Thursday, May 30, 2019

Light My Fire


Recently, I’ve been on a dragon binge. No, I’m not writing about dragons (yet), but I have read lots of wonderful books featuring dragon shifters. All kinds of dragon shifters, frankly. Alien dragons, Earth-bound dragons…just gimme!

I know that many of you have a hankerin’ for fire breathing heroes too, so today I’m sharing some these books with you. Some are very recent additions, and others have been patiently waiting for me to tap their cover and step into their fiery domain.

To my author buddies: These are all very recent reads for me. If your dragon books aren’t featured here it’s most likely because I haven’t read your books yet, or I read them during an earlier dragon reading binge. Please, please, please feel free to drop your links in the comments.

So, in no particular order, here they are….

 Dragon Mates






Dragon Mates, J. K. Harper – I picked up this 3-book set awhile ago, and fell in love. Hope J.K. writes other stories in this world as I’d love to know what happens to some of the other unmated fellas. (Hint, hint, J.K.) (Available on KU**)

















Under Fyre, Cara Bristol – Released last week, this is the first book in a new series, and wow, did it impress! There is an Under Fire Prequel available for .99 cents, or you can pick it up for free if you visit Cara’s website and sign up for her newsletter.**














Loyal Dragon Shifter, Rinelle Grey – First book in Rinelle’s Return of the Dragons series, which is an excellent series. Currently free on Amazon**. And, the next book is due out…ooh! May 31, 2019. Hey, that’s tomorrow! (Available on KU**)
















Legion, Regine Abel & Juno Wells – These are not your standard fire-breathing dragons, but the Xion Warriors of this series are incredibly hot. And they’re aliens. So far there are only two books in this series, but I've heard whispers that more stories are planned. Can’t wait! (Available on KU**)


















Feral Ice, Ann Gimpel – Original and thoroughly enjoyable. The last alien dragons (twins) of a dying breed are surprised to find their mates quite by accident…at Earth’s South Pole of all places. This is book one of Ann’s Ice Dragons series. Book three is set to release on June 25, 2019!

















Loved by the Dragon, Vivienne Savage – Two complete stories in one book—a book that comes with its own “adult content” warning, if that’s your thing. <wink> It’s also the first in the four-book Dawn of the Dragons series. (Available on KU**)










Is it me, or do dragon romances have some of the most beautiful covers? 

Well, that should be enough to light your fires (pun intended). Have you read any dragon shifter stories recently that touched your heart? Please mention them in the comments so the rest of us can check them out!

** reflects prices and special offers at the time this post was written and are subject to change without notice.


~*~*~*~*~

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lea Kirk, loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her sci-fi romances. When she’s not busy writing about the blue and green aliens of her Prophecy series, or reading about dragons, she’s hanging out with her hubby, five kids (the nerd herd), and spoiled Dobie mix puppy.

She is currently working on two short stories and the fourth book in her series.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

You Own Me by @MeganSlayer #shifters #paranormal #erom #magic


You Own Me
Book 2 in the Battle Scarred Series
Megan Slayer Publications
Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Vampires, Shifters, Magic, M/F, BDSM, Anal Sex, Spanking

When the rest of the world fails, we’ve got each other.



Always.



Creighton Leigh likes to play by his own rules—until he’s tasked with defending the other Supers. Not a problem. He’s called by the Sources, the mystical beings in charge of the universe, to find his mate. There’s only one problem—he’s convinced he’s already got her in his arms.

 Will he be able to embrace the will of the Sources while following his heart?


Vanessa Skye loves her tiger shifter. He’s everything she’s ever wanted in a man and a dominant. But her will and the will of the Sources isn’t the same. They have other ideas for her man.



Sometimes accepting the future means letting go, but she’s not leaving him without a fight.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GRF85KM/
Anywhere ebooks are sold: https://books2read.com/u/bQ9GoD

EXCERPT:
©2018 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

“You were summoned, weren’t you?” 

“Yes.” The moment he replied, he wished he hadn’t been asked the question. He hated to admit he’d been summoned, because then he’d have to explain that Vanessa wasn’t his pasha. The color drained from Kynan’s pale face, but he didn’t say anything. 

