Archive for January, 2015

My Interview with Ann Livi Andrews

Please welcome author Ann Livi Andrews!

Ann Livi Pic

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I’m currently working on two pieces. The first is my full length novel called Hollow Towns. I’ve published several short stories from that work, but this is the final piece that completes the puzzle. I’m also finishing up Dakota, which is another segment of my Rehab for Superheroes series. This will be the last short I publish in this series before the full length novel.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write apocalyptic, superheroes, fantasy, and general fiction. Basically I write whatever I pops into my head.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’m self-published, which I didn’t even realize was an option until about four years ago. It’s been an uphill battle, but honestly, I’ve enjoyed most of it. I’ve learned a lot, grown as an author and a marketer, and I get a sense of accomplishment from seeing the whole process through on my own.

 

What are your three favorite books?

Absolute Truths – Susan Howatch

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

The October Country – Ray Bradbury

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Ray Bradbury, hands down. My father introduced me to his work when I was still fairly young and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. It doesn’t matter what topic the book is about or who’s perspective it’s told from, the story unfolds in front of my eyes as if I’m watching it instead of reading it.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Ray Bradbury. I really just want to sit down, have a cup of tea with him, and have a long discussion about nothing in particular. I’d just like to hang out with him for a bit and enjoy his personality.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Difficult question. I’d like to say writing keeps me sane as a writer, but the truth of the matter is that it’s probably more of a combination of coffee, funny cat videos, and an occasional glass of wine.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

I love the writing process. Creating worlds is so much fun! I love seeing how my characters develop – sometimes seemingly on their own without my help. I hate editing. More than anything. It takes me forever to edit – because I’m never satisfied with my work.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

I’d much rather read a poorly written story with an excellent plot. No questions asked. But it’s easy for me to overlook typos and stiff dialogue than it is for some people. I prefer a fast paced plot over slow moving.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Maintaining passion level for the work. When I first start writing, the ideas are fresh and I’m excited about the book. The longer it takes me to write it, the duller it seems to me. I tend to get bored with my work if it takes me too long to complete it.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

If not every day, then as often as possible. It’s good to stay in the habit of forcing yourself to write. Even though forced writing can be weak writing, when you get in the habit of getting words on paper every day, then eventually the brilliant words will find their way onto the paper.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

I’m scared of zombies. And I don’t mean “Oh my gosh those zombie movies are sooo scary!!” I mean, the worst nightmares I’ve ever had were about zombies. Nightmares where I didn’t move for 15 minutes after waking up because I thought the dream was real. Do I still watch zombie movies? Yes. Because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

I’d love to give you an intellectual answer with some charming character from a classical novel. . .but the truth of the matter is, it’s Jack Shephard from Lost. My husband and I were actually married on September 22nd (the date the plane crashes in the show – purely coincidental actually) and we named our son after a character on the show. I’m slightly obsessed with it and all the rabbit holes and sub plots within the show. But yes. Jack.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/annliviandrews

Twitter – @annliviandrews

Goodreads – Ann Livi Andrews

Website – www.annliviandrews.com

 

Thank you, Ann, for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

Jack4

Summary:

 

Twenty artifacts. . .

Twenty lives changed. . .

Eleven missing. . .

Only two asked for the fate they received.

The remaining eighteen are feared by the government and idolized by society.

Super. Heroes.

Clementine and Jack merely want to live as close to normal lives as they possibly can, and they’ve found a man who they believe can offer that to them. Not only does he promise to find cures for their “powers,” but he offers a retirement plan as well!

But the question remains: is it possible for a super hero to live a normal life away from the public eye?

Rehab for Superheroes says yes, but at a price: the artifacts that made them who they are must be destroyed. And so they must track them down, one at a time, before someone else collects all twenty.

 

 

An excerpt from the first page of Jack. The second in my Rehab for Superheroes series:

 

“You look stressed. Why are you so stressed?”

“What do you want?”

“Sit down and relax. There’s no reason to be tense.”

“You asked me to meet you. I’m here. Now what do you want?”

“Tsk tsk. Always in such a hurry. There’s no need. You’re here. I’m here. The streets will be quiet tonight. I didn’t ask you here to fight.”

“I find that very hard to believe. ”

“Think what you will. I just thought it would be nice for us to have a little chat. You’ve been very distant lately.”

“A little chat,” he snickered. “About what exactly?”

“Nothing in particular. Just a meet and greet, so to speak,” he grinned suddenly, exposing pearly white teeth.

“The dentures look nice.”

“Don’t they? I think I like them better than my original teeth. They make me look quite dashing. You’d never even know they aren’t real.”

“I liked you without, personally.”

“No need to get snippy,” he chuckled, not even slightly attempting to conceal his amusement. “I’m trying to tell you that I’m grateful. Consider it my olive branch.”

“Strange,” he frowned, glancing around the room. It wasn’t at all what he had pictured. The furniture was comfortable and stylish, there were warm and inviting pieces of artwork on the walls, and there was even a fire blazing in the fireplace. “Is this really your home or is the poor family who owns it locked in the basement?”

“Ah,” the other smiled. “You know me too well. This is not my home, point of fact. I thought it would be more fair if both us were on neutral soil. I think it would have been rather foolish of me to invite you to my real home, don’t you?”

“If only I could be so lucky. . .”

“There now!” He laughed loudly. “That was almost teasing! Exactly the attitude I was hoping for!”

“Why am I here, Jesse?”

“Only you can answer that, Jack. It’s up to each of us to decide. Who knows what the future holds for each of us. . .”

“You know what I mean,” he cut him off.

“I missed you,” he shrugged. “We used to be friends – or have you forgotten?”

“That was a very long time ago. We were young. Life was simple. You. . .”

“Weren’t hell bent on world domination? I know. I know. We grow up so fast, don’t we? I really thought you saw the world as I did – and still do. We’re all floundering. The government is weak and unable to lead or support us. I’m merely trying to offer a solution, Jack. What’s so wrong with that? Why can’t you accept me for who I am?”

“Who helped you escape, Jesse? I know you weren’t capable on your own. I saw your cell – it would have held both of us without difficulty. I know because I helped them design it.”

“Now, my invitation specifically said no shop talk,” Jesse’s eyes darkened for a moment at the mention of his prison, but the merriment quickly returned to his face.

“Well what were you just talking about?”

“That was merely reminiscing. That’s all. But you’ve ruined the moment,” he stood, startling Jack. “Would you like some coffee or tea? Perhaps a glass of scotch?”

“You know I don’t drink.”

“Anymore,” Jesse finished. “You don’t drink anymore. It doesn’t mix so well with the poison that’s now permanently coursing through your veins.”

“I have you to thank for that.”

“And yet you don’t sound grateful. Why is that, Jack? I gave us a wonderful gift.”

“A gift? I have hurt everyone I’ve ever loved. I lost my chance at a life. Thanks to you, I can never go home.”

“You never had a home,” Jesse sneered. “Or don’t you remember your childhood? I remember mine quite vividly. Cliff was a drunk.”

