Category: writing

I found a YA book series called “44” that I really enjoy and so I wrote to the author Jools Sinclair to let her know.  It’s one of the perks we enjoy in the world today…having the technology to contact an author almost instantly!  Nowadays you can “friend” them on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter, email them directly or subscribe to their websites and blogs.  I love the connectedness of it all.  Well, at least sometimes I do!

So anyway, after reading 44 Book 3 in the series (by the way, Book 1 is FREE!), I contacted Jools and asked her if she’d be willing to do an interview.  She said, “Yes”!!  Even though she’s busy with the recent publication of Book 4 and all the hoopla involved with that AND she’s working on Book 5, she still took some precious time to answer my questions.

Before we get into the interview, I’d just like to give a bit of background on the “44” series.  It begins when seventeen-year-old Abby Craig plunges into an ice-covered lake and drowns.  She is declared dead and for 44 whole minutes remains thusly.  But then, miraculously, she wakes up and the world as she knew it is different to her.  She can’t see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her.  The love of her life, Jesse, is acting strange and as if that isn’t all bad enough, she begins to have visions of a killer.  Her life, Abby soon comes to realize, is changed forever.

Seriously, as you get into the books, you really come to care for poor Abby and are intrigued by the characters surrounding her.  It’s a decent series and I hope Jools has many more stories for Abby to endure!

I’ve always been intrigued by people who have “come back to life” after suffering through a period of death.  It surely must be life-altering.  Many people who have done so seem to develop psychic skills or spiritual connections they hadn’t experienced before their “death”.  This is really a topic right up my alley.  And because of that, I just HAD to contact Jools again and get to know her better.

So, without further ado, here’s her interview! (Gosh, a poet and didn’t know it…sorry, couldn’t resist).

Jools:  Deb, first off thank you SO much for inviting me to your fantastic blog. It is an honor to be here!

Me: Thank YOU, Jools, for agreeing to the interview!! So tell us, what inspired you to write the “44” book series?

Jools:  I’ve always been interested in stories about psychic abilities, whether it’s a novel or TV show or article or movie. I love those type of stories and I’m sure that everything I’ve read and watched over the years has inspired me in one way or another.

Another huge inspiration is living here in Bend, Oregon. Bend is such a great and interesting town. It’s a little off the radar and full of eclectic people and surrounded by lush, natural beauty. I knew it would make a great setting for a novel and a series and had wanted to write about it for a few years, even before I started the series.

And finally, I guess having a few paranormal events happen in my life probably fueled my interest in writing about such things.

Me: What kind of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite?

Jools: Honestly, it would be hard to choose a favorite. I’m an avid reader and read in all genres (except Sci Fi!). But I will say that Ernest Hemingway has always been a huge inspiration. A few years ago I had a “Hemingway Summer,” and read all his books and short stories. I love his style, which is stark and blunt, and I love how he experienced life to the fullest and then wrote about those experiences. One of my very favorite books is Old Man and the Sea, which I reread every few years.

I love short stories too, and am a huge fan of Ron Carlson, Amy Tan, Stephen King, Antonia Nelson to name just a few. I also love mysteries and thrillers and non-fiction as well. Of course, a good ghost story is always exciting!

Me: Totally agree with you about the ghost stories, they sure can be exciting! What is your favorite movie and/or TV show?

Jools:  I love movies and have to admit that I watch a lot of them! Usually you can find me in front of my large HD TV late at night after I’ve closed the lap top and my eyes are aching and blurry from writing all day!

My taste is pretty eclectic and I’m all over the board, depending on my mood. Some nights I’m like Abby in that I want to watch old black and white movies, like Out of the Past, Ten Little Indians, Casablanca, The Stranger. But I also love Hannibal,  Gosford Park, and The Godfather. And, of course, I especially love ghost stories, with the 1989 BBC version of The Woman in Black topping my list.

There are also some amazing TV series out there too…Madmen, Justified, Game of Thrones. I’m also into Downton Abby these days, which I mention in Book Four.

Me:  I totally love Downton Abby!  Granted, it’s not spooky, but it’s epic and a great depiction of the aristocracy in an era gone by and those that served them. But let’s get back to you! How many books do you hope to write in this series?

Jools: I’m not too sure. As long as I feel there still is a fresh energy in the series and a story to tell, I’ll just keep writing them. I love the characters and what’s happening, so I’ll go as long as it feels right. I feel that there’s probably enough there for a few more years.

Me: That’s awesome to hear! I’m quite excited to read more of Abby’s adventures.  So, why did you pick the location you did for your books?

I was born in Los Angeles, raised in the San Fernando Valley, and then lived in the Portland area for a while. So when I finally got to Bend, it was incredible. I walked outside and saw seven snowy mountains in the distance. You can go kayaking on the river before breakfast, hike on a trail in town on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s just an entirely different way of living and I love it.

The small city is pretty cool as well. So I thought, why not add a little bit of a paranormal to a story based here? Plus, I like to write what I know. I know Bend pretty well now. It helps a lot living here.

Me: I think it’s great that your stories take place in your home town.  I’m doing the same thing now with my own Tess Schafer, Medium series (an idea totally inspired by you, by the way!). So, what do the “locals” think of your books?

Jools: I’ve heard from a few fans who love the books and I was invited on the local morning show, Good Morning Central Oregon, and was interviewed. The host, Kristi Miller, was amazing and a fan and once I got over my nervousness, it was a blast! So I would have to say it’s been great so far!

Me: How totally cool to have a local television show recognize you for what you are doing!  That must have been an awesome experience! So tell us, Jools, do you believe in ghosts?

Jools: You bet I do! But I’m like Abby…I keep my eyes down and make sure they don’t catch me staring at them! And I really, really believe in them about one in the morning, walking through the dark living room to the kitchen for a midnight snack! Yikes! Sometimes I just give up on the snack plan if the goose bumps get too intense.

Me:  I do wonder sometimes if writing about ghosts conjures them up.  It sure enough seems that way on occasion!  Obviously ghosts scare you, does anything else?

Jools:  Rattlesnakes, paddling in a canoe on a large lake in the wind, grizzly bears, and sharks when I’m trying to relax in tropical waters. My list used to be much longer, but I’ve learned that it’s important to move past my fear so I’ve cut down on a few of them.

Me:  That’s really pretty cool that you are cutting down on your fears.  I think it’s something many of us need to work on…fear can really have a stranglehold on our lives sometimes.  You’ve just released Book 4 in your series and you say on your blog Jools Sinclair that you are working on Book 5.  Just how often do you write?

Jools:  Well, pretty close to every day. I do take about two weeks off after I’ve finished a book, but even then I’m thinking about the next story. Since I’m working on 44 Book Five now, with a release date of August 1, I will be at the computer every day for a lot of hours until it’s published.

As the book unfolds, the hours I write each day increase. The first few weeks I’m writing maybe only 4 hours a day. Then it’s 5 or 6. And then, during the last few weeks before publication, I go into an insane mode where I’m writing and editing from morning until night. It’s a crazy time, but quite magical, because in those last few weeks I literally never leave the story or the characters. I wake up, start writing, and stop late into the night. And no matter what I do for the rest of the time, the characters and scenes don’t stop talking to me. I’m right there with them until publication.

Me:  Yeah, a writer’s life can be all-consuming! What advice would you give to the fledgling writers hoping to publish, or the newbie writers struggling to get their books noticed?

