Thursday, June 30, 2016

Want to Relive the Amityville Horror? The House is Up For Sale!

Well, I believed it was all true until a few decades later when I heard it was all made up for green slime oozing from the walls, no swarms of bugs blocking out daylight, no ghosts...but it was still one of my favorite movies as a kid.

The movie on Blu-Ray

The murders were 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot his parents and siblings to death, and got six concurrent sentences of 25 to life.

Now the three-story 1927 home is on the market for $850,000--$100,000 less than its last selling price in 2010. This surprises me, though: its horrific past hasn't deterred any prospective buyers, according the Coldwell Banker listing agent. One previous owner had the address changed to 108 Ocean Avenue, however.

The whole 'horror' phenom grew out of DeFeo's lawyer's claim that DeFeo heard voices in the home that convinced him to murder his entire family. Jay Anson's novel became a best seller with the help of subsequent owners George and Kathy Lutz, and Hollywood took that ball and ran with it. The movie was also a huge hit.

DeFeo's lawyer finally came clean and admitted the book and movie were the Lutzes' concoctions and were not true crime stories.

True or not, it scared the bejeezus out of me in 1974!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Keeping Clean in Tudor Times--It Wasn't Easy!

How did people keep clean in Tudor times? It wasn't easy, with no running water or the myriad of products we have to choose from. Check out the Tudor Society, and founder Claire Ridgeway's 20-minute talk about Tudor-era hygiene, and last week's talk about hair care...she does a weekly 'Claire Chat' on really interesting topics.
Click here for a Tudor hygiene chat

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Was Pleasantly Surprised to see my Time Travel DARK BREW Now Available for Pre-Order--and Already Has Sales!

Thanks so much, pre-order readers!

My upcoming time travel, DARK BREW, is set around the 14th century Irish woman Alice Kyteler who was accused of witchcraft. The modern heroine, Kylah, lives on Cape Cod.

I first read about Alice in the Spring 2004 issue of The Ricardian, the Richard III Society's magazine; Pamela Butler wrote an article about her. This was 2004. Alice caught my fancy, and that's when I started researching and writing the book. Yes, it was 12 years in the making. Alice was accused of witchcraft in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1324; she was a wealthy woman, and vanished before her trial. To this day it's a mystery where she went.

DARK BREW, published by The Wild Rose Press, is available for pre-order:

I Was Pleasantly Surprised to see my Time Travel DARK BREW Now Available for Pre-Order--and Already Has Sales!

Thanks so much, pre-order readers!

My upcoming time travel, DARK BREW, is set around the 14th century Irish woman Alice Kyteler who was accused of witchcraft. The modern heroine, Kylah, lives on Cape Cod.

I first read about Alice in the Spring 2004 issue of The Ricardian, the Richard III Society's magazine; Pamela Butler wrote an article about her. This was 2004. Alice caught my fancy, and that's when I started researching and writing the book. Yes, it was 12 years in the making. Alice was accused of witchcraft in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1324; she was a wealthy woman, and vanished before her trial. To this day it's a mystery where she went.

DARK BREW, published by The Wild Rose Press, is available for pre-order:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Meet my Longtime Friend and Gifted Author Charlotte Hebert

I met Charlotte in 1994 when I joined a local critique group by invitation from Bonnie Schutzman, on CompuServe (remember that dinosaur?)

Meet Charlotte, an enlightening experience!

Charlotte has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over thirty years, and has written several books on the subject.

