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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weigh in on Eye and Hair Color

I'm working on a new, stand-alone book for possible publication in 2015. I will be introducing an entirely new set of characters, and I'd like your opinion.

To the right of this post are two questions. Which eye color do you find sexiest and most intoxicating? Feel free to leave a comment as well, if you'd like to explain why you chose what you did (the poll is anonymous) or you'd like to mention a particular actor, musician or celebrity who has the eyes you'd love to see in the bedroom.

And what hair color do you consider the sexiest? Feel free to leave additional comments below with information about length, style, etc.

And in future posts, I'll discuss the findings and how this new character is developing - with your help.

Feel free to share this poll with your friends. The more responses we get, the more intriguing it will be to see the results!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 15

Well, color me psychic.

An intriguing exercise I came across while researching psychic spies and how they train included visualizing color. An integral part of a psychic spy's abilities comes in the level of detail they are able to see in their mind's eye. The most successful spies are those that can see and memorize blueprints, buildings and landscapes, and even paperwork on a desk or items on a computer screen.

One of the exercises that enables psychics to hone their skills is in seeing colors.

For example, close your eyes and visualize yourself at the beach. White-hot sands, ocean waves, sea breeze, cloudless skies... Focus on that image for a few seconds, and then imagine yourself leaving the beach and walking through a wooded area followed by a field of flowers before reaching a bungalow.

Open your eyes and try to remember what you just experienced. How much detail was there?

Now try this exercise:

Close your eyes and imagine yourself at the beach. The sand is a combination of white and dark, as shadows begin to reach across it. You glance upward at the sky and find it a beautiful blue with fluffy white clouds. But in the distance, there are darker clouds forming, heralding the onset of a storm. The sea is a darker blue, almost indigo, but as the waves gather, you notice whitecaps so large that surfers have come out in droves.

You gather your belongings, which included a bright red beach towel and a yellow visor. You turn away from the sea and begin walking toward a grove of trees. A path winds its way through the trees, which effectively cuts off the sun and plunges you into shadows of deep green and brown.

Just ahead, you see the opening onto a vast field. As you get closer, you find the field is filled with brilliant flowers of deep purple, red, orange and yellow. There is a sea of color as far as the eye can see.

As you make your way across the field to a white bungalow with flamingo-pink shutters, you are amazed at the level of detail you can see in each of the flowers, from those that are cone-shaped to others that are wide and large, and still others that flow like beads on the growing breeze.

Now open your eyes.

How many of the colors were you able to see? The more color you can envision in this exercise, the more you're likely to retain - and see additional details.

In the Black Swamp Mysteries series, Vicki Boyd is one of the best psychic spies the CIA employs. She is able to see vividly the colors of each landscape she encounters. The colors often are clues to where she is and are often used by analysts to verify that she is in the correct position.

The Black Swamp Mysteries series consists of Exit 22, Vicki's Key (the first to introduce the psychic spy), Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan's Song and The Pendulum Files. Check out my website at for information on each of the books, along with chapters you can download.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vikings in Ireland

The White Devil of Dublin, my latest suspense, will be released this coming September. It is the second book in the Ryan O'Clery suspense series. To write this book, I researched the 12th century in Dublin, a fascinating and brutal time in Ireland's history.

The White Devil is a Viking, one of many who settled in Dublin from the 10th through the 12th centuries, transforming it from a sleepy port to a thriving village. They journeyed south from the Scandinavian countries to the Irish Sea, raiding monasteries and villages, raping women and killing men, women and children. They burned homes, pillaged and carried back whatever riches they found to their homelands.

But along the way, many of the Vikings became more Irish than the Irish.

There is a saying "Red on the head where the Vikings tread". Many Irish - among them, my own family on my father's side - lived in areas where the Vikings didn't penetrate. Their hair has always been black. Then there are Irish - such as those on my mother's side - who lived in the east, closer to the Irish Sea, and closer to the lands the Vikings invaded. Those are more likely to have red hair - the hair of the Vikings.

The White Devil is an albino. When a noted historian telephones Detective Ryan O'Clery claiming to have information about his ancestors, he is certain she is mistaken; yet he agrees to meet with her anyway. But when he arrives, he finds the woman dead and her computer stolen. His investigation will lead him back to the time when the Vikings ruled Ireland, a time when a man roamed Dublin known as Hvitr Bard, or The White Devil, and a secret his family kept hidden for over eight hundred years. It will also bring him face to face with a present-day albino serial killer, intent on finishing the job he started.

The official release date for The White Devil of Dublin is September 15, 2014. For the first time ever, you can pre-order the book in any eBook format for only $2.99. After the book's release, the price will go to $6.99 for the eBook and $16.95 for the trade paperback. To pre-order the eBook in any format and take advantage of the special pricing, follow this link. You can also find it in the iBooks store and on Nook. Check amazon on September 15 - they do not currently allow pre-orders for smaller publishers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reincarnation - Do You Believe?

