Monday, August 29, 2016

The Big Thing by Phyllis Korkki & Baby Moo's Great Escape!

Hello, all! I am excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Big Thing by Phyllis Korkki today, and also thrilled to share the cover for my children's book Baby Moo's Great Escape. Isn't Moo a cutie?

The book will be released on September 8 by Native Ink Press. Huge thanks to everyone who said yes to my request to give the book a shout-out any time in September. I will have the info to you shortly!!

Now on to The Big Thing!

I had to laugh a little bit when I was first asked if I would like to read The Big Thing and be a host on Ms. Korkki's tour. I thought, how did she know I'm a "lazy, self-doubting procrastinator?" I felt like it was some kind of sign that the chance to read this book basically fell into my lap.

And maybe it was, because I have been a lazy, self-doubting procrastinator for much of this year and reading this book did inspire me to knock it off and get back to my own "Big Thing," my next book. So I'm very glad I learned of the book and got the opportunity to read it.

Ms. Korkki works for the New York Times and has had a long and successful career in journalism. Yet, she has always wanted to write a book. That goal was the "big thing" that inspired her to write this book, and the book itself is the completion of her goal.

Korkki has an engaging writing style and as I read along I felt almost as if we were becoming friends. I could relate to a great deal of what she discusses in the book, and particularly appreciated her candor regarding her struggles with depression and anxiety and the impact those struggles have had on both her life and her book.

We meet Korkki at the beginning of her decision to start her big thing, and the book takes us through her journey in many inspiring ways. She discusses her work to become healthier in both mind and body, and shares interviews and anecdotes from others who have forged their own paths toward doing their best creative work.

What inspired me the most was Korkki's realization that she needed to make her big thing part of the structure of her life, and simply start writing it instead of thinking about it. She relays how she often said "the hardest part is to start" out loud to herself before she started to work. I've been fussing over my writing for so long now that I was almost to the point of feeling like I was afraid to try it again, so this was a great reminder to me.

As was the simple truth that "creativity for creativity's sake feels wonderful." We all know that is true, yet that's something else I had forgotten.

I'm really glad I got to read The Big Thing and highly recommend it to anyone who may need a creative boost.

About The Big Thing

• Hardcover: 256 pages • Publisher: Harper (August 9, 2016) A New York Times business journalist explains why it’s important for people to pursue big creative projects, and identifies both the obstacles and the productive habits that emerge on the path to completion—including her own experience writing this book. Whether it’s the Great American Novel or a groundbreaking new app, many people want to create a Big Thing, but finding the motivation to get started, let alone complete the work, can be daunting. In The Big Thing, New York Times business writer and editor Phyllis Korkki combines real-life stories, science, and insights from her own experience to illuminate the factors that drive people to complete big creative projects—and the obstacles that threaten to derail success. In the course of creating her own Big Thing—this book—Korkki explores the individual and collaborative projects of others: from memoirs, art installations, and musical works to theater productions, small businesses, and charities. She identifies the main aspects of a Big Thing, including meaningful goals, focus and effort, the difficulties posed by the demands of everyday life, and the high risk of failure and disappointment. Korkki also breaks down components of the creative process and the characteristics that define it, and offers her thoughts on avoiding procrastination, staying motivated, scheduling a routine, and overcoming self-doubt and the restrictions of a day job. Filled with inspiring stories, practical advice, and a refreshing dose of honesty, The Big Thing doesn’t minimize the negative side of such pursuits—including the fact that big projects are hard to complete and raise difficult questions about one’s self-worth. Inspiring, wise, humorous, and good-natured, The Big Thing is a meditation on the importance of self-expression and purpose

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Phyllis Korkki

Phyllis Korkki is an assignment editor and reporter for the New York Times Sunday Business section. Follow Phyllis on Twitter.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Celebrations & A Release Date for Baby Moo

Happy Friday, all! It's time once again to look back on the week and Celebrate the Small Things. The Celebrate hop is hosted by Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge and Tonja Drecker at Kidbits. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I didn't think I'd end up getting this post written as I have to admit that I haven't been in the mood for celebrating. My dog Clancy had to have surgery for the second time this summer - he tore the ACL in this right back leg in July and then tore the one in his left leg in August. He's been in lots of pain and it breaks my heart to see him having so much trouble. It's also been a serious drain on my bank account! Then to top it off I ended up sick this week and still don't really feel like doing much of anything but crashing on the couch.

