An Interview with Author E. J. Copperman

Q. An Uninvited Ghost, the second book in your Haunted Guesthouse series, has just come out. What are some of the challenges of writing a series and keeping it fresh?
A. Yes, it’s been out for about three months. Keeping a series fresh is, like most things in fiction (I think) a matter of character. If the characters are interesting people the reader wants to follow, you can keep things happening and see how they react. If they’re not interesting, you can have the greatest plot idea in history and it won’t be that good. It’s all a question of deciding what’s going to drive your main character most crazy, and making sure that happens.

Q. Writing as a female protagonist and adding paranormal elements to a mystery are both different approaches for you. What inspired this new direction?
A. The idea for the series just seemed to fit a female character better. And it’s no secret that cozy mysteries are generally better received by readers with a female main character. As for the paranormal elements—first, I see the books as comedies, so the paranormal is a device to find more laughs. I looked to the “Topper” series and not books or movies about scary ghosts, because I thought that any woman who let her 9-year-old daughter live in a house with dangerous monsters would be a completely irresponsible character and audiences wouldn’t relate. I know I wouldn’t. It’s interesting that people think writing for the opposite gender is so amazing. Spencer Quinn writes from the perspective of a dog, and nobody blinks an eye.

Q. It used to be that mystery readers disliked “real” paranormal situations in their stories because they wanted everything to have a logical explanation. How do you keep a ghost story believable enough to satisfy the typical mystery fan?
A. I have never considered that, to be honest. I write to amuse myself and assume there must be other nuts like me out there who will find these things interesting. I don’t write while keeping demographics and reader preferences in mind, because then you end up writing Generic Mystery #468, and that’s not going to make anybody happy. And if anybody reads my ghosts (or any of my novels) and considers them believable, they have much larger problems than what book to read.

Q. For the first book in the series, Night of the Living Deed, did you research the paranormal aspects, as in talking to or reading about people who claim to have lived in haunted houses?
A. I have never done extensive research for any of my books. I think the fact that they’re in the “Fiction” section of the bookstore should be warning to those who read that this is not the truth. So no, I haven’t sought out people who say they live in haunted houses or met vampires or discussed politics with Abe Lincoln recently. I haven’t had to seek them out; they tend to find me these days.

Q. Do people at parties now want to tell you their ghost stories?
A. People at the dry cleaners want to tell me their ghost stories. And everybody seems to have one, which is interesting. I don’t have an experience I can relate, so I make them up. Maybe everybody else does have one, and that’s why they don’t need to write silly books.

Q. Your heroine runs a guesthouse at the Jersey shore. Do you know anyone in that line of work or did you have to research those details?
A. Once again, virtually no research. Although my wife and I are thinking of taking a vacation down the shore (that’s how we say it here in New Jersey) and writing it off as a business trip.

Q. What extra dimension do you think comedy can bring to a mystery?
A. I think I write comedies that have mystery plots, so I don’t layer it on that way. You can’t slather comedy onto a plot like so much frosting and have it remain believable; it has to be—to borrow a Hollywood word—organic. Life can be tragic or it can be funny; sometimes I think we have the choice. It’s how you react to things. I want to make people laugh. That’s my mission. If you read my book, enjoy the mystery plot and relate to the characters, I’m very glad, but if you don’t think it’s funny, I believe I have failed you.

Q. You’ve said that writing clearly is an author’s first responsibility. Do you feel your journalism background helped hone your skills along that line?
A. I was a newspaper reporter for only about a year and a half, but in that experience and writing for a daily paper in college, I learned how to write to the point and how to write on deadline. That was invaluable experience that has helped in every aspect of my work since then, including writing mystery novels. I don’t think I could have written anything but for the Rutgers Daily Targum and the Passaic Herald-News. I was a writer before; I became a good writer at those jobs.

Q. Have you ever based a victim, or a villain, on someone you disliked? If so, did he or she ever catch on?
A. Once, and I don’t know.

Q. Since you have a family and also nonfiction writing assignments, how much time do you spend on promotion? Are you able to travel much to conferences, or do you find some other marketing method more productive?
A. I spend as much time on promotion, honestly, as I can when I have a promotional idea. Unfortunately, those tend to come in spurts, usually about a week before the book comes out, when it’s practically impossible to implement them well. I do a lot of promotion online, because that’s usually free. I go to one or maybe two conferences a year, and that blows the travel budget I probably should spend on visiting booksellers. It’s a question of finances, especially with two children now in college.