“Dad.”

“If you insist. Dad was a drunk.”

“It could have been worse.”

“You never stood up to him like I did.”

“Rebelled.”

“What?”

“Call it what it truly is. You rebelled. The harder Dad punished you, the more you rebelled. It was easy enough for me to follow his house rules.”

He held his arms out wide. “I can’t help it if I’ve never liked authority.”

“Or rules, or government, or guidelines. . .”

“You say potato. . .”

“I have to go,” Jack stood.

“No! No! Please sit back down! Reminiscing is so much fun!”

“It was good to see you, Jesse. I’d ask you to consider turning yourself in, but I know better.”

Jesse followed him to the door, and then out onto the front porch. “You know, with you being part of a league now, I thought you’d have a nicer car.”

“It’s not a league.”

“Oh, right. He’s promised to cure you.”

“There is no cure for what you did to me, Jesse,” Jack’s voice was quiet and sorrowful.

“In all seriousness, you’re my twin brother, and I love you. But, eventually one of us will kill the other. I know that I’m capable of pulling the trigger. You have to ask yourself, can you?”

Jack turned and walked to his car, ignoring the shouts coming from the front porch.

“Oh come on, Jack! I’m just being honest! Come back and we can talk about it!”

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 27, 2015 at 7:23 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

Addiction: What is the Antidote?

bottle--alcohol--light_19-136505A writing colleague and friend recently posted an article to my Facebook timeline on the subject of addiction. I eagerly read the piece, which promised to uncover addiction’s cause.

Addiction, Johann Hari claims, stems from loneliness. Accordingly, the solution is bonding.  “The opposite of addiction,” he writes, “is not sobriety. It is human connection.” He goes on to say that the whole criminalization of drugs is misguided, and argues for replacing punishment with job training.

As I’ve written on this blog, supply is not the problem with regard to drugs. Demand is. Until addicts want to stop escaping from reality, drugs will always seem a promising alternative to lives that are all too often desolate and dark. Until we provide addicts with the ability to change their circumstances for the better, they will seek to escape from life the only way they know how.

But single cause explanations, though elegant, seldom provide the full answer. There are plenty of people who are plugged into a community or society, who still suffer the devastating consequences of addiction. Native American communities are particularly tight-knit, for example, yet alcoholism runs rampant. So lack of connection cannot be the sole cause.

It is my belief that addiction is a disease that must be treated medically and psychologically, by trained professionals. Once the period of detoxification is over, and the medical symptoms dispensed with, it is time for an in-depth psychological analysis of why a person uses drugs. This should be done on a case-by-case basis, not through some cookie-cutter, one-size fits all method often found in rehabs and other treatment centers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, both on the article and on my comments here.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 26, 2015 at 7:27 am

Categories: Addiction   Tags: , ,

A Word of Gratitude

thank-you_2672385Something happened at McIntyre’s Books last Saturday, when I read from Conversations Among Ruins—something personal and beautiful. For the first time, in a very long time, I felt connected to a group of strangers.

I sometimes felt connected with my students when I lectured, but this was different. Conversations Among Ruins is a personal story. The book isn’t entirely autobiographical, but I did draw from my life experiences to write it. Like me, the protagonist is dual diagnosed, meaning he suffers from a mood disorder and chemical dependency.

I learned that people, if given the chance to do so in a safe environment, want to talk about this issue. I discovered that once I gave myself permission to open up about it, others gave themselves permission as well.

The stigma associated with mental illness is huge, as is the stigma attached to addiction—combining the two makes things worse.

The best way I know of combatting the stigma is to talk about dual diagnosis, just like we talk about other medical conditions. I don’t know a single person who is ashamed of having heart disease or diabetes. But the number of people I’ve met who feel ashamed about having a mental disorder and/or chemical dependency is overwhelming.

Opening up a dialogue and providing a safe space for others to share is a major step in the right direction. One young woman in the audience had read Conversations Among Ruins beforehand and felt comfortable enough to share her personal experiences. I am so grateful to have been a part of her journey. Others came up to me afterward and expressed how much my reading had meant to them.

I am so grateful to the people who came out to hear me read, and to those who couldn’t come, but who supported me with their wonderful words. You all took part in the enormously important work of fighting the stigma against dual diagnosis. Thank you one and all. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your journey. And please know you are a large part of mine.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Categories: Dual Diagnosis   Tags: , , ,

My Interview with Jennifer Oneal Gunn

Please welcome author Jennifer Oneal Gunn!

Author Photo2014

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

Hello! My name is Jennifer Oneal Gunn. I’m currently working on the revisions for a few of my novels, but I recently released a Children’s book called Squishy Face and the Moon.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write in many different genres. My favorite is Horror but I’ve also written in Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, a little bit of Erotica, Non-fiction, Children’s, and Poetry.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

Never cage me in and tell me I can’t. Telling me that will make me write it or learn it then do it. This is why I’ve tried my hand at so many different genres, because even I didn’t want to truly challenge myself at first, but then I do want to accept the challenge to prove myself wrong.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’ve done all those. I had an agent when I first started, I’ve been at publishing houses, and I’ve self-published. Each one is an experience all its own.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

If it’s your dream, don’t give up, keep learning and keep going. You can only get better, the more you learn your craft.

 

What are your three favorite books?

I only get to pick three? (Laughing.) I like a lot of books, it’s pretty hard to play favorites.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

My answer here is pretty much the same except I will venture to say, I like authors who make me think, who take me into their tales, who get me in deep and don’t let me go without a fight. If you can do that, you have a reader for life in me.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Edgar Allen Poe. I want to know what happened and why he was found on the bench in Baltimore.

 

What are you currently reading?

This interview. I’ve not had the time to invest in a story line lately, having promoting to do and sales to set up.

 

What makes good writing?

Decent structure, good pacing, wording that is complicit with a coherent structure. Pretty much, suck me in with a decently worded book…use your words, don’t go overboard, but don’t go under the line of elementary. Say what you need to say in such a way that it makes me want to know what happens next. If I’m bored in the first bit, I will be bored the whole time. Incite a mini-riot.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

It depends on which book you’re reading, but predominantly, the message is mostly: family is everything. Women aren’t weak. We all have a special something inside us that drives us on.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Uh-uh…sane? Hmmm. I never knew there was such a thing as a sane writer. I’ve done this too long to believe I have any sanity left. The age of fourteen was a long time ago. That’s when I started writing.

