What Makes a Great Ghost Story? #Paranormal

It's October! Time to get your scare on...

There's something about a good ghost story that suckers me in. You're probably tired of hearing my account with an actual ghost... A black thing ran over my foot once and out the door. It was like a shadow, but not a shadow. My husband was there at the time and saw the same thing.

We believed it the spirit of Mr. Sox, who was killed by a car. After he died, I used to hear him scratching at the back screen. The sound was so distinct, I would often get up and go out on the patio looking for him, even though I knew it was impossible he was there.

That black shadow ran over my foot while I was serving dinner and raced out the sliding door into the backyard. I never heard the scratching at the back screen again.

It wasn't a frightening experience. It perplexed me. The shadow had form and was thicker than a shadow, more solid. Yet I could see through it. It was the size of a cat.

My husband and I have gone ghost hunting before, and I'd love to say I've had other encounters, but I haven't. I don't want to jump to conclusions that a sound is a spirit or an experience is a spirit. I want a real, solid encounter... like the one I had.

Recently, we went on a 'haunted' tour of our town. To me, it was a win-win... history and ghost stories. I love history and I love ghost stories. There were some good ones...

George at the Reid School, a builder who had died on the site, shows up quite frequently. It's now the local history museum.

A boy on a bicycle at the high school, which is now county offices. He likes to turn lights on during the night.

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson of the Tower Theater are sometimes seen sitting in the audience.

Mrs. Smith can still be heard banging on the ceiling with a broom to call Mr. Smith to dinner.

There's a malevolent presence in the old hotel, who has attacked several people.

No one wants to own anything that was in the old nunnery. The buildings and contents were sold and transported far away. I wonder if the new owners have had anything odd happen.

Whether true or not, my favorite ghost stories are accounts related by family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. I don't want to run away, I want to investigate. I love talking over the mysteries that touch our lives and our world.

What's out there?


Book Review: Serpent's Sacrifice by Trish Heinrich #superhero

Ever since Alice was saved from her abusive father, she’s wanted to be a hero. But in 1960’s Jet City, women are supposed to want marriage and babies, not cowls and secret identities.

When her beloved aunt is murdered by a new crime syndicate, Alice takes up the mantle of the Serpent, a heroine who has been protecting Jet City for decades.

But one mistake will unleash a dreadful villain. One who will stop at nothing to take control of the city and kill anyone who stands in the way.

Can Alice survive the battle and become the hero she was always meant to be? Or will the price be too much to bear?

My review:
Alice is swept away from her abusive father and her best friends to live with her rich aunt in Jet City. While well-to-do women in the 1960s are expected to marry well and have children, Alice longs for something much more. She trains to be a powerful fighter and takes up the mantle of the city's infamous superhero, Serpent. A vicious villain is making people cower in fear, experiencing waking nightmares. Alice and her friends must stop the madness before their enemy takes over the city, but are they willing to pay the price to do so?

This is an amazing debut novel from Trish Heinrich with rich world building, twists and turns, and fabulous characterization. I thoroughly enjoy the superhero genre, but most books give us extended comics without the illustrations. Not this one. The plot is thick and well written. I love the history of the Serpent. (Pick up the prequel novella, Serpent for even more!) I especially love the strong women that have put on the cowl. The story takes place in the past, and it makes their strength even more admirable.

What thoroughly won me over was the excellent cast of characters. Alice is a smart and resourceful young woman who doesn't exactly fit in to her world, but she strives to make it a better place. While she is the Serpent, she has no super powers. It's all her. I also liked the fact that punching things wasn't the only way she had to resolve things. There was social maneuvering, battle tactics, and investigating. I loved her relationship with her two best friends, Lionel and Marco. Each man so different and endearing in their own way. Alice's aunt and uncle, Mrs. Frost, and Rose. So many great characters. Plus the villain. I won't give any spoilers, but yes, so demented.

I can't wait for more in this awesome series!


