Dreaming of the Next Book

Now that I’m weaning myself off the honeymoon period from releasing The Last April, I’ve been dreaming of my next book. There always is “the next book” for authors. Kind of like how “there’s always a band” for The Music Man.

I was in our living room, cuddling with the mini-schnauzer while working on my November writing challenge from @pageflutter on Instagram, when I sat straight up with an exclamation.

Can’t see the embedded Instagram post?

“Hunting Miss Trentwood!” I shouted at my husband, who jumped, and then grimaced. No, that was too close to the title for the first book, Haunting Miss Trentwood. But I knew something was there, and abandoned my writing challenge to ideate on possible titles:

  • Hunting Miss Trentwood
  • Seeking Miss Trentwood
  • Seeking Mary
  • Hunting Mary Trentwood <– the tentative winner

In this proposed sequel (my first ever), we follow Mary and Hartwell as their relationship is tested by the pressures of London, Queen Victoria’s Jubliee celebrations, future mothers-in-law, Victorian spiritualism, and hey, Jack the Ripper might make an appearance (at least in newspaper headings).

I’m just starting to revisit my old written notebooks for my Haunting Miss Trentwood research, but the excitement for writing a book is returning!

Can’t see the embedded instagram post of my research notebooks?

Anyway, it’s a good way to end the year, I hope, dreaming about my next book.

P.S. I’m revamping my newsletter to a semi-monthly review of things I’m into that you should totally know about and hopefully be into as well. If you’re not getting my newsletters, you can sign up and read the archives here.

Happy reading,

Belinda

Howl-O-Ween Giveaway featuring The Last April & Haunting Miss Trentwood

This year, I’m giving away digital copies of Haunting Miss Trentwood and The Last April! Keeping it simple this year, you can tweet a message, visit my Facebook page, or post a comment below to win copies of my popular eBooks.

Thanks to The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island blogs for hosting this giveaway hop! If you’ve never done one of these, I’m part of a bunch of bloggers who all signed up to give away prizes. At the end of this post is the full list of bloggers giving away prizes.

1865 Civil War (2017)
YA Sweet Drama

1887 Victorian England (2010)
YA Gothic Comedy

I’m always looking for bloggers to review, so if you do happen to win, I’d love to see your thoughts on your blog, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble!

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Sneak Peek into Our Next Adventure

I’ve never written a sequel before. It’s a terrifying thought. Which perhaps makes it all the more appropriate that the plot which often disturbs my dreams is a sequel to my young adult comedic ghost story, Haunting Miss Trentwood.

I haven’t been able to make it out to my writer’s group due to my hectic schedule, but I wanted to share a scene with you.

Image borrowed from the TV show Penny Dreadful because it is so perfectly matched. Penny Dreadful is not suited for children and some adults, nor is it safe for work. It has many triggers, so please do your research before watching this show.

– – – – –

It took the panicked prodding of the young miss beside Mr. Jasper Steele to yank him from his bored reverie. Their hands were clasped, and it took him a moment to remember where he sat.

“May I help you?” he hissed, his pale moustache twitching.

The little brunette, who reminded him a great deal of a former interest, squeaked and nodded in the direction she meant him to look. Mr. Steele looked up to find a fetching young lady floating above the round table as if lifted by her torso like a cloth doll. It was Miss Sewell, the daughter of their hostess. She rotated in air like a suspended top, rotating until stopping to face him. Her upside-down, unseeing stare sent chills down his back. The young lady beside him whimpered.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, for Mr. Steele, this was not his first haunting.

“Ah,” he said. He cleared his throat. “I do beg your pardon. I was… otherwise engaged. Might I help you?”

The séance participants, already on edge, inhaled in unison.

Miss Sewell blinked one eye, then the other. Her soft blonde locks began to fall from their careful coifs, the curls sweeping the table. “Jasper Ssssteele.”

Mr. Steele nodded. “You have the right of it, that’s my name.”

The girl beside him trembled so violently, they almost broke their handshake.

“Do not release his hand!” Dame Hartwell, their séance guide, said.

Jasper gripped the girl’s hand, glaring at her, daring her to let go.

“Jasper Steele,” Miss Sewell said again, far more clearly.

Mr. Steele’s mouth ran dry.

“You must help her,” said Miss Sewell’s unnaturally deep, echoing voice.

“Help whom do what?”

Miss Sewell blinked, her expression clearing, starting to show a moment of horror. “My sister,” she whispered. With a quiet gasp, she crashed to the table, unleashing everyone’s screams finally.

