Tag Archives: Port in a Storm

What’s New in 2019!

imageHappy 2019!

Listening to Above and Beyond by Bassnectar & Seth Drake from Divergent Spectrum and getting Bind:  Book 9 in the Metatron’s Army Series ready for a February release.

I’ve got a lot of exciting projects this year!

Port Gallatan.  After stepping away from the Port Gallatan project for several months I’ve figured out what needs to happen.

Read:  Where to take this project.

Due to factors beyond my control, I hit a wall immediately prior to the release of Soothsayer, the follow on to Port in a Storm.  Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to progress until I resolved the issue, I stepped away from the novel.

It was more than not liking the plot.  I needed to understand how I got so off course to begin with.  I refused to go back to the project until I had a resolution to both of those issues.

I am happy to say that as of this morning both issues have been resolved.

If you can believe, I was left with the opening music to The Waltons playing in my head for over an hour after!  It is so inconvenient at times to have imagery serve as a metaphor, even if it’s helpful.

Metatron’s Army.  I continue to work on the End Game of the series and prepare novels for periodic release. Diagonals:  Book Ten in the series is scheduled for an April 2019 release.

Something New.  In addition to new releases in quirky Port Gallatan, I’m looking forward to an exciting new project that will follow Metatron’s Army.  I’ll be releasing additional information as it becomes available.

Starting Spring 2019.

Odds and Ends.  I continue to update Elizabethmaxim.com as appropriate.

Stay Tuned!


Bringing a Story to Life: Single Title V Series

book_series-300x200As an author, I think one of my favorite stories comes from Dianna Gabaldon and since I heard it second hand I won’t quote her.

The story was related several years ago during an Oakland, CA RWA Chapter meeting – told by a NY Times Best Selling author who was trying to make a point as she shared nuggets of wisdom with us.  This author was (and is) the epitome of grace with a no-nonsense down to earth style.

Apparently, Diana was surprised – perhaps flummoxed – to find her Outlander novel filed under Romance.

It was fiction in her eyes.

The lesson that came out of it from the wonderful author talking to our group that Saturday morning was, “To sell your work to a publisher, they have to know where to put it on the shelf.”

In other words, you have to do most of the work for them before you even get a contract.

The story reminded me of when Bill Gates tried to sell the PC to Hewlett and Packard, who apparently asked, “…but what is it good for?”

In other words, how do we sell it – and to who?

The other two take-aways from that session were:

  • Get control of your covers. No bodice rippers as it makes us all seem like air-heads

I was always fascinated by the disgust the female authors had over how they were stereotyped and perhaps lessened by the marketing done to get their stuff off the shelf.

  • If you love something, you’ll find the time to do it

 One of the participants went off on how “it must be nice to be married to a rich doctor so you have time to be a novelist” to which the author smiled and replied, “I got up at 4am every morning to put in two hours of writing time before going to work so I could put my husband through Med School and now he is a surgeon and I’m a writer whose hard work paid off.”

So, where to put something on a shelf – how do you describe your work – that’s a big part of selling it.

I always tell people I do paranormal fiction and I will occasionally mention “romantic elements” but I don’t say “I write romance” because I don’t.  Nothing against romance but my stuff is spy or action adventure or sci-fi but always time travel, ghosts, parallel universes – with people who have sex – yeah – but that isn’t romance – that’s … being an adult? 

Another consideration is whether the story is a single title or part of a series.

This is a hell of a lot harder than one might think.

First of all, there is no wrong way with this.  Whatever the story is – it is.  But it can be easy to get sucked into a series if you aren’t careful.

This is especially true when you start falling in love with characters other than your main characters.

Sometimes, it’s a no-brainer.

I always knew the Kerry’s Game Series was going to be a series.  Each of the characters who work for the paranormal investigation company HQ’d in San Francisco were going to have their own stories.

Metatron’s Army was also a no-brainer though I did spend almost a year deciding on the format for that one.  I realized that having each book being like a chapter in the main character’s life was the best way to go.  To try to short cut the back story would not serve the reader and it would not serve me as the writer.

Other books started as a single title and became part of a series.


And I also have Port Gallatan.

This one is different.  The “series” which I’m not sure I’m even going to do because it was never intended to be one – is around a small town rather than a group of characters.

Interestingly, this conundrum is part of an author’s identity.

Something I’m just coming to understand.

I had two different male colleagues misinterpret the scope of books I’d written.

  • In one case, he thought Kerry’s Game was going to be a series about Kerry rather than one for each investigator.
  • In the Port Gallatan situation, he thought everything would be about Clint.

Neither was the case, nor was it ever meant to be the case.