New Release - Spirits in the Water #shortstories #sciencefiction #fantasy

The fourth anthology in our Elements of Untethered Realms series, Spirits in the Water is now available.

A haunted journey on a riverboat, water sprites borne of pennies, preternatural creatures, ancient serpents, and the Lady of the Lake lurk in dark waters. Raging storms and magical rainbow fountains. Water is spectacularly beautiful but also treacherous.

Gwen Gardner gives us Shake, Rattle and Row. Harlow Grayson has the chance to rid herself of a pesky ghost but she must first brave a haunted riverboat and recover a family heirloom. What she finds might be more than she can handle.

Jeff Chapman offers The Water Wight. When a drowned girl changes her mind about suicide, Merliss and her associates face a fearsome, preternatural creature.

M. Pax presents The Wallows. Evernee Weems wants to escape this world in the worst way. Her daughter needs everything, the rent is being raised, Evernee’s job barely pays minimum wage, and she has little hope for better. Inside a puddle is a different reality. She jumps in, happy to trade her problems for a life in which worries don’t exist. Or do they?

Angela Brown gives us Extraordinary. Puberty hits Angelique like a gut punch and brings about a change, forcing an unexpected revelation about her past. All seems well until a vicious storm tears through her Texas community, and Angelique learns there are worse things than a little change.

River Fairchild presents You Can’t Go Home Again. A young woman, filled with regret about the past, goes on a journey and discovers more than she bargained for.

Simon Kewin offers us The Waters, Dividing the Land. Hyrn the horned god of the woodlands is learning the meaning of fear. Death magic blights the land, threatening everyone and everything. To save what he can from spreading corruption, he turns to the ancient river serpents, but they’ve grown old and distant and may not hear his call at all.

Christine Rains gives us Frozen. A necromancer is on the frozen moon of Saturn where the dead do scream.

Meradeth Houston presents The Flood. Sometimes a flooded kitchen isn’t the unluckiest thing to happen to you.

Catherine Stine offers Maizy of Bellagio. April still searches for her mother who vanished nineteen years ago from the fountain at Hotel Bellagio in Vegas. Can Maizy, a water sprite who works the fountain’s pink colors, begin to help the three generations of eccentric women tortured by this tragedy?

M. Gerrick gives us The One Who Would Wield the Sword. Nikka is supposed to be nothing more than dragon bait so a real dragon hunter can do his job, but the Lady in the Lake has other plans for her.

Cherie Reich presents The Folding Point. Aimee’s fight against those who banned paper magics has begun.

From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Spirits in the Water, a supernatural anthology of eleven thrilling tales. Spirits in the Water is the fourth, long-awaited Elements story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

To celebrate the release for Spirits in the Water, the first Elements of Untethered Realms anthology Twisted Earths is free on all major retailers. Pick up your copy today!


9 Twisted Tales Set in 9 Twisted Worlds #SpeculativeFiction #Giveaway

Untethered Realms is celebrating the upcoming release of the 4th collection in our elemental story series: Spirits on the Water. We're celebrating by making the first in the series, Twisted Earths, FREE!

That's right, 9 outstanding, fantastical stories for the price of free.

Twisted Earths Available at:

Amazon / AmazonUK / Google Play / Smashwords / iTunes / B&N / Kobo

Here's what you get:

Twisted Earths is a collection of tales from Untethered Realms, a group of speculative fiction authors. The stories are as varied and rich as the types of soil on this and other planets—sandy loam, clay, knotted with roots and vines, dreaded paths through unexplored planets, and in enchanted forests, lit by candlelight and two moons. 

M. Pax, author of the series, The Backworlds and The Rifters spins a tale called Patchworker 2.0. Specialists with digital interfaces are the only ones who can distinguish between biological energy and mechanical pulses, and “patch” AIs, which hold the world together. Patchworker Evalyn Shore meets up with an AI with deadly intent.