“Summoned? By whom and for what?” Vanessa slid out of his arms and stood. She smoothed her T-shirt down her curvy frame. “What’s going on, and why do I have a bad feeling about what you’re going to say?” 

Shit. He knew this would happen. Creighton leaned against the wall and forked his fingers into his hair. “The sources called on me. It’s my time to find my mate and build up my power so we can fight the war.” 

“When do we get started?” Vanessa asked. “I’m game.” 

“It’s—it’s not that simple.” Kynan nodded and folded his arms. Once he’d found his pasha, Lexa, he’d been able to step out of the shadows and walk in the light. He was still a vampire but much more powerful. “Finding one’s mate can be life or death. Vanessa, you should go back to your suite and talk to Creighton.” He nodded and left them alone in the hallway. 

“Yeah,” Creighton said and pushed off the wall. “This is complicated.” 

“Okay.” Vanessa offered her hand. “Let’s do this thing. How do we make you all super and powerful?” She threaded their fingers together. “Hot sex? Special words? Hot sex and special words? Come on, I’m trying to lighten the mood a little.” 

“I know you are.” He draped his arm around her shoulders. “I appreciate it.” He opened the door to the suite they shared. “It’s a long process, finding my mate. I need to soul search and follow my heart.” 

“I’m right here. Done.” She bounced into the room ahead of him. “Now what?” 

Creighton stood in the doorway. How the hell was he going to crush her spirit and tell her the truth when he wasn’t so sure the sources were correct? Down in his gut, he believed she was his pasha. “Like I said, it’s complicated. Sit, and we’ll talk.” And hopefully you’ll still count me as your friend when all of this is over. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Predatory Publishers by L. A. Kelley


Recently, a slight brouhaha flailed at my publisher, the Wild Rose Press, when a writer whined to the Romance Writers of America that the company was “predatory.” This is a serious charge. I’ve been associated with WRP for several years, and have five books with them. They are reputable, squeaky clean, aboveboard, and known for being open and honest in all their dealings with writers. RWA dismissed the accusation, so what got this writer’s shorts in a knot? He or she seemed to have a poor understanding of contractual obligations versus options offered by the publishers, and absolutely no idea what constitutes a real predatory publisher.

Warning Signs of a Predatory Publisher

Everyone who’s ever written a book has high hopes of seeing it in print and predatory publishers prey on that. They make their money by charging potential writers for services such as editing and marketing and may also withhold a percentage of sales royalties to supposedly “cover their fees.” There are a ton of these leeches out there ready to steal your money or manuscript and any writer must know the warning signs.

Fees
When a manuscript is accepted for publication, a legit publisher (small or large) never charges a writer a fee of any kind. Even a legit vanity press, like Kindle Select, where a writer pays to publish, doesn’t charge a submission or reading fee. A good publishing house never charges for editing, a book cover, or formatting the manuscript into print or an ebook. A vanity press will give you the option, but it’s an option. You don’t pay to distribute the book to outlets. To cut it short: you don’t pay for anything up front. Royalty amounts are always clearly stated in the contract.

This doesn’t mean you can sit back and clutch your wallet to your chest. Small companies can’t promote like big publishers. They do some marketing, but if you want to get your book out there, you must market on your own. Over four thousand ebooks are published each day. If you don’t market, yours will be buried in the avalanche and no one except family and friends will ever read it. This costs money, but how much to spend should always be your decision. A predatory publisher will have mandatory marketing fees. An honest publisher may offer marketing opportunities, but they are never required. This is common practice and shouldn’t scare you away from a company. Wild Rose Press often has marketing options for writers such as having a book listed for a discount rate in NetGalley or a library distribution catalog. I’ve taken advantage of some and passed on others. The choice is always mine. If I decline, it never affects my standing with them.

Rights “in perpetuity”
Run, do not walk, from any contract that has you sign over publishing rights in perpetuity or uses those words in any manner. This mean you never get rights back. No legit company ever does this. All honest contracts have a clearly defined time limit. 

