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It Chose Me

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” That phrase applies to me and paranormal writing. I grew up reading romance novels—the old school romances with covers that depicted revealing bodices for heroines and exposed chests for heroes. Fast forward to adulthood and my love for reading romance novels continued. So it was quite natural that when I decided to become a novelist, I turned to the romance genre. I wrote three romances and then something unexpected happened…my next love story went dark. Yikes! What happened? I’m trucking along writing about love and eternal bliss and then a stalker, death and violence inserts itself into one of my stories. That story introduced a change.

Oh, I still believed in love, happiness, and all that sugar and spice stuff, but those dark elements forced me to acknowledge the influence that murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and science fiction had had on me as well. I had read just as many Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books as I had romance novels, and that horror/thriller/mystery genre had risen up, demanding to be represented.

So in 1999, I shelved the romance stories I had been developing and turned to paranormal writing. Well not completely. I decided I would write a paranormal then write a romance; write a paranormal, then write a romance. A rotation, you see, but my intuitive creative self said, “no, no, no,” and to prove it meant what it said I started having personal encounters (yes, plural) with spirits. I had my first run-in in 2000 with a spirit. Then in 2011, I had my second spiritual visit and since then I have seen an angel and have been visited by a deceased relative. Needless to say, many of my writings are now devoted to the paranormal genre. Such as my most recent book titled, Lyrical Darkness. I am honored to be one of ten paranormal writers featured in this collection of short stories that are based on dark song lyrics.

lryical_SMALL

I’m curious about you though. What has chosen you? Have you been chosen to take your writing more seriously and work toward publication? Have you received the call to join a book club? Have you felt the urge to sculpt, draw, paint? Maybe thoughts about pursuing a voiceover, design or music career? If so, have you answered the call or turned your back to it? If it chose you and you’re being stubborn, let me reiterate that there’s no escape. Make it easy on yourself and go with it. And always remember, it chose you; hence, all the support you’ll ever need is yours just by asking.

Honor the choosing!

It’s Official…Lyrical Darkness

I am so excited!!!

Today, Lyrical Darkness, an anthology of short stories based on songs which have dark lyrics, is available for pre-order. I’ve had other book releases (2014 – Voices from the Block & 2013 – Fuller’s Curse) so why am I even more excited about this book? Because Lyrical Darkness is my first attempt to create a story from a song.

When Donnie Light, the publisher of Lyrical Darkness contacted me about participating in this anthology, I of course said yes, yes, yes, but I was very nervous. I had never created a story from a song before. My previous stories were all culled from life experiences, inspiration and imagination; they were never so intentional.

To make it easier for us, Donnie allowed us to select our own song and he put a 10,000 word limit on the stories. The ten  contributing authors, all paranormal writers, scurried to find the right dark song that would generate 10,000 words, a plot and characters. And our work continued at a feverish pace through the holidays to meet the February 2015 deadline.

Below is the cover for Lyrical Darkness. Beyond this inviting cover are eleven dark short stories based on disturbing song lyrics; samples of which include “Angie Baby,” “Hotel California,” “Smooth Criminal,” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (this is the song I chose, click here to listen). I am proud to be a part of this collection and I hope you will read our take on these songs. May I suggest a visit to YouTube before or after reading so you can compare the story to the song?

You can order the ebook today and the print/paperback version will be available June 15th.lryical_SMALL

Thanks for being part of this journey with me and oh, by the way, happy Black Music Month (June)!

D.E.A.R.

DEAR

Welcome to D.E.A.R., a month long initiative that encourages everyone to Drop Everything (cooking, shopping, Facebooking, texting, gardening, video gaming, etc.) and Read. D.E.A.R. kicks off every April 12, the birthday of author Beverly Cleary who immortalized D.E.A.R. in her Ramona Quimby books. Although D.E.A.R. is celebrated throughout April many continue the enjoyment throughout the year.

To celebrate D.E.A.R., schools, communities, individuals and families call a halt to other activities, grab books, and read, read, read. Some even organize read-a-thons, book discussions, reading trees, book drives, and more. Personally, I plan to drop as many errands and lunch commitments as I can get away with as well as non-essential housework (Who likes housework anyway?) and read the three poetry books (it is National Poetry Month also!) I recently purchased as well as a tribute book to Dr. Maya Angelou, whose birthday was April 4.

