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Through the Mist: Reunion

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Popcorn Read for a Hot Summer Day

Looking for an easy, breezy summer vacation read? Might I suggest the "Through the Mist" series?

What's the story? Tilly Munro is a modern woman who suddenly finds herself transported back to 1800s Scotland. I know, I know - not another time travel romance in Scotland! Give it try.

The first book in the series - "Through the Mist: Restoration" is affordably priced at 99 cents on Amazon.com. A bargain!

After you finish "Restoration," dive into a novella, "Through the Mist: Adrift." Meant as a bridge between "Restoration" and its sequel, "Reunion," we learn more about Beth Hunter, Tilly's best friend, and the aftermath of Tilly's mysterious disappearance.

Yes, "Adrift" ends abruptly, because we are ready to jump into the action of "Through the Mist: Reunion." This book is a roller coaster ride. We explore Tilly's new life, travel to Tinberry Hall in Derbyshire, learn more about Malcolm Campbell, and immerse ourselves in a new romance between two unlikely people.

The novella is also available as an ebook on Amazon and is priced at 99 cents. "Through the Mist: Reunion" can be found there too. The ebook is $1.99.

Of course, if you prefer printed books, you can order those too. They are a bit more expensive but certainly available.

We all like a light read in the summer. I hope you enjoy the "Through the Mist" series.

And, yes, I am working on another book in the series right now. In fact, I have plans for at least two more books in the series. The story will continue!

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So, What's It About??

Whenever someone learns that you wrote a book, the natural question is, “So, what’s it about?” More questions may follow if people are interested.

I try not to ramble on too much. I wouldn’t have written the series if I was not passionate about the topic, but I realize that you can only hold someone’s interest for so long. Here are some common questions and their answers:

Through the Mist is a series. What’s it about?

It begins with the first book, Restoration. Tilly Munro is a modern woman who suddenly finds herself over two hundred years in the past, in Scotland. How did that happen? Who is this mysterious Benjamin Campbell? Will she go back, if she ever finds a way?

Then, I continued the story in a novella, Through the Mist: Adrift. Tilly travelled to Scotland with her best friend, Beth Hunter Madison. After Tilly’s mysterious disappearance, Beth’s life fell apart. In Adrift, we learn more about Beth and see the story come to a startling conclusion.

The recently published sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, continues the story of Benjamin and Tilly. We learn what has happened over the last year since Tilly disappeared. We also learn more about Benjamin’s father Malcolm, and the lengths the man will go, all in an attempt to preserve the estate. We experience a new love story with two characters. How does that one end?

This sounds like a lot of time travel romances that I have read. How’s this one different?

It is true that the “Scottish time travel” romance story has been done many times over. In fact, that was my inspiration. I have read a lot of books in the genre. I never read one where the woman was older and has lived a life before she met our dashing Scot. And, the modern women usually don’t have any problem at all with the changes brought on by time travel.

Well, I need indoor plumbing, access to information, and freedom to speak my mind. I am not a twenty-something and would likely be viewed as a spinster. In short, I would have a serious problem with traveling back in time. That got me thinking - how would someone like me deal with time travel? What things would be different?

That’s how the Through the Mist series was born.

I hate the way Restoration ended. Why did you do that to us readers??

It has been my lifelong dream to write a book. Restoration was my first effort. I admit there are issues in that book with pacing, and yes, the ending could use a little polish. However, the story for me is over at that point. It was always meant to pick up in the next book.

Incidentally, the ending of Reunion is much better, in my opinion. Please give it a chance.

Why don’t you just fix the ending and republish Restoration?

I am a bit of purist. Aside from fixing typos, I don’t believe in changing the book once it has been published. Besides, I am afraid too many edits would spoil the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

Why did you write the novella, Adrift?

For awhile, the material in Adrift was the first part of Reunion. I finally decided to cut it from the book. I was afraid no one would hang in there long enough to get to the real heart of the story that happens in Reunion.

I could not bring myself to leave the story unpublished, though. To me, the material in Adrift provides needed backstory into Beth’s life. Expect some callbacks to the novella in the third book in the series.

You have a few historical references in the series. Are they true?

Based upon my research, yes. I read a lot of material about the time period. I study online resources. And, for the next book, I can reference notes and pictures I took on my recent trip to Scotland. It is important to me that you are part of the story. Adding little details about food, customs, or clothing make the experience real to me, and I hope it does the same for you.

Now, I will say this - I do not have a team of people behind me. I do the best I can, and it takes me longer to complete my research. I have a day job. If you find a glaring historical error, I always welcome comments. You can DM me on Facebook.

The books are affordably priced, compared to other e-books. Why are they so cheap?

With my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, you took a chance with me. It seemed rather rude to ask you to spend $10 on a writer’s first book. I priced it at 99 cents so you would give me that chance. If you liked it, you got a deal. If you hated it, well, you only spent 99 cents.

