Holiday Freebies!


Who doesn't love Freebies? No one.
Below are a few promotional specials for your reading pleasure for the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Christmas in Whistler - A Christmasy Romance set in Whistler, Canada, among evergreens, snowy mountains, and mistletoe. Daria is tempted to have a well-deserved Holiday fling with a dashing French vintner but worries her heart will be broken when the holidays end.
Free Dec 21-23
Christmas in Whistler

Dream Come True - A Holiday Suspense set in snowy Carnation, Washington at Pops' old homestead with Jamey and Tina, telepaths who foresee the house burning to the ground on Christmas Eve.
FREE Dec 26-29

Dream Come True

The Dream Jumper's Secret - A Supernatural Romantic Suspense set in Seattle, Afghanistan and the dream world, Tina struggles to understand this new life of entering dreams and the secrets that must be kept along with the gift.
FREE Dec 28-31
The Dream Jumper's Secret

Amazon's Kindle Worlds -- Worth it for Authors?

TODAY on the BEACH, we have Suspense author Kim Hornsby who's been known to enjoy the sand between her toes on occasion. Take it away, Kim...

Amazon has a lot going on for authors. Their building must be bursting at the seams with all the programs they offer. Amazon Encore, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle Countdown, Select, Amazon Scout, Kindle Unlimited...

Kindle Worlds is one of their relatively new programs that allows pretty much anyone to write a Fan Fiction novella or novel from their list of Bestsellers and if it passes Amazon's content scrutiny, they'll publish your book, plunk their Kindle Worlds badge in the corner of your cover and take some royalties when you sell.

When this program began 5 years ago, any character you developed belonged to Kindle Worlds and you could not tie in your own previously written works or characters in the KW book.

Kindle Worlds Available - The List

I recently attended a panel on KW at a Writing Conference and the authors on that panel are allowed to tie in their own novels with their KW books. The K World they all write for is a medieval romance series and their World Owner negotiated a contract to include this. The contemporary romance writers on the panel said they made their KW characters descendants of the well-known Kings and Queens in the World. I'm not sure if this is beneficial or not.
The one I write for doesn't allow tie ins to your previously written works but I have loads of crossover traffic to my series that's set in the Hawaiian islands and is also Suspense/Crime. I've gained many readers, including beta readers and our world has formed a group that supports each other on social media, in and out of the World.
Thanks to our World Owner, Toby Neal, who is involved in our efforts in a very big way, we even have our own closed Facebook Group where we confer on loads of stuff, KW-related.
World owners, NY Times Bestselling Authors, and very successful novelists in their own right are now crossing into other Worlds and writing spin offs to either support their friend's World or to gain readers! Toby Neal writes for Sydney Rye, Bella Andre writes for one...

If you're interested in broadening your readership, consider this:

Go to the Kindle Worlds site, chose a book with a huge following that you feel you can do a good job with, research the World to make sure this is a good fit, and then write your book. The guidelines are listed on the site to tell you which characters you can use, book length, and royalty information. Different World owners have different sets of criteria.

I write for the Lei Crime Kindle World for several reasons. HAWAII! and I love the series, Toby Neal's writing style, and the characters.
Initially I was lured in by her gorgeous covers when I saw our books side by side on a book shelf in Kihei, Maui. I read two books, loved them and contacted her to say so. She asked me to join her World and I put one of her novellas in my Suspense Box Set.
I later found out her husband is a photographer and is responsible for these amazing cover photos.
I was excited to sharpen my writing skills by trying my hand at a Toby book. It was easier than writing one of my own books because I used her characters and locations. Riding Toby Neal's coattails proved to be a good business move for me.
My novella, Rocky Bluff, at 40,000 words, basically wrote itself in 2 months, and has done well. I made some money, made friends as well as business contacts and beta readers (Toby shared her list with us!!!)  and cast my net wider as an author.
I'm proud of the Murder Mystery that I crafted and look forward to writing another in a series of Bluff books. I left the plot open in Rocky Bluff for the next book. I'm off to Maui January 2017 to meet with Toby and to plot out my next KW book!
Check out Rocky Bluff at the Amazon Site!

