Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: Goodbye Summer

Hello and Happy September! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

I know I'm in a small minority, but I'm always so happy to see summer come to a close. I think I have some kind of reverse seasonal affective disorder, as I tend to become depressed and sluggish every year when summer rolls around. I wanted this year to be different, and had a good start in June, but by July my regular pattern had emerged.

In spite of that, there were some bright spots to the summer so I thought I'd focus on the positives.
  1. I finished my 5k running program! In fact, running was the one thing I felt great about all summer. I can't believe it, but I now look forward to my runs and I feel out of sorts when I miss one. I'm focusing on increasing my distance and endurance now. I've made it to four miles and am working on getting to five. 
  2. I participated in the August Write... Edit... Publish... bloghop and had a great experience with my story The Last Reunion. I had hit a brick wall while working on revisions for my new Alaska story and was feeling frustrated, so it was energizing and fun to write something totally different. I am now looking forward to the October hop and thinking about ideas for the Dark Places theme. 
  3. Game of Thrones! My favorite show. EVER. 
  4. Reading. I read some great books this summer, including one that instantly became one of my all-time favorites. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is an extraordinary read. 
A window box in Paris
Best of all, in the past week or so I've been inspired to start working on a new/old book idea - a short story collection called A Window Box in Paris. I first started thinking about this collection after visiting Paris in 2016, but my ideas were all vague and unorganized. I don't know what happened, but last week when I had trouble falling asleep I started thinking about the ideas again and they all started to crystallize and come together. I'm now making notes and working on characters, and I'm super excited to get started on the project. 

I'm struggling with the usual insecurities that come with working on something new and worrying that the ideas will amount to nothing, but I'm determined to push through those doubts and worries. My goal is to have a first draft completed by the end of the year. 

What are your goals or plans for the rest of 2017? 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Write...Edit....Publish: Reunions

The Last Reunion

Oscar opened the door to the party room at the Cincinnati senior center and prepared for one final reunion with his World War II buddies. They’d been infantry men, part of A Company of the 1st battalion, 116th regiment. They’d been among the first to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day, going ashore at Dog Green. Within 15 minutes of landing, most of the company had been shot, their bodies shredded to pieces. Oscar and his friends were among the few survivors.

When the war ended, the men had returned to their home towns of Milwaukee, New York, Houston, Sacramento, Savannah, and Bloomington, Indiana. Chicago, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Windsor Lock, Connecticut. They’d found jobs, married, and had children. None spoke of Omaha and the horrors they had endured on that bloody June day. There was too much life to be lived to focus on so much death.

But as their children grew and their nests emptied, as retirement took them out of the daily grind of working life, as they began traveling with their wives and visiting places they’d never had time to see as young men, their minds started to drift back to the summer of 1944. They allowed themselves to talk about what they’d experienced on the coast of France.

When the 50th anniversary of the day so many young men had been slaughtered loomed, Oscar realized he wanted to return to Normandy. He wanted to see Omaha Beach as it was now. As it had no doubt been for thousands of years. A peaceful stretch of coastline, with the waves of the Atlantic lapping the shore. The tide coming in, the tide going out. No blood, no screams of the dying, no terror.

For the first time in decades, he allowed himself to remember the men he’d screamed with, cried with, and found shelter with as bullets whizzed past their heads. He heard the cries of those who’d been shot and slaughtered as clearly as if their deaths had been five minutes, not five decades, ago.  And he wanted to know if his fellow survivors were still here, like him. Surviving.

So Oscar had arranged the first Company A reunion, and the men had traveled across the sea once more to meet on the bluffs of Omaha Beach. They’d visited the graves of those who had never been able to return to their home towns. They’d shed tears as they paid their respects in the cemetery marked with an unearthly silence and a sense of young lives taken far too soon.

From then on, they’d met every two years, taking turns hosting the reunions. Randy was the first one to leave them, felled by a cancerous tumor at the age of 75 rather than German artillery at 18. Harold went next, then Roger, Charlie, and Mick.

Two years ago, only three had been left to attend the Omaha reunion. Now, as Oscar prepared the room, he knew he would not be here by the time two years came around again. He hadn’t needed the doctor to tell him he only had about six months left, if that. There are some things a man simply knows.