Jools:  Follow your bliss. It’s the best advice I’ve ever heard (Joseph Campbell) and it applies to everything, including becoming a successful author.

If you’re a writer, make sure you love doing it, that it calls to you from the depths of a dark night, that there is no choice whether you write the story in your head or not. That you shake when you write those emotional scenes. That you feel something very special, very intense, very satisfying deep down after putting in a long day with your words.

If those things are happening for you, if you are following your bliss by writing your stories, then you’re already there. No advice needed.

Me:  Great advice!  Truer words are not often spoken!  So, I’m quite curious, what do you do in your spare time?

Jools: I love to cook, eat great food, watch my favorite international soccer teams play (Go, Barcelona!), watch movies, go to concerts, hike up in the mountains in the summer and snowshoe through forests during winter, kayak and canoe down rivers and across lakes. I love traveling, and love the Southwest and hiking in red rock country. I also love going to Europe and even though I don’t get there as much as I would like to, I am obsessed with reading blogs about Florence and Paris and Barcelona and always have a plan for returning in the works.

But lately, spare time is hard to come by so most everything I just mentioned is on the back burner! But that’s okay since it feels incredible to be doing what I love and I’m so very appreciative that I get to write for a living!

Me: Those all sound like very nice activities!  Especially the cooking and eating great food! (smile)  I’ve been to Barcelona, Paris and Florence (while serving in the military) and all three cities are beautiful.  I too hope to return again someday. Thank you so much, Jools, for stopping by for a chat!  I look forward to all your future writing projects.  You ever have a yen to visit again, please let me know.  You are always welcome. 

Jools:  Thank you SO much, Deb, for inviting me to visit your amazing blog! I think you’ve got quite a special hometown too and love how you’re writing about it!

So that concludes my chat with Jools.  She sounds like an amazing person, doesn’t she?  You can visit her blog Jools Sinclair  and/or follow her on Twitter: Jools Sinclair.  Feel free to leave a question or comment!  I’m sure Jools would love to hear from you.  I know that I would!  Until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!

For those interested or curious about the supernatural, writers of such books are some of the best people in which to engage a conversation!  If they aren’t reading about it or writing about it they are thinking about it!  At least they are in context of how it applies or factors in to their stories.  To write supernatural thrillers, you have to have a pretty good imagination.  Okay, okay, to write ANYTHING, you have to have a good imagination but when it comes to writing stories that include supernatural elements, you have to let that imagination take you places that might feel uncomfortable.  You have to unleash your creativity, really let it go, and set your logical reasoning aside (you know, the “this is impossible” kind of thoughts).  Writers of such books are also READERS of such books and I don’t think you’ll find a writer in existence (not a really good one anyway!) who isn’t a voracious reader.  Jeff Bennington does it all.  He writes books, he reads books, he maintains a very active, popular blog about those things and he is the founder of The Kindle Book Review which helps authors, especially INDIE authors (individuals who are publishing on their own).  As promised, here is Part II of my interview with the very cool, very imaginative Jeff Bennington!

Questions for Jeff are in Bold print and any comments I made to his answers are in Bold Italics.

You obviously write what you like to read…so what other books have you particularly enjoyed that are similar to your own stories?

Not many actually. I’ve always been a non-fiction reader. Fiction had always come in second place for me until the last few years. I’ve read a little Stephen King, a little Koontz, a couple of Scott Nicholson books. I think those authors have influenced me some, but I haven’t read enough of any of their works to have adopted their styles. I think my writing style has been influenced more by classic authors like Charlotte Bronte and Robert Louis Stevenson. The more I write, the more I desire to get to the heart of the character.

Stephen King had quite an impact on me as well.  His book “The Shining” really got my imagination going.  As for Dean Koontz, I love his Odd Thomas series in which the main character can see ghosts. But the book that really fired up my imagination was “Audrey Rose“.  That story has actually had the biggest impact on my own writing interests.  I think the books that attract and influence writers can tell readers a lot about the kind of stories you are going to get from them.

Can you share a little about how Twisted Vengeance came to be? Is there a sequel in the future? (I’m hoping!)

YES, I’d love to! Twisted Vengeance was the result of one of those WOW moments when I was driving. I remember driving with my wife into town and for no apparent reason the concept just hit me: a creepy kid haunts a cop who’s already struggling with life and as he investigates several unsolved murders, the boy leads him to the killer… but then there’s the TWIST and the MYSTERY, the WHO DUN IT and the WHY OH WHY ending. That hit me all at once and I practically crashed the car! I had to write the story line down… on anything. I think I used a napkin from the glove compartment.

I’m excited to say that there is a sequel. I’m on chapter 5 right now and plugging along nicely. I think Detective Rick Burns has a lot of potential for an extended series. The sequel is going to take Rick out of Indianapolis and bring him into New York City — Hell’s Kitchen to be exact… a place I’ve visited often and plan to revisit this summer/fall.

I’m excited you are writing a sequel to this book!  I am very intrigued with Detective Rick Burns and I can’t wait to see how his gift to see ghosts influences his work and his life!

Your book Reunion was obviously prompted from your curiosity to how victims of a school shooting would respond (with a paranormal twist to make it even more interesting), can you share how this book made you feel once you completed it?  Did you learn anything from the writing of it (exercise any “ghosts” sort of speak)?

How I felt was not what you’d think. My first book was a flop and I thought it was perfect when I published it. But Reunion was a totally different story. I knew my writing had improved significantly, but I was so scared to hit the publish button. I felt like Reunion would either propel my writing career forward or it would crush me, killing my career. I was very worried that readers would think it was offensive, that I wasn’t sensitive enough, or that the reading public was not ready for fiction surrounding a school shooting.

I was wrong. Reunion has sold tens of thousands of copies and was an Amazon bestseller, hitting #55 in Amazon’s Top 100 and #1 in Ghosts, Occult and Suspense categories. The reviews have been phenomenal and I have gained a lot of fans. THANK GOD!

Tell us a little about “Creepy“… are these stories inspired from a desire to “creep out” and scare your readers?  Why do you think people like to read or watch something that scares them?

Creepy is a collection of scary stories. Again, I’m not as much into creeping people out as the title implies. This collection includes my three supernatural experiences in detail and two of my short suspense. I didn’t think this book would go that far either, but it has been in Amazon’s top 20-40 in the ghost/occult categories for several months now. I’m surprised, but not really. The stories are real and a little creepy. But what I’m really excited about is that I am publishing CREEPY II in October 2012. CREEPY II is a collection of true ghost stories that I have been collecting from my fans and many other people from around the United States. And if I’m lucky, I might convince you and/or some of your readers to submit their stories to me as well. If you or anyone reading this would like to submit a real life supernatural experience, please contact me on Twitter @TweetTheBook or by email at

Well, here ya go all of you folks out there who have had brushes with the supernatural!  Jeff is a willing and eager audience!

Do you believe in supernatural evil? Do you think it can be overcome (is there a defense to it)?

Yes. Evil was a choice from the beginning and I believe that evil persists today in the spirit realm as much as it did from the beginning. Although I do not desire to dabble in the dark side, I am not afraid of it because I trust in the one who created all things, and He has ultimate power over evil and my soul, so I’m not worried about supernatural evil effecting my eternal position. However, because we live in a broken world, where sin and death are part of our reality, I know that I have to keep my guard up and be careful to not give evil a foothold … that’s why I’d rather stay away from the line instead of walking on it.

