Paranormal Ghost and Love Story
Historical Paranormal Fiction, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Literary Fiction
Published: December 2020
Publisher: Serving House Books
A ghost story, love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.
PARIS 1920 Dying just 48 hours after her husband, Jeanne Hebuterne–wife and muse of the celebrated painter Amedeo Modigliani and an artist in her own right–haunts their shared studio, watching as her legacy is erased. Decades later, a young art history student travels across Europe to rescue Jeanne’s work from obscurity. A ghost story, a love story, and a search for a missing masterpiece.
Loving Modigliani is a genre-bending novel, blending elements of fantasy, historical fiction, gothic, mystery, and suspense.
Praise for Loving Modigliani:
“LOVING MODIGLIANI is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning pages late into the night” –Gigi Pandian, author of The Alchemist’s Illusion
“Part ghost story, part murder mystery, part treasure hunt, Linda Lappin’s Loving Modigliani is a haunting, genre-bending novel that kept me turning the pages long into the night.” – Best-selling mystery novelist Gigi Pandian
About The Author
Prize-winning novelist Linda Lappin is the author of four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004), Katherine’s Wish (Wordcraft , 2008), Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery (Pleasureboat Studio, 2013), and The Soul of Place (Travelers Tales, 2015). Signatures in Stone won the Daphne DuMaurier Award for best mystery of 2013. The Soul of Place won the gold medal in the Nautilus Awards in the Creativity category.
Saint-Michel- en-Grève, July 19, 1914
I like to sit here on this rock and look out over the ocean as I scribble in my notebook. I could spend hours, gazing at those inky clouds, drinking in the colors with my eyes and my skin. I love the ocean in all weathers, even like today when the wind is raw and the salt stings in my throat and the mud from the field clings in globs to my shoes and dirties the hem of my cape.
I’ve always been attracted to storms. When I was still very small and we were on holiday in Finistère, I’d slip outside and ramble over towards the headland whenever I heard the wind rising. As soon as Maman saw I was missing, she would send my brother André out to find me. He always knew where to look: perched as close to the edge as I could get. Shouting my name into the wind, he’d run to me through the scrabbly heather.
“Come away from there, Nenette, you’ll fall!” Gently, he’d draw me away from the precipice. But I knew how to keep myself steady: I’d just look down at my shoes on the salt-frosted furze and feel my feet in the earth. Hand in hand, we’d squint out at the waves of steely water. I kept hoping we’d see something burst up from the foam. A whale or a seal. A sunken ship up from the deep, dripping seaweed and barnacles from its sides, a skeleton at the helm!
I can’t explain why I keep watching the horizon, but I feel that my real life is waiting for me out there somewhere across the water. Who am I? Who will I become? Maman says I am going to be beautiful–but that my hips are too round, my face too full, and when I am older, I will have a double chin, like hers. But my eyes are the color of southern seas in summer, changing from green to gold to turquoise. I have seen those waters in the pictures of Gauguin, who is my favorite painter.
I am J.H. and I am sixteen. Everyone has an idea about who I am and what I shall be. For Papa, I will marry an engineer, or perhaps a doctor, like Rodolphe, the young country doctor who treated his grippe last winter, and become a proper wife and mother, accomplished in music, bookkeeping, and domestic skills, like turning tough chunks of old beef into edible stews.
Maman would rather I marry Charles, the son of the neighborhood apothecary, Thibideau, in Rue Mouffetard. He is a friend of André’s and when he comes to visit, he always brings Maman licorice or lavender pastilles, but he is not beautiful like André and doesn’t know anything about art or poetry. He spends hours in the laboratory helping his father make pills and suppositories, and his clothes and hair smell of ether, valerian, and cod liver oil. Maman opens all the windows after he leaves. I cannot imagine living with such a presence, much less being touched by those fingers.
Sometimes after dinner, when André has gone out with his friends, Maman and Papa discuss the merits of both, debating which one would suit me better as a husband. I sit there smiling as I listen, sketching or sewing a hem.
“A doctor is a fine addition to any family,” says Papa.
“But an apothecary will do just as well and if he owns his own shop, why he’ll be richer than a doctor,” says Maman.
