Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Riding the Rails at Untethered Realms & Wickedly They Dream by Cathrina Constantine


I'm posting over at the Untethered Realms blog today about the inspiration for my novella The Turnagain Arm. What was the inspiration? Train whistles!

Visit me over at UnRealms here and check out all the other writers and books in our group if you have the chance while you are there. I'm really lucky to be part of such an awesome group!

And speaking of awesome books and people, Cathrina Constantine has a cover for her upcoming release Wickedly They Dream. Both Cathrina and her cover are all kinds of awesome!


Here is the blurb for the book, which will be released on November 5:


After Seeley is possessed by an evil wraith, Jordan must dig deeper into the Satanic realm. Against Markus’s direct orders, she offers herself, body and soul in a blood covenant to rescue Seeley from the clutches of hell. Jordan assumes her guardian angel will not leave her to fight alone. But there’s trouble in paradise, and Markus has been reassigned. Can Jordan defeat both her internal and external demons to win him back? Or is he gone for good this time?

I read Wickedly They Come last year and it was a fantastic read. I have no doubt this one will be just as good. Jordan is a great character and I am looking forward to catching up with her again. :)

Congratulations, Cathrina!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog the Change for Animals & Cruelty Free International

Blog the Change

Blog the Change for Animals is a blog hop held four times a year to help spread awareness about animal related causes and charities. I haven't participated in a long time, but when I saw that the hop was coming up again this month I thought it was a perfect chance for me to get back to one of my original goals for this blog, which was to write about animal welfare.

The timing was actually perfect too as I've just recently become aware of an organization called Cruelty Free International, which works to end animal testing on cosmetics and household cleaning supplies and to support businesses which have already stopped (or never started) testing on animals for these products.

Source: publicdomainpictures.net
A bunny like the one pictured above seemed like the perfect photo to complement this post as from what I have read rabbits are among the animals most frequently used for cosmetic testing. In fact, the leaping bunny logo is considered the international standard for recognizing cruelty free products and companies.

Honestly, I hadn't ever thought much about animal testing before as I kind of thought it was just something that was done in the past. But once I learned more it felt very hypocritical for me to be supportive of animal rescues for dogs and cats while turning a blind eye to rabbits being blinded so companies can make mascara or other cosmetics.

Since humane and safe alternatives exist I decided it was important for me to support companies which are using these alternatives and putting out safe products for people to use without harming animals to do it.

So I started on a journey of replacing the cosmetics and cleaning supplies I was using with those made by cruelty free companies. This is an ongoing process but so far I have had very positive results. I have super sensitive skin and can break out in a rash just by looking at some products, so I was a little concerned about trying new ones. But so far the new products I'm using have actually been better for my skin, and my hair has never felt healthier. The laundry detergent I bought also works great and seems perfect for my sensitive skin.

From what I have found, the companies using cruelty free methods also use primarily natural ingredients, so I feel like I am getting healthier products as an unexpected bonus. I figure if I can cut back on the amount of chemicals I am using that has to be a good thing, both for me and for the environment in general.

This has been a rewarding process for me so far but as I said it is an ongoing one. Some of the products are significantly more expensive so I'm working on finding affordable alternatives. Still, it feels good to know I am at least making an effort, however small, to be the change I want to see.

If you'd like to learn more about Blog the Change and see other participants, visit the Be the Change for Animals site here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Turnagain Arm Giveaway Winners & Excerpt



Hello and Happy Monday to all! I hope everyone had a good weekend. I'm still recovering from the premiere of The Walking Dead last night! So happy the show is back. I needed something fun to watch after the Bengals proved yet again that they are the Bengals by missing what would have been a game winning field goal at the end of overtime. Years go by and players come and go but the one sure thing is that the Bengals will always be the Bungles.

Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway last week to celebrate the release of my novella The Turnagain Arm. The two winners are Michael Di Gesu and Annalisa Crawford! Congratulations to Michael and Annalisa and thanks again to everyone who joined in and helped me spread the word.

Gwen Gardner, the author of the fantastic Indigo Eady series, is sharing an excerpt from the novella on her blog today. Visit her here to read it!

Since I sent Gwen an excerpt to post I thought I would share an excerpt here as well. This excerpt features Aleksei Nechayev, who is not only one of the main characters in The Turnagain Arm but also the antagonist in Polar Night

Aleksei watched from the trees as the two security guards patrolled the area outside of the Turnagain Arm saloon. He had bid them a friendly goodnight just a few minutes earlier when he’d closed down for the night, but there was nothing friendly about his plans now. Aleksei was hungry and wanted nothing more than to drain both of the guards and satiate his hunger while also letting them know how useless their pretend soldiering was. His eyes nearly rolled back into his head as he watched them strutting about like peacocks. But while that course of action would feed him for the night, it would ultimately be short-sighted. And much less fun than what he had planned.

