Sally Kilpatrick: Small Towns, Unconventional Heroes, & Ghosts

Sally KilpatrickWhen La-Tessa asked me if I would like to write a post for her blog, I said yes. One, it’s La-Tessa so . . . of course. Two, her blog is dedicated to “enchanting love stories, with a touch of sass,” and I’m really comfortable with that oeuvre. Three, it’s late October, and I have a novel with ghosts.

Hi, I’m Sally (Hi, Sally!) and I like to write about unconventional heroes: preachers, farmers, and, of course, funeral directors. I’m originally from West Tennessee, and I set all of my stories (so far) in a fictional town called Ellery. I plopped it down in the boondocks near where I actually grew up. I live in Marietta, Georgia now, and there are too many people here. Maybe that’s why I write about small towns: there’s no traffic—fictional or otherwise—in my stories.

Better Get to Livin’ is my third novel from Kensington. I like to think of it as It’s a Wonderful Life meets the Sixth Sense in a funeral home. Kensington likes to think of it as “delightfully upbeat,” which is a phrase I’m thinking about adding to my business cards. The gist is this: Declan Anderson works in his family’s funeral home and is suffering from burnout. Presley Cline is a failed actress who has to lie low after a bit of a Hollywood scandal—oh, and she sees dead people. It was absolutely my goal to put the “fun” in funeral home with this story of two people trapped by their respective parents’ ambitions for them.

In the course of my research I read all about the funeral home business. Then I took a little tangent through cemetery management. Finally, I read all about ghosts and people who can commune with them. If you want to see the books I read for research, you can find a list here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3680419?shelf=better-get-to-livin-research

better-get-to-livinIn honor of Halloween, I’m going to tell my own ghost story, and I’d love for you to do the same. I know it’s not quite as cool as a full-size candy bar, but I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Better Get to Livin’ to one of my lucky commenters. If you don’t have a ghost story or if you think the whole thing is hogwash, feel free to tell me your favorite Halloween treat instead so you can still be in consideration for the book.

Here’s my ghost story, one I’ve never told on the Internet before. My Aunt Dot and my Aunt Fairye lived next to each other out in Texas. I don’t remember all of the details, but Aunt Fairye and her husband, Uncle Marlin, both passed away pretty close to one another. For some reason —probably to sort out possessions or look for family keepsakes—Mom, Aunt Dot, and I were all next door in Aunt Fairye and Uncle Marlin’s trailer.

I remember that Mom and Aunt Dot were in the kitchen. I was wandering around, just looking. Being nosy, probably. When I got to the doorway of the master bedroom, something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was as though I couldn’t walk through that doorway no matter what. So weird to be able to see inside the room, but not be able to cross the threshold. Physically I could, but I was frozen in place. I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t hear anything. But I felt a presence that did not want me in that room, a presence that wouldn’t hesitate to be a little rough if I tried to go through that doorway.

Wide-eyed, my teenaged self practically ran back down the hall to where my Aunt and mother were. My heart pounded, and all of the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone at the time because I was afraid they’d thing I was crazy, but I still remember an aura of malevolence.

[shudders]

So that’s my ghost story. As for the ghosts I write? They’re not that scary at all. Most of them are kinda funny, really. I’d watch out for the Colonel, though—he’s not a nice man. If you want to find out more about Better Get to Livin’ or any of the other novels I’ve written, you can find out more at www.sallykilpatrick.com.

  
What about you? Have any eerie tales to share as we get ready for Halloween?

Author Spotlight: June Kramin

In February, I started a Recommended Read/What I’m Reading now feature on my Facebook page. My first entry in this series was Dustin Time by June Kramin.

Dustin Time is a fun, quirky, time traveling/romance-esque story that I really enjoyed.  I think it’s a really fun, cute read.  And in honor of her new release, it’s only $.99!!  Now, this is not my usual book reading fare, which is the whole point of me doing this Recommended Read/What I’m Reading now feature, it’s to expose myself, and thereby my followers, to some works that they may not usually read. That being said, I quickly jumped on book 2 in this series, Dustin’s Turn.

Since I enjoyed both of these reads so much, I am choosing to shine my spotlight on author June Kramin this month.  And this is is perfect timing as the 3rd book in this series, Dustin’s Novel, has just come out this week!


Katie and Dustin have had to time travel before to right some wrongs, but that’s not the answer or even an option this time around.

