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A Tease

As I have mentioned on Facebook, the beta readers finished reading the novella, Through the Mist: Adrift. I have a few tweaks to make before it is ready for publication.

In the interim, I thought you might like a peek at the opener. I am not calling it an prologue. It's just a few paragraphs that will set the tone for the story that follows:

Beth would never forget the morning when Mrs. Douglas opened the door to Tilly’s room. It was almost 11:00 a.m., far too late for her friend to be sleeping. They found the garden doors wide open and dying embers in the fireplace hearth. A half-full glass of Scotch rested on a table.

She searched Tilly’s room and found her friend’s wallet, passport, and cell phone. No sign of the woman herself though. Where had she gone?

Mrs. Douglas rang the police straight away. They refused to do anything until Tilly had been gone for a full 24 hours. They told Beth that her friend could have gone for walk and would be back before nightfall. She knew better. She waited in agony as the hours ticked by on the grandfather clock in the parlour. When the clock struck midnight, she felt each ring like a blow to her body. Something was terribly wrong.

The police scoured the area. They found footsteps leading to the forest. Then, the trail abruptly disappeared. She remembered hearing one of the police officers whisper fey. Later that evening, she looked up the word and laughed aloud. It was preposterous to think that a supernatural creature could have kidnapped her friend.

Months passed with no hint, no trace. Beth privately wondered if the police officers were right. Sometimes, the most extraordinary theory is the only logical conclusion.

So, what do you think? 




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.




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!



Through the Mist: Reunion

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook the working title for the sequel. In case you missed it, the title is Through the Mist: Reunion.

I am still hard at work on the sequel to the first novel of the series, Through the Mist: Restoration. I started worked last January but got serious about it after the publication of the first book. To be brutally honest, I had a lot to learn about the craft of storytelling. Serious revisions were necessary for Restoration. I am still learning!

As I hinted on Facebook, the sequel picks up with Beth. The epilogue of the first book hinted that something happened. We will learn what’s happened with her life since Tilly’s mysterious disappearance.

Fans of Benjamin and Tilly will not be disappointed. They are back in the sequel too.

My hope is to finish the book by fall. Ideally, I want to publish it late fall/early winter. We will see. As I have said many, many times, I want this book to be worth the time and money you will spend on it.

In the meantime, I am happy to hear any feedback or answer any questions you have. Thanks for reading!



Character Insights: Tilly's Parents

Our upbringing deeply impacts who we become as adults. When I created the character of Tilly Munro, I knew I needed to develop a back story for her parents. I did not go too deep, because they are only briefly mentioned in the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration.

Margaret and Raymond Munro were simple people. I envision that they lived in the country and led ordinary lives. Margaret was a teacher. Raymond worked at a factory that made furniture, until the factory closed. He was unable to find work and remained unemployed until he died of a heart attack.

Money was always tight in the Munro household. This forced Tilly to work at a young age. She began babysitting, as most underage kids too. When she was legally old enough to work, she did. She never stopped working. Her parents taught her that’s what you must do to survive.

Tilly is an only child. Her mother gave birth to her late in life, around 35. The Munros figured they were not lucky enough to have children, so Tilly’s arrival was a surprise.

As I mentioned, Tilly’s father Raymond died of a heart attack. A few months after his death, his wife Margaret died too. She could not imagine life without him. They were soulmates.

Tilly’s parents gave her a blueprint for a marriage. They had rocky times, but they persevered. They loved each other deeply.

When Tilly looks at her own relationship with Benjamin, she thinks about her parents. Keep that in mind when we get to Book Two. They will cast a shadow. Because you have the inside scoop, you will know!


You may notice that I refer to her parents as the Munros. Tilly did not take Alex’s last name when they married. I scanned Through the Mist: Restoration and do not believe I referenced it. Please let me know if I did.



Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 3

For the last two weeks, I shared some insights into the character development for Tilly Munro, the central character in my book, Through the Mist: Restoration.

When Tilly travels back in time to 1801, it is quite a shock for her. I wanted to sprinkle little bits of history throughout the book and help the reader imagine how different it would be. No running water. No toilets. Even meal times would be different.

I had to alter my vocabulary. I don’t know if it is a Southern thing, but I have always called the last meal of the day “supper.” Well, “dinner” would be the more appropriate term. So, I retrained myself to use “dinner.”

