Derek Brandt Inspiration

Character Inspiration: Derek Brandt

Derek Brandt InspirationIf you’ve read any of the alternative scenes from the original draft of Kindred Spirits I posted–or if you were one of the unlucky people who, to my embarrassment, were sent the wrong Kindle file on the day the book launched (a faux pas that was quickly resolved by my publisher, so if you blinked you missed it; I’m hoping you blinked)–then you won’t be surprised to learn that Chris Wilson’s nemesis-slash-love-interest was originally named Douglas Batey, and in my mind he bore a strong resemblance to Jeremy Renner.

Sometimes characters evolve as you write them, and in more ways than just character growth. This was one of those times.

And it turns out that the actor you envision in the role can make a big difference.

Writing the second draft of Kindred Spirits coincided with marathon binge-fests of Gilmore Girls as I got myself all caught up and ready to watch the revival mini-series on Netflix. And while I am not a fan of Logan Huntzberger (Team Jess all the way!), it wasn’t very far into his introductory season when Douglas/Derek suddenly morphed into Matt Czuchry, and everything clicked into place.

In my mind, Derek Brandt shares Logan’s looks, mannerisms and penchant for banter with none of his spoiled poor-little-rich-boy childishness. While he does have a stubborn streak a mile long, a tendency to become too single-minded in pursuit of his goals, and a penchant to be overprotective of the people he cares about, he’s also smart, caring, and he eventually comes around to admitting when he’s wrong. He also possesses courage and a mighty sense of justice, and he doesn’t let sentimentality or even loyalty stand in the way.

As for the name change, you can thank my husband, who pointed out that Douglas is a terrible name for a romance novel hero. While I happen to think it’s a perfectly manly name, I had to concede his point–plus it no longer fit the new and improved version of the character. I’m happy that I caved. Derek Brandt is a much better foil/match for Chris than Douglas Batey ever was.

Get to know Derek Brandt in Kindred Spirits before his next appearance in Bound Spirits later this summer!

Kindred Spirits Jean Marie Bauhaus

Deleted Scene: Ghost of a Chance, #2


For once, my schedule is pretty clear this entire week for working on my novel (except for that one day that I plan to eat myself into a turkey and pie coma). In order to keep it freed up, I’m limiting the time and brainpower I spend on other things (like this blog) throughout the week. So in lieu of an actual article, here’s another unused scene from Kindred Spirits, written back when it was still called Ghost of a Chance and the male lead was still named Doug. If you missed the deleted scene that precedes this one, you can find it here.

I hope you enjoy this alternate universe peek into what Kindred Spirits might have been. Meanwhile, I’m going to do my level best this week to get the first draft of Bound Spirits in the can.


Between the sake and excitement over this new project, Chris didn’t take much convincing to agree to go back to Doug’s place. Just to finish their discussion and shore up their plans over coffee, he had clarified. Besides, she wanted to meet Jimmy and get the lowdown on his situation first-hand.

His home surprised her, despite Ron having told her what to expect. It was just so Brady Bunch, although it could use a decorator’s touch.

“I’d have pegged you as more of a downtown loft type of guy,” she told him as she strolled past him into the living room.

“I grew up in this house,” he explained. “I inherited it from my parents.” He shrugged. “It’s comfortable enough, not to mention mortgage-free. Make yourself comfortable while I put on some coffee.”

He headed toward the kitchen. She followed him and parked herself at the bar. “Both of your parents are gone?”

“Yeah. Guess that makes me an orphan. If you can still call yourself an orphan at 30.”

“What happened?” At his hesitation, Chris realized she’d overstepped. “I mean, if you don’t want to talk about it . . .”

“No, it’s fine.” He put a kettle of water on the stove before he continued. “I, uh, I had an older brother,” he said as he scooped grounds into a French press. “Jimmy. He was killed.”

Chris tried to sound appropriately shocked as she said, “I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah, well, it happened a long time ago. Some robbers busted in here and stabbed him. He was only sixteen.” As he spoke, a figure of a teenage kid appeared next to him, watching him. Chris pretended not to notice. “Anyway, not long after that my mom found out she had cancer. It was inoperable, and she started to go downhill fast. I guess the stress of losing my brother and then watching her die slowly was too much for my dad, and he had a heart attack. Once he was gone, my mom just kind of gave up. She died a couple of months later.”

