It’s November of the most trying year I’ve ever lived—and that’s saying a lot given the losses our family has suffered the past nearly three years. Sometimes, it truly feels like we’re living in the dawn of an “Extinction Event.” We’re doing what we can to keep ourselves healthy. I’m sure we’re making mistakes, but we’re masking, handwashing, keeping kids out of school and online, and trying not to go stir-crazy in all our togetherness. Take Halloween. We’ll be playing Halloween games and holding a scavenger hunt in lieu of trick-or-treating. Family fun. Making an event out of everything (just not an extinction event) is important for us because the kids always have something to look forward to.
All this togetherness has taken a toll on my writing. I’ve produced less than half of my usual number of stories this year. I need alone time to create. After Mom died in January and my dd’s family moved into the house, and then the pandemic forcing everyone into closer quarters 24/7, alone time is something I’m training my brain to find in the midst of kid-chaos. Of course, I wouldn’t trade having family around me for anything, but I really do have to commit to sitting my butt in a chair to write more consistently.
That’s why I’m taking up the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge. It runs from November 1-30. The goal is to write 50,000 words. If you carve that up into a daily wordcount goal, that’s 1667 words a day. Completely doable. I begin tomorrow. So, today, I have to figure out what I’m going to write. I have a title (Preacher), a cover (Two, actually. See below!) and a blurb, but no idea what’s going to happen in the story. Not one clue. But I have today to figure out at least the first scene, and since it’s a Montana Bounty Hunter book, I’ll probably jump right into a takedown because those are the most fun scenes to write.
This month, is also the deadline for submissions for my Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. NOVEMBER 15TH AUTHORS! Tell you what—accept the NaNo challenge just long enough to write that 2500-5500-word story! You can do it! So, you know, I’ll have to add reading submissions to my To Do list! Want the rules? Follow this link.
I’m also trying my hardest to cut out some time to improve my art. I love doing it at night after the hustle and bustle of the day. It’s relaxing. And I think I’m learning. This is last night’s piece. I used Nupastels which, for me, is like drawing with crayons. Completely fun and liberating. I love the foreground, the sky? Not so much, This was taken from a photograph from western Ireland.
So, that’s going to be my November—write, write, write, read, art. 🙂
My lovely sister, Elle James, gave me two versions of Preacher. I love the one with the scenery beneath the title, but when I ran them both by my Street Team, they preferred the plainer cover. So, help me make up my mind!
Comment on something I’ve written about today—NaNoWriMo, the poll—for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
This year the holiday will be celebrated slightly different, given the state of the world, but there is still lots to enjoy about this holiday.
My Top 5 Things I love about Halloween!
Pumpkins! I love carving Halloween pumpkins. The designs are limitless and there are plenty you can find online. I don’t even mind having to clean out the guts first. And it’s something the entire family can enjoy.
Movies. I’m not a fan of slasher/horror films, but I love films like The Crow, Underworld, Dracula Untold, Sleepy Hollow, and Lost Boys. Again, there is something for everyone, from fun kid’s movies all the way to the classic horror films.
Candy. They may be as sweet as sin, but I love candy corn. And mini bars. For some reason I don’t feel as bad if I eat mini bars. Everyone has their favorite.
Decorations. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to put up decorations for Halloween. They’ve come a long way since the cardboard cut-outs we’d tape to the living room window. Now there are lights and elaborate outdoor displays to enjoy. I keep it simple, as I live in an apartment, but I do have candles and lights and some pumpkins.
Trick or Treat. That’s going to be different this year with many families opting to keep it among close family and friends. The kids will still have fun dressing up and eating candy.
However you chose to celebrate, I hope you have a Spooktacular holiday! And if you’re looking for a sexy vampire book to read, you might want to check out Burning Ash, the latest release in my Forgotten Brotherhood series.
Forgotten Brotherhood, Book 3
No one is more surprised than Asher, one of the oldest vampires on Earth, that he’s attracted to vamp hunter Jo Radcliffe. She’s smart, a talented slayer, and she’s gorgeous. Something about her pulls at him, like no one ever has before. For a man, whose name strikes fear in everyone––this is something new and intriguing. And quite possibly deadly, if she discovers his secret.
Jo has two things in common with the handsome Asher––they are both slayers and someone is messing with them in a very-much-trying-to-kill-them way. She’s not so happy about joining forces with a dude she doesn’t know. But he’s sexy as hell and really good at his job as one of the Forgotten Brotherhood, whose business it is to execute misbehaving paranormals.
