Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG & How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

Today is the October meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as always by our favorite Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's also the day that many writers are posting contributions to the IWSG Anthology! I'm not contributing to the book but I will definitely look forward to reading all the entries.

My IWSG post is going to be very short as my insecurity this month is the same as it was last month - blogging. I had hoped to get back into a rhythm of some kind last month but ever since my mom was diagnosed with cancer my heart is simply not in it. We've had a lousy few weeks and my energy has gone out the window. I've been very lax about other social media as well but lately I find when I am not helping my mom I just want to spend time reading or engaging in other quiet activities that don't require much effort on my part.

I do have my novella The Turnagain Arm coming out next Monday, October 6, so I am happy about that and hope it will help me get some of my energy back. I'm excited to share the story and a related giveaway next week!

For now though I'm happy to be hosting Elizabeth Hein, who is here today talking about her new book How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. If you're not familiar with Elizabeth's blog Scribbling in the Storage Room I highly recommend checking it out.

Take it away, Elizabeth! :)

It’s a pleasure to be here on Julie Flanders’ blog today. When I sat down to write something for Julie’s blog, it seemed natural to talk about the sense of place within a novel. Julie’s books take you places like Martha’s Vineyard and Alaska and make you feel like you are there right alongside the characters. 
My novels are set in the fictitious town of Magnuson, North Carolina. Magnuson is nowhere in particular, yet shares the features of several cities in North Carolina. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting my adopted home state, North Carolina is unique. Just a few miles outside the cities that dot the interstates, life is still rural and rooted in tradition. In the cities, you’d find high-tech biomedical parks, cutting edge research hospitals, and banking hubs. It is a place where you can get a plate of barbecue cooked in a century old pit one day, then eat the trendiest of prix fixe meals the next.
Magnuson was the perfect place to set How To Climb The Eiffel Tower because I wanted Lara Blaine, the narrator of the story, to live in a place without a tremendous amount of history. Lara works in one of the many financial services companies and lives in one of the thousands of town houses that popped up in old tobacco fields during the last few decades. The city didn’t exist before the nearby river was dammed to provide electricity or the advent of highways. The handful of farming families were pushed out by the onslaught of newcomers that came to work in the new industries that grew in the state during the 60’s. Lara could disappear in the sea of people from somewhere else, yet still feel a sense of connection to the North Carolina that she remembered from her early childhood. 
Magnuson is also the home of the Ellery Cancer Center which was based on Duke Cancer Center, where I was treated for cancer in 2002, with touches of the Carolina Medical Center and the Baptist Hospital. Ellery plays a large part in How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. The entire facility is color-coded with each department having its own color. The waiting rooms are all decorated in that color and the department staff all wear that color. The system is there to help patients find their way around the maze of hallways, yet it also makes Ellery feel impersonal and somewhat surreal. For instance, at one point Lara gets confused as to which way to go until she figures out that she needed to follow the colored tiles in the floor to get from department to department. I wanted the setting to reflect Lara’s sense of being detached from her illness yet completely surrounded by it. 
Readers, how much do you notice a sense of place when you are reading? What are your favorite settings to read about? Fellow writers, do you think about setting before plot, or do you come up with your plots and then figure out where they will happen?

Book blurb:

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allows Lara to confront the past and discover that she is not alone in the world. With the support of her new friends, Lara gains the courage to love and embrace life. Like climbing the Eiffel Tower, the year Lara meets Jane is tough, painful, and totally worth it.


Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse. Prior to the new book’s publication, Elizabeth was invited to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) conference and has received excellent advanced reviews on her break-out new book.
 Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her first novel, Overlook, spotlighted a housewife dealing with a cheating husband and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Elizabeth has published several short stories and is currently writing a novella and beginning to write a historical family saga about how love and identity effect four generations of women. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

Buy links:
Amazon UK 

Twitter: @_ElizabethHein

Monday, September 22, 2014

Second Death Release Day!

Gwen Gardner, a fellow member of Untethered Realms and the author of the fantastic Indigo Eady series, is here today to talk about her new novella Second Death. Welcome, Gwen!!

Here Comes Da Judge!

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Julie!

Today is release day for Second Death, book I in my Afterlife novella series. Since Julie loves her ghosties as much as I do, I thought she and her readers and followers would enjoy hearing about a certain ghost who makes quite an impression.

Lord Greyheart is a secondary character who only shows up at the beginning and end of the series. Though we don’t see much of Greyheart, he’s really the catalyst that starts the investigation into missing paranormals, the overall theme of the series.

The truth is, we don’t even know what Greyheart looks like! We don’t need to. I’d even go so far to say that the lack of facial features just reaffirms his other impressive attributes. Because Lord Greyheart is an impressive character who rules the proceedings with a disembodied iron gavel.  