He had barely kept his composure while listening to Dzubenko blame the recent disappearances on bear attacks. It had been so difficult not to burst out laughing in his employer’s face. But he knew that the grizzly bear explanation had brought some semblance of comfort to the workers. It was much easier for them to come to terms with an angry wild bear than a murderer on the loose.

Imagining how they could come to terms with the murder of their guards by someone who was clearly not a bear made Aleksei smile from ear to ear. As much as he wanted to bite the guards and drain them, bite marks of any kind would spoil his fun. They would also spoil his plans for Vasyl Dzubenko. Aleksei knew he had made a rare mistake when speaking with Dzubenko earlier, and it had not gone unnoticed by his employer. The man was one of the few intelligent people in this camp, he’d give him that much. And he also felt sure that Dzubenko was different in ways beyond just his intellect. Aleksei could sense it. So if he had to deal with Dzubenko, he might as well lay the groundwork for that now. Truth be told, the idea of that merely added to his amusement.

Aleksei fingered the butcher knife he had stolen from the Turnagain Arm kitchen and stepped out of the trees.

One of the guards immediately snapped to attention and pointed his rifle at the sound of footsteps coming towards him.

“Who’s there? State your business.”

Aleksei walked into the light of the lanterns the guards held in front of them with his hands palms out in front of him.

“Don’t shoot,” he said. “It’s just me.”

The guards both relaxed and let their weapons hang loose at their sides.

“Aleksei? What are you doing back? Did you forget something in the saloon?”

“No, no, I just wanted to show you men something. I’m afraid it looks suspicious.” He gestured towards the woods next to the camp. “Over here in the trees.”

The men walked towards him, reminding Aleksei of the livestock that walked calmly to their deaths on his grandparents’ farm back home. 

Lambs to the slaughter…

Want to read more? 


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Turnagain Arm Launch & Giveaway!

I'm really excited to announce the release of my first self-published work, The Turnagain Arm. It's a novella that is a prequel to Polar Night and to its sequel Polar Day, which will be published by my publisher Ink Smith in January, 2015.

To celebrate the release I'm hosting a giveaway all this week. Two winners will receive a $15 Amazon.com gift card and an ebook copy of The Turnagain Arm. If you'd like to enter just leave a comment on the blog or tweet about the book/giveaway. I wanted to make the Rafflecopter very simple! :)

I didn't set up a blog tour or launch party for this release but I want to say a huge thank you to a few friends who are helping me spread the word this week and next. And also to the wonderful Michael Di Gesu who designed the cover for me and is posting about the book today as well.

Now on to the book! :)

Polar Night's Aleksei Nechayev leaves war-torn Russia in 1917 and makes his way to Alaska. Settling in at a railroad camp, Aleksei comes up against an adversary who seems to know the truth about the newly-turned vampire's identity. An adversary who soon gives Aleksei much more than he bargained for at The Turnagain Arm.


Cover design by Michael Di Gesu
Only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle

Book Blurb: 

Locomotive wheels screech to a halt. Potters Creek, Alaska is nothing more than a small camp set up alongside the tracks. A weathered sign dominates the scene.

The Turnagain Arm Saloon 


Est.1917


Only one passenger remains and exits.

The early afternoon full moon peaks through a shimmering snow fall as a shadow casts over each split rail. The wind howls, sweeping the cloak of a hooded figure. He follows   the tracks toward the distant saloon. A hulking man crunches through the snow, attracting his attention.

Calling out to him in a foreign accent, the townsman stops in mid step. The stranger catches up and engages him.

Until…

The man disappears under the stranger’s cloak.

Blood drips from his lips, and he wipes the remaining trickles from his mouth. After disposing of the body, the mysterious figure continues on his journey. He glides through the snow as if on a sleigh, leaving no footprints behind.


*          *          *          *          *


Within a short period, he convinces Vasyl, the owner of the saloon, to hire him. Aleksei charms everyone he meets. But soon mistrust enters every tense line on Vasyl’s face as others disappear, and his wife falls under Aleksei’s spell.

The classic game of cat and mouse continues, but who will win?

Is a mere mortal any match for Aleksei?

A spark ignites within Alexei after yet another of Vasyl’s attempts to disgrace him.

This man knows of me. He must be a witch. Aleksei laughs. You are no match for me or my plan.


Buy The Turnagain Arm for 99 cents on Amazon Kindle


Enter to win one of two prize bundles featuring a $15 Amazon.com gift card and an ebook copy of The Turnagain Arm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.





Bio:

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: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id918342752

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

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

Blurb:
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: 
Goodreads: 

Excerpt:
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.

Bio:

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