Detective Ryan O'Clery has always had dreams of a beautiful woman. But unlike dreams in which the person may not appear in detail or certain characteristics change over time, his never did. It wasn't until he discovered a journal kept by an ancestor who lived centuries earlier and half a world away that he realized his dreams were actually the other man's memories.

In this scene in The Tempest Murders, Ryan is having a conversation with his sister Claire soon after he meets the woman he has been dreaming about since he was a small boy. He knew immediately that she was his soul mate; she looked identical to his dreams - and the memory of who she was in 1839 Ireland.

Claire cocked her head to study him. “I had a funny feeling you were needing me today.”
“Did you now?”
She didn’t answer but continued to study him. Her eyes were astute and after a minute, he stepped around the island and pulled her to him. He closed his eyes and held her, resting his chin on the top of her head.
“You’ve always known when I needed you.”
“Aye, Re. We’re joined together, you and I.” They stood for a moment in silence before she pulled away. “Are you sad on account of the divorce? It’s only natural, you know—”
“It isn’t that.”
“Well, what is it then?”
He could have gone to his grave with his secret inside him, had she not already known he was troubled. And she always knew. She’d known since she was six years old and he’d never been able to keep anything from her. “You remember the dreams I’ve always had?”
She cocked her head again. When she looked at him, she didn’t blink, as if she was totally focused on every word. “Aye.”
“They’ve become more frequent.”
“It’s only natural, Re, for you to dream about the perfect soul mate when your marriage has just dissolved.”
“She’s real, Claire. And she’s here.”
“What are you saying?”
He gestured toward the back yard. “It happened yesterday. I was cooking outside there. And right before I put the meat on the grill, she just stepped through the hedges there.”
“She just materialized in your own back yard.”
“Aye. Right there between’st the gardenias and the patio.”
“I know it sounds unbelievable—”
“It sounds insane.”
“But I swear it’s the truth.”
“You weren’t hallucinating.”
“Have you ever known me to hallucinate?”
“No. I haven’t.”
“There you have it.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“My first time to hallucinate hasn’t happened yet.”
She shifted her weight from one hip to the other, her eyes still focused on his. “And what did you do there, after she materialized in your own back yard?”
“We had dinner.”
She raised one brow.
“She’s the woman I’ve dreamed about, all these years. She even had the dragonfly tattoo on her ankle. Of course, in my dreams, it was always a birthmark, but—”
“Lots of women have dragonfly tattoos on their ankles.”
He combed his hair with his fingers but the locks fell back onto his forehead immediately. “It happened so fast. And it felt so right. I’ve always had this feeling, like I had a twin in the womb with me. And somehow, coming into the world, that twin was lost. I’ve always lived with this emptiness, as if someone ought to be there who isn’t.”
“I know you have, Re. I’ve always known you have.”
“When she was here, when we were together, it—it was as though I’d found my twin. The other part of myself. She made me whole somehow.”
“Your twin soul.”
“She is my twin soul, Claire. I know we’ve been together before. I know we have.”

Is reincarnation possible? It is a question that Ryan struggles with. A staunch Irish Catholic, he's been raised to believe in one life followed by heaven or hell. Now he must come to terms with the very real possibility that he has known this woman in another life - and that it may end in murder, just as it did nearly two hundred years earlier.

The Tempest Murders is available in all fine book stores, retailers and online. It is a finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards and a 2014 International Book Awards nominee. You can find it on Kindle by following this link, in trade paperback on amazon here, and for all other eBooks formats you can follow this link. It is also available in the iBooks store and on Nook.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Making of a Psychic - Part 14

While researching declassified missions conducted by psychic spies, some fascinating facts were revealed about impediments psychics can encounter. I used one of these in Vicki's Key, one of the books in my Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring CIA psychic spy Vicki Boyd.

Vicki is tasked with discovering why there is so much interest in a remote village in Afghanistan - a village that would be impossible to visit in the flesh, because foreigners would be discovered immediately. Yet she is repeatedly repelled by massive heat and unable to continue because of it.

The phenomenon has been reported in several instances. Psychic spies who were interviewed after these missions have reported that they believed they were in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, something so powerful that even when they were not there physically but only through their psyches, it threatened to destroy them. Just as a person can be frightened to death or their minds can lead to physical damage, the same is true during psychic missions.

