It’s here! The Ghost Who Stayed Home, Book 11 of the Haunting Danielle series

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Left alone at Marlow House with Sadie and Max, Walt expects Danielle and Lily to return by the end of the week. When they don’t, he begins to wonder what happened to them.

The ghost of Marlow House doesn’t scare six-year-old Evan MacDonald. When the child sneaks into the house in the middle of the night, seeking Walt’s help, the resident spirit learns something has happened to Danielle and Lily.

Can a ghost confined to Marlow House and a pint-sized medium bring the people they love home?

Available at your favorite eBook store: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

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The story behind The Story of the Christmas Village

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Twenty-four years ago my father, Walt Johnson, passed away on December 10th. His first name might sound familiar—I borrowed it for one of my lead characters in the Haunting Danielle series.

Our family (my husband and two small children) moved to Lake Havasu (where I had lived as a teenager) in 1991, to help my parents run Havasu Palms. I wrote about that experience in Where the Road Ends, Havasu Palms Recipes and Remembrances, and again in Havasu Palms, A Hostile Takeover.

At the time, my father had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and he would pass away about a year after we moved to Havasu Palms.  The Story of the Christmas Village began shortly before Dad’s last Christmas, in 1991.

Scott, our oldest, was twelve that year, and our youngest, Elizabeth, was nine. It was a few weeks before Christmas, and I needed to give them something to do, so I handed them a stack of index cards, scissors, tape, and colored markers, and told them to make a village. And they did. They created an imaginative Christmas village, complete with a windmill, bridge, and houses with lights on the eves and cozy fireplaces inside the homes.image025

My mother was quite impressed with her grandchildren’s accomplishment, and proudly arranged the village around her Christmas tree. When Christmas was over, she carefully packed the village away in a large cardboard box.

Time passed. The years rolled by. Dad was gone, we lost Havasu Palms, and we were now living across the lake in Lake Havasu City.

Mom was visiting my sister when Don and I decided to empty the storage unit we had been renting. One of the boxes we found there contained the Christmas village.  Mom had given me strict instructions to take care in handling her precious village.

Unfortunately, the storage box was huge, and we had nowhere to keep it. I came up with an idea—photograph the village and write a story about it, which I would then self-publish as a Christmas gift for Mom.

I never intended for the book to be anything other than a gift for Mom. I never intended to offer it to the public. But then my sister happened.

Before my sister Lynn retired a couple of years ago, she was an elementary school teacher—over the years teaching first, second, and kindergarten classes. That year I gave Mom the book, I also gave a copy to my sister. Lynn did something with the book that I never expected. She read it to her class every year before Christmas, and her students loved it!  After reading the book with the class, she image039would have them make their own village with index cards.

Lynn urged me to publish the book. Actually, she wanted me to package it with index cards and markers.  I met her half way, and self-published the book, first through Lulu and then with Amazon.

It’s never been a big seller. Some who’ve read it, love it—and get what it’s about. After reading the book with their young children some readers get out the index cards and markers, and the real fun begins. Of course, there are some who pick up the book and scowl, wondering why I bothered publishing an obviously personal story that only my family could enjoy.

But of course…not every book appeals to every reader. Not even The Story of the Christmas Village.

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Looking for a ghostly Christmas tale?

How about a really good chocolate Christmas cookie?

christmas winter background with wooden planks

Christmas is just eleven days away,  and if you’re looking for a cozy Christmas book to curl up with,  check out The Ghost Who Came for Christmas.

While I advise reading the books in the Haunting Danielle series in order (this is Book 6), it isn’t critical for enjoying the story.

With a house full over the Christmas holiday, Danielle has been spending a great deal of her time baking—recreating culinary memories and holiday traditions from her childhood. One of those is a chocolate drop cookie borrowed from my own childhood.

If you are in the mood for baking, here’s the recipe.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

This cookie was a Christmas tradition when I was a child. During the holidays my paternal grandmother, Madeline, would fill a roasting pan with chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate drop cookie. My father (the original Walt) loved both, yet I believe the chocolate drop was his favorite. These are moist cake-like cookies, a delight to any chocolate lover! But don’t over-bake!

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon of warm water)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375º. Cream together sugar and shortening. Stir in egg, milk, then remaining ingredients, one by one. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonful on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes (Do not overcook!) Frost while warm. About 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Drop Cookie Frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk
2 squares unsweetened chocolate (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend together sugar and cream. Add melted chocolate, stir well. Add vanilla, mix thoroughly. Frost warm cookies.

