European Graveyards, Part III

Graveyards III So as usual, life totally got in the way, as did edits, and familial obligations, and a million jillion other things.  So I am finally posting my last (for now) blog post in the graveyard series! Both of these graveyards are located in Paris, France, one above the city, Cimetiere du Montparnasse, located at the corner of  Rue Froidevaux and Rue Victor Schoelcher and the other is very close by, under the city, the Paris Catacombs.  If you are planning on visiting the catacombs and you allow yourself an extra hour or two, you will have ample time to walk through Monparnasse before you enter the catacombs, the entrance is only a block away.   Montparnasse Cemetery, Located in the city’s 14th arrondissement, Montparnasse was created in 1824.  It was originally known as the “southern cemetery”, and is the resting place of authors, artists and publishers.  It is still being used today (as recently as 2015).   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This was a quiet, beautiful cemetery, surrounded by the city and high stone walls, very peaceful in the middle of the hustle and bustle, you couldn’t hear anything when you were walking through except the birds. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The sculptures were extraordinary, and the graves, almost 200 years old now, were very neat and clean, everything was beautifully tended.  Some of the famous people buried there: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, Camille Saint-Saens, and Charles Baudelaire, to name a few. [gallery ids="366,367" type="rectangular"] Catacombs of Paris The Catacombs are a series of underground ossuaries, used to hold the remains of over six million people who died between the 11c to the 17c.  In the late 10th century, the Paris Right Bank began the practice of burying its dead in the city center, a practice that continued until the 18th century.  The burial ground changed parishes several times, finally becoming the “Saints Innocents” from 1130, and becoming the city’s principal burial ground.  By the 18th c. the cemetery had been built up to over 2 metres high and filled with centuries of dead, including those of surrounding hospitals and morgues.  This led to a series of cave-ins caused by the weight of the mass graves.  From 1780, all burials were forbidden.  Underneath Paris are a series of tunnels, created by the mining of the Lutetian limestone, much of which was used to construct the city. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Beginning in 1782, the underground passageways were designated an underground sepulcher, and the process of moving the remains began.  It took two years to empty the cemeteries, with Saints- Innocents being the largest (2 million), Saint Etienne (the oldest) and Notre Dame.  Every night, in draped black carriages, the remains were transported from the cemeteries to the entrance to the catacombs.  In 1810 the remains were organized into a mausoleum, the stacking of the skulls and femurs into the patterns seen today, and the locations of the cemetery decorations   to correspond to the cemeteries and remains. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The walk wasn’t overly long (1.5 km/just under a mile), although there were stairs, some wet spots and some narrow places where the walls and ceiling were close, but these widened out into larger caverns quickly.  Everything was fairly well lit and we were given audio guides that kept us on track with what we were seeing, as everything was numbered clearly.  Because of the long line, you are following in groups of people, so you are never alone, and there are several rooms where there are displays and you can loiter and read and look around at your leisure.  You (of course) exit into a gift shop. [gallery ids="387,388" type="rectangular"]   The entrance to the Catacombs is located at: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France -the wait is about 1-3 hours, if you arrive before it opens, your wait will be closer to 1-1 1/2 hours. [gallery ids="384,381" type="rectangular"]

