Thursday, August 13, 2020

Constance & Enzo's Tea Time With Peyton

 Out for edit, and shaping up for a September Release: a standalone that has familiar connections! 

The blurb: 

Peyton’s come a long way from the awkward twelve-year-old girl we met in That Summer, but her incredible gift is still wreaking havoc with her life.

In her ongoing quest to find others like her, she’s unknowingly left a trail of breadcrumbs to her front door – for commiserating friends and desperate souls, alike. But she couldn’t have predicted the lengths one visiting stranger would go to take advantage of her ability to talk to the dead.

She’s never been good at reading people, dead or alive, But this time her shortcomings - combined with the all-encompassing need of her captor - result in her disappearance.

Her advantage is that those who love her will do everything they can to find her and bring her home, including the recruitment of two uniquely qualified women. Will Margot - a pioneer in the world of science and the supernatural - and Charis - a sometimes reluctant, but incredibly gifted psychic - succeed in using their own special talents to see clues the police simply can't?

Coming Soon:

Friday, July 31, 2020

On Criticism - Constructive or Otherwise

First: tell me what you don't like. 
I appreciate those comments as much as the positives! Well...almost. ;)
I had a very talented, trusted reader (who also edits my stuff and is my Dad) drop a couple hints at criticism, then come right back and apologize, wishing he could take it all back.
OK, if I'm honest, even the slightest hint at a negative remark caused me pangs of anxiety in the beginning. And suggestions - well, they nearly ended this career I'm trying to build, over here. Stuff like, I think you should start the chapter like this, or, I prefer this tense - sheer panic. Because all I heard was you did it wrong. But it's amazing what a year of rejection will do to toughen you up...and a year of self-publishing, including ARC results and honest reviews. There's a lot of self-doubt involved in this line of work, but there's a lot of triumph, too.
In short, your "criticism" was useful, Daddy, when some others cut deep, with no redeeming qualities to help the blood coagulate.
I need to know what I'm doing wrong, just as much as I need feedback on what hits you right, or else how will I change and grow? 
Second: I just said it. Tell me what you do like, too!
I think negative criticism is louder because it seems more important to point out the errors than to tout the scores. A positive review is usually short: vague sentiments and five stars, and they're done. But despite the affirmation of my chosen line of work that comes from any positive review, I'm often left wondering what I'd done to strike the right chord in the reviewer, too. 
I know I need to build my own team of beta-readers, and I'm trying! I really am - but it's challenging. 
I guess all I'm trying for something that will give back in value for both sides, and having a hard time figuring out the semantics. 
So in the meantime, whether you like my book or not, tell me. And for the love of God, tell me why. I love you. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I'm Just Having Too Much Fun

Tom's Apocalypse is finished, cleaned up, and in the hands of my most trusted reader, input-giver, and grammar/spelling stickler. The fact that he's my Dad is just a gigantic bonus.

So, what's next?

I need to figure out what to DO with Tom now that it's finished. The pandemic I've created is maybe a little too similar to current-day circumstances for a quick release, though it's far more swift to devastate, and boasts a macabre host of symptoms COVID could never match. So, clearly fiction, but maybe a bit too much while we're still watching and waiting for answers during our own crisis.

In other words, maybe I should wait until we're sure our results aren't scarier than the fiction the virus inspired?

In any case, I'll get it ready (with my all-star team, of course) and see what happens. in the meantime, here are the cover contenders:


Now, on to what's coming:

 - I've submitted Dark Mirror to a press I admire; I should know mid - late fall whether it'll be selected. If not, I'll publish it in October.

- Stumble remains an enigma for me - more demon than ghost in some ways, and still hasn't be read by another soul. But I think some of my best writing is within its pages. Likely, it's another one that will have to wait for its time...

- Constance & Enzo's Tea Time With Peyton - Oh my God I cannot wait to put this out...but I haven't a clue when! It features characters from That Summer, Bird With A Broken Wing and the Rose's Ghost Trilogy, which made it a blast to write, but do I release it now, when the Trilogy is still gaining new readership, or wait until readers want more? Which brings me to my next project that's been percolating:

- A second Trilogy in the Rose series. Yep. Some time has passed, and we get to know the children of our past protagonists as they deal with experiences of their own. I see Dmitry, Greyson and Roisin in my mind so clearly, and their stories are begging to be told. But, first:

- I am going to finish a long-time in the works project this summer. It's called Dear Daddy and features a mentally unstable woman who is living in denial of what she's lost - and she's doing it in a camper in the woods, through a bitter Quebec winter. It's written as a series of letters, mostly to her father (hence the title).