Q. Where will you be appearing to promote your new book?
A.
Anyplace within driving distance of my house.

Q. What do you know now about being a professional novelist that you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
A.
That you’d better have a day job.

E.J. Copperman, author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series (Night of the Living Deed; An Uninvited Ghost; coming in February 2012–Old Haunts) is the pseudonym of Jeffrey Cohen, who also writes the Double Feature Mystery series (Some Like It Hot-Buttered; It Happened One Knife; A Night at the Operation) and the Aaron Tucker series (For Whom the Minivan Rolls; A Farewell to Legs; As Dog is My Witness). He writes non-fiction books on raising a child with an autism-spectrum disorder. And his books are intended to do anything but depress you. You can find him at http://jeffcohenbooks.com or www.ejcopperman.com, and on Twitter as @jeffcohenwriter and @ejcop. Or you can follow him on Facebook. Or just call and invite him over to read you one of his books. He’s probably available.

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“The Ugly Duckling” Revisited

Many people know I belong to a critique group that meets weekly (I tend to go about twice a month). Several years back, three other members began collaborating on a book called “The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived,” which eventually got published by Harper in 2006 (check Amazon–it’s still available).

Dan, Allan and Jeremy wrote the various installments and by turns read them in our critique group. I actually ended up contributing the section on “Dracula” because I became so vociferous on the subject that they basically told me, “Okay, smarta**, then YOU write it.” But generally their essays on fictional and legendary characters who have become household names, including some surprising background information, are very entertaining and informative.

One interpretation with which I still disagree, though, is of “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen. That’s because the essay interprets this story as being about beauty, and concludes this is a destructive value to pass on to kids. I think many people who only read the story as children might also remember it that way. (Witness the terrible reality makeover show that aired a couple of years back, “The Swan”!)

The story is well summarized in the “101 Most Influential…” book’s essay. In the nest of a farmyard duck, one unusually large egg hatches into an unusually large “duckling,” which is also fuzzy grayish-brown where the other ducklings are downy yellow. This male baby is rejected and even abused by the mother duck and the other ducklings, until he runs away. He survives many hardships and adventures in the wild, and finds shelter for a while in a woman’s cottage until she realizes he can’t lay eggs. (Well, duh.)

At one point, he admires a flock of swans flying overhead, but doesn’t dare to approach them because he’s sure such beautiful birds will just attack him. Months later, at the end of his rope, he does approach the swans and begs them to kill him…but when he looks in the still water, he sees he also is a swan. All the others greet him with respect and tell him he is the most beautiful of them all.

Why is this fairy tale not about looks? Because if he had approached them as an “ugly” young cygnet, they still would have accepted him as one of their own!

Also, you will notice, Andersen made this a male bird, as if to illustrate that this was not just a young girl who “grows into” her looks. In fact, Andersen considered it autobiographical. As a child, he was not only considered homely but was ridiculed for the talent he did have–a beautiful singing voice–and his strong interest in theater. He was miserable until he became an adult, met other people who shared these interests, and of course became a celebrated writer. He also found out he had royal blood, which may have been the real tipping point that inspired him to write “The Ugly Duckling.”

It’s true that we don’t see the “duckling” struggling and working to improve himself before he’s accepted–he just grows into his swanhood. But I think the key factor is that he found others like himself. He was harassed because he didn’t fit in with the expectations of the community into which he was born, but in the right milieu he achieved his full potential.

The “duckling’s” dilemma could apply to anyone who faces discrimination because of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or just “different” interests and talents. I think this fable, far from being a negative influence, has plenty to teach young people today, especially with all the controversy over tolerance vs. harassment. It’s just up to the adults who present the story to give it the right interpretation–the one its author intended!

What do you think?

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What Does it Mean to Be “Creative”?

What does it mean to be “creative”? Is there such a thing as a “creative personality”?

I’ve wondered about this for many years, probably because I’ve always been a bit strange and over time I’ve realized there are other people out there who are a bit strange in the same way. (Some of you may be even be reading this blog.) They are determined to write, paint, act, dance, draw, play music, etc., whether or not they ever have any success at it. True, some may eventually get so discouraged that they give up their creative callings, but then they often become miserable human beings.

Most other folks don’t really understand where these “creative” types are coming from, and I’ve rarely read a good psychological profile on the subject. You’ll see articles offering tips on “how to be more creative,” or profiles of artistic geniuses, but seldom any analysis of what makes the average creatively-motivated person tick, for better or worse.