Cherie Reich, known for her epic fantasy series The Fate Challenges and The Foxwick Chronicles, presents Lady Death. Umbria, a beautiful and powerful swordsmith, is given an impossible task by her brother Leon when he asks, “You are the assassin. Are you scared to destroy Death when you are up to your elbows in it?”

Angela Brown is the author of the paranormal Shadow Jumpers and NEO Chronicles series. In her story, In The Know, Jacob, a loyal family man is struggling to stay out of debt when he’s hired to report on big plans for a future Detroit. He’s given a mysterious manila envelope with instructions to “open it alone” or pay the price. With switchback twists you won’t see coming, a debt of a much steeper cost is what he just might end up paying for his involvement.

Catherine Stine, author of the futuristic thrillers, Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire, offers The Day of The Flying Dogs, a sinister tale of brilliant, troubled NYC high-school student, Theo. He experiences a day at Coney Island that includes drugs, delusions, a lonely capybara, Nathan’s hotdogs and a mind-bending lesson in our very twisted universe.

Christine Rains, known best for her paranormal series The Thirteenth Floor, gives us The Ole Saint, a story at once sweet, horrific and heartrending. Ezra longs to fit in and have boys stop calling him witch and freak, yet his unique supernatural skill sets him apart, and the last gift from The Ole Saint cinches the deal.

Graeme Ing, known for his young adult fantasy, Ocean of Dust presents The Malachite Mine, a gripping, scream-inducing ride. Whatever was Mary thinking when she accepted her husband’s gift of a most terrifying twenty-first birthday celebration in an abandoned Russian mine?

River Fairchild, author of her Jewels of Chandra series, presents A Grand Purpose. Rosaya and her cousin, Drianna are soon to be married off, but Rosaya is unhappy with her assigned match. She’s much more intoxicated by the older Firrandor, a wizard she hardly knows. When Rosaya is accused of killing an oracle boy, all bets are off, not only for her love, but her freedom.

Gwen Gardner, who pens the cozy paranormal mystery series, Indigo Eady, adds to her collection with Ghostly Guardian. Indigo and her rib-tickling ghost-busters must travel to a dangerous pirate-laden past in order to unearth a curmudgeonly eighteenth century spirit that is plaguing the Blind Badger Pub.

Misha Gerrick, whose War of Six Crowns series is forthcoming, gives us a story called Red Earth and White Light. Emily, a young ghost bride has long haunted a house. She longs to cross over into the afterlife, but she’s trapped in memories of lilies and betrayal.

The stories in this collection are marvelous, strange, frightening, and otherworldly. And we know you're ready for more. They're coming in Spirits of the Water! Huzzah!


Science Fiction Fears - Just Our Overactive Imaginations?

Eek! Aliens are going to abduct me. Oh no! Skynet is going to take over the world!

There are a lot of wondrous things in the worlds of science fiction. We've seen technology from stories made real decades later and events happen just like they were written. Yet it doesn't make the horrors of sci-fi true. The fact that so many people fear these things could happen only says how well the authors did their jobs.

Are there aliens and would they abduct us? There are likely aliens, but the chances they are here are very slim. Plus would a greatly advanced race with amazing technology really resort to kidnapping and probing humans to learn about them? They would have scanners that could tell them everything they want to know, and they can observe us in our natural habitats. Nope, not creepy at all.

Will an asteroid hit Earth? Not at all likely. NASA says there are no near-Earth asteroids or comets, and their chances of identifying a big one that might cause worldwide damage early so something could be done to stop it are nearly 100%. But a Sharknado, now that's a different story!

Will AI evolve and take over the world? No. AI is only composed of what we put in it. If robots try to take over the world then someone programmed them that way. AI can never replace the ingenuity and perseverance of humans. Plus a few well placed EMP bombs will take care of the problem easily!

Dystopians are immensely popular be they primal or technologically advanced societies. If there is a worldwide disaster or war, would it be likely something like that could happen? Not really. These are pessimistic views of our future. People will want the society they lost and seek to rebuild it. No matter how dismal it looks sometimes, never underestimate the power of hope and compassion.