The novella Adrift is also priced at 99 cents. It is not essential to the series, but it is a “nice to have.”

Both Restoration and Adrift are now free to read on Kindle Unlimited, if you have it.

I have struggled with pricing for Through the Mist: Reunion, the sequel. I try to keep the price in an affordable range, yet, to be completely honest, it would be nice to make more than 35 cents on the book. (Yes, literally that amount.) Hey - we all need a side hustle these days, right? At the current price, it is still less expensive than some ebooks out there. I hope the story is enjoyable enough for you to spend your hard-earned money.

When can we expect the next book?

Restoration was published in 2016. Adrift and Reunion were published in 2018. I seem to be on a “every two years” track. The story in the as-yet-untitled third book is much, much larger than the other books in the series. I hope to complete it within two years, but I don’t want to make any promises.

Keep an eye on this blog and Facebook for updates.

Have more questions?

Find me on Facebook or Goodreads. You can leave a comment here. I love feedback and questions. I really want to know what you think of the story, the characters - anything.

As always, happy reading!

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Lower Price for "Through the Mist: Reunion"

The sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, will continue to have a special ebook price. The original price was $2.99. I have lowered the price to $1.99.

The first book in the series, Through the Mist: Restoration, and the companion novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, are each priced at 99 cents for the ebook. If you have Kindle Unlmited, you can read both for free.

The series gives you an opportunity to escape for a few hours to Scotland. Experience a little bit of romance and intrigue entwined with a wee bit of time travel and history. Where else can you find such inexpensive (and hopefully fun) entertainment?

Happy reading!

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About that ending....

SPOILER ALERT!!! If you have not read Through the Mist: Restoration or Through the Mist: Adrift, you might want to refrain from reading this blog post. While I will not reveal the endings, some comments that follow might. You have been warned.

Seriously - be careful with the comments.

Alright - I tried to warn you.

I have read the reviews for Through the Mist: Restoration. I think a lot of people were disappointed with the ending. In my defense, it was my debut novel. I have learned a lot about how endings should be a little bit…different.

Also, the ending felt right to me. The story reached its natural conclusion.

If you read Adrift, you will be disappointed with the ending. It is abrupt on purpose. I knew exactly what I was doing there. Adrift is meant to be a bridge between the first book, Restoration, and its sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. It is a quick read, though, and you can jump right into Reunion without waiting years for a resolution.

Those chapters stayed in Reunion for awhile, as I tried to determine whether or not they belonged in the sequel. Ultimately, I decided to spin it off into a separate novella. I felt it weighed down the sequel and was a bit distracting with the jumps in time. Still, I wanted the story to be told, because characters in Adrift appear in Reunion, at the end.

I fear that the endings with the first book and the novella have put off some people to reading Reunion. Well, without revealing too much, Reunion has a better ending. I tie off a lot of loose threads, so you are not left wondering what happened to favorite characters. I do leave a couple of exciting, happy things to explore in the future.

I have an idea for a third book in the series - or 3.5, if you count the novella. I am still researching it and sorting through some ideas. In the meantime, I hope you can enjoy Through the Mist: Restoration, Through the Mist: Adrift, and Through the Mist: Reunion, despite the controversial endings in the first two.

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"Through the Mist: Adrift" is here.

Drum roll....

The novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, is available on Amazon. And, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you don't, the ebook price is affordable at 99 cents. The paperback is a reasonable $3.99.

Since it is a brand new entry, you may need to search for that exact title. It could take Amazon a few days to catch up.

So, why would you want to read the novella instead of waiting for the sequel? The novella is meant to bridge the gap between Restoration and Reunion. A lot happened after Tilly Munro disappeared.

When Beth Hunter Madison and her friend Tilly embarked on a road trip in Scotland, it was meant to be a fun romp in the Highlands. As we know, the trip took a tragic turn when Tilly disappeared into the mist.

Beth is haunted by her part in the tragedy. Her marriage collapses. Her career is in ruins. Desperate to save her career, she jumps at an opportunity in Scotland. She must return to the place where Tilly disappeared. In doing so, she finds a new purpose for her life.

She also discovers love in an unexpected place. Unfortunately, the man lives in a different time.

You may be asking yourself, "Do I really need to read this novella?" Well, I will be brutally honest - no, you don't. Then again, do you really need to order dessert? Do you need chocolate?

The novella will add an extra layer to the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. My goal is to release the sequel later this month, so you won't have to wait long.

Happy reading - and thank you for your patience while I finish the sequel.

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New Releases Coming Soon!

If you don't follow me on Facebook, I invite you. I tend to post the first updates there.

The book writing/editing is coming along well. To catch you up, I decided to split the sequel into two parts - a novella, titled "Through the Mist: Adrift," and the actual sequel, "Through the Mist: Reunion."

The story in the novella needs to be told. I feared, though, that it would bog down the sequel if I used it as the opening part of the book. 

