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: www.tamaranarayan.com

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!


*****

Excerpt:

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:

Website/Blog              Goodreads       Facebook        Google+          Pinterest


Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Celebrations & a Freebie


It's Friday and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things.

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.

This week I'm celebrating:

1. I've started working with the illustrator who is doing the art for Baby Moo's Great Escape and this week I got to see the first picture for the book. I absolutely LOVE it! I can't tell you what a thrill it was to open this picture and see my cow, dog, and cat so adorably drawn. It gave me such a rush of energy and made me excited about my writing again. I can't wait to be able to share some sneak peeks of the artwork.

2. Unless something totally unexpected happens, the book will be published in September. That means I will have it in my hands in time for a Pumpkin Festival book fest I plan to attend in October.

3. I'm going to Paris in July and it's almost July! I've never been to France before and I'm so excited about this trip. I can't believe it's almost time to go.



Also, my Polar Night prequel The Turnagain Arm is free on Amazon through tomorrow, June 26. If you'd like to check out the series and haven't already, click here to pick up this novella for free.

What are you celebrating this week? I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Animal Stories: A Visit to Red Wolf Wildlife Sanctuary, plus a #Free eBook


I'm continuing my series about some of the animal rescues I've come in contact with over the years by sharing my recent visit to the Red Wolf Wildlife Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center in Rising Sun, Indiana. I visited Red Wolf last week and spent an amazing and fun two+ hours with the center's director Paul Strasser.

The mission of Red Wolf is the preservation of North American wildlife and the conservation of their habitat. Mr. Strasser owns more than 450 acres of land in Rising Sun and has made this land a haven for animals who have been abused, injured, or orphaned. Many of the Red Wolf animals were bought through the exotic pet trade and then abandoned when they were no longer cuddly babies. The sanctuary gives them the opportunity to live their lives in a setting as close to their real habitats as possible.

One such animal is this coyote pup, who was recently left at Red Wolf after his owners belatedly realized that wild animals are not pets.

Photo courtesy of Red Wolf Sanctuary
Some of the first animals I met when I arrived at Red Wolf were these adorable orphaned fawns.


Like many of the animals who come through Red Wolf, the fawns will be released back into the wild as soon as they are able to care for themselves. In their case, the "wild" will likely just be Red Wolf itself, as so many deer choose to make the sanctuary grounds their home.

Other animals who, for various reasons, are unable to be released live out their lives in the peace and tranquility of the sanctuary.

Photo courtesy of Red Wolf Sanctuary
Mr. Strasser provides a home for four bears, three of whom were bought as pets when they were cubs. Of course, bears don't remain cubs and the people involved discovered that it wasn't the best idea to have an adult bear in an apartment.  The fourth bear, a 700 lb guy named Tecumseh, was caged in the parking lot of an apple orchard for years as a marketing gimmick.

It made me happy to see that these bears who got such rough starts in life now have ranges like this to roam around in, along with enclosures to enter as they please when they want to lay down in front of a fan and cool off! When I met Tecumseh, he was happily settled in front of a fan and had no intention of leaving his spot.


 Wolves make up the majority of the sanctuary's residents, and I got to meet this handsome yearling when he came to his fence to smile and say hello.



Not all of the residents of Red Wolf are wild. This is D.D., which stands for dumped dog. D.D. was dumped at Red Wolf with a gun shot wound and signs of other abuse and neglect. As you can see, she is thriving today.


D.D. visited many of the wolves and I loved to see her and the younger wolves running the fences with each other just like domestic dog neighbors do. It was so cute!

D.D. seemed to consider herself my tour guide and you can see her walking quite a bit ahead of our ATV below.


Red Wolf was one of my favorite places that I've visited and I wouldn't hesitate to return. It's a beautiful and peaceful place that made me smile throughout my visit. Mr. Strasser is an excellent host and tour guide, and so knowledgeable about animal behavior that I felt like I learned more from him than I ever did in biology class. He's passionate about his mission and that shows in all he does. I'm thrilled that so many animals have found such a great place to live under his care.

To learn more about Red Wolf, visit their site here.

Also, I was over at Untethered Realms yesterday talking about my book Polar Day and its relation to the summer solstice. To celebrate the solstice I thought I'd give away the Polar Night & Polar Day prequel The Turnagain Arm free on Amazon this week. If you haven't read it and would like to check it out, you can grab it for free here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A visit from Annalisa Crawford & her dog Artoo

I'm excited to welcome Annalisa Crawford to the blog today as part of her tour for her latest, You. I. Us. I had the good fortune to read an advanced copy of this collection and I can say without any reservation that it is fantastic. If you've ever read any of Annalisa's work you know how talented she is. I think she has outdone herself with this release. 

