Thursday, October 24, 2019

Some Ways Samhain and Halloween are the Same

Samhain, pronounced Sahvin, is the Celtic New Year. It falls on October 31st to November 1st, and it’s where we get many of our Halloween traditions. As an author of Celtic Fantasy Romance novels, my favorite holiday is Samhain or as some say Halloween.

The Celts believed that the veil between worlds was at its thinnest on Samhain. The dead easily crossed into our earthly dimension and were honored by their living kith and kin, who left plates of food out for deceased relatives, visiting for Samhain. 

Samhain was celebrated with games, (like hurling, foot races, and horse races) a rowdy feast, and a massive, blazing bonfire. In Ireland, druids held the Samhain celebration and lit the great fire at Tlachtga each year, about 12 miles from Tara.

Turnips, apples, and hazelnuts were popular food for Samhain. The ancient Celts carved out mangel-wurzels, a type of turnip, and placed tallow inside to use them as Samhain lanterns. The Celt’s believed that on Samhain, a type of shapeshifting fey—puca in Gaelic (pwca in Welsh and bucca in Cornish) spit on any unharvested apples rendering them inedible. That’s why the ancient Celts picked all the apples before the Samhain feast began. So, don’t buy any apples picked after Halloween, those puca could still be creeping around the orchards. Hazelnuts ripened in Autumn and were believed to impart wisdom as well as strength to anyone who ate them. Maybe I should try some hazelnuts and see if that works. Since Samhain was the end of the autumn season, any of the livestock (cows, sheep, pigs) deemed unlikely to make it through the coming winter were slaughtered at this time. So, there was a bounty of delicious boiled and roasted meat to feast on. And of course, there was plenty of heady ale or mead to go around.  

My Samhain romance is The Wolf And The Druidess.   

In days of old, deep in the dark woods, Druidess Seren discovers a wolf shapeshifting into the bare, muscular Celtic God, Gwydion. Seren's mind turns from the Samhain feast to wicked thoughts of Gwydion's gorgeous body Is the love Gwydion and Seren share strong enough to overcome barriers between an immortal god and a mortal woman? Or will a warning of danger from beyond the grave destroy the sensual magic brewing between the wolf and the druidess?

Samhain is also the festival of Caer Ibormeith, a goddess from Irish mythology, who was turned into a swan. Rhiannon is her closest equivalent in Brythonic mythology. Her story is told in the first part of the Mabinogion. So, Moon Goddess Wife, a romance, mystery, and fantasy about Rhiannon is also a fun Samhain read. 

From Welsh myth springs the tale of Rhiannon and Pwyll. Chief Pwyll's life is changed forever the day Goddess Rhiannon rides pass him on her magic horse. Forbidden romance smolders between the goddess and the chieftain. With the use of an enchanted bag, Rhiannon breaks free of an unwanted betrothal. Happily, she weds Pwyll, but a harrowing mystery tears them apart. Will Pwyll’s suspicion and duty as chieftain prevail or will love win out?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Only Their Author Knows For Sure: You'd Be Surprised To Find These Books Were Ghostwritten