The closest thing I’ve ever found was in the book WHO ARE YOU, REALLY? by Gary Null (yes, the natural-health crusader) who suggests there are seven types of personalities, and one is “Creative Assertive.”

Excerpt from his profile: “A true Creative Assertive HAS to paint, make films, dance, do stand-up comedy, write, sculpt or whatever. The need is nonnegotiable, really, and sometimes it gets in the way of ‘normal’ functioning.”

(It sure does.)

He also talks about the energy cycles of the creative person, the highs and low that comes with feeling you’re onto the best idea in the world, then afterward looking at your interpretation of it and thinking it’s pure, unadulterated crap. In most “creative types,” that’s not biopolar–it’s all part of the process, swinging back and forth between the spontaneous and critical sides of our brains.

Another wonderful quote along this line comes from George Bernard Shaw: “A true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.”

You’ll notice, Shaw doesn’t claim that this artist’s work is necessarily brilliant, just that he can’t not do it! That’s the tough part. If you’re more practical than Shaw’s artist, you may make a living at something else and take excellent care of your family, but there will always be a second or third shift in your day as you try to fit in the work you need to do for your soul.

Finally, I’ve wondered if there’s an ethical flaw in this kind of single-mindedness. Creativity often means spending much time alone, mining your private fantasies for usable material. Are such people inherently selfish? Or is the work they’re doing a form of “giving back to society” in itself? (And does that depend on whether anyone’s buying it?)

I’d really love to hear from some other folks about this — those who may identify with this description as well as family and friends who care about and put up with them. Please comment!

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How Do You Like Your Vampires—Hardboiled or Over Easy?

As a lifelong fan of vampire stories, and author of two vamp novels (DANCE WITH THE DRAGON and ONE BLOOD), I’m intrigued by the way pop culture keeps revisiting the legends every decade or so, always with a new twist. Lately, the trend has been towards romantic bloodsuckers, whether G- or X-rated.

This is really nothing new. The first well-known literary vampire, Lord Ruthven of John Polidori’s THE VAMPYRE, was more obviously a seducer of women than a drinker of blood. Dracula, in the original novel, was not depicted by Bram Stoker as a romantic figure, but he evolved into one through the Hamilton Deane stage play and later books and movies. TV’s Barnabas Collins and Anne Rice’s Lestat and Louis all had romantic and/or sexual appeal for their victims.

Side-by-side with these rather sympathetic characters, we also see a tradition of the vampire as a demon, the personification of evil. This is clearly how Stoker viewed Dracula and Stephen King his Kurt Barlow in ‘SALEM’S LOT. (For some reason, male authors don’t seem as fond of sauve, mysterious guys who sneak into women’s bedrooms by night and hypnotize them into betraying their human husbands or boyfriends… Wonder why?) The ’80s and ’90s often saw armies of vampires violently battling humans and each other in horror novels and the movies.

In the latest series TWILIGHT, TRUE BLOOD and THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, vamps are much more integrated into society and indulge in frequent and passionate relationships with humans. Each of these sagas also has its villains, which are more or less nasty depending on the target audience…and sometimes still considered very sexy.

More than the Edward-vs.-Jacob or Bill-vs.-Eric controversies, I’d like to hear whether you prefer your vampires sensuous or scary. Do you feel the new sweetened interpretations take all the shivers out of the legend? Do you prefer your bloodsuckers more humanized and sympathetic?

Or do you like characters and stories that blend both elements?

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ONE BLOOD is Out!

My latest novel, ONE BLOOD, is officially released tonight. The electronic version is on sale now at
www.amberquill.com/OneBlood.html.
The paperback should be out mid-month.

The timing is great, not only because of vampires=Halloween, but because a climactic scene in the book takes place during and after a Halloween party on the Princeton University campus. Let’s just say, one of the partygoers doesn’t make it to dawn…

This is the first book I’ve done in a long time that qualifies as a romance as well as a paranormal thriller–but it’s a dark romance. It was tough getting these characters together, and I’m eager to see how it will be received by readers and reviewers. At leat my critique group and my editor thought I pulled it off!

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Deadly Ink 2010

Just wanted to recap this year’s Deadly Ink Conference, which took place at the Sheraton Parsippany in NJ. As usual, it offered a lively mix of entertaining presentations, helpful information for both writers and readers, and general networking and bonding among all concerned.