I asked several Lei Crime World Authors to answer questions on their experience. All were previously published authors when they took on Lei Crime World.
Here's what Amy Shojai, Julie Gilbert and Scott Bury had to say:


1. How many books in the series did you read of the World Author?

More (probably 12 or so thus far...)

2. How many books had you published when you decided to write for KW?

3 fiction books, and 30+ nonfiction

3. What was your reason for writing for this KW Series?

Experiment with length (novella) and reach additional readers

4. Did you contact the author or just start writing your book?

The author contacted me! 

5. Did the author support your book and your writing?

Absolutely. Toby Neal was incredibly supportive, organized launch parties/promotions and helped with resources regarding her "world."

6. Did he/she give any guidelines as to which characters were available and which were off limits?


7. Did you write a novel or novella and how long did it take you?

I wrote a novella, just under 25,000 words. I tend to write slowly, and had the concept early but was working on other projects at the same time. It took me about four months to write.

8. Did you write in the author’s style, your own, or a mix of both?

I write in my own style.

9. Did you have your work professionally edited?

Yes, I had the work both edited and copy-edited.

10. Did you have a cover made by a professional?

I designed my own cover.

11. How easy was Kindle Worlds to work with? Upload? Guidelines? Help with Cover?

The KW platform is a bit clunky and at times buggy. Uploading the text itself worked fine but I had a lot of trouble with the cover. Eventually, I had to delete the whole thing and start over--and it finally worked. 

12. What were the benefits of you writing for this particular world?

Probably the top benefit was meeting and working with Toby Neal and her AWESOME group of KW contributors! I have plans to write at least 2 more in this KW as sequels to my first novella. Secondly, I've reached new readers who already love Toby's "world" and her characters. They're already eager to find out more about the backstory of Keiki, the police dog, as she grows from clueless puppy into the wonderful Rottweiler protector of Lei in Toby's series.


Amy Shojai, CABC

30+ Pet Care Titles &
Thrillers with Bite!

And here's what Julie Gilbert said:
1. How many books in the series did you read of the World Author?
I think I’m in this range. I heard the audiobooks up through Twisted Vine for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Series.

2. How many books had you published when you decided to write for KW?
8 ish.

3. What was your reason for writing for this KW Series?
I found the idea of KW intriguing. It’s a chance to see what you can do with established characters. In some ways, it’s a different kind of writing than one does with their own works. I’d done mystery before but not ones that fit in more mainstream and thriller categories. It was a cool challenge for me.

4. Did you contact the author or just start writing your book?
I sort of attached myself to the coat-tails of Toby Neal’s launching Lei Crime KW. We’d talked a bit on Facebook, and I heard about KW through her blog announcement. I knew I had a few weeks to make the deadline, so I hopped on board.

5. Did the author support your book and your writing?
I’ve worked for and with a grand total of two authors in launching their Kindle Worlds, so I can’t speak for everybody. But, yes, I’ve found them both very supportive.

6. Did he/she give any guidelines as to which characters were available and which were off limits?
I think Toby only had two that were off-limits. I’m not sure Emily Kimmelman had any. I knew I was just going with Sydney Rye anyway with that series, so it didn’t matter as much to me who couldn’t be named.

7. Did you write a novel or novella and how long did it take you?
All my KW stories are novellas. Back in the day, we were advised that the sweet spot of sorts with KW is about 25-30 thousand words. I just stuck with that. I think that advice was given to launch people just to give us a starting point that wouldn’t scare people off.
The rough drafts for my KW stories take about 2 weeks to put together. Then, I do about a ½ week of edits, give to some beta readers, and make corrections. Total time is about 3 weeks if I’m working my day job at the same time. About 2 weeks if I can concentrate on that in the summer.

8. Did you write in the author’s style, your own, or a mix of both?
My style.

9. Did you have your work professionally edited?
Not the KW story. I just read it 3-4 times myself and asked about 12 people to look at it. Then read it again.

10. Did you have a cover made by a professional?
Define professional? All my covers are made by other people. I don’t know if my cover art lady solely makes a living off of her work or just does it as a hobby, but if you define professional as makes money doing it, then yes.

