All posts by cwgreenfed@aol.com

I am a published novelist and a language arts teacher. I write paranormal romance, young adult and historical fiction.

Getting My Irish Up

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I was blessed with two pairs of loving grandparents with diverse cultural backgrounds. On my paternal side, my grandparents came from Gibraltar, the Rock, a very British background with a mixed lineage of Spanish, Genoese, and  Maltese. My paternal grandfather helped in the ship building industry. He enjoyed telling tales of those times, and he and my paternal grandmother worked hard in bringing up their family when they emigrated to New York City. I think they inspired the ideals of hard work, love of family, and faith in me which has carried me through much in my life.

My maternal grandparents came to New York from Ireland. They too, worked hard, and struggled to support their family. Like many immigrants than and now, they faced discricropped-110_110.jpgmination. I remember my Irish grandmother telling me stories of  the Great Depression and facing both the lack of work and the prejudice of those who said “No Irish need apply.” She told me how they took in laundry, did odd jobs, and managed to provide for their growing family.

Nanny Smith taught me many things and shared stories of the old country as we sipped the tea or as I helped her make  Irish soda bread. My grandfather, too, liked to spin yarns.

I think a diverse cultural background, rich with tales of other times and lands added to my respect for story telling and desire to pass along the rich traditions.

As a writer, I draw on my life experiences as well as what I have learned. Travels to different places in the world have helped with background research, characters, and of course, settings.

I believe that this as well as those “yarns” I heard growing up contributed to my storytelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Journal

getPartWriting a journal is writing for oneself, unless of course, you decide to share or publish the journal or its parts. Over the years, I have written many journals. Some were during travels, some were more diary type entries, a few contained poems or anecdotes, and some were pure venting on paper. In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggested “morning pages” which are three pages written soon after waking up. You write in a stream of consciousness way without stopping or worrying about grammar and spelling. I found that the discipline of writing “morning pages” is a good one. It helped me to vent on paper, put down ideas for stories or peoms, and get in touch with my muse. I sometimes set an alarm for a few minutes and wrote as much as I could in that time. Some days it proved frustrating, but on others it was hard to stop when the timer went off. Today when I work on a story, I sometimes set a goal of writing so many pages or for so much time, and it is the same thing. Either it’s frustrating not to get to that goal and do enough in the time, or I want to write more but had to stop. Yet, I remind myself that it is still writing, and as such, it can be revised and edited later.

I recently read some of my old journals, and it felt like a trip down memory lane. Some of the concerns or worries I voiced then are not that different from now, and some seem silly and supercilious, and that reminded me that all things pass whether good or bad. Reading about travels I took brought me there whether it was a cafe in Paris or venturing along the wilderness in Alaska. I have albums with photos, but reading the words enhanced those pictures. I am hoping to combine words and pictures in future blogs to share about some of my adventures.

Another suggestion given to me long ago is that of the dream journal. I keep a small journal by my bed, and when I wake up I try to write down what I dreamed about. I have one of those dream encyclopedias nearby as well. However, I believe that dreams are so personal and can best be interpreted by the dreamer. If you notice patterns for instance, there is a message in the dream, or there are symbols in what is dreamed. So, now when I record dreams, I also try to interpret them. Similar to the “morning pages”, the writing has to occurr right away upon waking. Otherwise, the dream fades from memory.

Writing a travel journal is fun. I don’t always do so, but when I do, I like to write down not only about the places and people I meet but also special events or reflections on the time. When I returned to Paris the summer of 2016, I looked back at a travel journal I wrote during my trip there in 2008. I noted some of the places that I went to and how I felt about them. I’m going to try to be more organized with the travel journal, and maybe add some sketches and thumbnail size pictures.

I also have a gratitude journal where I list all I feel grateful for. This helps me a lot and reminds me of all the good things going on. It’s especially important during stressful times and when it’s easy to overlook the good.

As for materials, I’ve used many kinds of notebooks for journals from the cardboard bound composition books found at a dollar store to fancier styles with leather trim. It depends on the use and my mood about the writing. Barnes and Nobles and other stores carry entire sections with blank journals in assorted styles, sizes, and for various uses.

Journal writing is not for everyone. However, as a writer, I find them invaluable. Journals help me to record ideas, express feelings, write impressions, vent on paper (or on computer), and helps with the discipline of writing.

On Writing: A YA series

What goes into writing a series of books? I often wondered how anyone could write more than one story featuring the same main characters until I tried to craft one.

