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Posts Tagged ‘Debbie McClure’

Chance Encounters

Chance Encounters

Freelance travel journalist, editor, and producer, Janna Graber, has done a terrific job with this book! Some of you may remember my interview with her over at Christina Hamlett’s blog, You Read It Here First. As someone who also loves to travel, but not nearly as much as Janna and her journalist friends, I became intrigued with the life and experiences of people who travel this globe for a living. I had long suspected that the memories would be as much about the people met along the way, as the incredible vistas and locales. Turns out, I was right.

Chance Encounters is a compilation of wonderful stories by travel writers for people who love to travel, or wish they could! Each personal essay featured is a glimpse into another life, another time, another place, and reminds us that we are connected in ways we often don’t initially recognize. More than stories about the places travelers visit, Chance Encounters focuses on the people who make the experiences richer. Anyone who has ever gone someplace new can relate to these tales of adventure, serendipity, and chance. This is a book worth reading and keeping. Well done, Janna and friends!

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Cover InThe Spirit Of Forgiveness

Cover InThe Spirit Of Forgiveness

This is a short, but sweet, post. I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, is now available on Amazon, Smashwords, and OmniLit. Additional e-venues will be announced as they become available. We are working diligently to have it available ASAP on B&N (Nook), and Kobo (Book One is already available on Kobo here, and B&N here), so do keep checking back often for updates. If you purchase an e-book copy and would like to have it autographed, you can do that here.

 

For those who prefer to have a paperback copy, you can also order a print version of Forgiveness via the Amazon page (In The Spirit Of Love is currently already print enabled on Amazon), and we are working diligently to get this function up and running, so again, check back often. You can also order directly through me by sending me an email request on my website at www.damcclure.com.

I’m also excited to share that I’ll be doing another podcast interview with Eat, Sleep, Write’s host, Adam Scull on Friday, June 13th – no this is NOT bad luck! Once it is scheduled to go live, I’ll post the information and link here and on my Facebook and Twitter @debbiemcclure59 pages. If you’d like to listen to my previous two podcast author interviews, please check them out here, and here (this one was an exciting paranormal mystery roundtable author interview with me, USA Today’s bestselling author Tonya Kappes, and UK’s bestseller Karen Perkins).

 

Here’s the exciting blurb to In The Spirit Of Forgivness, the new much anticipated novel, the sequel to In The Spirit Of Love:

 

Death can hold as many uncertainties as life.

Destiny brought them together, but greed could tear them apart. In England for a much-deserved vacation, Claire Jacobs has fallen in love. However, fate has played a cruel trick on Claire, and now a mystery more than a hundred years old could take her happiness, as well as her life.

Sir Richard Abbottsford, of England’s grand Kent Estate, has finally reunited with his true love. He never imagined it would take more than a century for that to happen. But the past and present are intricately entwined, and as the lovers soon discover, sometimes even death is not an end.

As Claire and Richard struggle to adjust to the obstacles of their unique relationship, they are forced to deal with a vengeful foe determined to put an end to them both—forever. Time has kept the mystery of Sir Richard’s death tightly shrouded, but the heart has a way of overcoming even the most impossible. A little magic can’t hurt either.

Loving a ghost isn’t easy.

Oh, and please remember to leave a comment here, or after reading ANY book you’ve really enjoyed, consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads! This is incredibly important to authors, and please believe me, we read every single one of them. They are what gives us the support to keep doing what we’re doing. Your words to us are as valueable as ours are to you.
Thank you,

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Never Forget

Never Forget

Today is 9/11, and although I’m Canadian, with it comes the vivid remembrances of that fateful day when the United States was attacked on multiple levels. It was also the day we buried my paternal grandfather. It was a very sad day indeed. Yet after the funeral, I gathered with several family members and we remembered my grandfather with love and joy. We laughed and told family stories. We said heart-felt prayers for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks, and for the families affected. We grieved and we loved, and clung together.

 

The next day, I returned to work as usual, my life resuming the normal course of events. That doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt, or think, or feel. It means I had a job to do, and that job is living. It’s really the only job that counts, when you get right down to it.

 

My dad always says, “You can step off a sidewalk and get hit by a bus any day, so you better live every moment of every day you’re given.” No truer words were ever spoken. The older I get, the more I believe this to be true. When I was younger and raising my children, I was so caught up in the day to day minutiae of my life, that I didn’t give a lot of thought to my future. I was a working single mother living at the poverty line, and life was hard. What got me through was my family, my children, and my desire to do better.