Hi,There. We Want to Publish Your Book
You’re contacted out of the blue. Unless you’re famous, no legit publisher ever contacts you first. Predators buy email addresses from all sorts of companies and websites. Consider it spam and do not respond.

Everybody’s Work is Terrific and Welcome
No. It isn’t. Legit publishers are selective. They require a writer to submit a manuscript for review, and not everyone makes the cut. People often confuse a vanity press with a predatory press. A vanity press makes no judgment on the quality of work and offers a variety of services for a self-published writer. A vanity press can be predatory, but plenty are legit. Kindle Select is a good example. It’s free to use and they’re completely upfront about services (such as layout design) you may wish to pay for. A predatory publisher will dump a pile of praise on your head and then stick you with fees, preying on a person’s desperation to get a book into print.

Other Warning Signs
Is the publisher affiliated with another fee-charging business involved with editing or marketing? Do they pressure you or require its use? Are they secretive about distribution? Do you know how a book will be distributed at home or in foreign markets? Do they clearly define ownership of audio rights? If the publisher produces a print edition along with an ebook, does the author get a free copy? A small press may only offer one, and that’s okay, but being required to buy a certain amount is a sign of a predatory publisher.

Warning Sites
Many small publishers are totally legit, but you may not have heard of them. Google them first and check them out in writer's blogs. Below are other sites I've used.
Association of Author Representatives (For agents) They maintain a list of agents that must adhere to standards
(Predators and Editors used to be a good site, but has gone through ownership changes and isn't as reliable any more. I don’t recommend it.)


L. A. Kelley writes fantasy and science fiction adventure stories with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. She is only predatory with chocolate cake.




Saturday, May 25, 2019

HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL? By Nancy Gideon


Writers are all about creating convincing and powerful dialog. But do we ever stop to listen to what we’re saying to ourselves in our daily mental conversations?

Self-talk is the constant tape of thoughts and impressions running through our head, over and over, in a never-ending loop. Whether your attitude toward yourself and your surrounding circumstances is optimistic or pessimistic impacts more than your outlook – it can also affect your chance of success, fulfillment, good health and all-around sense of well-being. Maybe it’s time to do some self-editing.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty in your outlook? Listen to your own self-talk. Is it positive or negative?

Negative self-talk sounds like this:

           “I can’t do anything right.”

           “Nothing looks good on me. I’m so fat (thin, old, ugly, short, tall, etc.)”

           “I don’t deserve any better.”

           “I didn’t make my deadline. My career/job is over.”

           “No one else has trouble doing that. I’m such a loser.”

Every time you replay one of these negative phrases, you’re making those irrational misconceptions stronger. Where do these ideas come from? Fear, anxiety, worries, and depression foster negative thinking. We compare ourselves to others until we passive-aggressively blame them for our perceived short-comings. The habit of being overly critical can be something learned during childhood. Poor past experiences can lead to the belief that the past always repeats itself in a never-ending loop of failure. Geez, now I’m depressed . . . Time to break that cycle of defeat.

Negativity breeds these unpleasant habits. If we can recognize them, we can change them. These are the biggest offenders:

Filtering: Instead of feeling good about your accomplishments, you push the positives aside to focus on the seemingly mountainous stack of what’s left to do. That boulder never gets pushed all the way to the top of the hill.

Personalizing: You blame yourself for anything and everything bad that happens, assuming it’s your fault (or narcissistically think every success is owed to your efforts that aren’t being appreciated).

Catastrophizing: You anticipate the worst that can possibly happen in any situation so you can’t enjoy it because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Polarizing: Things are either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You’re either perfect or a total failure. And how often are any of us perfect?

Writers, because of our isolation, and helped by an enormous creative imagination, can see their career rise or fall because of those consistent(ly wrong) dialogues in our own heads. Advertisers know if we hear the same thing repeated at least three times, it become imprinted upon our memory. Repetition becomes supposed truth. And that truth wins out . . . even if it’s really a self-lie. What have you been saying to yourself?

           “I’ll never be as good as _______.”

           “If I haven’t made a bestseller list by now, I might as well give up. I have no talent.”

