Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG & Wickedly They Dream Release Day!

It's hard to believe it's already November and time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. To see the list of group members as well as this month's co-hosts, visit Alex's site here

I really don't have much to write about this month as I am still simply feeling insecure about blogging and writing and life in general. In addition to my mom's cancer, I've had some other personal stressors pop up and I'm having a terrible time focusing on anything writing related. It's safe to say 2014 has not been my year! But I have to force myself to focus this month as I'm working with my editor to get my Polar Night sequel Polar Day ready for a February, 2015 release date. Even though it's a lot of work, it's actually great for me to have this editing as a distraction, especially as I'm super excited for the release. 

For today though I'm turning the blog over to my friend Cathrina Constantine and her book Wickedly They Dream, which is officially released today!! Yay, Cathrina!!

To add to the fun, Wickedly They Dream is on sale for 99 cents. That's a steal for one of Cathy's books so I would encourage everyone to get a copy ASAP. Here is all the info on the book and the giveaway Cathrina is holding to celebrate the release. 

**Happy Release Day** **GIVEAWAY**
Wickedly They Dream
Genre: Paranormal Thriller/Fantasy
Publisher: Black Opal Books How Far Will Jordan go to rescue her mother. It will cost her everything--even her angel, Markus!
Buy Links: Amazon

Author Cathrina Constantine resides in Western New York. When not with her family, you'll find her in the forest behind her house walking the dogs and conjuring a new tale.
You can find Cathy Here:

Monday, November 3, 2014

National Animal Shelter & Rescue Appreciation Week

Today marks the start of National Animal Shelter & Rescue Appreciation Week, which was founded by the Humane Society of the United States in 1996 and is celebrated each year during the first week of November.

I adopted my Nate, shown above doing his best impersonation of a jaguar perched in the trees, from the Kenton County Animal Shelter in Northern Kentucky when he was just four months old. All of my pets have come from shelters or rescues and they are/were all the greatest pets in the world, so I have a great deal of respect and affection for these organizations and the people who keep them running. There are between six and eight million homeless animals in the United States each year and only about 3,500 shelters to help them, so it's clear that all rescues have their work cut out for them.

In honor of the week, The Humane Society offers ten tips for helping your local shelter or rescue, some as easy as "liking" and sharing about rescues on Facebook and other social media. Other ideas include donating supplies such as towels or cleansers or even making your own toys for the shelter animals in your area. To read the article and see the whole list of ideas, click here.

Nate didn't want me to include a dog in this post but I saw this video last week and I think it captures the value of animal shelters and rescues more than any words ever could. It's such a feel-good story that even Nate had to relent and he agreed that it fits perfectly with Shelter & Rescue Appreciation Week.

Kudos to this shelter and all the others across the country!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Treat: The Turnagain Arm Free on Kindle

I love vintage postcards! :D

I'm hosting my own little Halloween party and offering The Turnagain Arm for free on Amazon today and tomorrow. Get your free copy here!

If you have time to share about the promotion on Twitter or elsewhere I'd really appreciate it!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet The Character Blog Hop

I was tagged in the Meet Your Character Blog Hop by my good friend Cathrina Constantine, who is an absolutely fantastic writer. If you haven't read her books yet I highly recommend checking them out!

Cathrina is the author of Wickedly They Come (and the upcoming sequel Wickedly They Dream) and Tallas. Find Cathrina at her blog, Twitter, and on Amazon.

Thank you for tagging me, Cathy!

What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional/historical?

My character is Vasyl Dzubenko. He is totally fictional.

When and where is the story set?

The story is set in 1917 in a railroad camp in Alaska. Vasyl and his wife Lara run a saloon called The Turnagain Arm in the camp. The saloon is named for a nearby waterway, which is a real part of Alaska.

What should we know about your character?

Vasyl is a middle-aged man who moved to Alaska after moving across Russia while working on the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He is originally from Ukraine which was part of the Russian Empire at that time. Vasyl is devoted to his wife but he has a very big secret that even she doesn’t know. Vasyl is a witch, but he hasn’t practiced his craft since leaving Ukraine. The last time he practiced things went very bad very quickly.

What is your character's goal?

He simply wants to run his saloon in peace with his wife at his side. He is happy in his adopted home of Alaska and is thrilled that Lara is pregnant. He can't wait for his child to be born.

What is screwing up  your character's life (main conflict in writerly speak?)

Unfortunately for Vasyl, a Russian vampire named Aleksei Nechayev turned up at his saloon. The peaceful camp has never been the same since Aleksei arrived.

What is the title?

The book is called The Turnagain Arm and it is available on Amazon Kindle. It is a novella and a prequel to my novel Polar Night.

I am really bad about tagging for a hop because I can never decide who to tag. So anyone reading this who would like to participate, consider yourself tagged!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. :)

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.

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?