 

Roll The Dice

Roll The Dice

A few years ago, I started re-evaluating my life and realized that I had choices to make. We all do. I could choose to live my life alone, or seek a partner to love. I met and married my husband just a few short years later. Then I started questioning my choice in career in real estate, then mortgage sales, and realized I wasn’t enjoying it. I had another choice to make. Either put up and shut up, or change it. I chose to change it. After a life time of putting it off, I decided I needed to follow my dream of becoming a professional writer. Writing had always come easily to me, but I had never undertaken anything as grand as a book before, and with a grade ten education, the prospect was daunting. Still, I had to try.

 

So, I continued to work while I began writing my first book. It wasn’t picked up, but I learned a lot about the processes along the way. I wrote a second book, and it wasn’t picked up either, but I learned more, and continued writing. I started a third, but didn’t finish it. Some day I may go back to those earlier attempts, but for now, I’m moving ahead.

 

Then I wrote In The Spirit Of Love and it was picked by Echelon Press. I was elated! I was on my way to becoming a published writer. How cool was that. But I didn’t stop there. I began working on the sequel right away, while learning the ins and outs of marketing and promotion of books, how to do book readings/signings, and getting out there in public, talking about it, and putting myself in the spot light. It wasn’t comfortable at first, but necessary. I knew that. I made lots of mistakes, but I also had incredible role models in my mother and younger sister, who have become extremely good public speakers. I learned to push myself and my boundaries to get where I wanted to go, and at fifty-three years of age, that’s something to be proud of.

 

Despite the numerous rejections I’ve received, I still persevere. I get hurt, I get sad, I get disillusioned, but I choose to move on. I try to learn what I can from each situation, some of which makes its way into my stories. I’ve met some really wonderful people along the way. People I wouldn’t have met otherwise. That’s cool.

 

Over the years, I’ve watched my younger brother go for his dreams, playing pro-football years ago, building a life and a business, and falling in love. He didn’t always get it right the first time, but I think he’s finally met the right woman, has a life he enjoys, and children and step-children he’s proud of.

 

My middle sister has built a life and a business with her husband, striving to be the best she can be and treating everyone fairly and honestly. She loves her children unequivocally and is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. She continues to strive to build the life she wants alongside her husband, and despite some real set-backs, lives each day to the fullest. Her boisterous laughter fills any room she’s in, and makes others laugh and smile along with her. What a joy she is!

 

Last weekend I attended my younger sister’s third wedding. I’ve learned a lot from her. She has endured more heart break and emotional disasters than anyone I know, but she continues to laugh out loud, love everyone, and give back more than she receives. She’s lost a child at eight months pregnant, two failed marriages, one absolutely devastating family tragedy involving an ex, followed immediately by breast cancer. Her family was falling apart, her children were struggling to deal with new realities, and still she carried on. Then she met her current husband, and fell in love. She hadn’t let the heart breaks of the past change her ability to love and trust. She went all in, and that showed us all the power of faith and love.

 

Celebrate Your Life

Celebrate Your Life

Now, most people would have taken that third marriage to a tiny hole in the wall and had a quiet ceremony. Not my sister. She had a blow out, Woo Hoo I’m Here, Kick-Ass wedding at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It was expensive as all get out, but fabulous. She treated it like a first wedding, saying she refused to pay it less honor that the first two which were not successful. A friend who attended the wedding reminded me that my sister had earned the right to do things her way. She was here damn it, and she wasn’t going to do anything quietly. Well all right! We had a blast, all of those who attended shared in the love, the celebration, and exercised their right to shout out, “We’re here!” Thanks sis.

 

I’ve said so often that too many people put off till tomorrow what they could be doing today. It’s sad and unnecessary in so many cases. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard about this couple or that couple who planned to do so much when they retired, but one never made it that far. One is left to go on and make sense of the changes they face alone. I never want to be that couple. So, I told my husband I wanted to live for today, while planning for tomorrow. We downsized completely, sold our home, and made some drastic lifestyle choices to allow me to work full time as a writer. He’s retired after thirty years as a manager at BellCanada, but his pension is very small. We make it work. I want to spend time with my family, children and grandchildren, and travel when and where we can. I’ve come up with some pretty unique ways to accomplish those goals and fit them within our means, but we both agree, life is too short not to take risks and do what matters most, spending it with the people who matter most, and enjoying what we can of this life.

