I'm excited to report that Goodreads is hosting a giveaway of three print copies of Ghost Walking (Maggie York Paranormal Mystery #1) for residents of the US. I hope you'll enter below or on Goodreads. I'd love to send you a copy!
Ghost Walking blurb:
Not believing won't make the ghosts go away.
New Orleans' homicide cop Maggie York is at the top of her game until a sniper's bullet changes everything. She flatlines, comes back. But not quite the same. She sees and hears things...ghostly things. And she blurts out enough to her doctors to end up on medical leave with a diagnosis of PTSD. If only.
Six months later, the voices have faded and the ghostly sightings are less frequent. The department still won't let Maggie return to the job. Oh, she's quit talking about ghosts, except to a few friends and the loony relatives who believe she's a witch, but Maggie doubts herself. Since inactivity is making it worse, she sets out to track down her shooter, only things get complicated...a ghostly witness wants his own murder solved, and sexy homicide cop, Josh Brandt—who just happens to be her replacement—wants her to butt out of his case.
After Josh catches her at the murder scene of a key witness, he wonders how the attractive redhead is staying one step ahead of him and how deeply her involvement goes. She doesn't appear as unstable as he's been told, but she's hiding something. He recognizes the signs...because he has secrets of his own. Unraveling her case soon draws them down twisted but intersecting paths.
And failure may cost Maggie her life.
Good luck! Thanks for entering!
Resolutions for 2017
When you get beyond the required goals of "lose weight," "more exercise," and "eat healthy," what are your hopes for the coming year? I asked my series characters, and this is what they said.
Guardian Witch series:
Ari: I hope to have my new apprentice trained before 2017 is over. Other than that, another peaceful year would be really great, but in my world you don't count on anything. Oh, the casino! A successful launch for Andreas's latest project.
Andreas: Ah, cara mia, thank you. I second all your hopes, and yet, I sense our idyllic days may be ending. Changes are coming in 2017…and some may not be to our liking.
Maggie York Paranormal Mystery series:
Maggie: Since I can't wish my "gift" away, I'm determined to gain better control of it. And frankly, I'm ready for the next big case to begin.
Josh: I'd like to see a drop in NOLA's crime rate, which would give me more time with Maggie. The captain has me working undercover. While it's interesting, I'd rather be partnering with Maggie. At least I'd know she was safe.
Cross Keys/Elvenrude Trilogy:
Kam: A healthy baby in 2017. I'm taking a break from the spy/investigative work, and Seth will make a fabulous and proud father.
Seth: A boy would be nice, but so would a little girl, especially if she has her mother's blue eyes.
And my own resolutions?
- As long as readers keep reading and reviewing my books, I'll continue to write. I hope to publish at least two in 2017, a sequel to the Guardian Witch series (Embers of Fire), and book number three in the Maggie York series (Ghost Haunting);
- World peace…or at least civility would be nice.
Wishing you a wonderful 2017!
May your day be bright with the spirit of Christmas!
Christmas Eve in Olde Town
Twas the Night Before Christmas, and all through Olde Town,
Not a creature was stirring nor making a sound.
The werewolves were running all night through the woods,
The demons were hiding their faces in hoods.
The elves all were dancing; the dwarves were so merry,
The nymphs were excited and so very cheery.
With Andreas at the Club, and Ari on patrol,
The town was all settled, snug in the cold.
When out of the sky with a light pure and bright
Came a dragon so bold glowing gold and pure white.
Ari dashed through the park, stopped on a dime,
If the dragon was hostile, she wouldn't be there in time.
The children were gathered in the town square
Singing and dancing, their thoughts without care.
When what did their wondering eyes behold
But the dragon that stories had once foretold.
With scales of pure gold, and eyes oh so green
They knew in a moment it was the Dragon Queen.
She'd come to bring presents, to those old and young,
To recapture the stories that once had been sung.
Of a beautiful princess who had fallen in love
With a handsome dragon from the clouds far above
And every Christmas she brought back her joy
By sharing her gifts with each girl and boy.
When Ari arrived and Andreas stopped by
The queen pulled out a bag and undid the tie.
She dropped all the toys at Ari's feet
So they could surprise every child with a treat.
Then blowing snowflakes out of her nose,
The dragon winked boldly, or so the story goes,
And spreading her wings, she rose to the sky
"Merry Christmas to all, and I bid you Good-Bye!"
Ally Shields (2013)
Thanks for reading my yearly Christmas fantasy post with the characters from the Guardian Witch series.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!