Lady Sewell rose from the table, trying to calm her guests, who all ran from the room as if on fire.

Mr. Steele frowned. He leaned forward. “You don’t have a sister,” he said to the prone Miss Sewell.

“I did,” she said before fainting.

Spooktacular Giveaway: New Cover for Haunting Miss Trentwood!

spooktacular-2016
This time last year, I had been married a month. As such, I forgot it was Haunting Miss Trentwood’s five year publication anniversary! Sad face. This year, I contacted a local cover designer for my belated celebration of this book making its way into the world. Next month, I’ll talk about how the process went with a new cover designer.

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Three lucky winners will win book boxes that include free print copies of the gorgeous new cover as part of my participation in the Spooktacular giveaway blog hop. The Spooktacular blog hop is a great opportunity to win prizes by hopping between author / reader blogs and entering their contests.

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To win a free book box complete with a signed print copy of the newly redesigned Haunting Miss Trentwood, please enter using the Rafflecopter below. Not sure you want to enter this giveaway?

Here is the newly updated back cover blurb:

Witty, secluded Mary is reeling after her father, Trentwood, passes away and returns in ghostly form. Despite the ghost’s constant prodding, Mary lives in their aging English countryside manor house with only her aunt and their servants for company.

But their quiet home carries secrets even from Mary and Trentwood. When Hartwell, a London lawyer, arrives at their doorstep claiming someone is blackmailing his sister, Mary stumbles into a mystery that forces her to revisit memories and rethink her future.

As Mary and Hartwell seek the blackmailer, each learns about the importance of opening one’s heart to trust and betrayal. Haunting Miss Trentwood is a light gothic tale (think Legend of Sleepy Hollow meets Casper the Friendly Ghost) written from varied perspectives. Readers will be entertained by bright dialogue and encouraged to reflect on the universal themes of dealing with parents and disappointing relationships, and learning to love again.

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Spooktacular Giveaway featuring Haunting Miss Trentwood

Spooktacular2013

Welcome everyone, and happy Halloween season! This year we’re participating in the Spooktacular giveaway blog hop, where you can win prizes by hopping between author / reader blogs and entering their contests.

To enter to win a free print copy of Haunting Miss Trentwood, the eBook version, and a copy of the eChapter “The Seance,” please enter using the Rafflecopter below. Not sure you want to enter this giveaway? Read the first chapter of my gothic comedy via the Booktrack sample embedded in this post!

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Jump to the other blogs for a chance to win more prizes!

Create a Booktrack (Soundtrack for Books) to Market your Book

booktrackLandingBack in July 2014, I read about Booktrack from Jane Friedman’s blog and simply had to try it out. A “booktrack” is exactly what it sounds like… a soundtrack for a book.

There is no dialogue, so it’s not like a true audiobook. Instead, a cursor moves along the page so you know how fast you should be reading (I believe you can change the reading speed to suit your needs), and you hear the different supporting noises for the words on the page.

I was hooked when I read/heard a sample of Alice in Wonderland, and wanted desperately to create one for Haunting Miss Trentwood. The first chapter is rife with ambient sounds… whispers, the wind blowing, dirt falling on a coffin, a ghost crawling from his grave, teapcups clanging, screams, and heartbeats. It wa a blast to make and took me a couple of hours because I was particular about the proper sounds.

Haunting Miss Trentwood on Booktrack as of April 2015
Haunting Miss Trentwood on Booktrack as of April 2015

How do you create a Booktrack?

When you sign into Booktrack, you’re given the option to add books to your bookshelf, or create a project of your own. The steps I took to create my booktrack included…

  1. Adding a chapter of text, including the chapter heading
  2. Selecting sounds per selected section of text
    1. Seems like you can select a single word, or multiple pages, and then decide whether to loop the sound
    2. You search for sounds via their pre-loaded library, which includes music, ambient noises, and more
  3. Listen to your booktrack and tweak the timing
  4. “Publish” your project by adding a title, byline, cover, description, and genre

 What were my results?

Well, first, I had a lot of fun creating this! It was a blast looking through sounds and syncing them with the text. I published the soundtrack and left it alone… when I checked on it in September I only had a couple reads, so I added the link to my website and tweeted about it. That seemed to help. I also added the Booktrack to the Haunting Miss Trentwood page on this website. When I took the screenshot for this post, it was in April, and I had 326 reads with an average rating of 3.8 stars out of 5. Not bad for an indie author!