“Oh, God, Doug.”

“Yeah, well, like I said. It was all a long time ago. I’m used to being on my own by now.” Just then the kettle whistled, and he turned around to pour water on the coffee.

“You’re not alone,” said the kid. “I’ve been right here this whole time.”

Chris looked at him and offered him a reassuring smile, which seemed to startle him. “Are you Ron’s sister?” he asked, and she nodded. He opened his mouth to say something else, but she held up a finger to silence him as Doug turned back around.

“You know, I was only eight when my mom died,” she told Doug. “And you already know what happened to my sister.”

“What happened to your mom?”

“Same thing that happened to Ronnie. She fell down some stairs. Except in her case she tripped on a toy one of us left there.” Chris had always been careful not to specify which one of them had left the Barbie car that killed their mother sitting on the stairs. Lord knew Ron carried enough guilt about it, and their father’s attitude about the whole thing didn’t help.

“That’s weird, that they both died the same way.”

“Yeah. It was a freaky coincidence.” She left out the part where Ron’s neck had already been broken by a ball thrown by a demonic child spirit, which was what caused her to fall. So not exactly the same thing.

Douglas poured their coffee and set a steaming mug in front of her. “You know, I could get used to you bringing me coffee all the time,” she said.

He smiled. “I’ll make a note of that.”

Maybe it was because the sake hadn’t worn off yet. Or maybe it was because she was a sucker for a handsome man with a tragic past. Whatever it was, Chris was warming up to him. Maybe a little too much. A voice of warning spoke up in the back of her mind. If he screws you over again, your heart is going to be so broken.

She sipped her coffee, willing the caffeine to return her to her senses. “So about this pilot. What exactly did you have in mind?”

“Good question. Hang on. I printed off some info about the castle.” He walked around the counter and over to the coffee table, then just stood there and looked around. “That’s weird. I could’ve sworn I left it here.” He scanned the living room, looked under the sofa cushions, even knelt down to look under the sofa. “Maybe it’s still back in my office. Sit tight. I’ll be right back.”

Chris watched him disappear down the hall. As soon as he was gone, one of the French doors leading to the back patio swung open. Chris took the hint and stepped outside to find the kid waiting for her.

“Jimmy, right?”

He nodded. “Ron said you can help me talk to Doug.”

“That’s right.” She jerked a thumb back over her shoulder. “So did you hide his printout?”

“Yeah. It’s funny. I’ve been here for so long, but I never could figure out how to do stuff like that until your sister showed up.” He shoved his hands into his pockets. “So, when can we talk to him?”

The eager anticipation on his face twisted her heart. “I’m sorry, Jimmy, but I think it’s going to take a while. Your brother’s kind of a tough nut to crack.”

His crestfallen look gave her heart another painful twist. “How long?”

“It’s hard to say. But I’m working on it. We’ll do it as soon as we can be sure he’ll actually listen.”

“But I—” He suddenly cut himself off and vanished just as Doug stepped out onto the patio.

“There you are,” he said.

“Hope you don’t mind,” she said. “I wanted some fresh air, and it looked nice out here.” It really did. The sunken patio was surrounded by a rock retaining wall, with a climbing trellis on one side covered with ivy and honeysuckle. Stone steps led up to a manicured lawn enclosed by a tall wooden privacy fence. Another patio, this one made of brick, sat at the back of the yard, and sported a fire pit, a charcoal grill and a pair of lounge chairs. Chris found herself imagining spending summer days camped out on one of those chaises with a glass of lemonade while Doug worked the grill and kids chased each other around the yard. Then she mentally slapped herself and wondered where in the hell that image had come from.

“Why would I mind?” Doug asked. He motioned to the patio table with a hand that clutched a small stack of papers. “We can talk out here if you like.”

Chris nodded at the papers. “Found your printout?”

Doug looked bewilderedly at what he held. “Yeah, it was in my bedroom, lying in the middle of the bed.” He shook his head. “I guess I must’ve been really distracted when I carried it in there.”

“It happens to the best of us,” she said, then made a show of considering an idea. “Although . . .”


“Has there been anything else out of place? Anything that hasn’t quite made sense?”

