Viewing entries tagged
Through the Mist series

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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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The Language of Motherhood

While I walked G at the beach one morning, we passed two ladies who were jogging. (Well, they would call it jogging, but I swear G and I were walking faster.) Both ladies were obviously moms based upon their conversation. One of them commented that it was the first time she had been away from the kids.

A thought occurred to me, and I would like your input. It seems to me that mothers have set topics of conversation - are the kids eating right? Are they spending too much time on their devices? Are they safe? And so on....It seems as if all conversation surrounds the kids. The mother's own interests, ambitions, and hobbies take a backseat to the children.

All you mothers out there - is that true?

Yes, this is material for the upcoming book. I have pages in my book journal about this topic. Your input is extremely helpful. Please feel free to comment on my Facebook page, send me a private message through Facebook, or leave a comment here. Thank you!

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The Thorny Issue of Pricing

Today, I read an article about small business owners who undervalue their services, because they want to attract new clients. The idea is that they need to build their portfolio of work in the beginning, with the goal of becoming more selective when they have a client base. Unfortunately, the strategy usually backfires. Some clients do not appreciate the value of the work. With other clients, the business owner could compromise his or her vision and work on projects that he or she would normally avoid. The work is not reflective of the owner’s vision.

The article made me think about the price of my own books. I purposely priced the first book, “Through the Mist: Restoration,” at a very affordable 99 cents for the ebook. It was my debut novel. I wanted it to be accessible to a large number of people and felt more people would give it a chance if it was priced low.

When I released the novella, “Through the Mist: Adrift,” I also priced that book at 99 cents. It is much smaller in page count, so I did not feel it was appropriate to charge a “big price.”

Then, when I released the sequel, “Through the Mist: Reunion,” I first priced it at $2.99. The loyal fans of the first book snapped it up. Then, sales slowed. I lowered the price to $1.99, where it remains today. Sales have flat-lined.

I am beginning to wonder if that article applies to me. Do people think the books are not good because of the low price? Well, I just don’t know. You see, that’s the problem with self-publishing. I don’t have anyone looking at focus groups, taking surveys, or producing earnings forecasts who can tell me why sales have dropped. The second novel has not sold anywhere close to the levels I saw with the first book. Why???

I still believe self-publishing is a great vehicle to produce books. By sharing my experiences, I hope to help the next person who is considering this route. Most likely, you will not make enough money to quit your day job. And, it can be frustrating when you do not know WHY that is. You know your book is good - why isn’t anyone buying it??

As I end most posts, I would greatly appreciate feedback - positive or negative.

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Writing When You are Busy

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Writing When You are Busy

In the early days of this blog, I was filled with positive energy. I was so happy to FINALLY publish my first book that the first posts encouraged everyone to carve out whatever time they could to write, to follow whatever dream someone had.

While I still believe in following one’s dreams, my enthusiasm has tempered. I am in the midst of a months-long project at work that will radically change everything at my workplace. It is monumental. With such a daunting task ahead, I am frequently exhausted at the end of the work day. The last thing I want to do is sit down in front of my laptop and write.

I have developed a much more realistic habit that might help you too. For Christmas, a good friend of mine gave me a leather-bound journal. (It was really sweet, because I have wanted one for a long time and never told anyone.) When I fill the pages, I can remove the journal inside and replace it with a fresh one.

The journal is a great size. I keep it in my purse. Whenever I have an idea or story thread for the Through the Mist series, I can jot a note in the journal.

Sometimes, I only have time and energy to write passages in the journal. For now, that’s good enough. I still feel as if I am pursuing my dream of writing, but with a realistic approach. It’s all about finding a way to achieve a dream, while living in the real world of boring jobs, deadlines, and stress.

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The Joys of Self Publishing?

I have written in the past about the highs of self publishing. They are many - no one to tell you what to do, when to do it. No one to tell you what to write. Are you picking up on the theme here? You are the boss, which can be exhilarating.

It can also be frustrating. Without someone to nudge you along, you can take your time with the book. That can be a negative. I doubt anyone reading this blog has the privilege of writing full-time. Most of us juggle our “real” jobs with all the deadlines and stress to go along with it. After a difficult day at work, the last thing you may want to do is work on that book. Without a nudge, it could take YEARS to complete your novel.

And then there’s the issue with promotion. What do you do?? Do you place ads? If so, where? How much do you spend? Do you record a podcast? Should you have a giveaway on a website? Can you get someone to publish a review? If you decide to do any or all of these things, how do you actually DO it?? How, I say? HOW???!!!

I admit that I have little patience. I just want to write my story and have someone else take care of the business side of things. Hmmmm….sounds a bit like a traditional publishing relationship, doesn’t it?

Well, I don’t have any publishers beating down my door, begging to publish my book. And, I just don’t have the desire to send a manuscript to 100 publishers, only to be told “no, thanks” or worse, “you suck, your book sucks, you should stop writing for the good of humanity.” OK - that last bit may be harsh, but who hasn’t felt that way?

I have written two and half books in the “Through the Mist” series - “Restoration,” “Adrift” (a novella), and “Reunion.” The first book did well, in my opinion. The novella’s sales were meh. “Reunion” has flatlined, which is a shame. I felt as if I hit my stride with that one. The pace is better, and the ending is really good, in my less than humble opinion.