During the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) of 2012, I  KissOutofTime_432wrote my first young adult ghost story, A Kiss Out of Time, which was published in 2013 by Featherweight Press. The story features Georgina Claythorne, a seventeen year old psychic and ghost hunter, who is unnaturally attracted to the ghost of a Confederate soldier who haunts her grandmother’s antique shop in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

 

Having read A Kiss Out of Time, some of my readers, including a few middle school students I taught, wanted to know more about Georgina and her ghost hunting adventures.  After “living with Georgina and her boyfriend and fellow ghost hunter in my head” for almost three years, they felt like part of my family. So, I decided to use the 2013 NaNoWriMo to work on a sequel. In this adventure, Georgina confronts not one but two ghosts who haunt her family’s bed and breakfast inn in Ocean Grove. The book became known as A Dance Out of Time.

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I wasn’t sure if I’d grow tired of writing about the same character and setting, but I didn’t. Instead I discovered several things in the process. First, I found it resourceful to have previous notes from my first book including a binder with maps, research, outlines, magazine photos, and character sketches nearby as I drafted. Second, I found it helpful to use flashback and connect the previous book to the current story. I also got to know my characters even better.   A Dance Out of Time and was published by Featherweight Press in 2015.

Sadly, an accidental fall in 2015 waylaid plans for writing for almost a year after I broke both wrists, required surgery and a year of physical therapy. I am slowly returning to the writing.

Series writing is not for everyone, but I did enjoy my venture into it and will try it again. I might bring out a third story for Georgina and Jake as they are now young adults.  In the meantime, I have two other books in the works, another young adult featuring a junior witch and a women’s fiction story about an Irish immigrant, plus a short story coming out in an anthology of historical romances set for publication in the spring of 2017.

 

Both A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Feather Weight Press Pubishing.

 

 

 

 

Troll Dolls

trollTroll dolls were a big toy fad from 1963 – 1965.  The dolls also called Leprechauns, Dam dolls, Gonks, Wishniks, Treasure Trolls, and Norfins. The story behind the troll doll is that a poor Danish fisherman named Thomas Dan who in 1959 made a troll doll based on his imagination as a Christmas gift for his daughter. Soon troll dolls became popular in Europe. The original troll dolls had sheep’s wool hair and glass eyes, but cheaper imitations came out when the dolls gained popularity.

 

I bought my first troll doll at Cathy’s Gift Shop in Greenwich Village. It was the size of my fist, and I bought smaller, thumb size ones there too. Most troll dolls came naked with wild colored hair and beady eyes. You could dress them up and create a family of troll troll-2dolls. It was said that rubbing the hair of a troll doll brought good luck.

The tiny troll is over fifty years old. She kept her shape!

Someday I hope to go to Scandinavia and bring back an authentic troll doll.

 

 

Happy Endings

“And they lived happily ever after” is the classic once-upon-a-time tale. I became a fan of romance novels for many reasons including the sensual portrayals, the blend of historical facts with fiction, strong heroes and heroines, and the happily ever after endings.

However, when I began writing my romance stories, I wasn’t sure how to get to that happily ever after until I got to know the characters, their conflicts, the different elements being used including the paranormal or the historical or a mix of both. As a writer I found myself on the journey along with the hero and heroine in finding their “happily ever after”, and at the end I generally felt the “ah” moment as well as a little sadness like bidding good friends farewell after spending some time together. If you’re a writer, I think you’ll understand. If you’re a reader, I think you’ll understand too. I’ve indulged in books where I could not put them down, and when they ended I sat clutching the book awhile and felt that sense of satisfaction too.A_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014

In my latest book, A Dance Out of Time, I got to know my heroine Georgina Claythorne, the teenage ghost hunter, a little more and wanted her to not only deal with the haunting of her family’s bed and breakfast in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a shore town which I’ve come to know and love, but I wanted Georgina to feel that “happy ever after” if only for the time until another story. It takes work, struggle for the characters and the writer, but it is satisfying!

Happy readings!

Writing Mentor Friends: Kathryn Hayes

Kathryn Hayes, a founding mother of the New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America was a one-woman welcome wagon for new members. As a children’s book librarian for the New York City public library, she often brought material about books to the writers’ group and gave me educational material for my teaching or my son. In addition to organizing local writers’ workshops, Kathryn proofread the chapter’s newsletter and judged its writing contest.

Writing as Kathryn Hitte, she published several children’s books including an anthology used in elementary schools. Kathryn gave me a copy of that anthology which contained a copy of Mexicali Soup, a story she wrote with her husband William D. Hayes which also came out in picture book form.

 

Aside from being members of the same writers’ chapter, Kathryn and I became friends. She often invited me to join her for cappuccino or hot cocoa after the meeting, and we took field trips to do research for our writing at local New York museums.

Kathryn suggested ways to outline story plot, use the library for research, and to use pictures and poetry for writing stories.

She had a wonderful reading voice and a theatrical flair which made the stories come alive.