Charlotte is also the author of the novel Numbering Stars (a finalist in both the Hemingway First Novel Contest and the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize), and the nonfiction book, Meditate and Experience God: Saints, Scriptures, and Science Point the Way, both of which are on Amazon. Her short fiction has appeared in over half-a-dozen literary journals, and her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. She lives with her husband and their son in Northborough, MA.
Her latest title is a coming-of-age novel BIG HEAVEN.
Mo Proctor is the recipient of a prophecy (how cool is that?). She believes the prophecy states that she needs to leave home to become a nun at the age of sixteen (which is now). The only problems are: Her mother recently died, and her father is showing signs of early Alzheimer’s disease (which are really significant problems). How can she reconcile it all? And is the prophecy the only thing driving her to want to pack up and leave home?
"I always like to include some mention of both meditation and spirituality in my fiction, because I know how important these are in my own life, and I love the idea of sharing these topics with others," says Hebert. "At the same time, my father had Alzheimer's disease and died of it, and this ended up having a greater impact on me than I realized, which led me to want to write about it. My father, like the father in 'Big Heaven', really was a very sweet, corny man, who was almost too good for this world, and I wanted to pay homage to him. It was by combining the idea of both meditation and of a character like my father that 'Big Heaven' was born."
An Excerpt from Chapter One of BIG HEAVEN
Shoot. He's there. I can see through the window. Not that I should be surprised, for he's always there (at least since my mom died, he is). It means that I'll have to sneak in, try and rush straight to my room in order to meditate.
Let me back up a bit. My name is Maureen (Mo for short); I'm sixteen, but I'm going to be a senior this fall 'cause my birthday's in September, so I'm really almost seventeen; and I've decided, only tonight, that I'm going to be a nun of the Swami Order, which has its origins in India. That's why I'm starting my story right here, by the way. You have to begin with a hook is what I figure. This is mine…
(Becoming a nun is a pretty big deal, you have to admit!)"
More about BIG HEAVEN...
So starts  BIG HEAVEN, which follows sixteen-year-old protagonist, Mo Proctor, as she struggles between her desire to be a nun and her familial responsibilities. Mo's mother has recently died, leaving Mo alone with her father, a man she doesn't feel she "really knows," who is starting to show signs of early Alzheimer's disease.  
 In fits and starts, Mo tries to get her father to be more self-sufficient, to get her aunt, whom she invites for a visit, to help out more, and to ignore an unforeseen love interest who suddenly shows up in her life. She needs her father to be self-sufficient, not only because she wants to leave home to become a nun, but also because if he’s not, Social Services could end up placing her father in a nursing home, and sending Mo off to odious foster care, which is the last thing she wants. 
Mo takes comfort from her conviction that a near-death experience she had at age twelve, and the "prophecy" that resulted right after regarding a decision she'd have to make at sixteen, point to becoming a nun now. But is this a real calling she feels in her soul? Or a desire to escape her life? Or possibly both?  
BIG HEAVEN explores the issues of having to face responsibilities in life—even when you think you're too young to face them—and of figuring out the things that truly matter the most.
I really hope you enjoy accompanying Mo Proctor on her journey as she deals with a very sweet, yet deteriorating father; a funny, sarcastic best friend; a flaky aunt; and a tantalizing love interest, as much as I have enjoyed bringing her journey to you.
Charlotte Hebert


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

If This is Your First Time at an RWA (or any) Writers' Conference....Tips

I've been to many writers' conferences over the years; my very first was the Romantic Times convention in the Marriott Marquis in 1994. Conferences are highly charged with energy; you leave there exhilarated and drained at the same time.

We've all seen the many tips and hints that help new attendees, and I'd like to add the ones that I've learned in my experience.

If you're attending RWA in San Diego in July, have a blast!

My conference tips:

If you don't feel qualified to submit a proposal to be a speaker, sign up to be a moderator at one or more of the workshops. It's a great way to meet people, and you can do a bit of speaking if you care to. As moderator you introduce the speaker(s), give a brief bio of each, and call on audience members when they have questions. Makes me feel like a real 'insider' and is a lot of fun.

Take a lot of snacks to carry around with you...sometimes there's NOWHERE to eat, and at one conference, a banana cost $4 !

Take a bottle of water with you each day.

Don't ever accost an editor or agent in the ladies' room. I've heard of authors cornering editors in the ladies room stalls! Now that's not going to get anyone a contract!

I did accost a Kensington editor in the hallway, but I'd already sent her a partial, she'd asked to see the entire ms, and I wanted to ask if she received it and  liked it. Ballsy move, I know, but all she could say is no (she was really nice).

Yes, comfy shoes AND it gets really hot in there, so don't dress too warm either. Dress as if you're going to a business meeting, but when it gets hot (and it will), you can take off the blazer.

Attend the workshops about the writing business and writing in general instead of the social media workshops. If you're going to an editor/agent appointment, yes, it's ok to read from an index card. And don't be nervous! They're people too.

