The Cavanaugh House

Coming soon! The Cavanaugh House When Jesse Graham unlocks the door to the deserted house she inherited from her Aunt Helen, she doesn’t realize she’s unlocking secrets that had lain dormant for years...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nancy C. Weeks Celebrates the One Year Anniversary of In the Shadow Of Greed

Today, I welcome back fellow Crimson Romance writer, Nancy C. Weeks. Nancy is celebrating her first In the Shadow of Greed.  I thought I would ask her a few questions about this book’s journey from her mind to the page.
year anniversary as a published author with her debut novel,

NOTE: In celebration of her one year anniversary, Nancy is giving away one digital copy of the Shadow series, In the Shadow of Greed, In the Shadow of Evil and In the Shadow of Malice to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

Tell us a little bit about In the Shadow of Greed and why readers should check it out.

In the Shadow of Greed is a romantic suspense set in the ambiguous world of cybercrime - where a seemingly friendly email message invites you to visit a website that warms your heart with lovely images and soothing music, while some obscure script is busy scrubbing your hard drive, collecting information about you, your family, your habits, hobbies, and possibly user identification and passwords.

My heroine, Dr. Sarah Tu epitomizes the dedicated effort we all want and need from those committed to the field of cyber security, protecting information and systems from the growing threat of terrorism and espionage. Like real-life law enforcement officers, my hero, FBI Special Agent, Jason McNeil deals daily with worst that mankind has to offer. He, like real-life law enforcement officers, struggles with how to keep the evil he sees from touching the people he loves. Combining Sarah and Jason’s lives was a real challenge, but the contrast made for some great conflict.

What kind of research did you have to do for In the Shadow of Greed?
I first heard about botnets from my son who is in a master program for cyber security at the University of Maryland. I was unfamiliar with the term and began an extensive search.  As I devoured one article after another, a real cyber crime called Conficker caught my attention. The Conficker worm was first detected in 2008 and has infected millions of computers worldwide. This wasn’t fiction, but a dangerous threat to personal identities, data integrity, and national security.

What was the easiest and hardest scene to write in the book?

This is a hard question to answer without spoiling something vital in the story, but I’ll give it a try.

I find the hardest scenes for me to write are when my stories demand that a beloved character die. One chapter tore my heart in two, and I had to write it that way because nothing else made sense. I spend a lot of time trying to get inside my character’s head and heart. After a while, they are real to me. In this scene, I knew what was going to happen, but the hero and heroine had no idea. As I wrote that scene, I sat at my kitchen table and bawled just like Kathleen Turner’s character, Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone. But unlike Joan Wilder, I was alone and didn’t have a loveable cat to hug when it was all over.

The easiest scene to write was the Epilogue.  My hero and heroine were finally together. Their life together was beginning, and even though they still had a lot of grief to deal with, they were no longer alone. They had each other to hold onto. That is what I wish for all my readers; to have someone wonderful in their lives to hold onto when times are wonderful… and when they aren’t.

What inspired you to write In the Shadow of Greed?

I don’t have a technical bone in my body, but I have a great respect for those that do. There are brilliant computer scientists, cyber security and intelligence analysts, and engineers who dedicate their lives minding our fences, constantly monitoring our virtual perimeters, and holding back potential threats to our identities, to our data integrity, and to our national security. I wanted to honor them, let the world know that they are our unsung heroes. 

Now for something fun…
 What is the theme song to this book? As you wrote the story, what music did you go back to time and time again?
This is such an easy question. Here is Jason and Sarah’s song. It is alive in Jennie and Jared’s story as well as Adam and Calista’s. It tugs at my every heartstring. Enjoy!
“Song from a Secret Garden” – Violin and Piano