The elaborate feast chronicled in the book is based upon research about dinners of the time. They were a big deal. Can you imagine what it would be like to spend hours at the table, with more dishes than two humans could eat? There must have been a lot of waste.

In the next book, I might describe the full feast. Yes, there was even more to it than what I described in my book. Why didn’t I include it? I envision that Benjamin would have maintained some of the traditions, yet not all. He knew how to entertain, since his father invited English nobles to the estate for many years. He preferred to keep meals less formal. Still, it is quite an affair.

I hope you have enjoyed the character discussions over the last few weeks. It is hard to pack every little detail in a book. I am glad to answer any questions you may have.



Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 2

Last week, we learned a bit about how Tilly’s background motivated her to keep moving. What about her marriage to Alex? It is mentioned in the book. We do not hear much about it though.

Since Through the Mist: Restoration is Benjamin and Tilly’s love story, I did not want to dwell too much on previous relationships. After all, when you date someone, do you really want that person to spend hours telling you all about past loves? Not really.

Tilly worked as a waitress at a restaurant with Beth while both ladies were in college. She met her future husband Alex one night when he came into the restaurant. He was a successful consultant who travelled all over the world, helping investment groups and individual chefs open restaurants. He has a culinary degree and has cooked in famous restaurants, so he knows his stuff.  He is older than Tilly. (I still have not decided how much older; it is not really a burning question right now.)

Tilly graduated from college not long after they met. They fell hard for each other and married six months after they met. She became pregnant with the twins right away. She managed to squeeze in a year of teaching before she left to care for the kids.

Her dream was to be a school teacher like her mother. Alex supported her dream and encouraged her to attend college when the kids were old enough. She earned her master’s degree and had hoped to teach at the same school her children attended.

While Alex was supportive of Tilly’s desire to teach, he was not the greatest husband. As a consultant, his job was not based in one location. He frequently travelled, leaving Tilly alone to raise the children. He once confided to Tilly that having children so late in life was not his plan. Now, he must work harder as a result. The kids would “cost a lot of money” that he originally planned to save for retirement. You can imagine how devastating that statement was. It put a great deal of strain on their marriage.

With Alex constantly away, Tilly felt like a single parent. She longed for a partner. More importantly, she wanted her children to know their father. He was seldom home, only spending a few days there before popping off for another job. It was not the life she wanted.

About a year before “the event” happened, Tilly threatened divorce. Alex finally listened. They opened a small restaurant so he could be in the same city. His hours were long there. Still, he came home every night and was there the next morning to take the kids to school. It was a start.

Alex and Tilly were also in couples’ therapy. The age difference and absence took its toll. Tilly was not sure if the damage could be repaired.

Tilly has a clear idea of what she needs in a relationship. She wants an equal partner in a marriage. She wants love. She wants respect. She wants trust. Benjamin will have quite the challenge providing all of that! 



Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 1

Through the Mist: Restoration is really Tilly’s story. I will try not to give away too much in this post, because some people are either reading the book now or have not discovered it yet.

Tilly Munro is a strong woman. She was a babysitter before she was old enough to legally work a “real job.” When she was of age, she worked part time throughout high school. Once she entered college, she worked as a waitress. That’s where she met her best friend Beth.

Her entire life has been work, work, work. Her background was humble. Her mother was a school teacher, a job that sadly does not pay well. Her father made furniture at a factory until it closed. He was unable to find work after the factory closure. Money was always tight. If Tilly wanted anything, she had to work for it. This included her college education.

I modeled Tilly after the amazing women of the area in which I live. I have personally known some of them and read about others. The people who settled here in the 1700s were resilient. It was not an easy place to live. That same courage and determination runs deep in the DNA of their descendants. I wanted to capture that spirit in Tilly. She experiences a life-altering event, yet, in her mind, she must pick herself up and move on. She cannot conceive of any other choice.

When we begin her story, it is one year after this event. She has taken the first steps toward creating a new life. She wants to turn the page, so to speak, and start living again. Her life has been on “pause.” She agrees to take a road trip through Scotland with Beth. She feels it will be a nice way to start the next chapter. She never imagined the changes that await her.