Something flickered in his expression, just briefly, but Chris got the sense there was something he wanted to tell her. But then he smoothed out his expression and shook his head. “No. Why?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s just that I see a lot of objects getting mysteriously misplaced in my line of work.”

There was that look again, but then he covered it with a laugh. Chris thought she detected a slight note of derision, which helped to cool those warm feelings she’d been having. “I might be going prematurely senile, but I’m pretty sure I’m not haunted.”

“Okay then,” she said, and pointed at the printout. “So let’s talk about someplace that is.”

He nodded and gestured toward the table. He pulled a chair out for her, continuing his gentlemanly trend and reviving some of the embers of those warm feelings. He slid the papers in front of her and pulled up a chair beside her. “So like I said, I was thinking about investigating Pythian Castle, up in Springfield. Have you been there?”

“No, but it’s on my team’s bucket list. It was a war orphanage, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Actually, a home for orphans and widows during the second world war. They also kept German POWs there.”

Chris’s eyebrows lifted. “No wonder it’s haunted.”

“Allegedly,” Doug amended. “We’re coming at everything from a skeptical angle, don’t forget. Our job is to gather evidence and see where it leads.”

Chris read through the information he’d printed, the building’s history and notable sightings and activity that had been reported. “Child ghosts,” she murmured, more to herself than to Doug. The thought of kids being trapped in that big, spooky building that had been full of so much sadness broke her heart. She wondered if they even realized they were dead. Whatever kind of show Douglas wanted to do, she’d go along with it if it meant she had a chance to free those kids.

“Ghosts or not,” said Douglas, “the place has a pretty sad history. So, do you think the rest of your team will go for it?”

“They will. I’ll be honest, they won’t be too happy about the idea of working for you. But they’re not going to pass up this opportunity.”

“I sure hope not. This could turn into a career-changer for all of us.”

Chris pushed the paper back toward him and leaned back to regard him. “What makes you think I’m looking for a career change?”

He shrugged. “It’s just a good opportunity. If we all work well together, and the network likes our dynamic—”

“Whoah.” Chris sat up straighter. “I thought this was a one-time deal. So what are you saying?”

“Just that there could be an opportunity for you to become a permanent part of the show. But that’s assuming it even gets picked up. We shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”

“I don’t think I’m the one jumping out ahead.”

He reached for her hand, but stopped just short of grabbing it. Chris felt an annoying stab of disappointment as she stared at his hand resting near hers on the table. “Look, I’m sure you’re very happy, living all alone in that big house and giving ghost tours and reassuring people that they don’t have to be afraid of strange noises.”

“And there’s that condescension again,” she said, inching her hand further away from his.

“That’s not—” He sighed. “I’m really bad at this.”

“No argument here.”

He looked at her then, and he seemed to be struck by something. Judging by the look on his face, it wasn’t anything she’d said. His gaze lingered, and the way he looked at her made those warm feelings Chris had been fighting to ignore all night flare up, spreading heat out from deep in her gut. She felt herself flush as her heart sped up.

Doug tore his gaze away, but it appeared to take some effort. “It’s just,” he began, “you’re special, Christine. I don’t know about what you can or can’t see or hear beyond what’s plainly visible, but I do know that.” He met her gaze again. “You’re meant for greater things than this. It would make me very happy if I could play a part in helping you get there.”

Chris blew out the breath she’d been holding. “Wow. That’s . . . actually really sweet.”

He looked away from her, suddenly bashful, but he didn’t say anything.

“I just don’t know how to take a guy who doesn’t believe in this thing that’s such a big part of who I am.”

“I’m willing to be convinced,” he said. He met her gaze again, and held it. Suddenly he was too far away. Without thinking about it, Chris

leaned in toward him, and he started to meet her halfway.

Just then, his coffee cup flew off of the table and shattered against the retaining wall.

“Damn it!” Douglas shouted as he jumped to his feet. “That’s the second mug today!”

Chris also stood up, and saw Jimmy standing beside the table. “Tell him,” he demanded.

Chris looked at Doug. “This happened before?”

He squeezed his eyes shut with irritation as he said, “This morning. My mug . . . it levitated, then crashed to the floor.”

“And you didn’t think that counted as something out of place?”