I plan to release the novella at the end of June 2018. Fair warning - it has an abrupt ending. In fact, if I read it, I would probably scream, "What happens next?!!" Don't fear - the sequel will be released in early August 2018, if not sooner. I hate it when books end with a cliffhanger, and the reader must wait for sometimes YEARS before there is a resolution. As a new writer, I understand why that happens. As a reader, it drives me NUTS.

As always, thank you for going on this journey with me. I will keep you posted when the new books come out. Happy reading!

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Bring in the New Year

I am ready to bid 2017 goodbye. What a year! I always try to look for the positive and present it to you here and on my Facebook page. I figure you have enough bad stuff to read. Why add to the dark cloud of negativity? The year 2017 was a doozy, though.

As I look ahead to the new year, I am excited for the challenges to come with the book. I am putting the finishing touches on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.  I know I have said this many times. If you are a writer, you know how tough the process is. Just when you think you are done, you spot something that is not quite right and want to change it. At some point, though, you must say “Enough!” I am nearing that point.

I plan to try advertising with the novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, and the sequel, Through Mist: Reunion. I did not advertise Through the Mist: Restoration. Frankly, I was thrilled that I finally wrote a book. It was a huge personal accomplishment. If anyone read it, it would be a small miracle. Several of you did, and I am eternally grateful.

I encourage each of you to find something this new year to bring you similar joy and gratitude. I felt as if I wasted many years saying “someday, I will....” If we learned anything from 2017, it was that “someday” may never come. Do not put off living your life.

You don’t need a grand gesture. Sprinkle in a few attainable goals like eating half a donut instead of a whole one or taking the stairs today instead of the elevator. We should celebrate the small victories as much as we do the big ones.

Here’s to a new year filled with health and happiness for all!

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An Excerpt - "Through the Mist: Adrift"

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I decided to split the sequel into two parts - a novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, and then an actual sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. In September, I offered a sneak peek at the opener of the novella.

Here's a low-fat Thanksgiving treat. I offer you an excerpt from the novella. I would greatly appreciate your feedback - either here or on Facebook, whichever medium you prefer.

Enjoy! I hope you have a safe, happy holiday.

One

Asheville, North Carolina
Present Day


Beth Hunter Madison tossed the keys of her white Range Rover to the young man working the valet stand outside the Tudor-style mansion in Biltmore Forest. She strode into the home with more confidence than she felt, her head held high.

As she handed her black wool coat to an awaiting attendant, she gazed up at the huge crystal chandelier that hung from the vaulted ceiling of the entrance. She walked across the gleaming marble floor until she reached the twin mahogany staircases that lead to the upper floors. She paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. She felt out of place in the opulence of the home, yet she must reach down deep and draw on whatever ounce of strength that remained buried inside her.

You can do this, she told herself. Turning to her left, she slowly strolled into the spacious living room where the crowd had gathered.

The party was the premiere event of New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city and was not to be missed. Only the crème of Asheville society was there. If you did not receive an invitation, then you had little chance of succeeding in the town.

She noted several current and former clients were fully kitted in their best evening wear. She smoothed the front of her blue knit dress and glanced down at the leopard print pumps she wore. She hoped she was dressed smartly enough for the chic crowd. She wanted to make a favorable impression tonight.

Sadly, the majority of her clients were rapidly moving into the “former” category. The party might give her an opportunity to chat. Maybe a little personal contact would soften the grip on their wallets and send more business her way.

“Champagne, ma’am?” a man in a tuxedo asked, brandishing a silver tray of crystal flutes. She nodded and took the offered drink. Taking a sip of liquid courage, she plunged into the crowd.

She moved carefully around the room, smiling at each person she saw. They returned her smile with little warmth and quickly turned away upon her approach. She knew she should not be surprised that no one wanted to engage in conversation. Still, it hurt.

“Why, Beth? Is that you?” a voice called from behind her. She turned to find a willowy, blonde-haired woman slithering her way.

The woman was Cathy Rogers, the host of the soiree and the best real estate agent in town. She helped Beth’s friend Tilly sell her home. She was also the leader of the Young Urban Professionals League, a group of locals who allegedly aimed to promote business people just starting out in their careers. In reality, they were nothing more than an old school, “good old boys” network. Their members orchestrated most of the substantial business deals in town. If Beth wanted to succeed in Asheville, she must stay in YUP’s good graces.

For this reason, Beth answered Cathy with forced enthusiasm. “I wouldn’t miss your annual New Year’s Eve party,” she said. As they air kissed each other, she lied, “I look forward to it all year.”

Cathy toyed with the long strand of pearls that coiled around her ivory neck. “It is the social event of the year, if I may be so bold,” she said with false modesty. “I am surprised you would come after what happened between Randall and you.”

“The divorce is not final. Besides, I am a member of YUP, am I not?

“For now.”