I confess that I debated if one year was enough time. In the original draft, I described life days after it happened. Tilly and Beth began their adventure a few months later. I changed it because that timeframe was way too soon. Also, the chapters were so depressing. I wanted the story to be uplifting but doubted anyone could stick around long enough to get to the juicy bits. After all, this was supposed to be a “fun” story. There is nothing “fun” about the weeks following what happened to Tilly. To pretend that there is would do a great disservice to anyone who has gone through this event.

So, is one year long enough to wait? As I examined her character, I felt it was. Tilly would allow herself to grieve but would not be consumed by it. In her life, she never had the ability to sit still. She must keep moving.

I view this book as a story of hope and strength. Let’s not forget that Benjamin too has his own tragedy. Both characters could choose to be bitter, and no one would blame them. Instead, they decide move forward. They decide to be brave and choose love.


Next week, I will continue the discussion about Tilly. I want to discuss the state of her marriage to Alex. I hint about it in the book but do not go into a great deal of detail. Knowing a bit more about her past experience with love will be interesting – or at least I believe it is!



Benjamin Campbell: Character Insight

When I began writing Through the Mist: Restoration, I wanted the story to have a different spin than the usual time travel novel. (No offense to that type of book.) I wanted my story to be different.

Typically, the male protagonist is a dashing laird who fought for the Jacobite cause. He is a fine Scottish hero, more fantasy than reality. The heroine resists his charms but eventually succumbs to his strong...ahem...personality.


For starters, my book is set in 1801. The Jacobite rebellion had long passed, and the title of “laird” would not have been used. The clan system was essentially destroyed after the ’45 Rising. Times were very, very different.

Then, I wanted the character to be a Campbell. That particular clan is quite notorious. In the infamous ’45, they sided with the British and fought at Culloden. To borrow from Outlander, the Campbells would have tried to kill our beloved Jamie. So, how do you craft a hero from someone who did not come from the traditional Scottish hero’s ancestry?

I decided that Benjamin should be the second son. In my research, I discovered that the first son inherited everything. Any progeny that followed would have been left to his/her own devices. In the book, Benjamin alludes to his original plan to become a soldier, a common profession for second sons.

His father Malcolm is a ruthless man. He pinned all his hopes on the first son, Allan, so Benjamin grew up with the MacIvers. Robert MacIver is the Campbell estate’s factor; his son Iain is Benjamin’s best friend and will one day become the estate’s factor, just like his dad.

Benjamin spent more time among “the common folk,” as his father would have called them, and did not have any pretensions about his stature in the family. When he is finally thrust into a powerful role, he feels compassion for and camaraderie with people who attempt to scrape out a meager existence. He does not have his father’s greedy ways. As a man who had a simple upbringing, he can feel shame and remorse for the actions of his grandfather and father. He too has own sins. (In a very moving scene, he reveals them to Tilly.)

His humility serves him well when he interacts with Tilly. As someone with a dark past, he does not judge her as harshly as others might. He does not have the formality that one would expect from men in that time. To put it simply, he was not “raised that way.”

He also does not take the traditional role of protector. In many books, the hero rushes in at the critical moment and saves the damsel in distress. That does not happen in my book. Tilly is a strong woman. She takes action; she is the hero.

In the next book, we will continue to explore Benjamin’s character. We already know that a lot of tension exists between Benjamin and his father. What will Malcolm think when he learns that Benjamin has settled his affections on someone who may not be “the best prospect” for a marriage? What could the man really do? And, most importantly, why doesn’t Benjamin tell him to go to hell? Come on, dude – you love Tilly. Stand up for her!

As you can see, I spent a lot of time crafting the story behind this character. I needed all of this detail in order to understand his motivations and actions. If you have any questions about Benjamin or any other characters/scenes/et cetera, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. 



Constructive Criticism

I paid a modest fee to have the first 25,000 words of Through the Mist: Restoration (TTMR) reviewed by Mrs. Lani Diane Rich at I thought that the book was done, so this was akin to putting on a few finishing touches. Oh, I was so, so wrong.

The genre of TTMR meant that Mrs. Rich was the victim at She gave a great critique of my work. A devastating, but great, critique.

Up until this point, “criticism” usually meant something negative. Let’s face it. At work, folks are all too happy to tear you down. When I received her critique, I learned that there is a different form – constructive criticism. What a revelation!

