Val studied general arts at the University of Waterloo, then went to DeVry Toronto to get a diploma in Computer Information Systems. She worked in the computer industry as a software and Web developer for over ten years, during which she got serious about energy work and studying the paranormal.
In October 2004, Val became a certified Reiki Master/Teacher. She gained ATP® certification in March 2008, in Kona, Hawaii, from Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.
Val started work on a Bachelor of Science in parapsychic science from the American Institute of Holistic Theology in March 2007 and received her degree in September 2010. After obtaining her master’s degree in parapsychology at AIHT, Val has set her sights on a Ph.D., which she’ll pursue as time and finances permit.
At the end of October 2008, Val returned to Kona, Hawaii to complete the Advanced ATP® training and in April 2010 to take the Spiritual Writing workshop and the Mediumship Certification class. Val wrote freelance for online magazine Suite101 and was topic editor for Paganism/Wicca and Webmaster Resources at Suite.
A published author, she contributed a story to Doreen Virtue’s Hay House book Angel Words. Her novels are available on Smashwords, Amazon, and from other retailers in both e-book and paperback.
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?
Val: I write in a variety of genres, but if you examine my stories, you’ll notice a romance/relationships theme. However, even when romance drives the story, it always couples with something else: paranormal, murder mystery, thriller, suspense, etc.
Relationships have always fascinated me: how they form, how they evolve, and what holds them together or tears them apart. Even if the primary genre for the story is something else, relationships, whether romantic or not, figure prominently.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Val: Writers I loved to read influenced me the most, starting with Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, and other authors whose stories I read a child, and then J. R. R. Tolkien, Margaret Mitchell, Richard Adams, and Piers Anthony when I was a teenager, and Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Lee Child, and many others later on.
Their wonderful stories not only got me addicted to reading but also inspired me to start writing. Stephen King’s On Writing and Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! prompted me to take action and go for it.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Val: Reading. Nothing motivates me to write more than reading a great story—or even a not-so-great story.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Val: Brian Griffin from Family Guy. He’s a writer, an intellectual, and a dog.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Val: Jesus. I’ve got questions for him.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Val: Well, I’d like to say something exciting such as skydiving or bungee jumping, but honestly, I’d read and relax with a drink by the lake.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Val: One of my current projects started as research on the after-effects of near-death experience (NDE) for my Master of Parapsychology degree. Changed for Life: The After-Effects of Near-Death Experience explores what happens to those who’ve had a near-death experience after they return to life. As one might expect, their lives are altered.
Researchers, such as Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Kenneth Ring, and P. M. H. Atwater, have found that subjects experience a host of similar after-effects from an NDE. As well, non-experiencers can benefit from the NDE phenomenon if, according to Ring, they are exposed to NDE research and stories, or if they consciously work to emulate NDEr beliefs and values. Dr. Raymond Moody has found similar effects on non-experiencers through the process of mirror-gazing.
Moody reports in his book The Light Beyond that people change after such an experience, not because a being ordered them to, but “because they are in the presence of the standard of goodness, which makes them want to change their behavior radically” (39). This distinction is important because it illustrates that the alterations to behavior are internally driven. Experiencers act differently because they believe differently and not because they think they’ve been given some kind of Divine directive.
Another project on which I’m working is a new series called Tales from the Unmasqued World. The first book will be The Fool: New Beginnings.
An avid oracle card reader, I also played around with tarot cards. While I’ve always preferred the positive messages and focus on solutions oracle cards exhibit, I was fascinated by the symbolism found in tarot cards.
The idea for Tales from the Unmasqued World came about after I bought a new tarot deck to add to my collection. This deck is Ellen Dugan’s Witches Tarot, and the cards have the most gorgeous illustrations I’ve seen in years. When I do readings with them, they are more accurate and relevant than readings I’ve done with any other deck, including the angel tarot decks I have that echo the positive slant found in oracle cards.
Every time I use the cards in the Witches Tarot, I wonder what stories might be behind the pictures. I contemplated ideas for stories based on the illustrations and symbolism of the major arcana cards in the deck. The first major arcana card I’m working with is “The Fool.”
The story revolves around a recently divorced woman going through a midlife crisis who gets drawn into a search for a missing half-vampire girl. It’s set in a future world where supernatural beings have come out of the closet to mix with humans after a pandemic decimated the human population. This draws on the unmasqued world trope, hence the name for the series.
Blurb for You Again:
The man she never wanted to see again has returned...
After a three-year struggle with a shattered heart and a stalled career, Ellen Haddigan once more feels as if her life is on track. She's two-years settled into a new job at an accounting company and considers getting back into the dating scene.
Then Gabriel Duncan, the man who stole her heart and abandoned her after one night of passion, appears. He's still handsome, charming, and stirs in her a powerful attraction. He's also assigned as her new client.
Things get more complicated when Ellen learns her predecessor on the account was murdered. Is Gabriel a killer or the victim of an elaborate conspiracy?
Can Ellen give Gabriel a second chance without risking her heart or losing her life?
A stand-alone novel, You Again mixes suspense with passion in the Forever Young series.
Excerpt from You Again:
Her day was already ruined, and it was still only 8:45 in the morning. Ellen barely made it to her desk with enough time to grab a coffee from the kitchen and organize for the meeting with Carol. Still a bit breathless, she carried a tablet with her to the meeting.
Carol’s assistant told Ellen to go on in. “They’re waiting for you.”
