Volume 1, July 30, 2019 – Nova Scotia (aka “Where’s Comyn?”

Table of Contents

I’ve decided to come clean. If you haven’t figured it out by now by the frequency of my posts, I am rather lazy. Anyone who actually has the joy of knowing me already knew that, but some of you are new friends and colleagues, and I like to be transparent about these things.

Having said that, I’m not really lazy about writing. I just don’t like to be held to a timetable, to be told when to write. But I know that regular blogging is essential for an author, and so I am…sigh…going to attempt a regular (cringe) newsletter of sorts. I’ve already designed the cover image, which was an exercise in creativity as well as an excuse to avoid anything meaningful…but no more stalling…here we go.

Nova Scotia (aka “Where’s Comyn?”)

I’ve spent the past week in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island to be exact–the land where my MacKinnon ancestors came ashore in the New World. The Scots looked around, saw that there was no pub and no whisky, and promptly decided to build a distillary (I’ve always thought that ‘prompt’ is one of those useful words that can mean whatever the user wants it to mean…in this case it means two hundred years later.) They then meandered up and down the road, finding the Cabot Trail already in place (‘already’ is another of those useful words) and creating beautiful havens such as Baddeck, where we stayed.

Now, remember how I told you that marketing is essential for a writer? If I didn’t, I should have. And marketing is another thing lazy people hate, but I’m no quitter. So I decided to make it fun. I brought along a copy of my first published novel, The Comyn’s Curse, and forced total strangers to play a game I devised and featured on Facebook. I called it “Find Comyn”, (Waldo would understand, and may be readying a lawsuit for all I know.) I cajoled my traveling partners and everyone who found him or herself in the correct position to take part in my shenanigans. Here’s one of the adventures:

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The Comyn’s Curse is hidden somewhere on the shelves of this wonderful library in the home we rented. Where’s Comyn?

I went nowhere without the book, always on the lookout for a new place to hide it. Sometimes it was easy to spot, others not so much.  People got into the game on Facebook. The cashier at the Alexander Graham Bell gift shop, who had to hold the book and pretend to be reading, actually got into the spirit and said she would be buying it. So marketing works–who knew?

Around the Site

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Please push that little widget at the bottom right on the home page–the one with the spooky eyes in a book–and visit my Author’s Spotlight where you can meet Margherita Crystal Lotus. This talented artist writes magical children’s stories and sprinkles them with confections like this:

As a member of The Write Practice writers’ community, she can often be found giving of herself to help her fellow authors in the workshop.

Indie Finds

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The Inevitable Fate of E & J: Book 1, by Johanna Randle

Elizabeth and Jimmy, once childhood friends but now barely acquaintances, find themselves drawn inexplicably to each other; dreaming the same dreams of past lives together, falling into love.

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Love is Messy (Finding You Again Book 1, by Callie Sutcliffe 

Bridget has it all — an amazing husband who would do anything for her. But then tragedy shatters her marriage and leaves her floundering, and she runs away to Asbury Hills, a small-town that changes everything.

Links for Writers

A Beginner’s Guide to Keeping a Journal https://forge.medium.com/a-beginners-guide-to-keeping-a-journal-e8db9d0f150f?source=topic_page—————————23

Can You Fake Being a Funny Writer? https://medium.com/mama-write/can-you-fake-being-a-funny-writer-e544a099c4fc

11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing: https://www.copyblogger.com/brilliant-writing-tips/

M MacKinnon’s World

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Last post, I told you all about the second novel in the Highland Spirits series, The Piper’s Warning. I’m now almost finished with a prologue and five chapters of the third and final novel in the series, The Healer’s Legacy, and things are heating up. More on that later. Now I want to tell you about a grand anthology that will be coming out very soon, featuring a big group of writer friends including little ole me. The theme is Discovery, and features a boatload of talent all banding together to put some of their best work in one volume! No title yet, but we’re very close on that. My submission to this amazing effort is called “Love Bites”, and is rated horror/humor, or fantasy/funny, or…well, you’ll just have to see. I’ll keep you up to date right here.

Leave ’em Laughing

Last but not least, I leave you with a joke.

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So what do you think? Please let me know in the comments if you like the format, or if you have suggestions on things you’d like to have included or could do without. Be kind but be honest. Also I’d love to know how you liked the book suggestions, or if you found any of the links helpful for your own writing journey. If you’re not a writer, I hope you enjoy the humor!