And here is a little taste of what readers have in store…

Excerpt for In the Shadow of Greed

He thinks I’m dead. Sarah’s coming. Help her!
The voice quivered inside Jason’s head. He pushed away from the pillar and froze. No one was there. His gaze fell back to the woman in the bed. His eyes narrowed and he clenched his jaw, biting down so hard, pain shot up his inner ear.
The next instant, a petite woman with long, straight, raven hair and the most beautiful, hazel eyes he had ever seen charged through the trauma unit. A security officer followed close behind and grabbed her arm, stopping her from moving any farther into the restricted area.
Jason stared at the woman in the bed and back to the woman by the door. He knew, without a doubt, her name was Sarah. His mind raced for an explanation.
“Ma’am, you can’t be back here.” The guard tried to pull Sarah back through the doors.
Sarah yanked out of his hold. The expression on her face was intense, unyielding. “Like hell I can’t. My sister is here. She needs me.”
The charge nurse moved from behind a counter of the nurse’s station and stood next to the security officer. “How can I help you?”
The nurse’s low, gentle voice seemed to have a soothing effect on Sarah. “Hanna Tu.” Her voice shuddered.
Jason couldn’t take his eyes off Hanna’s sister. In an instant, she transformed from a stiletto wearing, ice-dragon on the war path—just the kind of woman he disliked—into a frightened, desperate woman whose vulnerabilities brought out his protective instinct.
As her eyes wildly searched the trauma unit, the nurse reached for Sarah’s arm and guided her toward the doors.
“We’re still assessing your sister’s condition. I’ll have one of the doctors come talk to you in the waiting room as soon as they can. She’s in good hands, I promise you.”
 “I need to see her. I need to know she’s okay. The police wouldn’t allow me into her apartment. No one has told me anything. There was so much blood.” She sucked in a deep breath as tears clouded her eyes. “Please let me see her for a moment.”
Her eyes narrowed on the cubicle surrounded by a curtain. One of the nurses moved the fabric aside and left carrying a tray of vials. Sarah’s gaze fell on her sister. “Oh God! Hanna!”
She took a step toward her sister, but her body began to tremble and her knees buckled. Jason rushed forward and caught her as her body collapsed. With one arm wrapped around her waist, he used his other hand to lift the badge that hung around his neck and flashed it at the nurse. “She’s with me.”
He then found an empty chair away from a direct view of the cubicle and lowered Sarah into it. He knelt, keeping his arm around her. Her body shook violently and she gasped for air. The charge nurse brought over a cup of water and handed it to Jason. He brought it to Sarah’s lips.
“Drink, Sarah, it will help.”
She sipped the water and closed her eyes, taking in several deep breaths. “W-who hurt her? W-why?”
“We don’t know, but we’ll find out. He’ll pay for this.”
Sarah finally glanced up at him and pulled away. “Who are you?”
And the ice-dragon’s back. Jason clenched his jaw to keep a smile from spreading across his face. He couldn’t put his finger on the why, but this woman intrigued him. “Detective Jason McNeil.”
“Why are you here and not out finding the person who hurt my sister?”
Don’t let her push you away. She needs you, we need you.
Jason was taken aback by the weak, small voice in his head. What the hell was going on? Finding his voice, he said, “Someone tried to kill your sister.” He glanced toward Hanna’s cubicle. A crushing anger boiled up from deep within his gut. “The guy who attacked her has killed at least three other times we know about and he didn’t mean to leave Hanna alive. I’m not giving him a chance to finish the job.”
Oh God, he’s here… He’s here! Don’t let him near Sarah!


Bio:
Nancy C. Weeks lives in suburban Maryland with her husband of more than thirty years. With her two grown children out of the nest, she loves spending her days on her deck writing as the local bird population keeps her company.

Find Nancy at:
Twitter: @NancyCWeeks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7009278.Nancy_C_Weeks

Buy links for Nancy C. Weeks’s Shadow series:

IN THE SHADOW OF GREED

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/16GHb6I

IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/17hjfco

IN THE SHADOW OF MALICE

BARNES AND NOBLE: http://bit.ly/1dId2db


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Les Miz Act I, scene 3

It’s like falling in love.

I finally realized the metaphor for my involvement with Les Miserables. The euphoria. The anticipation of being together again. The sense that everything is perfect. That’s why I’m having so much trouble putting my experience in Les Miz into words. Who can describe falling in love—besides poets—and not sound like a raving fool?

The rehearsal schedule ran from Jan. 7 through opening night on March 21 three to four times a week. I was sure that by mid-February I’d be lingering at the dinner table reluctant to go to rehearsal “again.” Au contraire, mon ami. Instead, nights we didn’t have rehearsal, I missed being with everyone. I never didn’t want to go.  See, I’m even using double negatives… It’s like falling in love.

Rehearsals were always an adventure. On National Pistachio Day we all dressed in green. Carol proclaimed one Friday as Superhero Day. I used a clothespin to clip a towel around my neck and wore my swim goggles. I made an Old English A, colored it a faded red and pinned it to my chest…bosom… and wrote “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword” across it—voila—super-author. I am pretty conservative and don’t usually purposefully put
Carol really IS a superhero!
myself in embarrassing situations, yet I went to rehearsal looking like that. I hoped at least one other person would dress up, so imagine my relief (and delight) when Carol showed up in a Superman costume. Others dressed up or at least wore a superhero t-shirt. Something happened inside me that night. An awareness that these people accepted everyone, no matter how goofy. Seriously, I knew I could trust them all.

At Rainbow Day rehearsal, I wore items of clothing representing every color of the rainbow. Ron asked me, “Where do you get these costumes?” I replied, “From my closet?” He gave me a hug. It’s like that…love, acceptance, fun, shared times.

