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The Ghost Host
I had a heck of a time finding a redhead on stock photos sties, but I’m lucky enough to have a fabulous photographer for a sister and she got the lovely Kate Bordeaux to pose as Echo Simmons for the front cover and I think it turned out awesome!!
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Kassondra Sturtevant with Mystereah Photography (Facebook)
Unedited Excerpt From
THE GHOST HOST
“Echo, I’m Dr. Rosemond. I’ll be assisting Agent Morton with your testing. I have some paperwork to go over with you before we begin.”
As Dr. Rosemond explains the risks of each test—which are minimal—and goes over some stuff about confidential information and all that. She seems to honestly enjoy what she does. Clearly, she’s never had to deal with ghosts face to face or she’d have different feelings on the matter. Finally, I sign my name three or four times.
There’s open space around me with about a dozen different devices positioned in a ring around me. One of the interns, or whoever they are, sticks a bunch of monitor wires all over me, and then we seem to be set. “So, what exactly do you want me to do?” I ask Agent Morton.
“Basically, we’ll run you through a few exercises to see how accurate you are in locating spirits.”
I scrunch my face at him because that seems like a stupid thing to ask me to do since I can see them, but I realize they have to “prove” I can see them.
“Are there any spirits present now?” Agent Morton asks. Dr. Rosemond’s eyes are as bright and alert as a dog waiting to have the ball thrown.
I don’t really need to look, but I do a quick scan to see how many are hanging about. I’m only vaguely surprised to see five ghosts present—some of my regulars—are hanging back behind the monitoring equipment. I can’t help wondering if they know what this is all about.
“There are five here right now, but they’re all standing outside the range of the equipment,” I explain.
“Can you encourage them to come closer,” Dr. Rosemond asks.
Grimacing, I want to tell her that’s the last thing I want to do, but this will all be for nothing if I don’t. Lifting one of my hands, I point to one of the ghosts that has been with me the longest. She used to stand over my crib when I was little and make me laugh. I motion for her to come forward. She hesitates, and I wonder if any of this stuff hurts ghosts. I can’t imagine how it would, so I say, “Liza, it’s okay. They just want to run a few tests.”
I trust Liza not to do something crazy, and apparently she trusts me enough not to try and hurt her. She steps into the circle and approaches me slowly. No alarm bells go off to indicate there’s a ghost inside the circle, but from the corner of my eye I see several members of the team getting excited.
“Echo, can you give us the exact location of Liza?” Agent Morton asks.
“She’s standing to my left, by my knee, about a foot away,” I tell him. He writes something down and nods.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the morning goes. Hours later, I’m about to ask if we’re almost done when the one ghost I didn’t want to see today steps into view.
“No, no, no, no, no,” I start whispering frantically. I don’t say it out loud, but in my head I’m begging him to go away, to just disappear for a while. As if he knows exactly what I’m asking for, he cocks his head to the side and ignores me.
Heads pop up as one of the cameras fritzes out with a pop and puff of smoke. Something starts beeping as he crosses into the circle. Thanks to the monitors stuck all over me, I’m sure they can all see my pulse skyrocketing.
“Echo, what’s going on?” Agent Morton asks.
I want to answer him, but I press myself into the back of my chair when Archer keeps coming toward me. “Go away, please,” I beg him, which seems to be the exact wrong thing to say.
A blast of cold hits me. Frost begins to forms beneath his insubstantial feet. One blurry arm reaches forward. I want to scream, but I keep my mouth shut as tightly as I can. He doesn’t touch me, but he touches one of the wires connected to me and I yelp as it shorts out and zaps me.
Almost as though he’s startled, he pulls back and drops the wire. “That hurt,” I snap as I glare at him. He cocks his head to the side again. I’m not sure if he’s confused, or just staring at me. When his hand reaches out again, I really start to panic. “Don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me again.”