The Piper’s Warning

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The Piper’s Warning–Book 2 in The Highland Spirits series, is in the hands of the publisher and should be out by November–just in time for Christmas!

The story of Aubrey’s friend Kate Bianchi, The Piper’s Warning once again mixes Scottish legend with modern love, loss and intrigue. A disaster at home finds Kate running to Scotland much as her friend once did, searching for new meaning in a life gone horribly wrong. Into the mix comes the seventeenth century love story of the Dunebrae piper and his soulmate, and a sacrifice that has doomed them both for centuries. Woven into the tale is the history and drama that permeates the Scottish Highlands. New characters join old friends from The Comyn’s Curse in this new tale of romance laced with murder, intrigue, and the greed of men.

 

Quotes from The Piper’s Warning:

His eyes met hers, and in them he saw the love that had grown between them over the months of his capture, the love that would sustain him as he went into the dark.

“I’ve only seen the one ghost, so I’m no expert. But I think they stay behind because they have unfinished business, something they have to set right before they can move on. Someone they loved, maybe, who needs their help.”

“For serious killing,” he told her, his green eyes narrowing, “you’d want to be using a Scottish dagger, or a dirk. It’s about eleven or twelve inches long, easy to conceal, very lethal.”

Kate could feel his heart beating a frenzied rhythm in time with hers, could see his wide green eyes staring in shock. The perfect hair was falling onto his forehead, making him look like a small, frightened boy.

thJack assumed an appalled expression. “There is only one way to drink whisky,” he told her, enunciating his words carefully. His eyes were green lasers. “Neat. You do not. Put. Stuff. in whisky. Ruins it.”  He shook his head in dismay at her ignorance.

 

In truth they had no future. She would be sold to the highest bidder, and he—he must watch for his clan and warn them that the enemy awaited them…As they lay in the cave safe in each other’s arms, their lovemaking was all the sweeter for its hopelessness.

Fall of a Giant

Five hundred years ago…

Catherine of Aragon gave birth to a baby girl, who would become Mary I of England.

Saint Thomas More, Renaissance man and unfortunate councillor to Henry VIII, was just beginning his political career.

Bad popes and worse kings led to the sea change in history known as the Reformation.

And in a little plot of land in the New World, in a forest that would one day become the city of Salem, New Jersey, the Salem Oak Tree was getting ready to celebrate its one hundredth birthday.

IMG_0198Long before Europeans dreamed of the New World, the Salem Oak Tree watched over the untamed wilderness that would give birth to a new country.  It grew and flourished in the plot of land that would someday become, ironically, a graveyard, calm and serene in its majesty. Named the largest white oak in New Jersey, it stood for nearly six hundred years, an iconic symbol of pride and accomplishment that only nature can carry off.

IMG_0193IMG_0195But nature, without a backward look, can also wave her wand and take away as quickly as she gives, and on a peaceful evening in June, 2019, she called the tree home. The Salem Oak, slowly dying from the inside for one hundred years, felt the weight of its history and bent to the force of time, toppling over almost gracefully to lie still on the grass of the Quaker graveyard it had watched over for so long.

Nature, however, is never without a plan. Behind the Salem Oak, hidden in its shadow before The Fall, stands another oak, nearly as grand. The heir to the crown, the next Salem Oak Tree, poised to carry on the history and grandeur for hundreds more years. It gives hope to those who stand at the wall of the graveyard and stare at the remains of their city’s greatest citizen, a feeling that life will carry on. IMG_0201

A member of the Quaker Church who tended the tree gave me a sprig of leaves from one of its branches. I will press a leaf into a book and it, too, will serve as a reminder. Those of us who love history know that the wheel of time is ever turning, and life renews itself endlessly while we spend our short moments watching its splendor.IMG_0202.jpeg

BookCon 2019, and How I Got There

Look at the face of that author girl there…just look at it! That is a happy face. That woman is standing next to her publisher at BookCon 2019 in New York City, grinning like a loon with her marketing expert, and signing copies of her first published novel, The Comyn’s Curse. Her friends and family are here, and she is surrounded by people who think books rock. It doesn’t get much better, in my humble opinion.

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Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this day…that I would be standing in an exhibit booth signing my little heart out, telling total strangers about the book I had written and published. Never!

So how did this happen? How did I get here with this huge grin on my face?

