Tag Archives: specter

Specter Debuts Today!

I can hardly believe I just typed that title—”Specter debuts today.” It’s been a surreal journey from the start of this book to the end, and I mean that word—journey—in the most real way. At the start of it all, Specter was a concept that had been rattling around in my head for a while, but it took a flash of inspiration from some helpful muse for me to understand that the ghosts in the story weren’t supposed to be from the Victorian era, but rather from the 1980s. That realization, coupled with the knowledge that the book would be comparable to Stranger Things, pushed me to abandon a different manuscript at thirty thousand words. I didn’t want to miss the cultural moment caused by the juggernaut that is Netflix’s lovable TV show, and so I set myself a goal: have the book out by the time the next season debuted.

A lot happened along the way. I made a career switch. My husband and I moved house. I became entirely disenchanted with traditional publishing and decided to go the indie route. A family member suffered a major injury.

But I’m on the other side of everything, everyone is happy and healthy, and Specter, beautiful and glowing, is ready for the world. 🙂

I’m going to skip the marketing spiel right now—I already covered all that in Friday’s post. If you’re wanting to check out the blurb, take a look at some five-star reviews, or read the first chapter, then head on over there. But what I will say is that Specter is a story with a whole lot of heart. I’m a slow writer as a general rule, but this story, Lanie’s story, demanded to be told, and it poured out of me. I’m extremely proud of this book, and I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it.

So please consider buying a copy—especially if you’re the type of person who’s ever gone back up the basement stairs a little too quickly, imagining someone is about to grab for your ankles. Or if you’re the type who loves a realistic heroine who takes matters into her own hands and becomes a badass along the way. Or if you’ve ever looked out into the woods and wondered exactly what kind of secrets might be hidden out there.

That’s who Specter is for. I hope you enjoy it. ❤ ❤ ❤


Specter is available for purchase now at all major retailers and at Hidden Bower Press.

Specter—Chapter One Teaser!

You guys, Specter debuts in just two days, and I’m beyond excited. Specter is a YA paranormal thriller perfect for any Stranger Things fan. If you like fast-paced thrillers with twists and turns that will seriously keep you guessing and strong female characters, then this is a book not to miss.

Want to preview the book? Chapter One is down below. ❤

Book Trailer

About the Book

Author: Katie Jane Gallagher
Print Length: 370 pages
Publisher: Hidden Bower Press
ISBN: 978-0578508184
Available in paperback and ebook format
Retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | all other major retailers | Hidden Bower Press
Available on Overdrive! Speak with your local library staff to learn more.

Blurb

A long-buried secret lies within the woods…

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Advanced Reviews

“Fans of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles, Meg Cabot’s The Mediator (throw-back!), and Netflix’s Stranger Things will binge this book from cover to cover… Her abounding wit, humor, and determination make Lanie so much more than a fictional character; she is the girl we’d all want at our lunch table, or hiking through a Connecticut woods with us on the most magical night of the year. Lanie is a girl we can root for, one many of us can relate to and one we certainly need to see more of.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Omg I devoured this book, can’t remember the last time I read a book so fast! I can totally see why it’s being pitched as similar to Stranger Things, since it’s very suspenseful with ghosts, demons, and an 80’s element (even though it’s not set in the 80’s).” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

“I love a good book about ghosts and specter doesn’t disappoint. I’m glad that I was able to relate to the main character since I’m introverted and I love horror movies. The books is fast paced and I didn’t really want to put the book down!Entertainingly Nerdy, 5 stars


Want a sneak peek at Chapter One? Just keep reading. ❤


It turned out all the books and movies had gotten ghosts dead wrong. Still, I knew what I was dealing with from that very first glimpse. Just like you can tell a cat from a dog, some instinct thrummed through me, real deep and low in my gut, and I knew. The dead aren’t the living, and it was the dead I saw that day.

Day, not night—see? Granted it was October, but the way early bit of October, too early for even me to be getting excited about America’s best holiday. Plus it was sunny, plus it was a Tuesday. If the days of the week were people, Tuesday would be bumbling, adorable, and absolutely average—perhaps the younger cousin of trendy and aloof Thursday. Nothing notable is supposed to happen on Tuesdays, let alone anything supernatural.

I was in bed, wrapped up burrito-style in my blankets, shivering from a fever and halfway to miserable—only halfway because it was just about the time Mrs. Morrie would be handing out the math test I was supposed to be taking. It’s funny how things work out; the night before I’d considered faking sick to dodge the test, and now here I was, sick for real.

