Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Blurb and Cover for the Soon-to-be-Published Seadrift

Life is looking up for Maisie Trent. Since the exciting, handsome, and wealthy Paul Leon wandered into her aunt's antique shop and swept her off her feet, she is taking her life off hold. No more marking time while dabbling in the history she's writing about Laguna Beach. 

But Laguna Beach, a place of perpetual blue summer skies, artist enclaves, and lazy sandy shores, has another side fused with scandal, the counterculture and something called Orange Sunshine. 

When Maisie tries to help a local homeless man, she uncovers a deadly string of events hidden beneath Laguna Beach's cheerful surface. And someone will kill to keep those secrets buried in the sand.

I wrote this book nearly ten years ago, back when I thought I wanted to be traditionally published and I had to write in the confines of a specific genre. But even then I wasn't very good at it. And this novel is proof of that. Part mystery, part romance...it's not quite sure what it is.

But there were a lot of scenes in it that I really liked so I frequently stole them and used them in a number of my other books. That's because I thought I'd never publish this story that was once called A Pebble in His Pocket. I liked this title because it tied in with a literary device, but an author I really admire told me it made it sound like a children's book, so I changed the title to Shell Charms. But then another author that I also really admire that's in my writers' group titled his story Monkey Charms, and I can't say why this spoiled Shell Charms for me, but it did. Also, Shell Charms sounded too upbeat for a murder mystery, although Shell Charms, like A Pebble in His Pocket, tied in nicely with the story in a way that Seadrift does not. Oh well.

I resurrected this story when it became glaringly obvious that I wasn't going to finish my Miss Maple story in time for it to be included in the Orange County Fictionaires' Murder, Mystery and Mayhem anthology (coming soon.) And I'm glad I did. I do love this story. It needed a little rewriting, though not a lot. 

Here's the cover. Isn't it cool?

When I first took it out of its dark and dusty drawer, I thought I would need to pull the scenes I had used in my other books. And yes, those few people who have read all of my books will most likely find the scenes I plagiarized from myself. But again, oh well. I hope you enjoy the story for what it is--whatever it is--mystery, romance, thriller, suspense...a history lesson.

It's darker than most of my other books. I wrote it back when I loved mysteries. And I still love mysteries--I love the puzzle and the who-dun-it of them. But around this time I was made the president of a women's charitable organization, and I saw a lot of ugliness, betrayal, degradation, and the world became a scarier place to me. Suddenly, the horrors in mystery novels became real. I stopped reading them. I stopped watching the crime shows on TV. And I stopped writing them.

What made me go back to mysteries? I'm not quite sure. Just like I'm an eclectic reader, I'm also an eclectic writer, bouncing around genres, picking up the stories that strike my fancy at the time. And this, I suppose, is another reason I could never be traditionally published.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Book Bio

I'm retooling my book bio. What do you think?

USA Today bestselling author Kristy Tate has come a long way from small-town Washington. Her avid curiosity and love of reading have carried her to thirty plus countries. (She loves to travel to the places she reads and writes about.)

She's the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling and award-winning Beyond Series and the Kindle Scout winning Witch Ways series. She writes mysteries with romance, humorous romance, light-hearted young adult romance, and urban fantasy.

When she's not reading, writing, or traveling, she can be found playing games with her family, hiking with her dogs, or watching movies while eating brownies.

She is also a popular public speaker and presents writing workshops for schools, libraries, and fundraisers. All proceeds donated to charity. References available upon request.

Not to be published, but to use as references:

Stella (Orange County Public Librarian)
Carly (Director of California's GATE Program)
Greta (President OC Writers)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Baby Blue Christmas--an excerpt

An excerpt from Baby Blue Christmas, my novella in the upcoming Author's of Main Street Christmas box set. It's scenes like this that make me write...

