Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Post: Katie O'Sullivan

Today is a very special day. Katie O'Sullivan is here to talk about her new book from Crescent Moon Press and it is terrific! :-) Don't forget to enter her contest. (See the instructions below.) You could win a copy of her book.
Hi, Penelope! Thanks for inviting me here today to introduce myself and talk a little about my new release, SON OF A MERMAID.

I’m an author, an editor, and the mother of three teenagers. I live year round on Cape Cod, near the beaches and crashing waves that make this area a magnet for tourists three months of every year. The ocean and sandy shores remain even after the tourists pack up to go home, and my family takes full advantage of life surrounded by all this natural beauty.

The true locals call people like me “wash-ashores” – someone who visits Cape Cod for a vacation or a season, and ends up staying. Which means, I’m not really from here. Originally from New Jersey, I spent summers on the Jersey Shore. My husband grew up in the Boston area, and although his childhood summers were spent here on the Cape, he’s considered a wash-shore too.

When we started our own family, we wanted our kids to have the same memories of beach days and sailing lessons that my husband and I each have. We bought a summer cottage here on Cape Cod, and after several years we made the decision to move here full-time.

Although the opening scenes of my book take place in Oklahoma, most of the action takes place on Cape Cod, both above and below the surface of the Atlantic. The main character, fifteen-year-old Shea MacNamara, grew up on a farm in the middle of the U.S. He’d never even caught a glimpse of the ocean or learned to swim… when suddenly strange dreams start haunting him. Dreams of drowning, and dreams of mermaids.

He has no idea why he would be dreaming about drowning, when it was a tornado that destroyed his farm and changed his life. Just as he has no clue as to who – or where – his mother might be, only that she disappeared from his life right after he was born. It’s only after moving to Cape Cod that the pieces start falling into place.

In the following excerpt, we catch a glimpse of one of Shea’s nightmares.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Excerpt from SON OF A MERMAID, 2013 from Crescent Moon Press

The blue-green coolness swirled around him as his body tumbled down through the water, arms and legs flailing as he struggled to hold his breath. Millions of tiny bubbles of precious air traced the path of his descent, escaping from his clothing and through his nose.

Eyes wide even as the water rushed past, he watched a huge school of shimmering minnows part down the middle as they swam around him, surrounding him like a silvery box. Turning his face upward to the surface, he could see the blue sky receding further and further as he sank deeper into the water’s depths.

His throat and lungs burned from the effort of holding his breath. Darkness pressed hard against his eyes, and swirls of strange colors danced in front of him as his whole body strained against the lack of oxygen.

I need to breathe, he thought wildly, his whole body feeling like it was on fire. I can’t hold out much longer. His feet finally hit the mucky bottom with a thud, coming to a stop as the mud swirled around his legs.

There, hovering before him in the water, swam a beautiful woman with flowing golden hair…and a green fish tail that sparkled with golden flecks among the scales.

A mermaid.

Her big green eyes looked so familiar, like the ones he saw in the mirror every morning. She smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand. His head pounded as searing pain ripped through his throat, as if his entire body would tear apart any second from the effort of holding his breath.

The mermaid squeezed his hand and nodded. The pain receded as Shea stared into her eyes, lost in their green depths. As she nodded to him again, he opened his mouth to exhale the stale air that pounded like a jackhammer in his lungs. Large bubbles rushed to the surface as he struggled to breathe, but there was no air to be had. Only salty ocean water rushing in to fill his mouth, his lungs, his body...

Shea woke with a start, clawing at the sheets and disoriented for a full minute before remembering where he was. At the Hansen’s house. Because his own home – the farm where he’d lived and worked all his life – was gone, swept away and crushed by the freak tornado.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Thanks again, Penelope, for inviting me to visit! Readers, be sure to leave a comment below and enter the official Rafflecopter giveaway You could win an ebook copy of SON OF A MERMAID, or a cool beach stone mermaid necklace or other swag!

If you want to learn more about me and my mermaids, you can find us in the following spots online:

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Add Son of a Mermaid on Goodreads: Son of a Mermaid

Amazon Buy Link: Son of a Mermaid

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brand Names in a Novel--Yes or No?

Guess where I went? Guess what I ate? Those are easy questions.

Everything in our society is labeled. I am typing on a Mac computer. I am wearing Riders' jeans. I drive a Jeep. I have a Maytag oven.

Advertising is big business and companies dump tons of money into making their products a part of everyone's consciousness.

But I had to take all the brand names out of my book. My hero no longer has an iPhone. (Sniff.) It's not a big deal and I do understand. My publisher does not want to be sued.

Then I picked up Meg Cabot's Size 12 Is Not Fat. I love Meg Cabot's book. I haven't finished it yet, but so far she's mentioned several brand names such as Banana Republic, Fritos, and Jolly Ranchers. The use of those brand names makes the book seem all the more real. Her heroine is living in my society, where unique labels are plastered liberally on every item.

What's the difference between Meg Cabot's publisher and mine? Her book is published by Avon, which is an imprint of Harper Collins. I suspect that publisher has excellent lawyers and knows all the ins and outs of copyright law, because an author must be prudent.