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

I like the fact that more strong women are developed these days in literature. I would definitely pick one of those. My favorites are actually women I’ve created because I molded them to be the butt kickers they are with my own hands. They strike me to my core a lot more because I know them better than I know other characters that others have written.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Books proved to me that I wasn’t crazy. I’ve had a huge imagination since I was a small child. I used to see stories in my mind for as long as I could remember. When I was able to read, the visual stories got worse. The voices that told me tales were everywhere.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

I am working on that. It’s titled “Nobody’s Perfect, Especially Me.” This is a favorite made-up saying of mine. In plain terms, it just means we are all human and make mistakes.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

I think, being a writer, we sacrifice most in the way of relationships, sometimes friendships. It takes a lot to understand the mind of a creative, not all people are up to the task.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

I don’t really think learning is an obstacle but, I’ve learned a lot about the business in my time as an Indie author. In spending that time promoting others, my own name has suffered. I guess you might say that was the obstacle to try and overcome.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

Revisions is on my list of least liked things about writing. I know it helps to revise and edit as best as we can before handing our books to the professionals, but revisions cost us time. I don’t like to waste time.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

Which book? The first or last so far? I think I’ve learned something new from all of them. I do a lot of research when I’m writing. I tend to write darker books sometimes with a lot of murders in them but, they also tend to have history and a lot of other elements that help the story stay interesting. A lot of times, I end up learning some historical facts to twist into my plot lines somehow, to make it as if my characters somehow met someone from history, partook in, or relived it for some reason or another.

 

What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?

I don’t know, these are pretty well thought out. Our typical writer questions are pretty basic and I’m glad these were not so far.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In 2010, when my agent told me to get used to calling myself one.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Stephen King, Shakespeare, and Edgar Allen Poe. Through their writing, these men taught me a lot and I’ve never met any of them.

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Yes. Buy the books, kids. I promise that as I get older, the writing will not only get better, but it will get bloodier as time passes. I made myself a vow to keep outdoing myself in writing and I plan to stick to that promise.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

I think I would just like to be on the board even once, that in and of itself would make my day. To become a bestseller might make my millennia.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

I’m not sure. Being an editor, it’s in my nature to try and strong-arm a book that is poorly written and make it better. If it has good bones it can be fixed. If it doesn’t have a good plot, it’s not something that should be published. If it has a weak plot, re-write it. An editor can always go back and help an author fix mistakes to make it be a better product. By all means, take a few classes to become a better writer, if that’s what it takes for the plot line to come across in a better light. Or better yet, do a lot of reading, get down how the major writers do it and use what you learned. You can never learn enough about this business.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Remembering to tie up loose ends in other books and being consistent with other plot lines. At least, those have been the hardest things for me so far besides getting the time to finish my first drafts.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

No, I’m not one of those authors who thinks you have to write every day to call yourself a writer/author. I do it mostly when the voices start taking over and shouting at me. I get in between two and five thousand words out at a time and the voices go away for a while. When they feel smothered and start shouting, we better listen.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Pragmatic, studious, creative, ambitious, and driven.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

The first book I ever wrote was a romance novel. It’s not published.

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

I would choose Jake Loughlin (one of main characters from the Revenging the Evil series) because he’s not only a good guy but, he’s honorable, loves his family, and would do anything to protect them, even if the ways to get that done aren’t so honorable.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Writer J. Gunn is a Legend: https://www.facebook.com/Writer.JGunn.is.a.Legend

Mistress of the Macabre: https://www.facebook.com/MistressoftheMacabre

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterJGunn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1177732.Jennifer_Oneal_Gunn

Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Oneal-Gunn/e/B00C0JCQ2O/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1420498565&sr=1-1

Where my books are sold: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=jennifer+oneal+gunn&sprefix=Jennifer+Oneal+%2Caps%2C296

 

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

Squishy Face and the Moon_Cover 2

 

Mystik Legends Concept 2_April 3 2014_Front

 

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Blurb of Fire, Ice & Blood

 

Blurb:

Jake Louglin is special, extraordinary, in fact. He’s been using his power of premonition since he was a kid, but the night he used his gift to save his Holly was the night he was changed forever. Now in the present day, he and Holly have a family. They created a brilliant son, Chase. While living their life, the family used their gifts to lay ghosts to rest.

One skeleton filled their closet to the brim, the Loughlin’s then had to decide how to end the possessive reign of one blood-thirsty soul over the body of Jake’s Holly. Does he win the fight and save her from the world’s most dangerous soul, or does he lose her to darkness forever?

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Summer 2012:

 

 

Chase stood in front of a Victorian house with paint peeling, the grass had grown up several feet in front of the house, the windows were broken, and graffiti marking it. The once trimmed hedges out front made it look more like a large ramshackle immobile beast with its carved teeth squeaking. It was bad enough that everyone in town knew of the ghost stories about the place, but the damage from the neighborhood heathens was worse.

As the summer breeze blew through Chase’s dirty blond hair, his green eyes sparkled while he stood on the sidewalk in front of the scariest place his parents ever told him about. He was told, his mom’s last night here at this house was the start of their relationship and eventual marriage of his parents; his dad saved her life that night.

His mother, a beautiful, almond eyed, raven haired, olive complexioned woman who loved to smile; would often glide her petite frame across the floor when she thought no one was looking. She was sassy when she wanted to be but also loved her family fiercely. She told Chase the story of how she and his father got together many times over the years. It felt like something was always off about the whole thing. It felt like she left out details or there was something she didn’t know. As Chase stood looking at the old place, he felt the vibrations of the ghosts that still remained in the residence after all this time.

His father, Jake, a family man with a few small secrets, always warned him to never go near the place. Chase used to ask him why and all his dad would say, it wasn’t safe. He didn’t tell Chase it was because he was like his dad and had the power to see things with his mind. Although, that part he figured out for himself when he was younger and kept having strange dreams about people he never knew. Then, watching the news later in the day, Chase would see the people from his dreams in murder photos on the screen flashing through their deaths as if he were standing in the room watching. Once, he awoke from a vision screaming about how he killed someone. His dad surmised it felt so real to him, he thought he actually committed the murder. It used to upset his mom so he stopped telling her about it and would only tell his dad. Jake understood because it always happened to him too. They shared many stories over the years.

Blinking furiously, Chase decided to enter the house, get to the bottom of the mystery about the ghosts, and maybe even find a way to help the tortured souls rest. As he got closer, the vibes he felt were stronger; he could feel the pain of death from within the walls. It made his heart race as he felt the pain of jagged needles flowing through his veins ending up in his chest as the racing continued. For a minute he staggered, reaching for the hedge, waiting for the sensations to die down. He stomped a path in the tall grass and made his way to the porch. The rafters were falling in toward the back and the floorboards were creaking in places that weren’t broken or breaking. He teetered on the creaking mass of old wood as he stood looking at the front door. As he made his way closer, he shuddered, as if it were only thirty degrees, even though it was still eighty degrees in the evening and the light was beginning to fade into the west.

Chase peeked in through the glass portion of the front door to the enormous house. He saw the walls still held the replica paintings of Neo-Classical art depicting angelic scenes with the wingback chairs, chaise lounge, and plush sofa still in place; decay and dust were evident even through the filthy window. No one came to claim the belongings of the people who had once lived and died here.

Chase stomped his way from the porch, through the tall grass, and into the back yard of the apartment house. His dad told him there was a door that lead down to the first floor kitchen. It was as good a place as any to start learning about the ghosts.