- Totally new projects include a story called Wisp, which is told from the perspective of a ghost, and a thriller/fantasy mashup featuring a parallel world of elf-type folk. That one's called Fable, after the town in which it is set.

Can you feel how excited I am? Because I think I'm oozing it. I love this writing stuff.

I'll keep writing, and you keep reading. OK?


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Asylum Snippets...

Guys, I don't know if I can wait to get this one's a taste, but let me give you some context: the majority of the story is told from our protagonist's (Bailey's) point of view. An intelligent young woman who was knocked off an ambitious course to doctorhood by the shocking end to a long-term relationship, Bailey still has a passion for helping those less fortunate than herself.

Which might explain the first time she saw the ghost. But it wasn't the last, not by far.

What seems like an epic adventure across the border to photograph long-abandoned Briarhurst before it is demolished turns into something very different when Bailey is entreated to stay, even after her group of friends must leave. But she's not alone in her quest to solve the mysteries of the lingering ghost children; she just happens to be the only one still living.

I've sprinkled historic newspaper articles throughout so readers are afforded a look into the history of the Briarhurst Asylum for Handicapped Children. The following is a portion of one of them, and I've stuck a bit from our Bailey in, afterward:

Chapter 8 – Article #2: Brambleton Times


September 25, 1978
Brambleton Times
By Jenson Carter

Reeling in the wake of the announcement that Briarhaven is under official Police investigation, former residents and their families are demanding answers. And one of their questions is “Should we sue now or wait until the investigation is complete?”

Perhaps I can help.

Let me tell you first that concerned families and those residents directly impacted by the downfall and delinquency of the failing institution – and let’s keep in mind that this is an institution that has been entrusted with disabled children for three-quarters of a century – aren’t the only stakeholders reacting in outrage. The City Council has announced an investigation of its own, stating,

“We are appalled to learn that a local organization trusted with the most vulnerable of souls from around the country has not only failed to meet standards, but appears to have abused this organization’s trust in it for far too long. In solidarity with the families and friends affected, we pledge to scrutinize the situation carefully, and ensure that safeguards are put in place in the future so that no one else suffers at the hands of such neglect and outright abuse.”

Strong words, especially considering there has been little released officially. Makes you wonder if the Council has heard the rumors, too? Makes you wonder if they know more already…

Mayor Jim Barney appears genuinely shocked, but is refusing to comment on the matter until results of the investigation are official and/or charges have been laid.

And then there’s the statement put forward by Briarhaven, itself. Yes! They’ve released a statement, and though it says very little, the fact that they’ve already acknowledged the investigation is rather a surprise. Here’s what we at the Times found most relevant amidst assurances of “effective processes” and “the prioritized care and comfort of our patients,”

“While we are aware that continuing staff shortages, as well as the impact of recently loosened regulations on qualified caregivers has had some detrimental effect on our organization as a whole, we want to reassure concerned citizens that we continue to hold ourselves to high internal standards. The health and safety of our children is first and foremost in our minds at all time, by mission and mandate.”

Excuse me while I vomit into my trashcan.

Apologies to the more sensitive of my readers, but as the lead undercover investigator for this publication, and someone who spent more than two months within Briarhaven Institution, pretty words from their legal team insight more nausea than comfort. They may succeed in turning the attention of some away, but not one who’s seen what occurs on a day-to-day basis inside their secluded walls.


A bit from Bailey:

...I looked backward at her and saw the door open inward at the opposite end of the hall. “Shit; they’re coming!”

Moshi’s face hardened and she was suddenly zipping past me. A bare foot - pale, but dirty - stepped through the door and I let out a shocked screech.

“What?” Moshi screamed in answer.

A shot of adrenaline coursed through me. I tore my eyes from the foot as it elongated into a leg, a knee, a filthy hem of a white dress – but when I whipped my head back around, Moshi was skidding to a stop and reaching for the door and I was on track to knock her over for the second time that day. Acting instead of thinking, I veered to the left at the last second, crashing spectacularly through the section of wall that came out into the hallway. My head slammed into the opposite wall and I crumpled instantly, stars bursting before my eyes and then fading, only to bloom into explosions of pain in my neck, head and – well, everywhere, really.