First, who is he? He’s the 16th century high court ghost-judge who presides over court proceedings for the spirit community of Sabrina Shores. He’s also the one who drafted Indigo Eady, our living teen psychic-ghost-whispering investigator onto the Missing Paranormal Committee. And when Lord Greyheart says you’ll do something? You do it.

Here’s what happened when Indigo and friends sneak into the old courthouse to attend the spirit community meeting. Indigo’s name had just been put forth for the committee, which caused quite a stir…

A voice exploded and demanded order. “QUIET! There will be quiet or I will clear the courtroom.” Lord Greyheart’s wig bobbed and slipped as he wielded his gavel like a whip, the backlash snapping throughout the room. The room trembled under the BANG, BANG, BANG of a million supernatural hammers reverberating off the walls. I fell back into my seat, covering my ears.
Badger and Simon, and even the paranormals, wrapped hands around or shoved fingers into their ears. We were all dumbstruck into silence.
“Thank you,” said Greyheart, so quietly the maelstrom from a moment before may never have happened. “Miss Eady, will you please approach the bench?”
I gulped. Then reminded myself I sat in the audience, not in the dock. This wasn’t a trial. And so I got to my feet. Trembling, it’s true. But for all intents and purposes, I stood on two legs.
I edged by Simon’s legs, meeting the question in his wide eyes. I shook my head to let him know I was okay. I led with my chin, followed by wobbly legs, down the long crumbling steps. The council members parted like the Red Sea. I trailed through the dusty floor and stood peering up at the faceless Lord Greyheart.
“Now. Miss Eady. You must know that the living and dead working together is highly unusual.”
I snort-coughed into my reply before Lord G could suspect me of my usual sarcasm. “Yes, your honor, to say the least. But—”
“Now who put this young woman’s name forth?” Lord Greyheart scanned the room, but there were no takers. “Come now. Someone submitted Miss Eady’s name for the council, and someone else seconded the nomination.”
If Greyheart had a face, it would be frowning. I felt the frown vibrations from where I stood and feared another outburst. The newly elected council exchanged glances and shook their heads, as did everyone else.
Harrumph. Well, this bears looking into further. As for now, Miss Eady, you will serve on the council.”
“But I—”
BANG!  “This meeting is dismissed.”

Now I ask you, would you have said ‘no’ to Lord Greyheart?

Second Death Blurb:

The Sabrina Shores spirit community is in crisis.
Ghosties are mysteriously disappearing at an alarming rate.
They’re simply…gone. A second death.

The clues are limited, but it’s clear that the one common factor is Gertrude’s Garden, the nightclub social center of the spirit community which just happens to adjoin the Sabrina Shores cemetery: the one place Indigo makes a point of not going. Ever. She has her reasons.

Indigo Eady:

Much to her chagrin, Indigo Eady is a celebrity among spirits. She’s the girl who can see and speak with them. She has a proven track record in helping spirits find their murderers, so it’s no surprise when she’s drafted onto the Missing Paranormal Committee. Who better to help them than the experienced teenage ghost whisperer- investigator and her friends?

Buy Links:

Order Second Death on iTunes:

About the Author:

Gwen Gardner is a native Californian living in sunny San Diego, where her love of reading and writing led to a BA in English literature. Life is now complete with her husband, two dogs and a daily call from her daughter.

Since ghosts feature prominently in her young adult Indigo Eady Paranormal “Cozy” Mystery series, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face - but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate - not necessarily in that order.

Connect with Gwen:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Seconds by Chrys Fey

I'm excited to welcome Chrys Fey to the blog today and to shine the spotlight on 30 Seconds, her latest romantic suspense story. Congratulations to Chrys! 

Title: 30 Seconds
Authur: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: Novella (105 pages)
Format: eBook
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: September 10th, 2014

When a woman finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and the Mob, 30 SECONDS is a long time.

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?

Book Links:
Amazon US: 
The Wild Rose Press: 

She panted with fear. What if they see the chest? What if we get caught? What if my breath stinks and I’m breathing right into Officer Hottie’s face? She shut her mouth and let oxygen flow through her nose.
Her eyesight slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could see Officer Herro’s silhouette. His head was turned and he was listening to the thuds of heavy boots getting louder; the intruders were coming their way.
Then the thunder of footsteps sounded right next to them. “There’s no one here, Red,” someone announced.
“Look for documents,” a man ordered, who Dani could only assume was Red. “I want the name of the person I’m going to kill.”
A moment later, there was a reply. “All the mail is addressed to a Dr. Hart.”
Hearing her name said aloud by one of the men who had ransacked her place made her want to gasp. Her mouth fell open and her breath was reversing into her lungs, but before she could make a sound, Officer Herro lowered his lips to hers, silencing her. Stunned, she could only lie beneath him with her eyes wide and her body tense. She couldn’t believe he was kissing her. She wanted to push him back, but knew if she did he might hit the inside of the chest, giving away their hiding place. That was when she realized he was kissing her so she wouldn’t gasp.
She let her body relax. After her initial shock faded, she was able to feel his lips. They were comforting and caused a reaction deep inside her. She couldn’t stop her lips from reacting to his. It was an innocent connection, a soft touch of lips. Until his hand slid from her shoulder to her neck and the kiss deepened into something else.


Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she's writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses -especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.
30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.

Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!

Author Links:

Bonus – Dani’s 7 Favorites:
1.     Ice Cream Flavor: Coffee
2.     Rock Band: Led Zeppelin
3.     Horror Movie: The Shining
4.     Form of Exercise:  Running
5.     Car: 1954 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe
6.     Television Show: Grey’s Anatomy
7.     Prized Possession: Her Photo Album

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Secrets of Honor by Carol Kilgore

It's always a treat to welcome Carol Kilgore to my blog. Carol is one of the first bloggers I met out here in blogland and it's been a pleasure to be able to cheer her on as she puts out wonderful stories in her patented "crime fiction with a kiss" style. Carol is here today to talk about her latest, Secrets of Honor, as well as the contests she is running as part of its release.

Take it away, Carol! :)

Thanks so much, Julie, for hosting me today. I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my new novel, SECRETS OF HONOR.

My natural instinct is to see mystery and intrigue around every corner, under every shrub, in parking garages – and look at that strange man coming up the escalator!
See what I mean?

In SECRETS OF HONOR, I turned my imagination loose, watched it play, and wrote the story. It was such fun!

I started with the premise of a jewel thief, Kat Marengo, working for the U.S. Government. Far-fetched? Not so much in my world. See above J

For animal lovers like Julie, and I hope some of you, there’s even a brief appearance by a little poodle puppy named Dolly. Not much intrigue there, but a total dose of cute.

And then there’s Dave Krizak – he’s just plain intriguing without doing anything at all. But he does plenty.

Moving along, ahem. Husband says I can complicate the process of boiling water, so I got right to work complicating Kat’s life. Part of Kat’s job is stealing, but another part is looking for people trying to disguise themselves.

Kat doesn’t spot a spy at every gathering, but she’s always aware of anything out of the norm. My goal was to give her plenty of opportunities to notice things – even things I created. Like mic dots. And yes, you’ll need to read SECRETS OF HONOR to learn about these J

In addition to being able to spot attempts at disguise, Kat is adept at disguising herself. She uses this talent in a different part of her job, which is to assume the identities of others.

Is it any wonder that her title is Forward Solutions Specialist?

She gets the job done in any way she can.


Monday through Friday this week, I’m visiting five different blogs to promote my just-released novel, SECRETS OF HONOR. You can visit my blog,, to see where I am each day. On each blog, I’ll give away a $5 Amazon Gift Card.  Everyone who comments on my posts will be entered into a drawing for a $5 Amazon Gift Card for that blog. So there will be five separate contests, and it will be possible to win all five, for a total of $25. Although what are the odds of that? Don’t ask me – math isn’t my BFF!

Winners will be announced next Monday on my blog, and I’ll make an effort to contact the winners over the weekend prior to the announcement.


By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.


Although Carol has deep Texas roots, she’s lived up and down the eastern seaboard and in other locations across the U.S. as a Coast Guard wife. She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially one with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy. 

You can connect with Carol here:

Under the Tiki Hut blog:
Website with Monthly Contest:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Rifters & The Turnagain Arm

I'm excited to be helping to spread the word today about the launch of The Rifters, the start of the new series by the super talented M. Pax. But first I wanted to share a bit of news of my own. I decided on a publication date for my Polar Night prequel The Turnagain Arm and will be releasing the novella on Kindle on October 6. My first foray into self-publishing!

Like Polar Night, the prequel takes place in Alaska and the title refers to a waterway near Anchorage called, appropriately enough, the Turnagain Arm. The story takes place in 1917 during the building of the Alaskan railroad.

The Turnagain Arm (source: Wikimedia Commons)

I am anxious to share more about the story as I get closer to the release and particularly excited to show off another amazing cover by the wonderful Michael Di Gesu. But for now I'm shining the spotlight on The Rifters!


The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

The Rifters is available at an introductory price. The second book in the series, The Initiate, will be available October 20, 2014. It’s up for preorder for a special price at iTunes, Amazon, and B&N. Check HERE for links. Giveaways and events are ongoing through October 31, 2014. Check HERE for details.