Have you ever been on a ghost hunt?

I have not. But I’ve been invited by an online ghost-hunting program to be a guest.

Any future projects in the works? Can you share anything with us concerning them?

I plan to publish Twisted Vengeance II, CREEPY II by October 2012, and then I’d like to continue working on the two non-fiction books I want to write before I die … Spiritually Self-Medicating and Jesus was an Alien.

You are an Indie writer, what have you liked best about being the master of your own publications?

Everything. Sounds like a great topic for my blog, The Writing Bomb.

Do you believe other writers who have yet to make the plunge, should give Indie publishing (going it on their own) a try?  You’ve written a book to help Indie authors (The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe) on their publication journey, do you truly believe it’s worth all the effort that’s involved to self-publish or do you think it’s more for certain writers?  (a particular genre for instance)

I think Indie publishing is the best way to start your writing career no matter who you are. You’ll discover many things about yourself, your talent, your business savvy, your marketing abilities and you will test your time management skills. Then if you can succeed at this level, I think you can probably do anything, including attract the attention of national book store chains, agents and publishers. I know that’s possible because it’s happening to Indie authors already. Think of Indie publishing as the new minor leagues; some authors rise to the big leagues, some start their own team, some experience mid-level success and some get the first ticket home after publishing their first book.

Do you believe in Karma?  How can you apply that belief to your writing and publishing goals?

I believe you get what you give. Like I said earlier, my writing goals revolve around a greater purpose for me. It’s not the other way around. I feel like I was fortunate enough to discover my purpose and I don’t have any plans to abandon my post. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is the result of my desire to help other authors figure this business out … right along side of me. My writing is my way of connecting with people, touching nerves, impacting thoughts, and maybe changing the way people perceive themselves and the world around them. That’s a tall order, but the last thing I want from life is to die with regrets, walking through the gray matter haunted by a wasted life.

Will you ever write anything (besides publication and writing tips!) that is in a genre other than thriller/suspense?

Yes. I already eluded to the non-fiction titles that are in the works. But I also want to write a couple literary fiction titles. One that is dear to my heart is a book called Henry Brooks and another called Martin and Me.

What sort of readers would like your books?  Who do you write for?  Why should they buy your books particularly?

The readers that love my fiction are looking for more than just a rush. They want to read stories that get to the heart of humanity and our struggles, but they don’t want to be bored either. I write for me and my family and for the God who gifted me, but I also write for readers who want to read a book sprinkled with lots of salt and hot peppers.

This concludes my interview with Jeff.  I can’t thank him enough for agreeing to “chat” with me.  I know he’s a busy man and his taking the time to answer all my questions was very generous of him.  Links to all his books can be found in Part One of this interview.  I think authors will find his blog “The Writing Bomb” a helpful and informative one that they’ll want to visit often!  His blog “The Kindle Book Review” will interest authors and readers alike!  I know he’s running a very cool contest right now for Indie authors so if you fall into this category, I highly encourage you to check it out!

Until next time … Many blessings to you and Peace out!!

Cover of "Stranger Than Fiction"

Cover of Stranger Than Fiction

Not too long ago I interviewed Tess Schafer, a medium who also happens to be the main character in my book “Be Still, My Love“, and got her perspective on a few things.  I truly enjoyed connecting with Tess and chatting with her.  Yeah, I know, rather bizarre when you think about it…me interviewing my character…which means essentially, me having a discussion with me!  (smile)  Still, we flushed out a few things concerning the story and I enjoyed the chat.  It truly felt as if Tess were right here with me.  In fact, for the most part, I do think of her as someone separate from myself.  When we authors develop a character, that character becomes somewhat real to us in our minds.  I know that once the story gets going, my characters drive the telling of it and I do nothing more than go along with the flow.  If I try to go MY way on something, it won’t work, the words eventually fail to come and all progress grinds to a screeching halt.  It’s like they (the characters) stop talking to me.  It’s an interesting process.  I find myself fascinated by it.  Often, when this sort of thing happens…the complete-story-halt scenario…I go back and do what the character wanted to do in the first place.  Lo and behold, the words come, the story flows and I am amazed at what develops!

I am going to show my age here but when I was young, I loved The Carol Burnett Show.  One skit she performed on that show really made quite an impact on me.  To this day…so many years later…I still think about it.  The skit consisted of Carol being a character in a book which Vickie Lawrence (a regular on the show) was in the process of writing.  As Vickie typed the story, the characters…Carol and the other two cohorts on her show Harvey Korman and Tim Conway…acted out the scene.   It really hit me upside the head as I thought about all my own creations.  “Oh God! What if in another reality, the stories are really happening?”  Sort of freaked me out a bit.  I suddenly felt responsible for “real” people.  It made me take note about what I was writing concerning them.  Conversely, I now felt sad when something bad happened!  I don’t like writing sad stories and yet life is filled with sadness isn’t it?  I know this much…I better feel uplifted when my story ends.  At the very least, I better feel like the characters are going to continue on with a great life.

One movie that really had some impact on me as an author was “Stranger Than Fiction” with Will Ferrell.  In that movie, Will is a character in an author’s book and one day he suddenly starts hearing her thoughts as she writes his life.  This means he also hears the omniscient narration that tells him he is going to die in the near future.  Will doesn’t want to die so he sets out to find “the voice” so he can beg her to let him live.  This movie just expanded on the skit in The Carol Burnett Show.  “Delirious” with John Candy operated on the same premise.  In this movie, he had a magic typewriter that allowed him to control the lives of the characters who lived in an alternate reality!  The Neverending Story is another example of this story-being-real concept.  As an author, the creator of characters, I feel responsible for the “people” I bring into being.  The life they live and the life it is suggested they’ll live after the book ends are now resting on my shoulders.  What a responsibility to shoulder!!

I’ve been watching a television series called “Once Upon A Time” in which all the storybook characters ever created are real and have been banished from “story land” (or wherever it was they existed) by an evil queen (Snow White’s Step-mother, the witch!).  Of all places in the world…where do you suppose the evil queen banished those poor characters?  To MAINE!!  (smile).  Yeah, my home state.  Oh the horror!  Those poor, poor dears.  I have to wonder why the writers of that show decided that Maine was to be the place of banishment (I mean, seriously, it isn’t that bad a place to live!)?  So anyway, back to my point.  In the last episode I watched, one of the characters, the Mad Hatter, tried to convince Snow White’s daughter Emma that the storybook her young son Henry claims is a factual document (he’s only one of a few who knows the truth) is in fact just that…a true accounting of all their lives (the poor dears also lost all memory of their former storybook lives).  Those “tales” are true, the Mad Hatter tells Emma.   She doesn’t believe him.  He tells her, (paraphrasing here) “Where do you think stories come from?  The imagination?  And where did THAT come from?”  The very point I’ve pondered for most of my writing life!  The stories I write just develop on their own.  I honestly feel like I’m taking dictation.  They run like movies through my mind and I type what I see.  Am I tapping into a true life story that exists in an alternate reality?  Oh come on, suspend disbelief and go with it.  Mind-boggling though it is.  Hey, writers have to be a little out of touch with so called reality in order to create the worlds, characters and stories they create!

