Saturday, December 31, 2011

To Find A Ghost

I don’t really know lots about ghost hunting, and what I do know is mostly gleaned from instinct. I write about ghosts in my books, but so far it’s all been fiction. I do know that the dead often visit loved ones in their dreams, I know that the newly departed sometimes hover near those left behind, and I know that a haunting can happen for any number of reasons. If, for instance, I’d been murdered, I’d be a little upset, and would probably hover for a while, trying to set things right. Or if I didn’t know I was dead, I’d spend some time trying to get used to that particular state of being. Well, it looks like I’m going to get a big lesson in ghost hunting next week when I embark on a night of waiting for visitations. I’ll be working with R.T.L. Paranormal, a local investigation group that seems to really have their act together. Here’s a quote from their FaceBook page: The best advice I can give someone who is starting out as a paranormal investigator is this: Don't drink the Koo-Aid. Just because para-stars on TV says something, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is golden. Don't be a sheep, come up with your own thoughts, beliefs and theories. Remember, your brain and your instincts are the best tools any investigator can have. –Ray Okay, so far I really love these guys. I just hope I don’t mess up their investigation by: a. Attracting every ghost in a ten mile radius to the location, causing a spirit highway back-up; b. Unknowingly setting off alarms, resulting in police presence; c. Tripping and falling, knocking the cameras down just as an entity fully materializes; d. Becoming the TSTL girl. If you don’t know what that is, email me and I’ll explain it. Stay tuned for updates on the first ghost hunt of the year for me…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Release Date!

I am pleased to announce the release dates for Signs of the South are November 29 (electronic version) and February 21 (print version).

For more information you can visit my Facebook page!/pages/Narielle-Living/307597632586503 or my publisher's website,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Children

I felt as if an invisible fist had punched me in the stomach, knocking my breath out and bringing tears to my eyes. It was an April 29 news report, one that most people in this area would not soon forget.

Gloucester, Virginia deputies served a search warrant on Shannon Gore, only to find something very different than the stolen gold they were looking for. They found a child, a little girl, left in a cage and starving. Outside, buried under the shed, were the remains of another child.

After the horror of the situation sank in, my first reaction was pure anger. “That’s my daughter!”

Now, let me be clear about something. I know that the little girl is not my biological daughter. I understand the difference between my kids and someone else’s kids. I am not that far gone that I am about to go snatching children from their homes or dementia ridden with the belief that my children are wandering around out there.

But my initial reaction, the outrage I felt, was tied to a very strong instinct I believe most parents have, and that is the instinct to protect.

Obviously not every parent feels this way, or deputies would not have found the little girl living in those deplorable conditions. But many of us do have those feelings, that natural inclination to nurture and care for the kids we know.

Consider this: if everyone felt that each child, whether they are biologically yours or not, was “their child”, things might be a little bit different.

Maybe as a society we would direct more attention to the needs of our children, instead of allowing them to waste away in a foster system that clearly does not work. Maybe we would address the fact that there are more than 115,000 children in this country available for adoption, children who are older or have serious medical needs, children who may very well never find a “forever home”. In the state of Virginia there were more than 106,000 cases of reported abuse in 2010, and children all over the United States die from neglect and abuse every day, regardless of race or income level.

Maybe we would reach out and help the children that desperately need our help instead of not facing the reality of what is happening in our neighborhoods.

Neighbors who lived next to Shannon and Brian Gore were outraged. They had no idea that a little girl was living there, much less that she was being starved. There is no doubt that someone would have stepped in to help.

The little girl (dubbed “Sunshine” by a special online group committed to helping victims) is doing much better. She is still hospitalized but shows signs of significant weight gain (she was believed to be six years old at the time of her discovery and weighed 15 pounds) and has been reported to be doing as well as could be expected.

Just because these monsters have been caught doesn’t mean there aren’t more abusers out there, or that we can look the other way when we see child neglect, or that we can ever forget how a child should be treated.

As a community we can make a difference in the lives of so many kids. After all, they really are “our children.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Signs of the South

A new job, a new home, and a ghost that won’t let her sleep until she solves a murder.

This is not what Ella Giancetti has in mind when she accepts a college teaching position and relocates. Moving from Connecticut to Virginia, Ella quickly learns of the many cultural differences separating the North from the South, from her first taste of sweet tea to the true meaning of ‘bless your heart’. Adjusting to all this while dealing with incessant phone calls from her sister Lisa and trying to figure out why someone is spray painting spiteful messages on her new house is a little overwhelming. At least there’s a handsome police officer hanging around.