This would be another consideration for a traditional contract – how do we position the author – series or single title?

Where’d They GOOOOOOoooo?  I have a couple of authors I love to read who started a series and then, for whatever reason, quit before it made sense.

Talk about leaving people hanging.

I keep checking back on Amazon to see if they have released anything and to my continued disappointment, no.

In one instance, the author’s adult daughter posted an explanation – her mom took time off to be a mom and though she is still around, she isn’t writing so no – don’t look for any more in her wonderful historical romance series.

Which was actually paranormal fiction but again – it’s about where a publisher thinks they can sell it. 

The attitude.  I have been lucky enough to attend two different RWA conferences.  One when I was a fledgling fiction writer and another later when I was the veteran indie writer.

In the earlier one – 2003 – I had just earned my doctorate – my company was going through merger hell – I walked.

Did the Titanic.  Not interested in the sequel.  Btw:  I’m not kidding.  We had a sandwich board at that company that said, “The difference between us and the Titanic – at least the Titanic had a band.”

A newbie, I sat at tables and watched and listened.  What I saw was an industry – if not a nation – in transition.

  • New York Times Best Selling Writers who’d never been employed out of the home and had no college education versus Harvard graduate authors who were employed full-time and also NY Best Selling Writers.
  • Older authors who referred to their male agents and editors as their spouses – when they weren’t – and younger authors who basically said “Screw that”
  • Older authors who talked about completing a manuscript as being as difficult as birthing a baby (um – no) and younger authors who looked at them like “Seriously?”  I plead the fifth but vomit comes to mind.  Especially with the whole agent/editor as a spouse thing.  Do their spouses know this?  Do the spouses of the agents/editors?!
  • Older authors who said “Chocolate and hugs and crying with your editor solves everything” and younger authors who said “When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

I literally sat there and listened to the fireworks.


Honestly, each side had a lot of wisdom and a lot of right but they were too busy being threatened by each other I guess.  Or rather not understanding that it was a Brave New World for authors – just as it is now because – for better or for worse – Smashwords brought the Publishing world to its knees.

So a lot of burden goes on an indie writer.

Even one with a lot of corporate experience.

And at the end of the day I find one of my biggest struggles isn’t marketing or what search words to use but whether or not to make a story part of a series.

Each author needs to do what works for them for each project.

Bringing a Story to Life – The Paranormal AS Reality

mist-over-the-mountainsI’m about to post a vlog that gives a bit of insight into the Port Gallatan series.

The FICTITIOUS location for the series.


The West Virginia part of that story has a bit of personal meaning, and is a great illustration of how having the paranormal AS reality in my life has played out.

In a way that went way beyond being a writer.

During the autumn YEARS AGO, I found myself in West Virginia.  Though a series of events that took place over that weekend were of a paranormal nature, it was the weekend itself – and the events that led up to it – that transformed my life.; a situation where the whole was far more than the sum of its parts.

  • I was invited to come down and spend a weekend.


  • I would drive down right after work on Friday and arrive very late.

I had had the WEEK FROM HELL so I can’t begin to explain the basket case I was when I arrived, nor how it felt to be swept into a loving embrace, accompanied by an assurance that I was welcome and I could leave it all on the front porch.

  • There were no expectations

The individual who extended the invitation is one of the only truly altruistic people to ever cross my path.

  • The house was over 200 years old.

Spending the night in a place that had been there when my country was birthed from a revolution – at the hand of commoners who dreamed of being free from theTYRANNY of King George III cannot be easily described nor manufactured in a factory.  Farmers – not trained soldiers – led by great men – won that war.

  • The smell of cedar touched/connected with something from my Irish great-grandmother

My parents kept the quilts she handmade to keep out drafts from the walls of her home in Ireland in a cedar chest so the moths wouldn’t destroy them.

  •  My host provided acceptance that healed parts of my soul in need of healing


  • I was reminded of who I was at a soul level, reminded that corporate (and those in it) did not define me

Though God knows they tried.

  • I was reminded that life is what I make it (No excuses).

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay the individual who invited me – nor fully explain what that weekend and those nights in that house did for me.

So – the paranormal of that weekend.

We ventured to a park where there were a number of ghosts.

Story of my life since LONG before the brain surgery!

I tucked this part of the weekend into my normal “Wow, this is really cool…”space and went with it.

With regards to all the ghosts I saw on my way to the payphone?

I had to call someone to wish them happy birthday!

I believe in Democracy for ghosts.

Who am I to-tell them to go to the light ?

Paranormal experience aside, it was a turning point for me.

Did the ghosts play a part in that?  Not as much as staying in that house did.