So he’d reserved the room one last time. He’d asked his daughter to set up the folding chairs in a circle, the way the men had always sat when they met up. Now, he took out a folder of photographs.

The photos were taken when the men had first been drafted into the Army. They were young and trying desperately to look older and more distinguished. Their faces were those of innocence. Of neighborhood baseball games, summer jobs, first dates, and first kisses. Faces that had no comprehension of Omaha Beach and the horrors that awaited them.

Oscar went around the circle and placed a photo on each chair. Randy, Roger, Harold, Charlie, Mick. Tony, Bobby, Hector, Steven. All gone now.

Oscar sat down on the last chair and took a bottle of beer from the cooler he’d carried in from his car. He opened it and raised the bottle in a toast.

“Here’s to us, boys.”

Through the window of the senior center, Oscar could hear a dog barking and a cat mewling in response. A bus stopped, let its passengers off, and drove away again. The footsteps of a runner pounded the pavement of the sidewalk, fading as the runner moved along. A horn honked and a man shouted obscenities. A police siren wailed. Two women talked and laughed.

The time was coming when there would be no one left who could remember Omaha Beach. No one who would think of D-Day, or the war itself, as anything more than a chapter in a history book.

But that time was not here yet.

Oscar sipped his beer and looked around the room at the photos of his friends. “Here’s to us.”

My story was inspired by this photo of my Dad, a World War II vet who reconnected with his war buddies in the 1990s.

I'm excited to be participating in the WEP hop for the first time. Thanks to Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee for hosting!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IWSG & The Amazing Gracie Trilogy by Carol Kilgore

Hello and Happy July! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

I don't really have much to say for this month's post, as I'm still working on the same things I wrote about last month. I'm continuing with my 5k training and I'm thrilled because I actually made it to the halfway point of the program! I'm starting Week 5 and I can't believe how much I am enjoying the running. I feel great about my progress and confident that I can make it through the whole 8 weeks now. The running has been just great for me in terms of better physical and mental health so I am excited about continuing with it. 

I'm also working on revisions for my new Alaska story. The revisions are slow going, but that's not surprising. I still feel good about the story and hope to have another draft completed by the end of the summer. 

All in all, I'm feeling good and not struggling with much insecurity this month. Yay! Since I don't really have anything to post about this month, I'm turning the blog over to my friend Carol Kilgore, who has an awesome new cover to reveal!

A hot and spicy taste of murder—and more.


During the day, law enforcement consultant Gracie Hofner is on assignment at a small San Antonio bakery, waiting for a delivery. No one knows what it is or when it will arrive. The upside? Working next to Donovan Beck, a flirty hunk and a half—perfect fling material.

At night, Gracie resumes her search for a little girl and her mother who went missing following a double murder. Finding the pair is imperative or the girl will become a target.

At the girl’s aunt’s house, Gracie experiences a peculiar need to leave immediately. She tries to deny the urge to flee and pushes the pressure aside, but the compulsion intensifies. Gracie thinks she must have a brain tumor. Or is losing her mind. When similar events continue to occur, Gracie sees a pattern. Can she use this newfound ability to help her find the girl and her mother before it’s too late?


Carol Kilgore is the author of Jalapeno Cupcake Wench, the first book in The Amazing Gracie Trilogy, and three romantic suspense novels: In Name Only, Solomon’s Compass, and Secrets of Honor. She’s married, with dogs, and lives in San Antonio, the setting for the trilogy.

Where to connect with Carol:

Congratulations and best of luck to Carol!! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: Doing Things You Think You Can't Do

Hello and Happy June! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

Kennecott, Alaska
I took a bit of a break from the blogging world and focused on writing in May and I'm thrilled to say I had a great month! I finished the first draft of A Killing in Kennecott, my sequel to Polar Day. Of course, I have TONS of revising to do and there will no doubt be many more drafts, but I am excited to get this far. I have been so blocked and unmotivated when it comes to writing for such a long time now that I had reached the point were I thought I'd never be able to finish a story again. So it meant a great deal to me to realize I still could!

That was one of the things I did in May that I had told myself I wouldn't be able to do. I also finished my beginner's running program and ran a mile without stopping. That was a HUGE deal for me! I haven't run since high school, and then I didn't do it willingly. I had started this program more times than I could count and never made it past the second week. But it turned out I was wrong about being able to do that too. Now I'm working on the 5k program and loving it! Running has helped me so much with my anxiety that it's been a godsend. I plan to run a 5k race in September to benefit the Red Wolf Wildlife Sanctuary, so I am going to be focused on the training program all summer.