 

Long and winding road

Long and winding road

I don’t know what the future holds for me, or for my husband and I as a couple, or anyone I love for that matter. What I do know is that reaching for your dreams, working hard to make them come true, and taking risks is important. Waiting for tomorrow is different from planning for tomorrow. I believe we all have an obligation to ourselves to live our best lives possible each and every day, while doing what we can to ensure a safe and happy future. They key is to remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow, only right now.

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Review Writing

It’s been all the buzz in the publishing industry. Amazon has been pulling reader book reviews on it’s website, seriously upsetting authors world-wide. It would seem that, in this case, one bad apple – or even half a barrel, do spoil the whole bunch.

This appears evident in the “sock puppet” case, whereby prize-winning English crime writer, R.J. Ellory, admitted to having written negative reviews of other writers’ books under a pseudonym, while at the same giving his own works glowing reviews on the same sites. In an article on Forbes.com, Suw Charman-Anderson tackles this subject, effectively explaining and expounding on the issues. After reading it, I had to admit I agreed with her position. Is Amazon throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Hmm, maybe so.

Staff writer for the L.A. Times, Carolyn Kellogg, states that, when one author questioned Amazon in a letter, he received this reply in return, “We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.” According to both articles, this seems to be the standard reply. Not very heartening.

Okay, I understand you don’t want reviewers who gain financially from a review, and it can and does happen, but what about the thousands of writers who write legitimate reviews on books we’ve personally read? I’d have to say the number of authors who write honest reviews would far outweigh those who try to manipulate the system. As both Carol and Suw state, all authors are not evil rivals. I feel this way about the sales industry too – sure we’re all out there working our butts off, but we can also be our own greatest source of support, if we choose.Being new to the industry and naïve, initially I was shocked to learn that this was happening. I’d also never dreamed there were paid reviews, which could quite easily be skewed in favour of the paying author or publication house. Then I thought about it. It isn’t so shocking really. This type of underhanded behaviour happens in virtually any money-making business. Competitors are often vying for the same market, and everyone wanting a bigger piece of the pie. But that doesn’t make it right.

We can all help

I’m an author, but I’m also a reader. It’s no surprise or stretch to imagine that writers also read – a lot. We often become writers because we read. As I put one foot in front of the other in this business, I look to other writers who’ve gone before me, as well as the ones who are walking the same road beside me. Some day, I’d love to be one of the writers who will reach back to those coming along behind me. To me, that’s the way life should be. We all help each other, not out of avarice or desire to get something back, but because we want to; because it’s a hard road and helping one another makes it a little easier, and a lot more fun.

As a writer, I also review other author’s books. I understand what goes into making a good book, how hard it is to find the right words, the struggle to get the story from a writer’s mind and into the hands of readers, and the learning curve to understand the requirements and demands of the complex publishing business. It’s tough.

After writing for countless hours, we then shake out our confidence and don it like a voluminous overcoat to protect us from the onslaught of rejections we receive from agents and publishers who tell us “no thanks”. More and more authors are tired of running the gauntlet and facing the gatekeepers inherent with the traditional publishing mode. They’re stretching themselves even further and becoming “indie” authors—writers who publish their books independently, using publishing venues like, oh, Amazon.

Amazon has long been the friend of authors, without whom they would not have climbed so far up the publishing and distribution ladder. It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship, but as with so many things in business, rules and regulations take over from common sense. People misuse and abuse the trust placed in something as simple as a book review. Amazon has always used these reviews in their algorhithms and ranking of titles and authors, but also posted them for other readers, so they can get an idea of whether a particular book strikes their fancy. Simple.

When I think of all these shenanigans, I wonder why people have to muddy the waters. I mean really, to me, a review is kind of like a thank you, or at the very least, constructive criticism. It’s also intended to help other readers choose a book or author they might enjoy. But then I’ve always believed in thanking others for a job well done, or offering honest praise/feedback.

Even when standing in a line-up, if I really love the earrings, shoes, whatever, of the woman ahead of me, I’ll tell her so. We’ve become so insular that, on hearing the praise, the woman is always surprised. Then she smiles—a genuine smile, and says “thank you”. She goes away smiling. No matter what else is going on in her day, someone said something nice to her, or noticed the extra effort she took while getting dressed that morning. So simple.