Let's hope we have more of a Star Trek future than a Hunger Games or an Idiocracy.

Do you have any fears that have stemmed from science fiction?


Flavors of Book Fests, Author Retreats, Signings and Figuring Out What Works Best

The subject of book conferences and writing retreats is the obvious one for me to post about, since I've just attended two of them, with a third happening next week. In August, I went to ChapterCon in England, the brainchild of my author friend, Katie John. This was its first year. It was mainly craft-based with panels, but it did have a full Saturday public signing event. I was eager to listen to the panels, which ranged from diversity in lit, to romance, to how to keep your stories flowing (I was on this panel). We all learned that Bank Holiday weekend, which is the equivalent of Labor Day weekend in the states, is not the best time to invite the public to a signing, because everyone is streaming out of town for the last big party of the summer. That said, we had some book-lovers in, plus it allowed us authors to hobnob and buy each other's books.

My favorite workshop was a mindfulness one, which taught zen style tools for unwinding author stress. I needed this tool that very night, as Katie texted me an hour before my bedtime and asked if I'd deliver the second keynote speech! The scheduled author had a personal emergency. I have never scribbled my lecture notes as quickly as I did that evening. People told me it was an inspiring speech, so I guess I did okay. LOL. Talking about one's own rollercoaster journey is apparently something most writers relate to.
Me delivering a keynote speech at ChapterCon UK

The second writing conference was this last weekend's Next Chapter Writing Retreat held in NYC by Janet Wallace, the founder of UtopiaCon. There was a small handful of very savvy authors, and it was a rare treat to get to know them. We had sessions with high-level branding and media experts, which was intimidating, until I realized that these "experts" were simply speaking about their own personal journeys, as I did during my keynote. The authors had time to chat and compare notes over dinner and drinks. There was only one two-hour public book signing, which I found refreshing and fun, and low stress as compared to some marathon book signings I've been part of.
A new reader of mine treating herself to an early birthday present at NCWR signing

What are my takeaways from these events?
A two or three hour book signing event seems perfect.
I love hand-selling and getting to know new readers.
I need to boundary off my time to write, and to take my writing more seriously.
I love meeting authors and sharing stories and marketing tips. Community is key.
European events rock, as does the Welsh coast. LOL.
I need to take calculated risks and stretch myself in my craft and marketing.
De-stressing is important. Meditation, massage, whatever works!
Create a long game plan. (I can always revise it as I go).

What are your personal tools? What is most important to you in your writing life? Do you create a long game plan or do you prefer making it up as you go?


Book Review: BLOODGIFTED by Tima Maria Lacoba #paranormal

Tima Maria Lacoba

What’s a girl to do when she learns she’s descended from a vampire? Being unable to age is only the beginning… 

Laura Dantonville is a Primary school teacher with one wish—to marry her boyfriend, Detective Matt Sommers. When her aunt Judy reveals a frightening family secret that explains her rare genetic mutation, it threatens to propel her into a dark underworld where her true family waits. 
Laura’s future with Matt hangs in the balance. 

Alec Munro never wanted to become guardian to a Dantonville regardless that her blood is coveted by his vampire-kind. But his sire, Lucien Lebrettan, gave him no choice. Now he’s faced with not only protecting the girl, but fathering a child with her in order to end his servitude—and a centuries-old curse. 

… which some among his kind will do anything to prevent.