Once located, the door stood with its paint peeling and glass severely cracked. The door, like most objects, stood silent in the light of day without anyone around to see or hear the ghosts who constantly opened and shut the door; trying to get the attention of anyone they could. The ghosts, hidden within the house, wanted out but couldn’t leave.

The piercing silence and the light breeze was all Chase could sense. The tiny wind died down, as he moved closer to his objective. He stood in front of the door, took off his t-shirt and wrapped it around his tanned hand. He bashed in the glass of the already severely broken pane in the door. After unwrapping his hand, he shook the broken shards from the cotton shirt, hearing them tinkle on the ground for only a moment. He replaced the t-shirt, put his hand inside the gaping hole, and unlocked the door. As he opened the hard wooden door, a cold breeze engulfed him.

Chase entered quickly and shut himself inside a house he was scared to be in. He’d heard too many stories; his mom told him about the slit throat of Cheryl the writer and his dad told him about the face being ripped off the landlord. The whole night was a brutal, horrific truth. Five out of the six patrons of the place died in one night. One damned night, but why? His mom and dad still didn’t know why the murders took place. No one who came onto the scene after it was over could tell them a thing; it was gruesome and they were lucky to be alive.

 

 

Chapter One

Five years ago:

 

Ireland

 

 

Pale light shone through the window in the morning, gleaming off the white walls, did nothing to stop the pain inside her head. It was searing through her brain, needles and knives cutting through the scalp. The claw marks on the side of her face were her own. The pain grew to be unbearable around midnight the night before. Her eyes hurt and she couldn’t sleep.

The monster inside told her she didn’t have long; she couldn’t wait to end the pain. Too many tears, it hurt too badly to keep on living. How am I going to explain it, he’d never believe me. He’ll think I’ve gone crazy. Maybe I have. It was a possibility. Why is my head talking to me? Lass, pull yourself together!

“What the fook is goin’ on ‘ere?” She sighed as she glared at herself in the mirror.

As she looked out the window and down at her small lawn she thought about all the death she’d seen over the course of her short life and how those ghosts haunted her every day. She thought about seeing all those spirits, even when, she walked by an old church in Sligo, Ireland in the township of Collooney. There was one on a hill she passed on her way to visit an old friend once. It was filled to the brim.

When she went walking down the road, Alana didn’t have to imagine the worst horrible scenarios, they were being laid out before her eyes and only she could see them. She saw them everywhere causing her to run to the rescue of the friend who lived in that particular town. When she told him about all she’d seen he was the only one who didn’t look at her as if she were crazy. He looked like a believer and she trusted him with what she’d seen.

Rory had been all over the countryside and seen a great many supernatural workings. It was his pastime to record them into a great ledger and one day he’d be able to add them the ample history of the Irish people. Ireland being known for its Celtic mystery, Rory hoped to add to the legends and lore.

He wrote down all of Alana’s findings and kept them safe for her. He was one of the only people she ever talked to-she built a closeness with him. He also knew her spirit was fading, she was depressed and having a rough go of life. Things in her world were killing her insides. One thing he didn’t know was that she’d been having the headaches and the pain then the voices.

Will he understand? I don’t want to hurt him, but would he get it?

It wouldn’t be long now, then she wouldn’t have time to explain to Rory what was really happening to her. Ghost sightings were nothing compared to what was going on in her brain. He might honestly think she’d truly gone nuts in the end, although she hoped not.

Something had to be done about the pain, it was excruciating. Her own thoughts were of death, her death. Then the voices would have to go away, the pain in her head, too. She thought of Rory, she would miss him a lot. Her face was suddenly wet from the dripping tears as she thought about leaving her friend behind.

Her sparkling eyes saw things in a blur. The images that were always in front of her were shadows and blobs. She cried until her head hurt so bad she wanted to carve out the mess inside it.

In her tiny one room flat in the center of town, she sat on her little chocolate leather sofa staring at the floor, memorizing the pattern in the ceramic tile. It was dark brown with red coursing through it, as if her blood had already hit the floor running in some marble pattern. She thought about the letter she’d written and Rory.

Alana left the letter on the dresser in her flat for Rory, one she’d written the night before. She gave him all the reasons, all the explanations as to why she might kill herself, and put in the one picture she had of them standing beside an apparition. The apparition looked like a wisp of smoke but it wasn’t, they both saw it. On the back of the photo she said in her handwriting, ‘This is it. This is why. Rory, there is so much more than we imagined out there. It’s all real!’

As she cried, Alana saw the ones around her. The ones that were always there, like a huge group of banshees waiting to take her home all the time. In the blur she knew who they were, some were very old family members, some were just people that came because she could see them, so they followed her. Not all spirits were good. Some of the ones that surrounded Alana tried to get her to end it well before her time was up. Her family members always got them to stop goading her. This time none of that was needed and she sat silently letting the tears fall.

This was to be Alana’s last night on earth. She couldn’t take the pain. Not anymore. The voices, that was just too much. And her heart, her heart was breaking so badly she couldn’t begin to explain it to mortals. All her life she spent trying to do good works for others and love people. Her soul was not black yet she felt it was. Rory spent a lot of time telling her she was wrong and she loved her friend for that. She would miss seeing him when she was gone.

Alana laid on her bed, tears falling from her eyes running onto her pillow, her red ringlets splayed out on the white case. She stared at the ceiling with her emerald green watery eyes, her hands hung off the sides of the bed as the blood rushed from her wrists onto the tile floor. Time was waning. The voices were growing dimmer. She could hardly hear them at all while she breathed her last breath.

 

***

United States:

 

The big cheerful, yellow vinyl-sided house on the corner of a very old highway was anything but ‘sunny’ inside its walls. The lights in most of the house flickered silently giving warnings to the inhabitants that spirits were upended.

Jake paced the hallway; his footsteps making the old floorboards creak, running his hands through his blond hair. He was looking at the photos on the pale blue walls in the upstairs hall of his and Holly’s home. His nerves were plaguing him. His twelve-year old son Chase came up to him, looking him in the eyes.

“Dad, what’s wrong with her?” Chase innocently asked.

“She’s having a breakdown, son. There’s nothing we can do but let her finish it, so she can get better,” Jake said.

“What’s a breakdown?”

“Chase, your mother is having a mental episode. What she needs right now is to know we’re here and that we love her.”

“Okay, Dad. I can do that,” Chase said quietly, hugging his father, he walked down the hall to his room and closed the door. He was silent as Jake continued to pace.

As he was walking, Jake’s heartstrings were pulled tight; his emotions were high, although he never let on. He was worried about his Holly. With everything she’d faced, she needed him strong because she couldn’t deal anymore. He didn’t know how to help her.

“Jake,” Holly whispered through the crack in their bedroom door.

“Yeah, Babe?”

“Please, come in here.”

Jake opened the door to his bedroom, entered, and closed the solid oak stained door. He sat on the edge of the bed looking at his wife. He didn’t say a word as she rose off of her pillow to sit up. Her straight dark hair fell around her shoulders down her back. Her hollow dark brown eyes searched his face as she looked into his green eyes through his glasses.