Trying to deal with the devastating news that the time-traveling Frank delivered, Katie tries to get lost in Dusty’s latest manuscript. As she struggles daily to correct their fate, Katie finds herself captivated with Captain Skinnard’s world.

She learns that their lives are intertwined with Dusty’s writing far more than she could ever imagine. From innocent phrases used by her daughter to the names of children and pets, Katie is in constant amazement of the twisted pretzel of time.

Enjoy this final installment in this time traveling trilogy where you’ll join Dustin and Katie in a new phase in their lives and a touch of sci-fi in Dustin’s Novel.

About June:

Wife, Mother, Writer, Lunatic. Not necessarily in that order. 

 “There is a fine line between genius and crazy… I like to use that line as a jump rope!”


June, who prefers to go by Bug, was born in Philadelphia but moved to Maui, Hawaii when she was four. She met her “Prince Charming” on Kauai and is currently living “Happily Ever After” in a small town in Minnesota.  
Her son and daughter are her greatest accomplishments. She takes pride in embarrassing them every chance she gets.

You can find June on the interwebs at:

Spotlight on Karen Docter: Her Love Affair with Cop Heroes

Karen Docter, authorThis month’s featured author is best selling romance writer Karen Docter with insights into why she LOVES to write about cops!!  Keep reading to find out how you could win a Kindle Fire!

Hi. My name is Karen. I’m a bestselling author of both contemporary and romantic suspense novels and I love cops. Yeah, yeah, it sounds like I’m standing at the podium in a 12-step program. They do say acknowledging the problem is the first step. However, this is one habit I have no intention of fixing anytime soon.

I hadn’t consciously thought about how much law enforcement had infiltrated my writing over the years until I recently developed my new contemporary romance series, True Love In Uniform. At the time, I was having a hard time trying to figure out what kind of series I wanted to write. For years, I pulled suspense elements out of my contemporaries to fit traditional publisher lines. Finally, an insightful critique partner encouraged me to launch my romantic suspense career as K.L. Docter—yes, I lead a double life, but that’s a whole different 12-step program 🙂 —and I found a way to pull the suspense elements out of my contemporaries and put it “where it belonged.”

Then, I went Indie. I’d worked hard to separate my two personas under traditional rules. So, here I was brainstorming a new contemporary series with another critique partner in a conference hotel room and she suggests <gasp> that I do a cop series? We were both exhausted so I laughed it off. Her response? “But you love cops.”

I do love cop heroes. What never occurred to me was that I no longer had to think of my two genres in terms of “either or”. I was an Indie author and could write whatever I wanted. If I wanted cops in my contemporaries, I could have cops.

It was a revelation. Sort of.

Let me back up a bit to explain why this epiphany meant so much to me. I’ve always had a strong sense of justice. Whether in real life or in the books I read and write, I am only satisfied when justice is served to the deserving. Nothing drives me crazier than to see people get away with the wicked things they do to other human beings, from lying and cheating to abuse and murder.

I can tell you the exact moment when I became aware of the injustices of the world. I think I was ten years old. Mom and dad had picked up my sisters and I from the roller rink or taken us to a drive-in movie or…isn’t it funny this one point escapes my memory when everything else about that night is still so vivid? Anyway, when we got near our neighborhood we were stopped at a police barricade. Along with several other families from the area, we waited for several hours before we were permitted to go home.

It wasn’t until we saw the news the next day that we knew what had happened. A police call had turned deadly. Two officers were sent to a home on a domestic, one of the more volatile kinds of calls. The officers had settled things down and were leaving when a neighbor, drunk and evidently taking exception to their presence, opened fire. One of the officers was killed at the scene and the suspect had barricaded himself in his home until he was taken into custody.

I was pretty naïve for my age, though it was a long time ago and we were more innocent when I grew up. (Yes, I’m THAT old! 🙂 ) But this one event stayed with me for years. It launched my personal awareness of the injustices in the world. The shooter wasn’t involved in the original call and the officer that died was only doing his job. Even worse the policeman left behind a wife and unborn child. My youthful sensibilities were appalled. I considered going into law enforcement for a long time but, for a variety of reasons, my life went in a different direction.

