Ghost Stories #3 – St. Louis Cemetery #1 – New Orleans, LA

This cemetery plays a pivotal role in my latest work in progress.  There is something romantic and intriguing about the place, despite its location in the middle of the warehouse district in New Orleans.

Let me set the scene for you.  The entire cemetery is surrounded by a cement wall, perhaps to keep the ghosts in, or the vandals out – no matter, both seem to ignore it.  The tombs are shoved together so tightly that they create a mystical maze for tourists and mourners in which they can lose themselves.  There are oven tombs with brick arches, where the dead are interred behind walls, barrel-vaulted tombs characterized by their vaulted roofs, box tombs, built closer to the ground, parapet tombs with their raised crosses, and the list goes on and on.  There is no rhyme or reason to the placement of these tombs and so a wonderful lack of symmetry is formed.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is listed on the National Registry of The Most Haunted Places in America, and for good reason. The remains of those who participated in the Battle of New Orleans can be found here, along with the city’s first black mayor, and it’s mayor and its most famous resident the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

Sighting Claims:

1.  Many are said to have captured Marie Laveau’s ghost on film here.  Believers and tourists still leave flowers, candles and offerings at her tomb everyday.

2.  It has also been said that ghostly, nude voodoo practitioners perform rituals in the cemetery after midnight and well into the morning hours.

3.  A ghost by the name of Henry roams the maze of the cemetery.  The story goes that he gave his tomb to a woman who was supposed to keep his papers for him.  While he was out to sea she sold the tomb, and when he died he was laid to rest in a potter’s field.  He has spent the time since inquiring with tourists if they have seen the Vignes’ tomb.  He appears in a dark suit with no shirt and is desperate to find his final resting place.

4.  Alphonse – he was a lonely young man, or so they say.  Upon entering the cemetery, he may take your hand and ask you to help him find his way home.  He’s been seen taking flowers from other graves and bringing them back to his own.

5.  Ghost cats and dogs are frequent sightings here.  Many believe that they are the ghosts of the caretakers animals.

Take the cemetery tour if you are in New Orleans, or if you are really brave, check them out on your own.  Even if you don’t see a ghost for yourself, you will be taken by the place’s beauty.

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, and The Mulligan Man published by Astraea press.

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.

 

 

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Writers Corner – What Do You Mean I Have to Blog?

So, the publicist and marketing personnel at your publisher have suggested, or insisted that you start a blog.  Not just start one, but create interesting and informative posts on a regular basis, and do it with a smile! After you finish screaming and you have pulled out the last clump of your hair, take a deep breath.  Everything is going to be okay.  I promise.

There are a gazillion blogs on the internet, and every topic known to man has been covered over and over again.  This begs the questions, does anyone really care what I have to say? What am I going to blog about?

The short answer is, Yes! Your readers are interested in what goes on in your life and how your crazy mind works.  And as for what you going to blog about – well there are some easy ways to generate ideas, so again, breathe.

1.  Create Tags.  The most helpful advise I’ve gotten about blogging ideas was this:  Make a list of fifty to a hundred tags related to your books.  Yes, you can do it! It’s not as hard as it sounds.  Make sure you consider every character and subplot in your book when you compile the list.  Once you are finished, you will have a plethora of words that can help spark ideas for blog topics.  Try it!  It works!

2.  Read lots of blogs posted by your fellow authors Sometimes in their blogs they will pose a question or make a statement that you don’t agree with.  Use this opportunity to respond with your own thoughts.  Make sure you link to the original post, especially if you use direct quotes from it.

3. People love lists.  Lists are easy to scan and provide a wealth of information in a short amount of time.  List the best comments you’ve received, your favorite Facebook statuses, the best books you’ve read, the options are endless.

4.  Give away your secrets.  People appreciate help and like to know that there are others in the same boat.  List your resources and provide links when you share information so they can access the sites easily.  Include blogs and web pages that you can’t live without, and then sit back and wait for the kudos to fill up your comment box. 

5.  Share other author’s reviews, excerpts, interviews, etc.  If you’re tired of seeing these types of posts, create a list of ten of the most intriguing book trailers, or your favorite back cover blurbs.

