Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome Cathy Gohlke


Today, my special guest is Cathy Gohlke, published by Tyndale.  I'm currently reading her latest release, and I thought an interview might be a good way to let you get to know a little more about this awesome author.

Cathy, welcome to Dishin' It Out.  I want to help my visitors get to know you and your latest release a bit better, so I've prepared a few questions, I hope you won't mind answering.  I've started reading Promise Me This, and I must admit, I'm captivated by the time period and your writing style.

         Thank you for inviting me!  I’m delighted that you’re enjoying Promise Me This.

1.    I'll start with the standard question we've all been asked:  What prompted you to become an author?
As a child, I believed that the wonderful stories in books appeared by magic.  But at the ripe old age of five, my grandmother revealed to me a profound secret:  real people write books!  From that moment I knew, no matter what else I did in life, I wanted to be one of those people to create the magic between the covers of books.  Little did I know that the best stories are born of pain and their lessons—rarely simple—are gifts.  Writing helps me understand the world and allows me to share the stories God lays on my heart.

2.    Tell us a little about yourself and your family.  We all like to know a little more about your personal side...where you live, what you like to do besides write and read.  Feel free to add anything you'd like us to know.  
My husband, Dan, our English Springer Spaniel, Reilly, and I live on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland.  We have two grown children:  Elisabeth, who is happily married to Tim (both living and working in Virginia), and Daniel, who lives and works in China.
I love gardens, campfires, swapping stories, travel and research—especially exploring attics, ruins, archives, all the places time forgot. I love hands on ministry, experimenting with new recipes, and riding my bike on flat roads on sunny days.  I love sharing time with family and friends.

3.  I see from the literature your publisher sent with the advanced reading copy that you've been a Christy Award winner twice.  Can you tell us a little about the award, like the criteria used to determine the winner and what works earned you the honors?  The Christy Award is the Catherine Marshall Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.  Books (published in the previous year) are submitted by publishers in nine sub-genres of fiction, then read, evaluated, and judged against a ten-point criteria by an independent seven member panel.  My first two books,  William Henry is a Fine Name and its standalone sequel, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires earned the award.

4.What prompted you to write Promise Me This?  Do you have a personal history with the Titanic and the time period?  Relatives, perhaps?
Titanic has always fascinated me—the romance of the era, the “ship of dreams,” but especially the staff, the passengers—those who perished and those who survived—and the family members left behind.  I wondered how those who’d been miraculously saved in lifeboats coped with having received such grace when hundreds around them had died. How was it to have decided who lived and who died? I wondered what sacrifices were made that fateful night that others might live, and how those gifts were remembered. In that I saw the perfect opportunity to picture Christ’s love story to the world, and our response to His unmerited gift.
My great-grandfather emigrated from England a few short years before Titanic sailed.  He was unable to find work in Canada or the United States as the gold-leaf artist he was, so he became a gardener for a wealthy Buffalo family.
When I first saw a copy of Titanic’s manifest I found a young man listed, Owen George Allum, a gardener who’d sailed third class from Southampton, England.  A little research led me to details concerning his life and the recovery of his body. 
From all of that I wove a fictional short story, “The Legacy of Owen Allen,” which grew into the full length manuscript, Promise Me This.

5      Of the books you've written, do you have a favorite?  Why or why not?
I’d always assumed my first book would be my favorite forever—I’d walked around with that story inside me for so long, and it addressed the horrors of slavery, the courage required in standing up for what we believe, and the Underground Railroad, which has long fascinated me.  But, I must say that Promise Me This has won that place in my heart.  It’s a picture, in story form, of Christ’s love for us and our response to His unmerited grace.  It’s a story that demonstrates, through characters, unconditional, sacrificial love and the joy that brings. I’m so thankful the Lord laid it on my heart.  Writing it was my love gift to Him, and though the research, especially of WWI, was sometimes dark, the story became a song of praise.