So here’s the thing.  Right now I am writing paranormal stories involving ghosts.  My books Be Still, My Love and it’s sequel Hidden Voices (to be published in May) both focus on the life of the character I mentioned earlier…Tess Schafer.  She regularly talks to her spirit guide Sheila and she attracts spirits to her  wherever she goes.  Mediums do that, you know, attract spirits to them like cows attract flies (poor things, I always feel bad for them…the cows not the mediums!).  If the stories I create are actually alternate realities, then it stands to reason that I’ve tapped into a paranormal world that actually exists!  Could it be possible to bring that world into ours?  Why wonder such a thing, you might ask?  Well, while I was writing those books, strange little things happened.  My grandkids’ toys activated.  I heard knocking noises that even made the dogs bark (so it wasn’t just my imagination!).  I saw blinking little lights (like bright twinkles).  I can’t say how many times I thought someone was with me…to the point that I’d get up and go have a look around!  I’d detect a movement out of the corner of my eye and turn to look…no one there! I felt cold drafts, chills down the spine…yeah, yeah, it could just be my very active mind playing tricks on me but still.  It makes me wonder???

I recently gave Hidden Voices out to a couple family members to critique for me and both of them had a strange experience happen to them while reading it!  For one, the printer attached to her computer suddenly came on and randomly started printing stuff.  For the other, all the lights went out just as a seance in the book was getting started.  Could be coincidence, certainly.  But here’s the thing…I don’t believe in coincidence.  Our world is carefully orchestrated to operate ON PURPOSE.  All things that occur in life do so by divine design.  Nothing is by chance or coincidence.  Nothing! There’s a reason and purpose for every single thing, no matter how small and insignificant it might appear to be!  The stories, movies, shows, arts, songs…everything that is created was channeled from somewhere.  It existed THERE, and now it exists HERE.

Pretty thought provoking, isn’t it?  We live in a bizarre world!  We really do!  Okay, I’m done for now.  I’ve another story to channel! (smile) Thanks for stopping by and reading my rambles.  Until next time…blessings to all and Peace Out!

A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Бе...

A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s been three months since I self-published my first book “Be Still, My Love” and it’s been quite an experience for me!  I’ve learned so much since that fateful night on December 13th, 2010.  I had less than 100 followers on Twitter and was still trying to figure how best to use that particular social media outlet.  I didn’t have an author page on Facebook, just a personal page with only just over 100 “friends”.  I didn’t have a website (still working on this one!) and I’d just started blogging “Deborah J Hughes, Traipsing Through the Twilight Zone” in late August.  In three short months (that seemed liked very long ones at the time), I’ve come quite a long way!

In late January, I decided to join Amazon’s KDP Select program.  I’d only sold about ten book on Smashwords and none to Barnes & Noble so I figured it wasn’t going to hurt.  Without any thought to marketing and getting the word out, I put my book up for free for three days and had 1,700 downloads.  I thought that was pretty amazing.  Then I saw the numbers other authors were getting downloaded on their free days and realized I had nothing to brag about!  My book made it to #54 for the Ghost and Occult categories and didn’t get below 1,600 overall.  For an unknown author trying to make my own way in the unknown territories of publishing, I was not disappointed with those numbers.  I was excited at the thought that almost 1,800 people (counting book sales) had my book!

When my book was no longer being offered for free, it fell down the charts pretty fast.  I knew something had to be done.  I needed to learn more about marketing and publishing.  So, I started reading the books I’d already bought on the subject but hadn’t given the time to read.  Of course I bought John Locke’s book “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months“.  Seriously, who in the Indie world hasn’t?  The thing is, he was already a well-known individual and he had what I don’t…money!  Still, I took what I could use from that guide and I try to keep it in mind as I plug along.  I’ve a LONG way to go to reach that 1 million.  (sigh)  The next guide I bought was “Dollar & Sense: the Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success” written by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson.  I picked up some more nuggets of advice.  Another book I found helpful was “How to Make Market and Sell Ebooks all for Free” by Jason Matthews.  For a person with little capitol to invest in a career I was most serious about, the title grabbed my attention.  I also bought “Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should” by David Gaughran.  More great nuggets of advice!  I really enjoyed “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” by Kristen Lamb.  She also has a great blog “Kristen Lamb’s Blog“!  I really started learning how to grow my on-line presence with her book.  Joining her “MyWANA” (We Are Not Alone) community has been very helpful.  I now have over 3,000 Twitter friends, good folks who interact with me and Tweet my Tweets while I reciprocate in kind!  It’s all about scratching each other’s social media backs!! The more you help others, the more they help you.  It’s a great system.  Everyone wins!

So, even with all I was learning, I’ve lingered most in the 40,000 range on the Amazon seller’s listing.  I was averaging a whopping 1 to 3 book sales a day.  Yeah, not so impressive.  Even so, I was grateful for those sales!!  Then I happened upon a blog called “The Writing Bomb” by Jeff Bennington.  I’d found him through a Twitter post.  He was offering to take three fledgling authors under his wing and put his marketing strategy to work for them.   I figured, what the heck, it can’t hurt to enter myself and see what happens.  Jeff picked me and my book “Be Still, My Love“!  He also chose Bert Carson’s book “Fourth and Forever” and Robbi Bryant’s book “The Beautiful Evil“.  So, he had his three “guinea pigs” on this marketing experiment of his.  I can’t tell you how excited I was!  In the meantime, I’m getting emails from bloggers asking for interviews!  My first ever interview was with Cege Smith on her blog “Cege Smith’s Books” (interview here).

So anyway, back to Jeff Bennington and his experiment.  His three “apprentices” as we were (sounds so much better than guinea pigs doesn’t it?) were given an advanced copy of his awesome “The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe“.  Jeff shares his own writing journey and some of the things he’s learned along the way to help him gain publishing success.  Most important, his marketing strategy was contained with the pages of this very informative book!

Armed with all the knowledge I’ve gained over the last three months, I put my book up for FREE again.  It went FREE yesterday (25 March) and today is it’s last day as a FREE offering.  Remember, the last time I tried this, I made it as high as 1,600 or so on the Best Seller List.  This time?  The last I checked, I was sitting at number #5 overall and #1 for the “Ghost” and “Occult” categories!!  Not bad!!  What a difference a little bit of knowledge makes!  I know that Bert Carson’s book “Fourth and Forever” and Robbi Bryant’s book “The Beautiful Evil” have done awesome as well!  How to thank Jeff Bennington for believing in me and taking me on?  He’s “the Bomb”, that’s all I can say!  Not only that but he brought Bert and Robbi into my life and I know they’ll remain friends.  By the way, I’ve read their books…LOVED them!  And I can’t praise Jeff’s book “The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe” enough either.  That isn’t the only book he’s written, however!  I picked up a copy of  “Twisted Vengeance” and really enjoyed it (though horror isn’t my usual reading preference).  He’s as gifted a writer as he is a giving, generous person.

A few other great things I did:  Joined Triberr.  If you are a serious blogger and are not part of this site already, you need to be!  You join “tribes” which are blogging communities and everyone Tweets each other’s stuff.  It’s a great system.  I also joined “The World Literary Cafe“.  Now here’s a site for authors and readers alike.  It’s a very supportive community and offers an amazing array of programs to help both authors and readers get what they want…books marketed and books read!  I’m still wading the waters of “Goodreads” but it’s another great place to be part of if you are an author and a reader!  Lastly, but not least, I’ve discovered the joys of Pinterest!  This site I resisted joining because I was having a hard enough time keeping up with everything else, but boy am I glad I finally saw the light on this one!  Now I have a place to “pin” the URLs of all the great sites I find as I explore the internet on my quest to learn about writing, publishing and socializing.  It helps me with organization and it offers another way to grow a community of friends.  When I “pin” something to one of my boards, everyone following me gets notified.  So, of course I “pin” my books and my blog posts!  What a great connected world we have.