I was just sinking into a nap when the door creaked open, followed by the light pad of footsteps. I snaked an arm out from under the warmth of my comforter, my hand meeting soft fur.

“Hey, Mustard,” I croaked. The virus hadn’t spared my throat. I patted the bed, and my golden retriever jumped up and began snuffling my face, all whiskers and dog breath.

“Gross!” And as I pushed him away, I saw a flash of blue-tinged skin in the corner of the room.

That was the next thing that wasn’t right. It—she—had none of the silvery translucence from the stories. In fact, she wasn’t see-through at all, her figure cast in slow-moving blue shadows, like the sun making mottled patterns on the seafloor.

There was a ghost in my room—a ghost my age, her hair a big mess of feathery curls straight out of an eighties movie, her clinging black leotard and jeans vintage to match. And she was looking right at me.

I jerked back, yelping as my head collided with the headboard. The ghost’s eyes widened. In my peripheral vision, Mustard was making circles at the end of the bed, preparing for his thrice-daily nap. Didn’t he notice? Weren’t dogs supposed to have a sixth sense for the paranormal? They could predict earthquakes and sniff out cancer, after all. In the movies, dogs always gave early warnings about evil spirits…

And that’s why all the smarter ghosts in those same movies always found some sinister way to get rid of the dog. I scrambled forward and gathered Mustard up into an unhappy, squirming ball, then tried to leap out of bed, only to get caught in the blanket. I tumbled to the ground, and Mustard wriggled free from my arms. Shooting me a wounded look, he trotted from the room.

The bed skirt was blocking my view of the ghost. I sucked in a steadying breath and willed myself to get up. Surely she’d be gone when I stood up again, going for the jump-scare-then-leave kind of haunting. What a great story this would make, narrated by upturned flashlight around a clichéd campfire. I was lying sick in bed, then…

I pushed up from the floor with a groan.

“Fuck!” There she was, blue and muted, though she stood directly in the sunlight beaming through the window. A vague, familiar feeling quivered at the back of my mind…

The ghost was tracking me with her eyes. After a long, silent moment, her lips twitched up into some horrid semblance of a smile. She took a step forward.

“M-Mom?!” But my call was useless reflex only; she’d deemed my fever just low enough to go into work for a few hours, rather than shuttling me to the doctor. I was alone in the house—well, no one else alive was in the house.

You’re hallucinating. Call Mom so she can take you to the hospital. For that must be it—my fever had climbed too high. Yet the ghost looked so real, and I couldn’t help but scan my room for something, anything, to use to fight back. I didn’t keep my room stocked with weaponry, so I settled for the bedside table lamp, yanking the cord from the wall and clutching it baseball bat-style.

Time for the first and likely final showdown between Lanie Adams and Ghost Girl.

But she took another step forward—her sneakers were also some retro style, I noticed—and icy fear rooted me in place. Just a hallucination—a hallucination of a ghost who shops at Goodwill. I drew together my fleeing scraps of courage and poked the lamp toward Ghost Girl’s stomach.

It passed straight through, without even a ripple at the edges. I lurched back, gripping the lamp to my chest like a safety blanket. “Not real,” I whispered, and the ghost frowned at me, as if to say, I beg to differ.

“What do you want?” I managed. My voice was a trembling wreck. Didn’t ghosts usually have some sort of purpose, some wrong to be righted or atrocity to be avenged? She opened her mouth to answer…

The words erupted as a garbled stream of syllables.

Fine, she could have the room; I was willing to vacate. I threw down the lamp and vaulted over the bed, hurtling towards the door—

—Where I leaped straight through another bluish ghost, this one a teenage boy standing right on the threshold.

That was when my hopes that this was all just a hallucination evaporated away. Have you ever taken a bath in a ghost? Suffice it to say that the experience is not pleasant—an aching kind of cold that seeps to the bone in the space of a heartbeat, banishing all memories of warmth. But I didn’t have to endure it for long. White sparks clouded my vision, then the world wavered and contracted to a pinhole.


Want to keep reading? Specter debuts July 7th (this Sunday!) at all major retailers, Hidden Bower Press, and is available to rent for free through Overdrive with your library card!

Specter is a book not to miss. With strong characters who are easy to root for, this captivating, multilayered debut will keep you holding your breath till the very last page.

Interview with a Cover Designer!

Who hasn’t bought a book based solely on the cover design? Go into a bookstore and it’s almost like entering an art gallery. Covers entice us into the book, acting as alluring seductresses, promising us adventure or scares, inviting us to new worlds. The YA sphere especially, in my opinion, has really stepped up the cover game in recent years—which meant that the cover for Specter had to be good. Really, really good.