6.    Are you are plotter or a pantser? What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages to your style?
That’s a great question!  My wonderful agent, Natasha Kern, is convinced I’m a “pantser.”  I’ve thought of myself as a “plotter by force.”  Over time, I’ve learned to plot enough to write a synopsis—but it’s like ripping teeth from their roots.  I fear losing the passion for and organic nature of my story so am hesitant to commit or share details before writing a first draft.  I’d much rather write a story and then severely revise and edit.  But I’ve come to see that that is not always an efficient process—not for me and not for my agent or editors.  The thing that’s helped me most is Michael Hague’s Six Point Plot Structure as he describes it in the DVD, The Hero’s Two Journeys, as well as Stanley Williams’ book, The Moral Premise. 
Now I write a long and detailed—sometimes rambling—synopsis, then put it away, and only take it out if I find myself wandering off track.  The finished product is often quite different from my original notes.

7.    I'm sure you realize there are many of us who envy you being published by Tyndale House.  How did you form an association with them?  What advice do you have for authors looking to get a foot in the door?
My agent, Natasha Kern, contacted Tyndale House with my completed manuscript.  Stephanie Broene, acquisition editor for Tyndale House, caught the vision of the story and championed it through the contract stage.  Stephanie and Sarah Mason have been wonderful editors to work with, and the entire team at Tyndale House is amazing.  I’ve learned much and feel entirely blessed and thankful for this relationship.
My best advice to authors is to write a great book—the very best book you can write at this time in your journey.  Then realize that your book is not your calling alone.  Just as God has gifted writers to write, He’s gifted and called agents to agent, editors to edit, and designers, marketers, publicists, sales reps., retailers—everyone—to do what is needed to bring an idea and a book to the hands of readers.  Embrace that team approach and be willing and eager to learn from each member of team.

8.    What has been your best promotional strategy?
I’ve most enjoyed giving readings and face-to-face sharing with readers—book clubs, libraries, churches, women’s groups, schools, bookstores, etc. There’s nothing like seeing in a reader’s eyes that you’ve made a connection.

9.    If someone just starting their writing career came to you for advice, what info would you share with them?
The tried and true is still true:  read all you can, write all you can, learn all you can.  Write the best book you can.  Be eager and willing to learn from others but remain true to the voice and vision God gives you.  He gave it for a purpose.  We’re not all Mark Twain.  The world needs only one Twain and it needs one you.  Embrace the opportunities within your reach, and persistently place one foot in front of the other.  Help others along the way.  Be generous and gracious.

10. Because my critique group has been focusing on the growing list of rules involved in penning a novel, care to share how your internal editor works and if mistakes you read in the works of others annoy you to the point of distraction?
My internal editor is so severe I must show her the door in order to write my first draft.  Once I get my heart on paper (or in computer) I invite her back in for tea and a critical reading. 
I cringe when reading actions or speech of characters that do not ring true to that character’s nature, or if the plot sounds contrived rather than organic.  That’s true, whether reading the work of others or my own.

11. How much importance do you place on cover art?  Do you have input at Tyndale?
Cover art is very important, for many readers decide whether or not to buy a book based on its cover—front and back. Yes, Tyndale has graciously included me in the process from the beginning, although they have final say in the cover art.  They have an extremely talented design team, able to envision so much that I cannot. I’m thrilled with their cover for Promise Me This.

12. If you could go back and change one thing you've done or not done since you started writing, what would it be and why?
I’d work just as hard to learn the writing craft, but would not wait until my first book sold to begin another.  In faith, I’d immediately begin researching and writing that next book.
I’ve learned that publishers are not interested in “one book wonders” but want to invest in authors that will continue to produce works of quality.  By waiting to begin my second book I found the ensuing timetable a real challenge.
I’d begin networking and learn how to promote books even as I wrote that first book, understanding that that is all part and parcel of sharing the stories and gifts we’ve been given. 
Most of all I’d believe in miracles, knowing that with God all things are possible, and that He will equip us in every way for every work He calls us to produce.

To get your own copy of Cathy's Novel, it's available at Amazon.  I know after this, you'll all be excited to read more. 

I'd like to thank Cathy again for being my guest, and I look forward to finishing her captivating story.




The Impact of Editing, Writing and Reading

This is how I hope readers view my work.  I want to make colors so vibrant, emotions so real, and characters so likeable, that people can connect with the storyline and experience my tale through the eyes of the hero or heroine.  That's the sign of an author who knows their craft.