There is another instance in which massive amounts of heat were felt during psychic missions, causing real-life psychics to turn back. I used this in a scene out of Vicki's Key:

Soon the blackness gave way to the feeling that she was inside a tunnel, moving forward cautiously as a blast of heat began to rise up in front of her. In the distance were the sounds of cries, of panicked children and men barking orders. Vicki touched the wall of the tunnel and peered into the darkness, realizing she had gone in after the children and she was searching for them now.
“Shaista!” she called. “Shaista!”
She tried to move forward but the tunnel walls became as hot as flames, burning her hands and causing her to recoil. Why was it so hot? She thought in alarm. She had to move forward, she had to find the children, but this heat was holding her back. It was as if she’d stepped through the gates of Hell.
She recalled the house built against the mountain and how the heat had risen from the door to block her entry. She had gone through it, she reminded herself, and she can go through it again.
She stepped back and tried to take a deep breath but the air was thick and stale. Dust seemed to be everywhere and it invaded and scorched her lungs. Her chest felt constricted and she knew with a rising panic that if she didn’t go back, she would perish there.
But the children, she thought. She had to save the children.
She tried to move forward again and again but each time, the fiery heat pushed her back.  What is in here? She thought. Her mind raced like a computer searching a database, looking for clues, needing answers.
The Ark of the Covenant, Sam had said. It wasn’t that. She knew it, she could feel it. The Holy Grail? No. It was nothing religious.
She touched the walls gingerly, trying not to pull back when her fingertips felt scorched. It wasn’t emeralds. It wasn’t gems. They were mining something, something so dangerous that her spirit was warning her away from it—
When the answer came to her, it appeared in a rush so forceful that it nearly swept her off her feet, sucking her out of the tunnel. Uranium. They were mining uranium.

For whatever reason, uranium does have the composition to create massive amounts of heat during psychic missions. It has become so documented that when psychic spies encounter it, they know almost instinctively that they are nearing uranium. 

And what of the Ark of the Covenant? Perhaps some day we'll discover it and we'll know when why it's properties are so valuable that it has successfully repelled psychics for millenia. 

Until then, it will no doubt be the stuff of legends, movies and books.

Vicki's Key is available in print in all fine book stores and retailers and online. You can find the trade paperback on amazon by following this link, and in Kindle format here. For all other eBook formats, follow this link or look for it in the iBooks store or on Nook. Vicki's Key was a finalist in both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The Age of Discovery

I am constantly amazed at this Golden Age of Discovery in which we live. And in just one year, our perception of the universe could be completely rocked.

Pluto is roughly 4.67 BILLION miles from Earth. The exact distance changes continually, as planets move in an elliptical manner, placing us closer at some times than others. And yet, in just one year from now, NASA's New Horizon spacecraft will reach Pluto. When it does, it will be able to look into a part of our universe that has never been seen before.

This is the first time we'll have glimpsed a new world in several decades. We have no idea what Pluto looks like - whether it is made of ice or rock, whether it shows signs of life in the past or present, or whether it may even resemble our own planet.

As the New Horizon spacecraft nears Pluto, it will also be able to look beyond it into areas we have never seen before, especially so up-close. Even the Hubble Space Telescope must strain to see Pluto. Yet when New Horizon enters its orbit, it would be able to detect tall buildings - if any exist. The level of detail will be astonishing.

It is the mystery, the awe and the wonder of such new worlds that inspired many science fiction writers and no doubt will continue to do so well into the future.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Does Hair Have to do with Suspense?

Hair seemed to have a running theme in my life last week.

I suppose I am from the "old school" because I never thought anything of making myself presentable each and every morning. It made no difference whether I planned to go out or stay in; it was just something ingrained in me from an early age.

However, I came across a lady who complained about her hair to me. She said she had to "fix it" every day, and she hated it for that reason.

Later in the same week, I was having lunch in a nice restaurant when I noticed the lady's hair at the next table was in dire need of washing. It was one of those times when I felt like I was watching a train wreck; I knew I should look away but I couldn't. Her black hair was sprinkled with what looked like lint; it was not only on top of the hair but obviously under the surface as well.

So what does this have to do with suspense?

I realized as I contemplated all of this (yes, I am a deep thinker) that when authors develop characters for their books, they often assume certain things. In the case of hair, I assumed that everyone had the same commitment to looking presentable as I did, or that no one resented the time spent in making themselves presentable.

But I realized that each of us is unique, and our characters should represent that. The two people I encountered provided inspiration. What type of character would go to a nice restaurant with hair littered with lint? Perhaps it's someone who doesn't care to spend time on hygiene. Or perhaps it's a caretaker for an elderly parent, a disabled child, or someone who can't take five minutes out of the day for themselves. Maybe it's someone who just lost their home to a tornado or hurricane, or a homeless person being treated to a decent meal by a Good Samaritan.

Then there are the people who hate their hair. It's thinning. Or it's too thick. It frizzes in high humidity. Or it goes limp. It's lifeless, or it has a life of its own.

Hair is just one element in describing a character but the image of that character can be changed in just a short phrase.

Can you think of other physical characteristics that would change your mental image of a character?