Rehearsals were serious business, too. Carol’s commitment to a deep understanding of our characters was contagious. She encouraged us to write a back story for every role we played. What was our name (if we didn’t have one, we selected one), how did we get to be who we were? How were we related to other characters in the cast? To others near us during a scene? How did we feel
Photo by Tawny Nelb
about what was occurring in that scene whether we were active in it or simply on stage during it? At one early rehearsal as we were exiting after “The People’s Song”, she stopped us and asked where we were going. “Not to the Green Room to have a snack,” she laughed. Instead she wanted us to be in our character and think: How did we feel as we left this scene? Did our character support the revolution? Think the students were crazy? Want to profit from this? Want to help? One night during "The Beggars" scene, she circulated among us and asked us, “How poor are you?” and she expected an answer. She wanted us to feel it. She brought us to a deeper understanding of our part in this story and that depth came through in the performances.

Like a lover, Les Miz seduced me into thinking about it all the time. The music weaved through my mind and wrapped me in its embrace every waking minute…and often in sleep. The email alert on my phone sounded like the first two notes in Fantine’s song as she lay dying, so every time it went off, I would start to sing, “Cosette, it’s turned so cold…” I wanted to be with Les Miz all the time. I wanted to talk about it to everyone I met. It made me smile. It made me cry. It made me long for our next time together.


It was like falling in love. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Les Miz Act 1, scene 2

This is my second “musing” on the experience of being a part of the cast of Les Miserables recently. If you have ever had an experience that was so big, so amazing that you had a difficult time explaining it, you will understand.

I couldn’t wait for January. And I never say that. But January 7 was our first rehearsal for Les Miserables, and it got me over the post-holiday blues fast. Walking into Rehearsal Room A, I could feel the air was electric with excitement and nerves. I knew a few people from Chorale, but most of the cast members were strangers. Since this was only my fourth show ever, I wasn’t sure what the drill was, so I sat next to Emily and watched what others were doing.  I dutifully handed in the required pages of my audition packet and got my head-shot taken. Many people knew each other from other shows, and lively conversation filled the air around me. But I didn’t know most of them and they weren’t my friends…yet.

Our director, Carol, immediately set the tone for what would become a family atmosphere. She told us to introduce ourselves to someone we didn’t know. I turned to Jordan, a petite, beautiful college student who was as thrilled as I was to be cast in the show. All of us were pinching ourselves to be sure we weren’t dreaming. Then we each stood and introduced ourselves and what part we had in the show.  We all burst out laughing when Claudia stood up and said, “Hi, I’m Claudia and I’m a whore.” She was one of the “Lovely Ladies,” and each of them stood up and proudly announced, “I am ____, and I’m a whore.” It was the start of rehearsals filled with laughter and camaraderie.


Photo by Tawny Nelb
I couldn’t believe we would run through the music at the first rehearsal, but Jim, our music director was confident we could do it—and did we ever! People were so happy to have a part in this show that voices soared and, already, tears flowed. As I said in my last post, sometimes there are no words. Jim said it was the best first sing-through he had ever experienced. Bonds started to form that night, and the family feeling would last through set strike and beyond.

Tape covered the floor in a color-coded maze that we would come to understand as different levels of the set. Two of my entrances were up a ladder from the sewer, so I sat where the X indicated a hole in the floor of the stage. Spatial relations are not my strong suit, so I had a hard time envisioning how this would look. The night Kristen, the set designer, revealed a small model of the set we were amazed. She was so proud, and now we could see a three-dimensional mock-up of a very ambitious set. But we were sworn to secrecy so that the big reveal for the public would be opening night. Opening night seemed so far away…

The age range for the Les Miz cast was four-years-old to seventy-two. Jim admitted to being the oldest
Photo by Tawny Nelb
member of the cast and referred to himself as “Grumpy Grandpa Jim” which, of course, he never was. He and I were partnered in The Innkeeper’s scene where I was supposed to be passed out on the floor most of the time and he kept taking away my mug. It was great fun. The little kids had a blast running around during rehearsals, but they never interfered with a scene in progress. Even the little ones seemed to respect what it meant to be a part of this show.


My heart and mind are filled with so many memories of this journey. I write quickly to try to commit them to paper before they slip away like smoke. When I think back to this time period, it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket. I told my husband, Rich, that there was not one negative moment during this whole time. Put all the people together who worked on this production, add fun, hard work, beautiful voices, let it season for three months…it’s a recipe for magic.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Les Miz Act 1

There are some experiences in life that are too big to be contained in words—but I’m going to try! Recently I had the honor of being in the cast of a local production of Les Miserables, the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel. The show closed last Saturday, set strike was Sunday, and life is back to normal. Indulge me as I recall my journey through this amazing period. It will take more than one blog post, I’m sure.

