Monthly Archives: August 2013

You’re Invited to My First Book Signing Event


BOOK SIGNING INVITATION

 

Even if you don’t plan to attend the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference, you can still meet me and all the other attending authors and get our books.

 

September 13, and again September 14, from 5pm to 6pm we will participate in a mammoth book signing at

 

The Hunt Valley Inn

245 Shawan Rd

Cockeysville, MD

 

With me will be all the writers who will be speaking at panels during the conference.  That means more than 30 authors in one place, showing off our work and signing our books that you pick up at the conference bookstore, run by one of MD’s finest bookstores, Mystery Loves Company.

 

This is your chance to get autographed copies of my books, plus books by international bestselling author Jeffery Deaver and other mystery novelists; NY Times Bestselling author John Gilstrap and other thriller writers, NY Times bestselling author Christopher Golden and other science fiction, fantasy and horror novelists; and bestselling author Trice Hickman and more writers of suspense.

 

Check out the impressive list of writers who will be there for you to meet at

 

http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/?page_id=10

 

And mark your calendars for this once in a lifetime opportunity! I look forward to meeting you!

 

AFTERTHOUGHT–What am I going to wear? Do I need a professional new hair-do? Naw. I’ll be me and you’ll be you, and we’ll have a great time!

First, an Apology, Then an Announcement


Hi, sweet people. I owe you an apology. During August, I have been swamped and inattentive to you, to your comments, and more. Sadly, I remain under water with obligations and medical care until sometime in October. I want you to understand why I am behaving badly and not getting back to you when you write. Very soon, I promise to make it up to you and get back on top of things again.

I want to announce that I have started a Facebook page. Oh, heart, don’t fail me now. I swore I would never go on Facebook or any other similar strictly social network. Well, it seems that Facebook has evolved into more and so have I.

Since I am only, I don’t know, a millennium behind everyone else on the planet and haven’t a clue what I am doing, please be patient with me as the Facebook page evolves.

Finally I want to remind everyone who is interested in the FROM WRITERS TO PUBLISHED AUTHORS CONFERENCE on October 5, to get your registration in. The price of $60 for 6 sessions will rise to $75 in September. Why pay a penalty for procrastination? Be proactive and save $$$. Remember, lunch is included in the admission.

Click here to register:

Email acornbookservices@gmail.com or phone 304-285-8205 for more information.

You may read about the conference at http://acornbookservices.com/Writer_to_Published_Author.html

or see the brochure about the conference below.

WRITERS TO PUBLISHED AUTHORS BROCHURE USE THIS

Another Baby Step in the Right Direction


The chapters for Dead with Envy are now properly formatted and ready to send out to a few critical readers to get that last input from outsiders before publication.

–There is more good news. I am going to be reading another author’s work (for pay) to provide him with feedback. I am at a point in my life where I can use the extra cash. The timing is very good.–

So back to the main point. I am getting some critical reviews. I have the cover art in hand. Now I have to write acknowledgements, a dedication, a bio (really hard for me, believe it or not), and get my head shot (for publicity use–not for inspiration on the next story line). A friend who is retired from professional photography agreed to take some candid photographs. I am hoping one of those will work for my publicity photo.

It’s little stuff now, loose ends to tie up, that stand between me and publication. The launch is very near. I am quivering.

The Mental War with Fear and Self-Doubt


As a writer, I have struggled with self-doubt throughout writing my first novel.  When I made the decision to create a book, I wrestled with selecting a story. My imagination had several threads that had been dreamed up over the years. I couldn’t settle on one because I doubted whether anyone would like the characters.

My friend Debbie decided she would push me a bit. She has always been an avid reader of murder mysteries, so she came to me with a cast of characters and insisted I write her story.

I want to thank Debbie for doing that. The psychology of writing someone else’s story erased the fear of starting. After all, this wasn’t my story or my characters. What was there to fear? My brain converted the assignment to the equivalent of classroom homework. The writing began.

By the end of the first chapter, all that was left of Debbie’s story were the main character names. My imagination kicked in. Debbie’s plot was replaced by one of my creation, and I was on my way to writing a book of my own.

Because I didn’t start the story with a preconceived plot, I would run into walls at times, not knowing where the story was going to go next. Sometimes it was days, while other times it was weeks or months between writing bursts. My characters were the ones writing the story, not me. I had to wait for them to tell me what was coming next.