Readers are sometimes surprised to discover as much as half of all books traditionally published today are created with the help of ghostwriters or developmental editors. Even more so for self-published books. In fact, when you look at any nonfiction best seller list 50% of those books were ghostwritten. More and more fiction books are being ghostwritten as well. Plus, the majority of celebrity memoirs and biographies are ghostwritten. For example, John F. Kennedy’s classic Profiles in Courage was penned by his speechwriter Theodore Sorenson. 
Ghostwriters have been around for a while. Did you know that H.P. Lovecraft was Harry Houdini’s ghostwriter for Imprisoned with the Pharaoh, published in Weird Tales in 1924? Lovecraft also ghosted The Curse of Yig authored by Zealia Bishop. And, when H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer at 46 he left notes on a work he’d barely begun, The Lurker At The Threshold. August Derleth completed it, in other words, did pretty much all the writing on it. Derleth was credited as co-author
Have you ever wondered how authors are writing books years after they’ve died? Robert Ludlum, who wrote the Jason Bourne series, died in 2001. The books written after his death until 2017 were by the ghostwriter Eric Van Lustbader. Another author who appears to have been writing long after her death, over 25 years since she passed, is V.C. Andrews. Cleo Virginia Andrews penned seven books as V.C. Andrews before she died of breast cancer. Since 1990, the books have been ghostwritten.  The books by Mickey Spillane that were published after his death in 2006 were ghostwritten by Max Allan Collins.
 Popular series are often written by ghostwriters after the original author’s death or if the author wants to stop writing the series for various reasons. That includes such series as The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Babysitter’s Club. The Babysitter’s club originated with Ann M. Martin, who wrote the first 35 books in the series. But at the 36th book, the writing was turned over to Peter Lerangis. It was somewhat the same for Animorphs, the credited author, K. A. Applegate wrote the first 24 books. However, she mostly outlined the next 27 books in the series and a group of ghostwriters actually wrote them. In fact, not only did K. A. Applegate, unlike many authors, freely acknowledge this, she admitted that she was one of the ghostwriters on Sweet Valley High in her early career.
 Sweet Valley High like the Nancy Drew series has fictional author names on the covers. Those books were written by several ghostwriters based on a template and an expected style the publishers created. This is the case with many book series the authors’ names are simply made up by the publisher.
You’ve probably read many books you thought were written by the author on the book when they weren’t. You might be surprised to find that the actual writer of Tennis As I Play It By Maurice McLoughlin was Sinclair Lewis. Inside the Medium’s Cabinet by Joseph Dunninger was ghostwritten by Walter B. Gibson. My Chinese Marriage authored by Mae T. Franking was written by Katherine Anne Porter. And Robert Graves was the ghostwriter of Old-Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards.
However, ghostwriters do write in the style of their clients. That’s part of their job. Ghostwriters interview their clients and get all the information they can to write the book in their client’s voice. People hire ghostwriters to create books they can’t due to lack of time or know-how or in some cases the death of the original writer of a series. When you look at a book and think is it or isn’t it, often only the writer or ghostwriter knows for sure.

I am an author of 36 books of my own, and I’ve also ghostwritten memoirs, business books, and fiction for clients. I’m always available to discuss my work and what I can offer clients. Feel free to contact me at or visit my website

I Was An eBook Author Before eBooks Were Cool

I submitted my first book to Awe-Struck eBooks in the year 2000. I decided to go to the Predators and Editors list of publishers and submit to recommended sites only. That means the authors that wrote for them thought—the contracts were good, they paid on time, were easy to work with, knew what they were doing, etc.  

I started at the front of the directory at A. Awe-Struck was the first on the list that was recommended and open to submissions for Historical Romances. Plus, they were interested in unusual time periods and mine was set in the dark ages, at the onset of the Saxon Wars. Awe-struck, the first publisher I submitted to, accepted my book and I signed a contract with them. The Fox Prince, later retitled The Celtic Fox, was released in January 2001. It came out in eBook format at that time and in print later that year. 
The eBook could be downloaded anytime, anyplace to be read on a Rocketbook reader, a palm pilot, a laptop, or desktop. Later other ebook readers came on the scene like Gemstar, Mobi pocket (a popular ebook reading software), and others. I had a Gemstar. 
These eBooks could also be autographed and sold at book signings, book-fairs, festivals, and conventions. The publisher sent a kit of 3.5” paper folders with the front cover on one side and the back cover on the other. The blurb, copyright, and publisher information were printed on the inside of the folder.  We got several of these in a kit from the publisher, I don’t remember how much the authors paid for the kits but it wasn’t much. I and the other authors put those tiny folders inside the little 3.5” square plastic cases, they were called jewel cases, and then we downloaded the eBook onto 3.5” floppy disks and put one in each jewel case inside the paper folder. Readers inserted the floppy disc into their computers and read them. Those little folders were what we autographed for readers when they bought eBooks at book signings.  
 Amazon purchased Mobipocket in 2005 and used the Mobi software to build its Kindle platform. This is why Amazon uses Mobi formatting for its eBooks though the other distributors use epub. 

In 2007 Amazon introduced the Kindle eReader. They also created Kindle Direct Publishing at that time, which lets authors bypass publishers and download (publish) directly with the distributor (Amazon). Later other eBook distributors, (Barnes and Nobles, Apple, Kobo and more) offered direct publishing to authors.