Audition Packet
When the Midland Center for the Arts announced the line-up for 2013-14 which included Les Miserables, I said I wanted to audition for that show. Then I said, no, I wouldn’t stand a chance. Then I said, yes, I’ll do anything to be a part of it. Then I said, no, I have to finish my current book. You get the idea. I finally decided that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I did not try. I dutifully picked up my multi-page audition packet which included four passages from Shakespeare one of which I wanted to memorize. My daughter, Kate, a professional Shakespearean actor thought Tamora’s speech from Titus Andronicus would also be suitable, so we worked with it throughout our Thanksgiving visit and I began memorizing “Have I not reason, think you, to look pale...” I recited it when I made the bed, when I did the dishes, when I showered, while I drove. The more I memorized, the more I wanted this.


On a stormy Tuesday night last December, I drove through blustery snow to attend the first of three audition nights scheduled for Les Miz. (A fourth night was added to accommodate the requests; ultimately between 275-300 people auditioned for the 58 roles.) I got to the theater early enough to snag audition number 22 so I would be in the very first group to audition on the very first night of auditions. Hmmm. Was this a good thing or bad? Looking around the room we were ushered into, I saw many veteran local actors and amazing singers and thought, “Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?”

Carol, the director and Jim, the music director gave us a pep talk assuring us that if we were cut off during our song, it didn’t mean we were out. If we weren’t asked to stay to read, it didn’t mean we were out. If we didn’t recite our Shakespearean passages, it didn’t mean we wouldn’t be considered. I nodded mentally understanding, but I had reason to look pale though I didn’t know it yet.

We were allowed up to 32 bars of a song for our audition. My voice teacher wanted me to show off my newly discovered soprano voice (I’ve always sung alto) so we selected “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom of the Opera. If I started in the middle of the song, I had 32 bars to the end of the
First Rehearsal (photo by Tawny Nelb)
song which included my soprano range. I started to pale when we sat in numerical order and I realized that number 21 was one of the best sopranos in my Chorale chorus. I thought, “Oh crap, I follow Lynn.” She sang an amazing rendition of “I Loves You, Porgy” with her voice soaring to the rafters. I still was not daunted. I stood tall and began to sing, “Passing bells and sculpted angels, cold and monumental, seem for you the wrong companions, you were warm and gentle…” What? Is that applause I hear? Slow, “you can stop singing now” applause? Why, yes it was. Cutting off my song. I never made it to the soprano range; I got the hook. “Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?”

At least I wasn’t the only one. The guy next to me, number 23, was also cut short. Neither of us was asked to stay and read. I never did get to recite my passage. When I got home, I told my husband, Rich, that I had just had my fifteen seconds of fame. He reminded me that it’s fifteen minutes, poured me a glass of wine and assured me that Jim already knew my voice and didn’t need to hear any more. Kate said the same thing when she called to see how my audition went. I didn’t feel so optimistic. The crème de la crème was auditioning for this. But I had auditioned and I was proud of myself for that.

I plunged into my manuscript and the holidays trying not to think of it. I was revising my book one afternoon when I got a call from Carol. I was afraid of what she would tell me, so I made small talk. I had seen her in a show a few months earlier and knew she had directed something after that so I kept her talking about her busy life for as long as I could. Finally, she said, “I’d like you to be the Hair Hag in Les Miz.” Stunned doesn’t even come close to how I felt. “Really?” I answered as if she were not sure. Don’t give her a chance to change her mind. “I’d love to! I can’t believe it!” I shouted. “Great!” Carol laughed and gave me starting rehearsal dates.

“Have I not reason, think you, to say Hallelujah?”


Stay tuned for more…

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Timing is Everything

During my stint as a middle school media specialist (aka school librarian) a thirty-something 6th grade teacher came in and blurted, “Books set in the 1960s are historical fiction, right?” I felt as if he’d slapped me. I remember the 1960s! Historical fiction is ancient Rome or the Civil War or at least World War II—not something I remember getting dressed for! But according to some sources, he may be right.

It’s a toss-up as to whether or not The Cavanaugh House is considered historical fiction. Set in 1968 in upstate New York, it’s based on memories that are very clear to me. But despite how it’s classified, writing in a past time and trying to keep it accurate is sometimes like ice dancing without skating lessons. Here are the dilemmas I’ve encountered.

Jesse Graham is fleeing her hometown of Rochester, NY after breaking off her engagement to a famous local musician. She wants to escape to a quiet life where no one recognizes her, but, as an English teacher, she must finish out the school year. Thus begins my problem.

To establish the setting, I have Jesse think about the assassination of Robert Kennedy just two weeks earlier. That puts her move to the Cavanaugh House in mid-June where she meets an essential character who invites her to a July 4th celebration. Events at that party are critical to the plot. So what’s the problem? In New York State, school calendars end in late June (I graduated high school on June 27!) so she would not have time to move, get the house habitable and meet this character before July 4. My choices are: 1. Have Jesse resign her position early, perhaps right before exams, and move in mid-June, or 2. Rearrange my plot structure and timing. I tried writing solution #1 into my manuscript and the blood in my teacher veins curdled. Jesse is a dedicated teacher. Dedicated teachers don’t resign their positions early because of broken engagements. Ergo, Jesse stays through the end of the year. That means I move on to solution #2.