WildflowersWhenever I felt dejected about my writing, Kathryn reminded me to keep writing. “How’s that western going?” she’d ask in reference to my early drafts of Wildflowers. That book would later be published in 2007.

Loving coupleKathryn also helped me with some of my research for a story dealing with reincarnation and ancient Mexico and later called Sacred Fires.

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When I showed her the draft of a third novel dealing with a guardian angel and a psychic artist, Angels Among Us, she commented,“Oh, that is a good story,” which helped encourage me to finish the book and send it out.

KissOutofTime_432Having been a children’s book librarian and having written for young audiences, Kathryn inspired me to write for young people. It would be a long while later, but I did when I wrote stories aboutA_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014 a teen ghost hunter in New Jersey:   A Kiss Out of Time, published 2013, and  A Dance Out of Time, published in 2015.

 

 

Sadly, Kathryn Hayes passed away in 2003, and I still miss her very much. I wish Kathryn Hayes had lived long enough to see my published work.  We would have had a celebration, and I know she would have been happy for me. I will always feel a sense of indebtedness and love for my mentor and friend, Kathryn Hayes.

 

 

Food for Thought

I often use food in my stories which reflect my favorite foods including pizza, tacos, ice cream, pie, and other tantalizing foods. I came to that realization recently when editing my second young adult novel, A Dance Out of Time. The A_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014nineteen year old Jake Hanlon is a bit of a foodie, except he doesn’t gain the weight that many of us worry about when we indulge a bit. So, he can chow down on burgers, fries, and ice cream and still look gorgeous since he’s young and works out. Georgina Claythorne, the lead character, an eighteen year old psychic/ghost hunter and Jake’s girlfriend, enjoys similar fare but is more cautious about the calories, not an atypical response for many females. She indulges, however, in one of my favorites: rum raisin ice cream with caramel sauce as served up at her favorite (and mine) Ocean Grove restaurant and ice cream parlor, Nagle’s. Despite a busy summer of ghost hunting, helping out at her family’s bed and breakfast, and doing art, Georgina enjoys decorating and making home-baked desserts like peanut butter pie.
AngelsAmongUs_LRGIn Angels Among Us, Kay Lassiter, a psychic artist in Nutley, New Jersey, is in jeopardy and guided by her guardian angel who tries to help protect her from a madman. When Kay meets with her brother, a detective, and Lydia, her best friend, she serves up homemade Irish stew and a blueberry pie with ice cream. Rather heavy fare but comfort food.

In Sacred Fires, Casey McConoughy, an investigative journalist, Loving coupleenjoys a romantic dinner with Miguel Stephen, a rogue customs agent,  in Mexico while working on a case together.  Meals are often traditional Mexican and include one of my favorites: shrimp with garlic sauce.

 

  WildflowersWildflowers, a western historical romance set on the Oregon Trail, features food that pioneers could put together while traveling across the plains and mountains including berry pie, biscuits, beans, beef jerky, or rabbit stew since they lacked the modern conveniences of refrigeration, stoves, and microwave ovens. They had to be frugal about it. However, what they had provided enough to hold body and soul together. Meals were communal times too.

In general, I find that food works its way into my stories for a variety of reasons. It shows characters’ preferences and cultural backgrounds, living conditions, gives time to socialize, work on conflicts, and even fall in love. It’s a little bit like real life.

Where did you get your inspiration for A Kiss Out of Time

KissOutofTime_432

I have always been fascinated by ghost stories, and Halloween is my favorite holiday. As a child I enjoyed dressing up in costumes, going trick or treating, and watching scary movies on television. I still do! Well, I enjoy the scary movies, ghost stories, and watching the children trick or treat at my door. I also enjoy reading and learning about the paranormal.

I’m a big fan of such movies as Ghost, The Sixth Sense, and such classics as The Portrait of Jennie, The Uninvited, and A Christmas Carol.

I had a lot of inspiration for writing my first young adult paranormal, A Kiss Out of Time. My interest and belief in the metaphysical, my own experiences and that of others who recounted their experiences with psychic phenomenon, and having taught young teens for a number of years contributed to my desire to write a ghost story for young adults.

Write What You Know: Ghosts?

I’ve stayed in a castle near Seville, Spain which I believe might have been haunted. It had been the site of ancient battles and been situated near ancient Roman ruins. I also sensed a presence near a wooded area in the west of Ireland. While staying in a relative’s home in Maryland,  I woke up right before dawn’s full light and spied what I believed to be an apparition of a couple dressed in the style of the Civil War era. The man wore a gray uniform of the Confederate Army, and the woman wore a long flowing dress. They seemed to be in a struggle, and as the man held up his sword over the woman who crouched in supplication, the sun rose and the apparition vanished. Later I found out that there had been skirmishes during the Civil War not too far from the site.  I’ve also spoken to ghost hunters, psychics, and casual observers of ghosts and related phenomenon. It’s not all that unusual, and I think close to half the population surveyed on believing or sensing ghosts have reported they have had similar encounters.

