Interview & Review: #Hauntings, #Spirits, & Eats #Michigan by Kathy Conder

Today, I’m chatting with Kathy Conder about her debut book, Hauntings, Spirits, & Eats Michigan.

Seasoned paranormal investigator, Kathy Conder draws on her experience with the paranormal to highlight different locations throughout Michigan that are reportedly haunted.  She includes restaurants, pubs, and hotels for those travelers who want to add a little paranormal spice to their trips.  Each establishment is listed by its location in the state and offers readers the history and hauntings connected to each.  For those who are interested in exploring the mysterious world of the paranormal, this book is a great starting point for planning your next Michigan trip.

Q & A

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today. Share a bit of your background before we delve more into your book.

KATHY: I was a Zoology major in college. I wrote for my university paper and have written articles on the paranormal for other publications. This is the first time I have written a book.

CHRISTINA: Tell us about your new book.

KATHY: As director for a paranormal group, I am often asked where the haunted places are in Michigan. I decided that by writing a book, I could list places that I knew in an organized format that was user-friendly. I would also be able to include some history on each location and my personal experiences if there were any. While I loved the idea of basing the book on Michigan’s “haunted hot spots,” I didn’t want it to read like a road atlas. People love a good story – especially a scary one and I had lots to share!

CHRISTINA: What inspired you to write this book?

KATHY: For some reason, I felt the timing was right. I was still somewhat reluctant to begin and even more so, admit to friends and family that I had. That meant I was accountable. It was official. Once I made that commitment, the rest was easier. I had days where the words flowed and others where I stalled and sat on the floor assembling Lego sets for the grandkids. The most important thing to me was to complete the book. I did and for me it will always be a symbol of my accomplishment.

CHRISTINA: What kind of research did you do?

KATHY: Most of my research is done on the job. I admit that I find myself in more than my share of reportedly haunted places, studying and exploring. What I have learned over the years has been through my experiences. Evidence of paranormal activity is often anecdotal. There is, as of now, no scientific evidence to prove its existence. I do extensive research on the history of different locations since hauntings can often be related to what occurred there in the past. For that information, I have found the local historical societies are a valuable resource. Local libraries and on-line sources have a wealth of information as well.

CHRISTINA: What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

KATHY: Writing is hard!

CHRISTINA: How long did you take to write the book?

KATHY: I think it was a year-long process.

CHRISTINA: Describe your writing space.

KATHY: I write at my husband’s grandmother’s desk. I have surrounded myself with things that make me happy. I tried hard to make it my own. I find that once I sit in that space, my mind seems to switch to writing-mode.

CHRISTINA: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

KATHY: Disciplining myself. Doubting myself. I tend to second-guess a lot!

CHRISTINA: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

KATHY: I don’t think it is interesting, but I have found music to be extremely grounding. From day to day, the music varies with my moods. I thought it might be distracting but it is the opposite. It helps me to focus.

CHRISTINA: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

KATHY: Both, equally!

CHRISTINA: What advice would you give to new writers – someone just starting out?

KATHY: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Writing is a learning process. Set up a writing schedule and stick to it, even you don’t get much written.

CHRISTINA: Where can we learn more about you and your book?

KATHY: You can find my book, Hauntings, Spirits, & Eats Michigan on Amazon and Goodreads, and you can find me on Michigan Paranormal Encounters on Facebook.

MY REVIEW

Kathy has done a great job researching over eighty haunted places in Michigan—lighthouses, inns, pubs, museums and more. I enjoyed reading the history of the sites as well as Kathy’s personal accounts as a paranormal investigator with thirty-eight years of experience. The perfect road trip book for all things spooky and historical in Michigan.

The 8th Annual One Acts Festival

I submitted my one act play back in December. Last week, the Allegan Community Players announced the lineup for the festival:

Purple Roses by Christina Thompson

Potential by Scott Mullen

The Band Currently Known as the Apaches by Les Abromovitz

I’m in! A first for me. I’m honored. What’s even crazier is that those characters are from my Chemical Attraction Series, which is set in a town based on Allegan.

The play was originally a short story. The scene takes place at Sylvia’s Bed & Breakfast, modeled after the Delano Mansion Inn in Allegan’s downtown area. The scene is a prequel to Chemical Attraction—before my main characters Joe Roberts and Madeline Pierce actually meet and fall in love. While mourning the death of her husband, Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia focuses on getting Joe and Madeline in the same room at the same time. The conversations of loneliness between Joe and Sylvia and then between Madeline and Sylvia break my heart.

