On June 15, 2019, my mother passed away.
She was 81, and in declining health, but she was a huge (huge!) inspiration for the character of Fiona Wheeler in my books. I could go on and on in tribute, and go wild with memories, but to be brief I'll just say a lot of her is in Fiona. Sometimes I make up the words that come out of her mouth and the situations that take place around her and the other characters, but honestly she's the easiest for me to write, because when I write about her, I just think "what would my mother say?" My mother, never being shy of offering an opinion, seems to "speak" freely from my fingertips.
I will add Fiona is a bit different from my mother (Fiona is born and raised in the U.S., while my mother was born in Germany and came to the U.S. in her 20s), but the opinions, the love of animals, the sometimes inappropriate comments, the love of sumptuous and flashy fabrics and sparkly things, that is all my mother. Honestly the best tribute I can make to her is to make her as loud and sassy and glittery as can be in my books.
The photo I've posted here is one of my mother from probably around Christmas-time 1989 or 1990. She found these sparkly stilettos and a feather-trimmed satin robe, and decided she needed to ham it up for the camera. It's a lot how I see her in my mind, too, except as a blond, because she would rotate hair colors a lot, but most frequently went back to being blond.
RIP, Mama. I'll always love you, and never forget you.
I haven't had a book out in a bit, but I have been steadily working. My fourth book is written and with the editor. I'll need to give it a final go-through after that, but I intend to work fast on that once it's back in my greedy palms.
That one's titled A Spot of Bother, and in it Poppy's ex (Scott) is having loads of problems trying to get his brewpub ready and open for business. I also introduce a couple new characters in that book, including a new addition to Poppy's world, and someone who may pop in and out, but she'll ultimately end up in her own series.
I am in the meantime working on book five. Initially it was going to be set in the spring, but an idea popped into my head so that one is set to the side for a bit. Book five, tentatively titled A Cold Spell, is set in January. Poppy and Roger go away for a romantic weekend, and when they return back to town, a nasty blizzard hits the area. Once the roads are clear, some other matters don't seem to be. I can't go into much more detail on that yet. But once I had this lightbulb moment, mapping it out became easy. A few changes will inevitably take place in the writing (as in, changes from my original outline), but I like where it's going. Hopefully my handful of readers will, too.
I do read up on so-called Up North legends and events, and some more ideas are coming for future books. There's a dog sled race that hits Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula each winter, and I'm thinking that one will have to get into a book or story. I keep imagining Fiona doing something with her two pet beagles and somehow magically boosting her dog sled. That's just a fleeting image in my head at the moment, but I'm certain there's some kind of dogsled race in their future.
I also discovered an annual outhouse race. It's not unique to the area, as I've read up on other communities doing them as well, but I'm definitely including that somewhere. More than likely in book 5.
I've also written a short on how Vanessa ended up getting hired. That one's titled The Witching Hire, and it'll come out close on the heels of (or preceding, I'm not sure yet) of A Spot of Bother. More than likely The Witching Hire will be free for a while and then rolled into a collection of shorts. (Yes, I have other ideas, including when Fiona briefly became Poppy's college roommate.)
So, I'm writing. Not as fast as I'd like (one day I hope I can do this full time and then publish faster, and multiple series), but words and stories are pouring out. The goal is to turn the trickle into a waterfall. Consider yourself warned
I've had an idea in the back of my mind for some time, for a series I'm calling Happily Hereafter. There aren't a lot of details to it yet, but I know this much: The main character's name is Catrina Shaw, and her magical talent is as a matchmaker. For ghosts.
I've been noting this or that detail, how Catrina does her job, where she lives, how she gets on with her landlord (not always very well), and so on, but as a launching point I'd been struggling.
And then, as I work on book four for my Poppy Blue series, the problem that is plaguing that gang in that particular installment, well, it suddenly came to me: Catrina would be the perfect person to contribute to the solution. I'm still writing Poppy's book four, titled A Spot of Bother, but I was thrilled when it came to me that Ms. Shaw's skills would be extremely useful pertaining to one troubling matter that needed a solution.
Unfortunately I can't say more. One, I don't want spoilers -- though mentioning Catrina's talents may be a giveaway, but there's the how and the where and the why, which should remain a mystery, and she may surprise me as I write (oddly, I sometimes feel like I'm channeling these characters, like they take on a life of their own in my mind) -- but two, I also am still developing it. But when A Spot of Bother is released, it'll be set during the Thanksgiving holiday, and readers will have a chance to meet more of Roger's family, a familiar character will return, and Poppy will be all over town trying to help a good friend who's dealing with a bad problem. Seeds are also being sown for some future developments as the series progresses.
And in the meantime, because I like to play around with design, I decided to mock up a cover for the first Happily Hereafter book. It's tentatively titled Diva de los Muertos, but I have no idea if that will stick. Being a writer and a bit of a goofball, the pun called to me. Plus I love sugar skulls and the whole Day of the Dead tradition, so there's that.
I'll post updates and snippets as A Spot of Bother comes closer to completion, and possibly a few other goodies as well, both pertaining to Poppy's world, and to Catrina's story. I hope you'll enjoy.