           “So-and-so stole that idea from me and now she’s got a six-figure contract. I was robbed!
           I’m so much better than ______. It’s not fair!”

           “My critique group told me my dialog is passive. Who am I kidding? I suck as a writer.”

           “I need to change everything in my WIP and start over because the contest feedback said
           I should change _______ to _______.” (And this replays every time new feedback is
           received . . . and the book – YOUR book – never gets better, just different and remains
           unfinished.)

Sooooo, how can we break this cycle of self-perpetuating self-abuse? In order to deal with negative self-talk, we need to start questioning it. Before we jump to those self-harming conclusions, we need to challenge them, to demand proof. Catch yourself before that autopilot kicks in. Start by not saying anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to another. Be as gentle and encouraging with your own self as you are with friends and family. When that negative “truth” pops up, evaluate it, see it for what it is, and respond with a positive affirmation or something you’re thankful for. Here are some examples:


  • I’ve never done that before. I’ll fail.> I’ve never done that before. How exciting!

  • There’s no way this is going to work.> I can find a way to make it work.

  • I’m never going to get any better.> What can I learn to help myself do better?

  • No one ever talks to me. I’m invisible.> I’m going to walk up and start a conversation.

  • This makes me look like a whale.> This is a great color on me.

  • I’ll never finish, so why start?> If I start now, I’ll get a jump on things.

  • She’s so much better than I am. I hate her.> I’m so proud of her success. She really put in the work and deserves it. I can and do, too.

  • There’s no market for what I write. I give up.> I’m going to try something new and save this until the market turns around again.
Building your own self-image through affirming self-talk weakens the hold of negativity. Applaud every small step, every initial success no matter how tiny. “Hey, I wrote 250 words! Yeah, me!!” Even a ‘failure’ is proof that you were brave enough to try and gives you something to build upon. “I submitted a query. They weren’t interested in that story, but I have the opportunity to try again with something else, and have a name to submit to!”

Positive thinking doesn’t mean you ignore or hide from unpleasant situations, but rather you approach them in a more productive way by considering the best outcome rather than the worst-case scenario. And nothing strengthens a positive attitude like using those small successes to pave a wide, dependable path to travel.

Enjoy your journey!
♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Friday, May 24, 2019