I could go on and on about other things that I’ve learned and maybe in other posts I will, but this one is long enough and it’s pretty jam packed with stuff already!  If you have some more great advice and are willing to share it…PLEASE DO!  So, until next time…many blessings to you all and Peace Out!

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens:...

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I write what interests me.  Ghost interest me.  Why I have a fascination for dead people, I don’t know…but I do.  My first encounters with the paranormal scared the crap out of me.  I lived in fear.  Nightmares plagued my dreams.  The best way to conquer fear is knowledge.  It’s often the unknown that scares us.  But I have to say, knowing something is “there” and not being able to see it…that’s pretty freaky too!  I needed to understand hauntings and so I set out to learn what I could about this mysterious phenomena.  There are as many people who don’t believe in ghosts as there are people who do.  I say this…once you’ve encountered one, you believe.  No, you don’t just BELIEVE… you KNOW.

For seven years I lived in a haunted house.  I was pretty scared of the spirits who shared my home although they never hurt us or did anything harmful.  They took things, they played with the lights and other electrical equipment, they opened doors, they moved things, shook our bed, teased our dog, but they didn’t hurt us.  Given that, I’m not sure why I was so terrified of them.  Times have changed.  Now I go looking for them.  Yeah, I’ve done a complete “about face” on the whole thing.

I joined a Spiritualist church a few years ago.  For those that don’t know how Spiritualist services work, the first part is always a healing session, the second part of the service is the inspirational message of the day and the third part is messages from “the other side” as channeled by the visiting medium.  On my first visit to this church, my uncle came through via the medium conducting the messages that week (this very gifted medium also happened to be the church’s pastor and he’s since channeled several other family members from beyond!).  My uncle was described to me so specifically that the medium was either the best psychic ever or he was communicating with my uncle.  It was my uncle.  I KNOW it. The following week, my grandmother came through.  Same scenario.  The visiting medium was too specific about things concerning my grandmother to be “lucky”.  Nana was there.  I KNOW it.

I started experimenting with spirit communication many years ago.  First with a Ouija board, then automatic writing and finally on to channeling.  At first I did wonder if these communications were all coming from my imagination but then things came through that I couldn’t have possibly known.  That got my attention.  Suddenly I’m thinking this was the real deal and not just an interesting exercise.  It’s amazing what can come through from “beyond” when you put your ego aside and let go of your inhibitions.  Yeah, I know, its all hard to believe but that doesn’t mean it’s unbelievable.

I am also very interested in reincarnation and hope to have another book out based on this concept in the late summer.  I became even more interested in this subject when my 2-year old son started talking about when he was a man and asking where his wife was because he missed her!  I posted about this previously.  See: Reincarnation or Freaky Coincidence

I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to put words together so it is only natural that I write stories that interest me.  Otherwise, I’m not going to write them.  Ghost stories interest me.  Not gory horror but honest to goodness ghosts needing help in some way or another.  Most ghost do, you know…need help.  It makes for great story telling!

I wrote Be Still, My Love because I started doing the “what if” game.  What if a medium suffered a horrible tragedy?  Would she be like “Oh darn, my loved one is in heaven now, guess I’ll have to communicate spiritually” or would she grieve?  Would she get mad and if she did would that anger interfere with her ability to talk to the dead?  How would she deal with it all?  Would she ever love again? Voila, a story is born.  Since I live in Maine, I decided to place the story where I knew best.  Besides, the rocky coast of Maine offers great backdrop to a spooky story!  I read an article a few years ago about a medium who liked to travel to inns and do readings and I thought, what if I had a medium go on vacation to a haunted resort?  The story just grew from there.  I didn’t plan it out, I just started writing and a story evolved.  The title came from a moment in the book where the medium tells her dead husband to “be still” and fret over her no more.  He, in turn, tells her the same thing. I truly wanted the hurt and anger my characters suffered to “be still” and bother them no longer.  In the end, I think I achieved that.  For the most part.

As I was nearing the end of Be Still, I found that my character had more to give.  I didn’t want her story to end.  I was curious to see what she’d do next and so a sequel began to form.  I grew up in Bucksport, Maine and we have a local legend there that our town’s founder Jonathan Buck was cursed by a witch and the proof of it showed up on his gravestone, see A Supernatural Mystery if you are curious about this interesting legend!  I thought to myself “I should have my character go to Bucksport and figure out that curse!”  And she did!  You can find that story in “Hidden Voices” which will be available next month.  I can’t wait to find out what she comes up with next but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that ghost she met at the tomb!  Bucksport, it seems, is teeming with ghosts.  It’s a great place for a medium!

They say that life imitates art imitating life.  What a circle huh?  If you are going to be an author, you should write books that you love to read.  That’s what I’m doing.  I’m writing books I love to read.  After all, I’m the first reader of my own story.  If I don’t like it, it’s not going to get done and nor should it!  Luckily, I love Be Still, My Love and I love the sequel just as much, if not more.  Probably because I’m becoming pretty fond of my character and her gift.  I hope she stays with me for awhile and tells me more great stories!

So that’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it!  Blessings and Peace Out!

English: United States Air Force Basic Militar...

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When I joined the military, I went into a career field that had just opened to women.  My recruiter told me I was going to be a pioneer “paving the way” for other women to follow.  It sounded quite grand.  Me? A pioneer?  How thrilling.  I didn’t realize the constant uphill climb such an undertaking would become.  It was a tough new world I entered and holding my own took maximum effort and sacrifice on my part.  I remember calling home those first few weeks in basic training and crying pathetically on the phone.  “I can’t do this,” I’d sob or “It’s just too hard and they are so mean.”  My technical instructor (TI) at basic recognized my weaknesses and he exploited them.  I thought he was picking on me.  And he was.  That was his job.  The military couldn’t cater to sniveling, I-can’t-do-this whiners.  Our country depends on a military that is strong and does what needs to be done to protect and preserve its liberties.  By the time I left basic training, I was standing tall, proud and feeling more confident than I’d ever been.  I, after all, was a member of the armed services.  I was an airman in the United States Air Force and proud of it. Yeah, they did a good job of tearing me down and building me back up into a confidant, can-do woman!  They brought out the best in me and showed me that I could believe in myself.  I was part of something magnificent, an elite force, and I could do anything!

Unfortunately, the world I entered after basic training didn’t get any easier.  Before I go on here, I have to tell you what my new job consisted of: bomb building.  Yeah, I was now an “Ammo troop” (the nickname we proudly called ourselves).  We were responsible for building, storing and maintaining the Air Force’s explosive inventory.  How brave I was to be doing this dangerous thing!  I felt strong and invincible.  I was pretty proud.  Who would have thought it?  A small-town girl, shy, quiet, a bookworm and writer wannabe, and I was building bombs and working with all sorts of things that exploded.