Finally, I had an amazing evening in Marysville, Ohio, where I was invited to be part of the Friends of the Public Library 2017 Author Series. I was so nervous as the date of my presentation approached that I was totally freaking out and I was certain it would be a disaster. Instead, it was one of the best nights I've ever had!

The Friends group took me to dinner and as soon as I met them at the restaurant my nerves disappeared and I had a wonderful time. After dinner we went to the auditorium and I gave my talk for 30 minutes, and I was amazed that I got through the whole thing without feeling nervous. I even managed to ad-lib and go off the script I had tried to memorize. When I finished, people came up to buy my books and I actually sold out of all but one of my titles! I was amazed and couldn't have been happier. After being so nervous I nearly made myself sick thinking about the event, I drove home with a huge smile on my face.

So May was my month for doing things I had told myself I couldn't ever do. I'd like to be able to say I'll never tell myself that about things I've never even tried, but old habits die hard. Still, I'm going to think about my May whenever that doubting voice tries to take over my head.

Hope you all had a good month as well!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Life at Sweetbrier by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne and Marked Beauty by Sheri Larson

Hello, all! I'm still focused on writing and taking a break from blogging until the June IWSG, but I wanted to pop in and help spread the word about new books from two great blogging friends. 

First up, My Life at Sweetbrier by Deanie Humphys-Dunne

I read an advanced copy of this book and it is a wonderful five star read!! This is the true story of Deanie's life as a disabled child who dreamed of becoming a championship horseback rider. When doctors tell her parents Deanie would never walk, let alone ride, Deanie and her family set out to prove those doctors wrong. Will Deanie succeed?

A beautiful and touching story of overcoming adversity, My Life at Sweetbrier also celebrates the heartwarming bond between humans and animals. It's a great read for animal lovers and anyone who enjoys an uplifting story about never giving up on a dream.

For more about My Life at Sweetbrier, visit the publisher's website. Congratulations and best wishes, Deanie!!

Also, I'm participating in the cover reveal for Marked Beauty by S. A. Larsen! It's a gorgeous cover and the book is sure to be a great read. Congratulations, Sheri!

Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.
As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.


About the Author
S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at
Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.
To participate:
  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.
***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.
Pre-made tweets (you add the image)
"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal
"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal #YAlit
The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Snowman by Yolanda Renee

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Yolanda Renée’s THE SNOWMAN Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today. I'm excited to be able to share an excerpt from the book. 

This is a prequel to the author’s Detective Steven Quaid Mysteries. This story tells of Steven's first case as a rookie detective. It takes place 10 years before the events in MURDER, MADNESS & LOVE, the first book in the series.

The author is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring both print and eBook copies from her series. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

◊ by Yolanda Renée
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: TRACE Enterprises
◊ Series: Detective Quaid Mystery
◊ Novella
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Contains explicit sex & violence

It takes a true artist to pursue his victims in the art of seduction, and Stowy Jenkins is no exception, especially with blood as his medium.

          Stowy Jenkins, aka, Stone, and as Alaskans refer to him, the Snowman, is a true artist. His muse, Gigi, is the ultimate inspiration for his painting. Her rejection inspires him to use a very unusual medium…blood.
          While art may be his passion, the taste for blood is his obsession, and multiple murders, the result.
          Rookie, Detective Steven Quaid, is no fan of the Snowman’s murderous exhibitions. A twisted and deadly relationship bond the two men and neither knows who will come out of it alive.


Chapter IV
June 25th

The cab drove up the long, tree-lined driveway to the Quaid house. Flowers bloomed in brilliant colors around the small cottage home in the suburbs of Juneau. A smile immediately creased Steven's face as the house came into view. His mother had chosen this home because it resembled her beloved cabin in the woods. On this much-needed vacation, Steven wanted to make up for his long absences and spend some time alone at that cabin near the Mendenhall Glacier.

 His parents greeted him at the door. His father, Senator Daniel Quaid, an Irish Alaskan, had a reputation for his fiery determination on behalf of the populace of Alaska, but his mother, Mavis, a Tlingit Indian beauty, was the true civil servant in the family.