In solution #2 I have decided to change the July 4th party to a Founder’s Day party celebrating the establishment of the Wyndham family estate and vineyard. A pretty easy fix, but it will require many extensive changes because the event is referred to throughout the novel. Plus, the timeframe of the novel is just the summer months, so I have to double-check the domino effect of changing the date of the celebration on subsequent events.

Another change I had to make was easier to accomplish, but harder to accept. Jesse has moved into the Cavanaugh House which has been abandoned for 28 years and is mice-infested. She supports the Woman’s Liberation movement and is sensitive to any remark that sounds chauvinistic. In this scene, Joe, her eventual romantic interest, teases her:

He glanced at the items in her shopping cart.
“Looks like you’re going to be a busy lady—woman,” he corrected. “I can’t get this new terminology down.”
Pleased that he tried, heck, that he even was aware of it, she smiled.
“I’m getting ready for Erik to bomb my house. He said the subsequent clean-up effort could be daunting.”
“When is he coming to do that?” he asked.
“He’s bombing on Monday, we’re cleaning up the carcasses on Tuesday and I can move in and start to clean on Wednesday.”
Joe stifled a grin. “Wow, it used to be laundry on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, shopping on Wednesday. ‘You’ve come a long way, baby.’.”
Annoyance flared and she leaned her face into his. He held up his hands in a defensive motion.
“I was just pulling your chain,” he laughed.
She realized he had anticipated her scolding.
“You were earning some brownie points a minute ago, but you just lost ‘em.” She scowled at him.

I love this exchange, but there was one problem…it takes place in June 1968 and Virginia Slims came out with the “You’ve come a long way, baby” slogan in late July 1968. One month!!! In order to be historically accurate, I had to change the line, “You’ve come a long way baby” to “This women’s lib thing is really working.” Arghhh!

But what I love about writing historical fiction is the ability to immerse readers into a time period that is so
well-defined by everyday items such as clothing, automobiles, music or simple facts such as access to only one telephone located in the first floor hall. This kind of element allows the suspense to build because communication is not so instantly available.

My release date for The Cavanaugh House will be delayed a bit because of this additional editing, but I believe the story will be stronger for it. No revisionist history, here. I’ve come a long way, baby.

The Cavanaugh House will be available at Amazon  in print and ebook  in April.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lynn Crandall, Her Characters and a Ghost, Oh My!

Lynn Crandall and her two characters join me today to give us a taste of Lynn’s newest release with Crimson Romance.  I love hearing directly from your characters Sterling and Lacey, Lynn.
Elizabeth, I'm happy to be a guest on your blog and to share a bit about my latest romantic suspense, .
Author Lynn Crandall
Always and Forever Love

Always and Forever Love is the second book that focuses on the private investigator sisters, Lacey and Sterling Aegar. While the first book, Dancing with Detective Danger, focused on Sterling, Lacey is the focus of the second. In Always and Forever Love, Lacey is taking refuge from grief and fear of loss in a relationship with her dead husband, Nicholas, who appears to her as a spirit body. After two years of this relationship, he is urging her to expand her idea of life beyond the limiting one she has with him. But Lacey can't think of losing him again, even though Jackson Carter is prompting feelings she'd rather ignore.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In the Shadow of Romance with Author Nancy Weeks

Today I welcome fellow Crimson Romance writer Nancy Weeks. Nancy has just released the third book in her Shadow series. Nancy, please tell us a little about yourself.
I always choke-up when I’m asked for a short bio. I have been a wife for almost thirty-three years and a
mother for twenty-six years. But I’m more than a wife and a mother. I just can’t ever think of what that more is. I decided before having kids that I wanted to be home with them. It went against the norm, but I felt that one hectic career in the family was enough. After moving back to Maryland from southern Germany, I gave up my career and became a stay-at-home mom. The moment both my kids were off to college, I began to write. Now I proudly call myself an author.

Monday, March 10, 2014

More Romance Please: Books To Go Now Spring Fling and Blog Hop: Love's ...

I'm so pleased to be featured on More Romance Please as part of the Books to Go Now's blog hop. Stop by and visit for a chance to win great prizes! 

