Okay, so I asked James Garcia, Jr., a nice guy and accomplished writer, to read and give me feedback on one of my projects. Jimmy, as he’ll ask you to call him, is an extrovert. I am not. Though I would have been satisfied with an email exchange, he wanted to discuss his feedback in person. As it turned out, he didn’t get his way—but neither did I.
We arranged a Skype session on Saturday night. I’m not much of a Skype person. Previously, I’d used it only to talk to my son and grandchildren who live in a different state. But I combed my hair and showed up. He said he thought I might chicken out and not hit the video call button when he rang me. But hit it I did. Jimmy is used to doing podcasts for his readers to enjoy, so he was relaxed. I drank a glass of wine. And then I babbled, like I always do when I’m nervous.
But we talked about writing in general and we talked about my project specifically. And it made me realize how much I miss being a member of a live writers’ group where you can brainstorm and get immediate answers to questions about feedback and all that good writerly stuff. I think Jimmy would have ended the call at least thirty minutes earlier than we did, but he couldn’t shut me up.
I ended up with some ideas on how to improve my manuscript and little more social confidence. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to Skype with another writer, but I know I could and survive the experience. And if I do it again, I’ll warn the other participant they might need to set a time limit.
Today’s guest is James Garcia, Jr. or “Jimmy” as he signs the comments he leaves on this blog. In a previous post, I told you how much I enjoyed reading his vampire novel Dance on Fire. But his latest book is not a horror novel, it’s a romance. Okay, yeah. Obviously the title is Seeing Ghosts, so it’s a paranormal romance. Great cover, right? Here’s the description and then I’ll let Mr. Garcia take the floor:
Paul Herrera finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt he never knew. The woman who shows it to him is the spitting image of his wife, taken from him three years before in a senseless car accident which also took his unborn son. While he deals with the ghosts of a past he cannot let go, there are new ghosts Paul must deal with – alone for the week in the expansive two-storey house that he will soon discover holds many secrets. Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world – his sanity.
So, you ask, how in the world could a guy who started reading and writing horror fiction end up writing a romance? Well, it is a paranormal romance, so it really isn’t that big of a leap…
Truth be told, although I grew up reading The Amityville Horror and early works by Clive Barker and Mr. King, and watching films like The Thing, Poltergeist and the original Friday the 13th films, my tastes have evolved with age. Now in my 40’s I find myself more comfortable with horror suspense than horror gore. If it’s splatter or torture porn, I’m really not interested. As one may excuse language and nudity when it’s necessary for the plot, I feel the same about violence. There’s certain rough aspects to The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs or more recently Let Me In, but the stories are so good that they work on every level.
Though I grew up with horror fiction and heavy metal music, my teenage years and a real lack of dating brought me to face issues of the heart. Even though my wife and I have been together now for twenty five years, I still remember those teenage years where every sad song seemed to be about me. Perhaps one might suggest that there is still a small part of me that wonders if love can be forever, and whether I might yet find myself alone once more? Only God knows. We have a wonderful life together, yet there’s still a part of me in touch with those feelings of love and loss.
My favorite novel is not scary in the least: Beach Music by Pat Conroy. It is a work of genius. It is not paranormal, and I never wanted to read it; however, a sister in law of mine coerced me into picking it up. All these years later I have yet to put it down, reading it or at least parts of it periodically over that time. It is great drama and has a bit of everything in it. I will go to my grave a happy man if I’m considered half as good a writer as Mr. Conroy. Couple this with the fact that I’m most comfortable with a romantic comedy on my television, and you will now begin to understand how it came about that I ended up writing Seeing Ghosts.
I always hoped to write a haunted house story before my writing days were finished, but I did not want to rush it. I had seen too many films or books begin with so much promise, but fall flat in the end. This is not to say that I have written the greatest haunted house story in the history of mankind. But I do think I have come up with something that is very special – it certainly is to me.
And I hope it is for you as well. You’ll have to let me know.
As you may know—since I said it on Facebook, this blog, and in my April newsletter—I’m in the midst of a hiatus from writing. That’s difficult for me because I’m used to working on something nearly every day, so I wander around looking lost. I vowed to get caught up on housework, and I do have nice shiny windows—inside and out—now, but it doesn’t take much to distract me from cleaning.