Sylvia has become one of my favorite secondary characters in my series. In fact, I’m in the process of writing a new novel where she’s the main character trying to navigate in a world without her husband.

My head knows these characters are a figment of my imagination, but my heart knows their emotions are real. It’ll be strange to see these people, who have been in my life for so many years, become tangible on stage at the Griswold Auditorium, which I have also referenced in my series.

In Chemical Attraction, a fundraiser is held in the lower level of the Griswold. (I call it the Hartford though.) Then, in Chemical Reaction, a couple characters hide in the backstage area.

What a surreal experience this will be! I may cry. No, I guarantee I will cry. I’m aware the director may change the props and dialogue; this is a collaborative project after all, but I believe the emotions of the scenes will stay true.

If you’ve enjoyed my Chemical Attraction Series, this is a must see. Please, join me. I’ll be the one sobbing before the festival even starts.

Friday, April 22nd at 7 pm

Saturday, April 23rd at 7 pm

Sunday, April 24th at 2 pm

Griswold Auditorium

401 Hubbard Street

Allegan, MI 49010

All tickets are $5 at the door.

For more information, visit the Allegan Community Players.

For more information on my series, visit The Chemical Attraction Series on Amazon.

The Email That Changed My Life

On this day ten years ago, an email changed my life.  Late that night before I powered down my laptop, I checked my email.  I’d rather get a late night query rejection than one first thing in the morning. A lesson learned from experience—although both suck.

Well, after sending out over a hundred queries, multiple first-ten pages, and a fistful of the manuscript, 48fourteen Publishing offered me a contract for Chemical Attraction.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had to print and reread it to be sure.  My squeal woke my husband and freaked out our dog.  Thank you, Juanita Samborski.

Six months later, I officially became a published author.  And since then, I’ve created eleven novels (eight published), three audiobooks, four screenplays, and a stageplay.  I’ve come a long way, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

Cheers to 2022! 

Visit my AMAZON AUTHOR’S PAGE to learn more about my novels.

Coffee with Author Kass Hillard

Today, I’m chatting with Kass Hillard about her debut book, Games Psychics Play: Enhancing Your Intuition and Psychic Gifts published by Franklin Rose Publishing.

Kass Hillard has created the ultimate book and manual to help you develop your unique gifts of the Spirit and so much more. She’s funny, serious, kind, and strict. All the traits you would want your mentor to be and that’s what Kass has done with this book for you.

I’m drinking my Sumatra blend with a dollop of peppermint mocha. Kass has her classic black cup of coffee and a hint of Kahlua. This should be fun. So, Kass, share a bit of your background before we delve more into your book.

KASS: I’m a retired reflexologist and owned a holistic healing center for many years. I’ve been interested in the spiritual and metaphysical worlds for as long as I can remember.

After retirement, I was ready for a new challenge in my life and thought that since I was no longer in practice, perhaps I could write about my experiences as a reflexologist and healer. I wanted to write the book I wish I’d had when I was starting my reflexology career.

CHRISTINA: Tell us more about your new book.

KASS: Games Psychics Play: A Guidebook to Enhance Your Intuitive and Psychic Gifts is full of exercises and activities you can do to connect with your intuition and psychic abilities and strengthen them. I also tell some of the pitfalls to watch out for. I’ve included stories about my personal experiences as well.

CHRISTINA: What inspired you to write this book?

KASS: I’ve always enjoyed writing and had begun writing two books, one about reflexology and the other on challenging yourself spiritually, but I was struggling to finish them. I needed some guidance by others who were actual authors. I signed up for a writers’ workshop.

You’ve heard musicians often say they were doing something mundane like washing dishes or raking leaves and suddenly, the lyrics or melody to a song hit them and they had to stop what they were doing immediately and write it all down? That kind of happened to me.

After attending the workshop, I was on my way home, when out of the blue, I “heard” that I was to write a book called Games Psychics Play and what information it was to include. I pulled over in a gas station parking lot and wrote down everything, got home and began writing the book.

CHRISTINA: What kind of research did you do?

KASS: I’ve been a student of metaphysics for over four decades. I used my own experiences as a healer and a psychic as well as the experiences of other psychics I know.

