Detours into Death Valley

I’m currently finishing up a novella in the Relic Hunter series. I decided this was a good time to send Arienne on a different sort of adventure with Coyote and a few other Native American Spirits.

To get them all to one place together was challenging, but I chose a location and away we went. This time, the story takes place in Death Valley and the Panamint Mountain range. I’ll tell you more on how you can get your hands on this novella in the coming weeks, but for now, I thought you might want to check out some resources that gave me the inspiration for this piece.

This is a great piece of writing about what it’s like to hike through Death Valley National Park. The writing is poetic and the pictures are great.
A great legend – and you all know I love a good legend!

https://historydaily.org/does-death-valley-conceal-an-ancient-subterranean-city-the-legend-of-shin-au-av.

Another take on the legend.

Sunday Morning Projects

Have you had a chance to check out my Instagram feed yet? I’ve been busy creating content and putting together puzzles so my feed is visually awesome. I just started my author Instagram last week because at first I was like “How can I talk about my books using just pictures?” – then I realized “You’re also an artist.” so…yeah, I forgot about that part of my life.

The truth is, I spend Sunday mornings – and by morning, I mean the wee-small hours of the morning – creating content and scheduling posts. In all honesty, it’s been incredibly fun and enlightening. It’s easy to talk about my books using pictures – and I have a great time creating the puzzles. It also really puts me in the zone to write (or edit, like I plan to do today).

Right now I have a few projects going on. I’m in the final edit of Jealous Magic, I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo (yes, I still try to do that every year), and I’m posting content all over the place. I think the posting spree is about wanting to keep my art skills sharp while I’m off being creative in a whole new way.

I’ve noticed something interesting, though. Not only is my author account getting more traffic, but my art sites are doing great (despite the neglect). That could be because they’re somehow linked, but it could also be because the more things you put out into the universe, the more things start to gel.

So here’s what’s coming up in October…

More Instagram puzzles about my books (They’re cool, so you should follow me!).

An announcement about how to grab an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Jealous Magic (I’ll post here, but you can also connect with me on Goodreads and AllAuthor.com).

More Pins for Jealous Magic because I want you to see what I pictured as I wrote the book.

And finally…the release of Jealous Magic on October 30th (Hint: It’s at the pre-release price of .99 cents right now). There’s a lot to do next month, but I’m so excited about all of this. While you’re here, why not sign up for my newsletter so you’ll know about all of the exciting developments and get notified of sales and upcoming projects?

So, I’m off to edit now, but thank you so much for reading my posts every week. I love what I do, and your constant attention to my posts, books, and other ventures really means the world to me.

Why killing one of my characters isn’t an option for me

I write fun fiction with characters I love. Sometimes I write those characters into seemingly impossible situations and even I don’t know how to get them out…like now. Dr. Arienne Cerasola has been in a basement for five days now and I have no idea how to get her out, or even what she’s supposed to do in that basement.

I’m tired of being stuck there. In my mind, Arienne and I are staring at each other expectantly, each one of us waiting for the other to make a move. I have options – like take her out of the basement, or never put her in there to begin with – but I really like the basement…but it’s getting a little old. In order to jump start this novel again, I went hunting for plot twists and came across the idea to “kill one of my main characters”.

I will never, ever do that. Ever.

I know, they’re fictional, and I know I could easily kill one of them off…but I feel like that would be betraying my readers. You see, I write FUN fiction. I want to give readers a wild and fun ride, but I want them to always trust that I will bring them back home in the end without a scratch. Killing someone they like would betray that. I’ve felt betrayed every time it was done to me.

There are a few characters that other authors have killed on me, and I don’t think I’ve really forgiven them. I remember being young and reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH…and nearly having a breakdown when the book ended and that was only because the author HINTED at something.

I’ve had the same reaction every time an author kills a character that I love. I keep reading the book because I hope they’re really not dead, but I am generally disappointed. (I’d like you all to note how carefully I’m avoiding naming the characters so I don’t have to put a spoiler alert on this post…but you probably have your own list). My relationship with an author who kills a character I love is forever changed because I don’t really trust them after that.

There’s one author in particular whom I usually love, but I started her latest book and she brought up the character I still haven’t forgiven her for killing several books ago. I have to admit, I read one page after she mentioned the death of the character I loved and I haven’t gone back to the book because honestly, I’m still a little mad about that. Just the mention of his name reminds me that she betrayed me…because I know she didn’t have to kill him. The decision seemed lazy and disloyal.

Even with the betrayal issue aside, I also know life is hard enough. I’ve lost people; we have all have lost people. In this pandemic, we stand to lose more. I won’t add to to body count by killing one of my fictional friends.