When Ella wakes to find a ghost in her house she decides enough is enough. She’s going to need to find out how the ghost became a ghost if she ever wants to have a peaceful night in her new home. Unfortunately, finding out why is going to take more than a few Internet searches. Unearthing the mystery of this ghost means delving into a town’s long ago past where racial lines were sharply drawn and injustices were a way of life.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What I Will Do On My Summer Vacation

This summer, I will be...

...working on the final edits from the publisher for my debut novel, Signs of the South.


The contract has been signed and we are ready to move forward. As all my friends in the writing world know, getting your first (or second, third or fifteenth) novel published is no easy feat. But I've managed to find a great publisher that I am very excited to work with that really loves what I've written.

Pulse Publishing is the traditional publishing division of Urban Echoes Entertainment, a multimedia company. The CEO, Marcus Harris, is friendly, approachable, and best summed up by the line in his bio that reads, "Marcus has become highly respected for his ability to relate universal truths that span the boundaries of race, color, creed, and gender and address the everyday lives interwoven throughout the global community." How could I not work with someone like that?

This summer we will be working on final edits, cover design, and an exciting contest that involves all of you.

More information regarding the contest and release dates will be posted as they become available.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Reason for the Story

I believe that we are intimately connected to each other through our stories. Isn’t it in our nature to tell each other the details of our lives? Do we not reach for the phone when something happens so we can share this ‘thing’, good or bad?

If you think about it, we spend much of our lives telling our story to others. Even if it’s just an end-of-the-day review to our partner or friend, we are driven to communicate what happened.

This is what nourishes us, the stories we tell each other or read become the fuel for our souls. When I think about the books I’ve read in my lifetime I know that it was not just about my need to jump into someone else’s world, it was my need to know someone else’s story. It was about my need to know I wasn’t alone.

Reading books is how I learned about so much of the world.

Stories provide a mirror for us to look into and assess and let us know we share a connection. Stories illustrate that we are not alone in our experiences and reactions in life.

Most importantly, stories heighten our understanding of being human.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Published Life: Writer's Workshops

I am so excited about the upcoming workshops that we have scheduled! I'm working with the committee that is putting this series together, and I have to say I think it will be great for local writers. I am especially excited that we have three wonderful authors and speakers to present for us, including Greg Lilly, Karen Jones and Brad Parks. Here's a preview via the press release I wrote (stay tuned for more updates!):

Chesapeake Bay Writers and the Yorktown Public Library are pleased to announce an upcoming series of free workshops entitled The Published Life: Workshops for Writers. This series will take place at the Yorktown Public Library, 8500 George Washington Blvd, Yorktown VA. The goal of these workshops is to help writers successfully navigate the complex and sometimes confusing world of publishing, both before and after your book is released. The Published Life will address publishing components such as query letters, proposals, publishing myths and marketing.

Workshops will be held on June 25, July 23 and September 10 from 10:30 to 12:30. Each session will be taught by local professional, published writers.

The first class is to be held on June 25, Snagging a Publisher with the Perfect Query Letter. During this time students will explore query letter, pitch and synopsis techniques to use when submitting your novel to agents and publishers. Greg Lilly, publisher and novelist, will use discussion and worksheets to lead you through the development of these all-important selling tools.

Register now for this free event by visiting the Chesapeake Bay Writers website, For questions contact the Yorktown Library reference desk, 890-5207.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Caged Life

Sometimes there are no words for the unspeakable horrors that happen in our world. We read about it, we see it on television, but when the worst of the worst happens in our backyard we cannot describe the despair we might feel.
Especially when it happens to children.

Honestly, I’ve spent the past week and a half walking around my house muttering “Those (insert expletive) people…”

If there’s one thing I abhor it’s people who hurt children. I don’t need to explain, I’m sure most readers can understand and identify with that sentiment.

In Gloucester, Virginia, Brian Gore and Shannon Gore have been charged with first degree murder, attempted capital murder and felony abuse and neglect. It seems they were keeping a little girl locked in a makeshift cage in their trailer and had buried another child under the shed in the backyard.

This is one of those terrible, terrible stories. And it keeps getting worse. From the fact that none of the neighbors even knew of the existence of this little girl to the fact that the alleged parents never properly fed or cared for this child, it is abuse at its most horrific.

And now, added to that, is the fact that there are laptops and a camera that Brian and Shannon tried to hide.

Matt Sabo, reporter for the Daily Press, has provided amazing coverage of this story. For complete details check out,0,2474271.story and read everything from what led deputies to this gruesome discovery to what the search warrants read.

Her future is uncertain, but definitely brighter than it was on April 28. At that point, doctors are quoted as saying she would have died within a week living in those deplorable conditions.

