Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twain Musings

Certain holidays in The Twain Shall Meet bring about milestone personal events for fictional characters in the Collective Obsessions Anthology.

For instance, Shannon Larkin (who becomes a major fixture in the anthology from this point forward), meets the love of her life during the Thanksgiving holiday. Shannon is a young girl of twenty-one, while Scott Page is ten years her senior, an alluring and strikingly handsome man of the world. Their antagonistic beginning soon blossoms into love when they share a "first kiss" on Christmas morning.

Shannon's initial meeting with Scott comes just weeks after she escapes the demented attentions of Mike Sullivan who, for all intents and purposes, is hell-bent on possessing her body and soul. Even though he is eventually sequestered at the Bangor Mental Hospital, Mike plots his ultimate revenge to deny Shannon her unfolding happiness.

Mike emerged from an alcove at the far right corner of the café. He watched Shannon drive away, an unreadable expression on his face. But his eyes were bright, almost glittering in their intensity. Anyone looking into his eyes at that moment would be moved to describe him as stark, raving mad.

He grinned and whispered softly to himself: "Oh no, Shannon Larkin. We'll see who has the last word, and the last laugh."

Fleshing-out diabolical characters is much more enjoyable than writing the norm, i.e. romance and white-picket-fence endings. Mike Sullivan was loosely based on a real person in fictional development, although I gave him sharper edges. His ultimate presentation is pure fantasy, and not anything like the young man I used as a template for his character.

The Twain Shall Meet  is book three of the Collective Obsessions Anthology, scheduled for release by Club Lighthouse Publishing early next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Excerpts from both Passion Forsaken and Quixotic Crossings have been added to my alter-ego's page at Scribd. The excerpts are contained in PDF documents, downloadable by anyone who wants to have a read.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, October 17, 2011

About Larkin

During the two decades it took me to write all eight books in the Collective Obsessions Anthology, I developed quirks and tidbits not only for the characters but story locales as well.

Because the complete novels were long in coming, I decided to release About Larkin, which is a free download from my web site for a limited time.

About Larkin is a culmination of the story-structure years, a veritable compilation of characters and locations floating around in my head during the writing process.

I'd like to think About Larkin will take the reader to my fictional little paradise, from wine tastings at the Banshee Point Winery to midnight strolls in the Larkin Family Cemetery.

I hesitate to call the offering "trivia" as nuances were accumulated over more than twenty working years. Complete with credited images that often inspired me to create locations or characters, About Larkin is a delightfully entertaining look into my fictional world.

Learn how John Larkin settled in Maine, turning his self-named village into one of the most popular destinations on the Eastern seaboard. Discover how the harbor town went from an obscure New England hamlet to a centre for education, commerce and leisure.

Visit the Banshee Point Winery to taste the exclusive Larkin Cognac, which comes in an elegant periwinkle bottle containing the perfect flavor bouquet of nuts, fruits, spices and flora. Make a reservation at the Silver Tassel Restaurant to indulge in sumptuous fare, or try the Amber Whale Tavern overlooking the harbor for fresh seafood. Bruno's Café offers homemade foodstuff, with all the latest gossip served up by waitress Berty Soames. Take a walk in Colleen Larkin Memorial Park, or visit the beautiful student Quad at LCU. The Larkin Harbor Tour Company will take you for a sail on the Lady Banshee to see the sights and hear the sounds. If water rides are not to your taste, try a day of shopping at Azoulay Gems, Brickyard Square, Harbor Hill, the Larkin Co-Op, Nook & Cranny or the Wee Book Shop. Wind down with a drink or two at The Coven Nightclub or Suds Pub. If you're in the mood for a good scare, pay a visit Larkin City Cemetery to have a chat with former locals.

Befriend a member of the Larkin family and tour their grand estate. The elaborate mansion attic holds years of secrets that might curl your hair, or bypass the bitter memories to view Larkin City from the breathtaking Widow's Walk. Stroll down to the Banshee Point Lighthouse to take a long gander over the Atlantic Ocean, or visit the keeper's cottage to relive the tragic romance of Molly Larkin and Colm Sullivan. Head back to the mansion to take tea with the family in their drawing room, or wait until dinnertime to partake vittles in the imposing and opulent dining room.