More Romance Please: Books To Go Now Spring Fling and Blog Hop: Love's ...: Books To Go Now Spring Fling! For your chance to win one of many prizes, you must stop by one of the participating blog hop stops...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jennifer DeCuir's Take on First Romance: A Boy Band Crush

Most girls go through that ancient rite of passage, the boy band crush. Posters on the wall, lyrics to every song memorized and jotted down in a journal or in the margins of their textbooks at school. Dreaming of that one band member that they swear looks right at them in music videos or live on stage. I’m so going to marry him someday! We’re going to have the cutest babies. I certainly can’t judge. I was well past my teen years when I dragged my husband (oh, the poor man!) to an *NSYNC concert in downtown Los Angeles.

Being a writer, I took my boy band obsession to a whole new level. I started writing fan fiction. At the height of my fame (did I mention I had quite the following?) I had my own website dedicated to my stories. I had a page for each boy band member. I had long stories, short stories, holiday-themed stories. You name it. And pictures to go with each one. I had every CD on repeat as I wrote. It was bliss.

So we know what it’s like to be the crush-er. But I was curious. What would it be like to be the crush-ee? Would the money and the fame be worth the lack of privacy? Would you wonder if your friends were only your friends because of who you were in public, and not who you were in private? Would it be one huge party? Or would it be surprisingly lonely?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Haunted by the Perfect Word

Sometimes I wordsmith to death, and so it is with my mystery, The Cavanaugh House. My book was inspired by an urban legend and my childhood memories of a neighbor’s disturbing discovery.

The detail of the urban legend that seems to have crept into my novel is one word: Scrape. It from the legend of the White Lady who haunted the area of Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, NY. According to this myth, one night a couple parked in this lovers’ lane to watch the “submarine races” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Exhausted from their passion, they fell asleep. When the girl awoke in the wee hours of the morning, her boyfriend had disappeared and she heard a noise—scrape, scrape, scrape—coming from above her.
Climbing out of the car, she was traumatized to find her boyfriend’s body hanging over a tree limb above the car. What she had was his fingernails scraping the hood—a victim of the White Lady.

The word “scrape” has gestated in my imagination all these years, and birthed itself upon the pages of The Cavanaugh House. But I don’t think it’s the right word for my story. While I hear it in my mind in all of its glorious ghostly implication, “scrape” may conjure up other images for my readers: a scraped knee, getting into a difficult situation, ice on a windshield, preparation to paint a house. None of these make the spine tingle. I want my readers’ spines to tingle.

My beta readers have been awesome with suggestions ranging from the sound of eerie chimes to words like scritch. I love the idea of music or chimes, but I can’t write that in one word; I need an onomatopoeia that will imbue the scene with creepiness and suspense. I’m leaning toward scritch since it lacks any preconceived ideas. For some reason my usually-gregarious muse, Boris, has been strangely silent on this topic. Apparently he handles the “big picture” and is not a detail man.

To avoid a spoiler, I will not reveal my childhood neighbor’s disturbing discovery…you’ll have to read the book. But I am open to ideas to replace scrape from any of you with spine-tingling words in your head. It’s my last revision before I publish.


Look for The Cavanaugh House on Amazon in late March.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Today I welcome fellow Michigan author Colleen Nye. With her varied writing background, she brings a wealth of experiences to her writing.

Let’s start with her bio:Colleen Nye started writing at an early age. Between school writing assignments and her love of reading in early elementary school, her love of the art started right when she was being introduced to it. In high school, she submitted some of her poems and short stories to various mediums including anthologies, newspapers, magazines and contests. Several of which were published and won her awards including a few editor’s choice awards, placements in contests and even The Sarah Endres Award for Young Writers.

As an adult, she branched out and worked as a freelance writer for corporations and non-profit organizations, writing press releases for newspapers, magazines and online blogs and web sites. She also worked with politicians to create campaign and promotional fliers, bios and web site blurbs. Other works she has done have been research and photography for a few Mid-Michigan sites highlighted in the book Paranormal Lansing by Nicole Bray and Robert DuShane. She’s also worked with several companies, creating their how-to articles and product descriptions.
In 2009, Colleen joined a writer’s group called Writing at the Ledges in her home town of Grand Ledge, MI. In 2010, they published their second anthology entitled Seasons of Life. Colleen’s short story, “Full Circle” was a part of this book, being one of the longer pieces and received several great reviews.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Slaying the Revision Dragon

Looking at the multiple drafts of my WIP  marked up with suggested revisions is a daunting task. I feel like St. George standing before the Dragon; I hope I will be as successful. My beta readers are awesome, and I appreciate the time they have invested in helping me write the best book possible. Now it is my turn to invest hours in rereading and revising The Cavanaugh House.

To say I felt overwhelmed when first facing this process is putting it mildly. At the end of October, I had gathered all of my drafts, set them in a row, and BAM, my back went out on me making it impossible to sit at my computer for any length of time. Then we sold our cottage and had an impromptu moving sale that lasted through two weekends, and then the holidays arrived. It was January before I was able to return to my revisions. You know how difficult tasks loom larger and larger the longer they are put off? Yeah. A dragon.