Ann’s D.E.A.R. Reading List

“The Walmart Republic” by Quraysh Ali Lansana & Christopher Stewart

“Poetic Rhythms for Life’s Moods” by Gary L. Hawthorne

“Abide in the Spirit of Change” by Hayward Bethel, Frances Phillips Lee & Antoinette Franklin

“My Journey with Maya” by Tavis Smiley & David Ritz

How about you? What activities are you willing to give up to drop everything and read? What books are waiting for you to crack open and enjoy?

Hear Carol Roar!

I am continuing the Women’s History Month celebration by sharing an article written by Carol Balawyder.

Carol Balawyder

Carol is a fiction and non-fiction author who writes about things that matter to her such as justice, mid-life dating, grief and writing workshops. She also publishes several blog series: How I Got Published, Femme Fatale, Nobel Prize Laureates, Writers’ Desks and Ten Great First Dates. Her recent book-length works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures are receiving starred and high-praise reviews from readers. I know this reader (me!) personally enjoyed both books and can’t read more from this talented lady.

When I asked Carol which woman or female writer had the greatest influence on her literary career, she, like so many others, had a list yea-long. But after much thought, she settled on one person. Read on to learn about her greatest influencer…

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky

Honoring a History Maker

by Carol Balawyder

There are so many women writers who have inspired me and from whom I’ve taken something and applied to my own collage of writing. They range from Jacqueline Susann to Nobel Prize Laureates. But no writer, whether male or female, has had such an impact on my choice to write crime fiction than Sara Paretsky.

In 2011 Paretsky was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization which supports and promotes women in the mystery field.

Traditionally in noir fiction, women were either helpless sex symbols tempting the man (usually a detective) into illicit behavior or they were portrayed as cold and selfish. However, through her V.I Warshawski private investigator, Paretsky transformed the role and image of women in noir fiction.

V.I. Warshawski is no helpless femme fatale. Nor does she fit into the Chandleresque female role of vixen, vamp or victim. Warshawski is a woman who isn’t defined by sexuality and needs no rescuing.

She is physically tough but no bully. Courageous and yet self-doubting. She is introspective and has a strong moral conscience. Warshawski is smart and well-educated, having attended university on an athletic scholarship to earn a law degree and worked in the Public Defender’s office before becoming a private investigator.

Sara Paretsky created the first credible female investigator in American crime fiction –  a feminist detective with high ideals. One who is concerned about the effects of racism, classism and sexism. She is out to right social wrongs most often found in the crook and crannies of white-collar crime. Paretsky, through her sixteen bestselling V.I. novels (and still writing), has made it her mission to speak for those in society’s margins who are underheard.

For that, I believe, she merits honor in Women’s History Month.

References: (http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/3/)

(http://www.saraparetsky.com/)

(http://www.sistersincrime.org/)

Thank you Carol for sharing your thoughts on women history makers, and specifically Sara Paretsky. I had no idea Paretsky challenged the noir crime fiction status and thereby changed the genre for all times. Good for her; good for us, women; and good for the world.

If you want to learn more about Sara Paretsky, visit her website by clicking here. To learn more about Carol, visit her website here.

Tour through Blogland

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Thank you, Carol Balawyder for inviting me to be a part of the Tour through Blogland experience. Wow! What a pleasure to participate. The exposure to interesting blogs, writers and writings has been enormously enriching.

Carol Balawyder Carol Balawyder, Writer/Author

Carol and I met, obviously through our blogging and in the year we’ve been online cohorts, I have discovered that she is a diverse writer with publishing credit in women’s fiction, memoir and crime writing, making her an accomplished fiction and non-fiction author. On top of her writing talents, she is also a welcoming and supportive person. I have enjoyed learning about her and her accomplishments, and I am so glad our blog paths crossed. I can’t wait for the day I meet her in person! I know it will be a blessing. Until then, I continue to enjoy her features on www.carolbalawyder.com and I hope you’ll take the time to link over and familiarize yourself with her and her latest works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures.

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15Missi's Dating Adventures

I’ve read both of her books and found them to contain insightful commentary on some of today’s relationship issues…and not just romantic relationships. Her works are important and engaging and I think you’ll agree with me once you have read them. Thanks Carol for inviting me into your world and for your contributions to the literary world.

