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.


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!

After Death Soundtrack

As with all my other books before, I have created a playlist, an unofficial soundtrack, of songs that helped inspire After Death, the third installment in the Cemetery Tours series.  We still have a little over a month before After Death is released, but I wanted to share the soundtrack with you today!  It’s been such a fun, lovely week.  I hope everyone else’s has been just as wonderful.

If you’re interested, you can find the soundtrack to the first Cemetery Tours book here.  Between Worlds soundtrack is here.  Please note that this is an unofficial soundtrack. I am not selling these songs or benefiting from them in any way.

After Death:

  1. “She is the Sunlight” by Trading Yesterday
  2. “Heaven’s Gonna Wait” by Hedley
  3. “Clarity” by Amy Conrad
  4. “Welcome to Mystery” by Plain White T’s
  5. “A Drop in the Ocean” by Ron Pope
  6. “Reason Why” by Sleepthief
  7. “Painting Flowers” by All Time Low
  8. “Ghost Machine” by Jon Foreman
  9. “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey
  10. “Where’s My Angel” by Metro Station
  11. “The Mixed Tape” by Jack’s Mannequin
  12. “When the Stars Go Blue” by Tyler Hilton
  13. “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds

That last one by Ben Folds inspired the final scene, which totally makes me cry.  I’m the author, so I might be really biased, but I’m really hoping that everyone enjoys the book as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.  Until next time!


Between Worlds Soundtrack

Every time I get an idea for a new story, one of the very first things I do is create and iTunes playlist to serve as a sort of soundtrack to listen to while I write and to inspire me.  You can find the soundtrack to Cemetery Tours here:

The songs that helped inspire Between Worlds are…

1. “Whataya Want From Me” by Adam Lambert ft. P!nk

2. “Remember Me This Way” by Jordan Hill

3. “Graveyard Girl” by M83

4. “Last Dance” by Camera Can’t Lie

5. “Anyone’s Ghost” by The National

6. “Demons” by Imagine Dragons

7. “Dance in the Graveyards” by Delta Rae

I also returned to several songs that I listened to while writing Cemetery Tours, such as “Haunted” by Taylor Swift, “Blink of an Eye” by Hodges, and “Paul’s Song” by Bullet.

Please note that this is an unofficial soundtrack. I am not selling these songs or benefiting from them in any way.

Answers Part I: Writing

Hi, everyone!  

Thanks to all who commented on my blog post and left me questions!  Today (and probably tomorrow since there are a lot), I’m going to answer them!  I’ve broken the questions down into two different categories, Writing and Publishing.  Basically, two of my favorite things!  I think I’ll answer writing today and publishing tomorrow.  So, without further ado, here we go! 


Do you get mired in details during the writing process?

Yes and no.  A lot of writers talk about how the first draft of your manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, and it won’t be.  If something isn’t right, you can go back and fix it later.  The important thing is to keep writing through to the very end and not to let minor details stop you from moving forward.  I struggle with this.  If I’m not completely 100% happy with something, I will dwell on it and stick with it until I fix it, and I do think that tends to hold me back a bit when I’m working on a new project.  It’s something I’m trying to work on, but it also might just be a part of my own personal technique.    

What inspires you?

Everything.  Music, books, other movies, places, people I love, pets I love.  Cemetery Tours was inspired first of all, by the sudden loss of someone I loved very dearly.  I needed to reassure myself that they were still close to me, so I decided to write a ghost story.  I’d always loved ghost stories and been fascinated by the idea of an afterlife, but I’d never felt compelled to write one until after he died.  I was also inspired by my love for old cemeteries, the television show Ghost Adventures, and a bridal barn where I once photographed a wedding.  I would list out all the inspiration for my current projects, but I don’t want to give too much away!  I can say they involve William Wordsworth, Doctor Who, and the San Antonio River Walk.  

Once I’ve got an idea for a story in my head, I do two things.  First, I make an iTunes playlist that serves as my writing soundtrack.  

Once I release a little more information about the sequel, I’ll post its soundtrack.  You can find my soundtrack to Cemetery Tours here: 

After the soundtrack is finished, I head over to Pinterest and make an Inspiration board.  Several of these are secret and will stay that way until the books are finished.  However, you can find both my Cemetery Tours inspiration board and the Sequel teaser board on my site:  

Is outlining really important or is there really a “right” way?

