Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tour Stop, Guest Post & Giveaway: Phantom Dreams by TK Harris

Hello and welcome to my tour stop for Phantom Dreams hosted by GMTA Publishing! To check out the rest of the tour schedule - Click HereI am quite excited to read this book and see what TK has to say in her guest posts. I love guest posts and both were so awesome I decided to include both for those people who are like me and love to know where it all started and writing tips for newbies. To top it off - Don't forget to enter the competition to win a copy of this awesome book!

Title: Phantom Dreams
Author: T.K. Harris
Release Day: June 6th, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

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FBI Special Agent Jack Matthews finds himself on yet another serial killer case, having barely recovered from the last disastrous hunt. Still stiff from a gun shot wound in his leg, under investigation for a botched job, and having lost his fiancĂ©e when she walked out on him, Jack is beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to move on to something new. But, for Jack, these cases are personal and he can’t say no. 

Marketing specialist Kathy Gilliam leads a fairly boring life. If she’s not working or caring for her ailing father, then she is doing whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near crowds of people. Her few distractions include her friend Margo Longfellow, occasional hiking trips, and her increasingly alarming dreams of women dying.

As her nightmares cause her to begin to doubt her sanity, the media releases news of the “Coast-to-Coast Killer” and Kathy discovers her dreams may be related. In a moment of panic, Kathy does something that places her on the FBI’s “persons of interest” list. Suddenly, her life is set on a collision course with Jack who must decide if Kathy is the killer or destined to become a victim.

Phantom Dreams ~ How it started

What Inspired Me to Write Phantom Dreams

It started with a dream.  I know clichĂ© right?  But it really did.  I had a dream that I was walking through a large crowd of people, surrounded by white canvas tents.  I am moving quickly but don't know why, when suddenly the crowd parts and there is a man in front of me, carrying a sword and it is aimed right at me.  Then, just as quickly, the woman is no longer me and I am now watching.  I woke up before the sword drove home.  And that's how Phantom Dreams was born.

I wish I could say that I wrote it all down in a flash and everything just worked itself out.  BUT, that didn't happen.  First it percolated in my brain while I went about being a full-time mother while working a 60 hour a week job.  (And that was a short week!).   And then, I began writing down bits and pieces late at night in between trying to write and publish stories.  Only to become more and more frustrated.   First, the stories that I had sold to date were short stories.  In fact, the first publication I had ever been paid for was a 1200 word mystery sold to  But it is a very different skill set to go from short stories to a full-length novel.  I was good at cutting to the chase, getting to the point and well, you know the rest.  So, I floundered. 

For the next few years I put most of my effort into my work, family, multitude of projects (I'm a Gemini and we can't help it), subsequent divorce, the 2008/2009 job fiasco, and the many other awesomely awful and wonderful things that life carelessly threw in my path and laughingly under my feet to see how many times it could make me fall.  (I still have scars!)  And, sometimes I would work on my book.  And then, one day, I got frustrated for a different reason. And, then, I got mad.  And, then, I got focused. I made myself sit down and write a list of what I wanted out of life.  My ideal job.  My ideal partner.  My ideal finances.  My projects.  And I wrote those lists and decided to start focusing.  My first project was paying of debt (still working on that!). The second was finishing the d*m# book!  The right way.  (Or is it the "write" way? – Feel free to groan.)

I put the book out to readers.  Got feedback.  And then began the arduous task of editing, rewriting and editing some more.   And then began putting it out there on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, etc.  I got a great review on Kirkus Reviews and started getting great comments.  I have marketed, tweaked it, re-edited it and developed a new book cover since but I still remember my first "real" sell.  Not the books that were bought by friends and family.  No.  It was that one sell when you realized someone you didn't know, bought it.   And now, all I can ask myself is, why didn't I do this sooner?


Writing Tips for "New" Writers
(In 12 Easy Steps.  Ha!)

Whether you've been writing for years or just getting started, we can all use a little help.  Though I have sold several short stories and finally published a novel, I can't give you the same kind of tips as a pro.  I won't even try!  For that, I think one of the best books I've read is Stephen King's "On Writing".  It’s a weird mash of autobiographical information with a heaping dose of practical advice toward the end.  If you haven't read it, read it.  If you haven't bought it, buy it.  It's worth it.

Ok, now for advice from a newbie published author. 

I tried it all I think.  Outlines, freeform writing, story boarding, classes, articles, books, writing while upside down chanting yoga like prayers…Ok, maybe not that last part.  But I may just have to try it the next time I'm staring at the screen with a "deer in the headlight" expression.  Everyone works differently.  But I really hate when an "advice" piece says something like that, or "just try it until you find something that works for you".  You can.  But, sometimes you want to say "Just tell me already!". 

So, here goes. 

Step 1)  Type up a character sheet on each character. Its ok if they change as you go.  But at least have the basics such as full name, age, hair and eye color, etc.  Do this for every character. 

