The Harvest Series

The Harvest Series… What’s NEWS!!!

Let me first begin by apologizing (as usual) for not being more active these past few months. With the dual release of Winter Solstice and Angela, plus my first book signing, you’d think I would have been racing back here to shout it out from the roof tops…unfortunately life got in the way as it usually does. The release of Winter Solstice and Angela went wonderfully and the few reviews that have trickled in so far have been wonderful. Keep your eyes posted for a few of them here in the next few days.

Second, I can’t wait to share some photos from the New England Writer’s Signing (NEWS) that was held in Worcester, Ma in October. It was so fulfilling to experience this kind of thing with so many great authors, to meet an abundance of dedicated readers, and make some new friends. I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to be apart of it and I look forward to many more in the future and I hope to see some of you along the way.

As for news for the series, you will be happy to hear I have started working on Full Moon (The Harvest Series, Book 3) as well as Dark Matter (A Harvest Series Novella).  I have decided to finish Dark Matter first only because it sets a much needed foundation for Full Moon. Dark Matter, will be told from Claire Stone’s (aka: Claire McIntire- Lexie’s non-existent mother) perspective during the summer she gets pregnant with Angela!!!  You will finally get to see where her darkness comes from and why she is such a cold, unloving woman… but, be patient… you won’t get this installment UNTIL AFTER Full Moon, otherwise all the secrets would be out in the open with no real suspense left.  I promise you though, the anticipation and secrets you’ve been waiting to uncover since you began reading Harvest Moon, are sure not to disappoint. Some really dark and twisted things are in store for Lexie to uncover as she navigates through the hell she called a life for seventeen years.  She’s already overcome so much…but she has no idea what she’s about to stumble onto or how drastically everything is about to change!!!

Okay so now lets share some great photos!!!

The bookshelf in my house dedicated to the Harvest Series!!
The bookshelf in my house dedicated to the Harvest Series!!
My author table at NEWS 10/4/14
My author table at NEWS 10/4/14
Me at my table.
Me at my table.
The hubby (aka Dean Winters) and I
The hubby (aka Dean Winters) and I
The lucky winner of the Harvest Series Giveaway at the event. She won all 3 books and a ton of swag!! Congrats Charlene!!!
The lucky winner of the Harvest Series Giveaway at the event. She won all 3 books and a ton of swag!! Congrats Charlene!!!
Me with a devoted reader, Caitlin (aka Caitlin Preston)
Me with a devoted reader, Caitlin (aka Caitlin Preston)
Me and Caitlin again! Love this girl... true character inspiration is the BEST!
Me and Caitlin again! Love this girl… true character inspiration is the BEST!
The first 3 books in The Harvest Series. Thanks Judy Davison for your incredible cover art, which was the talk at my table... so many compliments and people coming over just to look at them!!
The first 3 books in The Harvest Series. Thanks Judy Davison for your incredible cover art, which was the talk at my table… so many compliments and people coming over just to look at them!!

 

The Harvest Series, THS: Social Issues

ReMoved: The Life of an Abused Child.

As part of my Issues Posts, I wanted to share this moving story about child abuse. You can see through Zoe’s eyes, the torment and anguish a child goes through when they live in a home where they are abused. They carry this pain around with them for years, and many children like Zoe and Lexie are more afraid to lose the things that are important to them, than they are of the abuse itself. Like Zoe, my character Lexie learned to put up walls to keep the rug from slipping out from under her.  But what she learned is that secrets are destructive and carrying your past around—letting it define you, letting it shape your future… That’s even more destructive than the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

http://www.upworthy.com/heres-a-story-about-what-foster-care-is-like-for-an-abused-child-removed-from-her-home-2?g=2&c=upw1

 

Book Reviews, Harvest Moon, The Harvest Series

LJ’s Secret Addiction, Reviews Harvest Moon

 I definitely should have shared this yummy morsel back in January when she posted her review, but writing and editing has kidnapped me and held me hostage. However, it’s reviews like this that keep me going and that make the long hours of writing and editing so fun (so much fun that I spend every minute of my free time on it). Therefore, I MUST stop and take a moment to enjoy such things.

