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.

AD

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!

Mourning

I realize this is sort of an odd topic for a blog that mostly focuses on writing and publishing, but I figure that since I wrote a book about ghosts and cemeteries and stuff, this also has it’s place here.

Last week, I was hanging out with a group of friends I see every week.  Somehow, we got on the topic of loss and grieving.  Depressing, I know, but we’ve all lost love ones, some of us more recently than others, and it just came up. 

Unless you’re a sociopath, chances are you’ve mourned the loss of someone at least once in your life, be it a pet, a grandparent, a friend.  Losing someone is awful and it’s painful.  Sometimes, it shakes you up so much that you have a hard time figuring out how to go on now that that person or pet is gone.  In such circumstances, grieving is only natural.  According to a few of my friends, however, it is also selfish.

Now, I’ve mourned the loss of three grandparents, several cats, a bird, a fish, a killer whale, and even my mom’s best friend.  But I’ve never thought of mourning someone as selfish.  To me, it always seemed like the least selfish thing in the world.  I mean, no one likes to grieve.  It’s no fun at all to feel your heart break every time you think about your loss.  

My friends’ reasoning, however, is that when you grieve, you’re crying because you’re sad for yourself.  You’re sad that you’re never going to see that person (in life) again when really, you should be glad that they’re not in pain or suffering anymore.  I get that.  I remember when my oldest cat, Basil, passed away, I was so relieved that she wasn’t in pain anymore.  That doesn’t mean that it didn’t break my heart to not have her with me anymore.  

If you ask me (and technically, no one did, but I’m going to tell you anyway), grieving for someone is not selfish.  In fact, it’s the opposite of selfish.  Grieving means you loved someone enough to miss them when they are gone.  As humans, yes, we are selfish by nature, but I think the fact that we are capable of feeling loss proves how unselfish we actually are.  If we were truly selfish, we’d be thinking, “Oh, good.  One less person breathing my air and taking up all the good parking spaces.”  To be able to love someone so much that it hurts when they’ve gone is extraordinary.  It’s not selfish at all.  Heck, I’d be really mad if I died and no one mourned me.  I’d come back to haunt them!     

Furthermore, how is it selfish when dogs grieve for their owners?  I’ve read stories of dogs who spend the rest of their lives at the graves of their masters.  Those dogs are incapable of selfishness.  Or what about 9/11?  I didn’t know anyone who died in those towers.  My life shouldn’t have been altered in the slightest.  Yet my entire class cried for those lost in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon and in the field.  I still cry for those families.  I cry for animals that don’t have homes, or who have been abandoned, or who have died because they were mistreated or neglected.  Heck, I’ve cried for fictional characters in books and movies more times than I can count: Rue from The Hunger Games, Jack from Titanic, every single one of my favorite characters from Harry Potter.  That might make me a little crazy, but I hope it doesn’t make me selfish. 

I don’t think it does.  I think it makes me… I don’t know.  I can’t even say “human,” because humans are not the only animals who grieve.  I think it means that we are all capable of love and compassion.  I also think it means that there is more to life, and death, than any of us will ever know.