It’s been a long journey, and there are many people to thank for its more than miraculous ending. They deserve to be called out.

To begin at the beginning, I joined The Write Practice in the spring of 2018, with the vague idea of perhaps someday writing something that someone else might actually like to read. Probably not, but maybe. (That’s how writers think–I am not unique. We can be a mass of insecurities, believe you me!)

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I took a course. Courses are fine, nobody sees your writing outside of the group. You cannot fail.

That seemed okay, so I kept on.

I entered a writing contest. I entered a writing contest. There was a possibility of massive failure! Instead I received wondrous critiques from my colleagues, felt very good about my first short story, submitted it with painstaking detail to the contest folk, and…I did not win. Anything. No honorable mention, no short list. Devastation.

I licked my wounds and kept going. Because another thing you need to know about beginning writers is that secretly, we all know that our writing is absolutely awesome. The Next Big Thing. And the comeuppance is painful. but we do not quit. We are writers.

I took another course. It was called 100 Day Book Challenge, and it promised to give me everything I needed to write a novel in 100 days. You see, what you do when you have not won a contest with your first short story is, you write a complete novel. If you don’t get the logic of that, I cannot deal with you.

I didn’t complete the course in 100 days. I was a few weeks short of my goal, but during those 100 days an astonishing thing had happened. I had written most of a novel. The Comyn’s Curse had been critiqued by my wonderful Write Practice colleagues, and a lot of it actually made sense. So I edited it, and ripped it apart, and rewrote huge sections, and then I did an incredible thing…I submitted it to an editor. Yep, a real, live editor, someone who edits for a living…from New York Book editors. A stranger who would not say nice things because she knew me and wanted me to feel good. And she liked it!

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Okay, she also suggested some key changes to make it sing. I’ve heard the horror stories about editors who tell you to get rid of key characters who are secretly your favorites, or insist that you delete huge sections of your best (you think) pieces of prose, thereby making mincemeat out of your incredible work. Stephen King haunted me at night, crooning “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings…” and having Stephen King in your head is not recommended for the faint of heart, let me tell you! But I did it. And I survived. And the book was oh so much better for it.

So now I had a book, but nowhere to go with it. What to do next? So I did what every reasonable person on the planet does when stymied—I hit the internet. I researched publishers, both traditional and self-publishing, and I found the next most important link to the success of my venture – ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.

ALLi is a watchdog group which vets people in the industry–publishers, cover designers, editors, anyone involved in the world of independent publishing. The key to understanding ALLi is simple: green = good, red = bad. And through ALLi I found DartFrog. Very, very green. Screen_Shot_2018-11-18_at_8.28.13_PM_400x

DartFrog Books is a hybrid publisher, a unique publishing platform which helps a writer who wants to self-publish. I did not want to self-publish. There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing, I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted MacMillan or Simon and Schuster to call me out of the blue and say “We hear you have written The Next Big Thing, and we want to give you lots of money and make you rich.” But I am not a total idiot, I knew better and I didn’t want to wait till the cows come home.

DartFrog Books, however, and its CEO and founder Gordon McClellan, know that authors like me are out there, and they offer something else: a chance to BE published. That’s what I said,  be publishedIf the work is good enough, book store quality they call it, they will take on the publishing load, do an edit, a cover, take care of the ISBN and all those pesky details that writers don’t want to deal with. It’s called DartFrog Plus. And this next part gets its own line…

They accepted my book. 

They worked with me, and hooked me up with Suanne Laqueur, a delightful marketing expert who is also the author of several award-winning romance series and a real person who cares. Really cares.

To get back to the grinning author in the pictures…

Along with all the other stuff my package with DartFrogPlus included a signing slot at BookCon, 2019, at the Javits Center in NYC. It was incredible. Here were all these people, total strangers united by one simple code: they read, and they loved books.  I signed my name over 250 times in a two-hour period, talked to hundreds of lovely people who were interested in The Comyn’s Curse, and came away with a new feeling of family.