Lisa’s review made me smile and made me laugh. It elicited the emotions from her that were my intention for HM. I want people to feel empathy for Lexie and Angela, but also be angry and frustrated. Situations like their’s cause those kinds of feelings—they make us feel powerless. And I can tell you from personal experience, people who feel powerless in these situations struggle to understand how anyone can allow these things to continue, but they do. And this is exactly why I created my THS: Issue posts. To shed some light on the real life situations just like Lexie’s.

AND… as I told Lisa J, when we discussed HM shortly after she finished it, there are some unanswered questions, but lets look at them as tiny little cliff hangers for now. 🙂 I promise they will all be answered. Some in Book #2 (Winter Solstice) and some in Book #3 (Full Moon). Then there will be the prequel AND the novella, so hold tight and get ready for a long emotional ride.

Thank you LJ’s Secret Addiction for the review and the beautiful collage of character photos!!

LJ’s Secret Addiction’s Review of Harvest Moon

This is book #1 in the Harvest series
323 pages
Published March 17th 2013 by Megan McCooeyMy Rating: 4 hearts

I received an ARR copy of this book from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review.

The cover is nice and straight to the point. It reflects on the book and story line.

The Characters are good and well described. There are quite a few characters in this book yet you don’t feel overwhelmed with them or information. They are introduced at their own pace and you get to know them easily.
Angela is Lexie’s older sister by 3 years. Although they are sisters and they are very alike, they are also very different. They look alike and both have light brown hair with light skin but Lexie had freckles where Angela didn’t and Angela was an outgoing secure girly girl where Lexie was more of an insecure tomboy. It’s amazing what these girls go through.
Maya is Lexie’s best friend from childhood with long blonde hair and big blue eyes. She is dainty and elegant but also a tomboy. In the book she comes across as caring and loving but also at the same time selfish and insensitive to Lexie’s needs.
Caitlin was Lexies friend and the younger sister of Angela’s best friend. She is brilliant and determined, level headed and optimistic. She’s tall, with short dark brown hair and naturally beautiful with olive skin. She is pure and natural in all ways, understanding and sympathetic  and the kind of friend any mother would want for their daughter.
Ben… Finally we meet Ben and what an introduction.. I like Ben but have to keep in mind his age because sometimes he comes across (in my mind) as a little older.

Havrvest1

The story is captivating right from the start. There are times when I almost wanted to skim read because it was dragging a little bit but I didn’t, I was afraid I would miss something important lol. It was an emotional ride and crazy what these 2 girls had to deal with at such a young age. Lexie is so very strong and brave and I get that she feels the need to protect those around her but her strength is also her biggest weakness.
I like the way the story bounces between past ad present and isn’t at all confusing. I never once had to look back and check something. I did find though that going through the story that the more I got involved and pulled in, the more I lost the vision of her friends. I forgot what they looked like and couldn’t picture them in my mind anymore.
The part in the book where she explains everything in front of her friends is amazing. I can feel the emotion and I can actually feel the weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s great how the story can pull you in like that.
The one part of the book I can not grasp is the reason her parents were the way they were. They kept saying they never wanted them but yet it never revealed why. I wish there was more insight into that part of the history. Also I don’t understand how she can simply overlook what her doctor told her, how do you simply ignore that?

The Writing Style was easy to follow and like I said, I love the way it skipped from past to present and back again. Nicely done and and easy read.

 Would I recommend this book or series…I sure would. It’s a great read and brings out so many emotions. I actually found myself at one part almost yelling into the book lol. I didn’t want to read further yet at the same tie I had to because I had to know what happened. 

  This is a great book for anyone over the age of 13. There is some romance and sex in it but nothing descriptive or offensive.

Have you read this book or anything else by this author?

Let me know what you think and I’ll return the visit 🙂

Here is the link to LJ’s Secret Addiction review on her blog. She’s one of the bloggers I follow, so I highly recommend you check her out. I’ve gotten some great recommendations from her- just look at my TBR pile, the truth is in the stack! 😉

http://ljsecretaddiction.blogspot.com/2014/01/harvest-moon-by-megan-mccooey.html#more

The Harvest Series

A New Look for a New Year…

Last year I started two blogs: The Harvest Series blog where I planned to focus on my writing—more specifically my series and Turn The Page Book Blog. TTPBB was born because through the process of getting Harvest Moon ready for release, I learned not only the importance of reviews, but also how difficult it can be to find people who have the time and patience for it—especially if you’re an indie author, like myself.