Carol and some of the rest of you know that I’m not big on rules so I was glad to see that there were only a few requirements to participate in a Tour through Blogland. They are:

1. Pass the tour on

2. Give the rules to the other blogger and a specific Monday to post

3. Answer four questions about my creative process

Okay, simple enough; I can handle that. So without further delay, I present to you a blogger/author who I greatly admire and to whom I am passing the tour opportunity, followed by my responses to the creative process questions. I hope you enjoy!

meet-the-author

Serena Wills:  Poet, Essayist and Inspiration/Self-help Writer

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When I thought of all the bloggers with whom I could share this experience, Serena rose to the top. Not only because of her recently released poetry book, Reconstruction:  Pieces of Life, Volume 1, A Poetry Book, but also because she is an amazingly productive, multi-faceted and inventive writer. Also, I settled on Serena because she lives her life as we all should:  combining grit, faith and goal-nurturing to overcome adversity (that occasional blip that happens in every person’s life). Read her poetry book and you’ll get a glimpse into the challenges she has had to overcome and how she overcame them.

Reconstruction

Click here to access her site, and we can all look forward to her Tour through Blogland post in April or May (set date to be communicated).

Questions about My Creative Process

  1. What are you working on at the moment? My friend Renita likens the job of today’s writers to the juggling team of Vova and Olga, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljnmYQ5NJjQ. Their job is to keep all of the balls, clubs or whatever they are juggling in the air. So, like Vova and Olga, I am juggling many items that include:  a blog; a memoir; marketing and promotions for “Fuller’s Curse” and “Voices from the Block;” a non-fiction personal development book; a children’s book; the programming for a non-profit organization; and involvement in three writers groups. I try to work smart to keep all of these from crashing to the floor, but some days it’s a real struggle. Now, really, truth be told, what I should be working on is “Tremont’s Curse,” the sequel to “Fuller’s Curse,” but that’s an entirely different juggling act that is too exhausting to think about right now.
  2. How does my work differ from others in my genre? This is a tough one because I write in so many genres. “Fuller’s Curse” is a horror fiction novel. “Voices from the Block” features two mainstream short stories. And “The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Again” is a dark short story to be featured in an upcoming anthology (spring 2015). Plus, as I shared earlier, I have a children’s book in the illustration process, as well as a memoir and a sequel in the drafting stage. So I’ll lump all of my works together, strip away the genre classifications, and say that the main focus with many of my works is to blur boundaries and pummel perceptions in an effort to make people think about the labels we attach to people, places and things. I attempt in my writings to push readers beyond the obvious to see what else can be gleaned even if it makes them uncomfortable.
  3. Why do I write/create what I do? Stories, ideas, characters, questions, titles come to me and will not depart until I have locked them down on paper. I have had an idea for a play incubating in my head for 10+ years and yet I cannot remember what I ate for breakfast. So why do I write? Because I don’t have a choice. I have to write. Even before I was born, writing chose me and I choose to answer the call. Why do I write what I do? Because I am a creative who is fed by life experiences, and those life experiences translate into written works that take the shape of different genres and forms.
  4. How does my writing/creative process work? The creative process is as mysterious as the Bible so I’ll just respond to the writing process. As stated earlier, ideas, questions, titles, characters and such flow to me like city water through pipes. Idea generation is the easy part. What’s hard is committing words to paper:  making myself sit down to write, anchoring myself to the chair, and creating the right string of words. So like other writers, I have learned tricks to make the writing process less strenuous. Like…ending a writing session at the height of dialogue or action; outlining the beginning, middle and end of a scene (I write scene by scene in linear order); reading a quote or inspirational piece at the start of a writing session; setting up a reward system for number of pages written, scenes completed, etc.; capturing story notes on a separate document that I refer to when I’ve written myself into a corner; writing and editing the same scene a minimum of four times; making my final story edits the old school way (on paper with red ink); and mostly, praying a lot for help.

I’m Back and Just in Time

to celebrate the release of Faith Simone’s debut novel, “When the Real Thing Comes Along.”

WTRTCA

I met Faith many years ago at a writers’ retreat in Cedar Hill, Texas. I was impressed with her ability to tell great stories, and boy did she have a way with words. And now years later, to see she has persevered to achieve this monumental goal of publishing her first novel, well I am “hyena happy and peacock proud” (to quote a famous pastor).