But, it was a man’s world I entered and they didn’t let me forget it.  Quite often I was the only female on a crew or in a particular unit.  I didn’t have the men’s physical build and stamina and so was often put down for it.  I tried to make up for my structural inadequacies by knowing more than they did about the explosives for which we were responsible.  Knowledge is power, my friends.  Oh yes it is!  I also ended up doing more.  It was to me that all the paperwork often fell, and let me tell you, the military can go overboard when it comes to paperwork!  I might have had a tough time lifting things but I could inspect, assemble, perform testing procedures and conduct maintenance just as well if not better than “they” did.  I quickly discovered that I had to know more, do more and give more just to get a small modicum of respect from my supervisors and the guys I worked with.  It was a tough life I lived.  Frustrating beyond measure at times.  I felt like I had to constantly bust my butt, and for what?  To be sneered at, belittled, overlooked and put down because I was a lowly woman?  Seriously?  Geez.

I don’t know how I managed to survive the constant struggle of holding my own when I had so much against me all the time, but I did it.  Yes I did!  I had to.  The worst was dealing with family separation.  Six months after giving birth to my first child, a son who was at once the center of my world, the military sent me to Korea for a year.  Leaving him behind was the worst thing I ever had to do.  It was like living with a heart gripped by a merciless fist.  God, it physically HURT.  I didn’t know how I was going to survive it.  But somehow I did.  It bothers me even now (twenty plus years later) to think about that awful time and all that I missed out on.

Another tough thing for military members to maintain successfully is marriage (tough in any case to be sure!).   Divorce is quite high in the military.  I was just as much a victim of that statistic as anyone.  A huge reason I stayed in as long as I did (twenty years, five months and 17 days) is because I was responsible for my kids, my life, and I wanted to maintain my independence.  But, my word, the sacrifices and crap I had to put up with to do it!

The thing is, you know what I got out of it all?  I learned that I’m tougher than I thought.  I learned that I can do anything I put my mind toward doing.  I learned to adapt and overcome.  I learned to stand on my own and stand up for myself.  I learned that what matters is how I feel about me, not what others try to make me feel.  It took me many years to get those lessons through my thick skull and I hope to share how some of them came about in future posts.

The point I wanted to get across in all this is that you can do anything you set your mind to doing.  You CAN!  I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was eight.  I’m now a published author.  It took me a while to accomplish that but that’s because I didn’t focus on making it happen.  I let other life issues sidetrack me for awhile.  My new goal is to make Amazon’s top ten fiction list.  I’m totally focused on it.  I can do this.  I CAN!  Just you watch and see!  As for you…well, you really, truly can do anything you want to do! Focus on your goal, actively work toward it and don’t give up.  Above all, most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t!

Blessings to all and Peace Out!

This time last year I was playing Farmville and concerned with virtual crop harvesting and getting Farmville coins so I could expand the ole farmstead and plant more crops!  When I wasn’t doing that, I was chatting on Facebook and cruising post updates.  When I wasn’t doing that, I was editing my book and dreaming about being published.  Yeah, I had my priorities a little screwed up.  Okay, a LOT screwed up.

For someone who has been dreaming about being a published author since the age of eight (many, many moons ago), I was not doing the right things to make that dream a reality.  I’m not sure what I was expecting…maybe a knock on my door by a stranger bearing balloons who says, “Congratulations!  I want to publish your book and make your dreams come true!  You’ve just won the Opportunity Knock’s Road to Stardom!!”  Yeah, some dream, huh? And a highly unlikely one.  Opportunity does not just come knocking.  You have to be actively seeking it, you have to be busy, busy, busy and focused.  You have to be doing everything you can to invite that knock.  Nowadays, it won’t be a knock in any case…it will be an email out of the blue saying “Your book sounds interesting, I’d like to help you promote it.” (Yes! Something like this really happened!) And the guy who did this just published an awesome guide that is my number one go-to how-to book “The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe“.  Seriously, if you are considering going Indie, and even if you have already done so, this book will be a HUGE help!

In October of 2011, I was hearing enough buzz on Facebook and other media outlets that independent publishing (i.e.”indie publishing”) is the way to go for writers wanting to get their books out into the world at large.  Amazon’s Kindle was taking off in popularity and everyone started hopping on the Kindle Train.  I decided to join the “free” ride.  I haven’t seen the farm since.  Those poor crops.

So what did I do?  I started buying Kindle books (because let’s face it, they are so darned affordable, why wouldn’t I?) on e-publishing. I took the most popular advice and found an editor.  That was the hard part, finding someone I could trust to edit my book and do so at a price I could afford.  I decided to truly invest in my dream and to believe I was worth it.  It was that, more than anything, that drove me to go for it!

I then started to work on building my “brand” and my on-line presence.  Although I’d heard about Twitter and wasn’t interested in it at all, the popular advice was to join, start following and get as many followers as possible.  Of course, that meant getting another indie book on how to do that!  One thing I have quickly learned…Indies (self-published authors) are generous.  They happily share their knowledge and success.  Indies help each other.  Each success they celebrate makes our own dream that much more attainable.  Seriously, if you are going to do something…look to those who are doing it and doing it well!  What’s so marvelous about all this is that it’s so affordable.  Granted, I’m buying more books than I have to time to read and my Kindle is filling up fast, but wow!  To have all those books at my fingertips.  The “how to” books I scan for information as needed, the novels I read whenever I need a break from the computer and all the exhaustive work involved with writing and promoting!

Another thing I started doing is blogging.  I’d been dragging my feet on it even though I’d heard many times over on the social airways and byways how important this is for a writer’s career .  Honestly, I’ve come to accept that every serious writer, one who means to write for a living, really should have one.  So, I started searching for blogs and reading blogs and subscribing to blogs and quickly became blogged down (couldn’t resist, sorry).  Reading and commenting on blogs takes time…lots of it…so it wasn’t long before I started worrying about finding time to read all the books I’d been buying.  Not to mention the fact that my writing time was getting more and more limited.  Now, on top of everything else, I had to add to my time shortage issue and write a blog one to three times a week.  Despite the worries and concerns, I stopped whining about it and started doing it.  Truly, I enjoy sharing little tidbits of things through blogging.  I’m also trying to learn to keep my blogs shorter.  Who has the time to read long blogs!!   I don’t.  I also try to keep in mind that I better be offering something useful to those taking valuable time out of their busy day to read what I’m sharing!

I’ve been very busy since October on chasing my dream and making it a reality.  I published my first book, Be Still, My Love, on December 13th, 2011.  Ever since then, I’ve been making goals and reading books that will help me accomplish them.  Right now my biggest goal is to make Amazon’s top ten fiction list! (yeah, it’s ambitious but go big or go home…right?)

I’ll share some of the books (one of which I’ve already done in a previous paragraph), blogs, websites and techniques I’ve been using to help me accomplish my writing dream but not yet…first to make Amazon’s top 100 best seller’s list. Then I will feel like my advice is worth something.  Still, I can say this…I’m published, people are buying my book, they are liking it and I’m getting great reviews.  For now that’s enough.  It’s a good beginning.  But I’ve a long way to go to reach that top-ten goal.  Wish me luck!  And wishing you luck in accomplishing your own dreams!

Until next time, many blessings to you and Peace Out!

By the way…if you want to share some techniques you are using to accomplish your dream, please do!  In helping each other…we help ourselves.  It’s an awesome set up.

Inspirational Writing is one of the most intimate forms of writing.  The message that comes through is either from your higher self (your soul), an angelic being (guardian angel? spirit guide?) or God.  Although the last is really part of it no matter what since God is part of all things.

If you have a problem or concern or would just like a little guidance, Inspirational Writing can deliver just what you need.  Who better to help you than someone who absolutely loves you?