I've been running into Tarot cards a lot lately. A weekend excursion to a festival resulted in my husband and two other friends of ours making our way into a new age bookstore. I hadn't been in the shop in many years, but it was a lot as I remembered: crammed with books, incense perfuming the air, silver and semi-precious jewelry near the cash register, plus oils, little bags, candles and more. So much more. It's a place to get lost in, for sure.
One friend ended up purchasing a book on reading Tarot cards, and the shop itself had a massive assortment of different card types. I don't really know the craft. I've read a bit about it, but want to learn more. I only have one deck at home, and it's been looked at more than anything, as it's a Cat People tarot, and the art is beautiful and intricate. Perfect for someone like me, who loves cats and art.
But the Tarot keeps coming. I was proofreading a book for a client, and Tarot was referenced in there, too. And it keeps sticking in my brain.
One of my characters, Poppy, actually reads cards and palms in her magick shop, and I've long been wondering what deck she uses. Finally it came to me. She'd have designed her own deck. And since she likes herbs and studies the magical properties of plants, she'd probably have a deck of herb-inspired cards. From there I got to thinking that I want a crack at designing a deck of my own, as I'm also interested in plants, for their healing and magical properties, as well as their history.
I see a winter project in the works, with a rosemary card perhaps indicating memory, or a sage card pointing toward wisdom. I'm really just spitballing here, but it sounds like a fun, and dare I say enchanting, project.
Once I get some cards planned out, I'll share sketches here. I really love the idea of such a deck, where someone who relies in great part on instinct would concoct her own divination system from something that holds a lot of meaning to her.
Hi everyone. I just released my third book, Tricks and Treats, this week, but have the first one in that Poppy Blue series, Giving Up the Ghost, available for free today (8/16) on Amazon.
In Giving Up the Ghost, flame-haired witch Poppy Blue has some major magical talents, but is also encountering some major paranormal problems.
Sure, seeing and speaking to ghosts may be an amazing ability, but when one of the see-through set has plans for her ... oh, boy.
That's in addition to trying to get her love life (wait, what love life?) in gear and coping with her meddling mother. Click here or on the book image to purchase. And if you enjoy, two more are available (Plenty of Trouble and Tricks and Treats) and book four is in the works.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Big day for me, y'all!
Book three of my Poppy Blue fantasy series, Tricks and Treats, has gone live today. It's currently only available as an eBook, but I'm proud and thrilled to have this one done.
In it, my main character Poppy finds her magick shop has suddenly sprouted tons of new stock overnight. Virtually all of it unwelcome and not connected to her brand.
You'd think things would be smooth sailing after Poppy nails the culprit (Hint: It's her mother, Fiona), but it isn't.
Poppy's romance with Roger is progressing nicely, but one morning she goes from walking on a cloud to stumbling into chaos.
Who could be behind the mayhem? And a new arrival has Poppy's witchy senses tingling, but what exactly this new player's game is remains a mystery.
Throw in Fiona's creative and creatively cruel efforts to quit smoking, one crazy party, and a bunch of boob balloons (yes, boob balloons), and you've got a whole heap of Tricks and Treats.
I can hardly believe it's August. Summer is slipping away. I've been busy lately with working on my books.
In addition to readying book three of the Poppy Blue fantasy series, Tricks and Treats, for release, I've also been revamping books one and two. Nothing major will be changing, but I'm making a few small tweaks. A couple of typos are being fixed, and I'm also introducing new covers.
While I love the art on the first two covers, with the beautiful redhaired woman, I decided I'd go for something a bit punchier, I suppose is how you could put it.
I went for a simpler image -- in the case of Giving Up the Ghost (book one), a love potion with hearts and pink-red fumes drifting upwards, and used a more playful font for the title.
Again, the contents will be the same (aside from remedying a few typos), but I'm hoping this new look will better reflect the spirit of the books, with a bit of a playful and modern vibe that hints there's humor, heart and a bit of magic between the covers. Books one and two (Giving Up the Ghost and Plenty of Trouble, respectively) will be rereleased with the new look shortly, and then book three will follow quick on their heels.
Book four, tentatively titled A Spot of Bother, is also in the works.
I'll also be posting the first chapter from the third book here on my website shortly.
And you can see the new cover image in this post. I invite you to give your opinion in the comments.
Here's a bit of something-something from my forthcoming book, Tricks and Treats. In this excerpt, Poppy finds her mother Fiona prying for too much information about her love life, and Poppy decides to divert.
I could see Mom wasn’t going to be swayed by my refusal. I needed to distract. I picked up a catalog that was on the kitchen table.
“You know,” I began. “I came in here the other day and saw Tom looking through one of these. I think he was Christmas shopping.”
“Oh.” My mother raised an eyebrow. “Was he looking for something sparkly?” As much as Mom loved a surprise, she loved knowing what kind of gift she was getting even more. It allowed her to shop for complementary companion pieces. Or to tell any of us to choose a different color. The woman knows what she wants. Even more so, she knows what she doesn’t.
“In fact, he was.”
Mom smiled serenely. “What was he buying?”