But then I remembered that one of the great things about this hop is that it gives us the chance to think of the good things even when we're having trouble focusing on anything but the bad.

So this week I'm celebrating:

1. Clancy is recovering very well and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. He is set to get his stitches out on Wednesday and I hope that will be the last time he and I see the vet for quite a while.

2. My co-workers very generously came up with a plan to cover for me so that I could relax and focus on getting better this afternoon and tomorrow instead of working as originally scheduled. This is a huge benefit because our university starts school on Monday and this will be a busy weekend there. I was so grateful that they made these arrangements without me even having to ask.

3. I have a release date for my children's book Baby Moo's Great Escape! The book is scheduled for release on September 8 and I can't believe how quickly that will actually be here. I'm not going to put together a full blog tour for this release but I would be so grateful to anyone who would be willing to just give the book a shout-out any time September 8 or later! If you are interested in doing that please just leave a comment and I will send you the info when I have it. Thanks!!

I am going to try to get caught up on my blog reading this weekend, I know I have fallen behind. Hope all is well in your worlds!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG & A Sneak Peek at Baby Moo's Great Escape

Happy IWSG day! I am one of the co-hosts for today (gulp!) so I am looking forward to hopping around and meeting new members of our group. The IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and meets on the first Wednesday of every month. To see a list of members, along with my fellow co-hosts for the month, visit here.

This month's IWSG question is "What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?"

This is a fun question to answer. My first piece of writing was a book called It's A Dog World After All that I wrote in the fifth grade. I actually wrote a post about this masterpiece a few years ago. Here are pics of the cover and the first page. 

I guess you could say it was published because it was made into a book for a grade-wide contest. I won second place and was thrilled to death. The book is now gathering dust in my closet, but it's kept safe in a cherished box of memories. 

I don't know why it took me more than thirty years before I tried to write another book, but I'm glad I finally got back on the writing horse. I couldn't help but smile that this first book was written about animals (big surprise to anyone who has followed this blog), and now I'm going to have my children's book about animals out in the world in just a few short months. It kind of feels like a full circle moment!

So to conclude this post, I just want to share a sneak peek of the illustrations for my children's book Baby Moo's Great Escape. This is a picture of the title character Baby Moo, along with his friends Missy the dog and Ruthie the cat. These animals all live at Sunrise Sanctuary in Marysville, Ohio. 

Aren't they cute? I'm so excited with the artwork! It's just perfect for the story.

And now I'm off to start my visiting so Captain Alex doesn't come after me! ;) I'm looking forward to checking in with everyone. Happy August!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Celebrating Paris!

The full moon over the Seine
Hello, all! I am back from my trip to Paris and I had an amazing trip, to put it mildly. I can now understand why Paris has a reputation as such a special place. To say it is a beautiful city is an understatement!

I am still working on getting back to reality and my brain doesn't seem capable of stringing words together for a proper post at the moment, so I thought I would just share some of my favorite pictures from the trip. I took so many I'm surprised my phone didn't explode. But, in addition to the one above, here are a few that bring back some of my most cherished memories of my week in the City of Light.

The stately and spectacular Arc de Triomphe:

The courtyard of the Louvre, which my niece and I stumbled upon through a back entrance. The museum was closed and, with a lone violinist playing in the background, the place felt like the setting of a fairy tale.

The cafe in St. Germain where I had a yummy lunch and enjoyed champagne cocktails as we sat outside and people-watched.