I knew what I needed was a method. How would I approach this Hydra-monster-task knowing that as I revised one draft, other issues would reappear in the next? Now, I am a pantser when it comes to writing, so I usually go where my Muse leads me without an outline or plan. That wouldn’t be effective in this stage of my writing, so I MADE A PLAN. Oh, yes I did!

Attitude is Everything
I had an appreciation for my English students as my heart sank at the appearance of red marker (yes, I provided each local reader with a red pen) and tracking comments on the pages of my drafts. What? They didn’t think my novel was perfect as it was? Even knowing that my beta readers had my goal in mind—to make my book the best it could be—I was a little disheartened at the need for any changes. So the first step in my plan was an attitude adjustment—right now. After working through the first two drafts, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I felt a tremendous appreciation for all the time and effort my beta readers had put into improving my book. That alone made me feel supported and surrounded by positive energy.

Approach with Caution
I decided to approach my drafts with my beta readers in mind. Some of their approaches were more developmental while others were more mechanics. My intention was to tackle overarching story line edits first, but I could not pass by mechanical edits along the way. So my systematic approach became a bit muddied. I did line my drafts up according to which beta reader would be most exacting on grammar, spelling and punctuation, figuring that some of these would be corrected along the way by my developmental readers.

Rewriting
I never thought I’d say this, but the mechanical corrections are so much easier than the developmental. I had to add an entire scene in order to provide interaction between my protagonist and a secondary character. The story line begged for it, and so did my beta readers. Naturally, that change led to necessary modifications in their interactions later in the book. It’s the domino effect—change this and it tumbles all the way to the end. But once I had written it, the relationship between these characters made so much sense—and added a delicious aspect to a conflict that had been minor. Can you say “sequel”?

It’s the Little Things
Not only do major rewrites require a thorough re-look, minor changes do as well. For example, one of my readers noticed that I used the word “got” too often. I sing her praises since “got” is such a weak word. But once I revise it to an alternate word, say “acquired” or “progressed” or “arrived”, I have to search the nearby pages to see if I am then repeating that word. Hydra-monster indeed.

Timing is Everything
I find revision seems to take more time than creating the story—okay, maybe not. When I look at the revision process from afar, it seems less exciting than the actual drafting of the story, but when I get down to the task, it is exciting to see how tightening, changing, and adding makes the story so much better. I am amazed at the insight and creativity of my beta readers. Their suggestions are spot-on almost every time.

One More Time
Once I finish with these revisions, I will turn my draft over to H.J., my friend and former colleague whose line-editing is thorough! When she provides the final mark-up, I will make those corrections and then publish. What a sweet word!

Thanks!
So as I work on my revisions, I thank each of you: Kate, Linda, Janet, Deborah, Luana, H.J., and Sarah. I have spent days with each one of you whispering in my ear. Thank you for your efforts, your support and your belief in me. I will slay this Revision Dragon, wrap my "girdle" around his neck and he will follow me like a tame beast...or so the legend goes.

Now share with me something you love or hate about your revision process.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Today I am honored to welcome Joaquin Guerrero to my blog. I met Joaquin when we shared a table at a book signing, and his story captivated me. Welcome to my blog, Joaquin. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, I've been in law enforcement for 25 years and currently work for the Oakley Police Department. I am also an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache tribe of Texas. I was one of the many Native Americans that never knew of my Native American heritage, because it was taboo to even admit or say you were Native American for fear of repercussions.  I had researched my family’s background for years trying to determine our roots, but kept hitting dead ends. I knew I was Native American, but didn’t know the specifics or if my background was a blend of various tribes or cultures. Finally, on a visited to my aunt in South Dakota I was referred to Robert Soto who researches geneology. I sent him all of my information, and he discovered that my family is full-blooded Lipan Apache.  It was great to find that out, but even back in those days, it could be something to keep quiet about. In 1980 a group Apaches performed for then Texas Governor George W. Bush and while visiting, informed him of a Texas law that made it legal to kill Apaches; their scalp would earn a gold piece worth $2,000. Gov. Bush immediately started the process to enact a law to end that. It took 13 years, but in 1993 a law was passed that said it was illegal to kill, shoot, or scalp Apaches.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trisha Harner CreatesHer Heart's Desire

Today I am so pleased to welcome my friend Trisha Harner to my blog. You will be energized by her in a minimum of two sentences…I guarantee it! She is a contributing writer in the book Bold is Beautiful. Trisha, please tell us about yourself.
I am a creative juju instigator, and champion of your heart’s desire. I know you have the mind blowing, heart pumping, DNA changing ability to create change in your life.  As a trained Visioning ® coach and instructor I teach women how to use their God-given tools, their brains and hearts to overcome the blocks that stop them being, doing, and creating what it is they desire to experience in life.  I’m a mother, daughter, wife and friend who is passionate about creating my own over all well-being, rocking relationships, and life’s work.  And I love to write.  It’s my art.  It’s the place I go where time slips away; I can’t imagine my life without being able to write.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For Joanna Lloyd All You Need is Love