I knew that Specter needed a particular kind of cover—one that fit in with the YA aesthetic, was reminiscent of Stranger Things, and wasn’t too hokey or corny. After a lengthy search for the right cover designer and a couple serious bouts of frustration, I chanced upon Liana Moisescu and fell in love with her work instantly.

What really drew me to Liana’s designs was her versatility. Every project Liana works on is unique; she takes the unique qualities of each book into consideration, rather than trying to force each book into a specific design aesthetic. I was absolutely thrilled when I received the final design back from her. It’s gorgeous, it’s mysterious, and, most importantly, it encapsulates the feel of Specter perfectly.

So I wanted to sit down with Liana and pick her brain a bit about covers to get a peek of the magic taking place behind the curtain. Enjoy the interview!

What is your artistic background, and how did you get into cover design specifically?

I’ve always been interested in art and all things beautiful but also in science, so I pursued the latter by attending a Biotechnology college. My path took me towards my artistic nature, and I found myself creating and designing ads for a fashion company. From there things escalated quite quickly, and I really started loving all things graphic design, I also started dabbling in photography, painting, and drawing.

I’m a passionate reader, always have been, so I naturally pursued book cover design as it’s such a fascinating niche. Book covers can have so much variety with genres and design styles.

Are you a reader yourself? Any favorite covers?

YES! I love reading fiction mainly, more specifically sci-fi, legal thrillers, fantasy, and crime/mystery books, but I also read the occasional nonfiction self-help or science genres. I have tons of favorite covers, to name a few Blood & Water by Alana Newman, The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell, Parasite by Mira Grant, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, The Great Reset by Richard Florida, The Night Ocean by Paul Lafarge and many more!

If you could design a cover for any existing book, which one would you pick?

There have been a ton of redesigns for the Harry Potter series by professionals and fans alike, and I love the more recent, modern ones. One that stands out for me is by Olly Moss, with modern, fun artwork. It would be a dream to have a chance to illustrate a new edition of the covers. I grew up with the Harry Potter world and already have tons of ideas for the style and design elements.

What makes a good cover, in your opinion?

There is no exact formula that makes a cover good as it’s such a subjective matter, and as a designer you learn to accept and appreciate so many styles. However, for me, it has to have an element that stands out, whether it is the font style or layout, or a clever graphic. A bold color will appeal most of the time, but it’s not necessary for a cover to be eye-catching. I also love a design that is minimal and not cluttered and that also has a surprising element, something original and fun (or pertinent to the genre). Quite a tall order, I know!

Are there any little details you consider when making a cover that most people wouldn’t expect?

There are a lot of interesting little details, like maybe lining up the top of the back cover elements with the spine and front cover so everything looks clean and neat (not in every case of course). Or maybe calculating the dimensions and creating a template, or spending hours finding that perfect image or font that would tie everything together. There are tons of small aspects like these that come into the process of designing a book, and they’re all part of the fun.

Any pet peeves when it comes to popular cover design that drive you bananas? Recent design trends, etc?

I’ve learned to love and appreciate trends and different styles as they’re just indicators of what people are attracted to in a design at that point in time. Of course, I do have my own preferences, and I have seen collage design gaining a lot of popularity. When done right and when it has meaning it can be gorgeous, but sometimes it’s done just for the sake of the trend without any true significance. I suppose that does tick me off just a little, however, design and art are always open to interpretation and subjective to the eyes of the viewer so maybe I’m just missing the point entirely, who knows? That got deep!

You have tons of experience working with authors to craft the perfect cover. Do you have any advice for new authors who are going to be working with a designer for the first time? From a designer’s perspective, what should authors do to help make that working relationship successful?

The designer-client relationship can be easy to navigate if both parties are willing to communicate. From my experience, that is the key. As a designer I always give my client a little “brief” of my own, asking them what styles, fonts, colors they prefer and what covers they love, what cover they dislike, etc and their willingness to share as many details as possible will give the designer a clear understanding of the concept they envision. Of course, sometimes the client doesn’t have a clear vision for the design, and again communication comes in. Brainstorming and sharing ideas back and forth is a great way to figure out which direction to take.

Do you prefer getting a lot of specific details from your clients about their vision for a project or would you rather have more freedom to craft the project?

