Tag Archive | haunting

Going Home Again

Author Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” But Thomas Wolfe didn’t grow up in Northwest Iowa.

Earlier this week, I traveled back to Sioux Center, Iowa for an author panel and book signing. It’s a place I know well. I grew up on a farm outside of Sioux Center and Hull, and if you’ve read my trilogy, The Dusty Chronicles, these places will probably sound familiar. The main character, Dusty Vermeer, begins to experience supernatural phenomena as she tries to balance out her feelings for her boyfriend and a spirit she’s never met. She goes to Boyden-Hull High School, attends a Reformed Church in town, checks out books at the local libraries, and goes on dates to the local Pizza Ranch and movie theater. The characters all call Northwest Iowa home: Dusty, Mark, Sadie, Kris, Sadie…to them it’s an amazing place to exist.

There are many locations I could have based my series, but Stephen King says one should write what you know. So, there’s a reason I chose to set my first book series in my hometown.

The people.

While I was only in town for a day and a half, I’d never felt more welcome anywhere in my life. I haven’t lived there in 30 years, but the folks are still as warm and friendly as ever. Everywhere I went, I was met with a smile and a “So happy to meet you!” People I had never met were friendly and welcoming. And, many members of my extended family still live there as well as quite a few of my childhood friends. They came out in droves to see me and support my career on Tuesday night.


While the whole reason I went back was to be a part of the Dessert with the Authors event at the public library in town, I was also determined to make the most of the short time I had there. I wanted to check out the areas that had influenced me when I was young – the same places that influenced many of the locations in my books. The first place I went was Casey’s Bakery at the mall just off of Main Street. Uncles, aunts, and cousins showed up to see me. As we all had coffee and breakfast together, I heard, “We’re so glad you’re here!” and “You’re far too skinny!” Both comments were good for my ego.

If you’ve read Imprint, you’ll remember a scene between Dusty and Sadie that takes place at Casey’s Bakery. Not only can you get cakes and donuts from there, but they also have traditional Dutch items such as almond patties and windmill cookies. After all, in a community that is primarily Dutch, it just wouldn’t be right without the Dutch baked goods. They also have an area where they serve hot breakfast items and have possibly the best coffee I’ve ever had…and as an author, I’ve had lots of coffee in my lifetime.


Casey’s Bakery in Sioux Center, Iowa

Later, I went back to the old homestead…the place that inspired Dusty’s farm and where she met Jack, her soulmate.


Remember that scene with  Dusty and Jack in the hay mow? Well, there you go.

My house still looks pretty much the same. The window in the upper left was my room (the same as Dusty’s) and the upper right was my brother’s growing up. And the doorway and stairwell that leads from the kitchen to the bedrooms upstairs hasn’t changed at all: the same door, the same wood paneling, and the same carpet on the stairs. It brought back a lot of memories of sneaking downstairs as a kid and trying to listen in on conversations between my parents and older brother. As the current owner walked me through the old house, I pointed out corners and rooms where major plots took place throughout the series. It was surreal to be back, walking through a home that had given me so many memories.

Later that day, I had lunch at the Pizza Ranch in Sioux Center. That restaurant and the mall in town all played a part in my trilogy. I didn’t manage to make it to Hull’s Pizza Ranch where Dusty and Mark had their first date, but I’m hoping to make it there during my next visit.


Mark and Dusty had a date night here. It’s also the same place that Dusty and all of her friends ate after a night at the indoor pool.


The parking lot where it all went down in book 3. Mark – 1, Austin – 0.

In the early afternoon, a reporter from the Hull Index came to interview me at the Pizza Ranch. To be interviewed by my hometown newspaper was exciting and a bit frightening. The reporter, June, was wonderful and easy to talk to. I just kept telling myself not to let my “awkward” show too much because…well…I’m awkward.

The time finally came for the signing at the Sioux Center Public Library.

It wasn’t the same library where I’d spent hours upon hours as a child. Sadly, the building is long gone due to a fire. But upon walking inside this new library, the feeling was the same. And seeing my book on display as you walk through the front doors…it was a moment I will never forget. After all, the Sioux Center Library was where it all began for me. It’s truly where I discovered my love of books, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

During the event that night, I talked about my publishing journey, my books, and why I write young adult. I even talked about my #beceaseless campaign and how it came about. Friends and family showed up to support me as well as the other authors in attendance. I’m hoping to come back later this year and give a creative writing workshop to local teens. I may need to lure them in with pizza, but then who can say no to pizza?

IMG_20160413_104848It was wonderful being home again. In fact, it even got me wondering if I should move back there one day. Only time will. But I learned something this week. I discovered that you can go home again. Especially if your hometown is anything like mine.


Ever Wonder What I Sound Like?