Cathrina's Review: I haven't read a vampire story in quite a while, so this book intrigued me. The author, Ms. Lacoba kept some of the olden time lore of vamps, like, the sun frying their bodies to a crisp. And similar to the Twilight Series, Ms Lacoba tweaked our perception of the blood sucking creatures a wee bit. An example: vampires do have a reflection in mirrors.The book begins in the year 263 AD and a woman invokes a wicked curse after Romans slaughter a Pict village. (Human blood will be your food. As beasts you shall kill and walk in the night and sunlight will be your enemy) There's more in the history of the story where those cursed resurrect the woman's spirit to revoke the curse. (A marriage and a birth are involved, a mingling of Pict and Roman blood) 
The mc, Laura is 50 years old but you'd never know it because she looks 25. And she is descended by Lucien Lebrettan, a vampire and Judith, one of the descendants of the bloodgifted. Being the Bloodgifted, Laura doesn't reach maturity until the young age of 50 when her blood reeks with power. Alec Munro, the Princeps and a doctor in the human world, becomes her guardian. By drinking Laura's blood Alec is sustained with strength and able to walk in the daylight, a gift that many vamps long for and are willing to die for. A problem commences when the scent of her blood brings evil vamps to suckle. 

I was entertained by Bloodgifted, in fact, I liked the book. A little lengthy, yet the action and intimate scenes between Alec and Laura were literally steamy. If you like to read about sexy, wicked, bloodthirsty vamps, then Bloodgifted is for you.


Shake, Rattle and Row, a #CozyMystery #CleanRead from the Spirits in the Water #Anthology

Spirits in the Water, an Untethered Realms short story anthology is coming in October! My contribution to the collection is a #CozyMystery. 
You may have noticed that the world’s gone a little crazy lately. #CozyReads are meant to entertain, but not stress you out. If this sounds good to you, check out my sweet, fun, cozy and quirky short story, Shake, Rattle and Row!
Shake, Rattle and Row is a sequel short story glimpse into my new series coming out in 2019 called, Ask Crystal Ball. 
A Riverboat Casino sounds like a roaring good time, but it can be murder for those who suffer with seasickness...
Harlow Grayson is the journalist who unwillingly inherits Crystal Ball’s agony column after Crystal is found murdered. Unfortunately, the agony column, called Ask Crystal Ball, comes with a nasty side effect: the ghost of Crystal herself. Complete opposites, Harlow and Crystal never did get along, even when Crystal was alive. Nothing has changed. 
In this short story, Crystal needs Harlow’s help to recover an item of sentimental value—but it comes at a hefty price. 

I jumped. “Crystal! Where’ve you been?” I looked around to see if anyone was listening.

“Scouting. Did you bring it?”

I held up the pen. “Yes. But I’m not sure about this. It’s not right. We shouldn’t be messing with this stuff.”

“Oh, get over yourself.” She fairly bounced with excitement.

I sighed and knew I’d regret this.

“Try the gold ink this—”

“Shh, I got this.” With my heart pounding, I pushed down the gold nub. A golden glow descended over the room and cast an unearthly light. My skin prickled as latent sparkles of ethereal energy settled over me. I blinked several times, adjusting to the illusion of the veil merging between the mortal and spirit worlds.

Holy mother of— I crossed myself. Although I’d done this before, I’d never get used to it.

I surveyed my new—but somehow same—surroundings. I was still on a riverboat casino, but it was more alive, if that even made sense, given that the room was full of ghosts. A roulette wheel spun, and the clickety-clack of the marble bounced from slot to slot until it found its sweet spot. Joyful shouts erupted. Spectral women in flapper dresses and feathered headbands hovered over gray-suited men in pinstripes playing cards and smoking fat cigars. And above it all, the fog of cigar smoke clung to everything.

I wrinkled my nose. Observing the two worlds together made me dizzy. Between the smoke and the boat rocking, I felt green around the gills. I knew as soon as I had stepped on board in my four-inch stilettos that this was a bad idea. And trust me, a full figured diva on heels was no easy feat to begin with.

“This isn’t natural,” I whispered to Crystal.

“Welcome to my world,” said Crystal, hovering at my side.