Let me be clear - I know none of these books will be number one on ANY chart. I want somebody to read them, though. Why else did I take the time to transfer the story from my head to the page? If you are a writer too, you know exactly what I mean.

I feel that I am at a crossroads. I just don’t know what to do to draw readers to my books. And, I have at least two more to write in the series as well as a great idea for a standalone novella. What should I do?

At this point, I have considered hiring a book launch coach. I need someone to pick me up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and tell me what to do. I just don’t know where to start. Let’s see if someone else can help me. As long as the endeavor does not cost a fortune, it might be the kick in the pants that I need. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. Wish me luck!

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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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Inspiration & The Battle of Trafalgar

If you have been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that I am in research mode. I have some ideas for Book Three - yes, that’s what I am calling it. I don’t have a title yet.

I have been intrigued with the Napoleonic Wars and their impact on Britain. Lately, I have narrowed the scope to the Battle of Trafalgar.

I am sure you are wondering what in the world this has to do with a time travel love story. How does this tie in with Benjamin and Tilly who live in the 19th century Scottish Highlands? Well, I guess that’s why you’ll have to read the next book!

While I do not have the resources to include enormous amounts of historical facts and spend chapters talking about history, I do want the basics to be right. For example, how strange would it have been if Tilly tried to do research on an iPad?? If you see a historical detail mentioned in my books, it is accurate. I even look at menus of the time to figure out whether or not someone would have ate a particular dish. Side note - ewwwwwww, some of the stuff they ate was nasty. Different times….

So, know that Book Three is on my mind. I have the general story for the whole thing in my head. Right now, I want to make sure it is feasible. I have already learned so much that it has impacted one line that the story will take (it is not possible). Hopefully, little details like this enrich the story for you.

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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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Exciting news about "Through the Mist: Restoration"

I wrote Through the MistRestoration as a bucket list item. I always wanted to write a book, and I finally did it! Since I did not want to pour a lot of money into something that might be a lark, I did all the formatting and other work myself.

Now that I have the "writer's bug," I am prepared to spend a little money on formatting. I am happy to announce that Restoration has been cleaned up! Polgarus Studio polished the novel, making it look SO MUCH better. I corrected several typos and removed the excessive use of certain words.

Don't worry - the overall story did not change. It just looks pretty now!

Here's the really exciting news. If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can now read the book for free. Tell all your friends. Even if someone does not have a subscription, the book's 99 cent ebook price is affordable.

Wink...wink...you might want to re-read the book because something exciting is happening soon. Check out tomorrow's blog or Facebook post for details. 

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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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Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I asked if 3 people would submit ratings on Goodreads for my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. I was just shy of 100 ratings. I realize some people may consider that amount to be small. It means the world to me because I never thought anyone would read the book, let alone 100 people pick it up. If I received those 3 ratings, I promised to donate $100 to the Avery County Humane Society. I am happy to say that I now have over 100 ratings on Goodreads. Thank you so much!

I have said many, many times that writing a book was the fulfillment of a dream. What’s your dream? You don’t have to pick something grand like skydiving or starting your own business, although go for it if you feel empowered. Try to accomplish something small, just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Then, build on it. Try something a little harder. Soon, you’ll move mountains.

It is easier to sit on the couch and complain about everything and everyone. It is much harder to get on your feet and try. You will feel better for the effort. To hell with anyone who says you cannot/should not/could not do it. Remember – it is important to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

Go for it!

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Sequel Progress

How’s that sequel coming along?

If you follow the posts on Facebook, you know that I am in revision mode right now. I completed another read-through this week. I am not satisfied with the opening section. It is too long. I just don’t think the average reader will stick around until the “good stuff” happens in the middle.

The sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, is meant to pick up around the time of the epilogue in the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. Beth has returned to Scotland. Why? What happened, because the epilogue sounds ominous? It does not sound as if life has turned out well for her.

Also, Benjamin and Tilly’s story ended with what seemed like a “happily ever after.” A few threats to their happiness remained, though. Did their love story end well?

I would love to hear any questions you have about the book, either the first one or the sequel. Maybe you have a question I had not considered. Feel free to comment here or on FB.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

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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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The Goodreads Challenge

As of this post, I have 97 ratings on Goodreads. I am astonished. Through the Mist: Restoration is the realization of a long-held dream. I worked really hard to write and self publish the book. The fact that even one person bought the book is amazing. That 97 people would take the time to give my book a rating on Goodreads, well, that’s just unbelievable.

It would be a thrill to have 100 ratings on Goodreads. I am only 3 ratings away! Therefore, I am issuing a challenge to my readers. If I can get 100 ratings on Goodreads, I will donate $100 to the Avery County NC Humane Society. I adopted G from the organization, so it is a tribute to both you and her.

How do you make it happen? Creating a Goodreads account is free at goodreads.com. Once you log in, search for my book, Through the Mist: Restoration. Then, below the picture of my book’s cover, you will see a drop down menu. You can click that you have read the book. You can give a simple star rating, which is all I ask. If you want to leave a review as well, you can. I humbly ask for constructive criticism, though. It is the only way I can become better as a writer.

Even if I do not hit 100 ratings, I am so, so happy. You made my dream come true just by reading my story. Thank you so much!

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