A Garden to Die For! by Francesca Quarto

"It's absolutely beyond beautiful, Meg!" gushed one of the Mornay twins. Meg couldn't tell them apart, so she merely smiled and bowed her head demurely. 
Meg Randall was hosting the 'The Mississippi Bountiful Gardens Society' at her country estate.  This was their first gathering since reforming, a process that occurred on a yearly basis as members always seemed to drop off after the first meeting.  The current group had high hopes of avoiding that outcome.
Meg noticed a few of the young matrons wrinkling their noses earlier, as they passed through the musty hallway on the way to the dinning room and the entry to her gardens.  They clearly expected little from this visit that could meet with their high, horticultural standards. In the current mood of the privileged class in 1923,  those standards had evolved to include the proper accouterments of wealth and style. Meg's shabby estate would fall well-short of that bar.
When Meg threw open the French doors leading out to the patio, there was a unanimous intake of breath, as the six women stepped through. 
The gardens spread out before them, shimmering like a piece of art by one of the Old Masters.  Vibrant, and alive with color, this was an Eden of exotic plants and flowers, swaying like the graceful Salome, in a soft breeze.  The carefully blended design of trees and shrubbery, lent a kind of balance, keeping the mystical blooms from dancing out of sight.
Some of the women spontaneously lifted their long skirts to take to the inviting stone path, leading deeper into a glorious banquet of fragrance.  One woman was moved to exclaim, "It's as if we're surrounded by rainbows!"
Their new President,  the starchy Mrs. Grumwalt, curbed their enthusiasm, reminding them that tea was ready to be served.  As they moved back to the patio where a maid finished the preparations, one of the Mornay twins whispered behind her hand that the corpulent President, would never miss an opportunity to sit down to a meal.  Meg's sharp hearing caught the remark and she saw the plump woman licking her lips in anticipation.  No one noticed her own tongue dart out in a similar fashion.
Meg seemed indifferent to her role as hostess.  She sat stiffly in her chair, relying on the rather elderly maid, to pour tea and offer the freshly baked scones and delicate sandwiches.   She spoke to no one.  No one spoke to her.  She made herself inconspicuous by her presence.
Her guests all held the opinion that Meg Randall had a strangeness about her.  Where did she come from?  How long had she occupied Randall Hall? 
They just formed their group, when Mrs Grumwalt received a musty book titled, The History of the Mississippi Bountiful Gardens Society, supposedly sent by a past Secretary.  It stated Meg Randall had hosted every annual meeting since its formation. The Society was founded many years ago, according to the dates, yet Meg looked timeless. 
They argued among themselves, over the veracity of the claim, and none of the previous members were around to be questioned.  However, as recorded, routine visits never changed.  The Society seemed compelled to come to Randall Hall yearly, like the lemmings to the sea cliffs.
They took little notice of her and no notice of the fact she ignored the sweets they all hummed over like bees gathering nectar.  None seemed aware that she studied each of them from under her long lashes, while appearing to fuss with her uneaten cake.
Among the women,  Randall Hall was referred to as "The Randall Mausoleum."  The sprawling mansion was more cathedral, than home.  With its tall, dark windows and guarding gargoyles at each corner of the roof,  heavy stone-work covered with invading vines, Randall Hall was as warm as the inside of a tomb.
The women sat around the perfectly arranged table.  It gleamed softly, as the mellow spring sun swept over its glazed glass top. The cups of the delicate porcelain tea set, were almost too fragile to hold.  Its floral pattern was an exquisite reflection of the many varieties of flowers and plants surrounding them.
There were constant outbursts from the young women, as particularly lovely plantings were spotted further down the path leading into the heart of the garden. As they nibbled cakes and sipped at their cups, every color of the prism tantalized and dazzled them.  Bright yellow tulips, shot through with royal purple or red slashes, like the sleeves of Medieval Ladies at the English Court, waved back at their hungry eyes.
A restless enthusiasm settled over the group. Some were too agitated to have more than two scones with tea.  Meg noted all of this, a thin smile on her face while she watched her chattering guests.  She was ignored by the others as they dove into the creamy yellow butter, to slather on their warm scones.  
The women were all in their mid- to- late  twenties.  To Meg's mind, the perfect age of reason and life. They fell upon the treats with the appetite of the young and quickly relaxed under her penetrating gaze.
Their hostess held her fragile cup carefully, raising it to her deeply crimson lips.  Meg shunned rouges and powders, her pale skin was flawless. She appeared to be as delicate as her tea service. Undeniably beautiful, the young women still found her clothes as dated as her furnishings.  But she did have a presence, an unsettling vibration came off of her, not dissimilar to the chill most had when staring up at the gargoyles looking down upon them earlier.
Meg rose to her feet, smoothing the front of her dark skirt to its perfect folds around her slim figure.  As if that was their cue, the women gathered themselves behind her as she stepped off the wide patio, onto the stone path. 
"Time to visit my precious children, ladies.  Follow me please and do keep to the path.  My garden is fragile and somewhat unpredictable if it feels threatened."
Not a word was uttered as the small entourage trailed the ethereal Meg Randall. Not even a murmur went up, when the large heads of some of the flowers, turned to watch them as they passed.  But then, they probably never noticed that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Guest: Diana Rubino FOR LOVE OF HAWTHORNE #paranormal @DianaLRubino

Please welcome our guest author Diana Rubino who writes historical fiction. So why did we invite her here to Paranormal Romantics? Her latest story about Nathaniel Hawthorne has some very interesting paranormal qualities. But, wait. Let's let Diana explain.



In 19th century Salem, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s clairvoyant bride rescued her beloved husband from a perceived curse that spanned generations.





Meet Diana


My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.

About FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.

In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.

Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.

When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.

But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.

Sophia Peabody’s home next to Charter Street Burying Ground, resting place of Judge Hathorne, Salem, MA


Sophia suffered severe headaches as a result of childhood mercury treatments. She underwent routine mesmerizing sessions, a popular cure for many ailments. Spirits sometimes came to her when mesmerized, and as a spiritualist and medium, she was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.