My life choices didn’t change the way I feel about what happened that night. It’s the reason I ended up writing romantic suspense and, ultimately, the reason my critique partner’s suggestion that I write contemporary cop books made so much sense. I can’t change the fact that too many injustices still occur on a daily basis around the world. I’m still appalled when I hear about a child who’s been abused or a family is murdered. I want the culprit to face justice.

On the flip side, when I hear about a bad cop that abuses his or her power I am just as happy to see them face that same justice. We should hold our LEOs to a higher standard because we’re charging them to protect us from the criminal element, not become a part of it. I find it heartbreaking when a few bad cops tarnish the badge. For every bad cop, there are tens of thousands good cops out there living their lives, falling in love, and raising families. Just like you and me.

These are the officers that live in my novels. In my romantic suspense, I dispense justice that satisfies even my ten-year-old self. Evil people pay for their transgressions, the innocent are protected, and love holds it all together. My new contemporary series may be about men and women in law enforcement, but their stories generally take place outside the confines of their precinct. These are about the real people behind the badge, their lives and loves.

I can’t see me giving up on my love affair with law enforcement anytime soon, which is probably a good thing. I’ll have six books in my Thorne’s Thorns series, not to mention another twenty suspense titles waiting in the queue. Although many of the heroes aren’t in law enforcement, justice is served. When I brainstormed my True Love In Uniform series with my critique partner in that conference hotel room, I came up a dozen titles I wanted to write. Every day, more stories pop into my head. Right now, I have over sixty titles in my TBW (To Be Written) folder and law enforcement factors into many of them.

I can blame my ten-year-old self for setting me on this path but, now that I’m deep into these woods, I want to see where my love affair with cops and the law will take me. Thank goodness, I have my readers to enable my habit. 🙂

Thank for you stopping by.  If you have any questions or comments for Karen, please leave them below in the comment section, Karen will be by to answer them!

Oh, and guess what? Just because you’re awesome and took the time to enjoy this insight into Karen’s muse inspiration….

Karen is giving away a Kindle Fire!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Connect with Karen/K.L.:
Website/Blog
Karen Docter FB
K.L. Docter FB
Goodreads
Twitter: @KarenDocter

Bio:
Karen Docter’s a 4-time RWA® Golden Heart finalist. She won the 2005 Daphne du Maurier Award for Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Suspense in the unpublished division.  She now writes contemporary romance as Karen Docter and romantic suspense as K.L. Docter.  She holds a B.A. in Technical Journalism and taught an online plotting workshop for 14 years and college level English composition. Her suspense novel, Killing Secrets, debuted at #8 on Amazon’s Bestsellers lists for psychological women’s fiction. It’s part of the Season of Thrills Box Set: 5 Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Novels by Bestselling Authors, which debuted at #1 on Hot New Releases in Noir Crime in December 2015. Although all of her novels are filled with romance, her suspense is built on the backdrop of danger her characters face in their story…usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love.
Killing Secrets, Karen Docter

 

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Cop on her Doorstep, Karen Docter

 

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Also available from Karen Docter: Satin Pleasures (Romantic Comedy) and Catch That Santa (Romantic Comedy)

Introducing K.D. Wood

This month’s featured author is none other than the one, the only K.D. Wood!!!!

K.D. Wood Books

K.D. Wood lives in north Mississippi with her family and a very spoiled White Waug. She creates love stories and smokin’ southern erotica, but not your mama’s happy ever after. She’s a consumer of chocolate, but not spiders, and completely composed of liquid awesome. When not in her office pounding the keys she can be found under a snuggly blanket, cup of Donut Shop close by, with her nose in a book.

Her first novel, Unwilling,  debuted on Amazon and Kobo’s bestsellers list. You’ll find her neglecting her blog at K.D.Woodauthor.blogspot.com or email her at K.D.Woodauthor@gmail.com

      

In addition to the Unwilling series, which is a must read for all lovers of  the Paranormal New Adult genre, K.D. has a new erotic short out, Boys of Fall . Check out a couple of teasers below:
K.D. Wood Boys of Fall

K.D. Wood Boys of Fall

 

Now that I got your interest piqued, go run out and cyber stalk, I mean, check out K.D. on all her social media avenues:

10 Goal Setting and Time Management Tips for Writers to Kick off the New Year

This is a guest post by Lisa Sullivan

 

WritingHappy 2016, fellow writers! A new year brings new writing goals and ambitious plans to achieve them. To help you along, here are some goal setting and time management tips for creating  and achieving your 2016 writing and time management goals.