So without further ado, here are the groups and people who are getting a shout out today, in order of appearance in my writing life:

The Write Practice: https://thewritepractice.com/

New York Book Editors: https://nybookeditors.com/

ALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/self-publishing-service-reviews/

DartFrog Books: https://dartfrogbooks.com/

My family and friends: they belong at the beginning, middle and end of the journey. They read the book and posted wonderful testimonials all over social media, trekked to New York to support me, and told me I was not only a wonderful mother and friend but a marvelous author. I mean, can you ask for anything more? They are truly amazing.

maxresdefaultIf any of the information or links I’ve shared here help another author who has written The Next Best Thing and is standing at the cliff top wondering…what next?…I will be extremely gratified, and please let me know so I can pat myself on the back.

 

For some reason, this spread on my publisher’s website fills me with wonder. That’s my book there, I keep telling myself. My book, that I wrote. That’s my name on the cover. Those are my thoughts, dreams, fears and joys folded into its pages. Does it ever get old? I hope not. If you’re a writer and want to know more about DartFrogPlus, visit their site:

https://dartfrogbooks.com/

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And by the way…that’s MY book!

Run, Writer, Run!

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When I started out to write fiction, I knew it all. After all, I had graduated with a BA in English, thank you very much, and therefore I knew lots of things. I knew that life is run by rules, and there are no exceptions to these rules.

Forrest Gump, one of the world’s great philosophers, knew this. He followed nature’s rules, didn’t he? When he got tired, he slept. When he got hungry, he ate. When he had to go, you know, he went. And he was happy.

It’s no different in English. I knew the rules, and I was proud of them.

Always use a semicolon to separate two complete clauses. There is no deviating from this rule.

Always allow two spaces after said semicolon, or a period, or a colon. Again, it’s the rule, dammit—no deviation.

A sentence must have a subject and a predicate. Every first grader knows this, duh. Anything else is a fragment, and against the rules of English and perhaps World Law.

All characters—ALL CHARACTERS!—in a story must use correct grammatical structure when speaking. Contractions are the devil. (All right, even I knew that one was probably kind of stupid, and I may even have made it up, but it was a rule.)

The point of view of each character must be explored in depth, even if multiple characters are thinking things at the same time. That’s the way life is.

Don’t put ideas into your reader’s head. If a character is angry, tell them he’s angry. Don’t spend valuable sentences describing how he looks or acts, that’s just confusing. For example, how much better to say “John was angry”, than “A flush worked its way up John’s face and his eyes flashed sparks.” I mean really. Maybe he’s just sick.

And then I joined The Write Practice and began meeting people who threw around words like “head-hopping”, and “show, don’t tell”. They told me I was using too many semi-colons (was that even possible?) and that it was much more interesting to let the reader figure out how John was feeling than just to tell him. Sacrilege!

But my new-found friends were writers, and like Forrest Gump they knew something I didn’t.

Life is like a box of chocolates. There’s no rule that says you have to like them all, or that they all have to be the same. And after a bit of huffing and puffing on my part I began to notice things. Like, my stories were a bit stilted and formal. My characters all sounded the same. No one cared if John was angry. I didn’t care if John was angry. So many thoughts revolving around in people’s heads were making my readers’ heads swim. Semi-colons were cropping up in my writing like dandelions.

And something happened. A feeling of lethargy began to work its way into my mind as I read my own work, and I wanted nothing more than to put the story down and take a nap. Translation: I was bored. With myself. (See what I did there? That was a fragment, and the world survived.)

This journey from first short story to published novel has taken its toll on my BA. I’ve learned that if a character lives in a trailer in rural Alabama and has no formal education, he’s not likely to say “I do not believe that you are correct, John.” If he did, a flush would rise in John’s face and he’d yell, “Hey, you messin’ with me?”

I’ve learned that a character should probably keep his thoughts to himself until it’s his turn to have a point of view.

I’ve learned that understanding the craft of writing takes a lifetime.

I’ve learned that I’m free to make mistakes, and fix them, and make some more. The world will not fall apart if my sentences are not grammatically correct, and many times they shouldn’t be.

Like young Forrest, I’ve shed my grammar brace and now I’m running full speed into my writing future. A flush is rising into my face and my eyes are flashing. A grin is spreading across my features as I contemplate the possibilities inherent in the art of writing fiction.

Writing is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. And that’s just fine. Thanks, Forrest.

Image by Emma Frances Logan: https://unsplash.com/@emmafranceslogan

On Writing Paranormal Fiction

Writing fiction with paranormal elements can be tricky, especially in a modern setting. You want your readers to suspend their disbelief and just go with the story. You don’t want them to roll their eyes because the concept of your paranormal world is too far-fetched. Today we’re talking with paranormal romance writer M MacKinnon to get her take on writing paranormal fiction.