A woman in a long flowered dress hurried forward carrying a paintbrush. “Hello, hello.” She waved. “Excuse the mess. I’m renovating… again.” She laughed with little snorts, stumbling in a little circle, defying her years. She couldn’t be younger than forty. “Inside joke, man, sorry. What groovieness can I help you find? I know where everything is.” She gestured at the piles of castoff merchandise strewn about.
If not for the goose bumps on her goose bumps, Daelin would have left. “A winter coat? Earl Blacke mentioned you might have some.”
“Oh man! What a tragedy about him, huh?” She wore her amber hair in two braids, tied with twine and decorated with plastic flowers.
Tragedy? What had happened to Earl? Daelin clutched at her knotting stomach. “What do you mean?”
“There was a murder last night. Umm, wow. Didn’t you hear?” She set the paintbrush down on a plate that had been used for the purpose before. Bracelets covered her arms, clinking with her simple movements.
“In Settler?” Violent crime wasn’t what Daelin expected to hear. She didn’t know what she had expected, but not murder.
The thrift store woman leaned in closer, whispering in a conspiratorial tone. “Yeah, they’re saying Earl Blacke killed Susan Leeds. Took her head plum off, man. Only thing is…,” she glanced at the shadows then wet her lips, “her head is missing.” The soft scent of melon accompanied her words.
Earl had murdered somebody? Daelin gulped, getting a lungful of paint fumes. Right, the paint. The fumes had to be messing with her mind. “Are you serious?”


M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons  to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide, has a cat with a crush on Mr. Spock, and is slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. Learn more at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG, Big Thanks, & The Walking Dead

It's hard to believe it's time for another meeting of the IWSG, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. I'm also amazed that this month is the three year anniversary of the group! It's been an amazing three years and I hope for many more. Visit here if you'd like to sign up and join us!

Before I get to my IWSG post I just want to say thank you to everyone who commented on my post last month about my mom and her cancer fight. I appreciate all of your kind words so much. August went by in a blur but we made it through the month and are feeling positive and optimistic, so here's hoping that continues. I really missed blogging and checking in with everyone out there so I am hoping to get back to the blog and other social media now that we've developed a routine here on the home front.

Which brings me to my topic for this month's meeting. Before I took the month of August off I barely blogged all summer and part of me is feeling insecure about getting back to it. I want to, but I feel like it gets harder and harder to think of anything to post about.

So I think I am going to go back to how I felt when I started this blog in the first place. At that time I didn't have any ideas about publishing or marketing or even novels. I just wanted to write about things that interested me or that I found fun. Now I want to figure out how to go back to that while also writing about my books and helping to promote other authors. The things that interested me then - animals, history, sports, tv - still interest me now, so you may see more posts here about animal rescue or tv shows or anything else that gets my attention. While I love to share about other authors and their books, as well as my own books, I want to mix that in with just writing about topics that interest me. We'll see how it goes!

Since I brought up tv shows, I can't resist sharing my latest obsession. I don't know why I waited so long to start watching The Walking Dead but now that I have (thank you Amazon Instant Video!) I can not stop. This show is incredible and so very addicting. I'm on the third season now and definitely want to be all caught up in time for the start of the new season in October.

I didn't need another show to be obsessed with but this has honestly been a godsend for me over the past month as it's been a fantastic way to get my mind off worrying about my mom. I love binge watching a great show and this definitely fits the bill.

Anyone else a fan of The Walking Dead? (I know you are, Madeline! :D)
How was your August? I am totally anxious for the fall and the end of the heat and humidity. Fall has always been my favorite time of year.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone! :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG & A Personal Note

It's the August meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and as usual I have plenty that I'm feeling insecure about.

I finished my novella that is a prequel to Polar Night and I plan to release it myself on Kindle in September or October. The novella is called The Turnagain Arm and it takes place in 1917 during the building of the Alaskan railroad. If you read Polar Night you can guess which character is around and making trouble in this story. I already have a cover from the wonderful Michael Di Gesu and can't wait to share it.

So what am I insecure about? I've never formatted a book myself before and really have no clue how to do it. I also don't know anything about self-publishing on Kindle and I worry that I will make a total mess of it. But I am just hoping that since so many of the great writers I am fortunate to know here in the blogosphere have been able to master self-publishing that I will be able to do the same. Or that at least I will be able to do it without making a fool of myself.

While I always enjoy being part of the IWSG, the main purpose for this post is to share a personal matter that has been the focus of my life for the past month or so. My mom has been diagnosed with lymphoma and it's safe to say I haven't been able to focus on writing or blogging or much of anything at all since receiving that news.

I'm going to be taking a leave of absence from work in order to help with her care and will probably be taking a leave from the blogging world as well. I haven't been posting much this summer anyway but I have tried to keep up with my blog reading as I enjoy touching base with everyone. I doubt I'll be able to do much of that either now so I'll most likely just be on hiatus from the blogosphere.

I hope August is a good month for all of you and, for those in the northern hemisphere, I hope you enjoy the last month of summer. :)