They are both so absurd–they never ask me what I think. How can they imagine I’d ever be caught dead with someone like Rodolphe or Charles? The man I marry will be someone special. An artist or a poet. And he must be as beautiful as a god.
Papa thinks women should not work outside the home unless economic circumstances require it. Maman says that teaching is a respectable profession for a young woman if she wants to do something useful in society. She thinks I could be a teacher–of English, perhaps, so she is always making me study English grammar. But I find it hard to concentrate on English verbs. I’d much rather learn Russian. But what I love to do most is paint. It is a passion I share with my brother.
André is studying at the Académie Ranson in Rue Joseph-Bara in Montparnasse, where the Maître, Serusier, says he is very gifted. Over the bed in my room back in Paris, I have hung a painting he made of a poplar tree which he copied from a postcard when he was only sixteen. There is life in that tree, you can feel the leaves flutter as the summer wind shatters the heat and makes shivers run up your arms. When a painting makes you feel, hear, smell and taste, the artist has talent, or so Serusier says.
On every excursion to country fairs or old churches here in Brittany, I buy more postcards for André to copy so he can develop his talent. André plans to become a professional artist — though it’s a secret between us! Papa and Maman don’t know yet that what they believe is merely a hobby will be his career.
André thinks I have talent too. After every lesson at the Académie, he teaches me something new, and this week it’s been about landscapes, but I’d rather paint people than cornfields. In any case, the human body is a sort of landscape. I like to study how our bodies are made, the waves of muscles and hair and the textures and colors of skin. The dimples in elbows and knees fascinate me, like the labyrinths in ear whorls and fingernails. I also like the way clothes fit on bodies and the crisp turnings of caps and collars like the Breton women wear and soft draperies in long clean lines and a bit of fur on a jacket cuff.
André says I should become a clothes and costume designer because I have a way with fabrics. And I love making clothes for myself, though Papa and Maman think my turbans and ponchos are too fanciful. This dress I am wearing I designed and sewed myself, inspired by a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Sometimes I wear my hair in two long braids all the way down to my hips, with a beaded bandeau around my forehead, just like an Indian princess. Other times, when I want to look older, I let it flow loose, under a black velvet cap. I made a promise never to cut it and when I am old enough to have a lover, I will wrap him in my hair and keep him safe.
July 22, 1914
Here in Saint-Michel, every day André and I go out painting morning and afternoon. But if it is raining, he stays home and reads or sketches, but I get restless and have to go walking for an hour or so along the beach, and up to a spot on a cliff where an old paysan keeps his goats. I watch the goats for awhile, then traipse home through the sand and mud, clean my boots, hang my cape in the doorway, and shake the rain from my hair. Tomorrow Papa goes back to Paris and we will follow a few days later. Although I love it here, I admit, I am starting to miss Paris too!
I go straight to the kitchen where fresh sole are sizzling in melted butter and thyme in a skillet on the stove. Maman is grating celery root into a big blue enamel bowl and Celine, the girl who helps in the kitchen, is whipping up crème fraiche and mustard in an old stone crock. The leather-bound volume of Pascal lies closed on the sideboard. Papa has stopped reading aloud for the edification of the ladies and is now absorbed in his newspaper, but I can see the news is upsetting: His pink mouth scowls above his gray goatee. André sits on the edge of a chair, long legs crossed, puffing his new pipe by the open window, reading a book of poems.
“War is coming,” Papa says, rustling his newspaper. “André will have to go.”
“I am not afraid,” André says. His voice, so determined and grown-up, makes me feel proud and scared.
“But I am,” says Maman, “I don’t want my son to go to war. Against the Germans.”
She grates the root vigorously. Flakes fall like snow into the bowl.
“I won’t wait to be conscripted, I will sign up and defend my country,” says André.
Papa stares at him, proud and apprehensive, then folds the newspaper and puts it aside.
“And you, Achille?” my mother asks.
“All able-bodied men will be mobilized,” my father replies.
Mama puts down the celery root. I can feel she is sick with fear. We always have similar reactions. Our minds work the same. I go over to her and take her hand. Her fingers are cold and damp from the celery root; her wrists are threaded with fine lavender veins. I cannot believe that both my father and brother will be sent to war, though I know all over France, men will be leaving their families. I squeeze her hand to give us both courage.