“Jake, I’m sorry,” she said, choking through her tears.

“Why are you sorry?” Jake asked Holly as he looked down at her.

“For-for, um, shit, for all this mess…” Holly let her hands fall into her lap, staring at them for a moment.

“What mess are you talking about?” Jake’s voice was soft.

“Me,” she wistfully glanced at him before looking down at her hands again.

“With all you’ve been through, I’m surprised it took you this long to fall. You have every right to feel what you feel. Just remember, we love you and want you better,” Jake scooted closer to Holly and hugged her hard. Tears began to flow from her as she cried hard against his chest. He held her tight and let her cry, he said, “Just let it out finally. Let it out…”

“I love you, Jake,” Holly said as she cried.

“I love you, too,” He said as he sat there holding his Holly for a while while she cried until her breathing was normal again and she backed away from him, looking in his eyes as hers still watered. Jake grabbed her tiny hands and held them in his. “Breathe, Babe, it’s gonna be okay. I promise. We’ll make it.”

“Okay, Honey,” Holly whispered feebly as Jake helped lay her tiny body back on her fluffy sapphire colored pillow case in their bed and left the room. A few minutes later, he checked in on her and she was sleeping.

Jake Loughlin spent the next few nights worried about his Holly and how she’d sunk into her deepest spot ever. He never truly knew how dark it could get for her because she never let him see. Her world had crashed against the shore and broken into shards of what it was before, all she had gone through finally got to her. Twelve and a half years she’d kept it inside her, the night everyone she lived around was murdered. She also knew Jake was the reason she still lived. His pre-cog visions saved her. Without those and his being there, she would have ended up like the rest of them, and there would be no Jake and Holly or Chase in the world. No love, no light, and certainly no life without her family existed out there. Jake knew she thought that way because she had reminded him of it many times. Every time he had any doubts about anything having to do with his family, she told him. She loved him and he knew it, his soul told him how deep her love was.

On the nights he spent awake; he had no dreams, no visions, and no need for magic. But, Jake also got no sleep and was having a hard time functioning. His nerves were on end when he felt the spirits rushing through him trying to tell him something. He didn’t get it or understand the meaning. He was too tired his stress level was too high. All he wanted was for his wife to deal with her issues so they could go on with their lives in the manner they were all accustomed to, which was ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life.’ At that present time, his wife was anything but happy and he couldn’t fix her, it scared him.

 

Chapter Two

 

Present Time:

 

Ireland

 

 

“Lucy, it’s been five years, she can’t still be ‘ere,” Mr. O’Malley said.

“She is, she’s been ‘ere since she died, I’ve felt her ‘ere with us,” Lucy O’Malley exclaimed.

“That’s insane, love. How can the ghost of someone be ‘round ya still?” O’Malley wanted to know.

“I dunno, but Michael O’Malley, she is! I tell ya, she’s here! I feel her in me bones.”

“Because she’s your daughter, love. They don’t let the ones who kill ‘emselves through, ya know.”

“But why’d she do it, O’Malley, why? Our beautiful Alana!”

“Lucy, calm yourself now. Ya know, she did it ‘cause she thought she was crazy. Ya should’ve told her.”

“So it’s my fault m’girl ended it? That what ya mean, O’Malley? How dare you!!”

“No, woman, ya just shoulda tole ‘er about your own shit with your own ghost seein’ that’s what I’m sayin’ to ya.”

“Yeah, I know. Damn it, O’Malley, I see ‘er everywhere. She ain’t at rest.”

“Well I think we migh’ be able ta fix it. I heard about someone from a friend o’ ours in the States. Maybe he can help us.”

“Please, I’m beggin’ ya. Please do somethin’ so we can be at peace.”

Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley contacted the one and only person they could think of to help them put their daughter to rest. They were going to send for him and his son. It was said that the Loughlin family could help with spirits of all types.

 

***

United States:

 

Summer was still in full swing in July of that year. The light burst through big windows in the yellow Victorian into late evening. The heat was tremendous. It was said that if a person wanted greenery they had to store it in their house to keep it all from dying because the air was so thick and hot. No sense in planting flowers or even worrying about the rose bush that climbed the front window of Jake and Holly’s home, the yellow Victorian had seen its days of heat and cold in the one-hundred or so years in existence. This summer however, was one of the worst on record in their state. No one mowed and it was too hot even for swimming.

Although the air conditioning was running at full force, Jake was sweating as he sat in his office wearing shorts after he got out of the shower when he got home from his dreaded day job. He hated that place but it paid the bills so really he did it for the money and nothing else. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, he was tired from the day of mundane service and it showed. Jake sat in his office pouring over paperwork from the day job when the phone rang. He could barely understand or hear the man on the other end of the phone. His accent was soft and fast. His Gaelic tones were blending with his English, so Jake first asked who he was and told the man to remain calm. Finally, the Irishman on the line calmed himself and explained the situation to Jake about his daughter. His eyes sparkled as he sat there silent until the Irishman finished his plea.

“And we’ll pay ya ta come over ‘ere and help us if ya can,” Mr. O’Malley said to Jake.

“Seriously?” Jake asked.

“Yeah, we need ya. Me an’ the wife have been dealin’ with the ghost of ‘er for five years now, we need ‘er to be at peace.”

“Okay, I think my son and I can help you. I have something I have to do first though for my wife, but after that I’ll be free.”

“All right, lad. Let me know, an’ then we’ll get ya set up ta come on over the pond.”

“I’ll call you in a few days.”

“Thank you, we appreciate it, really we do.”

“I know and it’s going to be fine. Tell your wife I’m coming soon.”

“Oh, I will. Good-bye, Mr. Loughlin.”

“Talk to you soon.”

Holly came prancing into the office, touching the small wooden columns on either side of the doorway smiling, looking at Jake with her fiery eyes. Her long straight dark auburn hair was bouncing over her shoulders and her bare feet were making footprints on the rug. It was so hot outside she was wearing cut-off shorts and a spaghetti strap shirt with her bathing suit top underneath it, showing off her golden skin tones of summer.

“So? What’s going on?” Holly asked, still smiling.

“Some Irishman just called me, from Ireland. He was asking me to go there and help with a ghost problem.”

“Ohhh. So you gonna do it?” She asked curiously.

“I don’t know. We have to fix this other problem first, living without your ghosts.” He sighed as he looked up at her from his pile of paperwork and over his glasses.

“I know.” Her smile faded, she replaced it with a look of glum reluctance.

“It has to be done.”

“I wish I didn’t have to go in there with you guys.”

“You know you have to deal with it.”

“I know, sweet man.”

“You’ll be fine, we’ll be right there with you.”

Holly nodded at him and looked off into space. She knew what she had to do but she didn’t know if she had the strength to face her demons. It had been seventeen years and it still haunted her. The day before, Chase came home with new information about the murders. She didn’t know her best friend died from poisoning and she had no idea Jake broke the killer’s neck to save them both that night, she just knew he was dead and Jake wasn’t.