1. Eliminate distractions.

  • If you sit down to write, then write. Do not use writing time to check social media, websites, email, text messages, Angry Birds, etc. Do not let mindsucks, timewasters, and energy drains tempt you away from your writing. Set clear boundaries with people and pets to let them know that writing time is writing time.

2. Separate writing tasks.

  • Multi-tasking (switch-tasking) is proven to be unproductive, so focus on one writing task at a time. Schedule prioritized time for brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, proofing, planning, promotion, research, business/admin, etc. Draft, revise, edit, and proof when you are freshest. Promote on social media at peak times to maximize return.

3. Organize your space.

4. Empty your mind so you can focus on writing.

  • When something besides writing is on your mind, it clouds your productivity. Deal with it then get back to writing, even if it takes days, weeks, or months to resolve. Journal about it, talk it out, or workout to clear your mind for a more productive writing session. Similarly, take frequent breaks – the mind focuses best in 20-minute chunks.

5. Set goals that are not just achievable but motivational.

  • Goal setting is not the same as goal achievement, and goal achievement (in my lexicon) is not the same as goal accomplishment. Goal achievement, in a nutshell, means you visualize where you want to end up then plan and strive to complete incremental tasks to get you there. To stay on the path of completion, you must believe you can achieve, make a reasonable plan, and commit. Goal achievement is the logical conclusion to the milestones you have completed on a prescribed path. Goal accomplishment, on the other hand, is emotional and thus more powerfully motivating. What pleasurable, emotional feeling will you get as a result of completing your writing exercises? Holding your book in your hands? Getting accolades, awards, or royalties for your work? Connecting with your readers? Leaving a legacy? Starting a new career path? Doing something you’ve always wanted to do? Finishing something you started a long time ago? Overcoming barriers or fears? Dispersing your message to the masses? Making yourself/your mom/your spouse/your kids proud? Whatever that emotion is for you, pinpoint it and hold fast to it because it will best lead you to goal accomplishment (in contrast to goal achievement). Emotional motivation is a much more forceful predictor that you will reach the end of that long, lonely writing path than setting word count goals and deadlines will be. The bottom line is, you know you can do itso ask yourself why don’t you or why will you?

6. Associate with supporters.

  • Beware! Some people in your writing circles wear masks of amity, but their face underneath is one of enmity. To them, getting published and selling books is primarily a competition, and YOU are their rival. …Ditch those people! They do not want to help you achieve your goals at all. Associate with those who are genuinely supportive of seeing you achieve your writing goals, and help or thank them profusely in return.

7. Strike while the iron is hot.

  • Does a great idea strike you while bathing or driving along the highway? When, without warning, the next scene of your WIP starts to fill your mind, stop what you are doing (if you can) and capture it – and keep going with the moment until your imagination iron cools. You never know:  that brilliant idea may never strike again or in the same way later. There’s no reason to wait for a scheduled writing time to make great progress. (Just ask Bob Dylan.) Write it down, type it up, or leave yourself a voice mail message right then and there. So what if you are the one who looks like you are talking to yourself in the car but, unbeknownst to all, you are recording voice memos on your smartphone about a new scene idea or character brainstorms? If it helps you reach your writing goals, then do it.

8. Take care of yourself.

  • Be well rested, healthily fed, and free of stress to be the most productive writer you can be.

9. Deal with Writer’s Block.

  • Either plow through it (i.e., keep writing) or give your mind a break – the words WILL flow again. On the other hand, are you truly suffering from Writer’s Block? Maybe you are procrastinating. In that case, read my book for more tips on how to overcome procrastination.

10. Stay dedicated.

Now, go forth and write your novel! Make it happen this year. Enjoy the journey with smiles and good times. Best of luck to you in 2016!
© Lisa A. Sullivan, 2016

Lisa SullivanLisa A. Sullivan is an award-winning trainer and recipient of the American Society for Training and Development West Virginia Chapter’s Workplace Learning Professional of the Year and the Federal Executive Association of the Eastern Panhandle’s Manager of the Year Award. She is also owner of publishing house LASBooks,  the author of the Time Management Workbook, a blog, and four other books.  Her fiction work has finaled five times in different contests over the years.

Join her free Time Management Workshop at the Hedgesville Library in Hedgesville, West Virginia, Saturday, January 30, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. Follow Lisa on Twitter @LASBooksWV.