We eat our lunch in silent dread. The food tastes like ashes in our mouths.
July 23, 1914
Why am I a person of such extremes? When I am here in Brittany walking in the wind, I am happy for an hour or two, but then I feel gloomy and begin to miss the little alleys around Rue Mouffetard, the noise and turbulence, the bookstalls, street vendors, and cafes. But once I am back there again, soon enough I feel I can’t breathe, even the Luxembourg Gardens seem like a prison to me, and I long to escape to the seaside. It’s always back and forth with me, I never can decide which place makes me happier. But now that we know that André and Papa will have to go war, I don’t want to go back to Paris at all. Why does André have to enlist in the army? I asked him this afternoon while we stood on the rocks above Ploumanach where we had come to spend the day painting the pink cliffs.
“A man has his duties, Jeanne. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be a man. Making a choice and sticking with it is what gives a shape to our life.” He was painting a brooding seascape in bold lines of cobalt, with a fine thread of yellow foam scribbled across the sand.
I added the last strokes to my watercolor. “I know I change my mind too often.”
“That is because you are only sixteen-years-old, Jeanne, and you don’t know yet what you want out of life.”
“And you, aged philosopher? Do you know what you want out of life?”
“Yes, I want to paint! Doesn’t matter where. Here in Brittany, in Paris, maybe when the war is over I will go to Morocco or Egypt…”
“To paint blazing deserts, camels, exotic women in yellow silk veils?”
He laughed. “You would look charming in a yellow silk veil. But show me what you have done today.”
I step back from my easel to let him have a look at my work, holding my breath as I watch his face. I can guess his reaction by the way his mouth tightens at the corner and his eyes squint. He is never very generous with praise. But today he says —
“Not bad, for a girl of your age. You have captured the lay of the shore in that sweeping line quite admirably. Your brushwork in the clouds here is a bit clumsy, but the colors are subtle. This violet, tangerine, and gray truly give the sense of an impending storm.” He holds up the picture to study it closer, then nods. “There is feeling and emotion in it.”
The ocean wind scrambles a loose strand of my hair, blowing it into my mouth and eyes. “Passion.” I suggest, brushing the hair from my face. “Violet and tangerine are the colors of passion.”
André rolls his eyes. “Peut-être. But why not red, scarlet, orange, fuchsia? Besides what would you know about passion?”
I shake my head and do not answer, kicking at a stone with the scuffed toe of my shoe.
Finally, I say, “Who will teach me to paint if you go off to war?” But what I mean is, “How can we possibly live without you?”
“I know you are sad that I have to go. All of you.” He blinks and turns away so I won’t see his face. “They say a war can’t last long. I will probably be home again in a matter of weeks.”
We are silent for awhile, looking out at the ocean. Far below the pinkish cliffs, we can hear the waves pounding the shore. Along the yellow beach, a little boy in a red jacket runs along the sand with a prancing dog. It must be the lighthouse keeper’s son and I wonder if the keeper will have to go to war, like André and Papa, and if the lighthouse will be left deserted.
I swirl my brush in black and purple and daub some more paint in my clouds. “Perhaps I could enroll in a school to study painting while you are gone.” I say this partly to change the subject, but also because it is something I have been thinking about.
André looks at me, surprised. Clearly, it never crossed his mind that I might want to go to art school. Now he ponders the idea and says at last, “Why not? Many girls enroll in the School of Decorative Arts, these days. There are courses for decorators at the academy of Montparnasse in Rue de la Grande Chaumière. You might learn a skill you could practice at home.”
“But I want to paint portraits and nudes.” He raises his eyebrow at that. “I want to make art! Not decorate teapots with rosebuds. I want to be a painter! A real painter.”
“Being a painter is a very hard life even for a man.”
“But Marie Laurencin and Susan Valadon, they are successful women painters.”
“Yes, but for a woman to be a painter, she must be rich and have an independent income! Or she must be the lover of a very important painter herself, and being a painter’s mistress or lawful wife is almost worse for a woman than being a painter. I don’t say this to discourage you from painting. But it cannot become your profession. Maman and Papa would never want you to lead such a life.”
“But you will lead an artist’s life,” I object.