Beth took a long drink of champagne. She tried to formulate a response that did not include the word “bitch.” Nothing came to mind.

“I heard you went to Scotland for the Christmas holiday,” Cathy said, looping her arm around Beth’s and turning her toward the massive fireplace in the center of the room. She leaned closer and whispered loud enough for the people around her to hear, “Did they ever find a trace of Tilly Munro?”

Beth nearly bit her tongue in two but managed a civil reply. “The police ended the search months ago,” she replied through gritted teeth. “No one knows what happened.”

“Well, God forbid that I should lose my husband and children in a car accident,” Cathy cried dramatically, placing a bejeweled hand to her chest. “I can see how that would drive you to – oh, it is so tragic.” She fanned herself. “It would make you want to end it all, right then and there.”

Beth carefully placed the empty champagne glass on a table. She considered snapping off the flute and jamming the stem into Cathy’s eye. She supposed that would be very rude indeed and would likely put an end to the career she came here to save. Swallowing a biting retort, she said, “Tilly was my best friend. If anyone would know her state of mind, it would be me. I assure you she was sad, not suicidal.” Seeing the disbelief in Cathy’s eyes, she added, “The area where we stayed was very remote. I am sure she just got lost on a walk.”

She looked up and gasped when she saw the couple standing beside the fireplace. Too late, she realized that was exactly the reaction Cathy wanted. The woman had deliberately led her to this spot.

Her future ex-husband Randall Madison stood beside a buxom, middle-aged woman whose fiery red hair tumbled in artfully tousled waves down her back. An emerald-colored, sequined dress that Beth recognized as a pricey designer gown hugged her ample figure. The neckline plunged so low that, when she laughed, her voluptuous breasts threatened to wiggle their way out of the garment and into the hands of the eager men who ogled them. The woman grinned broadly and leaned toward Randall, whispering something into his ear. She winked at him and lightly touched the sparkling diamond necklace around her neck.

It was a necklace that once adorned Beth’s neck. A family heirloom, Randall only allowed her to wear it on special occasions. And now, another woman wore it.

“Oh, there’s Valerie Burghley Statton,” Cathy said, feigning embarrassment. “I cannot believe he brought her to the party. He should have had the good grace to spare your feelings.” She practically purred as she added, “Of course, he probably didn’t think you would come to the party.”

Now Beth really wanted to smack Cathy Rogers. Having the soon-to-be ex-wife see her soon-to-be ex-husband with his new amour was the kind of drama that made for a good party. It was especially juicy when the ex-wife was someone who had no place in what Cathy deemed “proper society.” Valerie Burghley Statton came from a well-established family with roots leading back to the best families in England. She was old money. She was a thoroughbred. Beth was a donkey.

Before Beth could quietly slip into the crowd, Randall spotted her. The smile faded from his lips. He gave her a sad, pitying look that was more than she could endure. She did not want his sympathy.

“Excuse me,” she mumbled, pulling away from Cathy’s clinging arm and fleeing the room. She hastily retrieved her coat from the attendant in the hallway. She stood outside in the cool evening air, inhaling deeply and trying to calm herself. She really did not want to make a scene, especially in front of these people. She came there to salvage client relationships, but seeing Randall with that woman was too much. She could not spend the evening staring across a room and seeing everything that had slipped through her fingers.

“Beth –“

She slowly turned and discovered Randall standing in the doorway. She managed a weak smile. Her eyes quickly scanned him from head to toe. He had lost weight. Ever since she met him, he complained about his pudgy belly. She would always laugh and hug him tighter. She did not mind at all. Well, Valerie must not like it, she thought bitterly.

She noticed other changes too. His wrinkles were less pronounced, perhaps the result of cosmetic intervention. His hair was sandy brown now, no longer a distinguished shade of white. He looked like the old pictures from his youth. I guess Valerie did not want him to look like her grandfather, she thought. She felt sad for Randall. The woman seemed to be smoothing away all the rough edges that Beth loved.

He moved closer. “How are you, Beth?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she replied. She stared expectantly at the valet who took the hint and ran to find her car.

“I have been worried about you,” he said, lightly caressing her arm. “Do you have everything you need?”

She shrugged. “I’m fine,” she repeated. “I found a nice apartment. I’ve reconnected with old friends. Life is good.” She waved her hand. “By the way, I will clear out the last of my things next week. It won’t be a big deal.”

“Take your time. I told the lawyer that I am in no rush to put the house on the market.”

They stood in awkward silence for several minutes. Beth wanted to say so much to him yet could not find the words. How do you spend most of your adult life with someone and then – and then, he is just gone? She buried her true feelings and managed to say instead, “You look well rested, Randall.”

He nervously ran his hands through his hair. “Since we sold the practice, I have more free time,” he said. “Valerie says….“ He stopped himself, his face reddening.

“We have been separated since August,” she said. “You can say her name. It’s no secret.”

