Monday, October 29, 2012

A Victorian Halloween

"Vintage Images courtesy of".

The Halloween tradition dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) 2,000 years ago. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, a day that marked the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter months. They believed that on the night before the new year, the worlds of the living and the dead came together, and on the night of October 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

The celebration of Halloween has withstood the test of time, conforming to the traditions and rituals of many eras, each adding their own unique touch to the spooky, scary,celebration. The Victorian age, teetering on the precept of ancient rituals and modern innovations, added a rich, imaginative flavor to the already frightful night.  

Harvest Festivals and Halloween were celebrated, especially in farming communities, giving families and friends a chance to celebrate their hard work and successes over the past months. Having survived a harsh and difficult growing season, communities gathered together to feast and share a bit of excitment in the telling of ghost stories.

Gothic tendencies ran deep during the Victorian era. The great novels such as Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" remain alive and well and open to recreation and interpretation even this many years later. Imagine the ambiance of sitting around a fire and telling ghost stories, the rustle of autumn leaves and twigs mixed with the occasional gust of chilling wind. Scary stuff compared to movies we watch on our televisions within the warmth and safety of our homes.

It is thought that trick or treating is an American tradition, but really, its roots tap into English tradition associated with All Souls' Day and the parades that were held. The poor would beg for food and pastries during the parades. Folks would give them cakes referred to as "soul cakes" because in return for food, the people would ask the poor and needy to pray for the souls of relatives who had died. This practice became known as "going a-souling." Eventually, it became a children's tradition to go a-souling in the community for money, food or anything else the giver handed out to the poor.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Journey of Dreams

I’ve now announced to the world that I plan to launch my British Victorian Romance series, Lost Causes, as an Indie author. An Indie author. Wow, it feels spooky just saying those words. But, it’s the path I’ve chosen after consulting with my Almighty Advisor. Just knowing the peace that flowed over me when I nodded yes to the concept is worth all the uncertainty I know I’ll experience along the way.

Let me give you a little background on why writing this series of Inspirational Romance is so important to me.

As a lot of you know, my parents immigrated to the United States from Lithuania during WWII. Very disturbing time; very culturally impacting. My parents did not know each other as their families fled the Russian occupation by different routes that eventually led them to a Lithuanian community on the South side of Chicago. It isn’t so much the end of the journey that I concentrate on, it’s the adventure along the way.

Over the course of many, many years, my mother shared slips of stories of her escape from Lithuania. These were rugged and fearful times, and for months on end, she and her older sister had only their faith and the kindness of strangers along the way to lead them to new lives in America.

My mother, though timid and reticent in her older years, embraced a fierce will of survival that only desperation can bring. Can you imagine a pair of teenage girls literally running through the battle weary countries of Prussia, Poland, Germany, Belgium to make it to their goal destination of England?

They made it : )

Though much of their perilous journey was never shared with me, their joy of reaching England and subsequent months of adventures about the countryside before being shipped to America made for hours of reminiscent storytelling and filled me with a nostalgic spirit inspired by their courage.

My series, Lost Causes, is the product of those snippets of stories taking root in my fertile imagination. For decades, they’ve been mulched with curiosity and watered with dreams. My mother was labeled a “displaced person.” She hated the stigma. She thought no one cared for her. She had no home, no country, nowhere to belong, until the grace of God led her across the ocean to a community determined to rebuild their legacy in the land of possibility.

And so, I too, begin my journey, tucking away the courage and triumph of my ancestors deep in my heart as I explore the tumultuous lives of 3 gypsy cousins – Dominic, Tonja and Bela – fighting their way through Victorian England, overcoming their journey of torment, lies and degradation to reach their ultimate destination – peace and love found only within the arms of our Lord.

Funny thing about this book writing business, I’ve found most of the time you haven’t a clue where you’re going until the right plot, the right genre, the right moment all collide. I began writing Precious Possessions 15 years ago with the goal of selling great historical romance to a secular publisher. I’ve won awards from RWA (Romance Writers of America) contests along with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) contest acclaim. After going through many generations of ideas and revisions spanning half a dozen computers, I’ve finally come to the conclusion the only course for Lost Causes includes a deep spiritual thread of everlasting salvation in Jesus Christ and a depth of emotion I only now recognize.

I hope this bit of insight entices you to join me on my journey. I'm revising and reinventing my fictional haven of Athay tucked within the Yorkshire countryside. I'm praying I understand and recognize every detail within the romantic novel to make it a fulfilling read for you and all who pick up my book. Check back soon and often. I cherish your friendship and welcome your prayers as I create a story worthy of it's origins.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seekerville Winners!!

Last Saturday, I joined the fun in Seekerville where I asked the thought provoking question What Makes A Villain Tick? It was great seeing everyone and we had a terrific time comparing villainous traits. Seekerville is celebrating its 5th birthday and the entire month is devoted to our friends and followers who love and encourage us along the writing way. Kindles, Nooks, books, chocolates and more have already been gifted to commentors. There are still lots of prizes left including the month long prize of a laptop computer!
Don't miss out. Join the celebration!
Congratulations to the winners of my preseaon Holiday Chocolate Bark:
Connie Queen and Helen Gray!
Nothing better than chocolate to make your day go great : )
See you in Seekerville!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seekerville Birthday Bash!

I'm talking about Villains in Seekerville today. Come join the fun as we celebrate our 5th Birthday with fun prizes!!
Happy Birthday, Seekerville!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love Inspired Contest!!