There are many ways to grab your audience’s attention.  Don’t sweat it! If I can do it, I know you can!  Now that you have a few ideas get to work and have fun!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, Deja Vu, The Mulligan Man published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Demons and Fiction

In The Keepers, the villain is a fallen angel turned demon. He actually had human qualities and although he was evil, there was something about him that made readers pity him. Despite the fact the he was clearly on the wrong side, he wasn’t hard to look at and for a moment Jess was pulled in by his appearance and charm. In a lot of movies, the demons are monstrous creatures with no human qualities what so ever.  Even the demons I later wrote about in Jamais Vu, were horrible creatures made up of  decomposing mounds of flesh and bone.

So what exactly are they, and why do we find them so intriguing?

Demons have been defined as everything from fallen angels to evil spirits capable of possessing their human counterparts.  We even use the word to describe those with a great passion for something, such as speed demons.  Some people even believe that demons are just the manifestation of the evil nature that bubbles just beneath the surface of every human and that, that is why we find them so fascinating.

The original greek word “Daimon” didn’t even carry a negative connotation.  It simply meant a spiritual being.  It wasn’t until the Hebrew Bible that the word became something more malevolent.

Throughout history there have been many definitions of the word demon.  Here is a peek:

1.  Mesopotamia – There were 7 evil entities knows as storm demons.  They appeared as winged bulls and were considered to be God’s divine wrath.

2.  Ancient Arabs – The jinn were lower divinities with human attributes.  They liked humans and were peaceable by nature.

3.  Judaism – Demons were believed to do the bidding of the Angel of Death.

4.  Christianity – Christians have had a wide variety of definitions for the word demon.  They can be spirits that inhabit a person or place, fallen angels, unclean spirits or the followers of Satan.

5.  Isalm – Jinn coexist with humans and are not evil.

Demons can be painted in many ways and have throughout the ages, but one thing is for sure.  They always make great fictional fodder.

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu, The Mulligan Man, Deja Vu published by Astraea Press

Coming Summer 2012 – Becoming Jolie published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Paranormal Addiction

What is it that keeps us buying paranormal books and staying up all night as we stand in line for tickets to paranormal movies? Is it because they are created around characters that aren’t quite human?  I’ve thought about the reasons I’m sucked into a well planned and plotted storyline and how these things fuel my addiction to the genre.  Read over them and add your own.  I’d love to hear from you.

1.  The Characters – There is a whole brood of paranormal personalities to fall in love with from Demons, Vampires, and Angels like the ones in The Keepers, to characters who possess some psychic or mystical power like Darby Lambert, in Jamais Vu.

They all give our imaginations room to wander and grow.  If you are like me, you love nothing more than a character who you didn’t expect, one who isn’t average.  Because we are curious about things we don’t quite understand, we are drawn to the stories of these people and creatures and the way they live, love, and overcome obstacles in their lives.

The Settings – Paranormal worlds usually take place in a setting that has a  personality all its own.  The Keepers is set in The French Quarter, in New Orleans, where the architecture and night life seem to jump off the page.  Jamais Vu takes place in St. Francisville, Louisiana, amongst creepy sugar cane fields and aging plantation homes.  Both of these locations reel you in through well described scenery and the effect the places have on the characters. We like locals that provide us with the ability to become a part of them.  As readers we expect to be sucked into our characters worlds and feel exactly what they do.

3.  Plot Twists – The paranormal genre isn’t ruled by the limitations of humans.  We can expect surprising turns allowed by the characters’ supernatural gifts. I think we have become spoiled by this as we expect more than the average boy meets girl story.

What are the aspects of the paranormal genre that keeps you coming back for more?  Do you watch paranormal movies and TV shows?

There are many great indie and small press authors out there waiting to thrill you with their tales.  Who are some of your favorites?

Enjoy your addiction.  I know I do!

Cheers,

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan Man available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Coming Early 2012:  Deja Vu;  Coming Summer 2012:  Becoming Jolie

Bringing Back the Dead

Perhaps it’s a little soon after Christmas to go morbid on you, but I really enjoyed writing this one.  Hope you get a giggle.

One of the biggest reasons I think I have for writing paranormal fiction is the fact that I can so easily bring back those who have gone into the afterlife.  I really didn’t realize my fascination with this concept until I had completed a few manuscripts.  In The Keepers, there are angels who have the ability to jerk someone back from the edge of death, Jamais Vu is about a girl who can alter her dreams causing the dead to return, and even The Mulligan Man is about a character who has been dead for years.

If I went through each of my manuscripts and pointed out the similarities you would see my fascination with this subject goes deep. Of course, for me I think the recurring theme is partially a tool I have used in dealing with the death of my mother.  What if I could bring her back?  I’ve often said, I’d do anything for one more hour with her.