 “You’ve arrived just in time. Dinner’s on the table, all your favorites,” his mother said as they hugged.

 “I’m starved. Thanks, Mom.”

 “Welcome home, Son,” his father said and pulled him into a hug. “Come on. I’m hungry too.” Daniel Quaid led the way into the dining room.

 Once the men were seated at the table, Mavis served the soup.

 “I've arranged a few meetings tomorrow with some friends,” his father announced. “I'm looking forward to introducing you to the key players. When do you graduate from law school?”

 “I’m not going to law school. I took the detective's test and finished at the top.”

 “Detective!” His father scowled. “I don't understand. You've dropped out of school? You said you were going for a law degree.”

At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.

Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

You can connect with me here:
Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email

The other books in the Detective Quaid Series include:

          A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter. Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage. However, the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered. A killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence. After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid—Anchorage P D’s hotshot investigator—has not only heard the rumors, he believes them. Worse, her aloofness and composure only confirm his suspicions. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator?

World damnation is a psychotic man’s goal, but two obstacles stand in his way, greed and a dedicated detective.
Catching Alaska’s most notorious serial killer as a rookie made Detective Steven Quaid a hero, but falling in love with the victim of his last case tarnishes that status. While attempting to repair both his personal and professional life, he stumbles upon an unusual case–and an even more extraordinary foe: a man who believes he is Lucifer. An insidious man who delivers Quaid the ultimate choice: save his fiancée from an assassin’s bullet or stop the sacrifice of a young girl.

Flames burn between a hardboiled cop and a gifted artist, but soon extinguish as another man’s obsession ignites into an inferno of desire, driving him to destroy the object of his madness.
Detective Steven Quaid is ready for new challenges as Anchorage's top detective, but not until he marries the woman of his dreams on New Year's Eve. Determined to give Sarah the wilderness honeymoon she desires, he turns his grandfather's cabin into the perfect honeymoon retreat. After the final details are complete, Steven treks into the mountains to hunt. On his return to the cottage, instead of Sarah, he is greeted by several police officers and a bloody crime scene. Accusations fly, and Stephen flees into the wilderness, his heart racing and thoughts etching into his soul. The wilderness is unforgiving, but Steven faces it head on: Caught between a massive grizzly and a black bear in a deadly tug of war, he is barely saved from death's door by the fortuitous appearance of his uncle. Despite surviving multiple injuries, Steven continues his investigation as he recovers, but answers don't come quick or easy. Having enlisted the aid of his number one suspect, Steven faces a struggle that has become more than personal. This one just may cost him his heart.

You can find out more about the books and the author by following the tour HERE. You can also include your chances of winning in the giveaway.

This tour-wide giveaway features both print and eBook copies of the four books in the Detective Quaid Series. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, June 6.

The prizes include:

* Grand prize - Winner receives a print copy of all four books in the Detective Quaid Series (U.S. and Canada only).
* First place - Winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
* Second place - Winner will receive eBook copies of all four books in the Detective Quaid Series.
* There will be 3 runner-up winners and each will win an eBook copy of THE SNOWMAN or one of the other books in the series (winner's choice).

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Yolanda on her month-long tour. You never know what you might find out.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: Looking Back on a Great Month & Forward (I hope!) to Another One

Hello and Happy May! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

April was a fantastic month for me from a writing perspective. I have continued to work on my Polar Night/Polar Day sequel, A Killing in Kennecott, and am making great progress. Even better, I'm really enjoying the writing! I hope I can keep up at my current pace and perhaps finish the first draft in May.

I also had two great writing events that were really fun.

First up, I was invited to be part of a reception honoring Hamilton County, Ohio authors on April 2. I was thrilled to attend and was even more thrilled when I made it up on the stage and back down again without tripping. :D

On April 8 I attended the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio. This was my third time at the fest and it is always a great time.

Puppet Baby Moo came along with me and helped me read his story to some of this kiddos at the event.

Best of all, I sold more books than I ever have at any previous festival. So the day was a success all the way around.

Now for May! I am scheduled to give a talk on my books and writing in Marysville, Ohio on Tuesday, May 9. Marysville is Baby Moo's hometown but the folks who invited me to speak didn't know about Baby Moo's book when they contacted me, so that is a total coincidence. In another strange twist, I used to work in Marysville back in the 1990s. When I left that job I never thought I'd have any reason to visit the town again. But somehow it must have been meant to be that I would!