The next morning, Sophie and Jamison sat beside Liz and Teddy on the front pew of St. Jude’s Church. Pastor Carl Mitchells, Liz’s husband, sat on the stand while Debra Jenks played Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” on the organ. Sophie hadn’t ever attended church regularly, but ever since her sister’s death she’d found comfort and a sense of community in the small stone chapel where her best friend’s husband led the congregation.
She’d first started attending because Liz had told her how hard it was to make Teddy sit through the sermons and how important it was to Carl that she and Teddy be there. So in the beginning, Sophie had gone to support Liz and help her with Teddy. She couldn’t pinpoint when that had changed—when, exactly, her Sunday mornings had become more about finding peace and grace than helping her friend shore up her marriage. But Sophie had grown to love and treasure the hour of reflection the service provided.
The calm she generally found in church shattered the moment Luke walked in and took his place beside her on the pew moments before the opening hymn.
He gave her a dazzling smile and took Jamison from her without even asking. Jamison, who was normally hesitant around strangers, sat on Luke’s knee and gazed at him with happy curiosity. The traitor.
Sophie’s lap felt cold without the baby on it and without Jamison, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with her hands.
“Good morning,” Luke said, bumping her with his shoulder.
Sophie didn’t know what to say, but fortunately, Mrs. Lawrence stood to lead the hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”
Luke sang with a loud, clear bass voice she found almost hypnotic. She could barely hear her own squeaky words beside him. He chuckled as soon as the song ended.
“What’s so funny?” she whispered, hoping he wasn’t laughing at her singing.
“That song always reminds me of an episode of The Brady Bunch,” he whispered back.
The Brady Bunch? He hadn’t seemed like a Brady Bunch-watching sort of kid. She would have pegged him as an action hero watcher.
“My sister loved them,” he whispered, answering her unasked question.
“Shh!” Liz whispered good naturedly as her husband took the stand to begin the sermon.
Sophie’s gaze wandered to Teddy who sat beside his mother scribbling in a coloring book. She wondered what sort of child Luke had been. She hadn’t met him until Chloe and Matt had started dating. Back then, when she was a freshman and he a senior, he’d seemed so much older. But once, he must have been a child just like Teddy, and even a baby like Jamison.
Jamison deserved a father.
“Did you know that the Santa in that Brady Bunch episode also played Otis, the town drunk, in The Andy Griffith Show?” Luke whispered.
“Did you watch a lot of TV as a kid?” Sophie didn’t want Jamison to grow up to be one of those kids glued to a TV screen.
“Not so much as a kid,” he whispered back.
Liz reached over Sophie to slap Luke’s knee. “Excuse me, my husband is pontificating!” she whispered.
“Sorry,” Luke mouthed the word and turned his attention to the podium.
Sophie gazed at his strong jaw. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Something important. Something she should know. He was Jamison’s only uncle and, at the moment, the only male role model in Jamison’s life. Of course, that would all change if she married. Not that she saw that happening any time soon. She had been picky about who she dated before she gained custody of Jamison, but now that she had him to consider, her pickiness had ratcheted up to a whole new level.
She chastised herself for thinking about marriage when she should be focused on the sermon. She sent Liz an apologetic smile and tried to dial in to Carl’s message.
Unfortunately, Carl spoke in monotones. “Jesus, through Mary, his natural born mother and Joseph, his adoptive father, was of royal blood and would have been king if Israel hadn’t been under Roman rule. Let’s turn to Matthew 1:17 in our Bibles.”
Sophie reached down for her Bible which was in her bag by her feet, but her hand knocked against Luke’s and then she forgot about her scriptures as tingles shot up her arm.
He didn’t even react to her touch. This bothered her. Why was he sitting so close? She edged away, clutched her Bible, and tried to refocus.
  “We read in Isaiah, chapter sixty-one, ‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified…”
Interesting. But not nearly as interesting as the man beside her. She wanted to touch him again to see if the tingles were a one-off sort of thing or if his touch had that power over her.
She reached over to take Jamison from him, intentionally brushing her hand against his.
Yep. Tingles.

He leaned over as if to say something, but she shushed him. “I’m listening,” she said, nodding at the podium. But she wasn’t. And then she began to worry that there might be a special level in hell for those who lied in church. On the Sabbath.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Arlington, Washington and my Rose Arbor Novels

Five of my novels are set in Rose Arbor, a fictional town loosely based on my hometown, Arlington, Washington. One reviewer claimed that I had obviously never even been to Arlington. But not only did I live at the end of East Fifth Street until I left for college, but since my dad still lives there, I visit often. Here are some pictures from my latest trip.

This was obviously taken from a car window. I wanted to show how beautiful it is there, no matter where you look. These photos are from Bowman Bay, which is actually in Anacortes near Deception Pass. I think all of my Rose Arbor novels include beach houses, even though, technically, Arlington doesn't have any beach front property. Unless you call a riverbank a beach....
This is a house on the top of Olympic Hill. It was the house I had in mind when I wrote about the Michael's house in Stealing Mercy. (By the way, Stealing Mercy is free for today and tomorrow.) You can get it here: STEALING MERCY FREE
This is the house on Cob Street where my husband and I lived in for three months before he went back to graduate school. It was full of mold and we were sick for the entire summer. I wrote about it in my novel, A Ghost of a Second Chance.
And this is the library in The Rhyme's Library. (Actually, it's a house at the end of my dad's street.) My babysitter lived here. Strange coincidence--in my novel, The Rhyme's Library, Charlotte suffers from dementia. The woman who used to babysit me died at 58 with a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimers. I didn't learn this until after the novel was published. I love this house, but it also had a spookiness about it. Probably because as a child I wasn't allowed to watch the TV program, Dark Shadows. My babysitter didn't know this, and so I watched it when I was at her house. So there was that. Plus, the interior was decorated in a really horrible French Rococo style--frilly furniture etched with gold. 

When I grew up, our house was surrounded by a dairy farm on three sides. Today there's a couple of schools, a church, a housing development and a retirement home where the cows used to be. The barn is now a thrift shop. All of this makes the town--and my dad's property in particular--a lot less smelly.