He sighed. “I didn’t want to tell you. I just wanted to forget it happened.”

“Tell him!” Jimmy shouted, and she gave him a warning look.

Douglas opened his eyes just in time to catch it. “What are you looking at?”

“Nothing,” she said, making her face neutral.

He eyed her suspiciously, then looked around the patio. “Do you see something? Is there something . . . someone here?”

“Please,” Jimmy pleaded. “Just tell him.”

Chris sighed. She couldn’t lie to him. “Yeah, Doug. There’s someone here with us.”

He looked more intently around the yard as he drew closer to her. She wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be for her protection or his.


She pointed to where Jimmy stood. “Right there.”

Douglas stared at the spot, and his brother looked back at him. “Tell him I’m here,” said Jimmy. “Tell him I’ve always been here.”

“Who . . . what is it?”

“It’s your brother, Doug. It’s Jimmy.”

He continued staring at the spot, his face hardening into a mask of neutrality. Tentatively, Chris placed a hand on his arm. “I know it’s not easy to hear—”

He jerked away from her. “How dare you?”

“What? Doug—”

“It was kind of a big deal for me to open up to you about my brother. I never thought you’d use it like this.”

“Doug! I’m not—”

“It’s late,” he said. “I’d better drive you home.” He grabbed up his papers and headed inside without another word.
Jimmy stared after him. “Listen to her!” he shouted, but he and Chris both knew it was futile. He glanced at her, then hung his head. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “We’ll figure this out. Just, trust me next time, okay? We have to go slow.”

He nodded.

She gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile, then followed Douglas into the house.


Want to read the version that stuck? Click here to find out where you can get Kindred Spirits and the book that started it all, Restless Spirits!

Deleted Scene: Ghost of a Chance (aka Kindred Spirits)

My novel writing process is a little weird. I typically start out writing a draft before outlining just to get a feel for the story and characters, knowing full well that the draft will never get finished. I call this exploratory draft my Zero draft. I actually got pretty far with the zero draft for Kindred Spirits, which at the time was going by the title Ghost of a Chance.

All of which means I’ve got a treasure trove of “deleted scenes” from that book. They probably shouldn’t ever see the light of day, but I’ve decided to share some of them anyway, just so you can see how, oftentimes, the initial version of a book is a completely different book than the one that ends up getting published. You can definitely see that in this scene, if you’ve read Kindred Spirits. There are plenty of things that don’t really fit in the final story–not the least of which is that Derek, Kindred Spirits‘ male lead, was originally a Doug.

This should be read as a curiosity, and nothing more. Consider it a peek at an alternate version of the Restless Spirits ‘verse.


Doug sat in the car and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, debating whether he should get out and go ring the bell. He was early, and he’d already been parked in front of her house for about ten minutes. He was starting to feel a little stalkerish. Still, most of his experience with women informed him that they hated it when you showed up early for a date. It interrupted them from getting ready.


Not a date, a business meeting, he reminded himself for the umpteenth time that day.

He hadn’t planned on asking her to dinner. When he’d stopped by that morning, the plan was to outline his proposal while she enjoyed the breakfast he’d brought her. The dinner invitation had slipped out in the heat of the moment, inspired largely by how cute she’d looked all rumpled and grumpy and just out of bed. He’d started inwardly berating himself the moment it was out, fully expecting to get shot down. He still couldn’t believe she’d said yes.

A neighbor went by on the sidewalk, walking her dog and eying Doug’s car suspiciously. He glanced at the clock. It was still five minutes till six. He smiled and nodded at the woman, who tried to pretend she hadn’t been staring at him as she pulled her dog away from the car. With a resigned sigh, Doug got out and headed up to Christine’s front door.

She took her time answering, which confirmed his suspicions about showing up early for these things. While he waited, he scanned the street. This wasn’t the nicest part of town—far from it. The north part of town had a reputation for high crime, a fact to which the barred windows and security doors on many of the neighboring houses attested. A seedy dive bar sat at one end of the street, and a couple of houses were boarded up and plastered with foreclosure notices.

Still, some of the houses, Christine’s among them, had been recently renovated, and featured picturesque front porches and landscaped lawns surrounded by picket fences, standing out like jewels in a trash heap. There was clearly a revitalization effort going on. Douglas hoped it succeeded.