I also work for a rewards and incentive marketing company, and one of the things we try to remind CEOs and company HR personnel, is that rewarding and recognizing employees, referral sources, and those who help make your business a success throughout the year, can pay huge dividends. People respond more favourably, and are more inclined to give back to the company, when they feel appreciated. Simple, yet effective.

 

Simple, yet effective

So, I can’t do anything about how others conduct themselves in this world, but I can do something about how I deal with others. I can approach the business of sales, writing and publishing with integrity, and when I review a book, article, or comment on a blog, I can do it with honesty. If others want to misconstrue my good intentions, I can’t change that. I am only in charge of me. Simple.

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Reach for the Stars

Let me start by saying, we are not omnipotent. It doesn’t matter how much you might fight it, life, or fate, sometimes puts you smack in the middle of where you need to be. Many times over the years I’ve bemoaned a circumstance or event, only to realize, sometimes months or even years later, that I needed to be there. There are lessons to be learned, even if we don’t think we need to learn them.

When writing a fiction book, the author is God-like. We make omnipotent decisions for and about our characters, their lives and their choices. We manipulate circumstances to bring about desired events and we put people in places they may not normally be. We give them emotions, thoughts and flaws to make them human (even when the characters aren’t necessarily human at all). When writing, re-writing, editing, and throughout the entire process of crafting a believable story, we do this. We place our characters and the supporting characters where we want them to be so we can hopefully tie all the pieces together for a cohesive, enjoyable tale.

What power! We can’t do that in our own lives. We are subject to the same whims, peaks and valleys as everyone else. We struggle with health issues, fears, love, failure, successes as any other. We are eminently fallible. We have no more insight into the whys of our lives than other people. We are human. But human nature wants to control. We want to make the decisions and postulate on the right to choose our destiny. As authors, we brave fear and possible failure and rejection every day. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But sometimes we fight where we are in our lives. We push and shove to move forward.

A prime example is what’s going on in my life right now. Several months ago my husband and I were struggling financially, so we opted to sell our house (at no profit), reduce our bill payments and start over financially. Like so many others, we were drowning in debt, and it didn’t matter what we did or how hard we worked, the numbers just weren’t lining up. Add to that some health issues I began experiencing due to the increased stress. We decided to man up and make some hard decisions. One of those was getting out from under mortgage debt. Goodbye my lovely little home. We maintained our seasonal park model trailer and stayed there for the summer while we strategized our next course of action. By summer’s end we’d decided to continue the breather we’d taken and move in with my parents, who encouraged the decision. Dad was finding it harder and harder to do the odd jobs around their 1800 square foot home, and my mother’s health had been less than optimal for quite some time.

I love my parents tremendously, but I didn’t want to move in with them, even temporarily. I wanted my own space, my privacy, and my own way of doing things. I was adamant we would only stay a short while as we began looking for permanent living accommodations. Everyone agreed. Okay, I was on the road to recovery financially and emotionally. We had a short term plan in place and were moving ahead. It was all good.

Then last week, at my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday celebration luncheon, my father experienced a mild stroke. We rushed him to the hospital and although greatly shaken, were relieved he seemed to have suffered only minor damage to his left side. Throughout the last week we travelled back and forth between my parent’s home an hour away, my sister’s house, and the hospital. We brought clothing and toiletries to my mother who opted to stay in the city at my sister’s, drove her to the hospital when we could, and visited my dad. Scary stuff. I was supposed to attend a major trade show in Las Vegas for business this week, but it’s a no-brainer. I’m needed here more than there. Sure I’m disappointed. I’ve never been to Vegas before and was really pumped about going, but hey, trade show vs dad and family. No contest.

My superhero, my dad

My dad is my hero – my rock. He’s the one who keeps us on track and laughing (he loves to laugh). I remind myself it could have been so much worse, and it could. We are very lucky. We got a whopping wake up call and thump upside the head to remind us no one is immune. Not even my father.

Here’s the funny thing though. It occurred to me about mid-week that it was a very good thing we were here with them. A very good thing we were able to help out however we could this week. And perhaps a true blessing that my parents won’t return home alone. Over the course of this past week, my mother has said many times how relieved she is that we will be here with them when my dad finally comes home. My dad has expressed the same thing, as have my siblings and children.