“Girls don’t become painters for the same reason they don’t become soldiers, or chefs or the President of the Republic.”
“And why is that?”
André sucks in his cheeks and doesn’t answer straightaway. The granite cliffs seem to take on animal shapes as the violet dusk deepens around us. Overhead, screeching gulls reel back to their high nests. My brother puts away his paints and folds up his easel. It is almost time to go home.
“If you don’t know the answer to that question, it means you haven’t grown up enough.”
Why must he always treat me like a child? I turn on my heels and stalk off towards the old lighthouse, leaving my easel and paint box behind, forgetting, just like the child he accused me of being, that this might be our last lesson for a long time to come. I glance back to see him packing up my things, then gazing out at the ocean. He looks so miserable and lonely that I run back up to him and throw my arms around him.
“Let’s never argue my little Nenette!” he says, “You will be what you wish! The gods will decide.” He kisses the top of my head.
Jaclyn lives in the woods of Maine on a Mountain next to a lake. She shares her version of utopia with her husband, two sons, and furbabies! She’s a recovering English teacher who loves digging in the garden, but seems to kill everything she plants and cooks daily, but burns more dinners than she can count. Good thing she knows how to write!
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Funny you ask this! I never did until this year when a fellow author mentioned that she likes to form her writing year around one word to define her year. So, I decided that I would give this Word of the Year a try and this year it’s Create. To remind me that is my goal and what I am driven to do. Create stories. Create an engaging author platform to connect with readers. I want to share the worlds I am creating and the stories I weave from those worlds. I’m finding that this word is driving me to produce not only books, but also create ways to engage readers in my life and get them interested in my work. It’s also forced me to create a network with other authors so we can help each other and learn from one another.
Last night, I decided another word needs to be in my office and life too. UNPLUG. I’ve been so driven to create I can’t forget about the other things in my life that need attention too. So, I’ve started turning off my mobile and other electronics so I can create and maintain meaningful relationships where I am present and engaged.
I am finalizing edits on my debut – Dark Legends: Curse Breaker that will be released on March 15, 2020.
It’s a novella about the Goddess Isis who is reborn into this century in the body of Kalissandra Doe though Kali doesn’t know it yet. She must travel across the world to a remote Island and break a curse to free not only herself but also the man of her dreams.
Kalissandra Doe has a to-do list worthy of the reincarnated goddess she could be.
Break a curse, or die.
Raise a long-dead god, or die.
Reassemble the Osiris Stone…or die.
But when she comes face-to-face with the man, she has literally dreamed of all her life,
Kali realizes that much more than her life is at stake.
The other project I have in the works is called Charming.-
It will be featured in the limited edition Once Upon Another World: A Twisted Fairy Tale Box Set on October 6, 2020.
It’s a re-imagined take on some of your favorite fairy tales with some wicked twists. If you were a fan of Once Upon Another Time, you’re going to love this series. Charming is about a runaway princess who escapes a dark fate by being transformed into a boy. She hides as a servant in a brothel, where she has a chance meeting with a charming prince who persuades her to follow him on a quest. Will they escape the clutches of evil, break curses, and find their happily ever after?
When I was little the best thing in the world to me was a bookstore. I called them my mecca and being there was heavenly for me.
At 11 years old, I’d walk over two miles from my house just to go sit and read crossed legged in the aisles of the closest bookstore being transported to the many different worlds the author’s crafted. Every detail of that store is etched into my memory; including the way it smelled of freshly printed books and promises of adventure. I’d always buy a book or two with any money I saved up, but there were so many I wanted. I could, and probably, did spend hours choosing the right ones. I traveled the world and through time as a knight, a princess, evil queen and many more in that store.
When it closed, I was sad. There wasn’t another bookstore within walking distance. No longer could I stop in after school or spend almost every weekend with new books to enjoy. That is until I learned how to drive of course. 😉
That’s the best thing about being an author. The potential to one day to be that, do that, for a reader. Inspire them to walk distances and sit on a hard floor for hours reading the worlds I craft. With all the technology now, that looks different than when I was younger, but the sentiment is the same.
Yes, I listen to custom created playlists on Spotify. I have one’s I listen to for each work in progress and a general #amwriting playlist.