Friday night’s Deadly Dessert Party introduced Guest of Honor Gillian Roberts, author of the award-winning Amanda Pepper mystery series, and Toastmaster (mistress?) Cheryl Solimini, author of the novel ACROSS THE RIVER from Deadly Ink Press.

I started Saturday off by attending the panel, “What Makes It a Mystery?” M. E. Kemp acted as moderator, as E. J. Rand, Ilene Schneider, Gillian Roberts and Hallie Ephron dissected the variations among mysteries, from cozies to thrillers. Ephron recommended that aspiring writers should learn “what’s cliché in your subgenre.” Rand and Roberts, who both write sleuth characters who meet and marry within their series, discussed mixing mystery and romance. Ephron noted, “In many mysteries, there’s the story of the detective and the story of how he or she solves the crime. In the story of the detective, romance can play a part.”

I stuck with Hallie Ephron for her workshop on “Writing Suspense.” She defined suspense as “the potential for something bad to happen—that moment before something bad happens, or doesn’t happen.” She advised building tension by “slowing down” the writing, and distinguished between the “false payoff,” where something innocuous happens, versus the “true payoff,” where something dramatic occurs. She read a taut scene by Dick Francis that built suspense through pure description, with no clue as to the protagonist’s physical or emotional reactions.

Next, novelist and retired forensic psychologist Rick Helms gave a workshop on “Inductive and Deductive Profiling.” He said much of what we see demonstrated in movies and TV is inductive profiling that generalizes about a group of people to catch one individual. In reality, he said, this is a flawed approach. It’s more effective to use deductive profiling based on evidence from the crime scene and the behavior of that individual criminal. He gave examples of many well-known serial killers who did not fit the typical FBI profile.

During lunch, Deborah Buchanan announced the novels nominated for the 2010 David G. Sasher Sr. Award. The authors who were present, Mary Jane Clark and Hallie Ephron, talked a bit about their nominated books. Then Cheryl Solimini interviewed Gillian Roberts, who related how she “graduated” from teaching high school English to writing fiction full-time. Christine Abbott also announced that there had been a “murder” at the conference, of a famous mystery author named Stephanie King. She pointed out certain key players and suspects (including yours truly) and encouraged the other attendees to question us closely during the con.

In the afternoon, I took part in the “Crossing Genres” panel with Sheila York and Elena Santangelo, moderated by Roberta Rogow. The predominant mix seemed to be mystery/paranormal (Santangelo and I) and mystery/history (York, Rogow and Santangelo). We all seemed to feel that crossing genres came naturally to us and enhanced our stories, although at times it did seem to baffle prospective publishers.

Meanwhile, author and detective Joe Paglino conducted a two-part workshop called “Whodunit: 101 Mistakes Mystery Writers Make,” including slides of real crime scenes. Another program highlighted “Sleuths We Love, in Print and on Screen.”

Following this, Irene Fleming screened some intriguing vintage mystery films in the Morris Room, while Sisters in Crime/Central Jersey hosted a getting-to-know-you tea in the Troy Hills Room.

At the Saturday night awards dinner, Gillian Roberts delivered a speech she’d prepared five years ago, when she had to cancel her appearance at Deadly Ink due to illness. She talked about feeling her way into mystery writing in the early 1960s, when the genre still received little respect. (She admitted, “I was one of the few women of my generation who never read Nancy Drew.”)

Sunday morning, I moderated the panel “Writing as the Opposite Sex” — a hoot, because the five other panelists were all male! Steve Rigolosi complained that male characters written by women are rarely same the type that men admire. I said I also felt that way about many female characters written by male authors. It soon became a (mostly humorous) battle of the sexes!

At lunch, “detective” Ilene Schneider interviewed several of the suspects in the conference murder, including me. I expressed such open hostility towards the deceased, and evasiveness about my whereabouts at the time of the murder, that I guess everyone figured I must be innocent.

Because my Sunday afternoon panel on “Authors Who Live in NJ But Set Stories in Other Locales” drew no interest whatsoever, I and my fellow panelists swelled the audience for the competing panel, “Creating Characters: Qualities of Heroes and Villains.” Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em…! Among the highlights, Gillian Roberts admitted she had fictionally “killed off” a real person she knew and disliked, and added, “It was a wonderful experience — he truly deserved it.” Rick Helms quoted John D. MacDonald in saying, “There are no 100-percent heroes,” and added that the same should be true of villains.

