Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG, Writing Resources Column, & Tara Tyler's Pop Travel


Happy July, all! As usual I can't believe another month has gone by and we are meeting again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This great group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh and has expanded exponentially from its humble beginnings. If you're not a member and would like to join us just add your name to the group list here. You can also find Alex's co-hosts for the month and all the other group members at that link.

I'm making my IWSG post short and sweet today and just want to say that my biggest insecurity at the moment is the fact that I've decided to work on two novels at once. This is something new for me and I hope I can pull it off. I was feeling frustrated with my Chicago ghost story so I thought I'd set it aside and start working on an idea I've had for a story set here in Cincinnati that has its origins in my own family history. It also has a ghost, but a friendly one this time. :D

Anyway I realized there's no reason I can't work on both at the same time, so that's what I'm doing. I am just trying to be flexible about it and work on whatever inspires me the most when I sit down to write. Since this is a new process for me I hope I don't end up screwing both stories up, but so far, so good!

Also, I wrote a column on writing resources for College and Research Libraries News as part of my day job, and was happy to be able to include the IWSG in the article. Thanks to Alex for letting me use the logo to go along with the IWSG entry! If you'd like to check out the article and see if it includes any resources you may not be familiar with yet, you can find it here. It was kind of fun to combine my two personas in this way. :D

And now I'm turning the blog over to my buddy Tara Tyler and sharing her fantastic new cover for Pop Travel. Congratulations, Tara!

Julie and I are Queen City Sistas! We both live in the Cincinnati area and I'm so glad we've done several book events together and more to come! 

Doing book events with a friend is pretty awesome. We bounce ideas off each other, give each other advice, and support each other during a long stressful day of wearing a smile through thick and thin!
I'm really thankful to have a book event friend so close!


Thanks Julie, for jumping in to let me stop by and show everyone POP TRAVEL's new cover - it's eye-popping! And the re-release has a sneak peek at the first chapter of SIMULATION which comes out Sept 14th!

POP TRAVEL
by Tara Tyler
Re-released July 1, 2015

In 2080, technology has gone too far for private detective J. L. Cooper. He thinks he can avoid pop travel teleportation, until he stumbles onto a video of a pop traveler who turns to dust.

Sparking a series of murders, attempts on his life, and threats to his brother, Cooper wants to pass off the evidence but knows he’s being watched and can’t trust anyone. And who would believe him?

With help from the neurotic genius “Creator” of pop travel and a beautiful Southern charmer, Cooper must expose the deadly glitch and shut it down or die trying. No problem.

Amazon ~~~ B&N ~~~ Goodreads


Tara Tyler has had a hand at everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (MG fantasy) She's an adventure writer who believes every good story should have a moral, and a few laughs!



Also by Tara Tyler, MG/YA Fantasy series, Beast World,

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Humane Cosmetics Act


Back in October I posted about the use of animal testing in cosmetics and how I found this practice barbaric and deplorable since humane alternatives exist and have been in use for years by many companies. I posted this as my entry for the Blog the Change for Animals hop, which is held four times a year and aims to highlight issues concerning animal welfare and rescue.

I was thrilled and pleasantly surprised this week to read about the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act, which proposes to prohibit animal testing for all cosmetics sold or manufactured in the United States. The act enjoys bipartisan support and was sponsored by U.S. Representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ), Don Beyer (D-VA), Joe Heck (R-NV) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). The act is also supported by cosmetics industry powerhouses like Paul Mitchell and The Body Shop, both of which already prohibit animal testing on their products.

There has been so much horrible news in recent weeks that it was a treat to read something that actually made me smile. I especially love that this act has bipartisan support, as the word "bipartisan" seems increasingly rare nowadays.

The Humane Society launched a Be Cruelty Free campaign to help end animal testing and provides a contact form on its website for Americans to contact their own representatives and ask them to support the new legislation.