He spotted the dog lady down the street, watching him from behind an overgrown lilac bush, and he smiled and waved. She again pretended, unconvincingly, to be minding her own business as she hurried down the street. Just then, the door behind him opened, and he turned around to see a vision that left him breathless and tongue-tied.
Christine’s blue eyes gazed up at him from beneath a side-swept fringe of bangs. Her fiery hair was done up in a sophisticated, if a little old-fashioned, up-do that went amazingly with her vintage boat-necked top in a shade of teal that made her eyes sparkle. She reminded him of a ginger Audrey Hepburn. Regaining the ability to speak, he told her, “You look amazing.”

She grinned. “Thanks.”

“Sorry I’m early,” he said. “I needed to stop for gas and I overestimated how much time it would take me. If you need more time . . .”

He stopped talking as her smile faded. Her hand flew to her hair and she looked down at her outfit. “Why? Do I look like I need more time?”

“No! Like I said, you look great. I just didn’t want you to feel rushed or anything.”

Chris gave him a skeptical look, then shut the door behind her. “It’s fine. I’m ready when you are.”

Doug made an “after you” gesture toward his car, then followed her to the sidewalk. She looked surprised as he reached past her to open the door for her, but she didn’t argue.

“Is sushi okay?” he asked once they were on their way.

“Sure. That’s great. So, um, you look nice.”


“That’s not really the sort of thing you say on the way to a business dinner, though, is it? Complimenting each other’s appearance seems like it should be firmly in date territory.”

“Huh,” said Doug. “I guess you’re right.”

“So is that what this is? A date?”

He tried to side-eye her while keeping his eyes on the road. “Do you want it to be?”

“I didn’t say that,” she said, sounding a little defensive. “I’m just trying to establish the dynamics at play here. Where is your head in all this?”

“Good question,” he said. “Well, A, you do look great tonight. That’s a statement of fact. B, I think taking you out for a nice dinner is the least I could do after what happened. And C, I really do have a business proposition for you. Hopefully one that will fix things.”

“Do you often feel like it’s your job to fix things?”

“When I’m the one who breaks them, yeah.”

They both fell silent as Douglas pulled onto the expressway. Christine stared out the window for a moment, then turned back to him. “So you don’t really think I’m a fraud?”

“No. And to be fair, the segment never said that you were.”

“It sure as hell implied it. If you don’t think I’m a fraud, does that mean you believe in what I can do?”

“I believe you believe it.”

“Oh, wow. Condescension and an implication that I’m nuts. You really know how to flatter a girl. Or butter up your potential business associates. Whatever.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.” He sighed and gripped the steering wheel more tightly. “Remember what I told you when I first asked to feature you? I try to keep an open mind. I haven’t seen anything to convince me . . .” He let his voice trail off as he remembered the coffee cup incident that morning. “I haven’t seen a lot of evidence in the supernatural. But I’m not so arrogant as to deny that sometimes things happen that defy explanation. I’m willing to be convinced if you can show me compelling enough evidence.”

“So you’re a science guy,” she said.

“Basically, yeah. I just want to get to the truth.”

“Well, I can’t explain the science behind my abilities, but there is science behind our investigation methods. You saw that for yourself.”

“I don’t know. The evidence you guys showed me was pretty sketchy.”

“Sketchy how?”

“Like the so-called electronic voice phenomena. Maybe those were disembodied voices, but they were so faint and staticy, they could’ve been a lot of things. Sure, some of them sounded like they might be saying certain words, but it was hard to tell for certain. Besides, the human brain is so wired to look for recognizable patterns that sometimes we see and hear patterns that don’t exist.” He slowed the car and moved over to exit the expressway. Once they were safely on the exit ramp, he continued, “If ghosts are real, and they want to be seen and heard, why are they so mysterious about it? Why don’t they just jump out and say, ‘Hey!’”

“That’s how they are for me,” said Chris.

“Okay, but why you?”

She sighed. “That’s a question I’ve been asking since I was eight years old. Anyway, they don’t do that for everybody because it’s hard. It takes a lot of energy, and most ghosts have no idea how to even work up the strength to break through, let alone channel it productively. I guess that’s why people like me exist. To help them.”

