Saturday, August 1, 2015

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE BOOK COVER

Betty Book Freak has a Rate Book Covers site, http://ratebookcover.com
where you can check out book covers and vote for those you like. To vote you must register with the site. Look for the register link at the bottom of the page. Books are rated in two ways, by star and by vote. Be sure to do both.

You'll find several covers there done by me, including three from my own books: Tender Touch, The Scent of Roses, and Taming Jenna. 


 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

HOW RESEARCH CAN IMPROVE A STORY


Research is what gives a story its flavor and authenticity. Every author will do far more research than she needs to write the book, but even the bits she doesn't use will show through in her writing and help bring the story alive. The secret is figuring out which of the details and how much to use. Too much can slow the pacing and kill a reader's interest. The author must remember the base story she set out to tell and not get offtrack.

When I researched my historical romance, Forever Mine, I learned so many fascinating facts about lighthouse keeping and my particular setting, I could easily have gone off on tangents.

The story took root in my head when I visited the Cape Meares, Oregon, lighthouse, and saw a photograph of a keeper and his new bride on their 1891 wedding day. The groom didn't look particularly thrilled, but then, portrait subjects of that era rarely looked happy. It wasn't considered dignified. Subjects were made to stand very stiff and still and the entire process took a long time. But this bride's expression went beyond boredom to possible regret. She appeared miserable. See if you agree.


In 1891, the Cape Meares Lighthouse was very isolated. The nearest town was Tillamook, nine miles inland at the tip of Tillalmook Bay. To reach the light, one had to take a boat ride across the bay to a dock slightly inland from the sea. There, travelers transferred to wagons driven up over the heavily wooded cape by way of a very rough dirt road. The boat trip had to be carefully timed with the tide and leave enough of the day left for the wagons to reach the light before dark.

Cape Meares Today
Notice I said the boat took passengers to a dock slightly inland. How much more interesting it would have been if I'd offered a few more details. My characters actually boarded a boat called the Henrietta I off Front Street in Tillamook, put-putted up Hoquarton Slough to the Tillamook River, which flowed into the bay. They landed at Barnagat Post Office, a small trading post that served the few, scattered settlers of the area.

Research gave me those details, and much more. At the Tillamook Pioneer Museum, I found an old calendar with photos of the light from back in the day. I'm posting some of them here.
As you'll see, I found a picture of the light taken many years ago before the houses were removed, one of the houses themselves, and even a floor plan, though that had a different source. The wedding photo came from the calendar as well.

But my research didn't end there, not by a long shot (yeah, I know - cliche). Through the kindness of local residents, I managed to connect not only with a daughter of a Cape Meares lighthouse keeper, I also found the son of the couple whose wedding photo inspired my book. How lucky is that? We connected, 'Ol Hig' and I, and he shared many tales with me of the area and the lighthouse. Some of these stories made it into the book, such as Bartholomew's attempt to cook and eat a cormorant. He was a very helpful, very special man, 'Ol Hig' and we became good friends. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the book in print, which broke my heart.

Cape Meares today, still isolated
Before the story was completed, I had made several new friends, and filled my head with sea lore, the daily details of running a lighthouse, diseases and cures of the day, sea life (Chinese pheasants and puffins, in particular), ornithology, and the awesome power of the ocean in its ability to toss a rock over 200 feet high, and into the lighthouse.

Cape Meares, with the light circled in red and the houses still in iplace.




The cape has changed little. The ocean has gnawed at its edges and there isn't as much left as there used to be. But it's still beautiful. Try the hike to visit old growth forest and giant sitka trees. Be sure to see the Octapus Tree near the lighthouse. Today, the cape is a wildlife refuge for elk, bear, wildcats and deer, who sometimes wander down into the village..

The lighthouse is automated now, the houses gone. Where they once sat is a parking lot. Inside the small attached building at the light itself, you'll find a gift shop run by volunteers, open in summer.