We’re glad she was saved. But, here’s the important part: how many others are out there, locked in cages or abused through neglect? How many children live in conditions so horrific we cannot begin to image that life?

If you know or see a child being abused or neglected don’t be afraid to speak up. Call social services and be sure to follow up on the case. Make sure something is done. After all, you may be the only voice there is for that child.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Win A Free Edit Contest

Contests are a wonderful way to connect with agents, editors and publishers. Some contests are easier to enter than others, but some are just plain fun.

Editor Cassandra Marshall is having her Spring Edit Contest. Enter for a chance to win a free substantial book edit (up to 100,000 words) by midnight, March 21. Simply go to her blog, and fill out the form.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Talking Board

Candlelight could not reach the corner shadows. The sound of breathing was loud in our ears. Soda pop coursed through our veins.

And then it moved.

Slightly, but it was enough.

“Did you do that…,” we squealed. Our answers were always denial.

“I’m not moving it, I swear!”

For many teenagers, playing with Ouija boards is a rite of passage, sort of like levitating your friends with your fingers. If you’ve never done these activities, you haven’t missed anything.

Except lots of squealing and a certain level of anxiety about the Universe.

I’ve noticed something curious. When I was a kid, I was told not to play with Ouija boards. It was dangerous. We might let something in. Never mind what that something would be, you could be certain it would be bad. Very bad.

The best way to get me to do something is to tell me not to do it, especially at the particularly rebellious stage of teenagerdom.

Here’s the thing. Everyone knows that malevolent spirits disguised themselves as kids who died too early. They would talk to us through the Ouija board, claiming to be the wandering spirit of a sixteen year old who drowned or died in a car crash or something horrendous, and we would be awed by everything the spirit had to say.

But we knew that talking to these spirits led to trouble. After all, look at my friend Aly*, who spent too much time talking to the spirits and ended up in the psyche hospital. Or look at my friend Dory* who flunked her exam because she stayed up too late talking to the board and didn’t study.

The thing I’ve always wondered is this: did these spirits follow Aly and Dory through the rest of their lives, interfering and being a general nuisance by knocking on the floorboards and such? Or did they fade away, lured by the call of other young people looking for a thrill with the board?

I lost touch with these friends long ago, so I’ll never know. I guess if I want the answer, I could always ask the board to give me a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But I think I’ll pass, for now.
Do people still use the Ouija? Do you get an answer? I’d love to know…

*Obviously the names Aly and Dory are not real names. And before you even ask, no, I’m not going to tell you their real names. Not for all the tarot cards in the deck. Because hey, I don’t want to attract the attention of those spirits that were bugging them, do I?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why We Write

A friend of mine remarked to me last week that she could not imagine why anyone in their right mind would write a novel since there was no immediate compensation. She was puzzled by my career choice. “At the end of the week I know I’ve earned X amount of dollars. But you’ve written a novel and you’re not getting anything until you find a publisher.” That’s true, I admitted. But there are some very legitimate reasons why I write, I explained. Then, of course, I had to come up with those reasons. Here’s my list of reasons why writers write:

Boatloads of Money
James Patterson, Stephen King, Nora Roberts… they’re all pulling in cash, making boatloads of money, right? Isn’t that what happens when a writer lands a contract? Fame and fortune must surely be around the corner.

Okay, so the reality of the situation is that earning a living as a writer means that there will be weeks when you only have enough money to use ketchup to make tomato soup. At the time, this might seem like a rational thing to do. But the writer persists, knowing that Stephen King started in much the same way.

Prefer to Work in my Pajamas
This is a no brainer. Who doesn’t prefer to start the work day at home, dressed in cozy pajamas with a mug of steaming flavored coffee? Maybe the flavored coffee part is just me, maybe you prefer tea, but you get my point. This is definitely a point in favor of the writing life.

I Have Something to Say
Everyone has something to say. Unfortunately we are constantly surrounded by things people have to say, whether it’s on the internet or the old fashioned radio and TV. With all that unnecessary verbiage floating around, the writer focuses on whittling away and presenting only the essential for introspection, hoping to give humanity insight, wisdom and maybe even humor. Yes, I have something to say, but my ultimate hope is that it refocuses your world view or maybe in some small way makes you feel less alone.

The Writing on the Wall
My brother said this best when I was barely a teenager. He told me, “You’d better be a writer when you grow up. If you don’t write your stories down, you’re going to start seeing them written on the walls.”

Since I have no intention of losing myself to insanity, I have done what he suggested. Surprisingly, I think he was correct.