Graveyards I Love II European Edition

When we decided in 2014 to travel to Europe, I was a little bit hesitant to suggest that first on my list were a couple of graveyards that I had wanted to visit for years.  We were traveling with friends, and I wasn't too sure how they'd react, so I bumped them down on my list, from number one to maybe number three or four so I wouldn't appear too macabre.  Happily, they were on board with my plan, so we were able to visit all of them.  So here they are, in no particular order, because I apparently have no ability to organize anything today: [gallery ids="246,247" type="rectangular"] [gallery ids="244,243" type="rectangular"] Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic: Served as a cemetery from early 15th century until 1787 (the date on the final headstone).  Over the years, lack of space, combined with respect for the deceased (which does not allow for the moving of graves) a new layer of soil was added, and the bodies buried on top of the preexisting graves.  There are places within the cemetery that the graves are believed to be up to 12 layers, the headstones have been moved upwards with each subsequent burial, which is why the headstones are so densely packed together. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Many of the headstones had small stones, coins or other markers on them, tokens of respect, or markers of a visitation. [gallery ids="254,255" type="rectangular"] In Bavaria, Germany this was a small graveyard we passed somewhere between Oberammergau and Fussen on a day trip. It was nestled in a valley between two mountains next to a beautiful lake. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Petersfriedhof, Salzberg, Austria dates back to about 700 AD, when St. Peter’s Abbey was founded by St. Rupert.  This graveyard is nestled in between the abbey, and the Festungsberg Mountain.  There is a series of catacombs that are accessed by a narrow set of stone steps leading to a hollowed out chapel. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You have to climb these narrow stone steps up into the catacombs- in the Maximus Chapel at the top, there is an arched grave of a saint located in the catacombs: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As close as I can translate, this is what is inscribed: “The year of three hundred seventy King Rhuteni Geppidorum Gothe Hfruli beat the Hungarians and his company Maximus fifty this cave into hiding because of the promise of confession, the collapse of the spirit of daring in the provinces of Noricum, too, are destroyed with fire and the sword.” Obviously this is a rough translation, however, I couldn't find any other translations of this stone panel.  St. Maximus was the first archbishop of Salzberg known by name (d. 476).  Many of these graveyards were associated with a chapel, a synagogue, or a cathedral, which I'll blog about at a later time.  Next week though, is Graveyards, Part III, the second part of the European Edition.  Thanks for reading this far!  


Looking at that 85,000 word manuscript and wondering how to cut it down to 75,000 so you can submit?  There’s an easier way than pulling it apart and completely rewriting it, a process that takes another two months out of your schedule and leaves you cutting out important scenes and making hard decisions about dialogue and character development.  By taking a weekend (or two) and carefully combing though your MS using the “Find” command in Word, you can eliminate literally pages of unnecessary words, overused words, and “fluff” words, turning your work into the lean, mean writing it is meant to be.  Besides the list of “usual suspects” below, we all have words that we tend to overuse individually, so a running list of these is important to keep for yourself, and a final check before submitting is imperative. “The Standards” THAT                                       SAW, SEE JUST                                         FELT THEN                                       REALIZE LIKE                                        BASICALLY SEEMS                                     HONESTLY REALLY                                  BEGAN, BEGIN, BEGUN VERY                                      DEFINITELY, CERTAINLY KNOW                                    THINK THING                                    STOOD UP, SAT DOWN ALMOST                                 NOD, SHOOK HEAR, HEARD                       HONESTLY HAVE TO                                 LOOK Don’t overuse gestures (salute, wave, nod, high five, handshake), overtly complicated, descriptive words (vulpine, elephantine, resplendent), odd colors (butterscotch, chartreuse, carnelian), or action words that denote a special meaning (snort, chortle, snigger).  These stand out and the reader will notice.  The more innocuous a word, the more often you can use it. And then there’s the ones I personally overuse: ACTUALLY PRETTY SO (especially as a sentence starter, for some weird reason) EVERYTHING SORRY (and an awful lot of ‘so sorry’s) as if using them together somehow makes it all better! ANYWAY SOMETHING I cut my MS down by 7,000 words by just deleting many of the words listed, and made it stronger by replacing these words with a different, more active version.  It’s honestly the easiest, fastest way to streamline your writing, without tearing it apart, and you’ll be surprised by how often you use these words, and how much better your writing sounds without them! If you’re using Word, go to Home >Editing>Find> type in the word(s) you are searching for, and it will come up with the number of times it appears in your manuscript.  I go through and decide whether or not to delete each one, or replace, then move onto the next one, or, you could do them all at once if you wanted.  Hope this helps! Random Spring picture, because FINALLY the sun was out! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  