“Bailey!” Moshi yelled, then was looking down at me through the ruined drywall. I worked to get my bearings, but every movement was awarded with stabs of pain behind my eyes. And my awkward position was disorienting in itself; my right leg hung through the drywall, still, and I was half on my back/half on my side at the foot of a very narrow staircase.

I groaned, then remembered our pursuer. “Where are they?” I gasped as I tried to sit, but my head protested enough to knock me back. “Shit,” I muttered, no longer caring who we’d been running from as stars filled my vision once more.

“They’re gone!” Moshi’s voice echoed up the stairs beside me and I worked to regain my vision.

Vertigo rolled over me. “Oh, God,” I moaned. “I might puke.”

“I’m calling Cal,” Moshi muttered.

I stayed as still as possible, my arm over my face to block the light. “Did you see who was following us?”

“No; I only heard them! Cal? Oh, thank God. You’re not going to believe this: we found the false wall to the attic!

I managed a laugh.

“Bailey crashed right through it! And I think she’s got a concussion; can you come?”

A sound, small but definite, echoed down to me. I held my breath and peered around my arm. Something moved in the shadows at the top of the stairs. I sucked in a breath. “Mosh?”

Moshi was telling Cal about the footsteps that had been following us. The sound came again from above me. It sounded like footsteps, too. Just like the ones from before. But, how -?  My stomach did a sick somersault as the shadows moved again.

“Moshi? I heard the pitch of my voice and tensed. “I know who was following us,” I called out, tears filling my eyes.

What? Just a sec, Cal.” Moshi peered through the hole in the wall. “What, honey?” Her face changed. “Oh, you’re pale.”

I pointed weakly toward the top of the stairs. “She’s up there,” I cried, tears spilling onto my cheeks. “It was her.”


Coming soon:

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Free Rose's Ghost

I am doing a little promo today to celebrate reaching 200 followers on the Rose's Ghost FB page: free Rose's Ghost eBook:

Saturday, April 25, 2020


Available now, on Amazon:
I hope Trey makes you fall in love with him, just like he did with me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Self-Publishing Lesson #2: So, You Know What You've Got - Now, What Do You Want To Do With It?


You've finished your manuscript! You have something to publish!

Take a moment to revel in the joys of having a complete product in your hands, because in many cases, all the work you've put into your products is far less challenging than selling it will be. Take a moment to let that percolate, dear readers.

Take another moment. Maybe double-check your "What Do I Have?" list - make sure that if someone asks what you've written, you have an answer you're at least moderately comfortable with. Like, I've written a book of poetry, or, I write post-apocalyptic science fiction!

If you can't do that yet, put some time into it - research, talk to other authors, join online communities, READ some books within the genre you're aiming for (this is definitely a better first step, but sometimes what we've intended is different from the final product! There's no shame in revisiting your intentions and saying, Whoops! I've actually written a memoir!).

There. So, what have you got?


How'd that question hit ya? Good?


Moving on.

You have a book. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT?

While I was writing my first book - and long before that - I knew traditional publishing was the way to go for me.

But, guess what?

It wasn't.

If this venture has taught me anything, it's that I know nothing. And what I think I know is more complex than I ever imagined. Mountains of rejections and a healthy pile of bad decisions is a testament to my stubborn methodology, which is to learn the hard way. It was necessary for me, but it doesn't have to be for you.

Let's talk about traditional publishing. I'm sure you've heard it's an over-saturated market. You've probably also heard that getting an agent is as difficult as getting a publisher, these days. Harder, even, because many publishing houses won't even accept a query without having invited your agent to submit.

But I knew I had good stuff, so I was determined! I tried so hard, y'all, and I learned the right way to craft a query letter while I failed. I entered contests, sent my manuscripts, or parts of them, to countless contacts. I learned to write magical blurbs for my books, slowly learned to sell what I had, and even made some inroads with publishing opportunities, which I ultimately turned down.

Yep. After learning all that, the final lesson was this: traditional publishing was not for me.

Past-tense, because I'm always evaluating my opportunities. But let me finish.