Today I welcome Crimson Romance author Joanna Lloyd to my blog. After a career nurturing and empowering people, she is fulfilling the dream of her life—writing about love. Welcome, Joanna. Please tell us a little about yourself.
In my other lives I have been a mediator, a counsellor, worked with indigenous people in remote areas of the far north of Australia, assessed individuals to be foster caregivers and written forensic family assessments for the Family Law Courts. The frustrated writer was always there, sneaking out into assessments and reports which were sometimes a touch too colorful. Finally when I could no longer dash about due to the degenerative progression of muscular dystrophy, I happily gave myself over to the muse of fiction and romance.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Love's Spirit Gets an Awesome Review

I am thrilled at the review CeeCee wrote at Romancebookworm.com!

Here is an excerpt:

I am completely blown away by this author! To say that she writes intelligently, or dictates everything perfectly would be an understatement.  Given her background as an English teacher, she has an exemplary gift of conveying life as it was, in every manner, during the 18th century, without causing confusion.   The research involved is evident and impressive.  I finished this novel with a renewed sense of knowledge about the Revolutionary War, and I grew up two miles from The Kershaw-Cornwallis House in Historic Camden!  We were raised on the wars and conflicts that occurred in our sleepy little town, and Meyette writes as if she was raised during these times. 


Check out the full review here:

Romancebookworm.com

Friday, January 17, 2014

It Just Keeps Getting Better!

Great News! Love’s Spirit is a Kindle Big Deal starting today through Feb. 2! That means you can order Love’s Spirit for 99 cents during this time at Amazon


As the Revolutionary War breaks out the story of Jonathon and Emily continues. Both face danger: Jonathon from the British who want to hang him for treason and Emily from the woman whose love for Jonathon has driven her mad. While the impending birth of their baby is cause for celebration, threats from the British and from evil lurking at Brentwood Manor present obstacles to their love.


Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Virginia, March 1776
Emily Brentwood slowly rose to consciousness steeling herself against the assault of anguish and sorrow that accosted her at every dawn. For the last four months the memory of her beloved husband Jonathon, shot and dragged into a British skiff, had been the image that lifted her from her sleep and carried her to waking. The terror she had felt as that scene had unfolded before her, leaving her to believe that he was dead, seeped through her as if it were all happening again.
But something was different this morning. What was it?  She battled waking to delay the pain, but there was a whisper of awareness that eased her reluctance. The sun was not rising; it was slanting in the western sky, and the pungent aroma of cedar surrounded her. Slowly coming awake, she started at the sensation of strong arms holding her and warm breath tickling the back of her neck. Jonathon was beside her. She gasped as her eyes flew open.
“Jonathon,” she breathed.
“Love,” he answered sleepily.
She rolled toward him and buried her face in his chest.  His scent was intoxicating and the thick mat of hair tickled her nose; she burrowed into him and he kissed the top of her head. Her arms encircled him and pulled him closer, but his gasp reminded her that his injuries were still fresh. She released him.
“No, do not let me go,” he whispered.
“I fear I will hurt you. You are badly beaten, Jonathon.”
Emily recalled the shock of first seeing her husband so bruised and battered when she had arrived at the cabin. His left eye was swollen almost shut, and his cheeks, chest and back bore the marks of a cat-o'-nine-tails. She had been reluctant to touch him at all for fear of inflicting more pain, but he had reached out his arms to her and she had melted into them. Gently, slowly, she had eased against his body tentatively testing each move until they lay together, lost in the bliss of the other’s touch.

Both Love's Spirit and Love's Destiny will be on sale for $1.99 throughout Feb. at Amazon


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dragon Dawn by Deborah O'Neill Cordes

Do you enjoy a book that stretches your imagination and takes you to worlds beyond your imagining? Then Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series is for you! Let me reintroduce you to my friend Deborah O’Neill Cordes and her newest book.

Deborah’s bio:
Deborah is a screenwriter and novelist of historical and speculative fiction. She is the author of the sci-fi time travel novel, Dragon Dawn, Book One of the Dinosaurian Time Travel Series. She is also the co-author of the Morgan O’Neill time travel novels, which she writes with Cary Morgan Frates. Three of Deborah’s works have been optioned by Hollywood, while many others are award winners, garnering finalist placements in the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference Literary Contest, semi-finalist wins in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Finalist award in the Seattle International Film Festival’s Perfect Pitch Forum. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two West Highland White Terriers, who, alas, are precocious terriers and therefore never white.