TOPICS: Book Excerpts / Free Preview / In Progress / Writing Habits / Summer Blues / My Kids / Books & Reading

Deborah O'Toole: Newsletter (Autumn 2015)

Hello dear readers,

In this, my inaugural newsletter, I hope to keep readers informed about upcoming books, previews, bits about my life and updates to my web site in general. Welcome!

Book Excerpts

Excerpts from several of my books are now available as free PDF (Adobe Acrobat) downloads.

More downloadable excerpts will be added in the future, so please check back for updates.

Free Preview

In honor of Halloween, a full preview of Jack the Ripper is now freely available. The essay can be read online in its entirety until October 31, 2015. Jack the Ripper by yours truly is an essay about the serial killer, including information about the Whitechapel district of London, the victims, suspects, the investigation, press coverage in the day, resources, suggestions for further study and related films. Enjoy - and Happy Halloween! More >

In Progress . . .

I've set quite a writing schedule for the remainder of 2015 and into next year. Glinhaven is nearly 3/4 finished, giving me hope it can be ready for release by spring-summer 2016 (I'm keeping my fingers crossed!). It is my intention that Glinhaven be a traditional gothic fiction novel similar in style to classic 1970s paperbacks written by the likes of Dorothy Daniels, Marilyn Harris, Victoria Holt, Marilyn Ross and Phyllis Whitney.

The following is a brief description of Glinhaven: Piper Hunt leaves Boston to take over her grandfather's unique curio shop in Glinhaven, Massachusetts. While adjusting to life in the quaint seaside village, she uncovers dark secrets hidden at the forbidding Glinhaven Monastery which may also unlock mysteries from her past.

In the Works: "Glinhaven" by Deborah O'Toole. COMING SOON!

Glinhaven >

I'm five chapters into both Bloodlust and In the Shadow of the King. The two stories are as different as night and day (in the former, the main characters are murderous sex fiends while the latter is a quasi-fictional account of a real person during the era of Henry VIII). I hope to complete Bloodlust next year, with In the Shadow of the King following in 2017.

In the Works: "Bloodlust" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. COMING SOON! 

Bloodlust >

Bloodlust (by yours truly wring as Deidre Dalton) is book two of The Bloodline Trilogy, where Noel and Pim's daughter Kate Grady has unusual powers which allow her to bend people to her will. At first she uses her gifts wisely, but then goes astray after falling in love with the diabolical Kirk Lester, whom she follows down an ugly path of debauchery and evil. The final part of the trilogy - Blood & Soul - is scheduled to follow in 2017.

In the Works: "In the Shadow of the King" by Deborah O'Toole. COMING IN 2017!

In the Shadow of the King >

I've been working on In the Shadow of the King for several years. The story is a blend of real history and fiction (especially the dialog). I want to maintain accuracy in regards to certain historical aspects of the characters, mainly well-known milestones in Henry VIII's life, as well as people close to him during the time period. My current description of the book is as follows: In the Shadow of the King is a fictional account of the dramatic life of Sir Francis Bryan, confidant to King Henry VIII. Sir Francis Bryan was a knight bannerette, chevalier, diplomat, poet and translator, Lord of the Tor Bryan, chief gentleman of the privy chamber, Chief Justice of Ireland and a gifted sportsman. During his time in Henry VIII's court, Bryan was nicknamed the "Vicar of Hell" due to his apparent lack of scruples and legendary sexual exploits. In the Shadow of the King brings to life the story of Sir Francis Bryan, as told by one of his descendants in the twenty-first century.

Deborah O'Toole: In the Works. Click on image to view larger size in a new window. 

In the Works >

Apart from my fictional endeavors, I'm also putting together the Global Seafood Cookbook (2016) and Native American Cuisine (2017) writing as Shenanchie O'Toole. When I undertake a culinary venture such as Native American Cuisine, the process involves painstaking research which can take anywhere from several weeks to months. I also like to prepare several ethnic dishes pertinent to the culture to experience the taste and feel of it all, along with getting as many food photos as I can.

I have my work cut out for me - let's hope I can stay healthy long enough do it all . . .

Writing Habits

Speaking of writing, I prefer an atmosphere of calm and quiet while creating, although I've been known to write even under the worst of circumstances such as dicey living conditions, loud noise levels and general misery. I write best at night, usually by hand. The next day, I'll input my notes on the computer along with any needed adjustments.

I spend almost every day - all day - on the computer. This includes writing, web design and other projects. I rarely use the computer for fun, unless it's to play games in the form of a break. If I forget to wear my reading glasses, I often end the workday with a headache (complete with jagged, lightning-bolt eyeball spasms) after I shutdown. By evening time, I'm thoroughly fed-up with my computer screen. I just want to get away from it for awhile.

Enter night-writing. I still enjoy writing by hand, finding it a rare form of relaxation. Admittedly, I'm set in my ways in regards to the way I write by hand: black ink pen (medium, round point) and only on a quadrille pad. I never use red and blue ink pens or, God forbid, pencils. And when I'm finished inputting my handwritten notes into the computer, I draw a line through the page.