Doug didn’t have an answer for that. They both lapsed into silence as he navigated through the city streets to find the restaurant, thinking about his levitating mug along the way. He almost spaced out and drove right past the sushi place, but he noticed it in the nick of time. “Here we are,” he said as he turned in.

She didn’t wait for him to open the car door for her, but he did hold the restaurant door for her. She gave him a wary look as she walked past him into the restaurant. They were quickly seated, and didn’t pick up their conversation again until they’d placed their orders and had their drinks and appetizers delivered.

“So are you ever going to tell me about this business proposal?” Christine asked him.

“Here, have some sake first.” He picked up the flask and poured some into her cup.

“You know, if this is the sort of thing where I have to be liquored up to even hear it, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a no.”

Doug grinned. “It’s just good sake. Give it a try.”

She took a sip, then nodded appreciatively and set the cup down. “Okay, I’ve officially waited long enough. Now spill.”

He looked around to make sure there wasn’t anyone within ear shot who might tattle on him to his station bosses. Just to be safe, he leaned in and kept his voice low as he told her, “I’ve been in talks with the Syfy channel about hosting a new reality show.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Wow. That’s actually big news. Congratulations.”

“Thanks. It’s not a done deal yet, though.”

Christine picked out a pod of edamame and cracked it open. “What’s the show about?”

“It’s sort of what I’m doing now, on a grander scale. Exploring legends, strange sightings, hauntings, that sort of thing, but looking at all the angles to dig up the truth.”

“Great. So you can ruin people on a national scale.”

He sat back with a sigh. “I don’t plan to investigate people so much as places and stories, so there’s not a lot of danger of that.”

“So what’s this got to do with me?”

“Well, I’ve been working on my pitch for the pilot episode. I was thinking of bringing you and your team to a famous haunted location and letting you do your thing on the site while I dig up the history on the place.”
Christine folded her arms as she looked at him incredulously from across the table. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“I’m not. It would be great publicity for you, and give you a chance to vindicate yourself. On national television, no less.”

She frowned as she seemed to think it over, and poured herself another shot of sake. After tossing it back, she said, “I don’t know. I can think of plenty of things that could go wrong. Anyway, that channel has plenty of haunted house shows. What makes you think they’d even go for that?”

“Because I pitched it to them over e-mail this morning and they loved the idea. It’s practically a done deal. All you have to do is say yes.”

She looked like she was slightly in shock. “I’d have to be insane to say yes to you again, you know. Besides, I need to discuss it with my team. They’re all pissed off too, you know.”

“I kind of figured.”

They were interrupted as their waitress brought their order. Once she was gone, Christine picked out a piece of dragon roll with her chopsticks and asked, “So what famous haunted location did you have in mind?”

“Ever heard of Pythian Castle?”

She paused with the roll halfway to her mouth. As she looked at him, a grin slowly spread across her face, lighting up her whole demeanor. “I’m in,” she said.


It’s Release Day for Kindred Spirits!

Happy Launch Day! Kindred Spirits is finally here! This post contains all of the links you could possibly want pertaining to this book:

Here are all of the links to buy your copy.

Here are all of the reviews on Goodreads.

Here are all of the excerpts that were posted to get you started: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

And! I’m over on John Scalzi’s blog, the Whatever, talking about the Big Idea behind this book! Head here to read it!

Here are all of the links to buy Restless Spirits, the first book in this series, if you’re inclined to do so.

And here, once again, is the book trailer for Kindred Spirits.


Y’know, it was not even two years ago that I thought this day would never come. So I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty stoked that it’s finally here. I’m going to take the day to celebrate, and the weekend to rest up, and then it’s back to work on Book 3.

Story Inspiration: Love Letter

This is the second post in my inspiration series. If you missed the first post, head here to find out what inspired Restless Spirits!

loveletter-1400x2100The inspiration for Love Letter was initially the inspiration for the original draft of the upcoming Kindred Spirits. When I first began work on that book, I’d had the idea to introduce the ghost du jour by bringing a haunted object into the house. Originally, the haunted object was a rare comic book, and the ghost was a teenage boy. The teenager stuck around for the final draft, but the comic book as means of bringing him into the lives of Ron, Joe and Chris didn’t survive past the first partial exploratory draft.