11. How easy was Kindle Worlds to work with? Upload? Guidelines? Help with Cover?
On an amazon rating scale they get a 4/5 stars from me. The process has mostly been easy, but their cover creator thing is about the clunkiest program out there. They do NOT make it easy to upload your own cover or change your uploaded file. You have to practically right click in a certain, magical spot and hope you get the option to upload a new option. Other than that, it’s been decent to me.

12. What were the benefits of you writing for this particular world?

There are modest financial benefits to writing for KWs. There’s also the chance to meet other writers and new readers through those other writers. I don’t think it’s a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s steady enough to pay for itself, meaning I can make enough to pay off the cover in a month or so. It’s also great to keep exploring new worlds. It stretches the writing muscles. Writing shorter stories (novellas) is a different sort of beast than a novel. They’re a lot of fun to put together. You get to let the imagination run wild for a bit, but you also have to make sense.

Julie C. Gilbert

And here's what Scott Bury said:

1. How many books in the series did you read of the Lei Crime Series by Toby Neal?

I had read three books in the Lei Crime series before Toby Neal invited me to join the new Lei Crime Kindle World back in late 2014. I realized that I could not complete a novella in time for the first publishing date of April 1, 2015, but I did manage for the second “flight” in July 2015.

2. How many books had you published when you decided to write for KW?

I had published three full length novels by then: The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy; One Shade of Red, a spoof of the biggest seller of the time; and Army of Worn Soles, the first part of the memoir of my father-in-law, a Red Army soldier during World War II.

3. What was your reason for writing for this KW Series?

I liked Toby Neal’s work, and she invited me.

4. Did you contact the author or just start writing your book?

The author contacted me. She gave me a lot of advice. I sent her the outline of my first Lei Crime book, Torn Roots, and she gave me excellent feedback. Later, I sent her a draft, and again, she provided invaluable insight. I even took the opportunity to take my vacation in Maui, the setting for the book and Toby’s home, and she graciously agreed to meet with me. It all helped a lot. Toby even read the first draft of my second Lei Crime mystery, Palm Trees & Snowflakes.

5. Did the author support your book and your writing?

Toby Neal has been instrumental in the success of the Lei Crime Kindle World, organizing promotions and supplying information, feedback, guidance and inspiration for all of us.

6. Did he/she give any guidelines as to which characters were available and which were off limits?

Toby has been the best of the original KW authors I have worked with in terms of the information about her world and characters.

7. Did you write a novel or novella and how long did it take you?

It took me about three months in total to write Torn Roots. Palm Trees & Snowflakes took a matter of weeks, but it’s half the length. My third Lei Crime book, Dead Man Lying, took a little over a month to write, plus time for editing and rewriting.

8. Did you write in the author’s style, your own, or a mix of both?

I maintain my own style, but Toby’s style comes through a little in the personalities of the characters she created, because he style is so vivid.
9. Did you have your work professionally edited?

Absolutely! Otherwise, I could not call myself a professional writer.

10. Did you have a cover made by a professional?

Again, yes – all my covers are done by the outstanding David C. Cassidy.

11. How easy was Kindle Worlds to work with? Upload? Guidelines? Help with Cover?

I face the same hurdle that do all KW writers who are not from the U.S.: KW titles and the interface are not available beyond the U.S. borders. So I had to send the files to a contractor in New York, who uploaded them for me.

12. What were the benefits of you writing for this particular world?

It exposed me to many more readers than I had already found, as well as a whole new range of reviewers and book bloggers. And that exposed my work to them. I know that several of the readers of my KW titles have since read my other — I know that from the reviews of my other books, the latest of which are by reviewers of my Lei Crime books.

Thank you for this opportunity!
Scott Bury

Do you need to be asked by the World Owner? Heck no! But they might be thrilled to have you on board so contact them.

Here's the Worlds available to you on the Amazon site and good luck:
Kindle Worlds Available

9 tips to survive holiday shopping

Are you a Black Friday shopper, battling the masses to get in on super deals, or do you prefer to purchase holiday gifts from the comfort of home on Cyber Monday? Whatever your preference, this upcoming weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for shoppers.