She often wondered why there were times when the man she loved was distant, now she knew. She also knew, that soon, she would have to put to rest all the ghosts that haunted her for so long and plagued her well-being, when five years ago, it got too tough to handle, she crumbled. It took her all that time to regain her life, her love, and her son in the proper manner. She’d been in a deep depression because she let the ‘truth as she knew it’ at the time, do to her what it should have done that first year. She’d spent a portion of her time completely silent and in her own head. She questioned herself more and more, wondered why she lived while others died, even though she knew the answer already, Jake saved her.

Jake always felt horrible he couldn’t save them all and he was pissed his vision of that night was so subjective. He also knew he did the best he could do under the horrible circumstances. Killing someone had never been in his heart, but that night he had no choice, it was kill or be killed, or worse-lose Holly to death.

As Holly stared off into wherever her head was at, he looked at her in wonder. His thoughts brought him to what his world could have been without her in it, he shook it off and stood up. He walked up to Holly and put his arms around her. She looked up at him and smiled, her dark brown eyes looking through his glasses into his green ones.

“Ahem! You do realize other people live here right?” Chase poked his head inside the room.

“Boy, get over it. I’m hugging your ma,” Jake said as he eyeballed his son.

“Yes, I can see that, Dad.”

“Baby boy, sometimes Mama needs a hug, nothin’ wrong with that,” Holly said.

“I know Mama, just givin’ Dad some grief,” Chase laughed as he looked at his parents. “Was gonna say, ‘Geez guys, get a room!’”

“We have a room that we pay for!” Jake was laughing.

“Dude, come on man! Give a young guy a break, will ya?” Chase retorted.

“Nope, a job. Son you know what they are, so finding one should be easy,” Jake said.

“Dad, ghost hunting is a job.”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t pay shit.”

“I know, I know. College, remember college, Dad? I know it’s been a million years but I know you remember it.”

“Chase, stop it, leave your dad alone. It’s been a long day,” Holly ended the little argument.

“But he started it, Mom,” Chase replied.

“I know, but you guys don’t need to argue, it’s not important right now. It’s summer, anyway,” Holly said to them both. “Everyone needs to chill.”

“Yes, Mommy,” Chase looked at his mother with a bit of a smirk on his face. She sternly looked at him with her eyes dancing. She looked up at Jake and he sighed.

“Okay, Babe. I give, but only cause you want me to. More on this later, Chase,” Jake said as he gave his son a stern look.

“Oh, yeah. I know, Dad,” Chase sighed.

 

***

 

Scratching his blond goatee, Jake surveyed the premises, deep in thought until he heard his son’s voice.

“Did ya have to bring her?”

“Boy, don’t let your mother hear you say that, she’ll slap you silly,” Jake laughed.

“Yeah, I know.” He looked over at Holly who gave him a look that made him fear for his life temporarily, then she smiled at him and that scared him more. “Ahh geez, she’s gonna get me, look at her, Dad.”

“That’s your mother and you started it, it is what it is, now you gotta deal with her, not me, she scares me,” he laughed.

Holly walked up to the two laughing men, “Okay fellas, are you just gonna to stand there laughing at me or are we gonna to get on with it?”

“Babe, you know this is my first one of these, I’ve never done the evil spirit cleansing part before, so I’m thinking.”

“Yeah, I know but you know me being here creeps me the hell out,” Holly said.

“Mom, it’s fine. We’re here with you,” Chase hugged his mom. “It’s gonna be okay.”

“I know baby boy, but it’s creepy as hell still and after the new info, really creepy,” Holly said as she tied back her long straight dark auburn hair.

“See there, you’re making ready for this. Don’t worry, we got this. You saw the pile of research we found on this, and you know we practiced.”

“Yes, my guys are smart I know that, Mama don’t take up with fools,” she said, laughing.

“Mom, you’re funny,” Chase was carrying a board under his arm, walking to the landing to the second floor. He smiled at his parents and as they followed him emotion filled them. They were proud of their son he was brave.

“You got the candles and he’s got the spirit board, why am I going up there?” Holly asked, feeling spirits around her and fear.

“It all happened because of you, Babe. Something I may not have told you,” Jake said.

“Um, no, you left that detail out…thanks, Honey. And we’re going to my place with this? Why we doing that?” Holly began to shake as the fear began to mount inside her.

“No one died up there and so we, Chase and I, thought it would be safer.”

“Ahh.”

“Chase, you’re younger than me, you might have to kick the door in. Let me hold that for you,” Jake took the spirit board from Chase as he made ready to open the door.

Chase tried the knob just in case and it turned letting the small family enter without damaging the door. “Thank you, Anna!” Chase looked at the sky as he said it.

“How did you know her name? I never told you that,” Holly looked puzzled.

“She told me, Mom. No worries.”

“And what happened to that? It wasn’t like that when you got it,” Holly looked at the spirit board with its new gash and the place that looked like someone tried to cut the thing in half and only made it about half way before something stopped it.

“I don’t know, you didn’t tamper with it did you? Babe, I know this stuff scares the shit out you and wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want this stuff in the house, but we wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t important,” Jake peered at his wife.

“Jacob James Loughlin, why in the hell would I do that? And besides, it looks like someone took a Skil saw to it, am I allowed to touch your power tools?” Holly asked with a serious look on her face.

“Nope,” he nodded, smirking. “Then I have no idea how it happened Holly, come on, time to get this over with so we can go home.”

The Loughlin family entered the old apartment of Anna and Holly, leaving the door wide open so they could see. Clutter was strewn everywhere as if a wild animal had somehow gained entry and ran around tearing things to shreds. Holly instinctually knew where the broom was and got it out, sweeping small bits of debris to one side making a place for everyone to sit on the floor.

The candles were situated, three blue, three white, and one black in a circle on the spirit board and lit, after the board was placed between the small circle of Jake, Holly, and Chase. The three held hands making the circle complete. The door to the apartment slowly closed saving the candles from the evening breeze. Everyone looked over as the door silently fit back into its hinges. Holly’s eyes got big with fright and Jake held her hand tighter, giving her a look that said she needed to relax and remain calm. She nodded at him. Her chocolate brown eyes softened again staring into his gaze, as if he had the power to calm her at any given time, a small sincere smile formed on Jake’s face.

 

***

 

A calming affluence swept the room, making the entire place feel like home again to Holly. She felt Anna in the room. She always felt more than she saw, she sensed her best friend near her, tears started to form in her eyes. Chase looked at his mother with a sad expression.

“Mom, she still loves you and she understands,” he said.

“I know, I feel it, I just miss her,” Holly said.

“Okay, guys let’s get this started, they need released, it’s been too long,” Jake said as he made himself a little more comfortable.