I have confidence that I've achieved my goal in most of my books.  Short stories, not so much.  I find reviewers comment about the length, wishing for more, so that tells me that I've connected in some way, but there is only so much you can pack into fewer words.

New rules crop up every day and make me question where they come from.  As someone who has been writing for over ten years now, I wonder if they existed way back when, and my editors weren't versed enough in writing themselves to know about them.  When I first started, a great majority of the editorial staff on board we authors with credentials and experience not much more than my own.  My first editor was very knowledgeable about historical facts, and I learned a ton from her about showing my story to the reader, but passive voice, head hopping, and cause before effect didn't seem to matter to her, nor did the numerous times I used "that" which later was cause for a rejection from another house.

Now my latest quirk has become the use of identifying tags that are now deemed unnecessary.  Evidently, in the characters' POV, the reader will assume that the person doing the knowing, seeing, hearing, etc, is the main character, so sentences starting with she heard, she knew, she watched, she saw, etc., add nothing but words to the story.

Speaking of words...I tend to see lots of the above sentences in mainstream writing...in fact in most books I've read lately, so I wonder are authors adding them to up their word count.  I also wonder if readers notice the number of times we use a character's name in paragraphs...especially when forced to in order to help them decipher between characters.  I recently received a critique where the critiquer had highlighted every instance of the heroine's name, which seemed excessive to her.  I wrote back and explained that through various editing experiences, I'd learned pronouns reflect back on the last person named, so if I introduced another character into the scene, I had to name my heroine to differentiate.  Confusing?  Yes!  Of course, when you use too many pronouns, editors take issue with that too.  It all comes down to being able to reword sentences or use phrases that allow a breather from the norm.  I'm learning still.  Writing is one career or pastime where you never stop acquiring new knowledge.  The problem is determining whether it's factual or fiction.  Not everything passed along is true or worthy of time spent changing your writing habits. 

Each writer has a voice unique to themselves.  Some houses abhor "ing" starts to sentences, but I assume that's because all authors haven't figured out how to use them correctly.  I critiqued a story a few days ago which was worded something like, Entering the room, her heart fluttered.  If you read it quickly you may gloss over the fact that her heart entered the room.  Where was the rest of her?  I'm sure this is something I did in my earlier writing, but now I try to pay attention and send the whole body along with the heart.

Other publishers want us to avoid 'ly' words and use strong verbs.  There are just some instances where you want to share with the reader that she spoke softly.  She didn't whisper, but she wasn't speaking in her normal tone, so an 'ly' word is called for.  In my opinion, the problem with rules is that we take them literally and don't apply them with rationale.  I had one editor comment that I had removed so much passive voice from my story, my writing sounded stilted and had no flow.

The rule with rules is to apply what works.  Take them with a grain of salt and try to avoid redundancies, find stronger verbs, send in the whole person and not just a body part, and remember that eyes don't roam the room, a gaze does.  Someone doesn't fling their hands in the air, but they might lift their arms over their head.  Leave out the amazing body tricks. You can't chuckle a response, but you can before or after your character speaks, so omit that comma.  Even more annoying for me, are tags that describe a person's speech before they've even spoken.  Which is better for you?

He whispered, "Are you okay?"

"Are you okay," he whispered.

A ton of rules are applied at the discretion of your editor.  You may find one who is annoyed by something as simple as the above example, or you may have one assigned who is more concerned with how many times you use "was."  Tomorrow, it may all be different.  Just remember to check house rules when you submit.  I'm finding a vast difference in requirements concerning punctuation, fonts, spacing, margins, indents, and whether to use "Chapter" or just a number.  Oy vey....so much to absorb and so little brain cells left to work with.   Writing is a challenge, so make sure you're up for it.

Feel free to comment on some of your pet peeves.  I'd love to know that me and my internal editor are not the only ones finding some habits more annoying than others.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ginger's Six Sentence Sunday

Sundays seem to roll around faster and faster.  Welcome back, or if you're a first timer, I'm sharing six sentences from my time-travel romance with an historical twist, Sister's in Time.  The story isn't confusing when read as a whole, but in bits and pieces, it requires a little set up.  