Check out this post Can I Mention Brand Name Products in My Fiction?

Or even better (for romance writers) check out this post A Rose by ANY Other Name.

Not everything in Ms. Cabot's book bears a brand name. Her heroine works at a college in New York City that doesn't exist in real life--a wise choice considering the plot.

Even Meg Cabot has to be careful about some brand names. :-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I made this last night for supper. It is so yummy. I originally found the recipe in a cookbook (The Texas Experience) hubby brought back from one of his business trips many years ago. However, I usually alter things somewhat to suit my taste and this recipe was no exception.

2 large packages of frozen chopped broccoli (16 ounces each)
3 pounds chicken breasts, cooked and cut in bite-sized pieces
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Parmesan Cheese

Cook broccoli and drain. Arrange in a buttered 13x9 pan. Place chicken on top of broccoli. Combine soups, mayonnaise, lemon juice and curry powder. Pour over the chicken and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Combine bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over all. Dust lightly with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 degree over 25 to 30 minutes.

Serves 8.

(Hint: My sister buys already roasted chicken at the grocery store and uses that to make this casserole. I cook the chicken in a pan first, which takes a bit of extra time.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Black and White Photography

Once upon a time, I took a photography course. I had a 35 mm SLR camera and I had to develop the black and white film. (This was long, long ago before the advent of digital photography.) The photo above is the one the professor liked. It shows my youngest sister in a window. The reflections made it really weird. Professors seem to like really strange stuff. I worked very hard in the development process, dodging the window sill because it was too light.

I found black and white photography difficult. My photos of flowers came out horrible. (I love flowers.) When I took pictures of people or landscapes, the photos were either too dark or too light, or there wasn't enough contrast. Or there was too much contrast.

Nevertheless, when the course was completed, I bought my own developing equipment. My darkroom was the bathroom in my parents' house. We had only one bathroom. I warned everyone before I did any developing, but invariably someone would decide they had to use the bathroom while I was trying to develop my pictures.

Eventually, I gave up black and white photography. I sold my developing equipment, but I kept the camera, bought color film, and paid for developing. It was worth it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hyphen Crazy

I am diligently combing through the third and final edit of Daddy Wanted. My Prism Book Group publisher has given me the date for the release of the book, June 19th. :^)

It seems with every book I've written I have either used one word too much or failed to remember some important grammatical point. In this book, it appears I went hyphen crazy. Yes, I put hyphens all over the place. Nonviolent became non-violent. Brokenhearted became broken-hearted. I should have checked the dictionary but with over 62,000 words in the book, those words looked good enough to me, which is why I know I need an editor. I can tell a story, but one very important part of storytelling is the details.

I must review the rules for hyphens. I will do that as soon as I send the edit back to my editor.

Have you ever put hyphens where they don't belong?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ulysses, The Red-Eared Slider

This is Ulysses. He's a secondary character in Daddy Wanted.

Commonly known as a red-eared slider, Ulysses is a good listener. You can find out more about this turtle at

Red-eared sliders were common pets until the FDA banned the sale of the tiny turtles in 1975.

Did you ever have one of these as a pet?

Friday, May 03, 2013

Twitter Spring Cleaning

I have already written one post about Twitter. You can find that post here. This post is about keeping my Twitter account tidy. I have spent the last week or so--at odd moments--cleaning and organizing my Twitter account. This was a well-overdue project. There are websites that will manage Twitter accounts, but I decided to go it alone. I was raised in a do-it-yourself household and then went on to marry a do-it-yourself husband. I believe I can do it better myself.

Here and there as I went through my daily tweets I unfollowed people who were not following me. Many of them were rich and famous. It felt good somehow to hit that red UNFOLLOW button and remove the high and mighty from my feed. I have realized that there is no point in following famous people. If someone is following 14 people but has 50,000 people following them, they are famous. Why should they follow me? They probably only follow their siblings or perhaps their lawyer.

For the famous people, it is better to add them to a list. (Because, of course, I still want to read their tweets.) You do not have to follow somebody to move them into a list, but once they are on the list you set up you can read their tweets as your leisure. Your lists can be private or public.

Once I eliminated the famous people who don't follow me, I had more spaces for new people. Twitter will not allow anyone to follow more than 2,000 people until they get more than 2,000 people following them. I was stuck at around 1,600 followers for the longest time--until I decided to do something about it.

Now I have a very different Twitter feed. It's like a breath of fresh air--like opening the windows when the weather turns warm. :^)

I also discovered there were people following me who had not posted anything for three years or more. While it's nice to have a lot of followers, it's far better if they are chatty, live people. (It takes a great deal of skill to be chatty in 140 characters but there are those who do it well.) If someone has not posted in three years, I have to assume they passed away or gave up tweeting, in which case they should delete their account and try something else--like maybe Pinterest or Tumblr.

At any rate, I should have been cleaning out my account all along, but like everything else it was just going along and collecting dust bunnies. Now I feel so organized!

Have you checked your Twitter account lately?