After dinner, take a stroll in the eerie family graveyard - but be warned: don't go alone or you might never come back...

About Larkin is freely available as a PDF download (Adobe Acrobat). The e-book contains 32 pages and is 1.2 MB in file size. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Collective Notions

As mentioned before, my plan for the Collective Obsessions Anthology is to eventually combine all eight titles into one volume. The idea has been in the back of my mind for several years, long before I finished writing the books. Because of my contractual obligations to Club Lighthouse Publishing, the "plan" will not come to fruition until 2014 or thereabouts.

The novels are currently being released in stages. A new title comes out every few months, or up to half a year. The series will be released in it's entirety by the end of 2012, hopefully. My multiple contracts run from the actual signing to two years after the release date of each book.

I was curious about the end result of one book, so I've spent the last few days linking them together and proofing for errors or formatting issues. I created three versions: one for e-book conversion (which must be saved as a filtered web page), one with Canadian/British spelling and one with US spelling and grammar. The final tally is utterly amazing - on average, the book runs 1,471 pages with a word count of 820,454.

Since the book is technically eight novels in one, the numbers are hardly surprising. Still, the amount of work (research, writing, editing, et al) is mind-boggling to me. That it was created over a time-period of more than twenty-five years hits home for me on occasion as well. Where in blue blazes did I find the energy and motivation to keep pressing on to finish the books? Or keeping a common thread through so many words, scenes and dialogs?

I liken the writing style and theme to several sources, which influenced me throughout my life. The two most prominent are Dorothy Daniels and Marilyn Harris, with smatterings of Victoria Holt, Susan Kay, Bertrice Small and the late (but great) Kathleen Woodiwiss.

The many different literary styles somehow mesh and work together in my head. I'm not sure how, but I gave-up questioning it a long time ago.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Into the Future

I have very definite plans following the release of all eight books in the Collective Obsessions Anthology.

Because there are multiple parts to the story, the novels are being released in stages. In other words, a new title comes out every few months, or up to half a year. This means the series will be released in it's entirety by the end of 2012, hopefully.

Afterward, it's my intention to combine all eight novels into one. I am a huge fan of family sagas and gothic collections, but always prefer the works to be in one volume. Who wants to buy several books when one will do the trick? Granted, merging all the titles makes for a very long read. However, surely I'm not the only one who likes big books.

Now that novels are quickly downloaded and read in electronic fashion, presenting all eight books in the Collective Obsessions Anthology together as one is not such a far-fetched notion. Printing and shipping costs are almost a thing of the past, neither of which are required with e-books. As much as print book-lovers might disagree, electronic reads are not a fad. In fact, they are far outselling their printed counterparts in today's market. E-books are simply not going away, which is a good thing. Think of all the trees that are being saved in the process!

Anyway, I'm already combining the books, one at a time. As soon as a title is released or editing is finished, I take the final text and insert it into the existing file for the complete Collective Obsessions. As of this writing, only Passion Forsaken (re-named The Advent for the whole book) and Quixotic Crossings are part of the mix, bringing the total page count to 293. By the time all eight books are one, I'm estimating the saga will number more than 1,950 pages. Reading and hauling around a print-book of that size might be difficult, but slipping an e-reader into a pocket or purse is not such a chore.

I've even messed about with a cover design for the book:

Of course, the project is still a long way into the future. Even if all eight titles in the Collective Obsessions Anthology are released by the end of 2012, it will probably be another year after that before one volume can be prepared for publication. As much as we edit manuscripts, there always seems to be something that needs tweaking during re-reads. Who knows? Maybe I'll even write a few bonus chapters.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quixotic Crossings Arrives!

FINALLY....drum roll, please...

Quixotic Crossings was released by Club Lighthouse Publishing today.

The novel is Book #2 in the Collective Obsessions Anthology, a unique eight-part series set in the combined genres of mystery, the paranormal, historical romance, and dotted with a touch of the macabre and hints of classic Gothicism.