Cruelty Free International, the largest organization working to ban animal testing in the world, states that the United States will join the European Union, Israel, and India among those who have banned this outdated practice if the legislation. New Zealand, Brazil, Vietnam and South Korea are also working on bans. As you'll see if you click on this link, Peter Dinklage is the US Ambassador to Cruelty Free International and an advocate to end animal testing on cosmetics and toiletries. If Tyrion Lannister is behind it, it has to be a good thing.  :D

In all seriousness, I think anything that can reduce the amount of cruelty in the world is a wonderful thing. This legislation is a step in the right direction.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Summer Solstice, St. John's Eve, and a Voodoo Priestess Ghost

Summer Solstice 2
Bethel, Alaska at midnight on the summer solstice

Yesterday was the summer solstice here in the northern hemisphere, and since the solstice plays a big role in my novel Polar Day I had hoped to find a juicy ghost story to tie in with it. Unfortunately when searching for solstice legends all I could find were stories about faeries. I realized I shouldn't have expected to find haunted stories connected to the day when the sun enjoys its longest time in the spotlight.

But I happened to stumble upon something new to me, which was the close connection between the solstice and the Catholic celebration of the feast day of St. John the Baptist. Celebrated on June 24, St. John's day has always been closely aligned with the solstice and the beginning of summer, and was originally celebrated any day between June 20 and June 26 before the church fixed the date as the 24th. Now, most celebrations to mark the day are held on June 23, or St. John's Eve.

The feast of St. John has a great deal of historical significance in the practice of Voodoo in Louisiana. I have always been both intrigued and a little freaked out by Voodoo. I think it is super cool to read about but also more than a little creepy.

Voodoo Altar in New Orleans, taken by Greg Willis

Apparently, the most important time of the year in the Voodoo religion is midsummer, or the solstice. I was thrilled to discover that the most famous Voodoo priestess in Louisiana history, Marie Laveau, was known to hold Voodoo rituals on the Bayou St. John in New Orleans on St. John's Eve, and many believe her ghost still keeps the tradition alive today.

Marie was believed to have been born in 1801 and she lived until 1881. Throughout her adult life she was the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans and the most powerful and influential priestess in the city. Marie's ceremonies included the singing of Voodoo hymns, nighttime dances around a bonfire to show respect to the deities, and offerings made in sacrifice to the gods. I don't know what those offerings were but it's creepy to imagine, as the rituals were performed in the dark in an isolated stretch of the bayou north of the city.

Legend states that Marie's voice can still be heard chanting and singing at St. John's Bayou on St. John's Eve. In addition, city residents have reported seeing Marie at her home on St. Ann Street. If the stories are to be believed, Marie continues to walk St. Ann Street at night, wearing a long white dress, a turban, and a knotted handkerchief around her neck.

Marie Laveau is buried in the St. Louis cemetery in New Orleans, which is considered the most haunted cemetery in the United States. Visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing Marie walking between the graves and muttering Voodoo curses under her breath. Others have said Marie's ghost has taken on the form of a Voodoo cat with glowing red eyes. The cat disappears through the sealed door of Marie's tomb.

Source

I have to admit I think a Voodoo priestess cat is very cool. What animal could be more appropriate for the ghost of a Voodoo Queen? I'd love to see this kitty and now part of me wants to come up with a story for a Voodoo priestess cat.

I really wouldn't want to be in New Orleans this week as I know the heat and humidity would be way too much for me, but I can't deny I'd be curious to go to St. John's Bayou on St. John's Eve and see if I could hear Marie's ghost leading her followers in hymns and chants. If by chance I did hear someone singing I'd probably run all the way back to Ohio. :D

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG & Ghost Stories


It's time for the June meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you're not a member of the group and would like to join us, sign up here,

In recent months my primary insecurities have been related to blogging. I just haven't been able to get back into blogging the way I would like to. I can't think of much to blog about and I was starting to feel like I should just leave the whole thing alone. But I honestly didn't want to do that because I really do cherish the connections I've made through blogging and it is the only form of social media that I genuinely enjoy.