Two women switch bodies and eras, finding themselves far removed from their own husbands and comfort level.  Mariah, my pioneer wife is in a modern-day hospital, meeting a television for the first time:

When the nurse pushed another button, the screen immediately changed to a man kissing a woman. She depressed the button again—a person cooking, then someone talking about feminine hygiene. Mariah’s mouth gaped. Why would they talk about such a private thing? What was this thing called a remote control? Was it a product of the devil himself?

Find Sisters in Time at Eternal Press or on Amazon.



Be sure to check back at Six Sentence Sunday for more links from the SSS participants.  I have so many favorites there I'm following.  You're bound to get hooked.  Make sure to visit Angela Quarles, who features another time-travel that I'm loving.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcome, Amy McCorkle


When deciding what to write about on Miss Ginger’s blog I got an email in my box. It’s the kind of email every writer dreads/anticipates. It’s the all important answer to the query letter you sent out weeks or months ago depending on how swamped the publisher is with submissions at that time. And your day can be made or broken these four little words we accept/we reject. And sometimes there’s that nasty little revise and resubmit clause.
There are some publishers who are better at it than others. And in the age of the e-reader there is a bigger chance for us all to be accepted but there is also the same challenge of having our best foot forward. Quality over quantity and finding that all important balance that will keep you from going insane while waiting for the ANSWER you so desperately desire.
I’m thirty-six years old and I’ve been writing since I was five years old. Does that make me an expert no, it does, however, qualify me to answer a few questions. Does it get any easier? That depends on what you mean by easier. If you mean your craft gets better, and it increases your odds of finding a home for your work, well then yes it does. If you mean does it guarantee publication, well of course it doesn’t.
I’m not trying to discourage you. I wrote for twenty-five years before being offered a legitimate contract from a legitimate house. For some people it’s not as long, for others it’s even longer. But there are two things I know for sure, you have to believe with everything that’s in you that it’s going to happen. Because if you don’t no one else will. Need someone to hold your hand and tell you everything’s going to be alright? I’m probably not the person you want to talk to because I like to be happy. And when you’ve worked your butt off as I have and had the nerve to submit and receive more rejections than accepts yeah I’m thinking I don’t want anyone to spoil my good mood. But here’s the thing I always believed it was going to happen because I never stopped writing.
That’s the second thing. You have to write. You have to produce. You have to submit to ever have a shot. You may choose to self-publish, that’s perfectly legitimate too. I just wanted something different.
So I’m proud to announce the release of my second book, Another Way To Die through MuseItUp Publishing. The following is an excerpt.
Excerpt:
I felt his hand tapping on my face and heard his voice coming from what seemed like a million miles away. “Almira. Almira, wake up.”
My eyes slid open for a moment and I saw him as he was. Older, stronger, maybe crazier for helping me now than he had been then. My eyes drifted closed. I was back in the past with him carrying me out of my father’s estate and into his waiting car. I was so doped up on pills and heroin at the time I couldn’t think beyond ‘help me get out of here.’
Then Daniel’s voice called again, this time from the present day. “Don’t you dare die on me! Not now. Not after all of this.”
My eyes opened again, and he was standing over me. I managed to scan the room and saw a beautiful woman preparing to work on me.
“If you fail her, I’ll come looking for you.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Danny. You know I do good work. If I didn’t, you wouldn’t have called me in on this.”
I gazed up at Daniel and said raggedly, “Yeah, Daniel, don’t be so dramatic.”
His head jerked downward and he took my hand; images of our brief time together flooded me: him carrying me… throwing me in the shower... of us naked in the shower, making love. Suddenly I felt hot all over—well, as hot as can be under the circumstances.
“Daniel, don’t go…” I murmured. Daniel let go and pulled up a chair, lighting a cigarette.
“I’m giving you something for the pain but it’s still going to hurt. Put that out,” Jasmine said as she worked over me, digging out the bullets; the pain was mind numbing. Tears rolled down my cheeks as he took my hand again and I crushed it.
With each dig into my body to retrieve those goddamn bullets, memories flooded my head. The night Daniel and I spent together surfaced. Suddenly I felt at peace…
“I’m losing her, Daniel.” Jasmine’s voice sounded like a faint echo.
“Stay with me, kiddo, stay with me.”
I opened my eyes but I wasn’t in the present. I was in another time, another place. I felt hands pressing down on my chest. Air rushed down into my lungs.
“Save her damn it!” Danny’s voice was so like it had been all those years ago.
I could see us that night as we made love. Hear his voice. “You don’t know what kind of man I am,” he’d said.
I’d known exactly what kind of man he was then.
His mouth captured mine. His air breathed life into me, desperately pulling me back from the brink.
I opened my eyes, coughing and sucking in air as he held onto my face, his gaze burning into me, reminding me of why I had slept with him in the first place. “Don’t ever do that to me again,” he said. “Do you understand me?”
“Is she gone?”
He looked up toward Jasmine. “No.”
“Then get her the hell out of here because I don’t trust her.”
“Ungrateful bitch.”
Daniel leaned back. Before he could stop me, my hand shot up and I nailed her in the mouth with a hard sucker punch.
“Crazy—”
Daniel stood up. “I suggest you choose your next words very carefully,” he warned her.
My eyes slid shut. I heard a door slam, and before I lost consciousness completely, I heard a faint whisper. “This time I refuse to let you go.”
About the Author:
Born and raised in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, Amy roots for her Wildcats and spends her time trolling bookshops and movie theaters.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Hot Swinging Fantasies!