She knows she’s bait in a larger plot to harm Asher and the Brotherhood. And there is nothing he won’t do, no line he won’t cross, to keep her safe––which may be the weakness that destroys them both.
TEASER from Burning Ash
“Stop right there. That’s not happening. I work alone. I’ll take you as far as the nearest town and then we’re done.”
“Until the next email.”
“What are you saying? That the sender wants us together? That doesn’t make sense. We don’t even know each other.”
“We do now,” he reminded her. “If I leave, I’ll bet you everything in my bank account that we’ll both end up at the same place in the near future. For whatever reason, someone is manipulating us. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit well with me.”
“You’re damn right it doesn’t. I’m no one’s puppet.”
“Yet, we were both there.”
Shit, he was right. “What are you suggesting?” She wasn’t sure she could handle Asher for an extended period of time. She’d either jump his bones or kill him.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
I’ve always believed that reading was an escape. As a child, I read during a lot of playground times because when the other kids were teasing me about wearing glasses, or being fat, or stuttering, the characters in books didn’t make fun of me. They invited me and took me on a journey.
As an adult, I think a lot of this is still true for me. Although, the reality I need an escape from is different. There’s a satisfaction in knowing that at the end of the book in my hands (well, my phone is in my hands!), the two main characters will be happy. Most of the people around them will be happy (unless they’re the focus of the next book, and then we know they’re about to go through some stuff to be happy), and hopefully, anyone who was mean or cruel to the happy couple will have some kind of reckoning.
Predictable? Sure, but isn’t that satisfying?
And being very honest with all of you, I need that.
I think a lot of us do. And that’s what’s awesome about romance. We may be living in places all over the world, but we all want that happiness and for a few hours we know exactly where we can find it!
Characters aren’t as cool as we are. They struggle. They don’t know they’re about to get their happy ending, and that means they can do stupid things, like fighting it. The same actions they think are noble, we’re grumbling about. When they think they’re being smart to protect their hearts from loss, we’re ready to throw something at them…or just throw our books/devices (Don’t do this!).
But Characters, man…they’re work!
And they can be frustrating!! Why won’t they just listen to us, talking to them? The nerve of these people!
When I was writing Shelter for Aylin, my Alpha reader (don’t worry, I have a beta and gamma, too) would get so frustrated with Stillman Rook, my hero… Why was he so difficult and frustrating? Why couldn’t he just let himself go after what he wanted?
I felt bad for her frustration but I also loved it when we came to that magical moment when he pulled his head out of his plot-driven backside and reached out to find happiness!
So tell me: What kind of Romance book do you like to escape into? Historical? Military? I want to know!
One randomly selected commenter will have their choice of an ebook from my Amazon Author page
Shelter for Aylin
Aylin Blaise, daughter of Station Seven’s Fire Chief, is loving her life. Well, most of it. An extended family of first responders and friends in college are expanding her world in leaps and bounds, but the one person she really wants to spend more time with, is keeping his distance.
Stillman Rook is on the verge of becoming a full-fledged firefighter and fulfilling the dream he’s had since he was a child. The one distraction in his life is Chief Blaise’s daughter. He could easily fall in love with her, but he’s a guy set on his path in life and she’s just discovering hers.
Rook may think he’s being honorable by keeping his distance, but it’s hard to protect the ones you love when you’re not close to them. When the world tries to level her with a crushing blow, will Rook be the Shelter for Aylin?
I love the autumn season. The colors are brilliant. The harvest is coming in full of bounty and goodness, and hallelujah, pumpkin spice is everywhere you turn! I love pulling out my warm sweaters only to change them out by noon for a tank top (I live in the South!). I love picking apples and making apple butter, apple cake, apple bread, apple pie, apple crisp… you get the idea. I love fall festivals and the restfulness that settles over the land. It’s the absolute perfect season, in my opinion!
As a kid, fall only registered on my radar because it heralded the coming of one of the best days of the year—Halloween. I loved dressing up and trick or treating. I loved the parties and silly haunted houses. And like all kids, I especially loved the candy! My rural midwestern town always gave generously to all the little ghosts, witches, princesses, cowboys, and other creatures that knocked on their doors on Halloween. The only thing I didn’t like about Halloween was the ghost stories.
