This holiday season is off to a great start, from a writing perspective. I’m thrilled to have my short story, Pilgrims, in the new issue of Gargoyle Magazine.
Based in Arlington, Virginia, Gargoyle is run by editor Richard Peabody, a fixture on the Washington, D.C., literary scene. It’s such an honor to have my work featured alongside the talented fiction, poets, and nonfiction writers in this handsome volume. This packed issue is more book than magazine, and the range and power of the work is really impressive.
If you feel like kicking back over the holidays with some terrific work, or would like to make a gift to the reader in your life, please consider ordering this issue, and share your thoughts on Write Despite?
Many readers enjoy the challenge of a good whodunnit or the tension of a spooky, hair-raising narrative roller coaster. The mystery genre is bursting with titles. Best-selling author Randy Overbeck is a genre veteran. His thrillers have earned him national awards and five-star reviews.
Here, Randy shares the story behind his trilogy.
Take it away, Randy:
In 2019, the Wild Rose Press launched its Haunted Shores Mysteries with my story about Darrell, a teacher and coach who sees ghosts, and the ghost of a student haunting a high school. BLOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE was so well received by readers and reviewers that it became a #1 Amazon best seller!
Then, last year, my publisher released CRIMSON AT CAPE MAY in the middle of the pandemic. It’s a story featuring the specter of a bride murdered on her wedding night, who stalks Darrell, still bleeding in her white wedding dress. This second entry has won three national awards and, by now, the series has amassed more than a dozen 5-Star reviews from national and international reviewers. This fall CRIMSON joined BLOOD in the best seller category, hitting #2 on Amazon.
As I pondered the third installment, I realized I wanted to keep all the critical elements of the series—cold case murder, ghost, romance and resort—but I also wanted to give my readers something different. On a break from my brainstorming, I was thumbing through family pictures and came upon a photo of my grandkids playing on a playground. Staring at the images of the smiling faces, it hit me. What if the mystery was about the death of two kids? Two kids whose ghosts haunt Darrell on their quest for justice?
The rest, as they say, is history. Our last vacation—pre-pandemic—was to the Florida Gulf coast to find a suitable location for my narrative, and I found a great one. Thus, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER was born. Well, that and hundreds of hours of writing, revising, re-writing, editing, re-writing…well, you get the picture. I’m pretty happy with the end product, and I hope readers are, too.
“A ghost story with a twist, Scarlet at Crystal River is a bestseller in the making. Brilliant descriptive narration sucks the reader in and doesn’t let go until the end of the story. Paranormal and mystery readers will love Scarlet at Crystal River. If you’re looking for a spine-tingling mystery, pick up Scarlet at Crystal River. Highly recommend!”5+ Stars—N N Light Bookheaven
SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER… Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrant children haunt them, pleading for help.
Author Amber Daulton decided to re-release her novel, A Hero’s Heart, herself, and so she waded into the waters of self-publishing. It’s something a lot of writers consider these days. Self-publishing has its pros and cons. Let’s hear from someone who took the plunge.
Take it away, Amber:
The rights to A Hero’s Heart reverted to me a few months back, and though I could’ve kept it with the publisher, I chose to self-publish it for a couple of reasons. The book was first released in 2013 and has been languishing with minimal sales for some time, so I wanted to refresh the metadata and give it a cover makeover, a new edit, and a new blurb. I also wanted to set my own prices, earn a higher royalty share, start and end sales at my leisure, and have the ability to update the file whenever I needed to. The freedom to control the life of my book is definitely important to me and something I’ve wanted for a while.
However, there are downsides to self-publishing. Some readers flock to publishers’ websites and buy whatever catches their eye. Those readers will no longer have access to A Hero’s Heart, so I’ll lose potential fans. The responsibility of creating the book files, cover, and metadata and uploading the files to the sometimes difficult-to-navigate retail sites have fallen solely on me. I’ve been so busy getting the book ready for publication, including taking care of the more “author/marketer stuff” like writing blog posts, articles, interviews, and creating teasers, that I haven’t written an actual book in months. I’m now wearing multiple hats—author, publisher, and marketer—so my time is precious.
Am I happy I decided to re-release A Hero’s Heart as a self-published book? Yes, and I would do it again. With luck, once the release hoopla dies down, I can better rearrange my time to work on another manuscript.
Readers, do you prefer traditionally published or self-published books? Or do you not have a preference as long as the writing quality is good? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to know.
About the Author Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.
I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was a kid, so I understand the appeal of a good scary story. For me, it’s all about the buildup of suspense—the increasingly menacing ghost encounters in the Overlook Hotel, the bullying by peers and the crazed mother that sends Carrie over the edge, the tragic burden of foresight that plagues Johnny in The Dead Zone.
But I’ve never even thought about writing a scary story until I was prompted to during a flash fiction workshop. I’m happy to say that story, “You’re a Crayon this Year,” was just published as part of Necessary Fiction’s Spooky October series!
I think sometimes it’s important, and really super fun, to write outside of your comfort zone. What is your normal type of writing, and do you ever try something outside of it? I hope you’re creating great stuff, and taking risks that appeal to you, and crafting amazing pieces. And I hope I get to read some. Please hit us up here if you’ve published anything recently. We’d love to promote your work!
Oh, and NaNoWriMo began on Monday! Anyone participating this year?
Happy almost Halloween. Arborview is almost one month old, and I have to say it’s been a fun and productive month. I had a terrific Zoom launch reading hosted by my local library, and I have a few more events scheduled in coming months.