Going Home.  I drove the PA then OH Turnpike, knowing I wouldn’t get back to MI until well past midnight, needing to report for duty to the corporate black hole early the next morning.

I was a completely changed person though I had no idea at the time just how much.

160826012942-black-hole-breakthrough-lee-pkg-00002217-exlarge-169To give a perspective of the degree of dysfunctionality of our particular sinking ship…


  • There was a sandwich board in the 1stfloor hallway that read the difference between us and the Titanic was that at least the Titanic had a band


  • There was a Far Side Cartoon with God looking at the animals and contemplating “Hmmm…pretty good – all I need is something to eat you guys…” on my boss’ office door.

With an arrow over God’s head that had the current black hole program name on it.  The animals?  There was an arrow with the name of our “sacrificial” team on it.

My boss was NOT amused.

I was NOT the orchestrator of this chaos!

Hey, at least we had a sense of humor while we were going down…

Scott Adams would have been proud.

YES – I know Scott Adams did not author the Far Side.

Around 11pm Sunday night, close to the OH-MI border, I checked my vmail.  There were a number of messages from someone who was another energy drain on my life.

Prior to the nights spent in that house – talking to the woman whose family had owned it for generations – I was somehow oblivious to the energetic damage being done by this psychic/emotional/psychological vampire.

By the time I was listening to the sixth – or seventh – vmail DEMANDING that I call him and tell him WHERE I WAS – I was rolling my eyes and acknowledging that my life needed some serious work.

Ghost to the Rescue!

Not long after, I had a visit from the ghost of my deceased maternal grandmother, reading me the riot act because my husband was about to come into my life and there was WORK TO BE DONE and there I was screwing around with a vampire!

Rattled by the dream – my maternal grandmother NEVER yelled at me – I nonetheless blew her off.

My mistake.

Immediately after, my life took a turn into a nightmarish if entropic direction.

It was as if someone yanked the tablecloth off the table of my life and every damned glass thing on it fell to the floor where it proceeded to smash to smithereens.

Those were some rough months afterward…

But as I recount in After Here: The Celestial Plane and What Happens After We Die, my husband DID enter my life a few months later.

The transformation – Cosmically Guided – was set in stone.

 The Paranormal as Reality Revisited…

I was reading an article the other day and considered where I was when this guy was blowing out an amp.

I was living in the Bay Area, seeing my husband-to-be in a vision on my Silicon Valley apartment balcony.  I actually asked him to wait – explaining I wasn’t ready yet.  This was BEFORE being chewed out, mind you.

Cosmic Time.  Upon reading the article, I realized that though it seemed like an eternity at the time – the actual space between when I saw my husband in that vision and when he showed up in my life was relatively short.

My grandmother’s admonition notwithstanding. 

heartThe rapidness with which everything else was swept away once I touched his hand when we finally found each other?  It left me with no doubt that

  • Destiny Exists
  • Love is a powerful force
  • Paranormal IS reality if you look for it

On a side note: Just before we were married, my husband took me to a place where he used to spend time during a difficult part of his life.  It was the exact location I’d seen him sitting in in the vision, though he was there two years – almost to the day – before I was in my apartment.

The speed of desire across time?

Just the information a storyteller loves to draw from.


Bringing a Story to Life – The Paranormal in Action

rose-trellis-cj-mckendryI recently filmed several vlogs for the Metatron’s Army and Port Gallatan series.  In one of the videos, I share a bit about how paranormal events inspired the upcoming Soothsayer.  A lot of work went into the videos and as I lay in bed Friday night, I pondered one of the stories which could be interpreted more or less as a vision.

It isn’t exactly – it was more like looking through an open doorway and seeing into another … place.

I considered whether or not I should reshoot the vlog, decided to give it a couple more days to decide.

On Saturday, I attended a Native American ceremony.  One of the tribal women shared a story of sitting by a lake and having a vision. She went on to talk about the importance of visions and the helpful information that can be gained from such an experience.  As I drove home, I thought how nice it was to hear someone else talk about visions.

Visions are part of the tribal culture and so no one thought anything odd about her story.

On Sunday, we were driving to church, and I thought of the woman’s story and how it was a bit of a coincidence that after waking up feeling uncertain about telling my own story, I heard someone tell theirs – with confidence and to complete approval and understanding.

I again considered that it was a part of her culture and how fortunate she was that this was true.  I lamented that in spite of stories in the Bible, there were few current stories of visions in Christian circles.

At least not the ones I’ve been hanging out in.

I continued to think on this as I stared out at the water and listened to the service.  After the gospel, our priest shared her thoughts about its meaning and went on to tell a personal story.