The Friends of the Public Library hold an Author Series every year and invite four authors to participate, one each month from February - May. I am so honored to be one of the four this year! I am also nervous about it because of my anxiety over public speaking but I am hoping this will go as smoothly as my April events did.

Now I'm looking forward to hopping around and seeing what my fellow IWSGers have been up to over the past month. :)

Friday, April 28, 2017

We Are The World Blogfest: One of My Heroes & an Eagle

Photo courtesy of Red Wolf Sanctuary

Hello and Happy Friday, all! I have been a very lazy blogger but when I heard about the We Are The World Blogfest and learned that it only occurs once a month, I thought I would give it a try. Without going into details, I have found the past several months to be emotionally draining and have had to limit my consumption of news. So I love the idea of a fest focused on sharing positive and heart-warming news stories and am excited to join in this month.

My story features one of my heroes, Paul Strasser, the force of nature behind Red Wolf Wildlife Sanctuary. I visited Red Wolf last year and fell in love with the place. Mr. Strasser goes above and beyond every day to rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife in our area, and often gets bit or scratched for his troubles.

You can watch the story of his latest rescue or read about it at the link below the video. Brooke AKA Liberty, the eagle in question, has done amazingly well since being rescued and is now able to eat on her own and continue recovering in a temporary outdoor enclosure. Depending on her recovery, she will either live out her days at Red Wolf or be returned to the wild.

And just to share a little more sweetness, this is a baby red fox who was found in the middle of a road and is now also recovering at Red Wolf. I don't think she could be any cuter!

The main thing that struck me about Mr. Strasser when I met him was how kind he is. And Red Wolf itself reminds me of a this quote I love from the Dalai Lama.

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." 

Click the badge to learn more about the blogfest and sign up if you'd like to participate!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG and Keeping Things Simple

Hello and Happy April! Today is the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

Last month I wrote about returning to writing simply for the love of it and I'm happy to be able to say I have been able to do just that. I've been working on a sequel to Polar Night and Polar Day and I have been taking it slowly and enjoying the process. I'm excited about the story and it's been fun to delve back into Alaska as a setting. I am totally enchanted by that place and I hope that I can visit there one of these days.

The Ghost Town of Kennecott, Alaska (WIP setting) 

In the spirit of keeping things simple, I've decided not to try and start up a new blog as I had planned to do with my All in For Animals site. It was a mistake to try something new when I was already feeling sluggish in terms of writing and blogging. I don't have the energy to devote to another site so I am letting that go for now. If I have any fun animal things to write about I plan to just do so here as I have in the past.

I've decided to only set two goals for myself for the rest of 2017. I want to finish my WIP, titled A Killing in Kennecott, and I want to complete the running training program I've been doing for the past month or so. I am enjoying it and the exercise is good for me both physically and mentally.

I've learned that writing to-do lists and setting weekly or monthly goals or daily word count challenges doesn't work for me at this time in my life and they are demoralizing rather than motivating. So for now I'm simply going to enjoy the writing and enjoy the running and try not to stress about either one.

My first A to Z badge (warm fuzzies!)

To all working on the A-Z Challenge, good luck and enjoy!! Even though I'm not taking part this year I still get the warm fuzzies about the challenge each year at this time. Taking part in my first challenge in 2011 was the best blogging decision I've ever made and I will always be grateful to those who have made this great event possible through the years.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrating Apes, Running, & Two Great New Releases

Hello and Happy Friday! Of course, Friday means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things. Since I missed the hop last week, I'm celebrating the past two weeks today.

First up, I'm celebrating the Great Apes of the Congo Basin. Why? Because last week I attended a totally awesome lecture by David Morgan of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project and learned tons about the gorillas and chimpanzees who call the Congo Basin home. Mr. Morgan's group works to save the apes' habitat, which is currently under threat from logging, poaching, and the bush meat trade, through research and collaboration with the Congolese government, local scientists, and other wildlife organizations.

Mr. Morgan's tales of living side by side with the apes were both fun and fascinating, and it was great to hear about some of the project's conservation success stories. If you'd like to read more about the experience, you can find my recap of the evening on my All in For Animals site here.