 

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Haunting Danielle coming to audio books!

This afternoon I received the fully executed contract back from Tantor Media, who recently purchased the audio rights to the first three books in the Haunting Danielle series. In 2017 The Ghost of Marlow House, The Ghost Who Loved Diamonds, and The Ghost Who Wasn’t will be available for digital download for audio books, as well as available on CD.

In the meantime, Book 11 of the Haunting Danielle series—The Ghost Who Stayed Home—is slated for eBook release in a couple days, on December 16, 2016.  My cover designer is currently on sick leave after surgery, so the paperback versions will have to wait another month or so to hit Amazon.

I also have another pre-order available—Book 12 of the series, The Ghost and the Leprechaun which you can grab now. It won’t cost you anything until the book goes live in March.

 

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Hello world.
Do you wonder where I’ve been?

In October my husband and I spent a week at a timeshare at Avila Beach. It was the first time in—I don’t know how long—that just Don and I went away together. It seems whenever we take a trip it’s to a family reunion or to see our kids—which is wonderful, but sometimes it is nice to just get away alone with the love of one’s life.

We had a relaxing week and the weather was perfect. The timeshare belonged to someone my husband works with. He couldn’t use it this year, so we rented it from him, and I’m really glad we did.

Mom stayed home with Lady the Aussie and Spooky the Halloween Cat. We recently signed her up for medical alert alarm, but we didn’t want her staying home alone, so we hired a friend to stay with her in the evenings. I am happy to report Mom had a great time while we were gone.

Unfortunately, Mom ran into a bit of trouble a little over a week ago and broke her hip. On November 6th she had surgery and everything went well. I was grateful they put her under with a spinal block instead of general anesthesia, which can really play havoc on an elderly person.

Mom is currently at a rehab center, working to get mobile again so she can come home. It’s located on the other end of town, and I’ve been visiting her daily. She’s been a real trouper, but she so wants to come home, and we want her to. Here at home I have been going through her room and making it walker friendly. I even bought her some new furniture and in a couple hours she will be getting new carpet.

In the middle of all this I have been working on Book 11, The Ghost Who Stayed Home. Its release date is December 16. There are some new things happening with the series, but I can’t tell you yet—although I will soon.

Now I need to get back to work on the book, and get something done before the carpet installers arrive.

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Book 10 now available in paperback!

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Now all the books in the Haunting Danielle series are available in paperback—both regular and large print format. The most recent book, The Ghost and the Muse, went live yesterday—in eBook and paperback formats.

The paperback formats weren’t available until late last night and the links didn’t go live on the Robeth Publishing site until this morning.

You can order the books from Amazon. Amazon is an interesting place. Not only do they list books they ship, they also allow other booksellers to compete on their site.  If you go to The Ghost and the Muse product page (for the regular print paperback) over on Amazon this morning, you’ll see someone is offering a “used” copy of the book (for museammore than Amazon’s price, PLUS you have to pay the shipping, which Amazon Prime members don’t have to pay if they buy directly from Amazon.)

So I wonder…if someone orders a “used” copy of the book from them, does this mean this seller first has to buy a new copy, read it or flip through it to give it that used feel—and then resell it? After all, the book just became available late last night.

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The Ghost and the Muse is live!

the-ghost-and-the-muse-300For those of you who didn’t pre-order Book 10, The Ghost and the Muse, you can get it now at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo. Find the links here!

Perhaps Danielle’s first clue should have been—Hillary’s muse is male.

He brings with him restless spirits and murders to solve—if Danielle dares.

She has already been warned to stay away.

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The Fitbit Challenge

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Writing can be a sedentary life. If I’m to believe those articles always popping up on my newsfeed, sitting for long hours can be as damning to one’s health as smoking.

I have a treadmill desk, but I discovered I’m not one of those people who can walk while crafting a story. I can surf and walk, which is okay for 30-60 minutes of daily cardio exercise, but it doesn’t address the other 23+ hours a day.

I also have a jogging trampoline, which I bounce around on periodically throughout the day. That is of course, when I remember to take a break. I need something to remind me throughout the day to get up and move.

This all brings me to the Fitbit.

I’d been toying with the idea of getting an Apple Watch. At one time, I declared they were the most ridiculous gadgets. That was of course, until I started coveting one. I first started considering an Apple Watch when trying to deal with caring for my mother, and worrying about missing calls from her when I was out, and failed to hear my phone ring in my purse.