Not from Ginger: For those who don't know, Adriana Kraft consists of a husband and wife writing duo, and what they write is pretty HOT!  So, if you're the type who "gets burned" when you read something spicier than normal, then you might want to put on some "hot mitts" before you venture further.  As for me, I love Adriana's posts, and I'm delving in.  *smile*
***

My husband and I write erotic romance together under the pen name Adriana Kraft to fuel our readers’ fantasies. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have more than one pair of hands sweetly caressing you all over? How about two tongues, in just the right places? Our Swinging Game series at Extasy Books is designed to take you there!

Book Eight in the series, Pushing the Limits, was released last week and is available at Extasy Books and Amazon. We’ve been writing the enticing adventures of this Baby Boomer couple for nearly three years now – Brett and Jenifer Andrews constantly surprise us, not only with what they’re willing to try next, but with how much fun they’re having and how it’s heating up their sex life when just the two of them are together.

Given what they just came up with, we’re a little worried about them, though. Some couples in the lifestyle would give anything to have a ‘Unicorn’ – a single female who wants a committed threesome with an existing couple. At the end of book seven, Jen and Brett think they’ve found one – and this is the book where she arrives. All begins well and the threesome shares some incredible, sensual sizzling sex. But Jen is instantly infatuated and invited their new friend to stay for the entire summer. Brett wonders what the limit will be – so do we, and so will our readers!

Here’s a blurb and an excerpt:

BLURB Pushing the Limits Their new Unicorn Sarah Creston may be out of town, but that doesn’t stop Jen and Brett Andrews from burning up the wires with some scorching three-way phone sex. While they’re waiting for Sarah, Ryan eagerly pursues Brett for some hot male action, followed by a house party that challenges Jen and Brett’s stereotypes. Sarah finally arrives, exhausted and drained from weeks spent helping her aging parents. Jen and Brett provide total tender care for three days—but when Jen invites Sarah to move in for the whole summer, Brett asks himself, is there a limit?

EXCERPT For an excerpt, I thought we’d drop in on Jen and Brett at their best – having a date night, just the two of them:
“This feels so decadent.” Jen felt like purring for her man. So far, so good. Together, they’d set the stage. Wearing robes, they sat side by side on the living room couch nibbling on grapes, strawberries, cheeses and sausages. It was their prelude to what she hoped would be a spectacular evening of lovemaking. So far they’d only made love with their eyes, feasting on each other as well as on the light meal.
“It was an excellent idea to be in the living room tonight,” Brett said, popping a grape into his mouth. “We seldom play here. Some, but seldom.”
“Maybe we should reserve it for ourselves only. It’s already getting warm in here.” Jen untied the sash of her robe and let it fall away. She appreciated Brett’s immediate intake of breath. “Donna and I picked out this outfit. I didn’t want to show you until a special moment.”
Brett smacked his lips. “This is definitely a special moment. You couldn’t be more naked, naked.”
“Well, a little,” Jen countered, shifting her weight to give him an even better view of the shear lace top. Her taut nipples poked forward, aching to be touched. “You like it?”
“You know I do.” To her delight, Brett’s voice had turned husky. He reached for her.
She shook her head. “Not yet. Don’t you want to see the bottoms?” He nodded and she parted the robe further.