The other day, on an application for panels for a 2020 comic con, I had to answer the antiquated question, is your book an ebook? Some books, mostly picture books, comic books, or children books, don’t work that well at this time in eBook form. But, it can be said that if you publish a book for ages ranging from teen to Adult in 2019 that is print only and does not come in an eBook format then maybe you shouldn’t be in the publishing business.
When I first eBook published in 2001 people actually told me eBooks aren’t real books. Of course, whether print or digital, not a single word of the book was different, it was the same just in a different form. So, if one’s real then the other’s real too. People know that now.
 Most reviewers wouldn’t review eBook ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) back in 2001. It seems that back then print on demand books only came out on the release date.  So, we’d print the ARC out and take it to Kinkos and have it put it into a spiral binder with a clear cover so the cover-art on the first page showed through, and we mailed those ARCs to reviewers. One reviewer always asked me to sign mine for her. Who knows they and the 3.5 floppy eBooks disc might be valuable historical artifacts one day. I should have kept some. 
I could tell you a lot more about those early days of eBooks, but those days are gone. eBook publishing and eBook reading are much easier now. But, I’ve always been glad that I published my first book as an eBook in 2001. I’ve never regretted it. The Beatles song paperback writer always captured how I feel about being an eBook writer. When I sing it I substitute eBook writer for paperback writer.
I’m proud to have been an eBook writer back before eBooks were cool. To be honest, though, they were always some people who thought they were cool, including me. One day I might even be thought of as cool. It’s highly unlikely but possible…you know kind of like time travel.

Feel free to contact me any time to discuss the 37 published books I've written in my name, or my Ghostwriting or Self Publishing Consultation services at or visit my site at

Why Self-Publishing is Hotter than the Big 5

In the past, if you wanted your book on the shelf in major book stores, in other words Barnes and Nobles, if that was the best way for you to sell your particular book, then it was advantageous to go with the Big 5.
The conglomerates who controlled the publishing industry for a long time are:
1. Hachette
2. Macmillan
3. HarperCollins
4. Simon & Schuster
5. Penguin Random House
Also known as the Big 5.
However, in order for a writer to benefit from having books on the shelf at Barnes and Nobles there has to be a Barnes and Nobles for their readers to go to in their area. There are fewer Barnes and Nobles than ever, but since they were bought June, 7, 2019 hopefully at least the stores that are still open will stay open.
Independent Bookstores, unlike Barnes and Nobles, will shelf self-published books and also order them at their customer’s requests. You don’t have to be published by the Big 5 to get your book in an indie bookstore though you may have to use Ingram Sparks as at least one of your distributors, but that’s easy to do.
If customers are shopping online and comparing books from Self-Published Authors to those published by the Big 5, the greatest difference the readers find is pricing. For those that think competitive prices don’t matter, keep in mind that if the publisher is pricing your books at a cost that readers won’t pay then you won’t sell books. That matters.
Many readers of late are making negative comments about incredibly expensive books. If readers think the books from the Big 5 are too high, they’ll try lower-priced but top-quality self-published books. If they find they like them just as much, they’ll buy them instead of your Big 5 published book. This is happening now. This practice will increase among readers.
As far as statements that some people make of self-published authors being less than Big 5 authors, keep in mind that many self-published authors are award winners, and many are also on the NY Times Best Selling List. A lot of them used to be with publishers but out of preference began to self publish their books.
Also, readers just want good books. They don’t care or even usually understand who publishes them. Readers care about quality and price. Writing is hard and takes a long time and books definitely shouldn’t be priced too cheaply but prices of $10 - $20 – even $30 more than most self-published books is considered by the majority of readers to be too high. I can certainly understand why. Honestly, that is an excessive markup. But, it’s not the authors doing it’s the publishers. Big 5 authors have no control of pricing. However, Indie Authors have control of their prices and discounts.
Please don’t be quick to dismiss self-published authors and self-publishing as less than Big 5 publishing, As far as self-publishing being inferior to traditional publishing it doesn't make sense. If the author's writing, the cover art, the editing, and the formatting are up to par with traditional publishing then how can the book be inferior to traditional publishing? It can't. If self-published books were inferior then why would the any of them show up on the New York Times Best Selling list? And they do, regularly.
If you're a writer, keep the above facts in mind and make your choice based on what is truly best for you and the book you’ve written. There are some exceptions but for most authors, it is advantageous to self-publish rather than publish with the Big 5.
As for me, I have worked with 5 publishers altogether. A couple of years ago, when I got all my rights back, I decided to self-pub all 36 of my books. And I have never regretted that decision.
I offer indie-publishing consultation and ghostwriting services as well.