Still, I thought using a haunted object to introduce a new ghost into Ron’s life was a fun idea, so when the time came to write a novella to help promote turning Restless Spirits into a series, it seemed like a natural place to start.

I came along this desk during an unrelated online search and I thought it looked like something Ron and Chris would both fall in love with for Chris’s new home office (which doubles as Ron’s ghost-writing space). I started thinking about the kind of person who might have owned it previously, and suddenly I had my ghost.

As I started writing Love Letter, I thought it was going to be more horror and mystery than anything, but as Brandon’s story came out I realized that I was dealing with a tragic love story. There aren’t really any horror or mystery elements in this one, but there’s plenty of humor to balance the tragedy, thanks to Ron’s quirky outlook on life and death. There’s also plenty of banter between her and both her sister and Joe, which is always fun to write.

Love Letter is now available wherever e-books are sold. Head over to Vinspire Publishing for all of the links to grab your copy today!


All Caught Up

I’m officially caught up to where I need to be on my noveling projects. After typing up all of the scenes I wrote longhand for Ghost of a Chance, and re-using a slightly revised scene from an earlier draft, the word count currently stands just a hair short of 47,000, which puts me over the halfway point. I’ve got to start hustling to get this draft done on time.

Thankfully, I’ve got a whole week with no freelance projects on my plate, so I’m going to use it to get ahead and get some forward momentum going again. Which means I’ll probably be scarcely seen in my usual online hangouts this week–and possibly for the next several weeks until this is done. But it’s all downhill from here, folks.

Writing Update and Newsish Bits

I let an entire week go by without an update, but I still don’t have any word metrics to share. It’s been a few days since I’ve written — I needed the weekend to rest, and with a lighter-than-usual freelance workload this week so far I’ve been taking advantage of that and the gorgeous weather (finally! It had been rainy/cloudy for almost a solid week and it was seriously triggering my SAD) to catch up on some housework. Also, recovering from the clock change, in which I’m sure I’m not alone. Stupid DST is stupid and disruptive.

But I’ve got a few bits of minor news/administrativa to share:

  • There are currently six chapters of my WIP available to read on Chapter 7 will join them tomorrow. I’m thinking about changing the $1 option to only being able to read a month’s worth of posts at a time and adding a $2 option for complete access to the archives. So if you want to be able to read it all from the beginning for only $1/month, you should probably hurry up and get on that. And if you think limiting the $1 option is a terrible idea, now is your chance to lodge a protest.
  • The second issue of my monthly author newsletter went out last week. If you missed it you can read it here (you can also click here to subscribe so you don’t miss another issue).
  • I started a Facebook group to serve as a hangout space for fans of my books. Come check it out and don’t be shy!
  • Not actually news (yet) but I’m giving serious consideration to deleting my Twitter account. The why involves a long rant about everything that’s wrong with Twitter and how it’s a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the world and I’m sure you already know if you spend any time on Twitter at all. At any rate, if you’re one of the teeny tiny handful of people who are used to chatting with me on Twitter, if you’re also on Facebook, you should consider joining the above group, where it’ll be a lot easier to chat me up.
  • I’m also looking into alternatives — I already have an Ello profile, but I haven’t done anything with it in a very long time. I’m open to suggestions.
  • This isn’t actually new, but did you know that you can read Dominion of the Damned for free on Kindle Unlimited or the Prime Lending Library? Well, you can. Also, Eucha Falls is perma-free pretty much everywhere e-books are sold.

In other news, I’m going to try to get back on the writing horse today. I’ve thought up a new scene that I’m quite enamored with but that doesn’t fit well into my current outline, so I’m going to find a sunny spot to sit with a printout of said outline to see if there’s a way to make that scene work. I also want to do some brainstorming and strategizing about upcoming writing projects and my career trajectory. I’ll let you know if that produces interesting results. But first, I’ve got a bit of business to take care of and some laundry to fold and put away, so off I go.

Blame it on the weather (a Monday writing update)

Happy Monday, campers!