“It seems strange, don’t you think?” he asked, lowering his voice. “I never saw this happening with us. We were always a team, Beth.”

She took a step back. She did not want to be so achingly close to him. She wanted to fall into his arms and scream that she never wanted this either. Instead, she said, “It is happening. Our marriage is over. We should move on with our lives.”

She heard the valet pull her car to the curb. She turned to leave, but Randall grabbed her arm.

“Have lunch with me tomorrow,” he said. He glanced back at the doorway, as if he expected someone to be waiting for him. “Let’s meet at our favorite restaurant. First one there buys, like always.”

“Be sure to tell Valerie where you are going,” Beth said tartly. “I don’t want to sneak around behind her back to see my husband.”

Randall flinched involuntarily. “I am sorry that I hurt you, darling,” he said. “You hurt me too. Don’t forget that.”

Sighing heavily, Beth tugged her arm from his grasp. She did not want to talk about it, not here. “I will see you tomorrow,” she said. “Don’t be late.”

She headed for her car. She could hear him hurrying behind her. Oh good grief, what now? she wondered. She angrily spun on her heels to face him, folding her arms tightly across her chest.

“I heard things haven’t been going well with your business,” he whispered, a look of genuine concern on his face. “Are you sure you’re alright? Is there anything I can do?”

She cursed Cathy Rogers. She was sure that bitch told him. Beth used to be the most popular graphic designer in town. Before her marriage ended, it was a nice side business, something to occupy her time and help her feel productive. As the wife of a successful cardiologist, she did not have to work. They had plenty of money.

Without Randall’s income, it was her lifeline. She needed the business to make a living. She was confident that the exodus of her clients could be blamed on her failed marriage. She was not born into this little club of rich people like Cathy, Randall, and Valerie. There was no reason to do business with her anymore.

On the spot, she decided to stretch the truth a bit. “Business is wonderful. In fact, I have a job offer for a project in Scotland,” she said. “I’ll probably be jetting back and forth from America to there. It’s very exciting.”

She savored the stunned expression on his face. “When I was there over Christmas, I met the duchess, and she asked for my help,” she said. It wasn’t a lie, though it sounded more official than it may have been. She tossed back her head and chuckled. “Oh, silly me, you don’t know who she is, do you? Well, we can talk about it tomorrow.”

He brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, an intimate gesture that made Beth’s heart flutter. “I hope you can make a fresh start,” he said. “You deserve to be happy.”

She took a step backward. “I will see you tomorrow,” she said quietly.

She hastily walked toward her car and did not look back.

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September Progress Report

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the publication of my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. It was a proud moment for me. As always, thank you so, so much for taking time to read it.

Many of you have wanted to know what happens next. After all, we don’t see the “happily ever after” when the book ends. The epilogue hints that something happened with Beth, but what?

Things are progressing very well with the sequel. The novella, which tells Beth’s story, is in “beta” mode. So far, the feedback has been good. The consensus is that it was right to spinoff this part of the story to a novella. Also, Beth is a very different character from Tilly, and it shows in the story. My beta readers are not fans of the genre, so I trust their feedback. If I can hold their attention, then the story must okay.

I am putting the finishing touches on the sequel before it goes to beta. I do not foresee major changes. We shall see once the betas get their hands on it. I am still pushing for a release before year’s end. I have some exciting marketing ideas, so stay tuned. I think you will be pleased on that front.

I still have some work to do with the original, Through the Mist: Restoration. The cover for the eBook needs a tweak – the title is too small in the thumbnail. The paperwork’s cover has an annoying problem with the spine – the font is tiny! I found some typos in the text as well as a few formatting glitches. Before the novella and sequel are released, I must make these improvements. Don’t worry – I will not change the story. Good or bad, it is set in stone. I do not believe in changing the fundamentals after publication.

In fact, all of this work on the first book is on my Labor Day to-do list. I hate the less creative aspects of the task, but I have put them off long enough.

Thank you for reading. Keep an eye on my Facebook page too. I will provide more frequent updates as well as share my adventures with G and cooking.

Slàinte!

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Life Gets in the Way

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to win the lottery? I do not regularly buy a ticket, which makes it hard to win. Still, on those rare occasions when I do, I always fantasize about walking into the office and quitting my job so I could stay home and write full time. In fact, I have made it publicly known that, if I win the lotto, I am out the door. It was written (in jest) into a project plan once – what would we do if she won the lotto? It made for much-needed bit of levity in a tense situation.

Until I win the lotto, I must squeeze in writing time whenever I can. We have a massive project ahead this month. At the same time, I have made the decision to change directions for the sequel (more on that in a bit). So, it comes to this – work on the book or work on the blog. Since I doubt anyone waits with bated breath for the next blog post, I chose the book. For the month of August at least, I will only post to the blog when I have something really important to say.