Have my sales improved since publishing the Booktrack? It’s hard to say. I had to comment on the Booktrack page to confirm to readers this was only the first chapter, and people should go to Amazon and elsewhere to purchase the full book. Haunting Miss Trentwood is an odd little duck; part humor, part horror, part historical fiction. It’s a difficult work to market, but there is an audience out there.

Give Booktrack a try if you’ve always dreamed of having a book trailer, but didn’t have the video capabilities. I love my Booktrack a lot more than my traditional trailer for Catching the Rose. I can’t wait to finish my next work so I can make another one!

Update!

Caroline from Booktrack reached out to me to correct a slight error in my description of the booktrack (very kindly, I might add!). From Caroline:

The cursor along the page, isn’t there to to tell you how fast you should be reading, it tracks your reading speed and automatically adjusts the sound to your reading pace, to make for a customized reading experience.

So there you have it! Booktrack is even more magical than I described, it automagically tracks your reading speed and adjusts the sound accordingly. Let me know if you guys create any, I’d love to read your works!

A Month of Ghostly Loved Ones: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir

Ah, October. The month of changing trees, nippy breezes, and hauntings. Last week I told you about the most recent Hamlet production that I saw and loved, starring the lovely David Tennant. This week, I’m pulling out a classic movie, The Ghost and Mrs Muir.

This was one of the first classic movies to really creep me out, make me laugh, and be supremely romantic. The plot is fairly simple.

It’s 1900, and “strong-willed widow” Lucy Muir goes to live in a seaside cottage in Britain, even though it seems to be haunted. She finds out quickly that it is entirely true! Lucy meets the ghost of the cottage’s former owner, Captain Gregg, and decides he will not scare her off. They become friends, and Lucy gets used to a man haunting her bedroom. Lo and behold, a man who happens to be alive comes a-courting, suddenly throwing the feelings between Captain Gregg and Lucy out in the open.

Why you need to watch this movie

If you’ve never watched a movie with Rex Harrison (are you NUTS? Go watch My Fair Lady NOW), you need to see this movie because Harrison is amazing. Handsome, stubborn, charming, crusty sea captain at his finest, he finds a match in pretty, stubborn, witty, funny young widow played by Gene Tierney. ALSO! You get to see itty-bitty Natalie Wood playing Tierney’s daughter, whose character as an adult narrates the story.

The banter in this movie is fantastic. Think Lizzie and Mr. Darcy. Here’s an example:

Captain Gregg: And the way he was smirking at you, like a cat in the fishmonger’s! You should have slapped his face!
Lucy Muir: Why? I found him… rather charming!
Captain Gregg: “Rather charming!” Now you’re starting to talk like him!
Lucy Muir: How in blazes do you want me to talk?
Captain Gregg: That’s better!

Seriously, if you’re looking for a fun haunting movie with some romance and great banter, check out The Ghost and Mrs Muir. Apparently it’s based on a book of the same name by Josephine Leslie. Haven’t read it yet, but I’m adding it to my Halloween reads.

Promotions

By the way, the newly released behind-the-scenes chapter called The Seance from Haunting Miss Trentwood is free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31. It’s a pretty funny chapter that lets us see a bit of the time between when Mary sees her father crawl from his grave and when Hartwell arrives at her front door looking for a blackmailer. She hires someone to perform a seance and send her father back to heaven, and the results are… well, you have to read it.

And! The love-story-not-love-story Mad Maxine is also free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31! A story about a woman who never thought she would fall in love, and when she does, what happens when illness mars the relationship. Same dates. Enjoy!

Please leave reviews, it would be so appreciated.

A Month of Ghostly Loved Ones: Hamlet

It’s October! Wouldn’t it be fun to troll the internet for ghostly loved ones doing their best by the people they left behind, whether they are children, lovers, and the like? I think so. Only because that was the theme for Haunting Miss Trentwood, and there were a lot of influences for that book.

This week I’m talking about my favorite movie version of Hamlet, starring David Tennant of Doctor Who delicious nerd-boy amazingness.

( If you click the image in  this post it will take you directly to the PBS online video showing the entire performance. )

Plot Summary from Cliff’s Notes

William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet follows the young prince Hamlet home to Denmark to attend his father’s funeral. Hamlet is shocked to find his mother already remarried to his Uncle Claudius, the dead king’s brother. And Hamlet is even more surprised when his father’s ghost appears and declares that he was murdered. Exact dates are unknown, but scholars agree that Shakespeare published Hamlet between 1601 and 1603. Many believe that Hamlet is the best of Shakespeare’s work, and the perfect play.