Characterization

Since I have also had an interest in the arts, majoring in art in high school and studying at adult ed. programs over the past few years, I decided to draw upon that (no pun intended) to create my heroine, Georgina Claythorne, an art student and a ghost hunter. From her earliest years, Georgina experienced psychic ability and saw “dead people” who spoke to her and told her their sad tales. She used her abilities to help them to cross over to the Other Side. She also is aided by her best friend-turned-boyfriend, Jake Hanlon, a skeptic but loyal friend with a more scientific approach to the paranormal.

Setting

The location of A Kiss Out of Time and its follow-up Dance Out of Time  is Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Having been there many times, I’m familiar with the city, the boardwalk, the beach, Main Avenue with its shops and restaurants, nearby Asbury Park, and other sites mentioned in the stories. I try to use what I’m familiar with and interested in when I write.

National Novel Writing Month

I wrote both A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time in the month of November during National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it’s called, gave me the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. So, I had to focus when I could after work, on weekends, and around my birthday and Thanksgiving holiday to get the writing done. I would advocate anyone interested in writing a book to try NaNoWriMo for the experience and the challenge. I know it helped me, and the website offers tips and encouragement in the writing process.

Writing a YA

As a teacher, I wanted to write stories which my young teenage students in the middle school, and hopefully older teens as well as adults, would read. Several students showed an strong interest in the paranormal, and I told them of my plans to write the books. Their encouragement spurred me on in my goal of writing my first YA.

Having the ability to see and to help ghosts is not an easy one for Georgina, and like many young people who are a bit different, she had to put up with teasing and bullying as a result. Unfortunately, bullying is an all too common occurrence for children and teens. It’s important to try to stop it when it happens, and to get help if you are the victim of bullying.

I hope that you will find my young adult books interesting and enjoyable. A Kiss Out of Time is published by Featherweight Press. A Dance Out of Time is soon to be published by FP as well.

Thanks for visiting. Look for more of my blogs on ghosts, shape shifters, Wicca, and reincarnation in future updates.

Happy Haunting!

Where did you get your ideas for Wildflowers

WildflowersThe American West held an aura of adventure for me as a child. I’d grown up watching westerns on television, and when my parents and sister moved to Oklahoma, I went to local museums on Native Americans and pioneer days. I had learned to ride a horse while I was in high school. So, I also enjoyed horseback riding at nearby ranches. Learning to handle a horse helped with some of the research I would do later for my first book, Wildflowers, a historical western romance.

When I visited the pioneer museum in Independence, Missouri, which happened to be the “jumping off” point for the pioneers heading west, I learned a great deal about the lifestyle, the provisions, and the men and women who braved the frontier in search of new homelands. In addition I read a great deal on the wildlife, mountain men, missionaries, and topography of the region covering the Oregon Trail. I have camped and hiked in various places including the mountains of Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, the Canadian Rockies, and elsewhere which gave me a feel for the great outdoors. Yet, I could not imagine the rigors and dangers of those who trekked westward, many by foot to reach the Oregon Territory. Fishing, canoeing, and bird watching have also added to my appreciation of the outdoor living that went on for the pioneers. Cooking over a camp stove, cleaning up without benefit of a dishwasher or kitchen sink echoed some of the reality of their time; however, picture not having a bath house to wash and change in, lack of toilets, and relying on supplies which had to last for months without benefit of refrigeration and it’s a tough journey. Many did not make it, but those who did became the forbears of future generations of Americans.

From early notes scrawled on a commuter bus, tons of research, and many revisions later, Wildflowers became published in both e-book and print-on-demand versions.

Now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Welcome to My Blog

Catherine Greenfeder author picture

Hello World!

Thank you for stopping by. My blog posts will be where I share my thoughts, ideas, experiences, and news. Over the past few years I have been fortunate to get my writing professionally published. I plan to share what I have learned about writing, what inspires me, and what I enjoy doing when I’m not busy writing. So, please stop by, and if you can, leave a comment. Thank you!

             Catherine Greenfeder

Walking the Tightrope of a Dual Career

It’s amazing to me how often I feel like I’m on a tightrope with two careers: as  a part-time novelist and a full-time teacher, but I manage somehow. It means making time for the writing while doing my best as an educator.

It means quick meals, take-out food, and a supportive family and friends.

It means keeping notepads around to jot down creative ideas.

I wrote my first novel on a bus years ago when I commuted to a job in Manhattan. I wrote a second novel while my son napped as a baby. I’ve written other books on weekends and vacations when I could.

Not easy but doable. Stay balanced, focused, and don’t fall off the tightrope.