Next up, running!

I've been totally sluggish and lazy for quite a while now and wanted to get back to some kind of fitness routine. I was inspired by my friend Madeline at The Shellshank Redemption to take up running, as she has been kicking butt with it for a while now.

I have a running training program that I downloaded years ago but I've never actually made it past week one of the program. But this week I started again and I'm determined to stick with it this time. My goal is to run (or at least run/walk) a 5k in the fall so we'll see how that goes!

Last up, two new releases from two fantastic authors - Medeia Sharif and Cathrina Constantine. Congratulations to both ladies!!

 I was supposed to participate in Medeia's cover reveal last week and like a moron I forgot. So I'm sharing the scoop on Medeia's latest today. The cover is amazing and I know the book will be a great read!

Evernight Teen, March 3, 2017

Destiny awakes with amnesia. She had been driving on a wet road, about to leave flowers at a memorial marker of a deceased classmate, when she almost met that same fate.

Her mother, Mildred, is restrictive. She doesn’t want Destiny to have her cellphone, which a nurse sneaks into her room. It’s useless since Destiny doesn’t have the passcode. After her hospital stay, she enters her mother’s overbearing household. Mildred becomes physically abusive, and Destiny fights back.

When Mildred is away, Destiny leaves with her neighbor, Gabriel, whom she’s developing feelings for, and they drive around to jog her memory. She’s positive she crashed near a memorial marker. When they find the marker in question, and when she remembers her phone’s passcode, her identity is questionable and Mildred is even crazier than she at first thought. Destiny is eager to escape Mildred’s household and find out who she really is.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Website   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

And now for Cathrina's latest!

Incense and Peppermints
Cathrina Constantine
Publication date: March 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Peace demonstrations, sit-ins, and burning the U.S. flag following the escalation of the Vietnam War are leading to a catalyst known to the world as the Sixties, and a musical revolution, flower power, hippies, marijuana, and drugs are carrying the generations—young and old—into a new decade. All the while sixteen-year-old Mary Monroe is caught between being an innocent good girl and an autumn of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
When her brother offers a solution to her dilemma in the form of a little pill, Mary ignores the rumba in her brain and takes a walk on the wild side. Plunged into popularity and a life she’s only imagined, she meets Michael Covington, the hot newcomer, and she’s instantly drawn in by his less than flawless exterior and bad boy sex appeal. Caught up in the danger and excitement as they drift from party to party, into underground fight clubs, and through a series of drug and alcohol fueled adventures, Mary follows her new crush into a world where young girls are never truly safe from the predators lurking in the shadows and young men are hiding from the harsh reality of war.
Feeling buzzed and as if her life is spinning out of control, Mary is assaulted by an unknown man at a party, and she’s left questioning if the enigmatic Michael is truly her hero or if he is the face behind the terrible attack. With every piece of information Mary learns about Michael, her doubts grow deeper, but with every minute she spends in his presence, so does her love.
With the war and her fear threatening to separate Mary and Michael forever, only the death of a friend, a crushing confession, and her own sensibilities can carry her over the threshold between adolescence and adulthood.
September 1969
The corners of my bedroom had dulled to a muddy gray by the time my brother leaned on, or rather wobbled against, my door. His glassy eyes floated in their sockets. Stoned, again.
“Whatcha doing, Sis?” Stevie, my older brother slurred.
My gaze slipped over his pasty chest, sprinkled with wiry hair, and past his jockeys to his stick-like legs. Did he realize he was only wearing saggy underwear? Normally, I’d say gross and mock him, but only because he normally treated me like a speck of toe scum.
“Nothing much.” I slipped my diary into my sock drawer, away from prying eyes. Our parents weren’t home, and our little sister was asleep in her crib on the other side of my room.
“You need to grow up,” he said. “Here, it’s party time.” Pinched between his thumb and finger, he revealed an ordinary aspirin as if he’d procured the magic solution.
“Uh… I don’t have a headache.”
“Hey, turd. It’s not an aspirin. Stop the nerd act and get with the program. Grow up.”
Our sibling behavior toppled into the belittling and ridiculing stage. Though I figured it was his way of helping me. Yet, staring at the pill, I was interested, but a hootenanny of cymbals clashed inside my head and my sensible side screamed.
You’ll puke! I hate puking. Wasn’t it only last week Stevie was tripping and heaving guts like a water hose?
Shaking my head, I declined his kind and strange offer and tried using simple logic to get rid of him. “Not tonight. Mom and Dad will be home any minute. Go to bed. It’s late.”
“They’ll be so-o plastered. I can’t stand them like that.” Dejected, his shoulders slouched, and his body seemed to deflate. Until he tossed the pill, saying, “Catch.”