This is what's left of my dad's garden. It's the end of the season and most has been harvested. My dad is 96 and lives alone.
There's a line in a Paul Simon song that says something like, "Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town." And I used to feel that way about Arlington, but I don't anymore. When I left Arlington for college in the 1980s, there were about 5,000 residents. At the last census, there were 17,926, proving that we all can grow and change.

Here are a few more blog posts about Arlington:
The Arlington Rose Arbor Connection
O is Opiate
An Open Day
Three Weekends in October
Books for Oso

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why We Work

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Some words that probably won't be on your children's spelling list, but that they need to learn anyway.


We need to teach our children to embrace failure and see it as an opportunity for growth. It's okay to make mistakes, as long as we learn from them. In "The Gift of Failure," by Jessica Lahey we read, "Every time we save our children, we send them a clear message that they are incapable."
Hunger is the cost of a forgotten lunch.
Detention is the result of poor choices.
Being cold is what happens when you forget your sweater
These are important lessons, but not nearly as important as their greater message of self-reliance. By letting our kids take their knocks, we're teaching them not only the importance of doing their homework, we're also teaching them who they are: strong, capable, responsible, and hardworking human beings.
We all need to belong to the pack.

But if we want something done right, we need to do it ourselves, right? Of course, but how important is it really to have our forks lined up exactly so? Or to have all the vacuum marks running in precise lateral lines? Or that there isn't a streak or two on the mirror? The big picture isn't a house worthy of a photo-shoot, but a home that fosters the values of your family. So, take a moment to decide what it is that your family truly values.

"To teach our children to work is a primary duty of parenthood. Our children have experienced unprecedented prosperity created by parents who have worked hard to provide what they themselves did not have as youngsters. If we are to save our children temporally and spiritually, we must train them to work. They must learn by example that work is not drudgery, but a blessing." J. Ruben Clark

And these lessons aren't just for our kids. They apply to us, too. The more we practice, pause, and make wise choices, the more we'll be able to rescript our lives and gain confidence in our own ability to choose. We won't need our moms, our bosses, or our teachers to guide us. We'll learn to rely on our own inner compasses. And we won't be afraid to make a mistake, or two, or ten, because we'll have learned that if we fall, we can always get back up.

Korsaren: “If you are poor, work. … If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrow overwhelms you, … work. … When faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead, work. Work as if your life were in peril. It really is. No matter what ails you, work. Work faithfully. … Work is the greatest remedy available for both mental and physical afflictions.” (The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life, New York: Forbes Inc., 1968, p. 427.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Some Back to School Thoughts

Mark Twain, dropped out of school at the age of twelve. H.G. Wells at eleven. Jack London at thirteen. Ever heard of Ray Bradbury? Stieg Larsson? Agatha Christie? Herman Melville? None of them went to college. Here are some more great quotes from not so great students, but very great writers.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” MIGUEL DE CERVANTES SAAVEDRA
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. MARK TWAIN
An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.
It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.
The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes. AGATHA CHRISTIE
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. HERMAN MELVILLE
Remember how when you were in kindergarten and it seemed like the most important things were having the right lunchbox, the best cookies at the lunch table, and the coolest shoes?

And then when you're in sixth grade and everyone is wearing Star Jeans, and it seems like you're cast into social hell if you're not wearing a big star on your bum?

Or when you're in high school, and you think you'll die if you don't get a part in the play, or a solo in the concert, or a place on the team?

Or when you're in college and your entire life and future career depends on your score on the GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT?

Or when you're employed and you think you'll never be able to support yourself and your family if you're not made a partner, or an officer, or a board member?

Do you think that maybe when we die and we get to the other side, we'll realize that the lunch boxes, Star Jeans, the teams, the scores, and positions were all things that we had to let go, and that the only things we get to keep and hold is the love of the people around us?
I’m all for getting a good education from brilliant teachers, but it’s important to remember that life with all its disappointments, frustrations, and kicks in the head, is by far the best text book, and, consequently, the prime tutorial for writing.

What are your thoughts on going back to school, even if your school is the hard-knocks sort?

Kristy Tate is a USA Today bestselling author. Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book, please visit http://www.kristytate.com/

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.  
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

It's summer. And it's hot. And I can't seem to find my writing groove. I decided to turn the novella The Little White Christmas Lie into a novel...and I wrote a few scenes. But it couldn't hold my attention for long. So, I resurrected my novella Making Music. It also really deserves to be a novel. And what about the murder mystery series I started? Today is the eclipse. Tomorrow I'm going to the beach. And then I'm going to Washington.

Vernon Howard in his book Psycho-Pictography tells us that we need to be "totally engaged in the act of the moment...the opposite of this is a scattered mind....You may wish to relax, but your mind is hopping...When the self-united man is relaxed he is like a cat dozing peacefully before the fireplace--he is in a mental state that knows nothing outside of itself. He doesn't merely feel relaxed. He is relaxation."

And that is the problem. I can't be like the cat relaxing before the fireplace--because it's hot. And that's because it's August. Maybe things will be better in September. Emerson tells us we need to trust in the process.

"All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first instinct then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. by trusting it to the end, it shall ripe into truth and you shall know why you believe."