Monday, July 27, 2015

And the Winner Is...

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Those of you who follow me on FaceBook know that I have been having a battle with my muse, trying to come up with a title for my now completed manuscript. If you read Bridgeton Park Cemetery Books, I hope you'll be happy to know that Book 3 is soon to be released. But trying to come up with a name for this puppy almost took me to the mat.

Normally, I don't have that much of a fight for a title. The story suggests the title, most of the time. It did for Haunted. It most certainly did for Dead Voices. Even Dead of Summer was a gimme. But Book 3 was a fight and a half. It was even worse than trying to find a title for Saving Jake.

A little bit about that: Saving Jake was written under the working title Ultimate Magic. If you haven't read the book -or even if you have and have since (understandably) forgotten- "ultimate magic" is a direct quote from one of my main characters, and it seemed to me a good choice for a title. Especially since the two running motifs in that novel are magic and shipwrecks. The editor who accepted the manuscript, however, had other ideas. She told me, and I admit that she is right, that if I used the word "magic" in the title, it would suggest that the story had more to do with the fantasy and perhaps sword-and-sorcery worlds than it did with the paranormal. I had to concede that point. Thus began something like a three-week struggle to name the work, and in the end, the only thing we could all agree on was Saving Jake. I needed a while for that to grow on me, but now it's fine and makes all the sense in the world. And I am now more careful about the word "magic."

For my newest Bridgeton Park book, however, the discussion involved my three beta readers as well as myself, and all of us agreed on only one point: if I titled it aptly, I would also give away the whole story. No matter what combination of certain words and phrases I concocted, all of them led to a conclusion that would spoil the story for anyone who chose to read it. So we brainstormed and discussed, and suggested and discussed, and discussed and discussed. And finally, out of desperation, I looked at one of them and said, Drawing Vengeance. And that was it.

So the newest book, hopefully available early next month, is called Drawing Vengeance. I wish I could include a picture of the cover art. Carmen Elliott, the wonderfully talented woman who does all of my covers, has come up with another spectacular image for this one. But I have a feeling she's still tweaking it, even though I've already seen and agreed to it, and so I guess the first place it will show up, besides Amazon, is when I announce the release on FaceBook, or email certain parties that the Kindle version is available. (Print always takes just a wee bit longer, but I'll announce that, too.)

The story picks up where Dead Voices left off, so if you are one of the folks who was ready to strike me with a blunt object after reading the end of Book 2, you will be glad to know that various situations are dealt with in this volume. That does not mean that Book 3 doesn't leave it's own loose ends at the close, however. Hey, this is a series! I want readers to come back, right?

At any event, thank all of you for your patience. I hope the book meets and even surpasses your own hopes and expectations. And I guess it's time to turn my attention to Book 4, huh?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


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I woke up this morning, thought about the fact that it is Tuesday, and then realized that I had forgotten to post a new blog entry yesterday. Ohhhhhh, nooooo......

I am normally not quite that forgetful. I don't forget to do things like empty the dryer or cook dinner, but somehow the blog got past me. It may have something to do with the fact that my health has been a little wobbly as of late. I have seen my doctor (I've also seen the ER, but that's beside the point) and am trying to regain my usual status quo, but it looks like this may take a little longer than I might have liked.

That said, as a writer and thus neurotic by nature, there are little voices at the back of my head that worry me with thoughts like "whatever this is, you're probably on your last legs," and "you'll never have a normal life again" and "who gets the entire vinyl record collection when you go?" Cheerful, eh? But here's the kicker and I blame it totally on my obsession with paranormal reality TV: "you're sick because something otherworldly is making you sick."

I watch enough of my shows to see people who are suffering nightmares, backaches, headaches, muscle pain, weakness, mood swings, and other health complaints due to the fact that they live in homes haunted by something malevolent. This is dangerous information for someone with my particular obsession and out-of-control (sometimes) imagination. I mean, why else are all my tests negative when I feel so terrible? Traditional medicine has ruled out all the really terrible diseases my symptoms could point to, and I am grateful for that. So why do I still feel so lousy? Could it be something nasty lurking in my house???

Of course, my rational mind tells me I am being just a wee bit ridiculous. I would guess that my health issues have more to do with a telling lack of regular exercise at the moment -okay, for the last couple of years- as well as a diet pulled together by sheer idiocy. To that end, I know I need to talk to someone about nutrition. And I know I need to be on a really, really bland diet for the next, oh, three weeks? Does that sound about right?

Still, there is that little voice at the back of my head that suggests something weird is going on with me. In the middle of the night when I can't sleep, that voice is a bit louder, I admit it. But in the harsh light of day, I know it's not anything supernatural that's chewing away at my innards. I'm quite certain of it.

I've already had that battle, the summer of the poltergeist so I know what it feels like...