Faith Simone

Author, Faith Simone

I hope you will join me in not only buying her book but also reading and reviewing it. Here’s a teaser for those of you who need an extra push…

When the Real Thing Comes Along by Faith Simone

She loved and lost…Will faith give her the courage she needs to love again? Jacelynn appears to have it all together: a great relationship with her boyfriend Jason who is truly a man after God’s own heart, a decent career and the love of family and friends. But when an unwelcome reminder from her past shows up, her previously uncomplicated world is turned upside down. Will she jeopardize what she has with Jason in an attempt to rewrite the mistakes of her past? They say you never forget your first love, no matter how hard you try. So far, Jacelynn has done a pretty good job of forgetting Taylor, the boy who had her heart first. When Taylor returns several years later as a man requesting a second chance, what’s a girl to do…Especially when she already has a new man? The hidden issues ofJacelynn’s heart come to light and she’s forced take a hard look in the mirror while making choices that will change her future forever.Will she be able to reconcile who she was then, with who she is in Christ now? Living and loving in faith isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. That’s what happens… When the Real Thing Comes Along.

Guest Blog Post featuring Maggie Tideswell

So we’re in the second full week of the new year and new people and new things are continuing to come my way. I hope for you too. One new person I met was paranormal romance author, Maggie Tideswell. Maggie and I share a common thread of romance and the paranormal. She weaves them together in sensual paranormal romance books, and I had my start in romance before moving into the paranormal genre. I am pleased to spotlight her (and her books) through her guest post (see below) and I hope you’ll support her through book sales, social media, referrals, etc. Here’s Maggie…

 

I love the paranormal romance genre!  Maggie Real Photo

Let’s face it, love really is all around us. Even when you read a murder mystery or a horror novel, there are romantic elements in it, because people fall in love. Even in the most unexpected or dangerous situations, people find each other. It is human nature.

What fascinates me about romance is firstly what characteristics attract people to each other enough to fall in love and secondly, what traits keep them in love for a lifetime when one in three relationships fail. This is a throw-back from studying psychology at university.

People want to be scared. Fright gets the primitive fight or flight response going. And that is where the paranormal comes in. When I say paranormal, I don’t mean zombies and vampires. Creatures with tentacles and many teeth also don’t interest me. Those are not scary and only have entertainment value as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I am not putting authors of those genres down, all I’m saying is that those elements are not what I write about. I am interested in what isn’t visible to the eye, things that go bump in the night, ‘nothing is as it seems’, and witches getting up to mischief or doing genuine work to help. And ghosts, of course.

We all have those creepy little experiences of something moving just at the edge of vision and when you look, there is nothing there. Or the sound we hear for which there are no logical explanations. And who of us haven’t know what was going to happen next or what somebody was going to say before it actually happened? This is what is termed deja-vu.

People are not always what they seem. It is a known fact that people represent themselves in the best light and what they show to the world is only the tip of the iceberg of their personality. I like to say people wear ‘masks’ to hide their true selves from others, for reasons of their own.

But my biggest interest is ghosts and why some people seem to get stuck on the earthbound plane after death. I even joined a paranormal investigation group, but I am yet to come face to face with a ghost I could have a conversation with. I have been told I look too hard and that was why I am unlikely to see a ghost, but I do experience them. On one occasion I had fallen asleep on the couch and I startled awake with the distinct feeling that somebody was leaning over me. There was nobody there, but the room had been freezing. It was the middle of summer.

Romance in combination with the paranormal is what I write. Instead of placing my characters in mortal danger of burning buildings, an erratic gunman or in the path of a tidal wave, I scare them with what they cannot see.

I have two paranormal romance novels in print, both published by All Things That Matter Press, a small press in Maine, USA.

My debut novel, Dark Moon came out in 2011.Chance meetings can have far-reaching effects. Loved ones may not be who they seem. The line between comprehension and confusion is thin, particularly when one’s thoughts are being manipulated by another.

Dark MoonMorags Ghost

My second published novel, Moragh, Holly’s Ghost (2013) is, well, a ghost story.A marriage of convenience, helpful fey friends, a custody battle that cannot be won and a haunting – could love blossom?

Still to come is Roxanne’s Ghost, Poppet Nicole, which is the sequel to Moragh, Holly’s Ghost, and a story set on one of the Portuguese islands off the coast of Africa called Bazaruto, titled Adorable Crook.