Did you know this weekend includes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday? Retailers and merchants focus an enormous amount of time and research to cater to shoppers’ preferences and patterns.  According to Fact Retriever, retailers use satellite images of retail parking lots to predict earnings and rely on psychological triggers such as music, visuals and key words to entice shoppers. Read 38 Fascinating Facts about Holiday Shopping for more details.

Holiday shopping can be stressful. It is time consuming and prompts financial anxiety. There may also be concerns about finding the “perfect” gift, obligatory gift giving and trying not to lose sight of the real meaning of the season. Here are nine tips to help you survive–and maybe even enjoy–holiday shopping.

  1. Make a list and check it twice. Jot ideas for gifts so you don’t wander aimlessly. Having a list can also help you determine your budget.
  2. Decide on a gift-giving theme. Have fun by deciding to purchase gifts according to a theme – books, crazy socks, food & cooking, gardening, music.
  3. Buy in bulk. No need to stress about giving each person an individualized gift. If you find an object you think people would enjoy, buy one for everyone on your list.
  4. Be realistic about your budget. Know what you can afford to spend and plan accordingly. If finances are tight, get creative and give handmade or homemade gifts such as jams/jellies, baked goods or coupons for services such as babysitting, yard work, etc.
  5. Give an “experiential” gift. Give a gift that allows people to enjoy a special experience – cooking classes, travel, skydiving. Even dinner or movie certificates are great!
  6. Give of your time, talent or treasures. You don’t have to buy something to give a meaningful gift. People may be even more appreciative of gifts such as preparing a special meal or recipe, piano lessons, creating a painting or handing down a beloved family heirloom.
  7. Don’t shop when you are tired, hungry or pressed for time. Dealing with long lines, crowds and no parking spots is bad enough, but the experience is even more unpleasant when you’re not at your best. Avoid peak shopping times (such as weekends), fuel up before you go, take your e-reader for long waits in line, leave the kids at home and focus on the spirit behind your gift.
  8. Shop online. Save time and money by shopping online. Be sure to allow sufficient delivery time, especially if you are ordering gifts that need to be shipped.
  9. Have fun! Hand out mini candy canes to children (ask parents first!) and store clerks. Wear colorful holiday clothing. Admire the decorations. Indulge in a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Get your photo taken with Santa.
How do you survive the holiday shopping challenge? Share your tips and strategies. Happy shopping!

A Veterans Day giveaway in honor of ‘war dogs’

Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day. This national holiday is dedicated to honoring veterans of the armed services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard) who served to protect our country.

Did you know Veterans Day originated from Armistice Day, a holiday enacted in recognition of WW I soldiers? Click HERE to read more about the history of Veterans Day.

In addition to honoring the men and women who have served, I like to acknowledge the contributions of canine service members. I’m not the only American in awe of “war dogs.”  There are several organizations dedicated to honoring and assisting active and retired military dogs.

The United States War Dogs Association – features war dog history, information about the U.S. War Dogs Memorial, and how to participate with this organization.

Save a Vet – provides adoption and rescue support for military and law enforcement working dogs.

Operation Military Care K9 – collects and distributes care packages to military working dogs and their handlers.

Kevlar for K9s – works to provide bulletproof vests for working canines.

If you would like more stories or information about military working dogs, check out these sites or click HERE for a full listing of military working dog organizations/resources.

Dogs of the Navy SEALs
The Dogs of War
Canines in Combat
10 Things You Might Not Know About Soldier Dogs
Dogs of War: 23 Facts You Never Knew About Military Working Dogs

As an author, I’ve incorporated my passion, respect and enthusiasm for working military dogs into my contemporary romantic suspense fiction. Sergeant Nick Welby and his bomb-sniffing golden lab are leading characters in Men Under Fire, Book 3 in the Grayce Walters series.

This book is one of more than 60 titles featured in the Military Romance Book Giveaway, which includes a Kindle Fire. If you’re a fan of military heroes and heroines, be sure to enter for a chance to win.

In honor of Veterans Day, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Men Under Fire. For a chance to win, simply comment on my Veterans Day Facebook post. Here’s the link:

Secrets, Palm Trees and Lies on MAUI

Today on the Beach, we are happy to welcome the Bestselling Amazon Author of THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE, Kim Hornsby. Rumor has it, you've written the prequel to the Award-Winning Suspense/Romance about a man who can enter dreams. Tell us more, Kim...