Confession: I’m a terrible outliner.  I prefer to do what I call a “brain-spill.”  I open up a blank word document and just type.  I don’t bother with things like punctuation or spelling or chronology or anything of the sort.  I just type until every idea surrounding a story is in writing for me to see.  I can always go back and organize it later.  I spill out characters, their relationships, their backgrounds, what’s going to happen to them, the world they live in, what’s going to happen.  To be honest, I don’t always know what’s going to happen or how a book is going to play out.  One of the projects I’m working on now is still surprising me and I love it!  That’s the problem I have with outlining.  You can plan ahead to an extent, but the truth is, you never really know where your story is going to take you.  In the sequel, one of my characters ended up in the hospital, and I never intended that to happen!  It just does.  As a writer, you have to acknowledge that you’re never fully in control.  It’s a weird thought, but sometimes the book is going to play out the way it wants to and you just sort of go with it.  Usually, it works out for the better.  I do try occasionally to plot out chapters, but they almost always end up changing.  Truthfully, I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “right” way to write.  Just like every book, every writer is different and what works for one person will not work for another.  I’m sure there are writers out there who would absolutely cringe at the way I do things.  In writing, do what works best for you!  

Does the 3-act structure have to be as blasted complicated as some authorities make it?

Again, answering honestly, I didn’t give the 3-act structure even a fraction of a thought.  When I write, I don’t think about what I’m “supposed” to do as a writer.  I just write out what I think will make a fun and interesting story.  I don’t remember where I heard this, but I read or heard somewhere, “Write the story you want to read.”  That’s what I try to do. I basically write stories for myself and hope and pray that others like them too.  I’m not a big fan of rules or structure, especially when it comes to something as personal and unique as writing your own story.  And if those authorities want to tell me I’m wrong, well, I have a Master’s Degree in Humanities, so surely there has to be some merit to the way I do things.   

What are your thoughts during the writing process?  

Oh, thoughts.  So many thoughts.  Usually, it goes something like this…

Hey, that’s a neat idea.  I should write a book about that.  But you have so many other projects already.  Oh, that’s okay, I can handle it.  Who should the hot guy in my story be?  You know there doesn’t have to be a hot guy.  Oh please, I’m a girl.  Of course there has to be a hot guy.  I hope no one else has written a story like this before.  What should the title be?  You can think of a decent title later.  Oh, but I like knowing the title.  You’re going to change your mind a million times.  Why don’t you get the story written and then think of a title?  Okay, fine.  What should my characters names be?  I suck at thinking up good names.  Those will probably change a million times too.  Alright, I’m going to write the first sentence.  I can’t think of a first sentence.  Writing a first sentence is the hardest thing ever.  Why can’t I just be brilliant like JK Rowling?  I’m going to check Facebook.  Okay, back to that first sentence.  I bet if I could just write one thing, the rest of the book would flow like that.  What if I end up hating my characters?  What if everyone thinks this is the worst book ever?  What if this becomes the next Percy Jackson series?  That would be so cool!  I wonder if people will write fanfiction about my characters?  They won’t unless you actually write the damn book.  Oh, I have plenty of time to write.  Not if you want to be a New York Times bestseller by the time you’re 30.  I don’t want to be 30…

Yeah, that’s basically how it goes.  Sadly, I’m not trying to be funny with this.  Maybe I am a little, but there is not a whole lot of deep stuff that goes on when I’m trying to write.  I’m probably the most neurotic person alive and my writing style and technique reflects that.  However, if there’s one thing I know when I begin a manuscript, it’s that I’m going to finish it.  I like to think I’m a follow-througher.  I hate beginning things and not finishing them.  I’m not sure if that has to do with my control issues or the fact that I like to do what I say I’m going to do, but I will do everything in my power to see that manuscript through to the end.  It might take years.  The idea for Cemetery Tours was conceived in November 2010 and I wasn’t fully satisfied with it until 2013.  I started writing it at least 4 or 5 different times before I was finally convinced yeah, this is the story I want to write.  This is the direction it needs to go.  Writing is hard.  Anyone who thinks you’ve chosen an easy path by dedicating yourself to writing is wrong.  You might have to try several different methods or pathways before you figure out what your story needs to be, but when it’s right, I promise you’ll know it.  I remember the exact moment I realized exactly what Cemetery Tours needed and I had the first chapter written that night.  It’s all a journey, but it’s always interesting, and that’s what I really love about it.  I don’t do well with stagnancy.  I need things to be constantly changing and evolving and moving forward.  Writing gives me all of that and more.  I’m never in the same place twice.  I’m free.

Thank you all for your questions and stay tuned tomorrow for Answers Part II: Publishing. 

See you then!