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Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Masterful Analysis of A Christmas Carol

Hi Readers,

I know, I know.  It's been a long time since I've posted anything, something which I've resolved to change in the coming year.  If you follow this blog with any regularity, you may remember when I analyzed my Christmas novel, A Shepherd's Song, with regard to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Well, I came across this fantastic post on A Christmas Carol by Kristen Lamb that I just had to share with you.  She does a masterful job of it, and I encourage you to click on the link below.  For those of you who have read A Shepherd's Song, there is meaning to the names I've given my characters too.  See if you can figure them out.

Enjoy the Christmas season!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Are You Like a Sea Turtle?

Hi and Welcome to my Blog:

Thanks for stopping by.  Please take a look around and make yourself to home.  You will find information about my third novel, Cape Cursed, where to purchase it, and the other books I've written as well as learning what goes in my life and in my "lane brain."  (That was the annoying nickname the boys called me in grade school.) 

Also, be sure to enter the raffle to the right and sign up for my newsletter so you will be the first to know when I have a new novel or a giveaway going.

You will notice that my prize is a $25 gift certificate to the OBX Store. For those of you who may not be familiar, OBX is a nickname for the Outer Banks, the thin strip of barrier islands on the coast of North Carolina famous for beaches like Corolla, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Cape Hatteras.

Map of the Outer Banks-Courtesy NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons
Cape Cursed is set on the Outer Banks because I love it there. It's not the most beautiful beach I've ever been to, or the warmest water, (anyone who's ever waded into the ocean there and gotten leg cramps from the frigid water will attest to that), or the most welcoming of waves (I've been dumped on my butt too many times to count).  But there's something about the place that has captivated my mind and compelled me to set my novel there.  Maybe the place has been imprinted on my brain, but I have a theory about our affinity for certain beaches.

Maui Sunset-Courtesy Earthman via Creative Commons

Two decades ago, my husband and I went to Hawaii. While there, we had the good fortune to attend a luau on Maui. We were seated in a grove of hibiscus, anthuriums, and plumeria near a white-sugar beach at sunset. Also at our table were three other couples. They were all from New Jersey and all of the men in the group had served in World War II. As we ate and watched the sun set in a dazzling splash of red and orange over the inky Pacific, one of the men commented, “The beaches in New Jersey are prettier.”

I almost choked on my Kalau pork. I hadn’t been to a New Jersey beach, but I’d been to other beaches on the Atlantic coast, and I knew they weren’t as lovely as the one on which we were presently dining. My husband and I said nothing, but made eye contact, indicating that we both thought our table mate had enjoyed one too many Mai Tais.  But he may have only been acting like a sea turtle.

Sea turtles return to the beach where they were hatched to spawn, indicating that their birth beach leaves a lasting impact. Well, I think people are a bit like turtles; we also bond with the beach. I’ve noticed that the beaches people frequented when they were young made a lasting impression on them.

The hero of Cape Cursed, Parker Swain, definitely has a tie to the beach and the fictitious stretch of land called Cape Destiny, where the book is set.  Since I live in the east, I mostly know people who have affinities to eastern beaches like Cape May, Ocean City, Myrtle Beach, and Hilton Head.

Do you think people form attachments to certain beaches? Do you have a favorite beach? Why do you think you like that beach so much?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

We Have a Winner

Congratulations to Linda G. who won the raffle.  Look for more ways to win coming in the next few weeks.



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cape Cursed Makes Landfall-The Name Game

Welcome back on this last day of the Cape Cursed book launch!

Bliss Sherman is the female lead of Cape Cursed and Parker Swain is her male counterpart.  When I write a book, I take great care and have a lot of fun naming my characters.  One of my other novels, A Shepherd’s Song, is an allegory and all the main characters’ names have a tie-in.  I’m offering a $10 gift certificate to the OBX store to the first person who comments on this blog and can correctly tell me the significance of the characters’ names in that novel.

I came up with the name Bliss Sherman for the female protagonist in Cape Cursed because I wanted a first name that would imply beauty and happiness, and for the last name, I gave her Sherman.  I’m not from the South, but I know that the name Sherman still riles the blood there.  I wanted Sherman to denote how Bliss was coming to this beach and turning everyone’s life upside down much like the Civil War’s General Sherman did. 