I'm thrilled to release the love story, GIRL OF HIS DREAM, the book that will explain how Jamey and Tina (from the Dream Jumper Series) originally met and why there was a ten year gap in their relationship. These two people have big secrets and they guard them well. Both masters of playing their cards close to their chests, the thirty-two-year old James and the twenty-five-year old Kristina approach each other cautiously when they meet for the first time in Lahaina, Maui, the charming historic town on West Maui where anything can happen and does.
Having lived in Lahaina for 11 years, I wrote this story from the background of a scuba instructor and someone who enjoyed her single girl days on this amazing island. It's a struggle to write about Maui and I even have to visit the island regularly to do research, like below, where I dove Kapalua Bay in 2015.

Here's the premise of my new novel:

James Dunn is a loner, always has been, ever since he discovered at age 8 that he has the gift of hyper-intuition and can slip into other people's dreams. Finding himself on Maui between jobs with the Seattle Police Department, James hires Kristina Greene, a scuba instructor, to certify him as a Deep Diver. Over the 5 day course, things heat up and James breaks down Kristina's hard and fast rule about not dating students. It doesn't take long before the charmingly sexy James and the feisty and resistant Kristina fall into bed together. Driven by her anger towards her parents and the tension of keeping a dark secret, Kristina lets wild abandon take over. More than once James calls Kristina a "tiger" in bed and is happy to match her enthusiasm. (Reader, be warned that they are like any couple at the beginning of a love affair when they can't get enough of each other.) They each have a secret that must be guarded and kept, especially from each other. As they get closer, emotionally, keeping these secrets becomes almost impossible and both are put to the ultimate test until James enters a dream of Kristina's that changes everything.

If you have read the DREAM JUMPER series, you know that this story does not end well for James and Kristina and that is the premise for the next book. Second Warning.

I invite you to pick up a copy of Girl of his Dream, drink a Corona with James, feel the ocean breeze, smell the plumeria flowers and experience the magic of Maui.

The Girl of his Dream
Available Now...
Barnes and Noble
Kim Hornsby is an Award-Winning, Bestselling Author of The Dream Jumper's Promise, a permanently free book on AMAZON.

Indie Author Day 2016

I am pleased to be part of the special Indie Author Day event being hosted by the King County Library System on Saturday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the KCLS Service Center in Issaquah.

Readers and authors are encouraged to attend the free event, which will include workshops and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including:
  • Pathways to publication
  • Book marketing
  • Industry information and resources
  • Accessing Amazon services
  • Self-e, a platform that connects libraries and indie authors
Several notable industry leaders will be participating in the event: Jon Fine, Robin Cutler, Kiera Parrott, Jim Blanton and L. Penelope.

There will also be 25 authors on hand to share their books and personal experiences: Ksenia Anske, Rachel Barnard, D.K. Cassidy, Kristine Cayne, Jennifer Conner, Deborah O’Neill Cordes, Jacki Delecki, Emily Dietrich, Toddie Downs, Susan Griner, Julianna Hinckley, SaraLynn Hoyt, Claire Luana, Sonya Rhen, Rebecca Ross, Sandy McCormack, Sibelle Stone, Susan Schreyer, Neal Starkman, Marcella Van Oel, Shawna Walls, Lisa Earl Wilson, Allen Wolf, Amy Wolf, Sabrina York.

If you've ever considered writing a book or simply enjoy meeting local authors, don't miss Indie Author Day 2016. This is a great opportunity to mix and mingle with authors from all genres while learning about the exciting innovations in today's publishing industry. Be sure to look for me and say hello! Save

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you follow social media, you may have noticed that Pumpkin Spice Latte has become synonymous with autumn. Starbucks may have started the trend, but several other chains have jumped on the #PSL bandwagon, including McDonalds and Dunkin' Donuts. There are even memes poking fun at the seasonal phenomenon.

While the chain drinks are delicious, they are also expensive and tend to be high in sugar and calories. Here's a quick and easy recipe to whip up your own Pumpkin Spice Latte...and this one has real pumpkin in it!