I’m not saying that killing a character is always a bad thing, I’m just not the author that does that. I’ve seen the death of a character move the story forward (J.K. Rowling, for instance, but note I said THE DEATH, I do not enjoy a complete massacre and I’m a little mad at her for a few of them). More often killing a character seems like a gratuitous death – like the author saying “see, there’s bad in the world…nobody’s safe.” Real life has taught me that well enough, thank you.

So I will continue to figure out how to get Arienne out of the basement – without offing one of her friends. I will continue to keep my stories light and fun. I like an emotional ride, but I’d much rather write books that make you laugh than cry.

So be warned…things may look dire at times, but I promise I will not kill our darlings.

Life’s hard enough.

Kindle Countdown Deal

Right after publishing The Last 6 Weeks of Summer I started to feel guilty. The last time I saw Arienne Cerasola, Evan, and Coyote they had just returned to the summer residence of the Queen of the Southern Tier Fae. I’ve left them standing on the door step of that house long enough, so I’m now writing Legendary Magic – the fourth book in the Relic Hunter series.

So if you need to catch up, you can pick up the first two in the series for 99 cents today. Just click on the images below and you’ll go to Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007NO85J4

I just reread all of the books in the series (because I needed a refresher on some of the finer points) and I’ll post what that experience was like in a few days. Writing in a series is fun, because I get to go back and visit old friends. I have loved spending time with Arienne again, and I’m sending her on a new adventure with a whole new outlook. I really hope you’ll join me.

I write fun fiction with smart dialogue. I like those awkward moments in life when you’re sure everything is going to be so awesome and you’re super confident and then you trip over your own two feet and have to carry on anyway. I’ve missed looking at life that way.

I know it’s not always easy to pick yourself back up and just carry on. Those little demons that whisper that you’re not really as good as you think you are can get really pushy sometimes and it’s nice when you realize you really ARE that good – that the demons just talk smack because they can. That’s their JOB. YOUR job is to get up, pick the pine needles out of your teeth and move on doing exactly what you were meant to do.

How I spent my Summer Vacation

I’ve really been busy during the pandemic. Honest. But I took a week off to go to a vacation spot I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. It’s a tiny coastal village in Massachusetts called Mulligan’s Cove. The people are so friendly and it’s the perfect place for me to put myself in a great mood – even when the whole world is going crazy.

Mulligan’s Cove is really a romantic spot, filled with rocky beaches, stretches of sand dunes, and a harbor. I even have a map that shows all of the places I love to visit. I go there to see friends, catch up on their lives, and lose my own problems and worries for a few days.

And all without leaving my office.

So I know most of you read my Urban Fantasy books, but I’m changing it up right now because I’ve been in Mulligan’s Cove for a while and I decided to just stay there and see what’s going on. This is the perfect time to escape and have a little summer romance out by the ocean.

For your first adventure, I’d like to introduce you to Collin Landry, a local celebrity chef who grew up in Mulligan’s Cove. Everything is going really well for him. His friends are fun and he taking a break from the whole globe-trotting chef scene to guest-chef in the fabulous Harborside restaurant in Mulligan’s Cove.

I think you’ll really love Collin (I do), and when Hollywood Defector Angeline Kent shows up in Mulligan’s Cove, things in the kitchen at Harborside come to a slow simmer that’s going to really be a perfect escape from all of the craziness we’re living in.

So I’d like you to buy your ticket for Wednesday, and spend a while in this beautiful seaside town with me. You know you want to come to the beach and hang out. So let’s make this a memorable summer!

Is this really just seasonal allergies?

I bet I’m not the only one who coughed or sneezed in the past week and thought “Oh no!” I’ve put my forearm to my forehead to check my own temperature. I’ve taken my fair share of deep breaths, just to make sure my lungs are clear. I wonder if that slight headache is due to allergies, eyestrain from being on my computer, or if it’s the first sign of Coronavirus.

I might have tendencies toward hypochondria – there have been a few times when someone told me – after I’d spent a lot of time in close contact with them – that they had just gotten over the “stomach bug”. The next time I ate something, I’d focus in on my own G.I. tract to make sure there were no indications of nausea. But this is different because nausea is unpleasant but Coronavirus can be deadly.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is hitting at the same time that the dead wet leaves from last fall are starting to mold. My allergies are kicking in as a result. My eyes itch and burn, there’s a slight pressure to my sinuses. I know it’s just allergies, but to be on the safe side…

I’m not going near people. I’m staying home – as strongly suggested by the government – because I’m not so self-centered that the thought of infecting someone wouldn’t bother me. Should this not be allergies (which I’m pretty certain it is because I don’t have a lot of contact with people to begin with), I don’t want to pass it on to someone else. Hell – even if I have the common cold and pass that on to someone, their immune system will be impacted and this is a time when none of us can afford a compromised immune system.

So I won’t be at the grocery store for unnecessary items. I won’t go to the post office to chat. I’m not visiting friends or relatives. I’m certainly not going anywhere near a hospital or doctor’s office. I’m staying home and I wish everyone else would as well.