Crystal Ball—her real name—used to be my annoying coworker before she got murdered. Now she was an annoying ghost. I unwillingly inherited her agony column—Ask Crystal Ball, if you can believe it—a pseudo- psychic hocus-pocus bunch of baloney. But worst of all was that Crystal’s ghost came as a nasty side effect of the job. My fate was sealed when I’d picked up and used her favorite pen. Somehow the pen allowed me to see the ghostly realms she saw. I’d never seen another era, though, until now. What business could Crystal possibly have with the 1920s, and more importantly, why involve me?

But I had bigger problems.

“You could have warned me.” I spoke into my digital voice recorder so it didn’t look as if I were talking to myself. That and the press pass around my neck should cover any awkwardness that might arise while speaking to my spectral sidekick.

“I told you it was formal, didn’t I?” She eyed my gown and then perused the room as if looking for someone. “Besides, what do you have to complain about? I’m the one stuck throughout eternity in skin tight pants.” She squirmed and tried to pull out a wedgie to no avail.



Summer Adventures with the UR

"In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible." - Sarah Dessen, Along For The Ride

* * * * *
Christine Rains

This summer I discovered something new and magical. It's called Camp Brosius, and it's a family camp. What's that, you ask? It's summer camp for families, and it's like a cruise on land. There are activities for kids, for adults, and for the whole family. My son stated it was the best vacation of his life, and I have to agree. I relaxed for the first time in like ten years. Really, truly relaxed. That's magic.

* * * * *
River Fairchild

Summers aren't really my favorite time of year to do anything, but I was thinking back to the carefree days of my childhood. The endless opportunities to do nothing at all. Lie in a field of flowers for no reason. Idle the time away. Thinking about wanting to grow up... and not understanding the value of having no responsibilities for the one and only time in your life! LOL

* * * * *

Cathrina Constantine

Every year we try to get together for a family vacation. This year we ended up in Chautauqua Lake in a small cottage. It sure was cozy. It was especially special because our three grandchildren met for the first time. Sammy, our 3 year old snagged his very first fish! Fishing, boating, kayaking, and nightly fires with s'mores, good conversation, laughter, and reminiscing made it a perfect vacation.

* * * * *

M. Pax

Zip lining! With the new job, Husband Unit and I rarely get a day off together. When we do, we take advantage. One of the most enthralling things we've ever done was the zip line tour near Crater Lake. Heights scare the crap out of me, but I also like adventure. I'd never jump out of a plane or bungee jump, but zip lining scared me a little bit less. It was fantastic! Flying through the trees, being out in the glory of nature, laughing under the sun. Now I want to zip line everywhere there is a zip line.

* * * * *

Meradeth Houston

This summer I spent a good deal of time in my lab working, but that was to gear up for a super awesome adventure :) I traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, where I met up with one of my good friends and we headed to the Dolomites (southern Alps in Italy). The striking peaks were amazing and we have six days of hiking through their splendor. From there, I got to travel around in northern Italy, visit Otzi the ice mummy (so cool!), and several other places. This is me in Verona (the city from Shakespeare's famous Romeo and Juliet), and I also had some fun in Genoa and along the coast there. I have a bunch of photos on my Instagram page, if anyone wants to see. It was a trip of a lifetime, and since I really needed a break from work, I am very grateful I was able to go!


Putting Real People in your Historical Fantasy

Recently, I attended the Writers’ Digest Book Conference in NYC, and one of the panels that resonated with me was The Thin Line Between Historical Fact & Fiction moderated by authors Crystal King and Anjali Mitter Duva. They posed some interesting questions. Here are a few:

When is it beneficial to use real people in fiction? Are there rules? Can you make a good person into a dubious character—a villain even? How much can you bend the “real” history? Is there any instance it would be unwise to use a real person, or a time you might go too far?