Thanks to my overactive imagination—which serves me well as an author, but not so much as a kid who struggled with remembering the difference between fiction and reality—I always shied away from scary stories. However, it was hard to avoid them altogether. Every year in school, we would listen to a record (yes… a record—I’m that old!) of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems and stories. The Raven and the Tell-Tale Heart particularly stuck with me. They would lodge in my brain for weeks after listening to them. I would think about them over and over, hearing the thump of a heart beneath the floor or tapping at the window. I saw the Raven and the sad man sitting in his dreary home pining for his lost love. I felt the terror of the old man waking with his killer in his room and, at the same time, felt the tinge of insanity of the killer. Did I mention my overactive imagination?
I was probably around ten when it really got the best of me. After being primed by scary stories, I was ready to see ghosts and goblins around every corner. It turned out I didn’t have to look further than my bedroom in our old farmhouse. I shared it with my younger sister, and there was a large closet in the room with an old wooden door. The closet door had a several-inch gap at the bottom that let light spill into the room when the door was shut, a feature which my parents used as a nightlight for my little sister. The bed was tucked into a corner, facing the closet, and I shared it with my sister. After we got tucked in for the night, my mom closed the door, and my imagination started to churn.
I heard every sigh and moan of the old farmhouse. Every creak was a footfall of a monster coming to get us. I told myself over and over that there was nothing to be afraid of. Mom was downstairs, and certainly, no monster could get past her. I had almost gotten my fears under control when I saw them—a pair of witch’s shoes clearly outlined in the gap of light at the base of the closet door. They had heels and my imagination quickly filled in pointed toes and a pair of legs with striped stockings. The green face of the Wicked Witch of the East came to mind, and I knew it had to be the worst sort of witch behind that door. I swallowed hard and struggled to stay in bed. It was a rule in my house that once you got put to bed, you didn’t get up unless you had to use the bathroom or the house was on fire. My sister had slipped blissfully into dreamland, completely unaware of the terror on the other side of the closet door.
Then, the tapping began. From the window on the far side of the room came a scratch-tap, scratch-tap. Well, this could be nothing other than more witches trying to join their sister in my closet. I looked back at the shoes in the closet. They had disappeared. The witch had gone to let in more witches. I pulled the covers over my head and told myself that I was imagining things. There were no such things as witches, but when I poked my head out, the shoes had reappeared. I imagined the closet was stuffed with witches, all ready to do who-knew-what to me. My heart hammered, and I listened to the noises of the house and the continued scratch-tap at the window. What other creatures had come to torment us?
I sat up, resolved that I would stay awake all night. Somewhere in my sleepy, terrified mind, I convinced myself that if I just stayed awake, the witches wouldn’t be able to come out of the closet. Of course, I couldn’t stay awake all night and finally fell asleep. When my mom woke us the next morning, I catapulted out of bed. Startled, Mom asked why I had slept sitting up, and if the storm had woken me. She gave me a very strange look when I flung open the closet door. No witches or shoes or broomsticks greeted me—just my sister’s stuffed animal that had fallen on the floor. I looked at the leafless tree outside the window, its twiggy fingers almost touching the glass. In the light of day, it all made perfect sense, but that didn’t stop me from insisting that the closet door stay open at night from then on.
I can vividly still recall that night and the feeling of unease that hung over me for days. I started writing about that time, trying to let the things my imagination conjured play out on the page. Here I am, decades later, with a slightly better hold on reality, still putting words on the page and hoping that they inspire and entertain. It’s funny now that I look back on it. I would still say that I hate scary stories, but the experience they gave me taught me a lot about the power of a story.
What do you think of scary stories? Have you ever encountered a story—scary or otherwise—that lingered in your mind?
As always, thank you, Delilah, for letting me share my thoughts! It’s always an honor and pleasure to drop in here 😊
Set to be released on Halloween from Carpathia Publishing, check out a fabulous collection of Samhain inspired tales. Beware—they cover the spectrum of spookiness! Samhain Secrets 2 is due out on Amazon this weekend, including my story—“The Knife’s Edge”!
Samhain Secrets 2, including “The Knife’s Edge”
It’s been a century since the Queen of the Damned has walked the earth. As she rises on All Hallow’s Eve, Jason, the ancient Vampire King, is ready to meet her and send her back to Hell where she belongs. He only needs to know one thing—where is she rising?
Adelaide Buckley is supposed to have the answer. The black sheep of the family, she comes from a long line of witches and seers, but her third eye has always remained resolutely closed. With the future balancing on a knife’s edge, can she overcome her magical blindness and see beyond the veil to reveal the location of the bloodthirsty queen before she unleashes Hell on Earth?
The link is coming!