Inside the Musee D'Orsay:

The stunningly beautiful Sacre Coeur church lit up in the night sky. The church was only a five minute walk from the loft where we stayed in Montmartre.

Of course, I can't celebrate a trip to Paris without a picture of the Eiffel Tower. :)

This post is my entry for this week's Celebrate the Small Things Hop. The hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge and Tonja Drecker at Kidbits. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I'm looking forward to catching up in blogland today and jumping back in in a big way next week when I will be co-hosting the IWSG. Happy weekend, all!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Celebrating Paris & Heart Stopper by Tamara Narayan

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I'm heading to the City of Light next week and I can't wait. This will be my first time in France and my first time on the continent of Europe. The only other time I've been overseas was when I took a trip to England more than ten years ago. I could not be more excited and this trip is what I'm celebrating this week. Honestly it's hard to concentrate on much else. :)

The Celebrate the Small Things hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge and Tonja Drecker at Kidbits. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I also want to help spread the word about Heart Stopper, a new collection of stories from Tamara Narayan. I've just recently met Tamara thanks to this hop so it's great to be able to help out a new friend.

Heart Stopper and Other Stories
By Tamara Narayan

One collection, four stories, 171 pages of suspense...

Heart Stopper: The disappearance of random household items baffles Dallas Radner and his eleven-year-old daughter, Tessa. Ten plastic bags, nine ballpoint pens . . . what's next? This odd countdown should end on November 1, The Day of the Dead. That's also Tessa's birthday and the one-year anniversary of her surgery, the day her heart stopped on the operating table.

Dallas almost lost Tessa once. On November 1, one thing will vanish forever. Will it be his daughter?

Detour: Fed up with her abusive boyfriend, coed Chloe Langley takes off in a borrowed car for the safety of home. She'll never make it.

One Step Away: Acrophobia has ruined Darryl James's marriage and stolen his son. To get Andrew back, Darryl undergoes desensitization therapy. Just as success is within his grasp, a relapse occurs with shocking consequences.

Monitor: Perched on a mountain with a view to die for, Laura and Paul Alderson have it all: new house, new baby, and new challenges. But urgent whispers from the baby monitor about her infant son and the garage threaten to turn Laura's American dream into a nightmare.

Available on Amazon ($2.99)

Author Blog:

Congratulations and best of luck to Tamara!

I don't think I will be around in blogland again until I am back from my trip so I hope everyone has a great few weeks ahead. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG & The Best Thing Anyone Has Ever Said About My Writing

Happy IWSG day, friends!

The IWSG administrators have come up with a new feature for our monthly meetings that starts today. Each month, they will announce a new question that members can choose to answer in their IWSG posts. The question to kick things off is "What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?"

I admit, this question made me smile from ear to ear when I first read it, because it immediately brought back a wonderful memory. It's an easy one for me to answer!

I have taken part in a few classes taught by a friend of mine at the university where I work. The class focuses on local authors and the students have read one of my books each time I have participated. One year the students read The Ghosts of Aquinnah and I met to discuss it with them after they had finished the book.

The students all told me they loved the book and they were eager to discuss it, so I was thrilled right from the start. As the discussion went on, one of the students commented on the fact that the story is a tragedy. Another raised her hand and said "I thought it was Shakespearean." 

Once I picked my mouth off the floor I wanted to ask her to say that again so that I could record it for posterity. ;)

I didn't record it but it is a memory I access any time I need a pick-me-up or a dose of inspiration. That woman and that entire class will always have a special place in my heart.

So that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my writing. I'm looking forward to hopping around and seeing what wonderful things people have said to all of you.

I'd also like to say thanks to the admins for coming up with this new feature! I've really struggled with thinking of topics to write about lately, not because I'm no longer insecure but just because I can't think of anything I haven't said already. So thank you, wonderful admins!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and meets the first Wednesday of every month. Visit Alex's site to join in, see the monthly co-hosts, and view a list of members.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Excerpt from Trouble By Any Other Name by Lori McLaughlin

If you've been spending any time in the blogosphere the past few weeks you've probably seen Lori McLaughlin hopping around on her blog tour for her latest release, Trouble By Any Other Name. I'm thrilled to be a stop on that busy tour today and to share an excerpt from the book. Welcome, Lori!