In my Witch of the Cards, set in 1932 I injected multiple real life characters: Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Ware and Bela Lugosi to name a few. They were mainly in the scenes aboard the Morro Castle ocean liner that sailed from Manhattan to Cuba. I wanted to show that even during Prohibition, the glitterati of high society found a way to drink. The laws that held on solid ground, were not punishable when on the high seas, or in Cuba. I also put these creative souls in to lighten the dark days that my poor character Peter Dune endured. He got to party with these folks and lounge on a Cuban beach. Who wouldn’t want to party with the madcap Dali?
Dickens at work
I am now crafting a fantasy set in 1854 Philadelphia and so far I have decided on two characters from real life. One is Charles Dickens and the other is Thomas Mutter. In addition to writing great novels, Dickens wrote an infamous treatise on the cruelty of solitary confinement in prisons. This, after he toured the supposedly humane Eastern State Penitentiary, where my girl, Evalina is serving a sentence. You see, during that time, people believed that forced isolation was a humane way to treat prisoners. But soon, people discovered that it made prisoners go mad. Dicken’s scathing article helped illuminate this. Mutter is most well-known for his strange collection of medical anomalies. Yet, more importantly, he invented cutting edge (pardon the pun!) plastic surgery techniques still used today, like the Mutter flap. Can you tell that my novel will have shady medicine in it?! Uh, huh.

So, the upshot is that one should think deeply about who and WHY they want to write real folks into their historical fantasies. Some benefits are:
*Grounding the story historically and vividly.
*Opening out a period of time in order to look at it from a fresh vantage point.
*Giving a side character his or her due. (Similar to Fan Fic)
*Imagining an alternative history.
*Giving an entire period of history its due using people from the time.
*Imagining two peers who never atually met. Having them meet and carry out a friendship, a love relationship, a rivalry, a freaking crime!

It’s fun to think of angles, right? Can you think of more reasons to utilize real historical characters? Have you ever wanted to put a real person from history into your stories? If so, who might be the most fun? The most unnerving?


#perseverance #writer #writing

I belong to a fantastic group of writer's called the Insecure Support Writer's Group. If you haven't joined yet, you should. 

The group was asked in July: 
What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? And this was my answer:

is a valuable lesson. 

Once you begin your story, you are a writer. It doesn't matter what genre or if you write flash fiction, short stories, articles, or novels. If you wish to pursue traditional publishing, small independent presses, or self-publishing, it can be quite daunting. 

The lonely and long hours you put into your work and self-sacrificing your time can be a joy and/or a drudgery. You need to persevere.

It's your first draft, and you type those phenomenal two words: *THE ENDBut really it's the beginning. A second draft, a third draft, editing, revising, beta readers and so on...persistence

Then if you seek an agent or submit to publishing houses it's another path filled with road blocks of disappointments and rejections. 

But my mantra is: "It only takes one YES" and for that one yes you need: **PERSEVERANCE**

You can join this wonderful group here:


Why We Love Series

I read a lot. And I read fast. Thankfully I've built up my TBR list to such a huge scale that I'll never run out of books.

What I love the most is book series. Most readers feel the same way. As a writer, I can't help but wonder why people love series so much. Stand alone books can be fantastic reads, but series of books attract me much more.

First, and most obvious, is that we can't get enough of what we love. We want more. Series of books fill that need. Finding characters I love make me want to follow them through their whole lives. Exploring wonderful new worlds can have me reading for hours, and I get excited when new parts of the world are revealed as the series goes on.

I get deep into plots that slowly unfurl over time. With a story just in one book, it all has to be tied up at the end, but in a series, there is a longer buildup for the over-arching plot. I want all the details, to wonder what might happen next, and to be taken on all sorts of twists and turns.

Another reason we love series is familiarity. We know the characters and the world. There's comfort in that, and when the author manages to surprise us with something new in our favorite series, it reinforces the adoration.

Choosing from the countless shelves of other books can be overwhelming. Something in the same series makes our next read an easy choice. Less stress is good for us all.

What are your favorite things about reading a series?

I'm celebrating my urban fantasy series, Totem, with the release of the 8th and penultimate book today!

Some say the moon is for lovers, but wise folks know to fear it.