Annalisa asked each of her hosts to send her a question to answer. It's probably no surprise that I chose a question about animals. Specifically, Annalisa's adorable, and adorably naughty, dog. 


Artoo waiting for a walk

Even those of us who love dogs and puppies know they can be destructive little monsters if they get the chance. What's the worse thing Artoo has done since he became part of your family?

Aw, my lovely pup. As you know, Julie (because you read all my Facebook rants from when he was very small), Artoo was a handful, to say the least. But, looking back, there was nothing very bad he did—he was just relentless with the little things. Cabinet handles, a wooden chest, many cushions and several items of clothes were all chewed to destruction. And I’ve got a couple of scars on my arms that I didn’t used to have.

I remember many days, when I was trying to write, that I’d be chasing him around the house instead, because he had something he shouldn’t.

He’s still keen on getting into the bins when we’re out, though. And he’s recently started to bark at people who skateboard past the house. The other day I came home and he’d taken one of my t-shirts out of the laundry basket and was cuddling it in his bed—no, he didn’t get told off for that, I chose to believe he missed me.


However, I know you’re really just after some photos, so here they are. :)  

Two & a half months old

Umm, my cage fell over...
Help, the bin's attacking me!
I'm sure this is my bed...
Ten months old

You are too cute for words, Artoo! I hope that cat let you have your bed back. Thanks for being here with your mom! :)






You. I. Us.
Publication date: June 10, 2016
Genre: Short Stories (Single Author)


In You. I. Us., Annalisa Crawford captures everyday people during  poignant defining moments in their lives: An artist puts his heart into his latest sketch, an elderly couple endures scrutiny by a fellow diner, an ex-student attempts to make amends with a girl she bullied at school, a teenager holds vigil at his friend’s hospital bedside, long distance lovers promise complete devotion, a broken-hearted widow stares into the sea from the edge of a cliff where her husband died, a grieving son contacts the only person he can rely on in a moment of crisis, a group of middle-aged friends inspire each other to live remarkable lives.

Day after day, we make the same choices. But after reading You. I. Us., you’ll ask yourself, “What if we didn’t?”


About the author

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat. Annalisa writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and is the author of Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Animal Stories & Friday Celebrations

Photo courtesy of Sunrise Sanctuary

I've been absent from the blogosphere lately because I honestly couldn't think of anything to blog about. I couldn't even think of any celebrations to post for the Celebrate the Small Things hop. I think part of my problem was that the honeymoon period between my WIP and me ended and I've been too busy having temper tantrums to blog.

But now I'd like to jump back in and I thought I could start featuring stories from the various animal sanctuaries I've become acquainted with since I started writing about animals back in 2010. While I love learning about and supporting cat and dog rescues, it's been interesting and fun to learn about sanctuaries for animals I wouldn't normally think about in this context, such as farm animals and wildlife.

So I want to begin with the newest resident at one of my favorite places, Sunrise Sanctuary in Marysville, Ohio. I have written about Sunrise before as it was the inspiration for and stars in my forthcoming children's book Baby Moo's Great Escape.

Curley the goat, shown above with her kitty friend Toby, came to Sunrise a few weeks ago from my hometown. Sadly, Curley's time here in Cincinnati came to a horrifying end.

Curley and five other goats were employed by Spring Grove cemetery to eat the weeds and provide natural landscaping services. The goats were kept in a secure pen when the cemetery was closed. Back in March, someone got into the cemetery and placed a dog in the goats' pen. This person/monster apparently directed the dog to attack and maul the goats for more than an hour.

Two of the goats died from their injuries. Curley was not expected to live, but she managed to make an extraordinary recovery. Now she has a happy ending at Sunrise Sanctuary, where she is getting stronger every day and is surrounded by friendship, care, and love. You deserve it, Curley!

Photo courtesy of Sunrise Sanctuary
I am going to visit Sunrise in July and can't wait to meet this little sweetie. Sunrise always brings a smile to my face because it is a place filled with so much kindness. We need all the kindness we can get in this world.

Source



Of course, since it's Friday it's time to Celebrate the Small Things and I'm happy to be back in the hop.

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, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

This week I'm celebrating:

1. I had my annual physical at my doctor's office and got a clean bill of health. The older I get the more I realize how fortunate I am to be able to say that.

2. We had a beautiful week of weather here and Clancy and I got to take quite a few morning walks. I love walking in the morning when it's quiet except for the happy sounds of the birds. These walks always invigorate my mood.

I hope you all had lots to celebrate this week and have a great weekend ahead.