She’d recently lost her mom and was feeling lonely and sad.  She visited a beautiful rose garden and prayed about her feelings.  As she sat there, a vision of Jesus appeared next to her.  Though she spoke of the comfort from the experience, my mind was on the fact she’d shared a story about a vision.

It was as if an angel tapped me on the shoulder and said, “We’re listening.”

Needless to say, I felt a lot better about the story I share on the vlog.

I will be posting the vlogs soon.

Soothsayer is slated for an October 2018 release.

Bringing a Story to Life – Time Loop

two-clocks-and-tunnel-in-fibers-ring-time-travel-concept-background-loop-4k_ribjb0wb__F0005.pngI just finished the first draft of Metatron’s Legacy, a single title follow on to the last book in the Metatron’s Army series.  I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book as it was a return to my writing roots in a way.

Metatron’s Army

 The Idea:  As I’ve written previously, this story was inspired by what I saw and experienced during a Near Death Experience.  The story developed over a period of some thirty-five years.

The Method:  In all honesty, I hadn’t planned on publishing the story I’d been weaving.  I was “inspired” to do so in 2013, though I had several other projects to complete before starting.

Inspired is polite-speak for something nagged at me to go for it.

 Getting the story down was a monumental task.  The primary challenge was making sense of the images and sensations.

I was ten at the time.  I easily accepted everything I’d seen and experienced.  It was only when a number of adults began asking me to explain what I saw and felt/experienced that I began to have issues.  There was no common frame of reference, so getting them to understand was difficult.

 Fortunately, by the time I put fingers to keyboard, I’d had plenty of education and life experience to help me understand – or at least articulate – the concepts.

As I’ve written, math and science did far more to explain it all though it would be misleading to say there was no paranormal [read celestial] component. 

I decided that, given the enormity of the information to be disseminated, the story would best be served as a saga, and as such, would span several books.

Each book would be a chapter in the main character’s life.

Whenever possible, I integrated actual events though I integrated them in a meaningful way.

i.e. Spirit School became Energy School.

I changed celestial/energy beings/characters as appropriate for the story and edited out anything that didn’t move the story along.

An entire fight scene I mentally “wrote” in 1989, while stuck in traffic near the Pontiac Silverdome, was tossed.

I initially wrote each book from beginning to end, taking breaks between, but discovered that it was better for me to just keep going.

Unlike a regular series, each book in this series is part of the story itself.

I have most of the story in first draft format.

I am writing the climax/endgame first drafts and hope to have them done within the next few months, even as I continue to publish the previous works on a regular schedule.

Metatron’s Legacy

The Idea:  I had no intention of writing a follow on story to Metatron’s Army.  

I was dealing with the climax of the series and, given the intensity of it all, was looking forward to getting back to “regular” paranormal fiction.

The furnace needed servicing and I was down chatting with the awesome guy doing the diagnosing. Suddenly, sparks started shooting out.

He didn’t even bat an eye, was as cool as a cucumber.  The guy is just awesome.

He found the source of the problem – a wire was frayed – and given it was in a metal environment – was arc’ing.  I’d seen arc’ing years before when a repair guy was diagnosing an issue and – oops – hadn’t turned off the circuit breaker.

Watching electricity arc across the bedroom ceiling is interesting. I have to admit, he was calm about it, though I was concerned – about him/his ability.  I asked if he knew what he was doing and suggested my very handy EE husband might be a good consultant to tap.  Turns out the fixture was wired incorrectly but the lightning spark show was from his not having turned off the breaker before starting the job.  Fun.

The furnace guy took care of the problem.

Convenient to have heat in the winter.

I lay in bed that night thinking of Metatron’s Army and how I have Arcs.

The Iconoclast’s army of bad dudes.

Given how electricity, magnetics, and energy in general play such a key role in the story, I couldn’t help thinking how cool it would be to use arc’ing in some unique way.

So, thanks to a broken furnace, I got a great plot device.

The Method:  Port in a Storm** was the last single title I’d written and though I’d done series work before, Metatron’s Army is unique in that each book is part of the overall story instead of being a single title within the series.

Even though I had characters crossed over from the MA series, I was delighted to take brand new characters with their own story and write something unique and stand alone.

Though if someone has not read the series – there are several spoilers in Metatron’s Legacy.

I am thrilled with and proud of both projects but it really was special to have a stand alone with a unique, if tangent story.

And a blast to work with old characters in a totally new way.

Now, it’s time to get back to the first draft of Pin, Book 8 in Metatron’s Army.

Pawn Storm, Book 6 will be available June, 2018.