So, for those who have not tried this form of communication, how is it done?  First, there is no right or wrong way.  The only thing you need to do is write (or type if you prefer).  Inspirational Writing is like a written meditation.  Instead of a mental or emotional conversation, you allow words to flow onto paper or onto the keyboard.  The following is just a suggestion on how to approach this very intimate communication.

1.  Start with prayer.  Prayer is communication with God, and Inspirational Writing comes from this very loving source.  So, open the communication with a prayer.  If you have a problem, concern, worry or curiosity, then voice it to God (although God already knows, it helps you clarify what it is you are hoping to accomplish).   Once you have stated your intention for the writing, give thanks for the message you are about to receive.  I can’t quote the bible exactly or tell you where to find it but I do remember reading a passage where Jesus said something to the effect that we should always thank God as if the thing for which we have just asked has already been received.  This reminds me of nightly prayers with my children when they were small.  My daughter always began her prayer this way, “Thank you God for the rest of my life.”  I LOVED that!  I don’t know where she got that from but wow…out of the mouth of babes!

2.  Make sure you are clear about what you are seeking from the communication.  It’s okay if you aren’t seeking anything specific.  If all you want is to open yourself to spirit and see what comes through, that’s totally fine!  If you prefer the message to come from your higher self (an interesting expression but simply means your spiritual self) then state as much. If you would like your spirit guide or guardian angel to come through then say so.  Just know this…whatever your intention when you sit down to write, whoever you wish to contact, whatever you want to know, it will come through.  Just so long as you ALLOW it to happen.

3.  Believe you are worthy of the communication!  You don’t have to be a religious or spiritual leader to receive communication from God or the angels.  You ARE worthy because you are a child of God and our loving Creator is not going to deny you an audience!  Promise.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, who you are, how you live, what your faith … when talking to the spiritual realm, none of those things matter.  What matters is that you are a spiritual being, a child of God, and you are seeking communication.

4.  Allow the message to come through.  Just write whatever comes to mind.  Don’t analyze it, don’t edit it, don’t argue with it.  Just LET it.  If the message seems to come slowly at first, stick with it, the more comfortable you get, the better the communication, the easier the words will flow.  Once you set your inner critic aside and just write, you’ll be amazed at what comes through!  Keep writing until you KNOW (and you will know) that you are done.

5.  If whatever comes through is critical and judgmental, then you just communicated with your ego.  Spiritual messages are always loving, positive messages.  ALWAYS.

6.  It is very hard to get our ego out of the way and allow true Inspirational Writing to occur.  One way to do this is to pretend that you are a loving being answering your question.  When deliberately “pretending”, the ego seems to relax and allow things to happen.  However the loving spirit must come through, even if it’s through pretense, it will come through.  Nothing is by chance, so even if you made something up during your pretense…well, where do you suppose those “made up” comments came from?  Your higher Self.

The thing to remember about this form of writing is that it is for YOU.  You don’t need to worry about grammar or punctuation or proper sentence structure.  None of that matters.  Inspirational Writing is spirit writing a letter to you!  Now, if whatever comes through seems worthy of sharing and you’d like to do so, then by all means, share those loving messages.  If people don’t receive them as you did or if they try to negate the message, just remember this…that’s their ego talking.  Unfortunately, ego is a very critical and necessary part of who we are…it helps us function in a very difficult world.  God and the angels don’t have egos.  Any message received during an Inspirational Writing session is done so in love and it will fill you with nothing less than that.

So, give it a try, see what God, the angels or your higher Self has to say.  Blessings to all and Peace out!

When I was seven, my family moved into an old farmhouse.  We didn’t know it at the time, but it was quite haunted.  The tomb situated in a small copse of trees behind the house should have given us something of a warning.  The eleven people buried there had all died on the property, some of them in our house.  Disturbingly enough, there were others who had died either in the house or on the property whose bodies were not buried in the tomb.  The old house had history.  Lots of it.  And we were about to learn how bizarre the world can be, how mysterious and spooky.

For seven years we lived there and experienced some interesting phenomena (see previous posts about some of my experiences!).  My exposure to the paranormal led me to an interest in such matters and an eagerness to learn all I could.  Having a very active imagination and a compelling desire to write, it was only natural that my books would reflect my growing fascination with “the unknown”.  I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to string words together.  My first story was penned on a stool behind a big old piano my second grade teacher had pulled away from the wall to give us some private space for our creative moments.  I couldn’t wait to get behind that piano and write.  Pad and pencil in hand, I sat on a chair and wrote my story on a stool (the teacher didn’t have an extra desk so we had to make do).  It was the beginning of my writing career.  It became something of an obsession.  I couldn’t stand to see a blank notebook page.  I HAD to scrawl out a story.  I told myself stories constantly: while doing mundane chores, traveling, waiting for sleep to come…every idle moment was filled with stories.

As I entered my teenage years, I became determined to “grow up and be a writer”.  And I continued to learn about all sorts of things: reincarnation, past lives, spirit contact, life after death (it’s all quite connected).  It was only natural for my imagination to embrace these concepts and come up with stories including them.

Although I dreamed of being a writer, I was realistic enough to understand that an endeavor like that was not going to be easy.  And I needed to experience life.  So, a year after graduating high school, I joined the Air Force.  Suddenly I am learning all about explosives and bomb components and the like.  A total departure from my career choice for sure.  Who would have thought I’d become a Munitions Technician?  I have to say, my new career led to some very interesting experiences.  Not all of them good.  Most of them, in fact, not good.  But that’s another story.  I continued to write stories and dream of being an author but my focus was now on my Air Force commitments and my growing family.

After serving twenty long years in the military, I finally retired and was looking forward to life in the civilian world.  My husband (whose stellar career in the military lasted 28 years) and I bought ourselves a small family campground and settled down to the demands of owning a business.  We did that for five interesting years and then called it quits.  Now, I thought, I can do what I’ve always wanted to do.  I had written some books by this point and they sat idle on my computer.  Then one day, I lost a beloved cat.  He came up missing and my sorrow for that loss led me to wonder about a lot of things.  My beliefs about God and why he let sad things happen for example.  Those thoughts led me to wonder how mediums deal with loss.  I was attending a Spiritualist church by this time and the mediums there had me interested in their ability.  How awesome to talk to loved ones lost to us in death.  Oh, I’d done as much with the Ouija board, automatic writing and channeling but I hadn’t had much interaction with mediums.  Then, of course, the shows Medium and Ghost Whisperer were very popular and I was also following another medium’s reality show starring the talented Lisa Williams.  My interest in mediumship (I even took a class in it!) made my creative brain kick into gear and “Be Still, My Love” began to formulate.   A sucker for love stories, I wondered how a medium very much in love with her husband would feel if she lost him to a senseless death.  And because of my grief over my cat, I decided this poor medium would lose a beloved dog as well.  How would she respond?  Would her faith be affected?  Would she love again?  Would her ability be affected?  What would happen if she stayed somewhere haunted by the tragic demise of two young lovers?  Would she be able to help them?  What if more were going on than a haunting?  Would she figure it out?  All these questions created the story that came to be and led to my very first publication!!

The circumstances that led to my first published book seem unrelated and yet, each one built on the other and led to that very thing! I moved into a house haunted by several ghosts, I started to write stories, I experienced things in life that led to my drive for understanding, I attended a Spiritualist church, I lost a cat, and then I wrote a book!  A long held dream, one that began around the age of eight, took forty years to come true but come true it did!!