I love how Southerners like to use surnames for first names.  I thought the name Parker for the male protagonist would imply something being stationery and reflect Parker’s view that the lighthouse should not be relocated.  It also reflects how Parker and his family have been fixtures on the cape for decades.  Swain is an old-fashioned word for a male suitor.  I thought would make a great last name for a romantic lead.

If you had to come up with the name for a character in a romance novel, what would it be?  I will send a bookmark to all who leave a response. 

Don’t forget to enter the raffle and tell your friends too.

Thanks for dropping by.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 2 Cape Cursed Launch

Welcome back!

During one of the most suspenseful scenes of Cape Cursed, Bliss Sherman, the main character, is trapped in the Cape Destiny lighthouse with someone who may be trying to kill her.  Instead of being marooned on a dessert island and picking something you’d like to take with you, I’m putting a different spin on this scenario and asking:  If you were forced to take shelter in a lighthouse during a hurricane and you could only take one book with you to read while you wait out the storm, which book would you choose and why? 

Don’t forget to enter the raffle, and enjoy your Labor Day!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Finally Here! Cape Cursed Makes Landfall Today!

The watches have come down and the warnings have gone out!  Red flags snap in the wind as the black storm clouds gather and roll ashore.  The roaring surf pounds the beach, as the rain, like silver darts, pelts your face.  The blowing sand stings your legs while the wind shrieks in your ears so loudly no one could hear you if you screamed. 

Prepare yourself now because Cape Cursed is making landfall, and you have no means for escaping this Category 5 of a romantic suspense novel.   Cape Cursed, my new novel, barrels in packing a surge of suspense that knocks you off your feet and a blistering romance that sweeps you up and carries you away.  Cape Cursed is now available in paperback from Amazon and digitally in the Kindle and Nook Stores and at Smashwords.

Here’s a bit about the novel:

Inspired by the actual relocation of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in 1999, Cape Cursed is set on the fictitious Outer Banks location of Cape Destiny, North Carolina.  Bliss Sherman comes to the cape determined to make a name for herself and her new firm by accomplishing an incredible engineering feat—moving the Cape Destiny Lighthouse inland before it's swallowed by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Cape Hatteras relocation from the National Park Service.

Bliss, who has struggled with dyslexia, discrimination, and betrayal by her ex-husband and former business partner, Jonathan, faces her greatest challenge when she falls in love with the handsome, mysterious descendant of the lighthouse keepers, Parker Swain, who vehemently opposes moving the lighthouse.

When Bliss is viciously attacked, she begins to wonder if the curse that is rumored to be attached to the lighthouse may be true.  Who is sabotaging the move?  Who is trying to ruin her?  Who wants to kill her?  When all clues point to Parker, she dismisses her suspicions, deciding to trust him and her heart, but as the evidence mounts against Parker, she begins to doubt not only herself and her heart, but Parker. 

Can she trust her judgment?  Can she trust Parker?  Most importantly, when she is trapped inside the lighthouse with him during a hurricane, can she trust Parker with her life? 

I chose September 1 to release the books because that date is the peak of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, and I hope Cape Cursed will be the peak of your reading season. 
This book, for those of you who have read my other novels, (by the way, thank you!)—St. Anne’s Day and A Shepherd’s Song—is a bit different.  Unlike St. Anne’s Day, which was a romantic comedy, and A Shepherd’s Song, which was a heartwarming Christmas story, Cape Cursed is a romantic suspense in the style of Mary Higgins Clark. 

Since Cape Cursed is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and I’m so fond of that stretch of beach, I’m raffling a $25 gift certificate to the OBX store to celebrate the book’s release.  This online store has everything from jewelry and T-shirts to stunning beach photographs and books.  The raffle concludes at midnight on September 3.  So don’t forget to enter.
Outer Banks-Photo by S. C. Miller 

As usual, if you’ve read Cape Cursed or any of my books, please post a review wherever you purchased the book and on Goodreads if you are a member.  The more reviews, the more these sites suggest the book to people browsing for a new read. 

Also, if you like my books, please spread the word to your reading friends and family.  I truly appreciate it.  I love hearing your reactions to the stories, and I also love meeting you.  I have a few events scheduled for the fall.  If you are interested in having me come to your book club, library, ladies group, etc., please email me.  There is no fee and we always have a good time!

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend & Enjoy Cape Cursed! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

CAPE CURSED Makes Landfall on September 1

The warnings are up.  