Reading is an infinitely more interesting way I’ve been occupying my time. Like many of you, I have an out of control “pile” of books I want to read. The two I’ve read so far during this break, have been on my Kindle for so long they’ve spawned sequels which I’m now anxious to read.
First, I read The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle. I’d read other works by Michelle: Cinders, True Colors, and Monarch, so I knew her writing would please me. The Breakaway was no exception. It’s aptly described as contemporary suspense and it’s categorized as mature YA – New Adult, but I’m well past that age and loved it.
When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she’s missing. Escape isn’t high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she’s part of a family—even if it is a family of criminals. But she’s still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she’s falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn’t sure she wants to take it.
The second book I read is Dance on Fire by James Garcia, Jr. When I first heard this book was a Christian vampire story, I thought hunh? What it turns out to be is an excellently told vampire story centered around a family that happens to be devoutly Christian. And that works out very well because one of these vampires desperately desires hope that he’s not eternally damned.
Two Kingsburg police officers have been butchered in an attack as ferocious as it is mystifying. Now two detectives and their families are being drawn into a battle that threatens to destroy them and those around them. In a marriage of horror and Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the fictional account of characters drawn into the fire by supernatural forces.
I’m a slow reader, but now I’m halfway through another book. And many others have been patiently waiting their turn, so I’ll probably have more book recommendations before my hiatus ends. And next week, I’ll have my first ever guest blogger, so stay tuned for that.
I get sick of talking about myself, so today I’m going to point you to three other writers who frequently comment here. Yes, this is a long post, but well worth it. I like to support my author friends and it’s been a while since I did that.
Did you know Dana Masonis a debut author? Her romantic suspense novel Dangerous Embrace is the first book in her Embrace Series. Here’s the description:
Sarah Jennings wants nothing more than a quiet life—alone.
Raised by an eccentric mother, their life on the road only taught her how to run away from hard times. But when she finds herself in an abusive relationship, this lesson serves her well.
Now, back in her hometown, she’s found a place she loves. She’s a first grade teacher, and with few friends and less family around, she has what she wants, a quiet life under the radar where she can be free of her past and live quietly. Finally comfortable in her own skin, she’s settled, and less fearful than she’s ever been in her life.
But it only takes one night and one act of violence for everything to change. Injured and afraid, Sarah wants to run again, but Mark Summors refuses to let her go.
Just when Sarah thinks she can have Mark and the life he promises, her past comes back to haunt her.
Mark Summors was born and raised in Santa Rosa. He married his high school sweetheart and never questioned his life, until he found his wife with another man. Now divorced, he wants something more. He’s passionate about his job, he wants to protect people, and he devotes his life to it.
This time he’s protecting more than just another client, he’s protecting his future; at least, Sarah Jennings will be his future, once he convinces her she loves him.
Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!
Would you believe the gentleman who signs his gracious comments as Jimmy writes about vampires? Check our James Garcia, Jr.’s horror novel Dance on Fire, which is finally available at Amazon. This is vampire lore with a twist as you’ll see from the description:
Each May, the Central California town of Kingsburg celebrates its Swedish heritage with the annual Swedish Festival: a weekend event where the town puts on its traditional dress, culminating with a dance around a Maypole on Friday, and a Swedish pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. The town with a population of over 11,000 residents draws thousands more to the event. This year, two uninvited guests also converged upon the unsuspecting town.
Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for making Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. Nathaniel has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?
Ten days before the start of the Swedish Festival the most tumultuous week in the history of Kingsburg has begun with two vampires leaving death and destruction in their wake. Kingsburg Police Detectives Mark Jackson and Michael Lopez, Barbara and the entire Lopez family find themselves drawn into something that threatens to destroy them all or leave them scarred forever.
In a marriage of the classic horror story and the Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the account of characters being drawn into the fire and the supernatural forces around them watching as they burn.
So, there you go. I hope you’ll give these authors a shot while you’re waiting for publication of that fabulous novel An Illusion of Trust by that crazy lady named Linda who also hangs out at this blog.