I still don’t have any word metrics to share, because I’m still doing the longhand thing and I haven’t typed any of it up yet. I can tell you that I didn’t do any noveling over the weekend (although I did quite a bit of journaling). Actually, looking at the habit tracker in my bullet journal, I didn’t do any noveling the last four days. I’m not sure what happened to keep me from writing on Thursday and Friday, but it probably had something to do with April weather in the middle of freakin’ February sparking an early case of spring fever.

I did manage a certain amount of domestic productivity over the weekend (including finally bringing out the knickknacks that got put away to make room for Christmas decorations back in early December), but a lot of my weekend looked like this:

At any rate, I’m back on the horse as of this morning, having finished Chapter 10, Scene 1, which features a long heart-to-heart between the Wilson sisters that explores, among other things, Chris’s fear of close relationships with the living and Ron’s daddy issues. And the virtues of always checking for TP in public restrooms.

By the way, you can start reading this right now in serialized first-draft form on Patreon. The first three chapters are already up, with more coming later this week!

Monday Update (sans word metrics but now with pictures!)

Last week was another crazy and off-kilter one. I ended up having to work over the weekend in order to make an article deadline, so I took yesterday off from work work (and I didn’t even realize it was President’s Day when I made that decision) and used it to catch up on some house work (and also on Agent Carter and Supernatural, lest you think I was all virtuous and productive all day. Also, mind that I’m watching these on Hulu Free, so I’m still a week behind everybody else. No spoilers!).

I did actually manage to work on my novel all week, but I’ve taken to writing it longhand, so I won’t have any updated word metrics until I start typing it all up. I do have a picture, though!



I never used to really like writing longhand. Typing has always felt like part of my process, and it makes it easier to keep up with my brain. But lately I’ve actually been enjoying doing it this way. For one thing, I hate being tethered to my desk all day, and it’s easier to get motivated and get started when I can just grab a pen and notebook and start writing wherever I’m comfortable. And there’s something about the tactile sensation of pen and paper, and being forced to slow down a bit, that helps me focus. Of course, not being anywhere near an internet connection certainly doesn’t hurt that, either.

At any rate, the novel is still coming along more slowly than I’d prefer, but at least it’s coming along. I’ll begin posting unedited chapters on my Patreon page this week (tomorrow, if there’s time), so you can start reading it soon if you’re a member–and it only costs a dollar to become a member! Seriously, these days you can’t even get a decent cup of coffee for a buck.

For now, I’m off to squeeze in some exercise before dinnertime. Later taters.

Monday Word Metrics and the #JustWrite Challenge

For the second week in a row last week, I managed to write every day (save the weekend). Even so, I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped, thanks in part to the fact that we finally crawled out of our introvert hole long enough to go see The Force Awakens. All I’ll say about that in this space is that I loved it and am itching to see it again.

Onward to word metrics!

Today’s word count: 905 (so far–I’m not done yet for today)
Novel so far: 34,001
Words of fiction this year: 16,873

I’m hoping to break 35K tonight, but if I don’t I’ll most certainly do it tomorrow.

Here’s a non-spoilery snippet of today’s output:

“That girl’s a looker,” Jim said after another long silence. “I hope you’re doing all your thinking up here.” He reached over and tapped Doug’s temple.
That also wasn’t entirely true, but Jim didn’t need to know that, either. “I know what I’m doing.”
“Let’s hope so.” They reached their exit, and Jim navigated to the street that the restaurant was on. “After all these years, I don’t know why you can’t just let it go.”
“You mean just let Jimmy’s killers get away with it?”
“I mean get on with your life, son. You’re still young. You’ve still got a lot to look forward to. But you’re too stuck in the past to live your life.” He pulled into the parking lot and parked next to Doug’s Mustang. “It’s time to lay your brother’s ghost to rest,” Jim told him.
Doug nodded, thanked him for his help, and got out. As he fished his keys out of the envelope, he thought, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.


In other news, I just launched my attempt at a writing challenge. The #JustWrite Challenge is an informal challenge designed to get struggling writers over their initial hurdles and help them get their butts in the chair and start writing. If you’d like to participate, click here to read all about it.

In OTHER other news, this week I’ll be launching the first issue of my monthly author newsletter. If you’re not already on my mailing list and you want more of a glimpse into the writing life, or at least into this writer’s life, along with book recs, links of interest and other randomosity, click here to sign up (you’ll get a free book for doing so!).