Sarah Good’s son Peter had kept a journal the family passed down to the Peabodys. Sophia sensed his presence every time she turned the brittle pages and read his words. John Hathorne’s legitimate son John also kept a journal, now in the Hawthorne family’s possession. Living on opposite sides of Salem in 1692, Peter and John wrote in vivid detail about how the Salem trials tormented them throughout their lives.

Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Wanting nothing else but to spend the summer enjoying each other, we became Adam and Eve, alone in our Garden of Eden, Sophia wrote in her journal.

The Old Manse, the Hawthornes' first home as newlyweds

As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. But the curse he believed Sarah cast on his family still haunted him. In the book he asks for the curse to be lifted.

The House of the Seven  Gables, Salem, MA, built in 1668

Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse. He told Sophia, “Writing it, and especially reading it aloud to you lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. I felt it physically leave me. I carried this inside me since my youth and couldn’t bring it out to face it. And I have you, and only you, to thank.”

But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.

Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.

Read More About John Spear


John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. “You don’t have to say it out loud,” John said. “Just forgive him in your heart.”

Nathaniel whispered his forgiveness.

John, Nathaniel and Sophia went to Judge Hathorne’s gravesite to give the journals proper burial.

Grave of Judge Hathorne, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem, MA

Why I wrote FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I'm a kid. I've always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, including the witch trials.

I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him. Nathaniel wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the 'w' to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.


Visit Salem


I was fortunate to get a private tour of the House of the Seven Gables when I was writing the book; two of the guides, Ryan Conary and David Moffat, showed me around, and it was fabulous.


 The Wayside, the only home the Hawthornes ever owned, in Concord, MA
Nathaniel added that room at the top for his writing studio

An Excerpt From FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE (Sophia and Nathaniel’s visit to his cousin Susan Ingersoll at The House of the Seven Gables)

I went over to a curio cabinet and swept my eyes over the items on the shelves—a china doll wearing a calico dress, a stack of gold cups and saucers, a red and blue glass checkerboard propped up to display its surface…and a wooden hammer on the top shelf. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a gavel that judges use in trials. Out of curiosity I picked it up and a shock ran through me as if electrified. Dear God, was it that gavel?
I dropped it to the rug. It landed with a thump. I bent to retrieve it. Somehow I knew it wouldn’t shock me this time—that was only an initial warning. “Something about it made me want to touch it, to pick it up and hold it.”
Nathaniel approached me. He stared at the gavel in my hand, horror darkening his eyes. His lips parted but no words emerged. I knew what he was thinking—the curse. He turned to his cousin, pointing at the gavel, his arm trembling.
Susan hurried over to us, took it from me and placed it back on the shelf. “Yes, it’s Judge Hathorne’s. What happened, Sophie? Are you all right?”
I looked down at my open hands, palms up. They burned as if I’d touched a hot poker. “That gavel—it carries something evil. Has anything happened to you with this, Susie?”
Nathaniel backed away and before Susan could answer me, he grasped her arm. “I begged you to get rid of that accursed thing! You know it shouldn’t be here!”
She looked from him to me, heaving a deep sigh. “I’m not inclined to dispose of it, Natty. It’s a family heirloom, notwithstanding its past.”
He gripped the chair, his face drained of color. “It’s downright evil. You know what he used that thing for.”
She held her hands up in surrender. “Very well, I’ll conceal it.” She took it off the shelf and slid it behind the checkerboard.
“That should not be in this house!” He stood his ground, his eyes fixed on the checkerboard as if it would melt in such close proximity to that horrid object.
“It’s fine there, Natty. It’s concealed from sight now.” She looked at me and gestured for me to sit again. I sat and gulped my sherry.
“Nathaniel’s always overcome with distress at the witch trials.” Susan explained what I already knew.
“And so should you be,” he cut in.
“If I must speak for Judge Hathorne, I heard stories of him from my grandfather.” Susan looked from Nathaniel to me. “The whole hysteria that caught up the judge was started by unscrupulous men to further their own riches. But spectral evidence was still admissible. No sane person could believe that blithery.”