You can find Pushing the Limits at these links:

And of course I’m available at the following links – a word of warning: My website is currently being overhauled by the talented Lucy Felthouse, so the standard url will lead you to an “under construction” sign. Here’s the link that will work until we go live with the new one, in about a month (I hope!):

WEBSITE AND BLOG

ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB:
FaceBook http://www.facebook.com/people/Adriana-Kraft/100001944980679
Twitter http://twitter.com/AdrianaKraft
Adriana’s Author Pages at Amazon.com and All Romance Ebooks

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kathryn Meyer Griffith Warns Don't Look Back...


The Story Behind Don't Look Back, Agnes and In This House
More Backstories
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith
 
You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3q9rZryFMo
Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422 
The older I get, the more I like to reminisce and write about what I’m going through at any particular time. I guess it’s an age thing. So many of my stories and novels come about because of what I’m actually experiencing in my real life at the time. Not all, but some.
But my novella, Don't Look Back, Agnes is definitely one such story. 
At the end of 1998 my beloved father, the very heart (along with my mother’s mother, Grandmother Fehrt, who was also much loved) of my large family, passed away after a short but heartbreaking battle with lung cancer. He’d been a cigarette smoker his whole life so it wasn’t a complete shock that it ended up killing him. Yet the suddenness and the swiftness of his departure devastated my six siblings, my mother, grandmother, and me. It was a very dark time for us.
To complicate the matter, my brothers and sisters, myself included, were in our forties and working hard at our lives, our families and jobs, but my grandmother and mother were left living alone together and neither one drove; so both needed constant care and attention. My grandmother was in her eighties and my mother in her late sixties; though my grandmother was fairly healthy (she was spunky lady, with a zest for life, who’d emigrated from Austria as a child) my mother was already in a wheelchair, crippled from bad ankle surgeries, debilitating osteoarthritis and a host of heart related problems.
The first thing the family had to do was move them into town, nearer to some of us, and out of the country where they’d been living in the new sprawling house my father had built them just the year before. It was too hard caring for them way out there and the house was too big, too expensive. Boy, that was fun. They had so much stuff, so many memories to dispose of and cry over. We settled them in a small ranch house in town and life went on.  Or tried to.
Now, I loved my mother and grandmother dearly but taking care of them was often difficult. Each needed concentrated care, love, endless visits to the doctor, prescriptions fulfilled and, as time went on, housekeeping and grocery shopping help–and finally, someone to do their bills, my mother becoming too disoriented and sick to any longer do any of those chores. For a long time, years, my grandmother stepped up, even at her age, and became my mother’s constant nurse and helper. Their two Social Security checks combined were just enough for them to live on. It was a thin line they had to tread and we tried to help them every step of the way.
So, with love, sometimes desperation, and some bickering every so often between us siblings as to who would do what when, we took care of them and their whole household, their house. There were many late night runs to hospital emergency rooms, or long stays, and rehab centers for my mother, who steadily over the next nine years grew worse. By the end of 2005 it seemed we were always at the hospital with mom or grandma. My mom had her heart troubles, high blood pressure and medication problems, and my grandmother broke her hip. One thing after another. It was exhausting at times. Who’d ever think two sick old ladies could need so much care?
Then my grandmother got really ill and was rushed to the hospital. She needed emergency surgery and afterwards was in intensive care for a month…never recovered…then sadly joined our grandfather in the next life. We were all so broken hearted.
That left our mother, all alone, without enough money to live on (her Social Security meager; no savings), and unable to care for herself or her three cats. Born an only child, she was a demanding sort of woman, almost childlike in her unending need for attention and devotion. She was terrified of going to a nursing home so the family did what we could to keep her in her own home as long as possible. My brother got her a reverse mortgage on her house and we all chipped in financially whenever and however we could. We fought the good fight but there came a day where mom got so sick, was rushed to the hospital so often, needed so much constant supervision, that my siblings and I had to admit defeat…mom had to go into a nursing home or one of us had to move in with her, which wasn’t feasible. We were married with families.
So a nursing home it was. We picked out a newly opened one in town, the nicest we could find, and the next time mom got sick we moved her into it for her recovery. Then told her the truth. The house was up for sale and the cats had been placed in new homes. I even took one, Patches (the cat in the story), because it was old and no one wanted her. My husband and I already had two cats but it was something I had to do…for mom.  She really loved that cat as she’d really loved her home. But poor Patches, probably pining for her mistress and her old life, only lasted five months. I lied to my mother for months afterwards, afraid to tell her that the old cat had died (mom had always said that when Patches died, she’d die) and it broke my heart when I finally had to tell her. Mom had come to our house for a family Thanksgiving and I couldn’t hide the fact that Patches was no longer there. Oh, that was hard. Telling her.