I’m begging, but I don’t care. My eyes squeeze shut as his hand moves closer. Don’t scream. Don’t scream. I hold my body rigid, waiting for the assault, but all I feel is ice against my cheek. My eyes snap open when it vanishes, hoping he’s left, but instead, I see him standing in front of me, a frozen tear balanced on his finger. My hand presses to my cheek to find a few more frozen and quickly melting tears.
Archer bows his head, and then he’s gone. I look around, startled and afraid he isn’t really gone, but he’s nowhere to be seen. I start yanking wires off my body as I struggle to breathe normally. Malachi is there in a flash, ripping off sticky tabs and pulling me into his arms. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I say in a rush. I close my eyes, wanting to block out everything but Malachi. Agent Morton’s voice pulls me out of his protective embrace.
“Echo, what just happened? The readings we got were nothing like earlier.” Dr. Rosemond looks flat out excited, but Agent Morton is clearly concerned.
With the holidays approaching, I’ve been seeing loads of posts and promos for Christmas books. I was even a part of one promo for #ChickLit4Xmas, which was lots of fun. I’ve never been particularly into reading Christmas themed stories. I have nothing against them. I’ve simply never been drawn to them.
As I’ve been seeing all the holiday books being promoted, I realized I’ve never even written a single Christmas scene is any of my books. At least I don’t think so. It’s been a while since I’ve reread some of my early books. I’m pretty sure all I have are some birthday parties and a brief mention of Christmas in Shark Out Of Water.
One might start to think I have an aversion to writing holiday scenes. It’s kind of funny actually. I really don’t know why I haven’t written a holiday scene before, but it got me thinking. How do writers choose what genre they’re going to write? Obviously, I can’t speak for all authors, and I didn’t think about this early enough to take a poll, but here’s why I write what I write along with a few tips on how to choose your genre.
I write in several genres and subgenres ranging from YA paranormal/sci-fi/dystopian/urban fantasy, to straight up romance, to new adult (a rather new venture), to some unpublished projects that are just plain YA drama no otherworldly twists and turns at all. So what genre for what story?
Basically, the way I decide how to choose a genre depends on three things.
1: What is the main conflict of the story?
Is it personal or situational? Personal implies a lot more internal struggles while situational may be more event-driven. Figuring out what you want the driving force behind the conflict to be can be a challenge, but this question helps you narrow down whether you’re going to be thinking along the lines of faster paced/question driven writing or deeper emotional trials that won’t need bam-bam-bam events to pull the reader through the story.
2. What type of stumbling blocks will your characters face?
This question in particular helps me chose the age range of my characters. With YA, parents are an issue, as are friends (more so than in other genres usually), limits on what they can and can’t do, firsts (big decisions, relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.), and self-discovery.
With New Adult, some of the YA issues still apply, but you add in facing the grownup world with jobs, bills, being on their own, dealing with consequences without parental backup, failure, and so much more. There’s more freedom for the characters in some ways, but a new set of responsibilities can limit them as well.
With fiction for adults, you’re facing day-to-day life with work and family, dealing with past mistakes, reality of the life they’ve chosen/ended up with, wanting more or something different, having to grow up and actually be an adult, serious relationship issues, etc. Asking yourself these question can help point you in the right direction for ages of your characters, which will help you narrow down your genre choices.
3. To paranormal or not to paranormal?
Maybe this isn’t a question every writer asks, but I do. So far, all of my published YA books have some sort of paranormal/sci-fi/urban fantasy element, but I have other projects, finished and unfinished, that just didn’t work as anything but straight drama. Why? Because the source of their main problems are real problems, not imaginary ones. My adult romance series, Date Shark Series, doesn’t have a single ghost, demon, curse, or magic power anywhere. I wanted to focus on actual relationship problems we’ve all faced at one point or another and I didn’t need anything outside reality to do that.
Figuring out the driving force behind your conflict will help you decide whether or not your story needs something paranormal.
So, these are the questions I ask myself when I start a new project. Sometimes I already have these worked out when the idea hits me, but sometimes I don’t. If you’re uncertain about what direction to take your story, try asking yourself these questions. If you have questions you ask yourself to help you decide, I’d love to hear them!
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