Traveling for Ideas

When I decided to set my gothic romance series in Charleston, SC, it was with sort of a vague, romantic  notion.  Driving through the area, on our north-to-south migration from Ohio to Florida migration, we’d driven through the area countless times, and I’d fallen in love with the salt flats, and the beauty of it all. IMG_1792 We’d vacationed in the Outer Banks, stayed in Beaufort area a few times, and driven down all along the coast, even staying in Savannah for a weekend.  But we’d never actually visited Charleston.  So we made plans to stay there for a few days, check out the city, and the surrounding area where I’d set my book, and Logan and Ian’s story began. Walking the city gave me a great feel for the pace, the size, the history and the culture of it.  I loved the grandness of the homes, and the expanse of the water, the way the old mixed seamlessly with the new, and the effort made to preserve the history. We stayed at the Belmond, located on Meeting Street, right downtown.  Great location which later became a setting for a couple of chapters in book 2. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA St. Michael’s graveyard, where my ancestor, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (signer of the US Constitution) is buried.   The lone of old mansions that face the Battery on Charleston Harbor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Model for Nathan De Forest's house in book 2, (2 Meeting Street Inn, B&B) IMG_1719 Cobblestone streets IMG_1729 The Angel Oak- estimated to be 1500 years old, it predates Charleston by at least  1,100 years. IMG_1783  

Graveyards I Love

Yeah, I’m one of those graveyard people.  Whenever we travel, I always schedule a stop at a graveyard (or two) along the way so we can take a tour.  It’s always amazing to me how beautiful they are, how peaceful and how different each region is.  No matter where you go, there are always fresh flowers on many of the graves, and most are well tended.  The mix of old and new fascinates, as does the rich history of the people buried there.  We like to pay our respects to the ones who came before us, and I thought I’d share some pictures of two of my favorites from trips to South Carolina and Georgia. Bonaventure Cemetery, outside of Savannah, GA Set on over 160 acres, located on the site of a plantation formerly owned by John Mullryne.  In 1846 he sold it to Peter Wiltberger, who formed the Evergreen Cemetery Co.  It was then purchased by the city of Savannah in 1907, and the name was changed to Bonaventure Cemetery. bona 8 bona 14 I especially loved this statue.  The day we visited someone had scattered fresh red roses throughout the cemetery, across many of the graves and on the statuary, but this particular one was simply beautiful: vaca 336 Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC- covering 130 acres, the cemetery was dedicated  in 1850 and is still in use today.  This cemetery wound through a park-like setting, with ponds and a small river. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Magnolia was in need of some serious TLC, but we got some great shots the day we visited. it had just stopped raining, and the atmosphere was a little on the hazy side, giving everything a darker look and feel.  I've pulled these pictures out many time and written a couple of pages,just remembering how I felt walking through here that day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hopefully this year we'll have time to revisit Bonaventure when we are in Charleston.   It's a serene, peaceful place, and I thought alot about how lucky all of these souls were to slumber along the river.  

Saving Mercy Trailer by Abbie Roads

savingmercybanner_trailerreveal Today is the day that Abbie Roads trailer for her new Fatal Truth Series, "Saving Mercy" comes out!
  • "Spine-tingling..." -RT Book Reviews
  • "Roads blends high-action romantic suspense with the paranormal to tell a love story." -Booklist
The book sounds awesome, and if you haven't read any of Abbie's books yet, they are dark, psychological thrillers with strong heroines and damaged alpha males to die for.  here's a little taste:  He’s found her at last…