“Well, I’m not sure he was buying, but he was circling these plaid flannel pajamas as well as some sort of stirrup pants with ‘sexy’ written across the butt in rhinestones.”
Her face fell. “What?”
“Oh wait, it wasn’t stirrups. It was sweatpants.”
Mom’s chair protested as she lurched upwards, sending it screeching across the floor. “Tom!” she bellowed as she made her way to the bathroom, presumably to interrupt his shower.
“What was that all about?” Jordan asked as I stood and put my cup in the dishwasher.
“She got to prying too much, so I diverted her.”
“What set her off?”
“The sweatpants. Mom loathes them. Unfortunately, Tom had to take the bullet, but I’m fine with that."
I haven't posted in a while but I assure you I've been busy.
I've been polishing book three of my Poppy Blue series. This one is called Tricks and Treats, and in it Poppy arrives at her shop one morning to find it trashed. Was it a burglar? A joke gone haywire? A crabby ghost? Or something else entirely?
To add insult to injury, all kinds of other things are going sideways for Poppy, including her magick shop's wares going off (Who wants a chocolate candle that smells like poop? Hopefully no one.) and other spills and spots of trouble.
Stay tuned in to find out what's behind the mayhem, and along the way Poppy's relationship with Roger is building, Poppy's mother Fiona is up to her usual trouble, and Jordan has a love interest.
I'm also working on some shorter stories about some of the other characters.
One is about the hiring of Vanessa, how she came to work for Fiona and then for Poppy. Readers will meet the witchy mother-daughter duo through the eyes of their new hire, and it will be a window into more of their magic.
Another one in the works is a flashback to nearly a decade earlier. In it, college student Poppy awakes one morning to find Fiona has let herself in. Why, you ask? Because Fiona has fought with her boyfriend Tom and moved out. Poppy and her two housemates now find they've got a fourth one who is most unwelcome with her overbearing magic and unsolicited advice. They'll have to figure out a way to get Fiona out of their house and back with Tom.
I have plenty more ideas, but Tricks and Treats as well as the hiring of Vanessa and the fourth roommate from hell stories are the ones I'm most focused on for the near future.
I assure you that more is coming. Lots, lots more.
One incident in my first book, Giving Up the Ghost, is based on a true event.
In truth, most of what happens in the novel is made up, but sometimes influenced by the odd real-life event. The characters are mostly invented, but influenced by real-life people.
Some people have told me they see me in Poppy. Perhaps. Some of me is in there, but she's more outspoken and I think more confident than I ever was at that age. (Also, enviously, thinner, and with better hair.)
Emily, the owner of Emily's Eatery, is fictional, but I loved the idea of a coffee shop owner who instinctively knows what her customers want. (I did base her in appearance on another Emily I know, who's a tall, sunny blonde who I think customers would be happy to shoot the breeze with for a few minutes while waiting on their daily java and scone.)
Fiona is based on my mother, however. She's not a clone of her, but she damn well likes her sparkles and being blonde and her cigarettes. She's also an unfiltered personality, for the most part. And Tom Wheeler is loosely based on my mom's on-again, off-again boyfriend from the years we lived in Gould City, Michigan. Real-world Tom was a feisty match for my feisty mother, and they sparred with humor and affection. And yes, the real Tom loved sweets as much as the fictional version. At more than one event I had been sent to the dessert table to procure him another piece of cake or slice of pie, to bring his total sweets intake to two, three, and even four servings.
But, back to the real event.
It's not as exciting as what's in the book (I hope). It happened when I was maybe eight years old.
I only heard about it after the fact.
For the novel I played up the zaniness and took it to 11 (thanks, Spinal Tap). There was a lot of humor in the original drunken St. Patrick's Day occurrence, but my mother was not left abandoned by the roadside. She was not wearing a sequined dress. And she most certainly wasn't picked up by one of the town gossips.
I only heard the story -- via plentiful retellings -- but if memory serves correct my mother was merely a passenger in Tom's truck or car while he took a leak alongside U.S. 2 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
I believe they'd been out to check out a lead on a truck, or perhaps some fishing equipment. That part isn't important. But Tom had started drinking early that day -- I believe my mother was serving as designated driver -- and he was plenty sauced by the time they returned home that afternoon.
Tom, his bladder full of beer and whiskey, decided he wasn't going to wait.
My mother pulled over to the side of the highway, he stepped outside and relieved himself.
He also was wearing a derby hat, or a bowler hat, because, well, why not?
Cars honked their horns as they whizzed by, and Tom peed and tipped his hat to all passing traffic.
In my book, it's retold over beers at a dive bar and I wanted it there because one, I thought the story was funny and a way to show something of Fiona and Tom's natures, but it also was a fork in the road for Tom. Would he choose whiskey or would he choose Fiona? (Spoiler alert: He chose Fiona.)
And I can never see a derby hat without thinking of that one St. Patrick's Day. Tom, at this point, is long gone (RIP), but I can still hear him singing an Irish tune and calling my mother an ornery woman, all while he has a twinkle in his eye.
I'm Magenta Wilde, author of the Poppy Blue paranormal fantasy series, and the forthcoming Happily Hereafter series. Hint: It involves ghosts.