I was recently interviewed by the lovely Amy Jones of YA Podcasts. If you’d like to hear the full interview, click on the link and download the MP3 where you can hear my man-voice (I like to compare it to Cathy Moriarty’s…well, maybe not quite THAT deep).

I discuss how I choose my characters’ names, why I absolutely LOVE writing Young Adult, what it’s like to balance being a writer and the wife of a US soldier, as well as listen to men as I read chapter 1 of the first book in my trilogy, HAUNTING.

Haunting: The Dusty Chronicles-Book One

Haunting: The Dusty Chronicles-Book One

And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter on the bottom of their page for a chance to win a Kindle version of HAUNTING. Don’t miss out!



HAUNTING’s One Year Anniversary

One year ago today, I released my very first book…a ghostly paranormal romance that centers around a teenage girl and the ghost that haunts both her home AND her dreams. Together, they search for answers in the mystery behind the death of a soldier from decades earlier.

To celebrate my 1 year anniversary, I’ve permanently dropped the price to $0.99. Get yours today!

Its sequel, IMPRINT-Book Two, releases 4 weeks from today on May 27, 2014.




A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…and Sells Books

When I attended UtopYA con in June, a convention for female paranormal romance authors and their readers, I was considered a newbie in the industry. I took the opportunity to absorb and learn everything I could from those who came before me. And I learned…A LOT.

One of the most important things I learned was how important a cover is in terms of marketability. The story inside can be an award-winning idea, full of plot twists and love stories that will make teenage girls swoon, but if the cover doesn’t draw you in…the story doesn’t matter. People will skip right over your book and move on to something else that draws their attention.

It's not bad...but it could be better. MUCH better.

My original cover. It’s not bad…but it could be better. MUCH better. Stayed tuned on August 13, 2013 for the new cover art.

While I like my original cover, and it’s relevant to the story of Dusty and Jack, it just isn’t good enough. In the YA industry, a cover is just as important as the plot. While selling my book at UtopYA, the husband of one of the bloggers asked his wife, “Why is there an Amish book here?”


So, I decided then and there to revamp the cover art. On August 13, I will revealing my new cover to the world. It is breathtaking, amazing, and gorgeous…and I can’t take the credit for any of it. Eden Crane Design took my thoughts and ideas and made it a reality. Check her stuff out. She’s amazing.

So keep an eye out on the Internet…and this blog…and my website…and my Facebook page…and my Twitter feed……well, you get the point. I will be revealing the cover and will be holding a giveaway for a free eBook copy of HAUNTING: The Dusty Chronicles – Book One. You will NOT want to miss out.

Stay tuned!!

Eden Crane Design

Coming to a Theater Near You

There are often times where I’ve sat down in a movie theater to watch a movie adaptation of a previously published novel and thought to myself, “I wonder what it feels like as an author to watch your creation come to life on a big screen?” Perhaps, one day, God willing, I’ll get to find out for myself. But, until then, I will continue to live vicariously through the accomplishment of others.

The most recent example is the home video release of “Warm Bodies” by author Isaac Marion. He, like Stephanie Meyer, took an old concept, like zombies, and put his own twist on it to create a fresh and romantic story that has so many teenage girls dreaming of bringing a hot zombie back to life. It’s a far-fetched idea that initially sounds completely ludicrous, but in the end it works. Why? Because Marion masterfully used loneliness and love to make you feel something for the “corpse” and gave you insight into the zombie’s yearning to live. The love of an open-minded young girl gives “R” a reason to breathe again, and together they change the world. For me personally, it was once again proof that the best movies come from great books.

I bet if you think long and hard enough, you can come up with some movies that you loved which started out as nothing more than a novel on a local bookshelf. “Harry Potter”, “Twilight”, “Life of Pi”, “The Notebook”, “The Help” and “The Hunger Games” are just some of the books that made their way to the big screen in a big way. I doubt that any of these authors had dreams of selling their story to a movie studio when they sat down to write, but millions of us are happy they did.

I was recently given one of the best compliments I’ve been given about my debut novel, “Haunting”. A fan told me that if my book was a movie, she’d ‘totally watch it’. This brought a smile to my face because it meant that the reader was able to visualize my characters and their setting and connected with the story. One reader even told me exactly how she wants my trilogy to end. People have become so invested in the lives of Dusty and Jack, devising ways the fictional couple can physically end up together, that they are coming up with imaginative ways of completing the story in their own minds. What does this mean to an author? Everything! It means I have successfully created characters that people have been able to identify with and care about. It’s the one thing every author hopes to accomplish with each book they write.

So, in the end it comes down to this…if I were given the opportunity to see “Haunting” on the big screen, would I do it? Absolutely. But, if it never happens, that’s okay, too. There are people out there reading my book and waiting, ever so impatiently, for the sequel who give me the drive to continue to follow my dream.

But, in the off-chance that a big Hollywood producer is reading this right now…have your people call my people.