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(An interview with Sarah Gribble of The Write Practice)

Paranormal elements in a story should be necessary and seem natural within the confines of the setting and plot. The paranormal should fit in because it feels right and makes sense for the plot of the story, not because you’re trying to jump on a popular trend.

Paranormal fiction is a genre I fell in love with at a young age, so I was super excited to talk with this month’s interviewee to discuss how she developed her paranormal romance series, The Highland Spirits Series.

M MacKinnon is the author of The Comyn’s Curse, a paranormal romance set in Scotland. She began her writing career with Downton Abbey fanfiction. Eventually, she found The Write Practice and completed the first draft of her novel in our 100 Day Book course last year. The Comyn’s Curse is out in select bookstores and online merchants as of today.

You can get in touch with M MacKinnon via her website (where she offers a free short story for signing up for her email list), Facebook, or Twitter.

Now let’s dive into MacKinnon’s paranormal world!

Congratulations on the release of your first novel, The Comyn’s Curse! Tell me a little about the book and the series it opens.

I had no idea what paranormal romance is. After my first stay (a month) in Inverness, Scotland, I came home with a driving urge to write something about the magic of the Scottish Highlands. I did some research on legends and found the legend of the handless ghost who is said to haunt Rait Castle, near Nairn.

Something about the one paragraph synopsis (it was all I could find anywhere) called to me, and I became quite irate on behalf of the ghost. She had no name and in some tales wasn’t even a woman! So I decided to write her story, give her a name and a romance, and draw a parallel between the woman who had lived and died in 1442 and a fictional American girl from New Jersey, who is her descendant.

The book is my love affair with Scotland, its history and mysteries.

Part way through the plotting of The Comyn’s Curse, I knew that there would have to be more—the story just had to continue. So I decided to make it a trilogy and dedicate the next two novels to Aubrey’s two best friends who had supported her through her travails.

The second features her friend Kate, a police detective, and the third is about her friend Colleen, a nurse. Each will have a real legend from the past, each will involve the girls traveling to Scotland and finding love in the Highlands, and each will have a mystery and danger beyond the ghost story. The Piper’s Warning, Kate’s story, is in second-draft phase, and The Healer’s Legacy, Colleen’s tale, is plotted and about three chapters in.

I’m glad I made the decision, because I love my characters, including my ghosts, and I want to do right by them.

The novel takes place primarily in Scotland. I know you visited the country to do research. Can you talk about your research process a bit? fullsizeoutput_980

 I really didn’t start my research until I came home, because the idea for the story didn’t come until then, but I was able to incorporate a lot of information gleaned as a tourist and quite a bit from the books I bought while there. I’m a huge history nut, and I tend to haunt bookstores (See what I did there?)

My research on Rait, a ruined hall castle outside Nairn, came about first through a Facebook group called “Save Rait Castle”. When we went back last August for our second visit, I went first to the members of that group, who are passionate about the preservation of what’s left of the castle, and asked if anyone would be willing to guide my husband and me on a pilgrimage to the castle.

We met a wonderful Scottish gentleman named Victor Cameron, who has an acknowledgement in the book, got to know him, and spent an amazing day touring the castle I had written about for almost four months! A truly emotional experience. In fact, I stood in the doorway of the castle and cried.

If you couldn’t’t have visited, how would you have gone about researching?

I would have had to rely on the library and my bookstores, as well as social media sites like the one I found. I probably wouldn’t have written a book based in Scotland, though, if I hadn’t been there to experience its magic.

The Comyn’s Curse is a paranormal romance novel that has a backdrop containing real places and current events. Ho do you weave paranormal elements into a modern story? What techniques do you use to walk that fine line between a reader’s suspended disbelief and being too far-fetched?

Well, I knew I needed to have a modern romance in order to make the story click, and I wanted to make the life (or afterlife) of my ghost a bit more pleasant than history did. So I decided to create a parallel between the two main characters in the book, with Aubrey, my protagonist, unknowingly being the descendant of the Rait Castle ghost. The curse was created in order to give a reason for the ghost to be hanging around, with Aubrey being the solution she has sought for almost seven hundred years.

I had both my modern protagonist and her ultimate love interest come together in a purely normal way, but then find the each was descended from one of the lovers of the past. The paths of both couples intersected at key points in the book.