Why you need to watch this movie

So why do I love this version? Mainly because I feel like Tennant does a fantastic job of making me feel like Hamlet has kind of really lost his mind after seeing his father’s ghost. He starts out quiet and rather boring, actually, especially for those of us who obsess about Tennant after his stint on Doctor Who. I mean, really. He says the lines well enough, but without enthusiasm. Without personality.

And then WHAM-O.

Manic David Tennant at his finest, spouting Shakespeare like milk from a bottle, jumping around the stage, exclaiming, pulling at his hair, driving everybody nuts and yet being so adorable at the same time. It’s his interpretation of Hamlet that is different yet similar to his interpretation of The Doctor… so much energy, too difficult to contain, no way to direct it, so desperate for resolution.

Watch it and let me know your thoughts. There are so many versions of Hamlet out there… do you have a favorite?

Promotions

By the way, the newly released behind-the-scenes chapter called The Seance from Haunting Miss Trentwood is free on Kindle Oct 29 – 31. It’s a pretty funny chapter that lets us see a bit of the time between when Mary sees her father crawl from his grave and when Hartwell arrives at her front door looking for a blackmailer. She hires someone to perform a seance and send her father back to heaven, and the results are… well, you have to read it.

And! The love-story-not-love-story Mad Maxine is also free! A story about a woman who never thought she would fall in love, and when she does, what happens when illness mars the relationship. Same dates. Enjoy!

Please leave reviews, it would be so appreciated.

Best,

Belinda

Utilizing Pinterest for Writing Inspiration

Dear Reader,

I have succumbed, finally, to the beast that is Pinterest. I avoided it for so long because I didn’t need yet ANOTHER social media outlet to take up my time… but this one might be beneficial to my writing, for once! You see, Twitter and Facebook… it’s so easy for me to get lost in commenting, retweeting, liking, etc. That isn’t about writing. These actions don’t support my imagination for what my characters are wearing, where they are located, etc.

Pinterest, on the other hand, is quickly becoming a visual scrapbook of the images I used to inspire Haunting Miss Trentwood. I’ve been going back over my old links, posting images about the house Mary lives in (which actually exists). It’s a lot of fun to revisit the book.

I’m going to start another board soon for The Rebel’s Touch to help jump start my writing for the story. My friend Caitlin gave me some great feedback that I need to put into practice, but in the meantime, I’m working on the Atlanta & the Lion and Other Tales anthology. Since this anthology is more like a literary magazine collection, I’m working on each story and poem in doses so I don’t freak myself out and stop writing again.

Anyway, I’m excited to use Pinterest to help me write again! If I don’t already follow you, post your profile in the comments. And tell me other ways I can use Pinterest, I’m all ears.

Best,

Belinda

Haunting Miss Trentwood Audiobook

Dear Reader,

I’ve just finished listening to the Haunting Miss Trentwood audiobook, narrated by the fantastic Arielle Lipshaw. I’m pretty excited about this, I’ve never had an audiobook done before and hearing my characters speak as if they were part of a radio play is a lot of fun.

You might wonder how I got into making an audiobook. Well, along the lines of Neil Gaiman, I joined the Audiobook Creation Exchange, henceforth shortened to ACX.

ACX is owned by Amazon, so if you want to have an audiobook you first need to have the book be available on Amazon. There is a mysterious algorithm which will determine whether your book is acceptable audiobook material. For instance, Catching the Rose is not allowed to be an audiobook, but Haunting Miss Trentwood is. I assume this has something to do with ratings (13 on HMT, 1 on CTR), and downloads (lost count on HMT, still somewhere around 150 for CTR).

ACX is is like a marketplace for authors and narrators to pitch one another to help complete their creative works. When you sign up, you search for your books on Amazon that are allowed to be made into audiobook format, and you write a project pitch. In my project pitch, I provided the synopsis, my ranking/rating numbers, and a number of excerpted reviews.

Then I went in search of my narrator. The narrators on the website each have samples of their different styles; I knew I wanted someone who could mimic an Elizabeth Bennet style. I found her in Arielle Lipshaw.

The nice thing about ACX is you can split the cost with your narrator in different ways. The one I chose was to pay Arielle up front once the project was completed to my liking. This means I won’t be sharing royalties with her later. It’s quite a bit of money (around $1500), but luckily my existing royalties are paying for that. And hopefully future royalties from this additional distribution stream will balance out the cost. Arielle has also helped me by pointing out her rate would be cheaper if she did the English accent only when the characters were speaking, rather than for the length of the entire book.

All in all, the project is coming along. I’m looking forward to the finished product and I hope you will enjoy it.

Best,
Belinda