By chance I came upon a post by L.K. Hill, who I met through this year's A to Z Challenge, that inspired me to want to give blogging another go. L.K.'s post was "5 Ways to Become an Expert in Your Field," and while I didn't expect to be inspired by it when I started reading that's exactly what happened.

I won't go through the whole post since anyone interested can read it on L.K.'s site, but she wrote that she has worked to become a dystopian expert since she published her first book Persistence of Vision.  According to L.K., this has served to boost her credibility and help build her online platform.

While reading about L.K.'s experiences, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment about what I can blog about. If you followed my blog when my book The Ghosts of Aquinnah was released you may remember I loved sharing stories about ghosts. I'm now writing another book with a ghost, this one a malevolent and truly frightening presence. It dawned on me that there is no reason I can't become an expert on ghosts and ghost stories!

L.K. mentioned that one of the tasks that helped her feel like an expert was research, namely reading. I already know I love reading about ghosties, and I don't think there is any limit to the number of stories I can find. My WIP takes place in Chicago so I've got a whole new place to explore to find ghosts and haunted places.

So all of the sudden while reading L.K.'s post I thought, voila! That's it. I can share stories about ghosts and ghouls and haunted Chicago spaces while also doing research on my setting and its fascinating history. I figure it's a win-win since I will have stories to share while also possibly finding information that could serve to beef up my novel.

I'm grateful to L.K. for the inspiration and so glad I stumbled upon her blog during the A-Z this year. I didn't think I'd still be able to meet new and fun bloggers but I was wrong and I'm glad of that.

I'm excited about getting started on my ghost apprenticeship and sharing what I learn along the way. I hope I can find some spooky stories to bring some life back to this blog. :D

Happy June and IWSG day, all!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Precipice by M.Pax, moving the Gay Head Lighthouse, & the real ghost of Aquinnah

I never intended to drop out of the blogosphere after May's IWSG meeting but, as seems to be the norm for me lately, I got distracted by some unexpected issues and next thing I knew May was almost at an end. The good news is the issues are behind me and were nothing serious, but the bad news is I am very late to the launch party for the latest book in M. Pax's amazing Backworlds series, Precipice.

Still, I am thrilled to be able to share another great installment in this series and help spread the word about all of M. Pax's brilliant books. If you are reading this and haven't checked her work out yet, do so right away! You won't regret it. :)

Before I get to Precipice though I just wanted to share a few things that relate to my book The Ghosts of Aquinnah and the island on which it is set, Martha's Vineyard.



I wrote this post in the summer of 2013 about the need to move the Gay Head lighthouse, which is featured on the book cover, due to erosion of the Aquinnah cliffs. After two years of planning and fundraising, the move is underway now.

Source: http://www.mvtimes.com/
While I can't begin to understand the engineering behind the move, the lighthouse will somehow be transferred to the track shown in the above photo and moved 130 feet back from its current location.

The lighthouse has been on the cliffs since 1856 and it is still a guiding light for those navigating the waters of Vineyard Sound. It will be strange to see it in a different place when I return to the island, but I'm so glad that it has been saved.

In another interesting tidbit related to my Aquinnah book, I learned that there is actually a real legend of a female ghost haunting the beach that is eerily close to my own story.

In the book Martha's Vineyard: Quiet Pleasures, author Phyllis Meras writes about a local legend which states that a young woman wearing a long cape can be found prowling the Aquinnah shoreline on the night of the full moon. While my ghost Stella didn't only appear during a full moon, she did wear a cape, she was very young, and the Aquinnah cliffs were her haunting grounds. It was bizarre and kind of surreal to come upon this story in Ms. Meras' book. Now I can't help but hope I get to see this ghost sometime! :D

Now on to Precipice!


Blurb:

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. This is the sixth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.
The Backworlds hang by a Quantum string, a thread about to snap. Annihilation is coming if Craze can’t stop it.
The genocidal alien he had trapped breaks free, destroying a ship belonging to the Backworlds’ oldest enemy, the Fo’wo’s. The murderous alien wants to overtake the galaxy. The Fo’wo’s want another war.
The Backworlds’ best chance to survive is to overcome a century of hate and forge an alliance with the Fo’wo’s. Because of his history with the alien, Craze is recruited to represent his people. Now he’s the most hated man in the galaxy.
The looming war will be a holocaust unless Craze can stop it, knowing salvation comes at a price.