What made you decide to include paranormal elements in this story? Did you want to go in that direction from the start?

Yes, the story started with the real legend of the ghost with no hands. I couldn’t find any more than a paragraph on her, anywhere, but something about her fate called to me and I felt I had to give her a better story than she had received in that one paragraph.

Even the castle is forgotten by many Scots who live very near it; they’d never heard of Rait Castle in the bookstore at the local Inverness mall! It just seemed wrong. I’ve righted history, and I think the ghost is very grateful.

Do you like to stay within paranormal canon, or make up your own ‘rules’ for your paranormal elements?

 Well, funny you should ask! The first (and only!) time I pitched the book was to a young agent who told me that she didn’t think my book was paranormal romance at all, and she should know because she dealt primarily with that genre.

I was fairly devastated because I suddenly felt “genre-less,” but other authors told me to stick with my own thoughts on my own story, and fortunately I did. I was somewhat relieved to see in the Kirkus review that my work was a “pleasing cross-genre novel” that had “something for everyone.”  It explained a lot.

 That’s tough to hear that from an agent. Did you think of cutting the paranormal elements to make it “fit” better in a genre?

No, I was never going to give up my ghost! I just felt that it was my fault that I hadn’t sold the concept in a pitch which lasted five minutes. The whole idea of trying to sell a book which includes history, romance, ghosts, and conspiracy in a few minutes was daunting, and frankly, I thought it was ridiculous.

What I did think about was how to find the genre in which the story fit best, and as I said to that agent, “well, it has ghosts, and romance, doesn’t it? How can that not be paranormal?”

She had no answer, which was fine with me.

Is there anything about writing the paranormal that was more difficult than sticking to reality?

 No, since the paranormal part of the story was actually real history, that was the easiest part. Making it fit the modern era was a bit more difficult, but as soon as I met Aubrey, my protagonist, everything fell into place. It just seemed right.

 You also have some espionage and mystery thrown in there. Can you talk about your plotting process?

I decided fairly early in the plotting that I would have not only the parallel stories of the past and present romances, but a mystery as well, because . . . well, I love mysteries. So I researched Brexit and invented a villain who was conspiring to undermine the new surge toward a second referendum for Scottish independence in the wake of Brexit.

I decided to structure the novel into “books” or parts, each beginning with a short piece from 1442, then two modern chapters, a modern “conspiracy” chapter from the POV [point of view] of the antagonist, and then two more modern chapters. The three stories parallel each other until the end, when they all come together in a climactic series of events.

 What’s one thing you’ve struggled with in your writing and how did you overcome it?

I think the main struggles have been with the mechanics faced by beginning authors, such as head-hopping, show don’t tell, and over-use of proper English. (I was an English major, and the idea of not using semicolons when two independent clauses are put together was very difficult to overcome at first!)

I also tend to edit as I go, rather than just writing and then going back to it later, which can cause thesaurus headaches and insomnia as I lie there rewriting in the darkness, but I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. I suspect it’s just my style.

 Any other advice you’d like to give aspiring writers out there?

 Any chance you have to join a writer’s group like The Write Practice, any courses like 100 Day Book or NaNoWriMo, DO IT! Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have it in you, or that your story shouldn’t be told. Find a good editor and be accepting of his/her advice—there’s a reason they’re in that business.

My most fervent advice is to find other authors and share, critique and allow yourself to be critiqued. The more you help others with their writing, the more they’ll invest in yours, and everybody wins! I’ve made some amazing friends doing this, and I don’t think I’d be looking at the launch of my first novel in a three book series without them.

What’s next for you?

 After the launch of The Comyn’s Curse, I’ll refine and submit The Piper’s Warning, probably this summer. While that is going on I’ll dive back in head first to The Healer’s Legacy.

I have a YA fantasy novel, Slither, which is five chapters in and waiting patiently on the shelf for this Scottish stuff to be finished (I haven’t the heart to tell those characters that it may never be finished), and I fully intend to get back to that at some point.

I do think that fantasy and paranormal romance are my forte, but I’ll be staying in that genre, but I love mystery and may someday write a thriller too. Who knows? It’s part of the joy of writing, isn’t it?

Sarah Gribble

Sarah Gribble is the best-selling author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She’s currently cooking up more ways to freak you out and working on a novel.

Follow her @sarahstypos or join her email list for free scares at https://sarah-gribble.com.