My computer workspace. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

(Above): My computer workspace. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I'm often inspired by images, so my storyline spreadsheets include thumbnail pictures of people I feel represent my fictional characters and various structures. The images are not indicative of personality traits of real people or meant to be about real places, but rather a general idea of what I envision as the "outer shell" of each character and setting. I can see the snapshots in my head as I assemble scenes and dialogue, a method which has always worked well for me as far as writing style or creative inspiration.

Summer Blues

The summer of 2015 was long and strange . . . and I'm so glad it's over. For those who don't know about my aversion to summer heat, it is perhaps best explained in a blog entry (Summer Phooey!) I wrote in May 2013:

I realize most folks have been looking forward to summer with relish after a rather hard winter, but I'm not one of them. My instinctive aversion to dry, hot climates is mainly health-related. Being fair-skinned, I burn in the sun. Truthfully, I've never had a suntan in my life. I go straight to red. My eyes are also sensitive to overly bright light. Over the past several years I've even taken to draping a towel over the lamp shade on my computer desk, just to blunt the bothersome glare. I keep the lamp turned off as long as possible because it also exudes heat, which might explain my sensitivity to light. I don't see enough of it to grow accustomed to the brightness.

In the heat, my hands swell and turn blood red in color, as if I'm holding them in a 400-degree oven. Oddly, the redness doesn't travel beyond my hands. I've been to a doctor for the affliction many times, but haven't received an explanation for it. When I can no longer endure the searing heat in my hands, I'll plunge them into a cup of ice - which literally melts within a few short minutes. I can buy a soda topped with ice from the corner store, but if I hold the cup in my hands long enough, the ice melts quickly yet again. What am I - radioactive?

Worst of all, perhaps, is the ever-present infection that seems to lurk in my body. Heat exacerbates the issue, giving me flu-like symptoms which feel worse than the actual flu. It can sometimes keep me in bed for days at a time. Aside from dosing me with antibiotics, the infection specialist I've been to has yet to discover the root cause of the problem, or offered suggestions on how to put a stop to it altogether.

Aside from the miserable heat, I was ill for most of 2015's summer months. My ongoing problem with infections definitely got the better of me, culminating with a massive infection in my right leg (the very worst to date, and I've had some whoppers over the years). I was down for most of September. I eventually found a bottle of antibiotics about the house and began taking them, which made me feel much better.

The antibiotics also cleared my difficulty in breathing, a bothersome affliction that began last February after I suffered a relapse from an autumn 2014 chest cold. I couldn't walk from the living room to the kitchen without having to stop to catch my breath. It was scary. At one point during spring-early summer 2015, I stopped going to the grocery store because it was just too difficult and exhausting. I bought food essentials (dairy, bread, canned goods, frozen dinners) at Walgreens because the store is small and easier to navigate, and I ordered case lots of dog and cat food through Amazon (which turned out to be cheaper in the long run) because I just couldn't haul the heavy cans from the car to the house anymore. Instead, it was delivered to my doorstep.

Also during the summer, the basement hallway, loo and laundry room flooded as the outside sewer pipes were finally crushed by tree roots. The old pipes were made of clay, which I believe were original to the house (built in the 1950s). Worse, the ensuing flood barely missed entering my computer room. To be honest, I don't want to even contemplate my future without a working computer. Anyway, it cost nearly ten thousand dollars by the time clean-up crews and plumbers finished. Thankfully, we carry good homeowners insurance.


My "Kids"

During the trials and tribulations of summer, my darling "kids" Rainee (Black Lab mix) and Kiki (Bengal and Siamese mix) remained my most steadfast supporters. It might sound strange (and rather sad), but they bring me comfort and laughter more so than any human being ever has.

Rainee (December 2014). Click on image to view larger size in a new window.      Kiki (December 2014). Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

(Above, left to right): My "kids" Rainee and Kiki. Click on images to view larger sizes in a new window.

My "kids" are worth their weight in gold, and I feel they deserve all I can give them in return. I adore them, so it makes me happy to see them happy. Hence, they are frequently on the receiving end of many treats, toys, kisses and hugs.

Books & Reading

I read a lot of books over the summer months, a good habit I've continued into autumn. I re-read the entire O'Malley Saga and Skye's Legacy series' (12 books in all) by the late Bertrice Small, along with her other collections: Friarsgate Inheritance (4), Border Chronicles (6) and the Silk Merchant's Daughters (4). I've also become addicted to "cozy" mystery books, including Coffeehouse Mysteries (14) by Cleo Coyle, the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries (6) by Cleo Coyle, Goldy Schulz Culinary Mysteries (17) by Diane Mott Davidson, and more recently, the Maine Clambake Mystery Series (3) by Barbara Ross.

As of this writing, I'm reading The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir and The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (#1 in the Century Trilogy).

Until Next Time . . .

Again, I'm so happy the long summer is finally over. Perhaps now I can get something worthwhile accomplished - knock on wood. I plan to release another newsletter in mid-to-late December 2015, so keep your eyes peeled.

Until next time, happy reading!

Deborah O'Toole

October 17, 2015

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