Excerpt: 

Commander Hunninger tapped an icon on her tab and jabbed it in Craze’s face. “You really want to say no to this?”
The screen was too close. He grabbed the device from her manly fingers and brought the image into focus. A brand new, state-of-the-art, mini city docking facility. Pardeep Station had never seen finer and probably never would. Better protection from the dust storms was a necessity, and folks had to get out of the cold. Craze tired of the stench of the sick. “How much is it goin’ to cost? Everyone on this moon barely has three chips to jangle in their holey pockets.”
“No chips.” She smiled. Her wide mouth contained a lot of very white teeth.
Three good sucks on his air hose and Craze knew he wasn’t dreaming. He narrowed his eyes. “There’s still a price.”

Buy links: Amazon / B&N / iBook / Googleplay / Smashwords / Kobo / Other



About M. Pax:

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, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website: mpaxauthor.com


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG and a visit from Chrys Fey


Happy IWSG day, all! As usual it's hard to believe another month has come and gone and it's time for another meeting. Even harder to believe is that we're getting close to the halfway point of 2015!

Thanks as always to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the founder of our group and host of our meetings. If you're not already part of the group and would like to join, visit the IWSG site here and add your name to our list of neurotic and insecure writers.

Strangely enough this is another month when I'm not feeling insecure and in fact I'm really just excited and enthusiastic about the rest of the year. I had a fantastic time at the Ohioana Book Festival last month and also had another great experience doing a presentation for a class at the university where I work. I know I'll always have some public speaking anxiety, but overall I've managed to kick that fear to the curb. I'm looking forward to being part of Book Con in New York at the end of May and two more book events in the fall.

I'm also thrilled that my ideas for another Danny Fitzpatrick story have fallen into place and I've actually started writing it. I know I have a long way to go but I'm feeling great about it so far. I'm hoping for a writing filled summer!

That's where I'm at this month. How is everyone else doing?

In addition to participating in the IWSG I'm hosting Chrys Fey today. If you don't already follow this super-helpful and sweet blogger and writer, go visit her at Write with Fey.

Chrys is sharing an interview she conducted with her character Avrianna Heavenborn from her new release Ghost of Death. Welcome Chrys and Avrianna!



Hi everyone. I’m Chrys Fey and I am here to interview Avrianna Heavenborn, the detective from Ghost of Death. I hope you enjoy it. :)

***

Thanks for clearing some time out of your busy schedule to talk to me, Avrianna.

You’re welcome, Chrys. Sorry you had to come all the way out to my office.

That was no problem. Your office is...*looks around*...clean and sparse. *smiles*

I know, it sucks. I have a case to solve, though, so let’s get this show on the road.

Sure.


1. How did you become a detective?

It wasn’t easy. A lot of people wanted to see me fail, but I didn’t quit. The moment I graduated high school, I enrolled in the police academy. I was the youngest one in my class, and there was only a few other females in the academy. I worked as a beat cop for a while until I could get the title I coveted...detective. I did it fast and I did it good.

2. What’s the worst murder case you had to solve?

There’s been a lot of bloody crime scenes that I’ve seen and countless gruesome murders. After a while, they all start to blend together into one long gory blur. There was one where twin teenage girls were raped and murdered. Another where a mother of five was found beaten to death in a Dumpster. Right now, there’s so many images flashing in my mind that I can’t pick just one. Sorry.

3. That’s understandable. What have you learned over the years?

That anyone can be a killer. Anyone.

4. That’s very true and very scary. What went through your mind when you saw Jolie Montgomery’s crime scene?

Well, I was doing what any good detective would do. I was scrutinizing the area and body for clues about the murder, the victim, and the murderer. But...there was a moment when I had a temporary weakness. You see, Jolie was found in an alley. I once lived in an alley after I ran away from foster care. And for a second, I pictured myself as Jolie.