The Comyn’s Curse is now available!

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The Comyn’s Curse, first novel in the Highland Spirits series, is now out and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and in select bookstores. I want to thank my publisher, DartFrogPlus, for bringing my dream to fruition.

Aubrey’s story would not have been possible without the unfailing help of my editor, Megan McKeever of New York Book Editors https://nybookeditors.com, or the tireless work of DartFrog.

As a part of the DartFrog commitment, I met an amazing marketing expert who has become a friend. Suanne Laqueur led me through the maze of Facebook author pages, mail campaigns, and Book Funnel accounts, explaining with incredible patience what had been a foreign language before.

I would be remiss if I did not give credit to an amazing group of writers and beta readers at The Write Practice: https://thewritepractice.com. Without their support and sincere editing help, the book might never have happened.

You can find the early reviews and more information on how to get a copy of The Comyn’s Curse on the front page of this website.

Books coming in the series:

The Piper’s Warning – Kate’s story

The Healer’s Legacy – Colleen’s story

Weird Events, Season 1

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The sequence of events chronicled below actually happened (correction: is happening)
to someone I know well. Sound familiar to anyone? You can’t make this stuff up, but I may use it in a story someday.

OK. I had an ah… interesting morning. I had to appear in county court at 8:30am after getting home about midnight and getting to sleep after 1am.

Last October: Pulled over for not stopping at a crosswalk.
– was told it’s “Pedestrian Awareness Month” – plainclothes cop was hiding on the curb at night (a revenue trap – there were four other cars pulled over at the same time)
– I couldn’t find my registration immediately so the cop who pulled me over went back to his car to write me up for it.
– when he returned, I had found it and showed it to him. He said it was too late (first weird thing)
– he said  ‘don’t worry it’s just a fixit ticket and all you have to do is take it to the sheriff’s station with proof of registration and they’ll sign off on it. No charge on the crosswalk violation.
– I said ‘great, station is right by my house. I’ll stop on the way home.’
– He said ’no, that would look suspicious. Do it in the morning.’ (second weird thing)
Next morning:
– stopped at Sheriff station and got it signed off (took like an hour)
– they told me I would have to mail in the $25 fee with citations do it at the courthouse
– I went to the courthouse immediately – was told it was not yet in the system so I couldn’t pay it
One week later:
– went to PO and sent money order with signed off citation
One month later:
– received citation and money order back with explanation it was still wasn’t in the system (third weird thing)
Over  the next few months I would check online and it would never be found in the system.
One month ago:
– received a Failure to Appear citation with a charge of $800 to pay off the whole thing or appear in court. I’d never received a summons. (fourth weird thing)
Next day:
– went to the courthouse and showed clerk the signed off ticket and the returned attempted payment
– was told he could reduce the payment to $400 or I could talk to the judge and maybe he’d dismiss it
This morning:
– appeared before the judge (who’d demonstrated severely assholish behavior for the past hour to everyone else)
– told him that it was a false charge and I’d never received a summons to appear.
– he said you don’t actually get a summons – you get it if you make no effort to resolve and pay for the citation
– told him I’d made many attempts, showed him the returned attempted payment as an example
– He said I had a choice to plead guilty and pay the $400 or go to trial
I pled not fucking guilty and my trial date is set for October.
Wonder what wonders await in season 2?

In Memory

This is a tribute to Colette, who during her short time on this earth changed the lives of those around her.  She left us wondering why such things are allowed to happen, why scientists in all their learned wisdom can’t solve these medical mysteries. It was written when those of us who loved her were forced to watch that which we had denied for so long come to pass.

A lovely young woman is leaving us.

She is a fighter, a beautiful, wild spirit, a joy to those fortunate enough to know her.

She has cystic fibrosis, and has known her whole life that she will die young.

The hospital visits, the cleansing of the lungs that gives a briefer respite each time, the endless medications; these have taken their toll.

The determination to live a normal life; the celebration of each day lived…the triumph of college, love, work; these have shaped a life worth living.

She is 22 years old, and she is tired. Tired of being sick. Tired of waiting for a cure that doesn’t come. Tired of the pity. She’s ready to go, but it is just so hard to let her.

She is the strongest person I have ever known, and the world has been blessed for a brief moment by her presence in it.

She is loved, and those who are loved by others never truly die. Live on, sweetheart.