Looking back, I’m glad I created TTPBB. I have made connections with so many incredible indie authors and read some truly life changing stories. Oh yeah, and how could I forget all the really valuable things I’ve learned along the way.

But in October, I purchased the domain name meganmccooey.com because I really wanted an actual website. I wanted to bring both of my blogs together in one beautiful creation- somewhere for me to highlight my writing and still write reviews for other indie authors. So, shortly after purchasing this domain (with no idea what I would actually do with it), I began to migrate my two blogs into one, in the hopes that it would make moving over to an actual author website a little easier. Iit’s funny how reality is sooo far from what we saw happening in our heads at the time 🙂  While forwarding TTPBB to The Harvest Series blog was simple, this was… well, in a word. Exhausting. I can see now why people pay other people for this sort of thing.

Also in October, as I migrated these two blogs together, I wrote my first THS: issues post. At that time I promised to write these periodically and as you can tell, this hasn’t been the case. Mostly because so much came up in these past few months: some family stuff that had to take front and center, then my own writing—as we get closer to the release of Winter Solstice my stress level rises to a point of no return, and of course there is the pesky problem of my actual full-time day job. Yep, I have one those too. As for the THS: Issues posts; I plan to make it happen. My next THS: issue post (hopefully out later this week) will cover the topic: Keeping Illness a Secret.

 Ugh, so what is it I am getting at with all of this you ask? Well, for the past two days I have been slaving to put my website together… to migrate what was once The Harvest Series Blog and Turn The Page Book Blog into the site you are on now. A site that offers a more streamline way to navigate through my writing projects and the reviews emphasizing my love for reading indie authors.

But the real lesson came from what I thought would be a bit more simplified process that turned into days of researching how to move, well, two sites into one, and then navigating through DNS domain mumbo-jumbo to get everything the way I wanted it. Finally, after much yelling, cursing, hair-pulling, and more agitation than I expected, it was done.

So, without further a due, Welcome to http://www.meganmccooey.com  😉

Please take a few moments and look around. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by some of the new features I have added—The Soundtrack section for one—with, Ahum…actual music you can listen to!! 😉  I hope you will click the follow link on the right, and share my site with others as I look forward to bringing you all some really great things this year: Winter Solstice (Due out this summer), some fantastic THS: Issue posts, and some new book reviews by some incredible up and coming authors!!

Thanks for taking the time to pop over!

-Megan 

The Harvest Series, Winter Solstice

Exclusive Winter Solstice Teasers….

The wait is almost over… Winter Solstice (The Harvest Series, #2), will be here soon, 
but until then, enjoy these
 Exclusive Teasers

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Harvest Moon and Winter Solstice, so please take a moment and say what’s on your mind… I read all of my comments  and I promise, if you take the time to bare your soul, I will be sure to do the same!  
The Harvest Series

Harvest Moon (The Harvest Series, #1)(2nd. Ed. Revised) is set for Release February 1, 2014

Harvest Moon (The Harvest Series, #1) will be available for purchase once again, in paperback and ebook on Saturday February 1, 2014. 

This newly revised edition has a beautiful new cover, new interior layout and has been fully re-edited. (Judy Davison: Illustrator, Laura Latulipe: Editor) 

We also added some exciting new stuff to the website – photos, character descriptions, and a Harvest Moon soundtrack. 
The Harvest Series page
Harvest Moon page

Please help us spread the word about Harvest Moon and if you liked it, please leave us comments here and share your thoughts!! I love to hear from you and take every comment seriously and I will take the time to respond to every one of them. 

Also, if you enjoyed the book and you’re willing to help, please feel free to write a review for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and/or iBookstore. For Indie authors, like me, we rely on reviews to help get our books into more hands.  Without you our stories would never be told! 