As I was born in South Africa and still live here, I like to set my stories in South Africa, in and around Cape Town to be specific. South Africa is a country of breathtaking natural beauty, diverse population and many unexplored ghosts.

 

Please follow my Wonderful Words blog for more on ghosts, updates on my books and many other interesting things.

http://maggietideswell.blogspot.com/

Both Dark Moon and Moragh, Holly’s Ghostare available in paperback, ebook and audio formats from Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/author/maggietideswell    

Follow me on Twitter :https://twitter.com/LunaMags

Introducing…

3HoneyCover

I thought I would start the new year by doing something I’ve never done before–review a book on my blog. Yes, I have featured authors in the past and I have featured books, but I have never posted a book review along with an author/book feature. So this is new for me, and it’s way too early to say whether I will continue this practice or not but for now I want to introduce you to an author I’ve known for a while and always admired–Sean C. Wright. When I learned Sean had a new book out (beautiful cover above), I wasted no time buying and reviewing it. I hope my review inspires you to read more of Sean’s works and to visit her entertaining website and blog Oh, No Typos. Happy new year! Happy new readings! Happy new beginnings!

 

Title: Honey Riley

Genre: Fiction, African American Literature, Women’s Literature, Supernatural

Length: 52 pages

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=honey+riley

 

Honey Riley is about a biracial clairvoyant who uses her precious gift to keep others out of danger, but is blind to the gift when it concerns herself. Her heroic life often rings of pain, but Honey never wavers in her strength for her loved ones and the people she helps. Honey’s legacy starts just after The Civil War and weaves through the mid 1980s.

 

Ann’s ReviewHoney Riley by Sean C. Wright

This short novel of less than 100 pages conveys a lot. It is the story of a spiritual gift that travels multiple generations, and like most gifts, it can be a blessing and a liability. But the gift is only the foundation of the story.

 

The cast of characters, mostly women, and how they serve (or not) the gift create the framework of the story. I think it interesting that most of the characters use the gift for the good of others, to serve and protect. But a few allow the gift to destroy them. I also think it clever how the name, Honey Riley and variations of it, is handed down with the gift.

 

This is a vivid story that is reinforced with a bit of history and bold, colorful descriptions. Beware: this story is not easy on the emotions. Readers will experience anger, triumph, sadness, joy, satisfaction, fear and more. You will not arrive at the end feeling encouraged or hope-filled, and you may feel  the story should have ended before its actual stopping point, but regardless, you will have been glad you spent time getting to know Honey Riley.

About the Author
SeanHeadShot
Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX. See all of her published works here:  http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/african-american-fiction/9736. Get to know Sean at www.iwrightaway.com.

From Me to You…Happy Birthday!

On September 2-3, I celebrate my new year! …the start of another year of living and learning.

I am so excited about what the next twelve months will unwrap for me that I’ve decided to share my excitement in an unusual way. Instead of receiving birthday gifts, I plan to give gifts.

For one day only, on September 2-3,  the ebook version of “Fuller’s Curse” will be free on Amazon.

Fullers Curse Front Cover Promo

To claim your free gift, simply go to www.Amazon.com, access the ebook version of “Fuller’s Curse,” click download, then select your method of delivery. Just four steps to my birthday gift to you!

Happy birthday to me!

Restrictions: One ebook per reader. Promotion runs for one 24-hour period. Cake and ice cream not included!

Romance in March

Many of you know that I started my writing career as a romance writer in 1990. My first romance book was published in 1996 and I was blessed to have four additional romance stories published before I got the nudge (from a Higher Being) to move into the horror genre. Even though I’ve been MIA in the romance genre since 2002, I still love everything about it–the camaraderie of the authors, the loyal readers, the generous opportunities, the blended storylines, the supportive affiliates, etc., which is why I have on occasion attended RSJ (Romance Slam Jam) since “semi-retiring” from romance.

RSJ is an annual conference of African-American romance readers, writers and affiliates. It is a traveling conference that is hosted by a book club and a romance author in the city (or state or region) in which it is being held. Next year in 2015, RSJ lands in Dallas, Texas. I am excited about this because it is close to my home base which means…I am already making plans to be “in the place.” And you’re welcome to join me and about 200 additional participants. Just click here (www.romanceslamjam.org) to learn more about this fabulous organization, conference and opportunity.

See you March 2015!