CHRISTINA: What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

KASS: The most surprising thing is how writing consumed my life! I thought about the chapters and how to express what I needed to convey constantly. At least it felt that way. I had to always have paper and pen near me because I never knew when “just the right wording” to an idea would come to me. I found I didn’t sleep much while I was writing the book!

CHRISTINA: How long did you take to write the book?

KASS: I had the basics of the entire book written in six months. And then the editing process began! It took about two years total from start to publication.

CHRISTINA: Describe your writing space.

KASS: I don’t have one set writing space. Sometimes I need to be outside in nature to write, sometimes I need to be on the couch with a warm blanket, and other times I need to be in my favorite room of the house – the library. It has floor to ceiling bookshelves on 2 ½ walls and they are almost completely full! I have two shelves dedicated to the books written by my friends, which inspires me. I was thrilled when my own books could join their ranks.

CHRISTINA: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

KASS: The most difficult part of writing for me is staying focused and believing that I have something worth saying. I found I went through days (and at times weeks) where I THOUGHT about writing but put nothing down on paper other than a note or two so I wouldn’t forget an idea. The critic within myself was brutal.

CHRISTINA: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

KASS: I like to handwrite everything and only use a fine tipped pen. I always start out a new story or book with a new paper notebook.

CHRISTINA: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

KASS: It energizes me to the point of exhaustion, and I love it!

CHRISTINA: What advice would you give to new writers – someone just starting out?

KASS: Start writing. There are thousands of people who say they’ll write a book one day but never do. Their thoughts and ideas never see life. Don’t be one of them. Listen to the advice of other authors. The feelings and experiences, all the ups and downs, may be new to you, but they, too, have had them. Surround yourself with those who will be honest but not cruel when you ask for an opinion. Most importantly, trust yourself and your ability. You have something to say, and we want to hear it!

CHRISTINA: Thanks for hanging out with me. To learn more about Kass and her book, Games Psychics Play: A Guidebook to Enhance Your Intuitive and Psychic Gifts, visit her website HOUSE OF THE SPIRIT. You can also find her book on AMAZON and GOODREADS.

The Chemical Attraction #SeriesSale #RomanticSuspense #FreeEBook with @48fourteen

Eva, Taylor, and Joe are siblings by choice. They believe you don’t have to be related to be a family. Their mantra is tested throughout the series.

Meet the characters:

TAYLOR VALENTINE, a kindhearted empath, embraces her vanilla tendencies. Her plan for her life reinforces those traits. She doesn’t apologize for giving people the benefit of the doubt. She focuses on college graduation and a career—romance in the far distant future.

As a history professor and former Marine, STUART MORGAN, a blond, blue-eyed war hero, battles his inner demons. Although he longs for mental peace from an understanding woman, his rigid rules prevent it.

EVA O’SULLIVAN, a petite Irish spitfire, has big opinions and you know them whether you want to or not. Masking her vulnerability, she wears her willfulness like armor.

Officer MATT CONNOR recovers from a gunshot wound obtained while on duty. As a single parent, he pushes any romantic life aside and concentrates on raising his eight-year-old son, DAVID, who desperately wants a mother and sets his sights on Eva.

His charisma hiding his loneliness, FBI Agent JOE ROBERTS is searching for an instant chemistry with his soulmate, the one person who will love him for his faults, not in spite of them.

Dr. MADELINE PIERCE, a dedicated scientist, has pain in her heart from an abusive relationship.  With her Ice Queen persona set, she hides within the realm of her research.

For a limited time, The Chemical Attraction Series is on SALE!

THEIR RIGID RULES (book one) is FREE

THE KINDRED CODE (book two) is $0.99

CHEMICAL ATTRACTION (book three) is $0.99

CHEMICAL REACTION (book four) is $0.99

It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.

In Memory of Dad

Dear Dad,

Happy Veterans Day.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  I didn’t understand until recently how much the Korean War affected you.  It had taken your innocence leaving your emotions hardened from the horrors. Would our relationship have been better had I known your torment? 

After reading your letters to your parents during the war, I felt the love you had for them, which is why I used my favorite picture of you, your mother, and your dad on the cover.  That’s how I want to remember you.  I will cherish those rare times when you had let your guard down—laughing with a lightened heart.  I forgive you, and I miss you more than I ever had.

With Love,

Christina

Dearest Mother and Dad

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.