If anyone has ever put a parent or relative into a nursing home, they know the heartbreak it causes all around. My mother was inconsolable and my guilt was awful. But, as sick as mom had become, with so many prescriptions each day, hospital visits, and how most days she couldn’t even get out of bed or get to the bathroom, clean or feed herself…we had no choice. She stayed in that nursing home – although it was a bright cheery place with kind people running it – until she died two years later. The hardest two years of my life. I visited her often, shopped for her and kept her company. Decorated her room so it looked like a home. Brought her special lunches and little gifts. Fancy quilts and stuffed cats. It still broke my heart.
I began writing the novella, Don’t Look Back, Agnes, while she was there. A ghost story centered around a young woman who’s forced by grim circumstances into returning to her haunted, and deadly, childhood home because her mother is ill in a nursing home and needs her. Looking back now, I can see it was also my way of dealing with the nursing home guilt…of wishing for a different ending to mom’s life than what had occurred. Writing the story was my therapy. I cried all my sorrow out into those words and prayed to be forgiven for putting my mother into such a place.
Even In This House, the bonus short story included because it’s also a ghostly tale, deals with old age and the passing of all a person (or a couple in this instance) ever knew or loved as time and their lives slip away, as it must always do.  At the same time I was writing the Agnes story I read an article in the newspaper about this old man who was the last resident of a neighborhood that had been systematically bought out and emptied by an iron smelter plant. He was the last one living there in the last house. He spoke of his loneliness since his wife had died; about her. Their past. It sparked the idea for In This House. Both stories deal with responsibility, sacrifice and…love. Love for a mate, for an aging parent, children, and a way of life or the loss of one’s independence that we all in the end have to relinquish in one way or another. Life’s sorrows faced with a brave smile to cover the tears.  
I hope the two stories help anyone going through what I was going through in those difficult years. If they do, then the words have done their job.
Written by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith this nineteenth day of December 2011
****
My books (most out again from Damnation Books and Eternal Press): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter's Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don't Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)          
 
About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS NOMINEE for her romantic horror novel
The Last Vampire-Revised Author’s Edition
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha and live cat Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.
                         
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, July 2012)

The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) 

Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, February 2012)

Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, July 2011) 

The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010) Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615722075 

Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011) 

The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615723201

The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) 

Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)

All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)

Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) 
Eternal Press buy link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724437  My self-made

Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Eternal Press Buy Link: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615724604)
You Tube Book Trailer address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZYCs2DVhHg

The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)

Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press in January 2012)

BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010) 
Damnation Books buy link: httphttp://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721313
You Tube self-made Book trailer with original song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-U9c2Lwfo  

The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010) 
You Tube Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRBvDI5G4Y

My Websites:
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)
http:// www.bebo.com/kathrynmeyerG
http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1019954486
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1019954486
http://www.jacketflap.com/K.Griffith
http://www.shoutlife.com/kathrynmeyergriffith
http://www.goodreads.com/profile/kathrynmeyergriffith

E-mail me at rdgriff@htc.net  I love to hear from my readers.

My books (most out again from Damnation Books and Eternal Press): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter's Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don't Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***





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