Great question, that depends a lot on the client and how clearly they visualize their book cover artwork. If they have a specific concept in mind, this is what I’ll create and maybe suggest different ideas or changes if something doesn’t feel right. As an appendix to the previous question, another piece of advice for an author is being flexible and trusting their designer. Many times, an idea can sound good but on paper it can have some flaws that only an experienced designer can point out and fix. So good communication, flexibility and trusting your designer.

Creative freedom is also a wonderful direction, I wholeheartedly enjoy both ways of collaborating with a client.

Thank you so much for giving us your insight about cover design! Where can we find you online?

You can invite me to work on 99designs, and here’s a small sample of my work, as well as my Twitter.


What are your favorite covers as of late? Comment down below!

And a small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts THIS SUNDAY, July 7th, and the paperback and ebook are available for preorder at all major retailers and from Hidden Bower Press.

Missing Persons Report: Melissa White

Full Name: Melissa Mary White
Date of Birth: February 2, 1969
Place of Birth: Lanster, New Hampshire
Missing Since: September 22, 1985. (Sixteen years old)
Height: 5’4” (At time of disappearance)
Weight: 115 pounds (At time of disappearance)
Race: Caucasian
Hair: Blond
Scars and Marks: Freckles; ears pierced; navel pierced
Clothes and Jewelry: Unknown

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact the FBI immediately.

Specter paperback and ebook go on sale July 7th.

With strong characters who are easy to root for, this stunning, multilayered paranormal thriller will keep you holding your breath till the very last page.

Order from all major retailers or Hidden Bower Press.

Who Killed Melissa White?

Her face was inches from my own, close enough to see the smattering of navy freckles on her cheeks. My throat clenched to scream, but the air in my windpipe felt frozen, like it had solidified into a chunk of ice. Something about looking at her was making my head hurt, like patches of her face were fading in and out—not transparent, but like they weren’t even there at all.

She leaned in towards my ear as I stood paralyzed, and biting cold stung the side of my head, radiating through my skull. Her words came to me as a distant shout, distorted and waterlogged.

“Melissa White!”

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Specter debuts July 7th. Available for preorder now at all major retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo

Keeping It Local: Setting My Book in Connecticut

When it was time to put pen to paper, the decision about where to set Specter was an easy one. It had to be Connecticut, specifically a loosely-veiled version of the Farmington Valley—this despite the fact that there’s a good amount of myself in Lanie, the sixteen-year-old main character, and I had spent my own high school days in a Chicago suburb very different from the Farmington Valley.

I’ve lived in Connecticut for about ten years now, and it’s taken me a solid chunk of that time to feel like the state is really my home. Moving to the East Coast is a tough transition for a Midwest girl who’s used to open fields—from a zombie apocalypse perspective, I used to staunchly hold the position that I want all that open Midwest space around me so that I can see the undead mob coming. Now, after years of living in the lush, forested valley, my opinion’s made a hundred and eighty degree flip—I’ve grown to love the dense press of trees all around me, the mountains framing the horizon. It’s comfy having this much greenery around, like nature’s version of a lead blanket.

And all that forest provides a perfect setting for a book with much weirdness. Here are just a few examples of the startling things I’ve encountered in the CT woods…

  • Bears at every turn. Morgan Matson needs to get her facts straight; I have no idea what the hell kind of “research” she conducted for Save the Date to claim that there are no bears in CT.
  • This sound. (It was so loud.)
  • Clothes stitched together into the shape of a human body and filled with stuffing to form a punching bag.

I don’t want to give anything away plot-wise, but suffice it to say that the CT woods—and the surprising things within the woods—features heavily in Specter. Weird attracts weird; CT and my book were simply a perfect fit. 🙂


Specter debuts July 7th and is available for preorder at all major retailers.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo | Hidden Bower Press

Who Killed Melissa White?

It—she—had none of the silvery translucence from the stories. In fact, she wasn’t see-through at all, her figure cast in slow-moving blue shadows, like the sun making mottled patterns on the seafloor.

There was a ghost in my room—a ghost my age, her hair a big mess of feathery curls straight out of an eighties movie, her clinging black leotard and jeans vintage to match. And she was looking right at me.

.

.

.

Specter debuts July 7th. Available for preorder now at all major retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo

Music and My Writing Process

I was talking with my grandma the other day, and the topic swung around to my newest WIP, which I’ve affectionately dubbed “Beauty and the Beast and Aliens.”

“How did you ever think of that?” she asked me.

I took a second. “Well, I don’t know… Music helps with brainstorming ideas, I guess?”