When I am distractible and need to concentrate I listen to Ambient Sound Mixer. I love their Scottish Thunderstorms channel and the Ravenclaw lounge. Fun fact – when I was writing Curse Breaker, I exclusively listened to a channel I made myself.
I love the sound of a Diesel Engine most specifically a Diesel Train.
I used to live on Long Island and commute by train 2 hours to Manhattan. I would wake up at 4am getting to work an hour early every day and leaving a half hour later just to take the Diesel train. The whole truth is that I couldn’t nap on the electric trains. Something about the rumble of the Diesel makes me sleepy to this day!!
My husband and kids on the beach. Sand, sun, fun and no electronics or responsibilities. Just hanging out, being present, and making memories with them.
Readers can pre-order both of Jaclyn’s books below. While you’re waiting for them to arrive, you can read two of Jaclyn’s stories for free. Kiss Me I’m Irish , is a flash fiction short story she wrote last year for Charmed Writers and is available here on A Slice of Orange. Another piece of flash fiction, Harvest of Memories, is available in Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019. This collection of short stories will only be available for a short time, so down load your copy today.
It is no wonder that Mary Castillo is a paranormal mystery and romance author. She grew up in a haunted house.
Her mom once found her in the closet talking to the nicest lady who had a daughter and two sons. Mary was the only person in the closet and the more questions her mom asked, the plainer it was that her then three-year-old child described the previous (and deceased) resident of their house!
Mary grew up in the same town as the psychic detective of her paranormal mystery series, Dori Orihuela. She even “gave” Dori her dream home, a three-story white Edwardian mansion based on a real historic property. (And no, there are no bootleggers buried in their backyard!) Also, Mary made Dori a tough, smart robbery detective because Mary has discovered from practical experience as a former reporter that is not cop material. She likes to think that Dori is a psychic version of Wonder Woman!
With her degree in history, Mary also loves to find and share untold histories such as bootlegging women and no-nonsense World War II era nurses. Mary’s background is in marketing, public relations, and journalism, proving that yes, you can make a living as a writer! Combining her love of the paranormal with historical, Gothic fiction is a dream come true. Mary now writes the books she loves to read—chilling, psychic suspense novels with sexy heroes and courageous heroines.
However, her current home in Orange County, California is not haunted.
Jann: We’re here today with the remarkable author, Mary Castillo, to talk about haunted houses, a Mystery series and audiobooks.
Jann: What are some of the best things you have learned since your debut novel, Hot Tamara, in 2005?
Mary: The best thing I learned since Hot Tamara is how we can touch our readers’ lives. A few months after its publication, I received an email from a woman who never thought she’d laugh out loud in the chemo infusion room. But she did thanks to reading my book! What a beautiful gift. Ever since then, she pops into my mind and inspires me to do the very best I can with each story because I never know how or when one of my books will come into someone’s life.
Jann: What was it like to have Cosmopolitan magazine select Hot Tamara as the Red Hot Read in April of 2005?
Mary: It was very unexpected and so exciting. The only problem was that my grandma read that issue of Cosmo first before reading the book. Her first impression of my writing was well, spicy to say the least! But she was so excited to see my lifelong dream come true. I must lay the blame on her because when I was 12 she lent me Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins and told me that being an author would be the best job in the world. Good thing I listened to my grandma because she was right!
Jann: What was it like to grow up in a haunted house?
Mary: My parents were very open and natural about our resident spirit, so it didn’t occur to me that it was odd until I was old enough to tell my friends and either scare the heck out of them or be teased! My mom got a few concerned phone calls from parents. Honestly, our ghost was like a nosey, shut-in spinster aunt. Every now and then she’d switch the lights on and off, or open and close doors. We knew she was around when the room would turn cold and we’d just say hello and ask her not to scare us.
Mary: Lost in the Light is heavily inspired by the classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (I listened to the soundtrack while writing and editing the book). I was also edging into the paranormal with little touches in In Between Men and especially, Switchcraft in which the heroines switch bodies and live each other’s lives.
Jann: Tell us about Detective Dori Oriheula and the series.