If you are interested, you can check out my new book on Smashwords and preview it there “Be Still, My Love“.  (It will soon be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well!) I’d love to know what you all think of it!  And I’d love to hear how your dreams came to be!!

I’ve been writing stories since the age of eight.  I was in the second grade and learning about the American Indians.  I thought it must have been cool to be an Indian.  And so I became one in my first story.  I was “Moonchild” and I lived grand adventures in the great outdoors.  That story opened the floodgates to my imagination.  The stories would not stop.  I couldn’t keep up with all the ideas roaming through my head.  Before I could finish a story, another would pop in and take control.  So it went.

When I was about 16, I finally finished a complete novel.  It was titled “Promise Me” and was a romance (which was pretty much all I was reading by this time … unless it was a non-fiction book on occult topics which also interested me).  I was so SURE of my life path … I was going to be a published author someday.  It’s all I wanted to do other than travel.  Well that lust for travel led to me joining the Air Force.  Then I got married and had a baby, got divorced, remarried, two more kids … life took precedence over my writing goal.

Now I’m retired from the military.  My kids are grown up and have children of their own.  Thankfully, they don’t take up ALL my time.  I am once again focused on my writing dreams.   Now that I’m getting down to the business of writing, I decided to try and publish “Be Still, My Love”, a modern day Gothic about a grieving medium who takes refuge at a haunted resort on the coast of Maine.  I sent queries and received a fair share of rejections.  Some of them had nice comments, though, to ease the pain.  I took those compliments as encouragement despite the rejections.  It’s quite a process to find an agent to query, send out the query and WAIT for a reply.  Months go by.  I’m not getting any younger.  I’ve already wasted years of my life (as far as my writing goes).  I thought about self-publishing but it’s expensive.  Then the Kindle came out (and all the other readers Nook, iPad, etc).  Suddenly self-publishing has a whole new playing field!  And most importantly, an AFFORDABLE one.

So I began to research what to do to get published on a Kindle.  Words like blogging, brand, social media and etc. started coming at me.  What is a girl like me, who knows very little about any of those things supposed to do?  Get educated of course.  So I started surfing the internet and connecting with those in the know.  I heard of Twitter but thought it a silly waste of time.  I thought tweeting was all about “I’m eating chocolate cake right now and it is soooo good!”.  Interesting stuff to the tweeter but do I really care?  Unless I’m sharing that chocolate cake, NO!  But the experts insist that new wannabe authors MUST have a Twitter account.  So I got one.  But I had no clue what to do with it.  Then I discovered something pretty neat…the tweeters I began to follow tweeted useful information.  I now spend more time on Twitter than any other social media outlet!  Go figure.  I was already addicted to Facebook so no problems there.  But then I was told that authors need to Blog!

What was I supposed to blog about?  Build your BRAND, they said.  What’s my brand?  Okay, I think I’m getting that now.  My books usually involve ghosts.  I write about the paranormal.  I guess that’s a big part of my brand.  So, I started blogging about WHY I am interested in the paranormal.  I lived in a haunted house for seven years and I’ve been studying all things paranormal since the age of ten or so.  So, I now had a Twitter account and a blog but how to get people to know I exist?  The advice on this was pretty consistent: find other blogs, comment on them and hope someone finds my comments interesting enough to check me out.  So, I started looking for blogs that interested me.  And guess what?  I’m finding new friends, learning new things, and I’m expanding my social media base.  What’s best about this is that I’m expanding that base with people I like and WANT to interact with.  The world is full of interesting people and the internet makes it possible to friend them!  How cool is that?

Blogging adds a lot of pressure to a life already full of time-consuming things, but I push forward because I believe it’s an important part of a writer’s life.  It also makes me face my fears.  Blogging, after all, is like public speaking but without facing the audience.  The same insecurities are there, will they like what I say? Will they hate it?  How will my blogs be judged?  These things scared me but I decided to JUST DO IT.  I’ve still a lot to learn but at least I’m actively working on it and I am learning as I go.  For this I must give thanks to all the great people out in the world who are so generous with their time to share their knowledge and offer advice!

I discovered Kristen Lamb, checked out her blog, read her informative posts and bought her books.  I am now taking her class on blogging.  Using her advice, I’m making connections and getting myself out there into the world.  Most importantly, I’m bringing the world to me.  As mentioned, I’ve found some great people while searching for blogs that interest me.  Somewhere along the way, I found a fellow writer interested in the paranormal, Serena Dracis.  She’s led a pretty interesting life, and I was immediately attracted to her blog.  Recently Serena listed me as a winner of her “Versatile Bloggers” award.  I’m so honored!  This is what making connections is all about.  Serena was listed as a winner from another blogger and she happily passed on the honors.  Now it’s my turn, for I get the honor of doing the very same thing!  How cool is that?  The joys of social media and making friends.  I love it.

So, without further ado, I shall meet the conditions of this award.  The first one I’ve met, linking back to the blogger who gave me this award (thanks again, Serena!) Another condition is that I must share seven things about myself.  Okay, here goes:

1.  I love to travel.  Even if it’s just a day’s trip out riding around, I want to go see stuff!

2.  I love to take pictures.  My family factors pretty heavily as photo subjects but I do so love to take pictures of nature as well.

3.  I read palms.  I’ve been a palm reader since the age of 16.  The more hands I read, the more I am convinced there’s real truth to the whole Palmistry thing!

4.  I love to Karaoke!  Not just me but most of my family: my husband, my daughters, my 2 year old grandson.  We love to sing!

5.  I love to bake!  All the holidays are celebrated and every one of them consist of lots of baking.  Thanksgiving and Christmas really bring out the baker in me!!

6.  I love gardening even though I’m not very good at it.  My vegetable garden has yet to yield a decent crop.  My flower gardens get out of hand.  Doesn’t matter.  I love it anyway.

7.  I have a fascination with rocks.  They are just so darned interesting.  Rocks, gems, minerals … I love them all.

And lastly, I must “pass on the torch” as Serena states it, and list bloggers I’ve discovered and would like to share with you.  We are supposed to list 15 but I’m still in the early stages of this blogging thing and so I am still building my repertoire of blogs, but I do have a few right now that I’d love to share.  I enjoy all of these blogs and look forward to future posts from them.  I hope you enjoy them too!

1. Dr. Kimberly Rackely Her tag line: Where Spirituality Becomes Reality (I’m quite interested in topics on spirituality!)

2. Amy Schmittauer Her blog is all about social media.  She’s a fun read and has interesting content, especially for writers.

3. My Secret Psychic Life is about a wife/mother/business owner who explores her psychic abilities.  As I am interested in this area, I enjoy this blog.

4. The Writer’s Guide to E-publishing this blog hosts lots of writers giving great advice on publishing.  I’ve found their articles very helpful.

5. SupernaturalUFO this site has a little bit of everything in the paranormal genre.  I’m always curious about anything strange and mysterious.

6. Leslie Bisme posts photos which are quite lovely and interesting.  I love it when she shares a new post.

7. Wilson Wyatt Jr. is a photographer/writer.  His pictures of nature are absolutely breathtaking.

8.  Eleanor Lois Tomczyk her blogs are amusing and include musings on a variety of topics (her post on colonoscopies, titled “Alien Probe” was particularly funny)

Well, there you have it, my story and the introduction to a few great people!  Happy reading, everyone!!  And if you know a great blog you’d like to share with me…PLEASE do so!!! Thanks.

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