Purchase FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE


Connect with Diana


www.dianarubinoauthor.blogspot.com






Monday, May 20, 2019

The House of New Orleans

I spent this last week in New Orleans, Lousiana, for the Book Lovers Con. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. But I'm hear to talk about the city.

I had visited once a long time ago. This was my first trip back since I started writing. To me, the city is so much more than Bourbon street and Mardi Gras. As a paranormal romance author, I have to say, this city is right up my alley. It's a paranormal romance writer's playground. Plus, just a fun place to visit!

Here's what I loved most...

Architecture
I loved the difference in the different areas in architecture. The Frech Quarter with its balconied tightly woven buildings, the American townhouses held together by cables, the gorgeous shotgun houses in the Garden District. And, of course, all that wrought iron iconic of the area.


Graveyards
The above ground graveyards with their haunting beauty are both peaceful and slightly creepy to tour. Learn about the fascinating natural cremation process built into the crypts.

Voodoo
There are several Voodoo shops you can visit. Visit the Voodoo Museum. Take a tour including Marie Laveau's tomb. Get a psychic reading.


Ghost Tours
Every old city and town has its ghost stories. New Orleans, the 16th oldest city in the US, established in 1718 will, of course, have its share. Maybe more than its share, as the city has also seen a lot of devastation. Hurricane Katrina, yellow fever and smallpox epidemics, the great fires. Not to mention the usual individual tragedies that result in spirts and hauntings.

Food
You can't come to New Orleans and not sample the food. The Cajun and Creole dishes. Jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, etouffee, poboys, muffaletas. The beignets and pastries. Yum, yum, yum!



Music
I LOVE jazz. Not necessarily the smooth, slow jazz. I'm more into the upbeat stuff. And New Orleans has great jazz. I got to see a street band perform, and could've stayed there all day listening.



Stories
I can't get enough of the stories. I think my favorite is about the Superdome. Which the parking garage was built, the city had to relocate a 200-year-old cemetery. Bad things started happening, and workers refused to work there. Until they hired a Voodoo priestess to perform a ritual cleansing.


See what I mean. A playground for a mind that loves to write paranormal romance. Have you visited a place that inspired you or made you wish you could read a story set there?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Bird Watching Startup Guide for Dummies by Elizabeth Alsobrooks



Whether you’re a reader/writer or a reader,  you enjoy at least one activity that is essentially sedentary. Though the first directive of being a good bird watcher is to stand still, you can also use bird watching as a fun, active way to get off your bum and clear your head.  Though many of us who enjoy birds have feeders in our yards, some of the best bird watching is done in their natural habitat, outdoors. Parks are a great place to find and watch birds and having a nice hike to get into the thick of things is a great way to get some exercise.  Once you’re there in the great outdoors getting some fresh air and exercise, here’s some tips for what to do next.

Five Bird Watching Tips (For Idiots)
1.       Shut up and stand still
2.       Listen
3.       Use your eyes first
4.       Wear the right clothes
5.       Know your habitat

Here’s a video from a professional who explains those steps so that even I, an amateur bird watcher, can understand.


Using Your Binoculars

Binoculars are actually tricky to use.  Here is a great guide on how to adjust them to your eyes.

An Online Guide
See a bird you want to identify?  Here’s an online photo guide from Bird Watcher’s Digest, which you could also subscribe to.

Listening to Birds

Did you hear a bird you want to identify?  Here’s a handy online bird song guide.



Have Your Guide with You-A Free Ap

Carrying a book around with you everywhere isn’t very practical. If you are going to go bird watching, sure, but you can be prepared for bird identification anywhere.  Most folks carry their phones, and here’s a FREE bird ap for your phone, from the experts at the Audubon Society!

Best Bird Field Guides (Books)

Not sure what bird identification book is best? Here’s an article that helps you decide. This site also contains such useful information as which hummingbird feeders are best, what to do if you find an abandoned baby bird, and much more.

I hope you find this little resource guide I’ve put together useful. It’s mating season, so happy bird watching!