In Quixotic Crossings, fate continues to entangle the Larkin and Sullivan families amidst madness, murder and obsessive love. Colm and Molly's grandson Jean-Claude Sullivan finds his life driven by greed and perversely tainted pleasures. Beloved family chef Claude Mondoux watches helplessly as Colm slowly loses his mind in ghostly visions of Molly, while Colleen Larkin seeks love in the arms of another man with deadly consequences...

Quixotic Crossings is currently on sale at the Club Lighthouse web site, at Amazon (Kindle) and Fictionwise (Nook).

While the four-month delay in the release of  Quixotic Crossings was a tad frustrating, I'm now tickled pink that the novel is out and about. It's unlike anything I've ever written before: not quite a typical romance, and not quite chock-full of gothic mystique.

I think it's safe to say Quixotic Crossings stands proudly and very well on it's own.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Characters in the Kitchen

I'm excited to announce that the Larkin Community Cookbook is now available in Kindle and Nook editions, and as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) download.

The cookbook is a compilation of recipes mentioned or prepared by characters in the Collective Obsessions Anthology.

It begins with the first family chef Claude Mondoux (Passion Forsaken), and carries on with the ill-fated Nicholas Bertrand (Quixotic Crossings), the much-beloved Mae Jensen (The Twain Shall Meet), and the drunken Cora Ann Hogan (The Twilight).

Diabolical Amber Whale executive chef Jack Sansovino (Hearts Desires) is also a dab hand in the kitchen, where he brews more than just seafood specialties.

Various members of the Larkin family have culinary talent as well, including Shannon, Derek and Dana, who prepare mouth-watering dishes for family and friends. Derek (Hearts Desires) also becomes a professional chef and opens his own elegant restaurant in Larkin City, known as The Silver Tassel.

Before her grisly demise, Carly O'Reilly (Enthrallment and The Keeper's Journal) whips up delectable dishes for her highly successful Harbor View Catering Company, where she also sells homemade foodstuffs.

Click here for more information.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Watching Paint Peel

Waiting for the release of Quixotic Crossings is similar to watching paint peel, or waiting for the kettle to boil, and so on and so forth.

Or perhaps I should liken it to scratching nails across a blackboard?

It's difficult to sit still and be patient as the publication of another book looms, especially when the title is one of your own creation.

May the saints preserve me...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gothic-Writing Points

My blog post from April 2nd (Gothic Musings) was about writing in gothic style and explaining different visual inspirations. Oddly enough, last week I stumbled on an article titled Elements of the Gothic Novel by Robert Harris. Since I consider the Collective Obsessions Anthology in the realm of gothic fiction, I was interested in the article's points.

According to Harris, gothic novel elements include:

Setting in a castle; an atmosphere of mystery and suspense; an ancient prophecy connected with the castle or its inhabitants; omens, portents, visions; supernatural or otherwise inexplicable events; high, even overwrought emotion; women in distress; women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male; the metonymy of gloom and horror; and the vocabulary of the gothic.

None of the eight books in the Collective Obsessions Anthology are set in a castle, but rather a large mansion by the sea. The atmosphere is most definitely mysterious and suspenseful at times. As for "ancient prophecy" being connected to the structure or it's inhabitants, there is an element of divine fate playing itself out through several generations totaling more than 140 years.

The other points are covered as well: All titles in the Collective Obsessions Anthology have omens with touches of the supernatural, along with emotional drama (mental illness, murder, suicide, obsession), and women in distress. While most females in the storyline come across as rather assertive, a few of them are indeed threatened by unbalanced males at one time or another.

The "gloom and horror" ambiance is present, although neither dominates any one book in the anthology.

Although I've only included terms that apply to my anthology, Harris defines "vocabulary of the gothic" as the following:

Mystery (diabolical, enchantment, ghost, haunted, omens, ominous, portent, secret, spectre, spirits); Fear, terror & sorrow (anguish, apprehensions, commiseration, concern, despair, dismay, dread, frantic, grief, hopeless, lamentable, melancholy, miserable, mournfully, panic, sadly, shrieks, sorrow, sympathy, tears, terror, unhappy, wretched); Surprise (alarm, amazement, astonished, shocking, staring, thunderstruck, wonder); Haste (anxious, frantic, impetuous, sudden); Anger (enraged, furious, incensed, provoked, raving, resentment, temper, wrath); and Largeness (enormous, massive, tremendous, vast).

