"True to its Southern Gothic roots, Charlotte's Story is both frightening and revealing. Full of paranormal elements that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, and an ending that will both shock and horrify, Charlotte's Story is not to be missed."
— Historical Novel Society Review
Is it me, or does it seem like summer just began? Next week my husband goes back to teaching and my son starts his junior year of high school. I'm anticipating a huge change in my work habits—no more staying up until all hours writing and reading. Are you a natural night owl like me? Or are you an early bird? I think mornings are lovely things, except for the part where they start early. The known world seems to think that sunrise is a good time to begin the day, but I confess that I would really prefer it begin somewhere around 8:45, or even 9:00.
Recently I've started my days by reading fiction. I used to pick up my iPad before I got out of bed and start browsing on Facebook, Twitter, or on my favorite blog and news sites. It was a lot like reading a newspaper first thing. But I've found that reading a book (paper, even) eases me into the day. Sometimes being hit with the news first thing is like a splash of cold water. If I've had interesting dreams, I'll jot them down, too. It helps my writing, I think. Probably much more than reading celebrity gossip. (I know it's silly, but sometimes I can't resist!)
I'm so delighted about the wonderful response to the offer of a free ebook copy of Bliss House last month. There were over two hundred requests for the book, and I wish I could have sent copies to everyone. It's such a rush to know so many people want to know what's going on in Bliss House.
Guess what? The lovely folks at Pegasus Crime are letting me do the exact same thing for Charlotte's Story, the second novel in the Bliss House series! Just be one of the first 50 people to send me an email at email@example.com with I WANT TO READ CHARLOTTE'S STORY! in the subject line. Make sure your name and destination email address are both in the body of the email. Within about forty-eight hours, I'll let you know if you were one of the lucky first 50 responders, and how you can download your book with help from my friends at BookFunnel.com. (BTW—If you received a free copy of Bliss House, please give others a chance to get Charlotte's Story!)
Before you hit send, a couple of reminders: Charlotte's Story is a book of dark suspense, which means it has some significant horror elements. Some readers may find the material disturbing. There are some intense sexual situations—not graphic, but intense. If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, please don't request the book. I want all my readers to be happy readers! Also, I can only send out ebooks, not actual books. (Even if you've never read a book on your computer or tablet, you can hop on the Internet and download a free iBooks app, an Amazon Kindle app, or a Nook App that will let you read ebooks.)
The Bliss House books can be read in any order—so don't hesitate if Charlotte's Story is the first one you might read.
Around My House
This summer has broken all kinds of records for rain, and August looks to keep us in the record books. Though we've had our share of typical Southern Illinois heat and humidity, that's for sure. I've had to fill my two large hummingbird feeders with kitchen nectar at least every other day. And this week I've had a stinker of a drab little male who has been trying to drive every other hummingbird off. My photos of the hummingbirds rarely come out well because they're shy. Here's one from my archives, plus another cool guy hanging out on our monstrous Oak Leaf Hydrangea.
In other news—It's been way too distracting around the house, so I've been taking myself to the library to write my new mystery novel. The Southern Illinois University Morris Library is a terrific place to write, even more so during the quiet summer break. I'm back to wearing my fave pink polka-dot readers because I finally got brave enough to try soft contacts. They're multi-focal, so they are better for driving than reading, but they're super comfortable. And I can even get them out in under five minutes, now. Way better than thirty minutes, which is where I started out.
Out and About
I've been busy putting events on my calendar for the October 10th release of The Abandoned Heart. There are two book festivals on the schedule this year. While I love visiting individual bookstores, book festivals give me a chance to make lots and lots of new friends from different parts of the country. I hope there's an event near you.
September 14-17 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, New Orleans, LA
October 10 Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO 7-9 pm
October 15 Books by the Banks Book Festival, Cincinnati, OH 10am to 4 pm
October 22 Barnes & Noble, Carbondale, IL 1-4 pm
November 3 Vinton Branch, Roanoke County Library, Roanoke, VA 7 pm
November 5 Kentucky Book Fair, Frankfort, KY 9 am to 4:30 pm
Be sure to drop by my site and enter my August contest. My good friend Jen Talty is giving away a signed copy of her new romantic suspense novel, Deadly Secrets. The winner also gets a $10 Bed Bath and Beyond gift card.
If you've been waiting, now's the time to pre-order The Abandoned Heart, the third Bliss House novel. It's the story of three women, one dangerous man, and the troubled house at the very center of it all. Read the Prologue and Chapter One right here.
That's it for August! Watch out for all those kids headed back to school, and remember that if you want to wear white shoes after Labor Day, I say go ahead and do it. Life's too short to obey ALL the rules!
"You are remembered for the rules you break." —Douglas MacArthur
Hummingbirds must take in huge amount of calories to survive as they are almost constantly in motion. Migrating hummingbirds arrive in the U.S. beginning in late March in coastal areas, and show up slightly later in northern states, reaching areas like New England by mid-April. Along with flower nectar they eat aphids, spiders, gnats, mosquitos, wasps, and ants. You can attract large numbers of hummingbirds by hanging feeders (always out of view of one another as territorial males will fight to keep others away) filled with homemade nectar. Use 1 part table sugar (never honey or syrups) to 4 parts water, boiling for 3-4 minutes and cooling the mixture for several minutes before filling feeders. (Boiling keeps the nectar from spoiling too quickly.) Never add red food coloring or dye. Look for their tiny nests in sheltered trees anywhere from 5-20 feet off the ground. Rufous and ruby-throated hummingbirds begin their migration back to Central America in mid-October, but other types don't migrate at all.