If you or anyone you know is targeting Love Inspired, Seekerville has a Read Me
Contest going on right now. This one page entry contest is hosted by Associate
Editor Elizabeth Mazer.

No entry fee. No hassles. Just a straight shot at bypassing the slush pile.

The contest ends tonight at midnight.

You can read Elizabeth's post here,\

and enter the contest

Seekerville has had many of our Villagers, sell and/or obtain agents thanks to
our contests. You could be next!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bad Habits

I'd like to start a series of posts that showcase habits I must break as I work through my rough draft and tighten my writing. I'll keep these habits confined to those hindering my writing...I know the rest of my bad habits would only bore you to tears, LOL!

Bad Habit for today:

Announcing emotion.

I'm going through a scene and deleting a lot of words this evening. Words that make my word count look good, but do nothing but steal the glory of a really good line. I guess that's why they call this a rough draft.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Dominic recoiled at her plea. Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

Obviously, this is the time to think through action/reaction, cause/effect, good/bad. It's probably a good thing to get all my thoughts down on paper (or on the screen), but telling the emotion the character is experiencing is a big no-no.

Oh I know, it's so easy to do. Most bad habits are. I have to make an effort to get under my character's skin and show what they're feeling, make the reader relate.

My reader must identify with my characters to feel their pain and joy, and everything in between.

“Don’t kill me.” Tears brightened her eyes as she shrank away from him. “I don’t want to die.”

Kill her? He’d never so much as threatened her. The notion she saw such violence in him turned him cold.

It's a small fix...just a little thing. But the impact of any story is built on the little things, right?

What do you think of this bad habit? Is it yours??

Please share so we can all learn : )

Friday, October 05, 2012

Rewards Per Page!

Oh my goodness! You don't want to miss this!

In Seekerville today, Vince Mooney is talking about why it's so important to reward your reader on every page of your novel. Vince does a great job of explaining his philosophy - which by the way is the name of his blog, Philosophy of Romance - and then follows up with awesome examples of Rewards Per Page in action.

Just to give you an idea of the substance of this post, Vince says:

I have over 1,200 eBooks on my Kindle. At least 95% of these books were free downloads. Many were selected only because I knew that they might be offered as free for just a day or two. Since I knew that at some point in the future I might want to read any of these books, I downloaded them when I had the opportunity. While I own these books, I have no investment in them. I probably will never read 90% or more of my Kindle books unless I encounter a good reason to read them beyond simply owning them. Such a good reason might come about if an author or a review makes the book seem like something I would really want to read. 

Isn't that what we want? To invest the reader in our books? I mean really invest in our us. I'm like Vince, I have tons of free downloads on my Kindle, but how many of those have I read, much less been so enthralled I've gone searching for more books by the author?

When I publish my series, I want to share the best of who I am with my readers. I want to say thank you to my reader on every page of my book -- at least once on every page, if not multiple times.

Vince Mooney knows his stuff. Take a moment and drop in on his party in Seekerville. Read the post and leave a comment. You'll be glad you did!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

New Beginnings and Celebrations!

Not only is it the kick off day for Seekerville's 5th Birthday Bash, but today I'm announcing my new endeavor...over the following days, weeks, months, I'll be preparing my historical inspirational romance series, Lost Causes, for Indie Publishing.

Don't take this the wrong way, I love traditional publishing. Harlequin Love Inspired publishes my contemporary romances featuring cowboys and I absolutely love them! I would be a sadder person without traditional publishing...the world would be a sadder place without traditional publishing.

That said, I have to admit, traditional publishing has never known what to do with my historical books. Some of you might remember my manuscript, Precious Possessions, filled with British history, wounded heros and enticing gypsies. This manuscript has won many unpublished awards along with its sequel, Timeless Treasures. I had requests for the manuscripts only to receive the all too familiar letter stating, "great writing, but this is not for us."

Great writing, but this is not for us? Really?

So in my zeal for publication, I changed my mindset, my time period, my setting and my characters, and started a series featuring contemporary cowboys being the romantic men that won the hearts of the west. Check out Rocky Mountain Hero for a taste of my contemporary voice.

While writing cowboy love stories was all well and good, I never completely set aside my love for the British historical. I truly believe God placed this story on my heart for a reason...and only He knows the significance of it. The idea for Precious Possessions stirred my heart over 10 years ago and it's time to bring it to life.

Like many things in life, Precious Possessions is undergoing a facelift. I've learned a lot from my editor and all the team members that brought Rocky Mountain Hero into being. I'm starting from scratch with the nucleus of  Precious Possessions in my mind and the Word of God in my heart.

~~~Finally, I get around to the purpose of this blog~~~

Let's Try Something A Little Different

All my prior efforts to launch my Lost Causes series met with serious detours and dead ends. But still the flame of the story burned on. In the age of digital publishing, Lost Causes will find a home.

I'm nervous, excited, and a bit scared. Now that I've shared my plan with the world, I'll have to live up to my commitment. I'll need your help, encouragement and occasional kick in the pants, LOL!

Please join me as I muddle my way through the maze of Indie Publishing. I'll be sharing links, connections, information...everything I discover, I'll share right here. Feel free to ask questions, contribute resources, dish up support...or better yet...join me on the journey!

My motto for this adventure is:
May the Lord Jesus Christ who gifted me with the desire to write, use my talents for His glory.

It doesn't get any better than that.