In addition, elements of romance are considered part of the gothic genre. These are: powerful love, uncertainty of reciprocation, unreturned love, tension, lovers parted, illicit love and rival love. The point that doesn't apply to the anthology is "uncertainty of reciprocation."

Even the most obsessive character in the anthology (Mike Sullivan, who appears in The Twain Shall Meet) never has doubt that the object of his desire will return his affections. He is actually quite certain she will be his in the end, even when all odds are stacked against him (re: incarceration in a sanitarium).

Gothic tales and the writing thereof may not be to the taste of everyone, but the genre continues to fascinate me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

QC Cover Hint

I've received word that Quixotic Crossings will be released the last week of April, which I'm assuming comes around the 25th. The book is part two of the Collective Obsessions Anthology.

There are also some hints forthcoming about the book cover. A little bird told me it might depict a mansion in the fog, which thrills me to no end. I can't wait to see it!

I'm more excited about the release of Quixotic Crossings than I was by Passion Forsaken, probably because some of the characters in Quixotic Crossings are deeply disturbed, which most authors agree is much more fun to write about. The paranormal also comes into play in the second book, along with murder and other psychological mayhem.

This is the current short-blurb for Quixotic Crossings:

Fate continues to entangle the Larkin and Sullivan families amidst madness, murder and obsessive love. Colm and Molly's grandson Jean-Claude Sullivan finds his life driven by greed and perversely tainted pleasures. Beloved family chef Claude Mondoux watches helplessly as Colm slowly loses his mind in ghostly visions of Molly, while Colleen Larkin seeks love in the arms of another man with deadly consequences...

I've already prepared three excerpts from Quixotic Crossings, which will be made available online once the book is released.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gothic Musings

Now that the Collective Obsessions Anthology  is complete, I've recently been pondering my next project.

Because I'm such a fan of "Gothic" novels from the 1970s, especially titles written by Dorothy Daniels, Marilyn Harris, Marilyn (aka Clarissa) Ross, and the Dark Shadows series of paperbacks, I know anything I do will likely be in the same realm.

It's more than fog-shrouded mansions, shrieks in the night and mysteriously beleaguered heroines. Elements of the unknown are important to the stories, granted, but plot and dialogue are my first priorities. Blending macabre ambience into storyline seems to follow in a natural order for me. However, I'm often inspired by Gothic visuals such as well-done portraits or certain morbid garb.

Inspiration is an individual phenomenon. We are all moved by different people, events and thoughts. I'm rarely motivated by people per say, but certain events, thoughts, dreams and visuals keep my writing juices flowing on a regular basis.

On that note, certain images often inspire an idea or remind me of a scene I've already written.

Although the following image is meant to portray the abuse of absinthe, when I first saw it I thought of Molly Larkin in Passion Forsaken as she languished in the attic at the family mansion with her bottle of laudanum:

The image below also reminds of Molly Larkin in Passion Forsaken, this time as she decides her fate near the end of the book:

And Molly again as she carries out her fate near the end of Passion Forsaken:

I do not claim ownership of the images referenced above. Lucky for me, Magickal Graphics has a bountiful supply of stunning pictures. I simply love browsing their various galleries for inspiration.

Please Note: The three referenced "Goth" images remain the sole copyright of the individual artists. If I knew their specific names, I'd credit and link to them without hesitation. I have absolutely no talent in that direction, so I truly admire their stunningly beautiful work.

As for new books to follow the Collective Obsessions Anthology, I do have a few story ideas brewing, which I've already started to put on paper.

And so the Gothic muse turns...

Friday, March 18, 2011

At Loose Ends

A few days ago I wrote the final page for Megan's Legacy, and shortly thereafter sent the manuscript to my publisher.

