take it down.

Cue every author’s nightmare.

Any other day, if you asked me if there was anything I didn’t love about what I do, the answer would be no.  But there are moments, like last night and half of today, when the self-doubt and unforeseen glitches start getting the better of me.  This is a fun business and I love it so much and I love my books and characters, but the act of publishing itself can be very stressful.  There’s already pressure on authors to write books that people want to read, but formatting and making them look professional and seeing to it that there are no (or as few as possible) typos or uneven lines etc, etc…  It can be overwhelming.

I want to be an author.  I want to write stories for the rest of my life and I want readers to enjoy those stories.  I think that no matter what we pursue, there will always be a bit of stress, a bit of fear, especially if we really want everything to work out.  And hopefully, it’s worth the risk.  Risks have to be taken in life.  Otherwise, we’d never evolve.  I hope that I’m taking the right ones.  I like to think that I am.

That being said, I really hope that you all like After Death and that all of the issues have been taken care of.  I know no matter what that I’m going to keep writing.  I have to keep writing.  I truly believe than any author who puts their work out there, especially those of us who are independent, really don’t have a choice but to keep writing.  Let’s face it, I could be making a heck of a lot more money doing a heck of a lot less work.  But I love my books and I love my characters and most of all, I love my readers.  I hope this new book is everything you deserve and more.

On a totally unrelated note, here are some really pretty autumn pictures from my trip to the Arboretum last Friday.

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I also took pictures of my books.

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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!

Welcome September!

Okay, yes, I am fully aware that it is still technically August.  But I’ve been ready for autumn ever since my sister and I got home from California the second week of July.  Even as self-proclaimed summer girl, I go crazy for autumn.  I love everything about it from the fall candles, to the changing leaves, to the anticipation of Halloween, to black cats and ghost stories, to pumpkin spice everything… It’s just a magical time of year.  It always has been.  It always will be.

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Welcome, September!  It’s been too long.

Savoring the Season

The last few weeks of October are going to fly, and I do mean fly.

The rest of this week itself is completely packed with good things: readings, book signings, and a girls trip to the State Fair or Texas.  It just wouldn’t be autumn without the Fair.  It’s one of my absolute favorite fall traditions.

Next week is going to be mostly devoted to preparing for my presentation.  That includes creating the coolest slide show ever and, not to brag, I make a pretty mean slide show.  It’s one of those important life skills you learn in college.

The following week, is the last week of October, and I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready for it.  I know it’s only the 15th, but I feel like Halloween has come too quickly!  It’s one of my absolute favorite times of the year and I need to soak it up!  Thankfully, I’ve had a couple of days that were devoted entirely to anticipating the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve.

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Saturday was a wonderful gray fall day.  It was cold, so I was actually able to wear a scarf and a sweater.  My friend and I spent the day browsing Halloween stuff at Party City, Target, and it ended with a trip to a local pumpkin patch.  It was the perfect fall day.  I need to have more of those before the season ends!

There was a book I read when I was younger, and  I can’t remember which it was to save my life, but there was a quote that really stuck with me.  “If a person lives 100 years, they only get to see the leaves change 100 times.”  That doesn’t seem enough to me.  100 autumns is not nearly enough.  I’m not even sure 1000 would be enough.

That being said, go outside. Enjoy the leaves. Drink a pumpkin latte. Wear a scarf. Watch a scary movie. Enjoy the season, because our autumns, like everything else, are numbered.

Fall is Here!

Ladies and gentlemen, the autumnal equinox is upon us.  This means cooler weather, colorful leaves, sweaters, scarves, and pumpkin everything.

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Confession: I like the idea of pumpkin spiced lattes and cakes and bread, but I do not enjoy the taste.  At all.  I love the smell and the pumpkins themselves, but I cannot eat or drink anything that is pumpkin spicy.  

It’s hard describe with words what exactly it is that makes fall so magical.  For me, it’s always been more of a feeling, an experience of the senses.  Fall looks like crisp blue skies, orange and red and yellow leaves, brown grass, haystacks, and just a touch of purple and black.  Fall smells like pumpkin spice and firewood and wool sweaters and a fresh northern breeze.  Fall sounds like the crackle of leaves and the whispers of wind and a hint of eerie, hypnotic, ethereal music.  Fall feels like crisp, cool, refreshing air, like the memories of ghosts who’ve gone before, like for the first time, all magic is possible.

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Fall is a time to spend with your friends and family.  It’s a time for state fairs and pumpkin patches and being outside.  It’s a time to savor and enjoy.  It’s a time to remember what it means to be simple and to believe in what we can’t see.

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Best of all, it’s a time for ghosts and witches and things that go bump in the night.

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Happy Fall everyone!