Since I’m not immune to gadgets and the lure of apps, I started saving my Apple rewards gift cards from my credit card, to put toward an Apple Watch.  But then mom needed a new iPad, so I donated my Apple gift cards to her purchase.  It wasn’t long until I accumulated a few more gift cards—but then my wireless router went out…I had to be practical.

In the meantime, my daughter had just received her new Fitbit, and urged me to get one, so we could do daily challenges. While the Apple Watch also has a fitness app, I rather liked the idea of having someone to nudge me along each day.

After pouring over the Fitbit and Apple websites, I went with the Fitbit. Fact was, if I got the Apple Watch, I would probably spend more time fiddling with the non-fitness apps, while destroying my eyes and forgetting to walk.

Today is day three with my Fitbit. Elizabeth and I have been doing the 10,000 steps challenge each day. I didn’t quite make it the first day—blame it on doctor appointments with my mom and the fact it was almost noon before my new Fitbit arrived in the mail that day.

Yesterday was a hoot—Elizabeth and I were neck in neck all day, and the little stinker reached 10,000 steps about 10 minutes before I got there.

But today is another day….

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Haunting Danielle, now available in paperback!

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Gourmet kitchens, home theaters, exercise rooms, sewing rooms, man caves, supersized garages—those are the types of spaces homebuyers often think about when imagining their dream homes.  For me, it was always the home library.

In three of our houses that we either built or added onto, I made sure they included built in bookshelves. Our current home has a study where two walls are lined with oak bookshelves. While I never got my deluxe home library—the one with the ladder that slides along the bookshelves so I can reach the high placed novels—I gave notable home libraries to two of my series. In Haunting Danielle, Marlow House has a home library, as does the Coulson mansion in The Coulson Series.

While I love my Kindle and iPad, and the fact I can literally carry around hundreds of books in my purse, sometimes I want the paper version of a book or a series. For some readers, it’s not that they necessarily want to build a home library—they simply prefer a paper book over reading from a tablet or other device.

To those readers or collectors looking for paper versions of the Haunting Danielle series—they are now available from Amazon.

Each book in the Haunting Danielle series is available in regular print and large print.  Here are the links to help you find them!

The Ghost of Marlow House, Book 1

The Ghost of Marlow House, Book 1 (Large Print)

The Ghost Who Loved Diamonds, Book 2

The Ghost Who Loved Diamonds, Book 2 (Large Print)

The Ghost Who Wasn’t, Book 3

The Ghost Who Wasn’t, Book 3 (Large Print)

The Ghost Who Wanted Revenge, Book 4

The Ghost Who Wanted Revenge, Book 4 (Large Print)

The Ghost from Halloween Past, Book 5

The Ghost from Halloween Past, Book 5 (Large Print)

The Ghost Who Came for Christmas, Book 6

The Ghost Who Came for Christmas, Book 6 (Large Print)

The Ghost of Valentine Past, Book 7

The Ghost of Valentine Past, Book 7 (Large Print)

The Ghost from the Sea, Book 8

The Ghost from the Sea, Book 8 (Large Print)

The Ghost and the Mystery Writer, Book 9

The Ghost and the Mystery Writer, Book 9 (Large Print)

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Do you want more backstory?

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The Ghost and the Muse (Book 10 of the Haunting Danielle series) is ready for its debut on September 30, 2016. It’s currently available for preorder at Amazon, yet by the end of the week, it should also be available for preorder at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. I’ll let you know when.

For those of you who’ve stumbled on this blog and are curious about the Haunting Danielle series, let me suggest you begin with Book 1—The Ghost of Marlow House. That book only cost 99¢ and Book 2 is currently on sale for 99¢, yet will return to its regular price at the end of the month.

While each book is a standalone story, the storyline moves along chronologically as it progresses from book to book, which means characters evolve and secrets are revealed. It’s possible to randomly pick up any book from the series and read it without reading the previous books and still manage to figure out what’s going on, yet I believe it will be a more positive reading experience if the books are read in order.

We’ve made it easy for readers to figure out the order in which to read the series—the book number is clearly displayed on each book cover and on each copyright page.

However, one beta reader did suggest I consider adding more backstory to each book. I’ve been hesitant to over-rehash from previous stories. I’ve read reviews on other series where the readers complain about excessive info dumps from previous books.  For me, I’ve been walking a narrow line—trying to add just enough, yet not too much.

I have decided to ask my readers—those of you out there who have been reading the Haunting Danielle series—do I need to add more backstory? Let me know in the comment section on this post. I would love to hear what you have to say.

 

 

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