Winter Solstice (The Harvest Series, #2) will be available for sale later this year. 

The Harvest Series, THS: Social Issues

What It Means to Come from a Dysfunctional Family

I thought for the first issue we could discuss what it means to come from a dysfunctional family. Obviously this is something Lexie can relate to as well as millions of us out in the real world; therefore, it seemed like a great place to start. Since this is the first of my “Issues Series” I feel it’s necessary to explain a few things. I will break it up into The Facts, where I will discuss relevant articles or stories I have read on the topic and then I will provide My Thoughts. My thoughts are to be taken as just that. While I have a plethora of personal first-hand experience, I do not want my thoughts to be misconstrued. These are my own opinions based on what I have seen occur within myself, those close to me or others who I know have dealt with similar issues. 


The Facts:
I read two different articles, both of which brought up great points. In the first article, “The Eight Most Common Characteristics of a Dysfunctional Family” by Steven Moneyworth, he states that, our culture today looks very different than it did fifty years ago. What seemed idyllic and normal back then is no longer typical and what would have been classified as possibly dysfunctional then, would probably be more common today. What is more important than the ever changing roles of the nuclear family is what sets differing family dynamics  apart from those that are truly dysfunctional and the ways in which different children learn to cope. 

In the second article, “Understanding Dysfunctional Family Roles” by Ruthie Gold, She describes four specific roles that children fall into when living in families with severe dysfunction. Lets first look at the characteristics.    

The eight common characteristics of dysfunctional families, according to Moneyworth include:

1. Addiction
2. Control
3. Unpredictability & Fear
4. Conflict
5. Abuse
6. Perfectionism
7. Poor Communication
8. Lack of Diversity

When we relate this to Harvest moon, we can clearly see that Lexie’s life fits the mold of dysfunction in 7 of the 8 characteristics (Which I have highlighted) and I know from personal experience this is not uncommon. I can say with total honesty that my own family fit into all 7 of those same areas as Lexie, which is probably what made writing from her perspective so easy for me. 

Now lets take a look at these 7 characteristics individually.    

Addiction is the most prominent cause of a dysfunctional family. Drugs and/or alcohol abuse cause communication issues within families, financial problems, and can also lead to conflict, abuse, poor communication and unpredictability and fear. 
Control is often seen “when one family member dominates his or her family and can be from spouse to spouse or from parent to child. Control typically results in emotional ‘stunting’ and may make people feel as if they are not entitled to an opinion or to a life of their own.” One way that control can manifest is by causing family members to feel guilty for “wanting to step outside the box.” (Moneyworth, 2009).

Unpredictability & Fear are two characteristics that go hand in hand and can be brought on by a single family member or multiple. Unpredictability can be the result of numerous factors, such as conflict, financial difficulties, emotional issues and so on. The dysfunction occurs when the family member elicits fear and unpredictability on other members of the family. When combined with substance abuse issues or severe conflict, abuse is often seen. 

Conflict within a dysfunctional family is one of the most obvious characteristics. Moneyworth (2009) explains that some degree of conflict within the family structure is normal and even expected. But when that conflict is continuous or heated this is where the line is crossed. “If a serious argument erupts over slight misunderstandings on a frequent and unyielding basis, there is a good chance that there is a certain level of dysfunction.”

Abuse like control, can be spouse to spouse, parent to child, or even sibling to sibling and can manifest as either physical or emotional and is a major indicator of dysfunction. 

Poor Communication when “strained, ineffective, or nonexistent” is another important sign of dysfunction. This characteristic typically occurs throughout the family due to members not being able to properly voice their wants and needs. 

Lack of Diversity “refers primarily to differences in interests and beliefs between family members. A lack of diversity usually occurs in families where there are children, though some people may be emotionally quashed in romantic relationships to the point where they adopt all of the interests of their partner” (Moneyworth, 2009).

Furthermore, as a result of these characteristics, children take on specific roles to help them cope with the dysfunction within their home. These roles include:

1. The Hero: is the responsible child in the family unit who often times takes on more responsibility than one or both parents. They get good grades, are typically popular and they excel in whatever he or she takes on. “The parents use this child as proof that they are good parents. On the inside the hero is insecure, and requires a lot of positive attention to make up for their inner emotional deficit. They generally grow up to be successful adults, although they generally continue to feel inadequate” (Gold, 2009). 