Let's talk a little about self-publishing, or what I thought self-publishing was, then. I was scared! It all seemed an insurmountable barrier of tasks in planning and organization. This is NOT my forte. I write! I love to write, I love to learn how to write better, write kinder, write with the reader at the forefront of my mind.

Selling is another ballgame altogether. And without an agent or publisher, you are responsible for all tasks associated with selling your book, from formatting to editing to cover design, to print and delivery, to managing the entire promotional aspects, launch events, accounting, etc. etc. etc. Sure, you can delegate some of that, but you're still responsible for the delegation, the review, the hiring and paying, and the final product.


And lemme tell ya, no matter how fast you can write (I'm pretty fast), all that stuff tends to take over at least some of the time you would've used for writing.

But I've still chosen it. Why?

- Because I'm stupid impatient, and doing it all yourself, even if you're meticulous about detail, is faster than having others do it for you.

- Because I'm particular. There's something daunting to me about letting someone else get their fingers into my art. That's my soul you're fiddling with, there! Which means that, although I have a professional editor, I chose her carefully. She's excellent because she pays very close attention to maintaining my voice throughout my work, no matter what. If she thinks a section needs to be reworked or deleted, she gives me insight, but she doesn't rewrite it. I love that. Some might not! But if you publish independently, you have control over who is doing what for you, how they're doing it, and when.

- Because I have a business background. It's a very practical degree, as are the skills that I've built while working in the jobs it got me. I know now that it's purpose isn't to find me a job so I can work for someone else; instead, I need to use what I learned to run my own business. It's not making me money yet - the initial investment when you're publishing on your own is...significant. I'm not going to lie. But I have faith this is the right path for me.

- Because in my situation, it works better for me. I have a chronic pain disease, and house-bound much of the time, which means I have time to devote to a writing career. It's the only career I have. I'm also a mom of four boy and a stepmom of two girls (yep, that's six kids ages four to twenty, folks), a wife, and need to take special care of myself. Even then, I am able to check in with my work often. And if you read the first point, you'll understand when I say that waiting for someone else to get shit done for me would be maddening right now. That said, once I'm established, I'm sure I'll want to hand the admin stuff (at least!) over to someone else, be it an agent, a publisher, or an assistant or team I hire to work directly for me. I have aspirations, kids.

- I don't need perfection. I need, first and foremost, compelling stories that are written well. I need characters people can relate to, intriguing plots and pleasurable reading experiences for everyone who is kind enough to open my books. I need one-on-one connections with my readers so I can manage feedback. I need an outlet that'll sell my books and distribute them, because I am not taking that on. I need fast. I need fans. I need someone who is willing to focus entirely on building me and my products up. And the only person I trust to do that right now is ME.

- Finally (and I'd be willing to talk about all of this further in-depth if anyone would like), I give you the ultimate determining factor in my situation: I was dismayed repeatedly when talking to publishers. The number of "partner" publishing houses and "vanity" publishers is staggering. Some of them work hard for your money, completing much of the tasks I've listed above at a fair price, and that's adequately valuable for many! But the other end of the spectrum sees money-hungry companies taking advantage of desperate creators, charging exorbitant fees and providing very little services (unless you cough up more $$). Don't get me wrong; there are still plenty of reputable publishing houses that do all of the things I grew up thinking they did: the advances, the marketing, the editing, the design and formatting. And then there are many companies that float somewhere in between those extremes,  offering some services if they like your book, but counting on you, the author, to do the majority of publicity and even some of the selling.

Remember: even stand-up businesses with author's needs in mind are businesses, and in today's world, it's getting harder and harder to partner with authors who will make them money with their craft. Did you know that before a publisher or even an agent takes you on these days, they want you to have a substantial following on social media? Even some marketing opportunities (expensive ones!) will reject your book if it doesn't have enough reviews.

Which brings me to my final word on this bit, for today: whether you're publishing traditionally or independently, you need to have a product that looks as good as the big publishers are kicking out, and BETTER than other independent writers in your genre. People are wary of buying from independents! You need to show them you're worth the risk.  How? Have an excellent product, first of all. There's absolutely NO WAY around that, and like I've already said, there's no shame in going back a step to revisit and revise. Is your book the best it can be? If you're squirming, you have work to do. After you're certain you've got the product, you need to start getting it out there. I'll get into that next time, when we talk about putting your feelers out and gaining followers.