Two days ago, on the way home from the hospital, I heaved a great sigh and said to my husband, “I guess it’s a good thing we’re going to be staying with mom and dad for a while, huh?” All the fight had gone out of me. I realized I was right where I needed to be. Life was teaching me another lesson despite myself. It’s all good and well to fight, to strive, to move forward, but sometimes there’s a reason we are where we are. Sometimes we may have to accept that God, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, places us right where we are needed so the story can continue as it should.

Memories

As an author, and as a person, I get that. For now, I’m content to do what needs to be done and be grateful for the lessons learned. I am willing to accept change and let go, for a while, the need to control everything, yet even my decision to do so is solely within my control. Today, I’m just a daughter who is needed by her parents. Each day, each week, each month, I’ll pick up the threads and continue weaving my life’s story, learning as I go.

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The Ghost Hunter

Author, Lori Brighton, has penned a great paranormal romance story that I really enjoyed reading. This was the first time I’d ever read anything by Lori, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself continually picking up my ereader to read more.

Ashley Hunter doesn’t realize she’s just inherited more than an English pub, but a house full of ghosts, a witchy neighbour and one fallen angel, Christian. The haunted house and neighbour Ashley can handle, but Christian is another matter all together. With his wickedly handsome features, hot body and simmering sexuality, he’s not easy to ignore, but she’s determined to try. When her ghosts begin disappearing one by one, she suspects Christian may be the culprit.

I highly recommend The Ghost Hunter and author, Lori Brighton, to anyone who loves to curl up with a good read and a little romance.

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In The Spirit Of Love

I’m often asked why the male protagonist in my novel, In The Spirit Of Love, is a ghost. After all, he’s dead, and really, what chance for a future romance is there?

When I started writing ISOL, I didn’t worry about that. I was concerned with the issues they’d face, the obstacles that would be inherent in both being a ghost, and in loving one. See, the fact is, love doesn’t offer guarantees, it’s often a leap of faith to accept that you’ll be together many years in the future. For that matter, the same goes for life. We aren’t promised happily ever-afters, or even temporary happiness. We have to create them ourselves. Every turn of life could send us tumbling into the abyss. But I’m a romance writer, so I couldn’t help but wonder; what if you loved someone because you were destined to? What if you had to put all the “what if’s” on hold and just love someone because of who they were, not for what they had, or what they could do for you.

As a ghost, Lord Richard Abbottsford is limited in his ability to communicate with the outside world. After almost one hundred fifty years, he’s come accept this limitations. Then he spies Claire Jacobs, who is the exact replica of his long deceased love, and suddenly, the future is rife with possibilities – and love.

Lots of publishers and agents said “rubbish”, it’s too far-fetched. Again I thought, but isn’t that true of life? Don’t we all meander down a path, accepting things as they are, we stop fighting, stop questioning, only to come smack up against something – or someone – who alters our course forever. Doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes rail against our lot in life, the disappointments and hurts, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for it all. Maybe we really are supposed to learn something from the obstacles and pain.

By allowing my protagonists to experience pain and unhappiness, as well as joy and excitement, I hope to instil a sense of hope and expectancy for the future for them, even when it seems impossible there could be one.

 

Movie – Ghost

Ghosts, re-incarnation, visions and déjà vu are all subjects that are kinda out there, but people have been talking about them for millennia. I’ll admit I think a lot of it is hooey, yet some are just so damned unexplainable – what if they’re real. What if the past affects the present, so that our future can change? I for one have definitely experienced many instances of déjà vu, or had dreams that were startlingly real – but those are stories for another time.

Because I wanted to write a story about a woman who falls in love with a ghost, I did a bit of research. Websites such as Ghosts and Stories abound, although I thought this one was fun and interesting. With the story set in England, I also researched haunted English estates and was surprised to discover there really is a Chillingham Castle in Northumberland. I say shocked, because I’d never heard of it before, yet I’d already written that one of the minor characters in the book is from “Chillingham Estate”. Coincidence, I’m sure but again, interesting.

So, back to my original question; why a love story between a woman and a ghost? Because it was a story that intrigued me, and once I started, it wouldn’t let me go. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts, or the paranormal, but I do believe in love, in second chances, and in leading with your heart as well as your head.

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