2. The Scapegoat: is the child the family typically wants to hide. They are always acting out, getting into trouble or causing additional conflict. They figure even negative attention is better than no attention at all and use this tactic to their advantage. This child typically has problems in school and is the most emotional and sensitive. They take things personally and get their feelings easily hurt. In addition, the scapegoat is the most likely to have their own problems with substance abuse, have a teen pregnancy or troubles with the law. 

3. The Caretaker: is the child that acts as the families distraction. They allow the family something else to focus on besides their own dysfunction. Typically characterized as the class clown who gives both emotionally and physically. “They often try to ‘save’ other people, from themselves or from their bad situations. This is the child that is most likely to grow up to be co-dependent, continuing the cycle of dysfunction” (Gold, 2009). 

4. The Lost Child: is the child that escapes the dysfunction with “escapism”. They put on a facade of not being emotional, they tend to zone out or daydream. They are often shy and/or anti-social. “This child is likely to become an artist, as dysfunction in real life is usually a great outlet for art” (Gold, 2009).



My Thoughts:

Let me first start by saying that Gold (2009) points out that children can change roles while living in a dysfunctional family and I could not agree more. I also would go a step further and say that depending on the level of dysfunction and/or the characteristics that are present within the family, children may take on traits of more than one role. I read a book years ago called “Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics” by Robert Ackerman and in his book he explained something very similar. He argued that children in these types of environments can take on numerous roles and often do so as a way of coping. When I first read some of the roles in Ackerman’s book as well as in Gold’s article I thought to myself that while I fit one more than the others, there were definite traits I saw in myself from several of the roles. 

Coming from a dysfunctional family I can say that these roles have severely shaped me as an adult. Some are not as obvious as others and some don’t even appear to be negative characteristics or traits, but… I will touch on this more in a moment, let me first  share some of my thoughts on the characteristics and roles of dysfunction and how I feel they relate to Harvest moon. 

I think that it’s often difficult for people outside the realm of a dysfunctional family to truly understand. One of my beta readers for Harvest moon came to me at some point and said, “I finally understand why I can’t relate to Lexie. I never grew up in a family like that. My family was more like Caitlin’s, so I was having a hard time relating or understanding her, but now I get it. I can understand her secrecy and her unwillingness to trust.” Trust is a huge thing for children like Lexie. Even when you have a few very close friends who you know love you, you still can’t bring yourself to rationalize telling them the truth. Fear, self-doubt, and insecurity that typically accompany trust issues always win. And even in circumstances where you do tell someone, there is often some apprehension from them. 
I experienced this all the time while I was growing up. My friends, who I willingly or unwillingly (they witnessed it accidentally) let into my circle of trust, would often have a difficult time understanding the realities of what my siblings and I had to face. Some even tried to downplay the situation, because on the surface my family was loving and kind. It’s the stuff that happens behind closed doors that is often difficult to swallow. With that said, I believe that children learn to keep their secrets partially from fear of being judged, being bullied, or not being allowed to associate with certain people. 

Children and adults are undoubtedly cruel with issues they don’t understand and dysfunction is no different. I had friends who couldn’t handle the realities of my life, as well as parents of several friends or boyfriends who didn’t know how to separate me from my family situation. This is torture for a child of any age. It creates low self-esteem, trust issues, relationship insecurities, and in some children it fuels the desire for perfectionism in ways that can be unhealthy, which brings me back to the point I started to make earlier. 

As I mentioned before, Lexie experienced 7 of the 8  characteristics within her own home, which resulted in the behaviors we saw in her particular character. These characteristics can and often do shape who these children will become as adults. Even the ones who essentially escape, who “step outside the box” or break the so called cycle of dysfunction, are not without their scars. They may be able to hide them well, but they are there, hidden beneath the surface or masked by some behavior that to others looks normal. What I mean by this is the tendency for some children of dysfunction to become over-achievers, perfectionists, or extremely frugal about finances. To an ordinary person, these qualities may even be envied, but the root of it is still tangled up in dysfunction. They were created as a coping mechanism to mask insecurities and doubts of self-worth that may exist. 