I encourage you to visit my Facebook page. I will regularly post there because it does not require a lot of effort and has a more relaxed tone. If you have not visited yet, you will find a lot of pictures of food. A girl must eat!

Now, about the sequel….

It’s big - too big. As I mentioned recently on Facebook, one criticism of the first book involved pacing. When I read the sequel, I see the same pacing problem. It takes 16 chapters before something big happens. Those 16 chapters are critical to the story, but do you really see that when you are slogging through them? Probably not. I fear that, if left as is, you might toss the book from sheer boredom.

I have decided to take that section of the book and turn it into a novella. Then, when Through the Mist: Reunion begins, it will be maybe a chapter of material, and – BOOM –the action starts. Of course, I will mention a little bit of the back story from the novella but not much. If readers really want to know the full story, they can read the novella first and then start the sequel. The detail people get the whole story. The folks who want action can skip the novella altogether. Everybody wins (I hope).

Could a better writer find a different solution? Sure. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them. Seriously –I really would.

So, until my next blog post – see you on Facebook!

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Get On With It!

Walkies with my dog require paying attention. We begin the walk with a run, then come to an abrupt halt for a tinkle. Her nose dictates the speed of the walkie – from slow strolls where every blade of grass is sniffed to brisk walks on the scent of some beast who dared to cross the pee line. Eventually, I grow weary of the manic pace and ask her to pick a speed – run or walk. Nothing in between. (She ignores me.)

An element of writing is the same for me. Setting the right pace makes all the difference. As I edit the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I watch closely for scenes or even sentences that grind the story to a halt. I am much more aggressive in this book than I was with the first one. With Through the Mist: Restoration, I held tightly to certain scenes until the very end. At long last, I cut them, and the story was better for it.

At this point, I fear the first section of the book will meet a similar end. It just isn’t working. Since this section determines whether or not you will keep reading, it must have the proper pace. Otherwise, you will stop reading and will not get to the juicy stuff that happens later in the book.

Of course, the real challenge here is that the first section of any book usually lays the groundwork for the story. The reader needs basic information. Who is this person? Why is she acting this way? What happened in the last book, because I don’t know why I should care about this story? I must give you as much information as I can, yet at a pace that will keep you interested.

Solving this problem is much more fun than the silly stuff that happens at my day job. Thank you for your continued patience as I continue to edit the sequel. I have said it many times. I want to give you something worth your time and money.

If any fellow writers are reading this post, I would love to hear your thoughts about how you tackle this problem.

Happy reading!

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Inspiration? Not So Much

It is summertime here in the States. It has brought scorching temperatures and bad thunderstorms here in the South. It has also prompted a bit of laziness on my part. How do you find the time to write when all you want to do is drink a glass of cold lemonade and relax?

I tried to spark creativity by visiting the Biltmore House yesterday. You can read all about that on my Facebook page. I am a passholder so I can visit as much as I like without buying a ticket. Visiting the Biltmore House gives me a peek into refined living and conjures images of scenes in my upcoming book, Through the Mist: Reunion.

Yesterday, though, it was so crowded that I only spent about 15 minutes in the house. I got a late start, thanks to an unusual power outage at home. I don’t like heavy crowds so it was not as inspirational as visits past.

What do you do when you struggle to find inspiration?

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Book Report

So, where do we stand with that darn sequel??

Progress is slow. To be honest, it is difficult to find time to write right now. We have some big projects at work, so I pretty tired after hours. I will offer some tidbits, though.

Some have criticized Through the Mist: Restoration for having an abrupt ending. The book is almost 300 pages long. I never meant for it to be a deep dive into every detail. Instead, I purposely ended the story where it felt natural to me. The point of that story was Tilly’s decision at the end. Once resolved, a new story began - in another book.

Through the Mist: Reunion will cover a lot more ground than the first book. We have a lot of story in this one since it involves more people. Don’t worry –you won’t need a list of characters to keep track of all the people. (I hate stories like that.) Hopefully, though, the journey will take us to a place where each character’s story is resolved. Well, maybe "resolved" is a strong word. After all, I still want to do at least one more book in the series.

Since it is a lot of story, it is taking longer to write the book. I am still pushing myself for a fall release. I want it to be worth your time, though. If I miss the deadline, know that it is for the good of the story.

Thank you for your patience. I would be happy to answer any questions you have and hear any feedback you would like to offer. Feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.

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Popcorn Fiction

I love to put M&Ms in popcorn. The combination of salty and sweet is irresistible. Sure, it makes a great snack, but I need more than that for a satisfying meal. Sadly, candy and popcorn are not part of a balanced diet.

I view fiction the same way. Some books are meant to uplift, to challenge a reader’s pre-conceived notions, to educate – you know, the kind of book that ends up on Oprah’s book club lists. These types of books often win prestigious awards and may be described as life changing. Books of this type certainly have a place in a balanced diet of the brain.