My dad is in the front row far right.

A Dance and a Kiss Jolt Their Fate

“. . . Keeping Madeline in his arms, Joe guided her into an East Coast Swing. He found it refreshing that she knew the steps. Not many of the women he’s dated did. He had to work extra hard to maneuver them around the dance floor. It got to the point where he just didn’t bother dancing. Now, he realized how much he missed it or maybe he finally found the right partner.

Madeline’s eyes sparkled as he spun her around. He winced at how much he liked making her smile. What the hell! Focus, damn it! Don’t get carried away!

***

“. . . In a formal dance position, Madeline shivered slightly at Joe’s warm hand on her waist. His other holding hers set a wave of heat to her face. She craved more of his touch. She gently squeezed his bicep and shoulder. Even through his suit jacket, she felt his taut muscles.

She inhaled his cologne mixed with his sweat from drumming earlier. He oozed a chemical attraction. As a neuroscientist, she had read about the effects of pheromones. Fascinated, she wanted to lean in closer to taste his neck. She blinked and stiffened slightly. Calm down! Joe was here officially as an agent of the FBI. And she would not become one of those women in his phone. It didn’t surprise her that Joe knew how to dance. She supposed it was another way of impressing women. And, damn, if it wasn’t working. . . .”

***

Learn more about their romance

in my stand-alone thriller Chemical Attraction

Review: Mythic Maiden Series by C.K. Brooke #YoungAdultNovels #RomanceNovels

The retelling of these myths and legends is woman power at its finest. I bought the first three novels for my sixteen-year-old niece. She graciously let me read them first. I know she’s going to love them. It’ll also solidify my status as her favorite aunt.

Secrets of Artemis

In Ancient Greece, the goddess Artemis was venerated as a maiden huntress, swift with her bow and arrows, and eternally chaste. But could there be more to her story? Perhaps Lady Artemis had envisioned quite a different destiny than the one her father, Zeus, had chosen for her. What if she hadn’t merely pined after the giant huntsman, Orion, but had secretly partaken of a forbidden romance with him?

My Review

A creative way to bring mythology to life in the retelling of the Greek Goddess Artemis. An entertaining story perfect for the young adult reader.

I, Guinevere

On the winter solstice, a mysterious sword appears in a stone. Not even the mightiest of the village men can remove it, until fifteen-year-old Guinevere gives a try. The sword heeds the unsuspecting maiden, proclaiming the unthinkable: She is the blood of Pendrakon, heir to the vacant throne of Camylot.

Guinevere never dreamed she was royalty. Now, between apprenticing an eccentric old wizard, swordplay lessons with a boy called Lance, and clandestine meetings with the formidable High Priestess of Avalon, Guinevere is swept up in a whirlwind of training and preparation for her monumental new role as future queen. But invasions by barbarians and visitations from mysterious, dark forces loom overhead. Can Guinevere defend her kingdom against darkness and deception? Despite sinister forces working against her, can she harness the power to wield Exkalibur and rule the realm? Or is Camylot already destined to fall?

My Review

Equal parts romance, suspense, and mystery in the retelling of the King Arthur legend. Another wonderful story for the young adult reader.

Marian, Princess Thief

Lady Marian, once the beloved Princess of Sherwood, was only sixteen when her father rode off to fight in the Crusades, leaving his kingdom under the despotic rule of his brother, Prince John. The night her uncle sends an assassin upon her, Marian flees to Sherwood Forest, where she meets and forges an unbreakable bond with six other outlawed young women.

Now, the nineteen-year-old princess-in-exile and her Merry Maidens gallivant through the greenwood, cloaked under the aliases of Rob-in-Hood and his Merry Men. Together, they uphold their vendetta of mischief, undermining the Prince at every turn, robbing the rich and giving to the poor—all while outrunning their sworn nemesis, the odious Sheriff of Nottingham. After a scheme takes an unexpected turn and Marian’s only recourse is to abduct the Sheriff, the lady brigands find themselves in over their heads, stuck with an unrelenting and formidable captive. But, as Marian is about to discover, sometimes people aren’t what they seem… After all, she would know.

My Review

A fast-paced retelling of the Robin Hood legend with fun distinct characters. I see why it was awarded the 2020 Best Indie Book Award in Young Adult Fiction. This is my favorite of the three.

Mythic Maiden Series by C.K. Brooke