As for Lexie, her secretive behavior and her anti-social tendencies outside of her close circle of friends, shows us the realities of this. She was a straight A student who holds down a job, plays sports and thrives in her own social circle. She is the epitome of Golds description of the hero, yet the other dysfunctions that exist in her home create a blending of multiple roles that have shaped who she is as an adolescent. So while Lexie appears as the perfect daughter from a loving family that has simply experienced great loss, she has learned to hide her true self from the world, which is not completely uncommon. 
More often than not, conflict, abuse, fear and unpredictability go hand in hand with substance abuse. Any child who has grown up in a home with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol can probably attest to this and share some graphic and horrifying stories. It’s how the secrets are kept. Shortly after releasing Harvest moon I had a reviewer state that the storyline was unbelievable because Lexie kept her abuse a secret for so long and that there was no way her friends didn’t know. It is for this reason and so many others, that I decided to start writing issues posts. This is one of the myths/stereotypes I want to clarify because it is SO important. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, “The number of victims of abuse who never reveal their secret or who wait many years to do so is very high.” More importantly, they go on to argue that most victims of abuse wait five years or more before coming forward. 

The main reason for keeping this kind of secret you ask? 85% of female victims and 89% of male victims are abused by someone they know; therefore the consequences of coming forward carry more weight. In addition, the abuser typically uses control or fear to prevent the child from coming forward. 

Now I know that this doesn’t answer all of the questions and veers slightly off topic in some regard, but I think that when we are talking about characteristics of dysfunctional families we have to explore some of the ways they effect those involved. Abuse is at the top of that list.  Another thing I wanted to point out, that relates directly to Lexie’s character was from a study that stated, “keeping a major secret didn’t necessarily cause psychological problems, but rather that the kind of person who is secretive might be more prone to these issues. Presumably coming from a family with poor communication might make a child more secretive, and it seems possible that the actual secret of abuse might be less damaging than the feeling that one has no one to talk to” (North, 2010). I honestly believe from my own experience that children who grown up in dysfunctional homes are more likely to be secretive and untrusting, even with those closest to them.

On a finally note, I must point out that while many friends and family members outside the home may be unaware of the dysfunction, perpetuating the secrets and lies that inevitably go round, children within the home are not. Parents who abuse drugs often disillusion themselves into believing that their children have no idea about their extra curricular activities. But the reality is, children typically know at an early age. Children are not oblivious to the warning signs of drug use; ie. being secretive, lying, holding up in some room of the house where the drug use typically occurs, poor financial conditions, or of course the obvious other dysfunctions that occur as a result. 

I can understand how someone who has never lived in a truly dysfunctional home environment might read a story like Lexie’s and feel there is no way it could happen like that, but it can and more importantly, IT DOES!! 
Thank you for taking the time to read my first Issues Post. It is my intent to provide some clarity and understanding of social issues that affect not only the characters in my books, but everyday people like you and me and to give us a place where we can talk openly and honestly about them. 

Below are a few links to books or articles that I found helpful. Coming from a dysfunctional family myself, I can appreciate the need to understand, a desire to move forward, and finding the ability to break the cycle. 
Links:


Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments or stories with me. This is a safe zone and no judgements or put-downs will be tolerated. 



Sources: 

Steven Moneyworth (2009, May 12). The Eight Most Common Characteristics of a Dysfunctional Family. Yahoo Voices, (http://voices.yahoo.com/the-eight-most-common-characteristics-dysfunctional-3288568.html?cat=25).

Ruthie Gold (2009, May 12). Understanding Dysfunctional Family Roles. Yahoo Voices, (http://voices.yahoo.com/understanding-dysfunctional-family-roles-3292396.html?cat=25)

Anna North (2010, January 22). “It’s Time To Tell:” Many Keep Childhood Abuse A Secret Forever. Secrets & Lies, (http://jezebel.com/5454547/its-time-to-tell-many-keep-childhood-abuse-a-secret-forever)