Finally, both post- and pre-published writers who had the stamina to stay a bit longer joined in a roundtable. We discussed our publication experiences, favorite underrated authors, flakiest suggestions we’ve gotten from editors and most outrageous rejection stories.

Oh yes, and a vote determined that Jeff Markowitz -– or at least, his alter ego – had killed Stephanie King.

It was a fun weekend, which needed only a few more participants among mystery readers. If you enjoy mysteries, put Deadly Ink 2011 on your calendar and please spread the word among your friends!

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ONE BLOOD Comes Out in September!

Sorry for not posting in a long time, but I’ve been polishing my sixth novel, ONE BLOOD. I sent it to my publisher, and got word this week that it has been accepted for publication this September. (Ah, the joy of a small publishing house and POD–no waiting a year or more to see the book in print!)

Each books that comes out feels like a different type of “success” for me, and this one is no exception. ONE BLOOD is a much-updated version of the very first novel I wrote after I graduated from college…and that was a lo-o-o-ong time ago, believe me! Over the years it’s also gone by the name NO SUCH THING and BLOOD OF MY BLOOD. As you can probably tell, it’s a vampire novel–sort of vampire/romantic suspense. It’s also a prequel to the first novel I had published with Amber Quill Press, DANCE WITH THE DRAGON.

Here’s the saga: I first came up with two characters as near-opposites, destined to have major, life-and-death conflicts from the beginning. What could bring them together? For one thing, a common need to be accepted for themselves, without hiding their true natures. For another, a common enemy.

As with many of my books, the setting also plays a big role. My cousin Phil McCabe, a year older and in some ways like a brother to me, attended Princeton University. When I visited the campus, I was knocked out by its Gothic character. This was at the end of my college years, when I was already starting to write paranormal fiction, and Princeton seemed like an irresistible setting. Also a good one for a couple of brilliant, well-traveled and sophisticated characters!

As I said, I wrote a couple of versions of this novel, each time sending it to agents and publishers. But back then, nobody was writing contemporary vampire romances, and even I started to feel it lacked something. So I tabled it and used the same hero and heroine in DANCE WITH THE DRAGON. This was a straight-ahead thriller, but their relationship still intrigued readers. I had one reviewer and a couple of readers tell me they wished the knew more about the two main characters, and one said, “It almost seems like there should be an earlier book.”

My initial reaction? “Been there, done that, no way!” Ah, but then I noticed the vast number of contemporary vamp romances proliferating. Mine fell into that general category, but was also different in many key ways. So I decided to give it another shot.

I thought reworking the old novel would be a breeze. I never realized how hard it would be to get these two characters together, in a way that synced up with DD, and in a way readers would believe! Since writing DD, I’d learned a lot more about them, and they were both very strong personalities. This time around they had MAJOR issues, and I had to play “couples counselor” in a big way!

But it’s done now, and I think I’ve succeeded. And I’m so happy it’s coming out before October, because this story is tailor-made for Halloween. It even has a pivotal scene at a campus Halloween party and a bloody demise on Halloween night!

Watch this space for future developments…

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Book Discussion at Riverdale Library

Had a great time last night visiting with the Book Discussion Group at the Riverdale Public Library here in NJ! I approached the library a few months back about having a discussion of my latest book, DANU’S CHILDREN. Margaret O’Keefe, who moderates the group, actually had them check out summaries of all my books from my Web site. They chose instead to read one of my older books, BLACK FLOWERS–which happens to be the only one so far set in NJ. So I said, fine, always happy to get more exposure for BF, too!

I joined them for the discussion last night, with the bonus of some great pot-luck food. I was delighted to see it was a big group, about 15 people, and very enthusiastic. Margaret made my night by stating up front that of all the books they’d read by local authors so far, they liked mine the best!

Everybody had interesting questions, and it turned into more of a Q&A session with me. We got into all the themes of the book–genetic engineering, childhood autism and corporate group-think. While I was explaining my admiration for Ira Levin and comparing BF to THE STEPFORD WIVES, even I had a new insight–that the end has something in common with the end of ROSEMARY’S BABY! So you can always learn something new from your readers.

I almost would have preferred to be a fly on the wall, though, to hear what they’d have said about the book if I wasn’t there. I tried, in turn, to get a feel for what they liked and didn’t like, and how they’d interpreted certain things. I talked about how I came up with the concept for the book, some of the same information that’s on the Background page of my Web site. And I sold six books to the group members afterward–two copies of BF, two of DANCE WITH THE DRAGON, one of DANU’S CHILDREN and one of RIDE A DANCING HORSE.