The First Thanksgiving (Fact and Fiction)
We know all about the first Thanksgiving, right? The big feast when the pilgrims invited the Native American Indians to celebrate the fall harvest? After all, it's recorded in our history books. But would it surprise you to learn the version we know is a combination of a few facts, some fiction, and a lot of guesses?
That some kind of event occurred appears to be fact, but the details are a bit sketchy. While we're enjoying our families and traditions this holiday week, let's take a look at that first feast and why we still celebrate it today.
When did it happen:
It's generally accepted that the original fall feast in this country occurred sometime between September and November 1621, following the first successful harvest. The colonists were perpetuating the tradition of the Harvest Festival brought from the continent to give thanks for sufficient food to carry them through another winter. (http://historyofmassachusetts.org/the-first-thanksgiving/)
Who was there:
William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, and the other men and women (approximately half of the original 102) who had survived the first harsh winter were joined by Massosoit and 90 of his Wampanoag American Indian tribe. Whether this was by invitation or the first instance of party-crashing isn't clear, but the feasting lasted three days. (http://www.ushistory.org/us/3b.asp)
What was on the menu:
Waterfowl, wild turkey, venison, fish, Indian corn, bread of some kind, probably onions, squash, beans. No potatoes, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie. (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-was-on-the-menu-at-the-first-thanksgiving-511554/?no-ist)
When and why did it become a national holiday:
On Oct. 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November would be a national day of giving thanks. This was following a pivotal battle at Gettysburg during the Civil War and was seen by many as a political decision to start to bring the country back together.
This wasn't the first attempt to nationalize the holiday (http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2015/11/10-surprising-thanksgiving-facts/), but it was the one that has lasted.
As we gather around our own tables this holiday, giving thanks for family and friends, we--like Lincoln--must hope the days ahead will heal our nation and remind us how very blessed we are.
Thank you for your service.
Courtesy of Nat'l Novel Writing Month
Every fall, social media chatter picks up on the word NaNo. But what is it? Has everyone suddenly gotten exited about the metric system? Not quite... In fact, the complete logo referred to is NaNoWriMo.
The National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to complete a novel of fifty thousand words (approximately 1,667 per day) during the month of November. It's grown from a handful of participants in 1999 to more than 450,000 worldwide participants in 2015. It's an opportunity for writers, published or aspiring, to push themselves, make new writing "buddies," discuss the ups and down of novel writing in the website forums, congregate with other writers in local area "write-ins," and even join lively discussions on online media, such as Twitter.
It's a seat-of-the-pants style of writing, ignoring your inner editor, and simply concentrating on getting down those daily words. Editing as you go is discouraged, placing the emphasis on words rather than style or even plot. In some ways, it's more like free association than the serious business of writing. But it's a fantastic tool to get you started.
It's also messy. The first book I completed during NaNo was almost unreadable. Holes, holes, and more holes. Not to mention the terrible dialogue, typos, and inconsistencies. I rewrote it a dozen times or more over three years before I had most of the imperfections fixed. It became my first published book, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) in 2012.
The next year (although still unpublished), I was an experienced noveler. And I came prepared. I've never been able to force myself into a real outline, but I did have a decent story summary. It kept those plot holes to a minimum, requiring less rewrites. I like to think I've gotten better at it every year, and all but two of my NaNo novels are now on online bookshelves, published by Etopia Press.
So of course I'm participating again this year! I hope to have another novel close to a first draft when the month is over. Although the challenge started Nov. 1, it's not too late for you to get in the game. Why not click here and get started today? Not only will you feel a great sense of accomplishment on November 30, but you'll also have a lot of fun!
And by the way, if you decide to join the NaNo challenge, give a shout out to Iowagal...that's me!
What would October be without Halloween treats? Here are three, tried and true, really easy recipes. And, they are sooo good! The first incorporates America's favorite cookie. Yes, even ghosts love Oreos!
2 doz Oreo cookies
3-4 oz softened cream cheese
7 oz. white candy coating
1 1/4 tsp shortening
mini chocolate chips or M&Ms
Chop cookies in blender until coarse crumble stage. Add cream cheese, a little at a time.
Form mixture into 25-30 ghosts (shaped like candy kisses).
Melt chopped candy coating; add shortening. Coat each "ghost" by pouring coating over them with a spoon.
Add mini chocolate chips or M&M's for eyes.
(Same recipe can be used at Christmas for trees with green coating.)
Never Fail Popcorn Balls (Especially fun, since it allows you to get your hands all gooey!)