5. How do you plan on finding Jolie’s killer?

Oh, I have my ways. And I’m good. I’ll interview the people closest to her, find common threads, look for lies, apply pressure, eliminate suspects, collect evidence, and then make the arrest.

6. Do you have any leads?

Not yet, but I will and you can count on that!

7. If you could tell all the criminals out there something, what would it be?

To watch out, because I’m coming for each and every one of them.



They’d be smart not to mess with you. And I should know...I created you.

Thanks, Chrys. Now I really need to get back to work.

Say no more. I’ll show myself out.


Title: Ghost of Death
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Supernatural/Suspense
Format: eBook Only
Page Count: 41 (short story)
Release Date: April 22nd, 2015
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Blurb:

Jolie Montgomery, a twenty-one-year-old woman, wakes up in an alley next to her corpse. She has no memories of her murder or the night she died. She didn’t even see the killer’s face before he or she took her life. Wanting justice, Jolie seeks answers in the only way a ghost can...by stalking the lead detective on the case.

Avrianna Heavenborn is determined to find the person responsible for a young woman’s death. She gets closer to the killer’s identity with every clue she uncovers, and Jolie is with her every step of the way.

But if they don’t solve her murder soon, Jolie will be an earth-bound spirit forever.


Book Links:

Excerpt:

            With the sound of her mom’s grief wafting up to her, Jolie came to terms with her present state. I’m dead and now my mom knows it. She eyed the door in front of her. She hadn’t yet walked through a door, but if her hand could pass through metal then she knew she could move
through wood.
If I have to be a ghost then I’ll be a damn good one. All across the afterlife I’ll be known as the Ghost of Death! And I’m going to start by walking through this damn door!
            She would’ve taken a deep breath to brace herself if she could have, so she mentally pumped herself up instead. You can do it! Easy-peasy. Nothing to it. And she took a step forward. Solid matter slipped around and through her form. On the other side, a familiar site confronted her: a black and white bed, the bright green shag carpet in the middle of the room, and a white desk.
            Stepping up to her desk, Jolie eyed her ancient desktop computer, the one she used before her dad gifted her with a laptop when she announced she was accepted to the local university. Wanting to send out the first ever tweet from the afterlife, she pushed the button to bring the device to life, but her finger poker straight through it. Resigning to her Twitter-less fate, she moved toward the full-length mirror hanging on the wall. She saw nothing. Not even a shimmer in the air hinted at her presence.
            Being a ghost sucks!


Available for PRE-ORDER:


Blurb:

Detective Reid Sanders doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but when he’s faced with a crime scene that defies the laws of nature, he has no other choice but to start believing. And solving a magical murder involves working with a witch.

Liberty Sawyer embodies the look of your classic evil witch, so, it’s no surprise when she uncovers the murderer is a witch that she becomes Reid’s number one suspect. If she can’t convince him otherwise, more people could lose their lives to dark magic, including her.

Book Links:


BIO:

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes and 30 Seconds. She is currently working on the sequel to Hurricane Crimes that’ll serve as book two in the Disaster Crimes series.

When Fey was six years old, she realized her dream of being a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey lives in Florida where she is waiting for the next hurricane to come her way.

You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers! 


Author Links: 
Facebook / Blog / Website / Goodreads 


Thank you all for visiting and hopefully commenting. ;) 


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zola


Happy last day of the 2015 Challenge! Thanks to everyone who came by here throughout the month and thanks as well to the A to Z hosts and their minions for all the work they do to make the challenge a success.

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." ~ Emile ZOLA

I spent most of my adult life trying to be as silent and as invisible as possible. While I'm still far from an extrovert, I've taken steps toward living out loud in recent years. Life is definitely better when you're not trying to disappear. 

And that's my last quote!

I'm also at Untethered Realms today to finish up our group A to Z. Visit me there for another teaser from Polar Day.

Thanks again to everyone who made this year's challenge another success. Well done, all!