We get attached to characters in the same way we bond with humans sometimes, at least the dorkiest of us do.  It’s easy to be drawn to the fact that in the paranormal world, they can die and not be gone forever.

For fun, I thought’ I’d list some reasons not to bring back those who have crossed from this life into the next.  Let me know what you think and if you have ideas of your own:

1.  The dead never come back the same – In movies and books alike, the dead usually undergo a major personality change making them less likable than they were the first time around.

2.  They will try to kill you – Let’s face it, in the world of the Walking Dead and vampires, humans are just lunch…or dinner.

3.  Death is contagious – Ever seen the movies where those who cheat death are then stalked by it?  Ever notice everyone they know soon dies?

4.  Sometimes the dead want to be dead = wouldn’t it really stink to spend time learning a complicated ritual to bring back your best friend, only to find out she was quite comfy in her spot on the other side? 

5.  There will be another sequel – Sometimes we should just let sleeping dogs lie, just so we don’t have to read about those dogs again.

I had a blast making this list!  Add to it and let me know what you think about the dead and their return to our world.

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of The Keepers, Jamais Vu & The Mulligan available on Kindle and Nook.

Coming soon:  Deja Vu and Becoming Jolie

The Keepers Blog Tour Final Stop 9/11/11

Final Stop!!! The Keepers Blog Tour 9/1/11-9/11/11 Thanks so much for participating in my first blog tour! Please add my facebook author fan page (listed below) and comment on this blog.  Once you’ve done those two things you will be … Continue reading

Six Sentence Sunday – Jamais Vu Coming in September!

Enjoy this excerpt from Jamais Vu….Coming Soon.

Someone had forced me to doubt myself, and it was difficult to find my self-worth again. In past conversations, I’d rallied against the selfishness of the act of taking one’s own life. I’d sworn I’d never be the person who cared so little about others as to act on those thoughts. Yet, here I was in the parking lot of my shrink’s office, contemplating what could have driven me to do the very deed I’d mocked. He was wrong. There was no possibility I’d shot myself on purpose.

Jamais Vu will be out in September 2011!

Monique O’Connor James

Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com
 

SSS – The Mulligan Man Short Story

Dakota Trace sat in Ms. Myers’ third period English class. As usual, the woman had her blonde hair stacked high on her head.  He watched the web of hair move in one heaping mound as she crossed the room. She reminded him of Marge Simpson, and had once told his class she slept with her head hanging off the edge of the bed to prevent her hair from getting matted. He imagined all the blood rushing to her face and the ensuing explosion, which would keep her out of the classroom for weeks. It had yet to happen.

The Mulligan man was written for The Japan Release Anthology Project at Astraea Press.  All proceeds go to this charity.  You can purchase it at the following link: 

http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=1011841&mode=product&product=5192906

Cheers! 

Monique O’Connor James
Author of:  “The Keepers” and “The Mulligan Man”
 
Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com
 

While I was out….And Announcing Winner of The Mulligan Man Contest!

As you all know I took a week off and then came back and got really sick. I suppose that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I am feeling a bit better! Thank goodness for doctors and fluids.

While I was out there were so many people who supported me, posted for me, and sent love that I have to do my shout outs on a blog! I do want to recognize all these peeps, and I hope you will add them to your facebook as they are great people to know.

Kristine Cheney, Shalisha Cooper, Kymberlee Burks-Miller, Kimberly Miller-Calleghan, Rute Canhoto, Bella Belikova Colella, Lindsey Lamson Kirk, Kristina Haecker, Anne Wallace, Erick D. Burgess, Stefan Ellery, Kathleen Ball, Marissa Rabalais Turner, Rhonda M. Perkins, Sandy Theriot, Crystal D Ward, Dawn Cope Hagan, Rue Volley, Mandy Anderson, Jennifer Comeaux, Shelly Goodman Wright, Denise Pujol, Tracey Panton, Terri McKibben, Leeann Gagon, Wendy Lovetiggi Gonzales, Corine A Belle, Katrina Whittaker, Paranormal Book Club, All Things Books, YA Indi Princess, Mandi twimom book blog, Paranormal Reads, Astraea Press, The Supernova Saga, Sassy Book Lovers, I love Books and Tazzie Book Reviews.

If I missed anyone so sorry, but you are loved and appreciated and I’ll figure it out and do a shout out soon! Thanks you guys your love and support means more than you could possibly know.