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?   Read an excerpt from Saving Mercy: His neck itched and his body twitched. He shifted from one foot to the other, unable to stand still. Christ. He felt like an ADHD kid hopped up on sugar, trying to rein in a surplus of energy. Only it wasn’t energy pumping through him. It was anger. Rage. Fury. That’s what this place did to him. Made him into the sullen boy he’d once been who dreamed of wrath and revenge. “Mercy.” He whispered her name to the moon and some of the anger evaporated. “Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.” He used the word as a mantra, reveling in the taste of those vowels and consonants inside his mouth. Just saying her name calmed him. From inside the building, a rusty bolt scraped and banged, loud as a cherry bomb. The door swung inward, the squeal of old hinges shrieking through the night. In the woods, the coyote howled as if claiming its territory against the odd sounding intruder. Liz backed out the door, pulling a wheelchair. Twenty-five years ago, when he’d first met her here at The Institute she’d looked like a mom—a smile on her face, encouraging words on her lips, and a stout don’t-break-the-rules attitude. Now she looked the grandma version with her gray hair and pleasant plumpness. “Getting her out here was easier than I expected.” Liz didn’t exactly whisper, but didn’t speak at normal volume. “Ward A doesn’t have cameras since everyone is locked down. Thank the angels the night shift are notorious slackers—we didn’t run into anyone.” Liz turned the wheelchair to face him. The woman in the chair slumped in the corner of the seat, head hanging as if it were too heavy to lift. Her hair dangled in limp, stringy hanks that reminded him of blond worms. “This isn’t my Mercy.” Shit. The my had just slipped out. He didn’t look at Liz—didn’t want confirmation that she’d heard the slip. His Mercy had always been strong. Even at ten years old, throat wrapped in a fat wad of bandages, she’d seemed oddly poised and imperturbable during all the media interviews. She had survived something worse than what he had endured and yet retained her strength. She’d inspired him, intrigued him and tied herself to him without ever knowing. And she’d always been pretty. All strawberry blond hair and turquoise eyes and features that he’d just wanted to stare at because it made him feel all warm and nice on the inside. He’d never gotten close enough to smell her, but he imagined her scent to be a cross between fresh baked cookies and sunshine—not body odor and vomit like this woman. “It is her. See what he’s done to her?” Liz’s voice snapped like a whip. “Who?” Cain asked the question to Liz, but his gaze remained locked on Mercy. She hadn’t moved, hadn’t spoken, didn’t even seem alive. “Dr. Payne. He’s had a sick fascination with her from the first. Probably because she was the only person on Ward B who didn’t deserve to be there. He’s been pretty harmless until three days ago, when he moved her to Ward A.” “Why the fuck is she even here if she’s not—?” He’d assumed her past—what his father had done to her and her family—had finally caught up with her. He knelt in front of her wheelchair. “Don’t you curse at me boy.” Liz’s tone was all angry mom, making him feel like a bad kid. “Her official record says Undifferentiated Schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I’ve seen psychotic—she’s not psychotic and never has been.” He’d never spoken to Mercy before, never been this close to her, never dared to. He’d been a wuss—too damned scared of her reaction to approach her. She had every right to hate him. It was his father that killed her entire family, his father that slit her throat, and his father’s blood that ran in his veins.

IMG_2582.jpegAbbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. SAVING MERCY is the first book in her new Fatal Truth Series of dark, gritty, romantic suspense with a psychological twist.


Well, I'm typing away on book # 2 of my shadows series, and hoping that all will end well for everyone involved.  Since I'm a total pantser when I write, (that's someone who totally doesn't plan anything out ahead of time, just sits down and writes whatever comes into their head  and hopes that it all works out) it could seriously end badly.  But I can always change it.  Like Shannon Hale says,

“I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

  Which is so true.  It's what I do.  It's what we all do.  There's probably that super lucky person out there that writes a perfect first draft, but if they're truly a perfectionist, then they're not happy with it anyways.  So I thought I was done last night but then I got a great idea at about 3 in the morning (I was still awake after my son called me at midnight to tell me my niece had been in a car accident, she's incredibly lucky to be alive, and let me tell you, no mom ever  wants to get a phone call from their kid at midnight), and so now I'm rewriting the last chapters.  I think I have about ten pages to go.  And then a hundred rewrites.  Still, progress is progress!


It's the first of the year and that means new things.  Like all things that seem too overwhelming to contemplate, here I am, sitting at my computer, pecking my way through my first blog post on my half set up website, wondering  I'll ever get to where I need to be.  But I suppose I'll get there, I always do.  Tomorrow I'll go to the gym with all the newbies who made their New Year's resolutions, (hopefully some of them will still be there in March), and help them figure out the machines and how much weight they can lift and then come home to try and wrap my head around widgets and html again.   Maybe by the end of the week, I'll even have a somewhat coherent website for everyone to navigate.  We'll see!  Besides, if I can't figure it out, I have some kids who probably can.