Then, you have what I call “popcorn fiction.” Like a snack, it is meant to satisfy a craving and may not provide life-sustaining sustenance. Still, it sure is fun to read, isn’t it? Who doesn’t like a snack every now and then?

I plant my books solidly in the "popcorn fiction" category. I frequently read these types of books because I have enough reality in the real world. I love to escape into a story that may not challenge me on an intellectual level but will be fun.

If you are looking for an escape and possibly a laugh or two, please pick up my book, Through the Mist: Restoration. I am currently working on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. While it does have a few serious moments, the overall story is meant to be fun.

Then, when you are ready for fulfilling fiction, check out any number of serious works on Goodreads or any other reader site. I envy the writers who can dedicate themselves to such amazing work. Their writing is far superior to anything I could ever hope to do. And, that’s perfectly fine. In life, we cannot live on candy alone. Sometimes, we must eat a salad.

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In Case You Missed It

If you do not follow me on Facebook, you may have missed it. This week, I finished the first draft of the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

The story took me in some interesting directions that I had not intended for the original plot line. It will be interesting to see if some of the events make the final cut. At this point, I will start at the beginning of the story and fill in all the details. The current version is dialogue heavy in spots. A few threads are not fully developed so they seem wildly implausible as written. Also, the beginning is just stupid, to be blunt.

I am glad the first draft is done, though. That’s a big part of the battle. I still have a goal of publishing the sequel this fall. I will continue to provide updates here and on Facebook.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions about the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration; the writing process; or any other topic. Thanks for reading!

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Read My Book - Pretty Please

For the last two weeks, I have talked about the challenges of self-publishing. I shared that writing the book was actually the easy part. The business side of things opens up a whole new world of challenges. Today, I would like to share my experiences with advertising.

Since I am a frugal person and had no idea if I would sell one copy, I looked at available resources at little to no cost. I have three tips to offer as well as some thoughts about what I will do differently with the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

First, pick the right category for the book. In the description on Amazon, I used certain keywords that were relevant to the genre. It is a Scottish historical romance with a time travel twist. Some people love those sorts of books; I do! I looked at bestsellers in the genre. What keywords did they use? How were the descriptions phrased? I then crafted my book’s description so that it would garner attention from other lovers of the genre.

Second, develop a social media profile in advance of the release. I created a website, but I did not have a Facebook profile. That was a mistake. Many readers are accustomed to finding and engaging with their favorite author via social media. While the website was nice, Facebook is better. And, it is free! I post to Facebook when I want to discuss the book, scones, or any random thing. If someone leaves a comment, I respond. I have already learned a great deal about scones from an Australian reader. I never expected that!

Third, set up an author’s dashboard on Goodreads. It is free! I took a webinar about social media resources prior to my book’s release. Goodreads was mentioned in the course. It is a website for book lovers. Readers can start discussions about various books or themes as well as leave reviews of books. They can create their own profiles and list their favorite books. It was simple to add my book to the mix and create a profile. I have had a few questions from readers about my book, which was cool.

What are my plans for the next book? I feel a little more confident about the experience, so I plan to launch the next book on a broader scale. In the coming months, I will research the cost for ads at Amazon, Goodreads, and other relevant places. I want to explore what is necessary for certain sites to review my book as well how to set up giveaways of the new release. Are there other resources that would “get the book out there?” Hopefully, I will learn more about that soon.

In the end, I learned a valuable lesson with everything – formatting, design, and advertising. Writing the book is a difficult task. Once it is done, I need to put away the writer’s brain and think like a business person. I should “farm out” what I can afford and direct my attentions to projects where I can make the most impact. With a little luck, the sequel will reach more readers. For those of you who are on the same journey, good luck – and keep writing!

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Make it Look Purdy

Writing the book seemed like the hardest part of producing Through the Mist: Restoration. Oh, I was so wrong! After I finished the book, I still needed to format it for publishing and design a cover for the book. In this blog post, I’ll share a little bit about my experience and offer some insight into what I plan to do for the sequel.

Let’s tackle formatting first. In a nutshell, your “publisher” will want your book to be submitted in a format that fits their format. I published  eBook and paperback versions of my book. I used Amazon for the eBook. I used CreateSpace for the paperback. Both vendors had different formats, so I had to create two different versions.

In both cases, the vendor provided a template and instructions about their preferences for margins and other things. When you produce your book, ask the vendor if they offer similar information. It will make life easier for you and hopefully allow you to quickly publish the book.

For design, I decided to produce the cover on my own. I think I have fair design skills, so I used Adobe InDesign to create the eBook cover. The knife and tartan blanket are mine. I took the photo on my sofa. I then loaded it into InDesign and did a little work to produce the final image, which I uploaded to Amazon.

The current cover on the paperback was a template available on CreateSpace. I used the previously-mentioned photo and tweaked it a bit for the paperback.