Thanks very much, Julie, for having me over!



Tara descended the stairs to the lower landing where the others had collected, their searching as fruitless as hers. "And there's no way down," she muttered, peering over the landing's edge. The cavern dropped away, funneling downward into a darkness so thick and absolute it reminded her of the crushing void that led to her dream dungeon. She tensed, her throat constricting. Had something moved down there? Fleeting shadows skittered past the edges of her vision, but she couldn't tell if they were real or if her eyes were playing tricks on her. She leaned out a bit farther. If she could just get a better look...

"Hey!" Blackie's arm blocked her forward progress just as Jovan's hands gripped her shoulders and pulled her back from the edge. "Balls, woman, what are you trying to do?" Blackie demanded. "We're not jumping, if that's what you think."

She shook her head. "I think there's something down there, but I can't quite see it." She felt Jovan's heart hammering against her back as he held her to him. She hadn't meant to scare them. She just needed to see. "I want one more look, so if you hold onto me," she said over her shoulder to Jovan, "I'll —" Freezing cold engulfed her as if she'd suddenly plunged into a frigid lake. Whatever had been in the cavern depths was now up here — with them.

"Everyone back in the chamber!" She spun, trying to catch sight of the shadowy force whirling through the cavern.

"I don't see anything," Blackie said.

"Just go! Now!"

He and the others backed into the chamber, crowding the doorway.

Jovan circled with Tara, his back to hers.

She touched his arm. "Jovan —"

"I'm not leaving you."

She cursed to herself, afraid for him, yet glad of his nearness. She took a deep breath to clear her mind, and suddenly she knew what dwelled in the cavern. Ravnaul's magic. She gasped as the magic surrounded them, flowing through the air like a live thing. She could see it now — a dark red mist that whispered around her in sinuous clouds, filling the cavern with malevolence. Diurkruna, the magic of blood and death. She shoved Jovan away as the mist swirled around her legs and twisted up around her body in ever-tightening coils, squeezing the life out of her like a giant rock serpent crushing its prey.

"Tara!" Jovan ran forward.

"No!" she choked out, fighting the red mist. "Stay back!"

"What is that?" Blackie stopped beside Jovan, the others piling up behind them.

"I don't know," she heard Jovan say as she braced herself against the strangling pressure. He took another step toward her. "Let me help you!"

"No!" she croaked. "This is... my... battle." She gathered her power. A scream tore from her throat as her own magic blazed forth, burning the red mist away with a fiery bluish incandescence. She thrust her arms out to the side. Brilliant light spread throughout the cavern, driving back the dark magic.


Title: Trouble By Any Other Name

Sequel to: Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble

Author: Lori L. MacLaughlin

Release Date: May 16, 2016

Genre: Fantasy


About the Book:

Tara Triannon is no stranger to trouble. She's yet to find an enemy her skill with a sword couldn't dispatch. But how can she fight one that attacks through her dreams?

With her nightmares worsening, Tara seeks answers but finds only more questions. Then her sister, Laraina, reveals a stunning secret that forces Tara to go to the one place Tara's sworn never to return to. Her troubles multiply when Jovan Trevillion, the secretive soldier of fortune who stole her heart, is mentally tortured by an ancient Being intent on bending him to its will. And worst of all, the Butcher — the terrifying wolf-like assassin she thought she'd killed — survived their duel and is hunting her again.

Hounded by enemies, Tara sets out on a harrowing quest to discover the true nature of who she is, to come to grips with the new volatility of her magic, and to defeat the evil locked in a centuries-old trap that will stop at nothing to control her magic and escape through her nightmares.

Buy Links:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          Kobo               iBooks

About the Author:

Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She's been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.

She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids' shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.

When she's not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.

You can find her here:

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