Now on to the Winners. Leeann Gagon won a PDF Copy of The Mulligan Man and Denise Pujol won signed bookmarks from The Keepers. Email me your email addresses and Denise your physical address to nique313@yahoo.com!

Hope everyone has a fabulous day!

Monique O’Connor James

Author of: “The Keepers”

From http://www.AstraeaPress.com

Twitter: mjames13

WordPress: http://www.moniquejames.wordpress.com

Website: http://www.moniqueoconnorjames.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511255176

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monique-OConnor-James-Author/151581321573144

Buy Links: http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=4435578

Marketing Hints &Tips

I don’t think any author should have to pay to find out how to market their book.  There are authors out there who guard what they consider secrets as though you may use their advice to sell the last book ever read.  The truth is the more books that sell in our genres, the better the chance we have for selling our own.  For this reason I think marketing should be an open discussion between writers.

I get asked a couple times a week for marketing advice.  At first it shocked me, because I was floundering and am still trying to develop a marketing strategy.  I don’t mind at all sharing what I’ve learned and I hope it helps.

These ideas are not new, patented, or earth shattering.  You may use some and think others are a waste of time.  The idea is to come up with a plan that works well for your books. 

Before I go on, I want to clarify that except for a lucky few exceptions, most authors need to have several novels available to purchase before they will see a real jump in their numbers. Having said that, the most important thing you can do is WRITE!

Cross Markets

Your first plan of action should be to identify your cross markets.  For instance, The Keepers is a paranormal, YA/Adult crossover Romance.  I never considered it spirituality/religious, but Amazon categorized it this way giving me another cross market.  We know we should approach the young adult market, paranormal readers, and romance lovers, but who else?  Well Jess in The Keepers deals with the death of her mother from breast cancer.  This leads us to breast cancer patients and survivors and grief and recovery readers.  Jess’ brother is alcoholic.  This allows us to approach people who’ve dealt with this addiction.  As you can see going through the themes and plots in your book will help you identify which cross markets you need to approach.

Good Reads/Manic Readers 

If you haven’t done so yet, sign up for Good Reads and Manic Readers on their websites.  Good reads of course offers you a place to put your books up and showcase your reviews.  It also has a comment section under your books where you can post sales, contests, or other important news about your books.  I’ve also found that the reviewers on this site are very responsive.

Manic Readers site is awesome. For free you get to create your own Author Page showing your books, links, an author bio, and for $5 a month you can post your contests and news. And they make it simple to request reviews from several bloggers/review sites.   They also have a monthly newsletter and large fan base on Facebook and Twitter.  So check that out for sure.

Tag your books

Both Amazon and All Romance have options at the bottom of your  book info screen to tag your books with words and phrases which would show up in their search engines and recommend your book.  I saw on All Romance that a lot of people don’t use this feature, but anywhere you can tag – you should. (For All Romance you have to sign on to the site to tag your books.)

Friends and Family 

As we always say word of mouth is your best friend so use the people who are close to you to help you market.  Send a text to all your friends and ask them to share your post.  Don’t do it everyday, but if you do it once every couple of months they probably won’t mind and you will get some positive responses.

Contests and swag

Readers love to be included and interactive.  I love to be included too!  Even if you think no one is reading your blog, post contests.  You’ll be surprised once words spreads how many people respond.

Twitter 

I have to admit I was terrified of twitter.  If you haven’t started tweeting, do it now.  There is a huge community of readers and writers on twitter and they don’t mind retweeting your sales, contests, etc.  Don’t forget to post things about your life.  Readers want to get to know you and you don’t want to be a spam-bot.

Budget for some cover ads, etc. as soon as you can. 

Deep in the Heart of Romance, Book Boost, Kindle Blog – there are a ton of opportunities and some of them are pretty cheap keep an eye out.

Make friends with the author and reviewers on Facebook and Twitter. 

Don’t use them. Actually, make friends and support them.  They will reciprocate, I promise.  They also offer interviews, guest posts, and contests with your books.

Author Bios 

Give the reader of your book info on the novel, but share something personal too.  They want to know who you are! If there is a place for an author bio – use it!

One of the most important things to remember is people will always remember when you are nice to them.  Excitement is contagious.  If you are excited about your work, others will be too! 

It may take sometime to build a marketing plan, but just keep at it and in time you will find what works and what doesn’t.  Hope the information helps!

Cheers!

Monique O’Connor James
Author of:  “The Keepers”
 
Twitter:               mjames13
WordPress:         www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Website:             www.moniqueoconnorjames.com