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Battle for a Title

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Anyone who knows me on FaceBook will know that I have been whining and complaining about my inability to title my latest work. This doesn't happen to me very often, but when I honestly cannot come up with a title, I drive myself (and everyone around me) just a little insane. If you don't write stories or books yourself, you may not realize what a piece of work titling your stories can be.

For one thing, it has to catch the reader. Or at least, it would have to catch me as a reader if I were to see it for the first time. Some writers can get away with one-word titles (I tried that in the first Bridgeton Park Cemetery Book: more on that later) and if the word is catchy enough, then the goal has been reached. I would have picked up a book called Twilight (buying and reading it is another matter), but I would always reach for one that has a distinct ring to it. Something titled "Revenant" would get my attention. So would "Ghostly," "Shadow/s", or "Banshee." I would at least read the blurb before I decided "yea" or "nay." 

And that is what this writer is looking for: the kind of thing that will at least get a potential reader to check out my work. And believe me, I have been all over the map, not to mention the Dictionary of Quotations, trying to figure this out. I have a title in my head and I am afraid to run it past my beta readers for fear of being laughed out of the room. But it won't go away.

Two word titles, lots of them including the article "The" for one of those words, are terrific. The Stand. The Grave. The Exorcist. Would that I could come up with something like that, but nothing in my book even comes close to allowing a two-word title. So I continue to try out ideas, wincing a little every time I toss another one into the stack of unusable attempts. It's both funny and frustrating.

The other problem with my current work is that if I use the more obvious titles suggested by the tale itself, I am in danger of giving away the whole story and maybe even the fun little twist at the end. At least, I think there's a fun little twist at the end. I'm sure you'll all let me know if you figured things out before you got there, but for now, I'm hoping the ending is clever enough to elude until the resolution.

As for my foray into one-word titles such as Haunted, the first BPC book, all you need to do is look up that title on Amazon to see why that choice might not have been the best, even if it suited the work. So there's another consideration as I try to come up with a good name for yet another paranormal tale.

Sigh. Here I sit in my office, playing with words, writing lists of "scary" concepts (apparition, specter, dark, unearthly, etc...) and knowing that in the end, I need to wait for my muse to get back from her most recent trip, apparently off of the planet entirely. I hope she comes back soon. I need to get this information over to my artist so that she can design the title into the picture that she is composing to grace the cover of this book. (She's really good, isn't she? Her name is Carmen Elliott and I'm lucky enough to have her as both a friend and a colleague.)

All of this aside, I am hoping the light bulb turns on very soon. Sitting in the title desert sifting through dreck and sand is very draining!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Dead Road

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I wasted some time the other day reading negative reviews for one of the paranormal reality shows I watch. I don't know why I do this -morbid curiosity? Just to see what the nonbelievers think? Maybe even to see if I agree with any of them? At any event, I read one particular sentence that stuck in my head. Not exactly verbatim, the reviewer complained that "every house this medium goes to is haunted.The first thing I thought was, Well, duh. She's been hired to go there because the owners are having a problem. Of course it's haunted.

The second thing I thought was a bit more disturbing. I came across an idea, at some point in my life, that EVERY place is haunted. That there are drifting souls who haven't quite crossed over, or who have and then have come back for some reason, present EVERYWHERE. There's a thought to curl your hair. The dead are present everywhere.

That would explain why new construction can be haunted. Why empty, undeveloped fields can be haunted. Why train stations, movie theaters, schools, and garages can be haunted, although I admit some of that seems a bit strange. I mean, really, if you crossed over and were no longer limited by physical dimensions, would you spend time hanging out in an empty field or someone's garage?

However, if people from beyond the veil are just passing through, that kind of explains why any place could have a spirit or ten. (It's the ones who keep coming back, or who never leave, that become problematic, I think.)

My house must be like Grand Central Station. People in and out regardless of doors and locks. Presences that knock on my walls or shift things in the rooms down the hall or perhaps do no more than cause a passing draft of cold air could all be wayfarers along their particular journeys. Why my house would be included on that path is beyond me at the present moment, but anything is possible. I guess it's sort of like the fact that a lot of states in this country look to me like places to pass through as opposed to places to set up housekeeping. Life is frequently described as a journey: maybe death is, too. And so random folks wind up slipping across my property, never mind the house in the middle of it, on their paths to elsewhere.

If I must have hauntings, I guess I'm lucky that I'm not dealing with a permanent resident, so to speak. Not like in the house where I grew up. I'd guess we had at least three permanent residents there, and one of them was not very nice. In my current house, hopefully if something like that turned up, it wouldn't be here for long. Fingers and toes crossed.

I tell people all the time that I firmly believe that everyone has a ghost story. 

But it's a lot more disturbing, having thought about it for a while, to consider the idea that every place has a ghost.