What I learned

  • Inspiration can come from unexpected places – go with it
  • Ignoring inspiration is not a good idea and will likely cost you sleep, if not peace of mind
  • Develop a work routine that works for the project

I wrote Metatron’s Legacy in 9 days.  That is a first as it is close to 90,000 words.  The story would not let me rest but now it’s done and I feel ahhhhhhh. 

  • Working backward (in a time loop) can be really helpful

Metatron’s Legacy takes place 19 years after Metatron’s Army. Telling of events that already happened before I’ve written them – in Metatron’s Army – from the point of view of characters in both series provided insight into what I need to do in these last books. It was as if I was getting advice from characters who had gone through events I hadn’t yet written – a “make sure you do this/talk about this/convey this character’s feelings about the event.” 

As time/dimension travel is a key plot element, I had to also acknowledge that characters who appear in different times are different because in one dimension, they have not yet been changed by the experiences they go through, while in the other dimension, they’ve been changed by events that are often traumatic and definitely life-changing.  This provided incredible depth to the characters.  It was a great opportunity and one I hadn’t planned in advance.  It just grew out of the situation and became a learning opportunity for me as a writer.

  • Don’t force yourself to take breaks

Because the books in the series are so closely linked together – the next one picking up where the previous left off – I discovered I do much better moving on to the next book right after getting the current one published.  Taking a break caused a tremendous amount of stress as I tried to pick up the emotional thread of the work after days if not weeks off.

  • Celebrate the magic in the process

More than once when I found myself wondering if there was a point to it all, some synchronistic event would happen that let me know I wasn’t alone and that I was on the right path.

  • Tap into the creative force

Watching movies, talking to other creatives, and creating music play lists for each book has been incredibly helpful.  Music, in particular, has fed my soul while I poured my heart into my work.

  • Write what you love

Figuring that out can take longer than you might think so if you want to be a writer – start!

  • Celebrate completion

I admit, I totally suck at this.  Finish one, on to the next.  But I AM enjoying the process – I LOVE writing!  This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was 3 years old.  Everything I worked at in life – my career choices – was with this in mind. 

**I have more adventures for the tiny town of Port Gallatan scheduled for future release, so stay tuned.


Bringing a Story to Life – The Haunted


“You mean it’s not the house that’s haunted, but you?”

  • –   Clint Malek to Shellia Hamilton in Port in a Storm

Merriam-Webster defines paranormal as strange events, abilities, etc that cannot be explained by what is known about nature and the world.

When it comes to writing, that’s a pretty broad definition to work with and one that authors use to their advantage.  In recent years, the paranormal has broken away from its typical home in the horror genre and found its way into mainstream fiction and romance.  From monsters to ghosts to astronomical phenomenon and time travel, paranormal has a lot to offer writers and readers alike.

For Port in a Storm I chose a heroine with the ability to communicate with ghosts.  When her sexy neighbor finds out she talks to spirits, he assumes she moved into a haunted house.

Makes sense given her house is over a hundred years old.

When he learns the truth, he has to decide whether he can live with that; live with someone who talks to people he can’t see or hear himself.

I had a total blast with the scene with Clint, Andrew, and Shellia in his hallway.

I really tried for a lighter tone in this novel because while mainstream media tends to paint haunted houses and hauntings as scary or creepy, they can also be fun, if not funny.

Ghosts play practical jokes and express their “feelings” in a variety of ways.  Just ask anyone who’s ever lived in a haunted house.

Moving and hiding objects is perhaps the most common phenomenon.

I worked for a New England company.  Several employees lived in houses over a hundred years old, many of them haunted.  Their biggest complaint was the hiding of objects they needed to get ready for work (i.e. combs, shavers, keys, etc).

 Employees regularly shared advice on how to deal with these mischievous yet harmless spirits.

 I’ve had my share of experiences.

Doors that closed by themselves, IPod pushed off the sofa, clock radio smashed to the floor, songs being added to my iTunes library.

 My immediate reaction to these events was a wide-eyed “Holy Cow!”  The secondary was delight.

Experiencing the paranormal is a wonderful adventure.

When I write paranormal, I blend experience, knowledge, and imagination to create stories that reflect the fascinating nature of the unknown.

The Real.  Realtor.com recently conducted a survey of whether people would be willing to buy a haunted house, and under what circumstances.

The answers were consistent with the feedback from my New England colleagues.

 What’s it like to live in a haunted house?  Should you tell company that your house is haunted?  How do you know if it’s the house that’s haunted and not you?

I explore these and other aspects of the paranormal in my work.

Port In a Storm is now available.

Show your spirit, get the shirt.

Help a spirit