Sometimes real life inspired a segment. A happening would get incorporated into the plot, which then led to the next tangent in the storyline. I was as enthralled as any reader in what was coming next because I didn’t know.

In the end, the story told itself and came together nicely. Looking back, I am amazed at how it got done.

Now what?

It has been roughly six months since I finished the first draft. This week I am wrapping up work on this book. Why has it taken so long? The only truthful explanation is me. My fear. My self-doubt. I am scared to put it out there.

My friend, and prolific author, Lauren Carr has taught me that I am my own worst enemy. In the time between finishing the novel’s first draft to the time it goes to press, Lauren has published TWO novels. She is my inspiration and role model.

She is already broadcasting news about my next novel in order to get me moving. The pressure is on. My new characters are percolating and throwing story parts at me. This time I have a grand storyline in my head already. I know the beginning and the end. The middle is still being created.

At the moment, I am not fearful. I am excited. That will change. The first bad review will crank up the self-doubt inside me. But I have a few defenses against my fears this time around.

First, I know I am still on a learning curve. Like any first, my novel will have beginner errors in it. I know that, and I will learn from my mistakes.

Second, I have written a complete book already. So there is no question about whether or not I can. I’ve already done it.

Third, I have set a goal. By this time next year, book two will be done. I will have cut the time it takes me to tell a story in half. Then I will write book three in six months. That’s my plan. With an end target in sight, I have something to aim for. The finish line is concrete. That is a motivator.

I hope telling my experience has been helpful to you. Maybe you see yourself or maybe light has been shed on the source of your own block. My wish for you is that you get a strangle hold on the neck of your own fear. Choke it, so that you, too, can make a breakthrough in your writing.

Using Obscure Facts in Fiction


Did you know that “If you travel with a lot of cash [governments] just seize it and assume it is illegal. This is commonly called Policing for Profit. They have transformed the drug laws of money laundering into tax evasion claiming anyone with a foreign account not reporting that money is engaged in money laundering and they get to confiscate everything you have and you go to jail for up to 25 years,” says Martin Armstrong, economist.

In my upcoming novel Dead with Envy, similar obscure money laws play an important part in the story.

As an author, I found it fun to do the research because what I discovered was new to me. As a reader, I am equally fascinated when the writer teaches me something I didn’t know.

 

Guest Post from Author Cindy McDonald


Cindy is the author of The Unbridled Series of books: Hot Coco, Deadly.com, and, her latest, Against the Ropes. Cindy says of herself and her work:

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack.

In her guest post today, Cindy speaks to us through the voice of one of her characters. She shares the trauma of living with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Cindy’s website is http://cindymcwriter.com/.

Cindy McDonald w- mother

MEMORIES OF PRESQUE ISLE

It is late fall. I have never visited the beaches of Presque Isle this late in the year, after the leaves have abandoned the trees, and their sinewy branches reach toward the grey skies like dark skeletons. The waves crash into the shore, as the seagulls dip and dive over the vast water of Lake Erie. I loved this place growing up. I still love this place—almost as much as my mother loved it. There is something mysterious about Lake Erie, especially standing here among the silent beaches, void of children’s laughter, lifeguards blowing whistles, and parents calling after their youngsters to stay within a certain distance of the shore. It is surreal. It calls to me.

My name is Jen Fleming, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Eric West suggested a trip to Erie, Pennsylvania to visit the wineries, stay at a lovely Bed & Breakfast, and walk the beaches of Presque Isle during the off-season. Eric is an imposing man. His life at Westwood Thoroughbred Farm leaves him little time for such getaways. He is also a very observant and caring man, and I have no doubt he could see my melancholy. He wrapped his arms around me in my office at the racetrack where I am a nurse, and whispered in my ear, “A trip through Pennsylvania wine country and a walk on the beach should perk you right up.” Hmmm, as a matter of fact just the suggestion was enough to perk me up. I hugged him tightly swallowed up by his warmth and sensitivity to my needs.

We arrived in Presque Isle Saturday morning.  I wasn’t prepared for the power it would have over me, the emotions that would coil through me, when I realized that my mother would never again see the lake, walk the shores, or build sand castles with her grandchildren. You see my mother is eighty and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

I can still see my brothers and me jumping the waves, and running to the old battered blankets lying in the sand that were designated for the lake. My mother would tell us about her childhood. She used to come to the lake every year and spend several weeks with her cousins who lived in Erie. She would tell us how they swam in the lake until their lips would turn blue from the chill. She has no recollection of her cousins now. She barely recognizes me or my brother when we go to visit her at the nursing home facility once a week. My mother never accepted the death of my father seven years ago. And I watched helplessly as she fell farther and farther into the abyss of confusion and denial. My older brother and I tried to get her involved in church activities or community service projects. The answer was always the same: “No, I don’t care to do that.” My mother was always a rather standoffish person. She didn’t have many friends—my father was her world.