Kinley Dorn must be strong for her family in these dark times. Sometimes she feels she’s all that’s holding them together. But when the frightening Moon Man attacks and bestows a burdensome gift upon her, Kinley might have to do more than simply help her family. She will have to battle a god, but which one? If it’s the sly man hunting her in the astral plane, Kinley might not make it out alive.


Book Reviews: 3 awesome books from the Untethered Realms authors #amreading

We have such an amazing group of authors in Untethered Realms. I eat up all of my fellow members' books, and I wanted to share with you three of my most recent reads.

Saving the Phoenix Guard has changed him forever.

My review: In a great battle against the Great Beyonders, Liam died on the field. Yet the Phoenix Prophetess Yssa somehow brought him back to life. He never wanted to be apart from her, but now he struggles with seeing and hearing things that aren't there. Dark threats still shadow the kingdom, and Liam will do everything in his power to protect Yssa. This also includes finding out what is happening to him. If only he can find the information he needs in time.

This well-written fantasy novella takes place just after Reborn, the first book of The Fate Challenges. It brings us from Yssa's point of view into Liam's, her Phoenix Guard. I loved seeing Yssa from a different point of view. We are all harder on ourselves after all. Liam strives to protect her and make her happy, and sometimes those two goals are opposed to one another.

The aftermath of a huge battle isn't pretty. We see the celebration and the grief. Liam is a soldier and has lost many comrades, and this makes his struggle with his own situation even more immense. Love gives him strength, though. It was fascinating to follow along with him as he researched the only other man to be brought back from the dead and wonder what exactly happened then, and what might happen to him. I can't wait for the next book to see where it will take Yssa and Liam!

The first shot of a new war echoes through the galaxy.

My review: The Backworlds and Foreworlds have banned together with the hope of defeating a terrifying enemy, the Quassers. Craze gave up his friends and livelihood to become the envoy for the Backworlds. All he'd rather be doing is brewing some malt and tending his bar, but there is much more than his pride at stake here. The alliance is shaky, and Craze can't afford to let it fall apart. They have one more chance at survival, and it's all or nothing.

I loved delving back into the rich universe of this space opera series. The settings, characters, and storylines are all marvelously varied, but twine together so very well. I'm often reminded of Firefly with Craze and his friends out to save the universe armed with their good hearts and sometimes good luck. But things don't go their way all the time.

The cast in this series is large, but none of them suffer from lack of depth. Each of them have their own tales, but a powerful love of friends holds them together. The twists in the plot had me shouting "Oh my God!" out loud, and several times, it tugged hard at my heart. Plus there were some clever bits in there like the crusties and the tendrils. This is an immensely heavy book, and I didn't want it to end. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Backworlds.

The Weird West just gets weirder.

My review: Orville "foretells" people's futures for coin, but Jimmy hopes to make a more honest living in the Old West. The two hucksters are captured by a dark wizard named Marzby who lures them in with a plea for help with a knocker. Orville is held prisoner as Jimmy is sent out to find an enchanted knife and bring it back to Marzby within three days. Help isn't coming, and Jimmy doesn't know what's more pesky: shapeshifting varmints or a tenacious girl who refuses to be sent home to her ma. The knife is an evil thing and no one should have their hands on it, but how else is Jimmy going to rescue Orville?

This weird Old West tale was a marvelous adventure. It me laughing with Jimmy's similes and Isobel's antics, and it had me on the edge of my seat with the thrilling action and thick tension. There were a few twists and turns I didn't see coming. It was just the sort of gritty, supernaturally fun plot I enjoy.

Jimmy is immediately likable. He's loyal, goodhearted, and not afraid of hard work. He can be a wily young man too. Orville is exactly what I imagine a huckster to be like. Slick of tongue, able to talk himself out of most situations. I particularly enjoyed the interaction with Jimmy and the girl, Isobel. She's got the makings of a great hero and huckster herself! Marzby was a despicable villain. The kind I love to hate. I always wondered exactly how much he knew and how he would turn the events into his favor.