About the Author
A.C. Dawn is an active and enthusiastic author and reader of short stories, novellas, and novels. She enjoys bringing her characters to life and strives to stir the imagination of her readers. She believes the best writing touches the reader in ways they hadn’t expected and will never forget!
So, that’s the official bio…
Really, I’m a lover of chocolate, a strong jawline with a 5 o’clock shadow, and romances that make your heart pound and your middle get all squishy. I love quiet country living on my north Georgia farm with my family and fur babies of all shapes and sizes. I think the scariest thing in life is how fast my daughter is growing and an empty coffee pot. I can’t stand slow drivers in the fast lane and wimpy handshakes.
I have endless stories rumbling around among the rocks in my head. I can’t wait to share them with you!
Halloween is almost upon us, and I’m giving away a spooky romance to help you get in the spirit! I love the holiday. My family always has so much fun. Here are some pictures from past Halloweens.
This one was taken in front of the local cemetery…
Don’t the hay bales look creepy, too?
My dd and the girls have been practicing with makeup for our Halloween blowout. No trick-or-treating this year, but we’re doing a candy scavenger hunt and watching spooky movies. And dressing up, of course! I’ll be sure to share pics!
Are you doing something fun for Halloween this year?
A woman desperate to save her infected boyfriend from certain extermination faces her battle alone, in secret, until one day she has to trust he’s still inside the monster she feeds…
I’ve noticed something. Something freakish. Everywhere I go I see dragonflies. Not just cute pictures or shirts, but actual flying bugs.
Multiple symbolisms and legends surround the history of the dragonfly. The dragonfly is seen as a symbol of change since it transforms, much like a butterfly. 2020 has been a year of change.
My prince suggested I notice the insects because I’d been working on my newly released novella Dragonfly Wishes. Since it was in the forefront of my mind, I saw dragonflies everywhere, like when you get a new car, and suddenly, there seem to be a million on the road like yours.
One large dragonfly flew up to me in the parking lot at a home improvement store. I was out of town in the mountains, nowhere near water or warmer temperatures. However, I learned one nickname for the dragonfly was the “Globe-skimmer.” It can fly long distances and each of its four wings can move independently. The dragonfly is a beautiful creature with a colorful body and iridescent wings.
Fall 2019, I was asked to join a fairytale anthology. “I can do this,” I told myself and accepted the offer. As time wore on, my confidence eroded. Writing Dragonfly Wishes was a big change from my romcom comfort zone. “I don’t write fantasy” and “how can I be funny?” were my two biggest arguments. Was it too much change? But in the spring Kyan began talking to me. Yes, my characters do speak to me. Ideas started scrolling through my head, and I fell in love with the story concept.
In my Grimm fairy tale retelling, Kyan is a dragon shifter who enters our world through a magic portal. When he visits he transforms into a dragonfly. Talk about change: from the largest beast to an itty bitty bug. He has to learn to cope with his other-worldly, gargantuan surroundings. Kyan also wants to help Arianna resist her overlording uncle, but he finds it hard to do as a small insect.
Change can be a good thing, sometimes scary, too. Like Kyan, I had to overcome my self-restricting ideas and strive to rise above them.
Be on the lookout for dragonflies on the winds of change. I’m watching for them and more good things on the horizon.
Dragonfly Wishes (and 8 other fairy tale retellings) in Who’s the Fairest? A Sisters Grimm Anthology: https://books2read.com/whostheFairest/
Once upon a time, there was a fisherman and his wife… scratch that…
Once upon a time, there was a fashion designer and a dragon shifter from another world…
Arianna Travers creates clothing that brings joy to others. Haunted by her mother’s disappearance and tormented by her overlording step-uncle, Arianna desires to escape reality even if it’s only through the tip of her charcoal pencil.
A royal of Ellehcor, Kyan the dragon shifter spies the forlorn beauty through a magical window to another world. To meet her face to face, he leaves the sanctuary of his home realm and enters the portal, transforming into a dragonfly.
Things don’t go as planned when Kyan becomes entangled in spider silk. Arianna discovers the little blue dragonfly and rescues him. As a reward, Kyan offers to grant her wishes, but before Arianna can make a wish, the Overlord steals it from her.
As Kyan and Arianna’s relationship blossoms, so does the breadth of the Overlord’s wishes. Kyan strives to save Arianna from her uncle and his devious plans, but what can a dragonfly do?
About the Author
I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio but now live in Dayton. I live with a big black kitty and an orange tiger kitty, a plated lizard, my daughter, son and my prince.
I write fairytale retellings and romantic comedies because the world needs more laughter and love.