As time went on she became more and more reclusive and aloof and confused. My life is crazy and my brother’s work schedule is nuts. We did our very best, but she was so very obstinate. Finally my brother, who lives next door to my mother, would call me with frantic stories of finding my mother in the yard looking for my father. Her hairdressers and manicurists would contact me as well to inform me of her confusion, and their concern for her driving. I had to take her car keys—she was furious. I wanted to keep her in her own home as long as possible, but it was becoming impossible. She hated the day nurses we hired to care for her—she only became more agitated and hard to deal with. My brother insisted that she needed more care than we could provide. He was right, only I felt that I had failed her on some level, that I hadn’t done enough to keep her mind healthy.

The day we took her to the nursing facility was one of the worse days of my life. No matter how lovely the facility or how wonderful the staff, a daughter’s place is in the guilt and the guilt consumed me. I would visit mom two and three times a week only to face an angry woman who couldn’t remember or focus on anything. She would insist that I call her dad and tell him where to come pick her up. She was worried that she would be late for school. She wanted to know why her mother hadn’t called in days. I was beside myself at how to respond. At the end of my visits she would chase me to my car screaming, “You get me out of here, Jennifer! You’re heartless!” The staff would have to gently subdue her. It was horrible to say the least.

Finally the big melt-down happened. I had gone to New York with some girlfriends to see some shows and take in the city. My brother assured me that all would be fine while I was gone, and that I really needed time away. Mom was very rough on me, and yet kind to my brother when he visited. The very first night that I was away the nursing home called—mom was out of control—hallucinatory. They had moved her to a psych ward at a nearby hospital for counseling and medication adjustments. I was horrified. The guilt welled inside me like a swollen spitting volcano. They said she had been transported by ambulance. My mother had never been in an ambulance or in a hospital for that matter—I could only imagine how frightened and confused she was by it all, and my guilt ripped viciously at me once more. And then the second phone call came—my brother had had a heart attack. I thought I would split in half with angst.

When I returned from New York I visited my brother who was doing just fine—he would make a full recovery. Thank you, Lord. It was time to visit mom—alone. I met with her counselor in his office for an hour and a half before being escorted into the psych ward. Her counselor stayed for the visit as a mediator. I was relieved. Overall our visit was pleasant—the counselor saw to that. When it was time for me to leave she became agitated, but the counselor insisted that she remain in the room until the nurse came for her—I didn’t think that would work. It didn’t. As we approached the nurse’s station I could hear her calling my name. I turned to find her pushing her walker down the hall calling out to me, “Jennifer! You come back here! You take me home right now!” Anxiety churned inside me.  I turned to the counselor and asked, “What do I do now?” He simply said, “It’s time for you to leave.” He took me by the arm and shoved me into a supply closet. Seriously? When I turned, I came face-to-face with a nurse who seemed very accustomed to the sight. Moments later, the counselor joined me in the closet. Really? Smiling he waved at me, “This way.” I followed him to the other side of the closet to a door that led into another part of the hospital, and back to his office where we talked for an hour more.

My mother stayed in the ward for one week. They completely changed her meds and I was informed by her counselor that I was a “trigger”. I filled her with the need to go home. I was told that I should only visit once a week and never alone—I should visit with my brother. Oh yeah, that was a huge guilt trip for me, but its working. I visit mom every Wednesday evening with my brother. The visits are pleasant. She is calm and the staff says she is much improved. I’ve let go of the guilt—I had to or it would’ve eaten me alive. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease—not only for the patient but for the family as well, and learning to cope with Alzheimer’s is almost a disease in its self.

The breeze from the lake is chilly, and Eric pulls me close. My eyes betray me, filling with tears. I wish mom could see the lake like this—she would love it. I must hold on to my memories of mom and the lake, for in the end it is the memories that we cling to—the happy times that help to fill the darkest moments of Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses I know that I will have to cling tightly to those memories—memories of walking the shores of Lake Erie hand in hand with mom.