Mrs. Rich offered the objective opinion I needed from a professional writer. I learned so many valuable lessons that sent TTMR and me on a completely different path.

For starters, I have a problem with point of view (POV). I still don’t understand how writers can construct a story in an omniscient viewpoint. Maybe I will learn how as I write more books. For now, it is better for me to remain firmly in one character’s viewpoint.

I realized that I did a poor job “painting a scene,” as I call it. I should not assume that the reader knows as much about Scottish history as I think I do. While I do not need to spend pages on a topic, I can toss in a sentence here and there, change the actions of a character – those sorts of things – and thus provide the reader with necessary information. The reader does not need to be bored with research material and history lessons. As a writer, it is my responsibility to push the story along, and sometimes that involves sharing the facts tumbling in my head.

I also adjusted the timeline. I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Let’s just say that certain events happened sooner rather than later. I should have allowed Tilly more time than I did. In my defense, I have known people who endured similar hardships. These women are amazing. They pick themselves and do extraordinary things. Still, one does need a little time to catch one’s breath. I may have pushed Tilly too much.

The biggest change came with the prologue. (I might publish the original here someday, just for giggles.) Mrs. Rich believed prologues were a bad idea and strongly recommended that I eliminate it altogether. If I insisted upon keeping it, she suggested that I try writing the prologue from a different POV.

That was the best advice. For kicks, I wrote it from Morag’s POV. I decided that, if I did not like it, I would not use it. The new version vastly improved the story. It completely changed the entire tone of the book.

I kept the prologue – sorry, Mrs. Rich. In my humble opinion, it is necessary for the book. I have no intentions of writing a prologue for the next one, though. It has no purpose there.

Remember - it is your book, so tell the story how you like. At the same time, I strongly advise you to seek an objective reader for your work. I spent so much time working on the story that I could no longer spot the weaknesses. I want people to read TTMR, something they will not do if the work is deeply flawed. I did not want readers to toss the book aside because they could not follow the story or were disgusted by the quality of the writing. You probably feel the same way too.

I desperately needed the constructive criticism that Mrs. Rich provided. Even if it stung a little. No pain, no gain, right? I hope you have had an opportunity to read TTMR and agree.



The Elephant in the Room

Through the Mist: Restoration (TTMR) is historical fiction with a time travel twist. Wow – that sounds shockingly familiar. Outlander, anyone?

I freely admit that I am a fan of the Outlander series. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction. Diana Gabaldon created an amazing world and clearly does a significant amount of research for her novels. I never feel as if my brain is losing cells when I read her books. I learn stuff. So, if you have not figured it out already – yes, read her books. They are fantastic.

The idea for TTMR came to me after I read Outlander for the 400th time as well as other books in the time travel/historical fiction genre. In a lot of those books, the heroine is not bothered by the basic inconveniences of life hundreds of years ago. For example, in Outlander, Claire grew up with her archaeologist uncle, so “roughing it” was not a big deal for her.

I can assure you that not having a toilet and shower would be a big deal for me. I want to walk to the faucet, flip on the tap, and have fresh water. Also, I need mochas and chocolate.

Maybe I was onto something. How would a woman who was accustomed to all the basic conveniences of modern life react if she suddenly found herself without them, because she was transported to another time? What would she do if she had no way of returning home? Could she adapt?

I have Scottish ancestry so that country was already fascinating to me. And, Outlander has raised our awareness of Scotland’s history, particularly during the infamous ‘45. I began researching what life would have been like during various eras. I quickly found a lot of material for the Regency period that happens around the time my novel is set. That period is also the setting for Jane Austen’s work, and I love her books too. With rich historical documents at my fingertips, I decided that would be a great time in which to “set” my books. An added bonus was that the Outlander series does not occur in that time. I would not tread upon holy ground, so to speak. (Seriously, read her books, folks.)

As I continued to dig, the characters in my story came to life in my mind. Soon, it became more about telling their story than rehashing facts and statistics about living in 1801. You will see some references to clothing, food, and things like that. I do not dwell on it, though. I realized that it is about Benjamin and Tilly, not the chamber pot.

In the end, I have Diana Gabaldon to thank for sparking my imagination. However, TTMR is not Outlander – and that is perfectly fine.