Author Bio:
Cathrina Constantine is the Best Selling author of Don’t Forget To Breathe. Her book won Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for 2015 and The Literary Classics Seal of Approval and Literary Classics Gold Award. Her Paranormal Fantasy, Wickedly They Come has been awarded the 5 Star Seal from Reader’s Favorite. Tallas from her dystopian series received Literary Classics Silver Award and Literary Classics Seal of Approval.
Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and her cat, Bones. Author @chbbpublishing. Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. When not attached to her computer, she likes to take long walks in the woods with her dogs, drink way too much coffee, and is an avid movie watcher. She loves music and doesn’t need a dance floor to shake a leg.


The Celebrate the Small Things hop is hosted by 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.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG and Writing for the Love of It

Hello and Happy March! Today's the day for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, brought to you by our Ninja founder Alex J. Cavanaugh. To see Alex's co-hosts for today, view the list of members, or sign up for the group yourself, visit the IWSG page here.

I've realized recently that over the past year and a half I've spent far more time talking about writing and thinking about writing than I have actually writing. As a result, except for my Baby Moo stories, I haven't written anything I've liked in two years now.

My problems seemed to start when I became obsessed with getting more books published, and convinced myself that I had to write a long series so that I could get at least one book out every year. When my focus became getting published, I didn't enjoy writing and I couldn't even come up with story ideas that I liked. Everything I wrote felt forced.

Before I knew it, writing, or more accurately, the lack thereof, became a source of anxiety and frustration. I've struggled with anxiety and depression many times in my life, and writing was one of the few things that always helped me come out of those periods. Yet somehow it all got turned upside down.

I started thinking about my first stories and how much I loved writing them. I realized I wanted to feel that way again, and was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do---the actual act of writing---turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

This quote struck a chord with me the first time I read it, and it does so even more now.

I've started a new story, and I've realized once again how much the act of writing means to me. I love bringing life to characters that exist only in my head. I love writing dialogue. I love when a scene comes together so perfectly it makes me grin from ear to ear all the while my fingers tap away on the keyboard.

It's been a pleasure to rediscover the reward of writing, without worrying about publishing or marketing. That will come in time. But for now I just want to write because I love doing it.

I want to write because writing makes me happy. And as Lucy said, that's a helluva start. :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Celebrating Clancy the Clown and Charlene the Star

dogs, dog in costume, clown

Hello and Happy Friday from my dog Clancy the Clown and me! We are ready to celebrate the weekend.

Doesn't he look like a stuffed animal here? :D 

Friday is the day to Celebrate the Small Things and today I'm celebrating Clancy's adorable clown costume! This costume used to be mine - I wore it to a Halloween party back in the 1990s. My mom found it in a drawer at her house and we decided to see if Clancy would wear it. He normally has a fit even from the bandanna the groomer puts on him, so I wasn't hopeful, but he not only agreed to wear the bow tie, he also went along with wearing the hat!

Clancy got some cheese for his efforts and I got a great laugh - the best I'd had in weeks. So that's why I'm celebrating my four-legged clown. :)

I'm also celebrating another adorable animal, Charlene the horse. Isn't she a beauty?

Charlene the Star was written by my friend Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, and I was lucky enough to be able to read an advanced copy of the revised edition. This is a wonderful story with great life lessons for kids and adults alike.

Charlene was born into a racing family but she doesn't want to race. Feeling embarrassed and out of place when she can't run as fast as the other horses, Charlene wants to find a place where her own gifts can shine. Without spoiling the story, I'll just say that she does. And she finds a sweet dog best friend as well.

Since it took me more than forty years to figure out that I wanted to write, I could relate to Charlene's struggle to fit in and to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I'm sure many children will recognize their own doubts and fears in Charlene's story. Congratulations to Deanie on a job well done!

The Celebrate the Small Things hop is hosted by 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.