They? She struggled to keep the surprise off her face and out of her voice as she said thank you to the assistant. Ellen rapped on the door before opening it and striding into the office. And almost collided with Gabriel Duncan, who stood near the door.
His expression flashed surprise rather than the shock and dismay that registered on Ellen’s face. She instantly took a step back while he sidestepped to the chair he’d been sitting in.
“Ellen, it’s you.” His soothing baritone voice caressed her. “I didn’t know you worked here.”
Or you’d have gone somewhere else? Aloud, she said, “For almost three years now.”
Carol, an athletic redhead who had landed the management position four years before, spoke in a cheerful voice, drawing Ellen’s gaze in her direction. “You two know each other? Excellent. Then no need for introductions.” She stood. “Ellen, Duncan Technologies has acquired a new company.”
“I heard on the news.” Ellen returned her gaze to Gabriel’s face, focusing on his eyes. She refused to play shy. He had some nerve looking so delectable and together when the very sight of him wiped her brain of coherent thoughts. She’d have to rectify that right now. Anger replaced agony. In a steady voice, she said, “Congratulations. That’s quite a coup.”
“Thank you.” He waited while she set her tablet on Carol’s desk and settled into the chair beside him before taking his seat. They faced Carol, who sat at her desk once more, and let her take the controls.
“Ellen, obviously you’re here because I want to assign you to take charge of BRI’s financials. I know it’s unusual to meet with the client in my office, but there are extenuating circumstances I want to discuss before you dig into their files. Before the buyout, BRI struggled to stay afloat. Expenses weren’t keeping up with income, and in the few weeks before the buyout, they came close to declaring bankruptcy.”
Turning to Gabriel, Ellen asked, “Then why buy them out? Aren’t you just buying their problems?”
“I can turn them around,” he replied smoothly. “When I did my due diligence, I discovered a lot of waste. They should’ve been doing well. It’ll be easy to pull them out of the hole with the backing I have. Snapping them up now allowed me to get them at a bargain and saved the owners from personal bankruptcy. They appreciated the timing.”
“Okay.” She could accept that, but the company’s financial downturn since she’d left continued to astound her. “But they were doing so well. What happened?”
“That’s what you’ll help me figure out. I want to identify every area of waste. They appeared to spend an awful lot of money on consultant fees for a shop that had a full contingent of programmers in-house. They never did that when you worked there. It’s fortunate you’re here.” He paused, then said softly, “I didn’t expect to find you here.”
Captivated by the puzzle before her, Ellen pushed aside the million questions she wanted to ask him and contemplated everything he’d said before the pause. Finally, she spoke. “They never needed to hire overload workers from outside the company. They preferred to hire enough developers so they wouldn’t have to contract out work. Finding experienced software developers is challenging. Getting them up to speed on your software and standards takes time in training. Did they get a sudden influx of projects that required extra hands?”
“Not that I could see.” He shifted in his chair, angling his body toward her. “The extra expenses cropped up shortly after you left.”
She frowned. “You think something’s fishy with the books?”
“That’s what you’ll help me discover.” He smiled, and her heart constricted.
She allowed the anger and bitterness of the last three years to quell her rising desire. “Of course, Mr. Duncan. I’ll do everything I can to get to the bottom of it. Who’s the current controller?”
His brows had risen at “Mr. Duncan,” followed immediately by a smirk he squelched so quickly she almost missed it. When he spoke, it wasn’t to suggest she call him Gabriel—or Gabe, as she used to do. “I let her go. I got rid of extraneous staff as one way to save money.”
When Ellen’s face showed concern, he hurriedly said, “I gave her a more than fair severance package—well above what the law requires. She’d worked there less than three years, and I’m suspicious of the books. I couldn’t keep her on. I need someone objective to review everything and clean up whatever needs cleaning up. The company should focus on development, not worry about accounting. That’s your company’s specialty. I prefer to turn that kind of thing over to experts.”
She nodded. “I understand. When did you want to get started?”
“As soon as possible. I can have a login account set up for you today.” He rose. “Thank you, Carol, for your time this morning. I’m sure I’ll be more than pleased with the work your company does. If it’s okay, I’ll escort Miss Haddigan”—he squinted at Ellen as he said her name, and when he continued, he spoke directly to her—“to her desk so we can chat about the work she’ll do.”
Ellen ignored the formal use of her name. After all, she’d started it with that Mr. Duncan crack. She was willing to act civil if he was. With a glance at Carol, Ellen said, “I have a bit of time this morning.” She stood.
Carol rose as well and held her hand out to Gabriel. As he clasped and shook it, she said, “That’ll be fine. Ellen has other clients she’s handling, but most of it is routine. She should be able to focus for the next while on your account. I’m sure she’ll help you sort everything out.” She smiled. “Ellen does excellent work. We’re lucky to have her.”
“Yes, I’m sure she’ll do a great job.”
Ellen examined his expression and tone for any sign of sarcasm and found none. She seethed.
Did I mean so little to him he doesn’t care how I feel about what he did to me? Her hands curled into fists, and she had to control the urge to punch him in the gut.
She had to turn this account over to someone else. How could she work with him? But she didn’t want to say anything in front of him. She’d go along with the assignment, remain professional and cool, and then talk to Carol about reassignment after he left.
Settled in her mind that this was the best course of action, Ellen picked up her tablet and calmly led him from Carol’s office and down the hall to her cubicle.
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