Now, how do I really feel about doing all that work myself? Well, here’s a succinct answer: it sucked! It felt like torture. After spending so much time writing the book, I just wanted to publish it. It was agony to spend endless hours on the format, to submit and resubmit the work again and again. Ugh! Torture!

The cover design was somewhat fun. I enjoy photography and design. I just didn’t like flipping through templates and trying to find “the one.” And, let me say – I am not satisfied with the template for the paperback. There is a major flaw on the spine of the book that annoys me every time I look at it. I will fix it one day, just not now. The memories of that tortuous process are too fresh.

So, why did I do all the work myself? Again, another succinct answer: money. I did not want to sink a lot of money into a book that might not sell a single copy. I am careful with my spending. I could not justify it.

What are my plans for the sequel? I will probably hire someone to do the formatting for me. I feel more confident that the sequel will sell enough copies to justify the cost. With the first book, I devoted entirely too much time on something that did not fulfill me. I could have used those hours to work on the sequel! The trick will be to find the right person at the right price. I am sure you’ll hear all about it on the blog.

For the design, I am still on the fence. I enjoyed working on the process. I could hire someone to create the cover art for me, though I already have the picture in mind. We will see. For me, I see more value in paying someone to format the darn book.

I have said it a million times. You must set a budget for publishing your book, or you will needlessly spend thousands of dollars. Self-publishing is supposed to be fun. It is okay to hire people to handle the aspects you find boring or beyond your technical abilities. Just be prepared to pay for it.

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Budgets: Editing

As I work on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I am already thinking about marketing the book. The first book was a real eye opener about all the extra work required in self publishing. I thought writing the book was the hard part. Oh, no, the business side is even more difficult.

Writing is such a creative process. I found it a bit difficult to switch off the creative side of the brain and turn on the business part when the time came. I would like to avoid the same mistakes when the sequel is released.

I have talked in the past about the importance of setting a budget. I do not consider myself an expert on the topic, but I can offer some insight into the kinds of things that weigh on my mind right now. For the next three weeks, let’s explore three items that should be considered for your budget: editing; formatting and design; and advertising.

Once the book is complete, you might ask yourself whether or not you should use professional editing services. A person can edit your book for everything from grammatical errors to story problems. It is up to you how far you want that person to go. More importantly, how much are willing to spend for the service?

In my case, I paid $100 to have the first 25,000 words of my book reviewed for content only. I am so glad that I did. She identified a major problem with the opening and suggested a different approach to the prologue. As a result, I completely rewrote the prologue and scraped the first eight chapters of the book. In my opinion, the end result is better than the original.

The Internet is filled with people who offer editing services. Do your research carefully. How many books has this person edited? Have you read any of those books? Exactly what services are offered for the fee you will pay? How quickly will the person return the edited work? Do they provide a contract stating that your work is your own? This last question is important. You don’t want someone to steal your idea!

So, what are my plans? Honestly, I am still undecided. I read the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, and found a few typos. If I had hired an editor, I would like to think that he or she would have found those mistakes. I plan to follow my own advice and see what’s available and how much it costs. Check this blog. I am sure I will write about it when I make the decision.

I plan to devote some amount of my budget to editing. After all, loads of grammatical errors or a sluggish story will disgust readers. I want people to read my book and feel happy, not angry at the mistakes! Consider adopting the same strategy when you publish your first book. Keep writing

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Book or Blog?

This week, I had a choice. Work on the blog...or work on the book?

As you can probably guess, I chose the book. I am in the thick of the last section. Our cast is back at Castle Fion. Far from being a wrap up, more action takes place there. With luck, I will pull all the pieces together.

Stay tuned!

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The Joy of Editing

As I continue to work on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I cannot help but reflect on the time I spent with the previous book. I was new to the self-publishing process and made a lot of rookie mistakes. I still struggle with certain things. It is a learning process.

One of the biggest challenges is editing. I held fast to certain pieces of the book right until the end. I just knew they were essential to the story. After some serious reflection, I eventually realized that the scenes or even sentences formed a virtual brick wall. They halted the flow of the story.

A quick Google search will yield many names of people who will edit your work –for a fee. As I have said in the past, it is important to set a budget for your self-published book. It should include advertising, web site design, editing – whatever services you believe are necessary. You can spend thousands of dollars. You may never recoup the costs. Can you spare that much money?

With the first book, I did not hire someone to edit the work. I recently read my book again and winced when I found the odd typo, grammatical error, or formatting problem. The errors aren’t bad, but still – they exist. A good editor may have found them for me. Simply put, I did not want to sink a lot of money into my first book, though. I was not sure if even one person would buy it. Thankfully, some of you have!

Self-publishing offers us opportunities that did not exist 10, 15 years ago. Unfortunately, just because you can publish a book without a publisher does not mean it will be easy. You must take on all the work or be willing to pay someone else to do it. It is worth the effort. In the end, you will have something that you created, and no one can ever take that away from you.

Keep writing!

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