In all, it was a fun and well-organized event. The Riverdale library is small but seems very active. The local residents were asked to sign cards protesting the state cuts in library services, which were being sent to Trenton today. I was only sorry I wasn’t in their district and couldn’t legally sign one. In today’s economic climate, it’s a terrible time to cut funding for libraries!

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New Novel

I got snowed in again at the end of February, for a day and a half, but I was able to make some progress at home on the rewrite of ONE BLOOD and get started on HEX, DEATH & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.

Last Friday I had a fun experience, doing a phone interview with a director and producer of rock and rap videos. In HD & RnR, I have a suspicious accident taking place during the shooting of a rock video in an old movie theater that’s under renovation, and I needed to make sure the details were believable. A friend put me in touch with Mario Cosatbile, a video producer based in Paramus, NJ, and he was kind enough to give me some inside information. I ran the whole scenario by him to make sure that, overall, it sounded realistic, and then we talked over some particulars about what the director, the band and the cameramen would be likely to be doing at various points.

I enjoy researching my books, because it brings them more to ife in my mind. When I need a certain kind of setting and find that just the right place exists, or I need a plot twist and an expert confirms that yes, it could happen that way, it feels like kismet. Or sometimes what I first envisioned won’t work, but I discover something reality-based that will work better! That’s even more of a rush.

I have a problem now, because I really want to polish ONE BLOOD to be “the best it can be,” but I’m also getting psyched over HD & RnR. Plus, I have to get my tax material together for my accountant before March 23! Way too much stuff to cram into my alleged “spare time”!

All day Saturday, I’ll be involved with the Liberty States Fiction Writers “Create Something Magical!” conference at the Renaissance Hotel in Iselin, NJ. In the morning I’m on a horror panel with Garden States Horror Writers colleague Gary Frank and best-selling author F. Paul Wilson–great company! In the afternoon I’m introducing a panel on “Working with a Publicist,” and in between I’ll be signing books. It promises to be a long but fun day. This is the first conference for LSFW, and they’lve already got 127 attendees committed.

That’s it for now. I just realized the Oscars are on and I’d like to catch a little of them before I have to turn in. I always miss the really good awards at the end…!

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Let It Snow, Let It Snow…

I made it up to Scranton and back with no issues last Saturday, and spent a nice afternoon at Possibilities Books & Gifts. I sold and signed a few copies of DANU’S CHILDREN, and gave out a few more bookmarks, during the store’s annual open house. Meanwhile, owner Gina Pace did non-stop Tarot card readings in the next room, someone else did Reiki therapy, they sold discounted and used books, and at one point there was even a Middle Eastern Dance demo! A lot going on, all to a background of soothing New Age music. And I got back home without hitting any deer on the highway (my second biggest driving fear, next to being stuck in a snow bank).

Today I’m snowed in at home. It’s so bad here that even my boss isn’t going to the office, and he’s a trouper! My colleague Antoinette and I got a lot of work done ahead last night for the weekly section, so we should have no trouble finishing up tomorrow. But this being a newspaper, we definitely will have to get in there tomorrow!

Meanwhile, I plan to finish reading through my first draft of ONE BLOOD and making editing notes (almost done with that). I also want to work on another short scene for my next Quinn Matthews book, HEX, DEATH AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, so I have something to read to my critique group next week.

It’s a bit of a challenge to get my head out of the last book and into this one, because they’re so different. ONE BLOOD, though ultimately a romance, is pretty dark; it’s also multiple-viewpoint and a thriller. HD&RnR, though it’s a murder mystery and someone dies early on, will be a bit lighter with pop-cultural elements, and it’s almost all first-person from Quinn’s viewpoint. Through her job writing about architecture and interior design for her local paper, she witnesses a suspicious “accident” while a rock band is shooting a video in an old movie theater. Being psychic, Quinn’s the only one who thinks it might be the work of a ghost. When word of this gets back to the band’s singer, he asks her to do some investigating, because he believes he’s being stalked by someone who’s put a curse on him. So Quinn gets pulled into a unfamiliar world of rock’n’roll jealousies and business machinations, and discovers a lot of characters who have issues with the singer and the band. But could any of them throw a curse that resulted in someone being killed? (Since this is one of my books, you know the answer is, “Probably”!)

Sounds like I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I’d better stop blogging and start writing! And to all my fellow Jerseyans, if you can, stay home today and don’t try to drive!

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