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Combine the first five ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until hot. You can also use a small saucepan. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is foamy. Pour coffee or espresso in large mug and add the milk mixture. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon.

Click here for a Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe.

What's your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? Share your suggestions and recipes with other #PSL fans.

Labor Day Giveaway

Goodbye summer, hello autumn! Labor Day, which was established as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor achievements of American workers, unofficially marks the end of summer and start of fall. One of my favorite fall treats is Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte so I'm celebrating by giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card and To Be Read pile of signed romance novels from different authors.

Visit my Facebook page and comment with what you love most about autumn for a chance to win. One lucky winner will be announced Monday, September 5.

This autumn holds lots of tricks and treats so visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, or connect with me on social media at Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to watch for the upcoming release of A Cantata of Love on audiobook this fall. You can preview the story, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, here.

#amreading #amwriting #amlistening

5 Ways to celebrate Romance Awareness Month, including 5 romantic reads

Did you know August is Romance Awareness Month? I love the idea of "raising awareness" about romance. I don't think people intentionally become lackadaisical about romance, but life gets busy. Between work, family and other obligations, it's easy for romance to get bumped to the bottom of the list. Everyone needs a little romance in their lives. Your marital status doesn't matter. Whether you are single, married or it's complicated, you can celebrate Romance Awareness Month.

If you aren't sure what I mean by romance, let's look at the definition for a moment:

Here are five ways to infuse excitement, glamour, mystery, passion, love and romance in your life. Feel free to share your own ideas by comment on this blog post or visiting on Facebook.

Flirt a little.

Buy something silky, slinky, sensuous or sexy. It could be a new pair of shoes, lounging pajamas or lingerie.

Say I Love You to everyone you love, including your furry friends.

Indulge in a decadent treat, something that will make your palate say "OMG". Luscious chocolates, a gooey dessert, a bottle of wine or a meal at your favorite "special occasion" restaurant.

Curl up with a romance novel.

A Cantata of Love audiobook in production

I'm excited to announce that Pearl Hewitt, the talented voice actor who narrated the other three titles in the Code Breakers series, will also narrate Michael and Gabrielle's story. A Cantata of Love will be available on audio in mid-September. Click HERE for an audio sample.

To celebrate this addition to the Code Breakers audiobook series, I'm giving away three sets to three lucky winners. Enter the Triple Play Giveaway by vising me on Facebook and simply Liking, Sharing or Comment on my post.

#amlistening #amreading

The 20 Second REVIEW

Did you like or love the book? Leave a review!

On AmazonBooks, Find the title, Drop down and Click on Write a Customer Review
Then, simply Copy the whole message below (between the stars) and Paste it into the review box. Next, delete extra words and add your unique words (if you like.)
This process takes less than 20 seconds!

Review Title: Great Read!


I enjoyed/loved/liked this book because it was suspenseful/funny/compelling . The author did a great job with the characters/the plot/the ending/the setting.
The book will especially appeal to teens/women/men.


Don't Copy This Part

On behalf of authors, whose careers depend on good reviews, I thank you for taking 20 seconds to help. And remember, mean reviews are not necessary. A lack of reviews already speaks volumes to the public.
This is one of my favorite recent reviews:

on August 7, 2016
Excellent book. I was completely engrossed in the story line.

Authors: Feel free to add this link at the end of your books to help your readers leave a quick review!

or the

Kim Hornsby
Bestselling Author of The Dream Jumper Series

Dreams, Palm Trees and Sharks in FREE Bestselling Novel!

Today on the hot summer sand, we have Bestselling Suspense author KIM HORNSBY talking about dreams...

Dreaming is a subject that I find as fascinating as the likelihood of ghosts. Also, how Hugh Jackman got so sexy, but that’s another blog.

According to experts, we all dream when we sleep. There is a scientific explanation for dreaming but I like to think a dream is a visit to another reality. An alternate universe, if you will. Kill-joy scientists say it’s your hind brain not shutting off while you sleep, feeding memories and ideas to your unconscious state, like a pesky toddler who won’t lie down at nap time. Discounting that theory, I delved into dreaming for my first Romantic Suspense Series to explore the what-if’s of this subject. I diligently researched dreams and parapsychology theories and read Freud’s accounts of what he believed dreams to be. “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious,” he said.