Here’s the reality of things: as with my other books, I don’t really remember the exact seed for this story. A little bit of this and a little bit of that rattle around and around in my brain, sometimes for years at a time. Somewhere down the line they twine themselves together and poof, there’s your book idea. However, music continues to play an integral part in informing the way I want my books to go, and since I think I might use music in a slightly unusual way as a writer, I thought I’d set my “process” down on paper to hopefully be of help to somebody else.

The first way I use music is by letting the mood of several songs lull me into a meditative, imaginative state. For example, in the aliens book, I know that storytelling and travel are going to feature heavily, so I’ve been listening to a lot of songs like “Another New World” by Punch Brothers/Josh Ritter and “Northwest Passage” by Stan Rogers. But I’m not really listening to these sorts of songs while I’m writing, but rather when I’m doing other, mindless tasks like driving, walking the dog, etc. I find that this practice allows my creative brain to chew on the song in the background and every so often spit out new ideas for my WIP.

The next way I use music is a bit complicated; I listen to music that reminds me of other books that I want my book to feel like. Here’s an example: when I was in middle school, I became obsessed with the Chinese singer Faye Wong and the book Sunshine by Robin McKinley at the same time. (Both of which I still adore, by the way.) I have distinct memories of spending a Christmas vacation curled up in an armchair in my grandparents’ living room, devouring Sunshine as I listened to a Faye Wong CD over and over again. So in my mind, that book and Faye Wong, and especially the song “再见萤火虫/Goodbye, Firefly”, are forever linked. That’s step one.

Now, for a couple different reasons, I want my alien book to have a similar feel to Sunshine, even though the actual stories are pretty dissimilar. Therefore, I’ve been using “再见萤火虫/Goodbye, Firefly” and another Faye Wong song to enter a state of mind where I feel what I felt reading Sunshine that first time. Doing so has allowed me to more easily craft my WIP with the specific tone of voice I’m looking for—a bit older, a bit more stream of consciousness, a bit more something that gets me closer to the story I want to tell.

The last way I use music is a bit more typical for writers, I believe—I listen to music similar to the mood of each scene while I’m writing that scene. Most of the time this music has no words, so that’s where you see orchestral pieces and soundtracks creep into my playlists. So this is where my playlists become a bit like a book soundtrack; you can very roughly map out the changing mood of the book with the playlist.

So if you’re interested to see how all this music ends up coming together into one confusing playlist monstrosity, take a look at my Spotify book playlists—I have one for each of my published works, and a private playlist is already in-the-works for the aliens book. I really hope this is helpful for other writers out there who might need help with brainstorming or inspiration!


A small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts July 7th (just one month away!!!!!), and is available for preorder at all major retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Kobo | Hidden Bower Press

Cover Reveal: Specter

This has been a long time coming. A loooong time coming. Sometimes when you set a goal, you don’t exactly realize how winding the road to accomplishing that goal is going to be… and that’s what happened with my cover saga.

But, at long last, I have a cover for Specter, and I FREAKING LOVE IT!!!!! I love it so much!!!!! As the book’s main character, Lanie, would say, I’m not normally a multiple exclamation points kind of girl, but this cover, courtesy of the incredible Liana M at 99designs, totally deserves it.

Are you ready?

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I cannot get over this cover. It matches the book perfectly. Why is Lanie holding a baseball bat, you might ask? You’ll just have to read the book and see. 🙂

Go add it to your Goodreads shelf now, or place it on preorder! Here are the details:

  • The ebook is available for preorder at Amazon and Kobo, and will be available at all other major retailers in the next day or so.
  • The paperback will be available for purchase 7/7 on Amazon. It will also be available sometime soon (have to keep this part vague) at all other major retailers. So you’ll be able to buy it at Barnes & Noble or request your local indie bookstore order it for you! 😀
  • It will be available to rent FOR FREE at your local library, through Overdrive and other library ebook services! And you can also request your local library order it for you!

I personally really recommend the paperback version, so you can see those goddamn glorious text messages. (Shivers from PTSD.)

And some other important stuff:

  • Genre: YA paranormal thriller
  • Release date: 7/7/2019
  • Publishing imprint: Hidden Bower Press
  • 369 pages

Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


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If any of that up top sounds interesting, please consider adding the book on Goodreads!

Specter is going to seriously appeal to fans of Stranger Things. I’m going to be posting in the coming weeks all sorts of fun stuff—the conception of the book, the music that inspired it, etc. Specter was a crazy fun book to write, and I cannot wait for others to read it, since it’s basically everything that I love (horror, the weird, conspiracy theories) woven together into a rip-roaring thriller. So thanks so much for being along with me on this journey, consider giving it a read, and have a happy Thursday! ❤