I've been there many times and enjoyed every visit. Forever Mine was a very special story for me. Every year for over 15 years, some writing friends and I rented a house in the village of Cape Meares, north of the actual cape, and wrote, wrote, wrote. At least when we weren't exploring the beach. Much of Forever Mine was written there. The spot owns a large part of my heart. Oh, the adventures my friends and I shared. Oh, the tales we could tell.

The first five people to email me at charraddon@pobox.com and give me their home addresses, will receive a signed post card like the one below. If I get many more requests than five, well, that will give me an excuse to go traveling west to buy more cards. And that is all good. To receive my newsletter, be sure to leave your email address in a comment below. And thanks for listening to my tale.



Sunday, July 5, 2015

SCARY GHOST TOWNS OF AMERICA

       Do the word "Ghost Towns" cause you to shiver? Does the thought of visiting one creep you out? Nope, not me. I love ghost towns. I once spent two weeks visiting every ghost town I could find in the State of Colorado. Fantastic. 
       There's something about wandering those weedy, dirt streets, peering into grimy windows, and wondering who once lived there that sparks my imagination. I'd love to spent the night in some old hotel, maybe even a week. 
       One thing you'll notice in ghost town cemeteries is the abundance of graves for children who never made it past ten years of age. Most died before they saw three years. There are a lot of women, too, many who died in childbirth, often with the babes sharing the same coffin. Such graves break my heart. 
        Some of the most fascinating reading I've experienced were the journals of travelers to the old west. I grew up without TVs, cell phones, microwaves and computers of any kind. Most young people today would consider that terribly deprived. But that's because they haven't spent much time learning the history of our country and the people who inhabited it, who felled the trees, tilled the soil, moved tons of rocks and buried too many family members because of the hard lives they led.
       These are the stories that inspire western novels in the minds and hearts of authors like me.
       Besides what many people would consider just plain creepy about ghost towns, there are some that were abandoned for strange reasons. 
       Dudley Town in Connecticut isn't in what would be called "The Wild West" but it was a sort of town, and it was abandoned for the most part. This "village of the damned" as it is often called, was actually a farming community on land belonging to the Dudley family. Many people came and settled there; most eventually left. The land wasn't the best for farming, but why does it now own a reputation for being cursed? If you go there, leave it as you find it, for if you take anything belonging there with you, your family will be cursed. Or so the locals say.
Bodie
       If you love ghost towns and haven't been to Bodie on the eastern side of the Sierra Mountains in California, you don't know what you're missing. Established in 1859 when William Bodie found gold nearby, the town drew a decent number of prospectors. This is my favorite ghost town. Why? Because it's as though the inhabitants simply got up one morning and decided to leave. Peek inside the houses and you likely see dishes still on the tables. The general store's shelves are still well stocked, and the local mortuary houses several coffins. Dry air is credited with preserving the town so well. That and the fact that it is guarded by a ranger who lives right there and can see, from his own windows, every move a visitor makes. Go up onto a porch and giggle a doorknob and see how fast that ranger joins you there. Nothing in Bodie has been reconstructed. There are no gift stores, or businesses of any other kind, except those run by ghosts.
       More than one tourist has spoken of feeling a sense of dread while visiting Animas Forks, Colorado. You need a four wheel drive just to get there. It's in the tippy tops of the mountain peaks. The abandoned buildings give off an eerieness and feeling of solace that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in the state.
Undergound Seattle (shudder)
       Recently I learned something surprising about Seattle, Washington. Now you can't really call this a ghost town, but in a way that's exactly what it is. Not the Seattle as we know it today, but the town originally built in the mid-nineteenth century. You see, all was going fine until someone started a fire that would not extinguish. It took years of planning and construction, but the citizens abandoned the original town and built a new one, not next to it, or a few miles away. No, they built it right on top of the old town. They lined the streets with concrete walls, and built up. Some parts of the ghost town under the living town are now open for tours. Now, wouldn't that be interesting?
         Goldfield, Nevada. Full of spooks and evil spirits? Maybe. Many, if not all, the old mining towns of the American West are said to be haunted, and why not? Greed for gold and silver drove prospectors and settlers to unspeakable violence and mayhem. 
Goldfield Hotel
       At one time, Goldfield was considered the richest and most populated gold mining town in Nevada. The wealthy elite stayed at the fancy four-story Goldfield Hotel. After boom turned to bust, psychics and paranormal investigators "haunted" the place. They claim the old hotel became the haunting grounds of several ghosts, including the spirit of a pregnant prostitute who died while chained to a radiator in a small first-floor room. Her infant was supposedly tossed into an abandoned mine beneath the hotel. Why? Who knows? But ghost hunters say the hotel is one of seven portals to the Other Side.
       We could go on talking about ghost towns for weeks, there are enough of them out there. But for now, let's stop here and think of all the stories such places could inspire. And then, let's go write them.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