With that, Jake looked down at the spirit board, the candles still burning, saying a chant under his breath, repeating it several times gathering the spirits to them. He felt the room fill with all of them, all five spirits even the evil Mr. Kowalsky were present. Something ominous and black filled his mind as he closed his eyes. He shivered, “They’re all here.”

The candles flickered and the light danced off the walls. The temperature in the apartment went down about thirty degrees and small whooshing breezes passed them. Holly had goose bumps on her skin and Chase held her hand firmly.

“I can feel evil among them, they don’t like being up here with him,” Jake said.

“Then please hurry, Honey. I don’t like being up here with him either.” Holly was clearly frightened.

“Dad, wait. Didn’t you say there was this special chant and ritual for this?” Chase asked.

“Yep, brought it with us and all the stuff,” Jake took some small items out of his pockets and placed them on the spirit board in front of them. All three of the Loughlins looked down at the small items that rested there.

“What is all that stuff?” Holly asked.

“It’s Voodoo Mom. Dad looked it up online. It’s supposed to help in the release of trapped spirits,” Chase explained to his mother.

“Oh okay. You go, Baby…” Holly smiled at Jake faintly.

Jake smiled at Holly and looked back down at the items he’d taken care to bring folded neatly inside a napkin in his pocket and the small dish he had in his hand. He placed the items in the dish, saying an old incantation, setting the items on fire, and smoke billowed up from the dish hitting the ceiling of the attic apartment. They waited.

Small streams of light illuminated around them, four white streams and one dark red, when the light faded away, the spirits could be seen by all three people sitting in the center of the room. The ghosts of Anna and her family with Cheryl the Writer huddled together, staying several feet away from the ghost of a psycho killer. Kowalsky just smiled an eerie evil smile.

Holly never saw a ghost that wasn’t in one of her dreams and she was too scared to say anything at all. Jake smiled wryly at the good family of ghosts. Chase sat motionless in awe. Jake looked back down at the dish with the burnt items in it, tossing them out and placing a piece of paper with writing on it in the dish, he torched the paper. As the flames descended, the ghost of the evil one lit up in flames and he screamed loudly as he writhed in fire until he disappeared.

“Now this is the hard part, Holly. Babe, I need you to let go of Anna and let her go to the other side, as hard as that is, you have to. We have to release all of them from this place.”

Tears flowed down the sides of Holly’s face, “I know…” she whispered. She glanced up at the ghost of Anna who smiled at her, telling her it was okay to let go. Jake took his wife by the face and wiped away her tears, kissing her forehead.

Chase just sat there watching his parents as he had prepared well for this and knew his mother was emotional. She always had been his whole life, she was strong but when things broke her, she was broken. As she blinked away more tears she sat trying to calm herself down through breathing techniques she’d learned, trying to control herself so they could finish laying the spirits to rest.

The family on the floor once more held hands and Chase and Jake began to chant something very old by the sound of it in Holly’s ears. She’s heard her husband say many old passages in their seventeen years together and what he said that night sounded like some of the others. She just sat silent, praying it would work and the souls could finally rest.

The candlelight flickered harshly as wind blew inside the apartment, shaking the windows. Holly opened her eyes wide to see the bright white vaporous lights floating to the top of the ceiling, sparkling like a ghostly chandelier glowing as the four lights hung there. She felt the good in the room, it slowly started fading away as the lights faded to nothing and were gone. She looked around the room and saw nothing, no ghosts just her husband and her son, the ones she entered with.

“You okay?” Jake looked over at Holly, wondering about how she took what happened.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I feel…it’s weird…hard to explain…”

“At peace?”

“Yeah, maybe that’s it. I feel at peace. This place feels at peace.”

“That’s good, let’s gather our things and go home.”

“Agreed. I’m sleepy, Baby,” Holly was weary, it felt like a long evening and it hadn’t even been an hour.

Chase was already opening the door to the apartment and taking a flashlight out of his bag so he could blow out the candles and gather their things. He was silent but dutiful. He looked at his mother and smiled, “Hey Dad, she did better than I thought she would.”

“Your mother is a surprising woman. Never underestimate her, ever,” Jake winked at Chase.

“Does she know?” Chase was curious.

“Yeah, she knows,” Jake said.

“Know about what? Ireland? Yes, I know about it. Do these people not realize you have a day job?” Holly asked Jake.

“Yes, but this time, the clients are paying for the trip.”

“You guys go all over the United States, ‘bout damn time you got some sort of compensation, shit…”

“Maybe since you did so well, better than we thought, you can come with us this time, Holly.”

“Yeah, Loughlin family vacation,” Holly said sarcastically.

“Seriously Mom, come with us. You did well, no kidding.” He looked at her in earnest.

“Chase, why would I want you guys worrying over me when you were trying to put spirits to rest? I wouldn’t.”

“Please, Mama, come with us,” Chase smiled, coming close to his mother picking her up, swinging her tiny body around in a circle and sitting her back on terra firma. Holly laughed, her eyes sparkling she loved it when Chase did silly things.

“Okay, I’ll think about it, but for now, I just want to get in the ‘monster’ and go home,” Holly said.

“She’s not a monster, woman! She’s a fine machine!” Jake retorted.

“I know, she’s got a loud roar though,” Holly laughed again. It echoed tinkling off the ceiling as the family left the attic apartment and made their way home. As Holly walked, she went slowly, observing her men. Her son looked so much like his father down to the blonde hair and his green eyes, almost his duplicate on the outside only younger and a bit more easy-going, like her. She smiled, thinking about when the two of them were younger for a brief moment as she watched them walking ahead of her, carrying the items they’d brought, Jake and Chase glanced back at her seeing her huge smile and returning it.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 20, 2015 at 4:18 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , , ,

My Reading at McIntyre’s Books

My reading from Conversations Among Ruins at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village yesterday was a resounding success. It started with the extremely supportive members of my writing group coming out to demonstrate their support. They are truly a wonderful, talented group of folks.

The receptivity of the audience to the issue of dual diagnosis was amazing, as was the quality of audience participation. I could not have picked a better group of people.

Afterward, I had folks come up to me and thank me for giving them permission to speak about dual diagnosis, psychiatric conditions, and addiction. I learned that people really want to talk about these issues, and that if given a chance to do so, they open up like flowers.

I want to thank everyone who was there, including Pete Mock for making it such a pleasant experience.

Here are some photos of the event:

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: ,

My Interview with Heather Fraser Brainerd

Please welcome author Heather Fraser Brainerd!

 

author photo HFB

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

After careers in both insurance claims and early childhood education, I finally settled into writing full time. I love it! At the moment, I’m awaiting the release of Act of Abduction, the third installment in the José Picada, PI series. I’m also working on book four of the series with my brother/co-author, David Fraser.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

Paranormal mystery, YA paranormal romance, and MG fantasy.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

Everything I write seems to end up with quite a bit of humor mixed in. You might not expect this with paranormal sub-genres, but it works!

 

What are your three favorite books?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Mystery by Peter Straub, and anything Harry Potter.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

Peter Straub. He’s a very visual writer.