Sounds like a rather simple statement, doesn't it? However, completing Megan's Legacy also signals the end of the Collective Obsessions Anthology. Having been consumed by the storyline and it's characters for more than twenty years, it's a jolt to realize I no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn and work until midnight to make a dent in my planned visions for the books.

Just a year ago I thought I'd never see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet here I am. The rigid daily schedule I kept for so long is now history. I'm sure there will come a time when I'll impose the same schedule on myself for another project, but at the moment I'm a bit at loose ends.

One of my favorite regimens was to write longhand by night just so I could get away from the computer screen, and then type my notes by day. I'm not a natural typist, frankly, so writing longhand was enjoyable for me. I also had a few quirks that went along with the scribbles: round-stick grip black pens only, and countless pads of quadrille paper (five squares per inch on each side). I may have to start my next project sooner rather than later just to get back into my nightly swing.

I've been catching up on my mail (electronic and postal), playing with the "kids" (my beloved dog and cat), and updating my Twitter and Facebook pages. I'm also enjoying the Good Reads and Library Thing forums, along with paying attention to the news and watching favorite television programs. I feel like I've been away for months, finally returning home to take care of mundane but important business.

To know that all eight books in the Collective Obsessions Anthology will be released this year and next is keeping my head in the clouds. It's akin to a natural high, and I'm not sure I'm ready to come back down to earth yet.

But real life marches on...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Character Closure

I'm more than half-way finished with Megan's Legacy, the eighth and final part of the Collective Obsessions Anthology.

It's difficult to provide closure for certain longtime residents in the books, and rather bittersweet. The Larkin and Sullivan families have been in my head for a long, long time. However, as in real life, fictional characters age and pass away just like real ones do. Since the books span a period of more than 140 years, the progression is inevitable.

I have vivid dreams about the characters and scenes on occasion, which is a decidedly weird occurrence and has never happened to me before now.

While I don't want to give too much away at this point, it will be strange to put the characters to bed, so to speak, once and for all.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Doodles

Since I'm not too interested in the outcome of today's Super Bowl (no fun sans the Oakland Raiders), I'm spending the time writing new material for Megan's Legacy and half-paying attention to all-day marathons of Law & Order SVU and Murder She Wrote.

I went to the store yesterday to stock up on dog and cat food, and even then the grocery was packed to the rafters with people buying goodies for game gatherings. I wouldn't step a toe into it today for love nor money. Speaking of goodies, my favorite snack gnaw while typing or handwriting is Chex Mix. I've become addicted to the stuff of late, along with my daily dose of Arizona Iced Tea with Lemon.

I'm progressing with the storyline in Megan's Legacy, taking it where I want it to go and finally bringing the Collective Obsessions Anthology to an end. However, even pre-planned outlines sometimes go off course, which happened several times over the weekend. They were all good inclusions in regards to the story, adding a bit more drama for the main characters, but sometimes little epiphanies create other avenues that need exploring.

As usual, I won't know the final outcome until the last word appears on my screen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Passion Forsaken" Released

Passion Forsaken was released by Club Lighthouse Publishing today!

I'm excited beyong words, naturally. One book down, seven more to go...

Passion Forsaken is available at Amazon (Kindle), Fictionwise (Nook) and in multiple formats at the publisher's web site.

Click here to read the press release for "Passion Forsaken."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Covers & Contracts

Last night I went to bed around eight-thirty, intending to rest and watch a bit of television after a long day of writing. Instead, I fell into a coma-like sleep and didn't awaken until six-thirty this morning. I haven't had ten hours of straight slumber in years.

My publisher sent me a preview of the cover for Passion Forsaken. To me, it depicts the two main characters Molly and Colm during their time together, and then Molly's later angst. Her attention is directed toward the lighthouse, which symbolizes Colm in a way. I'm very happy with the results, thanks to Terrie at Club Lighthouse Publishing.

Another glorious bit of news was the presence of two more publishing contracts in my email inbox this morning. The Keeper's Journal and Hearts Desires are now on the roster for publication in 2012. Or am I still asleep and dreaming?

Maybe I'm not really awake and need to keep pinching myself...