Step 2) Find a wall, a board, it doesn't matter.  Just find a place where you can put up your character profiles and a bunch of 3 x 5 cards and they can stay.  For months if need be.  (I used my dinning room for awhile and then my bedroom wall).  My suggestion is to use paint safe tape or thumb tacks (because both can be pulled off and reused numerous times – although the tape leaves no marks).   This wall should really be close to where you write, maybe across the room so you have to get up and stretch your legs and rest your eyes.  But not too far away.

Step 3)  Write.  Write until you finish your story or novel or opus magnum.  Don't stop, don't rethink.  Write.  With ONE exception.  When you've finished that paragraph, chapter, or even just your 7 words for the day, grab a 3 x 5 card, a pen, and highlighter(s) and write down the relevant pieces of information (by chapter or scene) that occurred.  For me this was the major points in the each chapter of Phantom Dreams such as who lead what scene, any deaths that occurred, how, and who died.  (You'd be surprised how quickly your dead bodies get mixed up!).  You can use the highlighter to highlight things like when a major turning point occurred.  In my case, I used red to highlight each killing and Kathy's escalating dreams. 
NUMBER the cards sequentially.  Either by chapter or scene and try not to put too much information on these.  These note cards and character profiles are going to do a couple of things for you later on. 

Step 4)  Use the cards as reference points to keep you on track and remembering things like what your character looks like and how old they are.  (Kathy changed age in my first draft 5 times! Obviously I didn't start out with Step 1. :/ )

Step 5)  You've finished your first draft!  Have a glass of wine, beer, or whatever.  Put your manuscript and your cards up.  Celebrate.  And then ignore that manuscript for at least a month.  Two months is better.  And find another project.  Try something new to help refill your creative well.  You're going to need it…

Because this is a blog and I'm supposed to keep it short, if you're interested in receiving the entire article and the next 7 steps, simply contact me at: and go to the contact page OR   my Phantom Dreams page on Facebook and leave a comment requesting the article. 

You can also just stop by to say "hi"! 

Author Bio:
T.K. Harris was born in California and lived a gypsy sort of life traveling the world as a military brat. She has been writing since she was a child and as had several short stories published by various magazines, including one in Woman's World. She currently lives and works in Colorado as a Senior Solutions Architect and IT Instructor and has recently had her first novel, Phantom Dreams, published. She is looking forward to her next two books, already outlined and partially written.

Author links:

~ Giveaway ~

How to enter:
1. You must use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter this giveaway.
2. You may choose one option or all options on the rafflecopter. Each option is worth one or more entries into the giveaway.
3. For each option you choose: click on the number with the down arrow FIRST, follow the instructions, fill out the required information and then click on “Enter.”
4. The giveaway ends on 17 May 2014 12am (GMT +2).
5. At the conclusion of the giveaway, I will verify all entries.
6. Once the verification process is complete, I will use the Rafflecopter widget to select the winner and contact her/him.
7. The winner will have 48 hours from the notification email to respond with her/his full name and mailing address. If I do not receive a response, the prize will be forfeited and another winner will be selected. Please be sure to check your spam filters!


  1. oh something very new to me, going to keep an eye out on it.

    1. Thanks Lily! Goodluck if you entered the competition :)

  2. what an interesting post. It's always interesting to see how the story came alive. It's always fascinating to see it's a dream because I never had something that could give me an idea for a story.

    1. I have had a dream that has inspired one of my current stories.. it's quite exciting actually :) Initially I was a bit upset by the dream but the more I thought about it, I realised what a great storyline it would make! I love reading how authors came up with their characters and stories too <3

  3. This sounds like something I would enjoy. Great guest post, I love hearing the back-story to a book.

    1. Thanks Kimba :) Good luck if you entered the giveaway!

  4. I loved both of the author's posts, and I definitely want to try putting up the index cards on the wall. I think I'll use a cork board though so my husband doesn't freak out about tape or pins. ;) Her determination and drive to accomplish her dream to publish a novel is inspiring, and I admire her for it. She went through a lot and came out stronger on the other side. Great post, Chanzie! I hope this helps pick you up from your writing slump. :)

    1. Yes!! What a great idea :) You should have a vision board! I think I need to re-work on mine and hopefully it will help motivate me too :) Thanks for the visit Jennifer!

  5. Ok I think this is some of the best writing advice I have read! I can just see me writing and forgetting someone is dead or how old they are or what color I decided their eyes should be. I think my next crafting project will be one of these writing boards. I have always wanted one of those see through rolly boards that have on detective shows!!!! LOL. I'm off to read the rest of her article! Thanks for sharing Chene!!!

    1. Ha ha I know what you mean! good luck with the giveaway and your writing :) we both signing up for NaNo this year right... *tee hee*


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