Mary: Dori first appeared in a novella I wrote with my author friends titled, Names I Call My Sister. I loved her from the start: she’s beautiful, smart, tall and can take down a grown man without messing up her hair. She’s the least likely person to be psychic and I’ve had a lot of fun watching her wrestle with accepting this fact. She’s getting there.
Jann: Dori is getting a second chance at love with Gavin Salazar. Where do you see their relationship going?
Mary: I can’t tell you or else I’ll ruin the series! But I can say this: as long as they’re together, there will be challenges. He is a laid-back, creative surfer guy who loves his little daughter. Dori is quiet, fact-driven and on the surface, isn’t cozy. While he’s open to the idea of the paranormal, Dori is very guarded which only adds to their trust issues. When I threw them together, I knew they had something if only they’d open-up to one another. It’s been fun to make their lives difficult and see them come together as a team.
Jann: You have published three books in this series, Lost In The Light, Girl In The Mist and Lost In Whispers–is there a book four coming soon?
Mary: Yes, I’m preparing the fourth book (a novella) for October 2018. It picks up right where we left off with Lost in Whispers. My mom begged me to tell her what happened to one of the main characters who was in a coma at the end of the book. I didn’t even tell her. She’ll make me pay for it, one way or another!
Jann: All three books are available on iTunes and Audible and you are the narrator. Why did you decide to do your own narration?
Mary: I really, really wanted an audiobook. But we didn’t have the budget to produce one. I have a background in drama and video production, and I’ve always had so much fun performing at book readings. In January 2016, I did some test recordings and began narrating my audiobook. I fell in love with this method of telling stories. Now that it is a finalist in the ABR Listener’s Choice Award for Mystery, I may have found a new career!
But the unexpected gift of recording Lost in the Light while I was editing Lost in Whispers, helped with continuity because I recalled details that I had forgotten! Once I finished Lost in the Light, I jumped into Girl in the Mist, which taught me that it is fun to write a steamy love scene but a bit awkward recording it! I’m now recording Lost in Whispers which I plan to release in the fall and then the fourth Dori novella to be released in Winter 2018.
Jann: Thank you Mary for letting us into your writing world. You can contact Mary at the following sites.
A selection of Mary Castillo’s books are available below. Hover over the book cover for the buy links.
If you’ve never read any of my books you might not know that I love to write about spirits, ghosts, witches and the like. Over the years I’ve developed a growing curiosity about the paranormal world. I’ve filled my personal library with books on everyday spells and rituals and located several websites where I’ve come in contact with some intriguing folks. Most recently I’ve become enamored with the use of crystals and natural healing remedies as a means of tapping into our earth’s truly magical gifts. I find it all quite fascinating.
So it makes sense that I’d use some of this new found knowledge to create a mystical world of my own by writing my first series The Witches Of New Moon Beach. At least it makes sense to me, although my father (if he were still alive) would surely call me a “kook”!
Thankfully, my husband has patiently supported my interests and helped me to seek out curious sites, stores and book shops to aid in my research. And my children have done their part by alerting me to unusual stories, websites and people they’ve come in contact with.
For Christmas, my daughter jumped right into my kookiness by giving me The Ghost Tour on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California where we went this past weekend.
We were both so nervous and excited and arrived on the ship at 10:45 p.m. ready to hunt for spirits. What we didn’t know was that the guide planned on extending this evening’s event until 3:00 in the morning… a little more time in the bowels of a supposedly haunted ship than either of us were prepared for.
After lengthy instructions from our supernaturally sensitive spirit hunter – aka our guide, we set our cell phones to record and wandered the engine room; stopping occasionally to pose a question or two to any waiting spirits. Sitting in cold metal steps in the dark we asked repeatedly for any sign of spiritual existence.
Sad to say, if there were ghosts aboard, they must have been traveling in a different part of the ship. Or maybe they just weren’t very talkative that night.
By 1:15 a.m. my daughter and I were both beat and opted out of the rest of the tour. Armed with recorders, movement sensors, a compass and other data collecting devices the rest of our troop happily continued on with their supernatural investigation while we jumped in our Uber and jaunted home. I understand that we missed the best part – the haunted pool area. Oh well.
You might wonder if I thought the trip was a bust because we didn’t run into any visitors from the other side?