My interest in dreaming has always been fierce because I dream all night long and when I wake I can tell you where I’ve been and what strangeness has invaded my brain. As an example, this morning I woke from a dream that my son and I were buying huge emerald-colored hummingbirds from a train window. I believe that the hummingbird subject came from a discussion my hubby and I had while watching them feed in our backyard last night. As for the train, I glanced at the cover of The Girl on the Train before skipping to my current read on the Kindle before sleep. Maybe I stored a momentary thought on trains. And, just now, I remembered a dream about a tiny dog that fit in the palm of my hand that I was trying to keep safe. It looked like my next door neighbors’ dog and now I’m remembering that they asked me to let her outside this morning while they are at work. See how that works with the brain?

I often dream that I’m in a haunted house with wind swirling around, keeping me from climbing the stairs. Another recurring dream I have is that I’m on vacation, trying to pack a suitcase for my journey home but I’ve accumulated too much junk and can’t fit it all in. Sometimes I’m buried in what I’ve collected on vacation. If you like to interpret dreams, you might say that at the age of 59, I’m worried that I’ve accumulated too much during my life (physically and emotionally.) I worry that I must thin out to return home, or to wind down at this point of my life.

In The Dream Jumper Series, the male protagonist has the unexplained ability to enter other people’s dreams. He must be touching the dreamer when he falls into a meditative state to enter their dream. Once in, he can participate in the dream or simply watch. Having lived with this ability all his life, Jamey Dunn has learned to not fight it. In fact, he uses his gift, first as a Seattle cop, and then in Afghanistan as part of a special forces unit with paranormal abilities. When the story opens, Jamey has lost his ability after a life-threatening jump with an al Qaeda member and is on Maui to chill out and try to re-charge. He runs into an old girlfriend from ten years earlier and when he finds out she’s having strange dreams about a missing husband presumed dead, he offers to help. With a clue that he might be able to enter her dreams, or at the least tap into his sixth sense to help her solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearance, he convinces her to let him watch her sleep.

Can someone actually share a dream? Scientists say no. Freud said it was possible but there is no solid scientific evidence to support his theory. But, when two people are given the same subject matter before sleep, they often share that. Especially if the dreamer is told to not dream about a particular thing. When dreamers were woken in REM to capture the dream’s memory, they were most often both dreaming about the forbidden subject.

Since writing The Dream Jumper Series, I’ve heard from people who share dreams so I’m not discounting the idea. I’ve also heard from expert lucid dreamers (knowing you’re in a dream), dreamers who can fall into a lucid dream state from wake (wake-induced-lucid dreaming) and often people tell me about recurring dreams. When I speak at book clubs, the most common subject of conversation is dreaming. Although there is no scientific data to support the theory of shared dreams, I don’t dismiss the idea that we may one day be able to tap into someone’s subconscious. And if that day ever arrives, dealing with it will be as morally ambiguous a topic as cloning.

In the movie Inception, which came out two years after I thought I invented dream jumping! a team of expert dream jumpers plant ideas in the brains of masterminds to change their actions. I found this movie absolutely fascinating and have watched it many times to see how those screenwriters built the ability and handled the logistics of getting in a dream and getting out. I borrowed their talisman idea for my third book, The Dream Jumper’s Pursuit.
My jumper, Jamey, enters dreams through deep meditation and touch. When he wants to get out of a dream, he returns to the portal where he arrived and jumps out, then wakes. Readers of the series have told me that I’ve handled the ability in such a way to make it believable. I love hearing that. One of my goals in writing the series was to not lose readers over this subject.

Frightening dreams are my subject matter in the Dream Jumper series; those nightmares where you wake in a cold sweat, crying, breathing hard, thanking your lucky stars that it was just a dream, telling yourself that being trapped, or dying, or running for your life was just your hind brain amusing itself while your fore brain shut off for the night. The dream was not a premonition, not predicting the future, not telling you to avoid scuba diving because a sixteen-foot Tiger Shark will bump and bite you in a cave or a grisly ghost with a decomposing body appears…