Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Secrets Beneath the Streets

Photo by Yohei Shimomae on Unsplash
As an author, research is the icing on the book-writing cake for me. On top of feeding my thirst for newer and newer hobbies, it helps me to feel like I am writing in the most authentic way possible. For instance, I took gun and skip trace lessons to write my private investigator heroine in Purple Knot. I learned shorthand and found the courage to woman-up and eat alligator for my journalist character in the southern suspense, Bayou Blue. Its one of the best parts of writing because it forces you to stretch into the story. To learn something you might never have wanted or needed to study. That's why I love it.
This is even more true when it comes to the setting and location of my books. To better understand the local lore for Gothic mystery, Secrets at Crescent Point, I took underground walking tours of Seattle's "haunted" spots, learned about the mystifying lights seen off the shore of Orca's island, and of course, visited the famous Pike Place Market. Those fish mongers throwing massive fish over your head is a must see!
So when I began my current WIP, a Sci-Fi thriller set in near future Silicon Valley, I was super excited to use every part of my beloved state. From the aromatic and bustling China Town to the gleaming bastions of high tech innovation in southern San Francisco Bay, Veridian truly revels in the sights and sounds of California.
Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash
Something that truly piqued my interest were the stories and images by urban explorers of the abandoned tunnels and ghost stations that spiderweb undetected throughout the area. 

Apparently, there is a vast unknown commotion just beneath our feet. Closely guarded are the entrances and location to keep them from being sealed off by the cities, these places are fascinating to me. And in fact, are featured prominently in my upcoming novel. My heroine, Elara Savoya, tracks stolen tech wherever it goes no matter what. It takes her to some dangerous and breathtaking places.
If you are ever in California, I encourage you to slip in some exploration between Disneyland and the beach. All along the state but particularly from San Francisco to LA there are places to see that will definitely make an impression.
For instance, Los Angeles has underground sublevels that drill down as much as three stories beneath the street and once housed creepy veteran's hospital overflow rooms, dank storage space, and even fallout shelters. Needless to say, I was hooked on the legends and ghost stories surrounding these abandoned places, especially after seeing some of the elaborate d├ęcor of some of the abandoned stations. I wondered who would choose to live there as I've heard some do. I wonder why and what they were like.
What about where you live? Are there any places off the beaten track that just spark your imagination? I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Bullet Journaling for Authors

I love to bullet journal. I find it relaxing and it gets my creative juices flowing when I'm having trouble with my writing. Sometimes just doodling or water coloring can redirect my mind and I can get back on track on my chapters.

Often, I find myself creating cluster brainstorm maps of my books or character interaction. I sketch the cityscapes in my novel or work out the details of weapons with pencil and paper. There's something soothing about the soft scrape of a fountain pen that settles the mind. So the creative aspect of writing has always been tied to my journaling habits.

Recently, however,  I have discovered some really neat ideas for using organization spreads to help keep tabs on tasks common to the writing life.
So, once or twice a week I sit down and write out some things I want to accomplish in say, social media. I brainstorm ideas for graphics to post on Instagram or Facebook and jot down deadlines for newsletters, blog hops, etc. I've incorporated a Writing Expenses page that really helps me see at a glance some of the business aspects of being an author. The possibilities are fun to consider. I'm working on a Word Count Goals page right now and its very motivating.
Bullet journaling has a great community and there are so many ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, and especially Youtube where you can follow amazing tutorials for organization spreads and themes. I really recommend taking a gander at the Bullet Journaling or #BuJo community for yourself. 

To celebrate my birthday with all of you, two of my suspense novels are on sale all month on Amazon!

Purple Knot is a romantic suspense set in Seattle where private investigator, Reyna Cruz, must work with the man who broke her heart to find her best friend's killer.

Whispers on Shadow Bay is a Gothic mystery set on spooky Noble Island where young caregiver, Rosetta, must seek out the cause of strange happenings and ghostly visions plaguing Shadow Bay Hall.

And as always, you can read all of my books for free on Kindle Unlimited!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

More Than a Box of Chocolates

Today I am so excited to host author, Kathleen Neely where she talks about the history and meaning behind Valentines Day...

It’s Valentine’s Day, and romance is in the air. We set aside a special day to celebrate love. It’s a day for flowers, candy, dinner, and gifts. An evening for a Hallmark flick in front of a cozy fire. A month to read a heartwarming romance.

But why? Where did this celebratory day begin? The origin actually had little to do with romance. It dates back to the 3rd century AD. A Catholic priest, Valentine of Terni, was executed for aiding Christians who were being persecuted. Here’s the link to romance. 

Marriage among Christians was banned by Emperor Claudius II because he felt men were reluctant to leave their wives and families to fight for Rome. Valentine defied that order and married Christian couples. His execution occurred on February 14. Upon his death, the church honored him with Sainthood, and Valentine’s Day was born.

Don’t place all of your focus on romance. There are greater needs than a floral bouquet and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. St. Valentine was martyred because of his love for God and for other Christians.

This is what we should remember.
  • See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are. 1 John 3:1
  • Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. 1 John 4:7
  • We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
  • Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:26
I could fill pages with beautiful passages about God’s love. The word love appears 551 times in the NIV Bible. (This varies among versions).

‘Show, don’t tell’ is a common catchphrase for writers as they pen their stories. But we can take that beyond the written page. St. Valentine showed his love for Christians in tangible ways. How can we show love to both Christians and those who don’t yet know Christ? How can we meet their physical, emotional, and relational needs? We don’t need a romantic special someone in our lives to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We have the Author of love in our hearts urging us to go into the world, spreading His love. Let’s answer with the words from Isaiah. “Here am I. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8.
About the Author
Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, to be released in February, 2019. Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These will be released in 2019. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers. 
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Check out her new release:
The Street Singer will be available February 22. Learn more about it from her website at .

Excerpt from The Street Singer
“I done figured you knew. You wore them questions all over your face. She opened her water bottle and took a long, slow drink. Here’s what you gotta know. There ain’t no more Adaline. I’m Adda, my given name. That’s all I am.”

Trisha nodded but remained unsatisfied. “Can I ask what happened?”

Adda laughed. “Honey, age happened. You too young to understand. The body goes. The voice goes. The energy goes.

“I know, but your records, they sold…maybe millions.”

Adda chuckled at that. “Well, you be givin’ me too much credit, but yeah, they did sell back in the day.” Adda looked at her watch and took a bite of her sandwich. “So, I guess you’re wondering where all my money went.”

Trisha backpedaled. The bluntness made it sound so callous. “That’s none of my business, but...”

“You right there. It ain’t none of your business. But I’ll tell you anyways. My daddy, he was a sharecropper in Mississippi. We young’uns had to help when we got big enough to hold a shovel. I never got me past primary schooling. Them record people knowed it and all them fancy papers I signed didn’t give me much left over.”

Trisha gasped. “That’s terrible.”

Adda looked up from her lunch. “Oh, they treated me good. Real good. Set me up in a fancy place to live, bought me clothes and food. Dressed me for pictures and took me to the studio. But they never let me go places where I’d get to talk and never let me talk in microphones where I went to sing. Didn’t want me having no friends. I knew they feared my poor schooling would show. Them fancy papers I signed didn’t leave me much left over.”