No way. Absolutely not. I learned a lot about collecting paranormal data, the inner workings of the Queen Mary Ship and how much people really do want to engage with the spirit world. Would I do it again? Maybe.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you – when I got up the next morning I hid out in my bedroom where listened intently to my cell phone recording of the evening before. Was that a spirit I heard softly whispering and who was that giggling in the background? Was the tapping I heard a natural mechanical sound emanating from old pipes or was it a spirit attempting to communicate with me?
I guess I’ll never know for sure, but I can tell you that no spirits followed us home and I did get some great ideas to add to my next book.
Next research investigation? The castles of Scotland.
I hit an unexpected writer’s block this past year. I sort of lost my way and it had me really wondering what to do next with myself. I have always been a goal driven person who needed to be reaching for that next carrot in order to feel good about myself. Yes, I agree that may not be the healthiest way to live, but I guess it’s just how I’m wired. The other part of me is that I expect that dedication and hard work will more times than not – result in success. But it’s the definition of that word – success – that suddenly had me paralyzed, and more than a little uncertain of my writing future.
It all started three and a half years ago. After thirty-five years in education, I retired. I had loved being an elementary school principal and there were still a thousand stories, strategies and recommendations racing through my head. I wanted to share all that I had learned and decided to try writing parenting books. I poured out my heart and soul with strategies on bullying, homework issues, parent/teacher relationships and more.
Six books later I realized that I was getting bored talking about the same old stuff I had for the last thirty-five years. I needed to do something different. I took a chance, deciding to throw my hat into the world of fiction writing. And I had a blast creating my first fictional series The Witches Of New Moon Beach. I created a welcoming – albeit quirky, action packed world filled with witches, magic and love, all at the beach.
Although I was happy with how the series did, I guess I had hoped for more. After all, I felt like I had worked really hard, spending endless hours in front of my computer. Suddenly I was wondering what the “more” was that I was looking for? More sales..more exposure more…
A couple of my friends gently suggested that I might consider giving up. Why spend so much time if it wasn’t truly productive. “I mean are you even making any money?” one asked. Others said that I should give in to the fact that the e-book market may have shrunk. Maybe I’d missed my chance and I’d never make it big. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough. It left me considering, who was I to think that I might actually make it in this gigantic world of publishing?
It was my husband who caught me feeling down one day and said something rather life changing – Get Real! What the heck did that mean, I asked – not really wanting to know the answer.
Then he asked me four powerful questions.
1) Did I still have a passion for writing?
2) Was I having fun?
3) Had I done all that I could to improve my writing skills and publishing opportunities?
4) Was I really ready to throw in the towel and walk away from writing?
After dropping these atomic questions on me, he calmly reassured me that whatever my answers were – he’d still have my back.
I spent a lot of time thinking about his queries. And in the end, it was the answers to those questions that helped me to redefine my idea of success and happiness.
I do have a passion for writing. I love creating fictional worlds over which I have total artistic freedom and control. My mind is constantly spinning with new characters, themes and plot lines.
I love creating new characters. It’s fun. In fact, I wake up at night to jot down new ideas that just popped into my head while I was supposed to be sleeping. I carry around my Book O’ Names with me so that when I hear an unusual name I quickly jot it down for later use.
Ouch! No, I hadn’t done everything that I could to improve my writing skills. I listened to writer podcasts, read articles by other writers and secured new support software. I knew that I needed to do a better job editing my books. I’d been zinged for it in the past and recognized that it was one of the areas I could strengthen. I secured the help of a fab editor – Jenny Jensen. She has been a godsend and has made all of the difference in the world in helping me to tighten up my story lines and confirm correct grammar usage. Most importantly, I feel better about my work with her support.
Hell No! I am not ready to throw in the towel. I love writing and even though I still hit bumps in the road; writing makes me happy.
So what did I do with all these newly found answers? I put my head down, recognized that this was what I’m meant to be doing right now – and wrote. I reawakened by imagination and had fun creating a new story – one that I am ready to share with you.
Murder By Magic is my first cozy mystery and I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And should you feel stuck along the way, you are more than welcome to borrow my husband’s four questions to get you headed in the right direction – right for you that is!
Oh, and thank you Paranormal Romance Writers Guild for giving me a 5 star review!
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