 

What are you currently reading?

Coincidentally, I’m reading The Brothers’ Keepers right now. It’s excellent.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Having a writing partner keeps me sane. Whenever I get into a bout of writer’s block, talking it through with my brother helps clear the way.

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Hermione Granger. Brains + strength of character + magic = awesomeness.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

The Luckiest

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

The first thing that came to mind for “least” was “marketing.” But when I really think about it, my marketing efforts have led to friendships with people all over the world. It’s been an unexpected blessing.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

I know this goes against conventional wisdom, but no. If I force myself to write every day, I get garbage. I have to be inspired to write.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

I have a tattoo taken from the cover of my favorite book. Can you guess which book it is?

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

As my bio says, “If she could marry a fictional character—and if she wasn’t already quite happily spoken for—she would be Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.”

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Blog: Driving Blind: http://drivingblindproductions.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrainerdFraser

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HFBrainerd

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Fraser-Brainerd/e/B00FNRQV0S/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1417369244&sr=8-1

 

Thank you, Heather, for sharing your time with us. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

 

 

dream shade 200x300SoNY coverdeceptionaldente200x300soundofsirens200x300

 

 

 

Here is a blurb and excerpt from Heather’s up coming release, Act of Abduction (José Picada, PI, Book Three) by Heather Fraser Brainerd and David Fraser

 

 

Blurb:

Josie P. Cates, P.I., springs back into action when an old colleague from her insurance days calls in desperate need of a detective. A number of his claimants have gone missing, and the police are eyeing him as a suspect. Josie embarks on the case while simultaneously juggling friends and relationships, only to find that the case leads her back to a former adversary. With another foray into the dark and mystical looming before her, will Josie find the strength for one more supernatural battle? Or will she just go for a pizza with her new boyfriend?

 

Excerpt:

The woman perched on the edge of the chair and placed her patent leather pocketbook in her lap. There was no way the thing could be called a purse. It had an uber-vintage look that put it smack in the pocketbook category.

I took my seat behind the desk. “So, what brings you in?”

“I…” The woman paused as her voice caught in her throat. “I think someone’s trying to kill me, Miss Cates.”

I leaned forward in my chair. “What makes you say that?”

“Strange things have been happening lately.”

“What kind of strange things?”

“A lot of…near-misses.”

“Near-misses? Such as?”

“Well, I was almost run over last Tuesday during my morning walk.”

I pulled a pen and pad from a desk drawer. “Did you get the car’s license plate?”

“It wasn’t a car.”

“A truck, then? SUV, maybe?”

“It was a moped.”

I looked at her for a beat. “You were almost run over by a moped?”

She nodded her perfectly coiffed head. “Yes. I jumped out of the way and it missed me by a matter of inches.”

“Okay. What else?”

“Well, just the other day, I was strolling down Main Street when a piano just about fell on my head.”

“Are you serious?”

“Why, yes. I had just passed the Wiltsie Crump building when I heard a tremendous crash just behind me. I looked back, and there was a piano, smashed to bits on the sidewalk.”

“You mean, like, someone was hoisting a piano to an upper floor and the ropes broke or they let go or something?” Did people actually hoist pianos, other than in cartoons?

She nodded, her large eyes serious. “Yes. But by the time I realized what had happened and looked up to see who had dropped it, they were gone.”

“Okay. Is that it?”

“Oh, I wish it were. The most serious one happened just this morning. That’s why I decided I had to come and see you.”

“What happened?”

She leaned in and said in a near-whisper, “My toaster exploded.”

“Your toaster exploded?”

She nodded. “I suspect that someone tampered with it.”

“And who might do that, Miss…uh—”

“Miss Scarlet,” she supplied. “My name is Miss Scarlet.”

“Of course it is,” I mumbled. She wasn’t out of some retro fashion magazine; she was straight out of a black and white detective movie. Or maybe, given the falling pianos and exploding toasters, a cartoon. “Do you know who might want to hurt you, Miss Scarlet?”

“I’ve no idea.”

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11 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Matthew Peters - January 13, 2015 at 6:02 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , , ,

My Marketing Efforts – A Brief Review

working-alone_438-19316517Well, I promised I’d keep you posted on my marketing efforts, so here it goes.

I had two books published in 2014. Conversations Among Ruins (CAR), a  work of literary fiction, was released on August 13 by All Things That Matter Press. My religious thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers (TBK), became available on October 1 through MuseItUp Publishing.

Both books have risen and fallen in Amazon rankings, which can jump hundreds of thousands of places when someone buys a book. TBK seems to be selling better than CAR, at least according to this very crude measure.

I’ve received one royalty check for CAR. (Just to let you know, I’m not planning any trips to exotic locales.) I really won’t know how TBK is selling until I get my royalty statement from MuseItUp.

Overall, the results have been a little disappointing.

The fundamental issue is how to increase awareness of my books among the veritable sea of books published every month. Outside of the people I tell by word of mouth, and the efforts I’ve taken thus far, I really have no idea how a person is supposed to come across them.

So, what have I done in order to promote sales? In addition to telling everyone I know about the books and encouraging people to write reviews, here are some of the steps I’ve taken:

  1. I post free ads in Facebook reading/writing groups—this seems to have some limited success. I do notice a correlation between posting in the groups and sales, but as we all know, correlation does not prove causation.
  2.  I hired a publicist—this has had some limited success. I’ve had a book launch at a local bookstore and I’ve seen small reviews of my books in the local paper and other publications. I have more engagements coming up this year, so I will let you know how they work out.
  3. I ran a giveaway on Goodreads for CAR—this seems to have had no result. The person who won a copy of the book has yet to post a review, and though hundreds of people added the book to their read shelves, I haven’t seen any indication that more people are reading the book now than before. I can’t hold a giveaway for TBK since it is still available only in e-format.
  4. I tweet about the books—I try to do this in moderation. It is important that ads you post on Twitter for your own books are balanced by tweets on other topics. It is my sense that I’ve sold more books through Twitter than through other means, but it is a hard claim to verify. I am basing this observation on the positive feedback I receive from my tweets, including retweets, and the number of followers I have.
  5. I’ve hired Goddess Fish Promotions to do a book/blogging tour for TBK—this is scheduled to happen in February, so I’ll let you know how this goes. Depending on the results, I’ll consider doing a tour of CAR.
  6. I’m running a paid Facebook ad—I have yet to see the results of this effort, though the ads only starting running a few days ago. I have had some clicks to my website as a result of the ad, but can’t really see any conversions into sales (at this very early point).
  7. I continue to write—this is what I’ve heard is the best means of selling more books: writing more books. And not just any books, but quality stuff.

It is still early to gauge the effectiveness of these efforts: time will indicate their success or failure.

I would greatly appreciate any insights into the best way of increasing the visibility of one’s books. Some of you reading this blog have much more experience than I do when it comes to marketing.

I remain hopeful things will improve in the future.

All the best,

Matt

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24 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Matthew Peters - January 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , ,

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