There are nurses and doctors fighting this virus who need to stay as healthy as possible. There are people with underlying health conditions who could die from this. It’s not worth the risk.

Day 2: Is enough really enough?

So today is the day I really settle in to this self-imposed isolation. I have done what I could to prepare for this. I’ve started to take an inventory of everything I have on hand (and discovered an odd obsession I have with soap) and yes, I have decided I really do possess enough toilet paper to last me a month.

It strikes me as a wondrous thing that of all the items people were worried about, toilet paper became the number one obsession. Honestly, I would have never given that a second thought. I was more concerned that I didn’t have three bags of Doritos and my stash of Reese’s Peanut Cups were lower than I would like. Perhaps I’m just a hedonist – screw the basics of human comfort and sanitation, I just want my snack supply to be secure.

I did not make a panic run to the store. In fact, I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in about two weeks. I stocked up the best I could (mainly on dog food) and figured as long as I have a few boxes of pasta and some cheese, I’m pretty much good to go. I’m fortunate in the fact that I’ve never been food insecure – but it makes me incredibly sad that others are not so lucky. So this will be a true test of our ability as Americans (and as Humans) to look out for the less fortunate among us.

Have you heard about the Eight Oaks Distillery in Rural Pennsylvania? (Here’s a link to their site: https://eightoaksdistillery.com/). They saw a need for hand sanitizer and set about creating a way to produce and distribute it to those in need. It’s pivots like this that will make us come out of the crisis stronger. They’re not the only company using this time to make a difference – education sites are opening up their resources for free to help the nation cope with school closures (another link to a great site: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/). So maybe this crisis has a chance to move us all toward a more collaborative society – one where those who have something can help those in need.

I guess we’ll find out in a few months if we’re evolved enough as humans to do this gracefully and compassionately. I think we are, but the fact that everyone seems to be out of toilet paper does put a dent in my optimism.

Never before have I worried about this…

My first day of Social Distancing

I admit it, the thought of social distancing appeals to me.  I’m not very social to begin with.  My idea of a perfect day is really being alone in my house with my dog and having the freedom to bang out a few chapters of my next novel or work on my graphic design projects.  The thought of not seeing people for a few weeks (months?) really doesn’t cause me any anxiety or sadness.  I know I’m probably in the minority with this, but I’m a true introvert, and being an only child prepared me well for times like these.

With that being said, I also know that at some point I’m likely to find myself stretched out on my couch binge watching some series or another.  In fact, last summer I devoted weeks to the entire Boston Legal series and I loved every moment of that.  In this current situation, though, the mere thought of engaging in slothful behavior causes me to feel a flutter of anxiety.  That could be because last summer binge watching was a luxury that I chose while totally in control of my life and secure in the knowledge nothing big was looming outside my door.

Times are different now.  Oh, how they’re different!  There’s economic chaos on a Global scale.  People are in real danger of hunger and homelessness.  At best, we will feel some minor discomfort from this.  At worst, we face loss, grief, and horrible sickness possibly of ourselves or our loved ones.  Yeah, binge watching isn’t on my calendar today.

I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., made myself tea, told my dog that this was our “new reality” – and turned on the news for about an hour.  When I had taken all I could of the calamity that’s now our daily experience, I set about being productive.  I cleaned my kitchen.  I did two loads of laundry.  I changed my sheets.  I checked in at my office – via email – and did a few small projects that I had kept for this morning just so I could feel some sense of normalcy.

Then I sat down to write this post and after three different opening sentences realized that my need for productivity comes from a complete loss of control over my life.  I’m not unhappy being here with the dog.  I love having the flexibility to telecommute.  I feel very fortunate that I’m not worried I’ll starve over the next month.  But even I – with my love of solitude – feel anxious that I can’t control any part of this situation.  All I can do is sit tight and count my blessings – and be productive in the hope that when this is over, I have done something to make my life – and those of others – a little less stressful.

Stay safe.  Practice Social Distancing.  Wash your hands.  And do whatever you can today to help yourself or someone you care about feel a little more in control in these crazy times.

I Finally went LIVE with my new blog!

The New Blog is LIVE!

I’ve been back at my writing desk for a few weeks now, working on some new projects and finishing up some old ones.  The new blog is all about where I’ve been for four years – caring for my husband and my mother – and I said I’d share it as soon as I went live.  Not all of the posts are up yet, but more will be coming in the next few weeks.  They’re written and formatted, but I want to double check them one more time (part of being a control-freak writer, I guess).  In the meantime, you can check it out here.

 

Here’s what else I’m working on:

The 4th book in the Arienne Cerasola Series

A brand new series that has a lot to do with feathers (more on that later…)

A new romance series I started last year as my NaNoWriMo project.

I’ll be publishing snippets and teasers over the next few months so stay tuned and thanks for all of your support over the years.