Yes, CAPE CURSED makes landfall on September 1.  

The new romantic suspense set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina barrels in packing a punch of suspense that will knock you off your feet and a romance that will sweep you up and carry you away.

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking here so you will be the first to know about the book's release and the events celebrating it, including a great prize.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Transferrable Skills

I am a new mom. Before you call the Weekly World News, I have not given birth in my 50s.  But if you read this column last month, you may remember that my family recently adopted a puppy named Mickey.  You may also remember that this is the first pet I have ever had, and while I am definitely not one of those “dog people” who equate children with animals and sport bumper stickers like “My Chihuahua is smarter than your honor student,” nevertheless, I’m finding as I take care of Mickey, I’m having flashbacks to those days when my babies were small.  I’m finding the skills I learned as a mom often apply to raising my puppy.  
Mickey employing the charm offensive

To begin with, God knew what he was doing when he made babies and puppies irresistibly cute.  One of the first milestones babies achieve is the ability to smile—good thing.  It’s hard to be annoyed at 2:30 a.m. after being summoned from peaceful slumber by a wail when your baby greets you with a toothless, ear –to-ear smile.  Every parent has precious memories of their toddler jumping wildly while holding onto the crib rails as you walk into the room to get them. 

Although it is spring, you would not have known it by the weather we had the first few weeks we had Mickey.  The first few nights we had him, he decided he needed to go outside at 4 a.m.  Let me tell you, it was a good thing he was so cute and his tail was wagging like a manic metronome while we stood in the dark in the front yard with sleet pelting us as he shivered and sat on my feet as I encouraged him to get on with his business. 

I remember reading baby manuals when I was expecting my twins and many of them stated that as mom gets to know her baby, she will instinctively learn what the baby needs.  The first few days of motherhood, I had my doubts, but as the days went on, I did learn that when my baby snuffled and moved his head around, he was getting hungry.  Likewise, I’m getting to learn Mickey’s language.  When he looks up at me with adoring eyes and makes a slight whimper, I know he wants to come and sleep next to me while I sit on the couch.  And I’ve noticed that when he licks his lips, he wants to eat. 

After the daily care-giving requirements were met for my twins like feeding, bathing and diapering, I would spread a blanket on the floor, and I would get down there on it with  them and play.  I’d tickle their bellies and give them toys.  I find I’m doing the same thing with Mickey.  I have such fun getting on the floor with him (although at this stage of my life I don’t get up from it as fast) rubbing his belly and tossing his ball.

One of the joys of motherhood is seeing your children grow and learn.  I would sit and watch my babies struggle to pull themselves up in the playpen, encourage them as they lost a grip and fell and then clap excitedly when they finally stood.  Last week, Mickey learned how to climb the stairs to our second floor.  I clapped and petted his head and told him he was a big boy, even though now I will have to rescue him for a while because he hasn’t yet mastered how to come back down.  As I did with my infants, I find myself talking to him and singing him songs (Yes, Oh Mickey, you’re so fine is our favorite).

But there is a more important thing that having Mickey has reminded me of.  Before we got him, my husband and I were pretty much free agents, other than the limited responsibilities we had with our grown children and family, we didn’t have to be responsible for anyone but ourselves.  While living an unfettered lifestyle sounds attractive, it’s not really a life of any significance. 

I watched the installation of Pope Francis with Mickey at my side, and many commentators remarked on Cardinal Bergoglio’s taking the name of St. Francis, stating that Francis is the most beloved saint of all time even among those who are not Catholic.  Why?  Because St. Francis’s life illustrates the great paradoxes of life.  In the prayer attributed to him , we learn, that it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, dying that we are born into eternal life and that in giving that we receive.  

Having children, and now Mickey, has reminded me that a life of meaning is lived in service of other beings.  Humans were not designed to indulge ourselves (see the list of hedonistic Hollywood train wreck lives as an example).  To be happy and fulfilled, we need to help others.  Some of the most trying days I have had in my life have come as a mom, but they were also the days of most importance in my life.  Mickey is not my child, but he is my responsibility.  St. Francis, who knew the secret to a happy life, is also the patron saint of animals.  Is that a coincidence?  I think not.  One of the joys of raising a furry baby has been of being reminded that selflessly giving of yourself to another is the key to a happy life.   

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Northern Connection Magazine.