Numerous blogs and promoters have already featured Arborview, and we’ve received some really nice reviews, for which I am truly grateful.
Julie writes historical fiction. Here, she treats us to a bit about her process, her inspiration, and the tough road women traveled in the American Old West.
Take it away, Julie:
Thank you, Karen, for hosting me on your blog. I’m happy to talk a bit about the inspiration for my upcoming release, The Three Widows of Wylder, a historical fiction that takes place in the American Old West. There are three main characters in this story, as the title implies, and each gets their own chapter in alternating fashion. Early on, their stories merge as they join up to escape their pasts.
I’ve had shadows of these characters in my mind for a few years, with the overarching story inspired by a few people I know. The characters are nothing like the real people I’ve known. When a real person inspires a character, the inspiration could come from a brief conversation or the way someone views life. It could be evoked by a physical quirk or the way someone laughs at their own jokes. Often, that’s enough to get my imagination into gear.
In this story, the women have complicated pasts with secrets to hide. They band together in a disharmonious goal to reach safety. In their previous lives, these are women who would never become friends, but their plights compel them to work together.
This story is part of a broader series my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has produced, where each book is set in the fictional town of Wylder, in the old Wyoming Territory. In 1882 when my book is set, Wyoming was truly the Old West and under a huge change. The area attracted a huge mix of people, from adventurers seeking lands to explore to ranchers to outlaws. I’ve always been intrigued with how difficult women had it during this time, and how hard they had to struggle to have any independence at all. For the most part, their existence was ruled by the men in their lives. These themes, too, play a large role in this novel.
Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.
“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”
The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.
Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”
The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.
“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.
They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”
As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.
“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”
Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”
About the author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal.
I have a new flash fiction story up at Fiction Attic Press, the wonderful people who brought Karen’s first book, Homing Instincts, into the world. They are a terrific bunch to work with, and I’m so grateful to them for giving this story a home. Please check it out when you have a minute:
This story is very loosely based on a friend of mine, who is a realtor. And while she doesn’t sneak into her client’s homes (that I know of), she did go through a crappy breakup recently, and she’s been on my mind a lot. I felt like I had to give her a heads-up before this story came out, so she wouldn’t read it blindly and then be startled to see bits of her life sprinkled in here and there.
Do you write about those around you? If so, how do you handle telling them about it? How do they respond? It’s a tricky thing for writers. We’re supposed to always “write what we know” but sometimes that can get a bit close, can’t it?
I hope you’re all staying safe, writing well, and submitting all you can. In fact, if you have a new piece out, please share the link in the comments. We’d love to read it.
Here at Write Despite, we really like baked goods and pastry, which is why Sarita Leone is a perfect guest blogger. Sarita loves happy endings—in life and on the page. The lead character of her new book? A baker.
Sarita’s story is part of The Wild Rose Press’ upcoming Christmas Cookies Series. Each book features a holiday recipe. Sarita spotlights the delectable snickerdoodle. Snickerdoodle Snowmen is available November 3.
More from Sarita:
When I heard about The Wild Rose Press’ Christmas Cookie Series, I immediately remembered all the wonderful hours I’ve spent baking holiday cookies. Baking is one of my passions, so there was no doubt in my mind I’d submit a story to this special series.
But how to pick just one cookie? A tough one, that. I mean, let’s face it there are so many yummy recipes to choose from! But in the end it came down to a matter of comfort. Snickerdoodles seem so warm and inviting, such a comfortable and comforting cookie. So, I pulled out my recipe and baked a batch—just for inspiration, you know.
It worked, because the longer I rolled dough balls and pulled perfectly crinkled cookies from the oven, the more I liked the idea of writing about dreamers, the snowy Alaskan wilderness, and romance beneath the Northern Lights. Before I’d washed the cookie sheets, I had a good idea where this unlikely couple would end up. And that, the ending, is a bit of a wintery surprise!
I loved writing this story, and I’m hoping it will bring warmth and holiday cheer to readers. It releases on November 3 but is already available for pre-order from Amazon.
And in case anyone wants to bake their own snickerdoodles, I’ve included my recipe.
Thanks so much for having me here today!
1 cup shortening 1 ½ cups sugar 2 eggs (egg substitute is fine) 2 ¾ cups sifted flour 2 t cream of tartar 1 t baking soda ½ t salt
Combine shortening and sugar until well mixed and fluffy.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well.
Roll dough between your palms to form balls.
Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Well, Arborview has officially been in the world for one week, and the reception has been heartwarming. Thanks to everyone who reached out with congratulations and who is already reading Arborview. Please share your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Eighteen people attended my launch reading via Zoom, which was hosted by my local library, and since then the book has been making the rounds on several Book Launch Blog Tours.
How am I feeling? Relieved, gratified, kinda tired. Arborview is being marketed much more heavily that my debut novel was seven years ago. All this blogging, and chatting, tweeting and instagrammingtakes time. Precious time.
Not that I’m complaining! I’m just eager to pour more of myself into my new writing project…which I am VERY excited about. My job as an author now is to divide my time between promoting Arborview and forging ahead on my new project. (Oh, and hold down my full-time paying job and raise my kid!)
Tips, anyone? How do you balance the marketing aspects with the creative aspects of being an author in this digital age? I welcome all advice.
And for anyone on NetGalley, Arborview is listed all this month. Apply to review, if you’d like. You get a free digital copy.