Take a day off when you get home, you'll need it!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Meet my #RomanticIdea Guest, Interracial/Multi-Cultural, Paranormal and Dark Urban Fantasy Romance Author Dariel Raye

Romantic Idea Exchange
Dariel Raye

Destiny's Favor (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 2)
Destiny's Favor synopsis

His world shifted the moment she was born. Now, nothing can stop him from making her his.
Imagine meeting a man who looks like an angel, wings and all? What would you do if this man told you he existed with only one purpose – to claim you and only you?
Destiny Carter is a feisty, take charge, Rubinesque beauty with a tough facade, who finds herself in that age old quandary, "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." A string of lackluster relationships leave her hopeless and ready to settle…Until she meets Japheth, the man her fiance claims is his best friend! Japheth's arrival is heralded by an attack on Destiny's life, and instinctively, she knows this is just the beginning.
Born more than 200 years ago, Japheth looks like an angel but he's far from it. In his world, the ratio of men to women is 500 to 1, and although he's a superior being, he's willing to break the most sacred law of his brothers, even drink human blood, to have one meant for him alone.
When he meets Destiny, he knows she's the one he's been searching for. To claim her, he will have to betray a friend, risk his life, and hardest of all, humble himself enough to win her love.
 Only $0.99 for a limited time

 Get a FREE review copy of “Calm Assurance (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 1) to catch up on the series now! Enter the Rafflecopter below to find out how to get your free copy + win other prizes!
Calm Assurance (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 1)
About Calm Assurance

Two hearts, two different worlds, uncompromising love.
A straight-laced Nephilim-descendant and a human trouble-magnet?
When Asriel - Orlosian Warrior, descendant of Nephilim, law enforcer – is sent to guard Maalina, a human with a penchant for drawing trouble like a tornado, she becomes his obsession.
With no hope of finding love in his dimension, he breaks the cardinal rule, leaving his home to protect her, but she has also drawn the attention of his enemies, and he is forced to face demons from his past. If Asriel chooses to stay with Malina, not only does he risk forfeiting his right to ever return to his dimension, but he will need her blood to survive.

Dariel is an animal lover who writes IR/MC (interracial/multi-cultural) paranormal and dark urban fantasy romance. She is presently writing a shifter series, "Dark Sentinels", a reluctant hell-dweller series, "Kushielâ's Keep", two Nephilim series with vampire-like heroes, "Orlosian Warriors" and "Cainâ's Progeny", Lifegivers, a paranormal romance series with a variety of beings, a crossover paranormal thriller shifter trilogy with romantic elements, "Gateway", and an erotic fantasy newsletter serial. To learn more about Dariel and her books, visit her blogjoin her newsletter, and follow her on Amazon.

Dariel on the Web

Romantic Idea

My romantic idea comes from a tradition between me and one of my best friends. It's a great, fun and simple way to get to know another person without lots of questions. Here's how it's done…
1. Each person creates a playlist of some of her/his favorite music dating as far back as they can remember (can even be pre-school).
2. Plan a picnic (in a neutral, safe place so you can dance if the mood hits you, and each of you bring some of your favorite foods).
3. Take turns sharing your playlists one song at a time, and tell what was going on in your life at the time as well as why the song is one of your favorites. Remember to keep it positive, i.e., nothing about old lovers who broke your heart, please ;-) In fact, if you bring up past relationships at all, be sure to focus on what you learned and how it helps you with present relationships.
4. According to the length of your playlists, this can span several dates and provide quite a few conversation prompts.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Meet My #RomanticIdea Guest--Award-Winning Author of Steamy Romantic Adventures, Sheri Fredricks

Always on the hunt for the uncommon things in life, award-winning author Sheri Fredricks thrives on creating romantic adventures.

A former engineering secretary, she lives on California’s beautiful central coast. "I wanted to move away from a profession of inflexible right angles and create an unboxed world with no boundaries." A voracious reader since her early years, Sheri found her brain crowded with stories of her own. "Ultimately," she says, "my husband encouraged me to write them all down." 

Winner of the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award, and a Finalist multiple times for InD’Tale eMagazine’s Reward Of Novel Excellence award (RONE), she has numerous five-star reviews everywhere eBooks are sold.

Sheri loves to spend time at home and connecting with readers. A computer hutch keeps her focused on creating stories, but the panoramic view of life on a ranch will call her outside to play in the sun.
Sheri's latest title is MONICA BEGGS, with Temple Publishing.