1 c sugar
1/3 c white syrup
1/3 c water
1/4 c butter or margarine
Boil the above until a soft ball forms if you drop a tiny amount in cold water. About 270 on your candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Pour mixture over 2 quarts of freshly popped corn. Butter hands and shape into balls. Makes about 12 medium-sized balls. (Now lick your fingers. Yum, good!)
If you want something even easier, the last one is a definite crowd pleaser, home or work. What's that? You say you're a minimalist? No problem. You can limit your Halloween mix to the first two ingredients. Perfecto!
Halloween Trail Mix
Mix the following in any proportions you like, although the candy corn and peanuts should be the basis of this sweet treat.
Candy corn - regular and chocolate
White yogurt covered raisins
Sunflower seed hearts
Mix and enjoy!
Any readers have special treats you're willing to share?
Coming October 21, 2016!
(A Maggie York Paranormal Mystery #2)
Seeing ghosts should make solving homicides easy, right? Not even close.
When detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt catch a new murder investigation involving occult rituals, ghosts, and venomous snakes, it seems like a case that could only happen in New Orleans. Not only does the victim's ghost demand Maggie's attention, but three apparitions begin appearing to her…sending the detectives on a search for more bodies. They soon discover the ghostly trio has links to the Witching Hour Society, an organization of self-declared witches with far more going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, a neighbor believes the victim killed his family with a curse, and the media eagerly sensationalizes the entire story.
Making things worse, Maggie and Josh have hit a rough spot in their personal relationship. The tension between them is already high when Josh's ex-fiancée arrives in town…and wants him back.
Soon the violence is escalating, the ghosts grow more aggressive, and the deeper Maggie and Josh dig, the stranger things get. Welcome to murder New Orleans’ style.
Book Trailer link: https://youtu.be/cxgb07Wzn7w EXCERPT (opening scene):
Maggie sat cross-legged in the witches' circle, listening to the night sounds of the Louisiana swamp giving way to a hazy dawn. The sluggish air failed to stir the moss-hung cypress trees, and humidity clung to her skin. It would be another scorcher.
Her candle flickered, and she turned it to allow more of the wax to trickle down the side. How had her life evolved to include this? A year ago the hard-nosed cop in her would have scoffed at the idea covens actually existed. Now she was part of one. Not that she'd bought the whole occult package, but her denials rang hollow in the face of collaborating with a ghost to track down a killer. Nor could she explain away the knowledge her distant relatives, Dalia and Selena, gleaned from the Beyond.
Dalia's hard stare brought Maggie's attention back to the circle of thirteen. Spooky how the quiet, unpretentious woman knew things…like Maggie's wandering thoughts. She raised her candle in unison with the others as Selena spoke the words approaching the end of the blessing ceremony.
In contrast to Dalia's petite form, Selena was larger than life, literally and figuratively. The priestess raised her arms, her long, ashen hair braid falling over her shoulder, the white muumuu fluttering in the morning air like a giant bird about to ascend. Her voice matched her size, echoing around the clearing, bringing Maggie and the other participants to their feet.
Although Maggie wasn't positive the white witch rite actually did anything, attendance at coven ceremonies had been one of Selena's requirements for teaching her how to assert greater control over the ghostly apparitions who were bound to make more appearances in Maggie's future. The old woman had been particularly insistent tonight, piquing Maggie's curiosity. And a little apprehension. Had Selena had another of her visions, possibly foretelling trouble in the near future? When asked, her cousin had given a typically cryptic answer. "Good and evil are always in motion."
Which told her nothing new. Maggie sighed, darting a glance at the focused women around her. No matter. The future wouldn't be changed by worrying. Besides, she had no real objection to being here and supporting the coven's hopes of healing one member's gravely ill four-year-old niece, for a laid-off worker to find a new job, and a universal plea for greater wisdom. They could all use a dose of that.
While calling upon the Goddess to bless and protect them, Selena made a three-sixty turn, her gown billowing as she included every participant. Maggie suddenly stiffened and peered behind her cousin. Had something dark and wispy swooped past? No, of course not. The lifting dawn mist had fired her overactive imagination.
Yet her heart beat a bit faster, and she joined in the final lines of the closing chant with more gravity than usual.
"In calm or stormy days to come, light our pathways safely home.
Gracious Goddess, grant our plea. So mote it be."
Maggie was tempted to add an "Amen" for good measure.
As they blew out their candles, her cell phone buzzed. She checked the screen. Police dispatch. Her real world snapped back into place. While they'd been surrounded by the hope inherent in these pre-dawn gatherings, someone else had committed the most grievous assault upon society…the murder of one of its citizens.