You can now find me at TSU

Check out my page at https://www.tsu.co/CharleneRaddon and do please friend me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

TENDER TOUCH DISCOUNTED TODAY

Get TENDER TOUCH today for .99



Three nightmarish years of marriage had shattered Brianna Wight’s sheltered world. Faking her own murder, she fled St. Louis…harboring terrible secrets that could mean her death.

The tragic loss of his Indian wife left Columbus Nigh a wanderer; necessity made him a wilderness guide. But now he found himself drawn to the enigmatic woman who’d hired him to lead her westward. Her gentle strength stirred his lonely heart…her tender beauty aroused his deepest passions.

But the perils of the Oregon Trail paled beside the murderous wrath of the man who tracked them across the harsh frontier. Brianna knew the only way to save herself and Columbus was to risk their tender love. Only then could she free herself from the horrors of the past—and embrace a rapturous future.

EXCERPT
St. Louis, Missouri, April 1849
Brianna Wight’s heart pounded as she reluctantly fol­lowed her housekeeper’s son inside the dingy, cavernous livery stable. She felt as though she were entering the very bowels of hell.
Heat from the blacksmith’s shop blasted her delicate skin through her clothes and fluttered the veil covering her face as she waited for her eyes to adjust to the dark­ness. The flames leaping from the forge and the murky silhouettes of men, dancing about the fire like so many devils, were all she could make out.
Harsh, angry voices flew at her out of the blackness, like hurtled knives. Instant terror stiffened her body and she threw up an arm to shield her face.
“Wait your turn, stinkin’ squawman. Whaddya need yer horse shod for anyways? It’s only one o’ them Injun ponies. Get back to yer slut squaw an’ have her pick the lice from yer hair, why doncha?”
The voice that answered was soft, deep and—Brianna thought—deceptively calm, but the words were unclear.
“Why, you bastard!” the first voice yelled.
The sound of flesh and bone striking flesh and bone froze Brianna. Her heart stuttered. That sound was entirely too familiar, as was the pain that always followed. She tensed, waiting to feel the expected blow.
Instead, a man sailed toward her out of the smithy. Brianna screamed in the instant before he slammed into her. Together, they tumbled to the straw-littered floor in a tangle of arms, legs and skirts.
“You blasted squawman!” someone bellowed. “Look what ya done now. Get up, damn you! That’s a lady you’re laying on.”
Brianna fought for air and shoved frantically at the heavy man weighing down her already bruised and bat­tered body. Pain from a hundred places threatened to rend her unconscious. Inside her head, a voice shouted,“It’s not Barret!  Not Barret! But the fear had her in its grip. She could not stop batting for her life, as she had been forced to do, so many times before.

Discover New Authors & Great Reads: A Fantastic Guidebook with Amazing Reading Recommendations Kindle Edition by Peg Glover (Author)

A wonderful little book for helping readers find new authors and new great reads. What a fantastic idea.

It even has one of my books listed and I had nothing to do with getting it there. Right now you can get this book
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Too bad more readers don't do this, create lists to publish for the benefit of their friends. Come to think of it, we could all, authors and readers, do the same. After all, authors are readers as well. Let's share our favorite books and authors!!