When a Former Special Ops agent tries to save his porn-star crush, playing it hot and heavy will only lead them straight into action! 
Monica Beggs is more than the hottest porn star out on DVD—she's Finn Daniel's next assignment.
Lights. Camera. Lube? 
Famous porn star Monica Beggs wrapped up another grueling on-location movie shoot when the Colombian cartel attempted to kidnap her. Their guns are as real as the price on her pretty head. 
Former Special Ops and present day surfer, Finn Daniels recognizes a lady in distress when he sees one—especially if it’s his adult film crush being hustled out the door. He’s no longer in the business of busting up the underworld, but that doesn’t deflect his moral compass. 
In a fast-paced adventure—over land, sea, and air—playing it hot and heavy will lead them straight into action! 
Setup and Excerpt
As a precision military Spec-Ops man, Finn had been confident and bold. But now, with the beautiful adult film star Monica Beggs under his roof and in his protection, he lets down his guard and succumbs to his growing attraction.
No matter how many movies she’d made, or sexual positions that’d made her famous, Finn got the distinct impression the woman who knelt at his feet with her eyes closed, gently caressing his balls, was not one and the same.
Euphoria lifted his spirits. His pulse pounded faster. He equated the feel of exhilaration to being the first surfer out at daybreak, shredding waves through the misty morning rollers. A pleasant ached bloomed in his chest.
Monica backed off. A sweet slurping sound ensued before she took a breath and went down again. Her lips wrapped his width and she began another steady rhythm as her fist slid along a spit-shined track.
Each time she skated to the top, she held him in a tight grip and flat-tongued his sensitive underside with a side-to-side motion. Her free hand massaged his balls, encouraging the ache to build.
Finn’s eyes rolled back. His brains splattered the inside of his head as if the grey matter were made of popcorn. At a slight tug from down below, he reapplied his blurry vision.
Her grin turned positively devilish. “You ready to accept defeat, Big Kahuna?”
Somehow managing a half-step back on legs the consistency of spaghetti, he lifted the porn star to her feet. “We’ll see who the victor will be. Lose the dress.”
Follow Sheri:
Romantic Ideas to Enjoy this Summer
As a romance author, I have a file where I jot down date ideas. If I need an idea for a scene I’m writing, I skim through and see if any of them fit.
Maybe you’d like to try one of my date ideas and let me know how it turns out for you! Here’s a few: 
1.   Horseback Riding
Rocking hips and cowboy hats — it doesn’t get more romantic than that.
2.   Hit the Beach
Coconut oil, sparkling water, warm sun, and lots of skin. A modest form of nakedness!
3.   Go Retro With A Drive-In Movie
It’s like a regular movie, except with a private back seat!
4.   Old-Fashioned…With A Twist!
Going out to dinner means there’s no mess to clean-up. Follow it up with a hot tub for two — and it’s a recipe for romance.
If you have an idea you’d like to share, I’m all ears.
Look for more books to come in my shapeshifting centaur series.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

A High Profile Murder in 19th Century Salem--Perfect Subplot for my Next Book!

Working on my next book, a bio novel about Sophia Hawthorne, I wanted to add a murder subplot. Since I don't put fictional characters in my books, I wanted a real murder case--the more high profile the better. I Googled murder cases in 19th century Salem MA, and what popped up? A famous murder that happened in a mansion on Essex St. that I've walked past a million times, and the tour guides always point out the brutal stabbing that happened there. Voila! Why didn't I think of it before? It's so obvious! The murder also inspired Poe and Hawthorne in their stories, especially Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter.
Check out this cool website, Murder by Gaslight. --it tells all about the Salem murder.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Finally Got To Visit Edgar Allan Poe

Just returned from a road trip to Florida, stopped in Baltimore to pay my respects to Edgar Allan Poe; I've been wanting to see his grave for years. It was a Sunday, and his house, open to the public, should've been closed, but lo and behold it was open! Visit the house here for location and hours. It's a narrow row house which was out in the country when he lived there with his wife Virginia and his mother-in-law affectionately called "Muddy." It has a very steep winding staircase which Muddy wasn't able to navigate, so she slept downstairs. I have photos I'll post shortly. As most of you may know, Poe lived most of his life in poverty, and at times they only had bread and molasses to eat. I'm glad I finally got to visit him.
"In pace requiescat" as Poe wrote in the final line of "The Cask of Amontillado" -- the story I read in 8th grade that got me hooked on Poe.
Photos of his grave and house are below: