Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Elaine Kaye Interviews the Witch!

Hello, all! I've been on an unplanned blogging break but I'm excited to jump back into the fray today  to help spread the word about the latest release from Elaine Kaye, Halloween Ride! Elaine is here with an interview with Halloween Ride's very own witch, Bertha.

Take it away, Elaine!

Elaine Kaye: Hello, Bertha. It’s nice to talk to you today. Our readers are very interested in you. The first thing they want to know is…where do you live?

Bertha, the Witch: I live in a cabin in a magical forest that no human knows about, with my ten cats and hundreds of brooms.

Elaine: What are your cats’ names?

Bertha: Puffball, Monkey, Doodle, Coal, Scratch, Merlin, Casper, Shadow, Jinx, and Onyx.

Elaine: Why do you have so many brooms?

Bertha: Because they're magical, dear.

Elaine: We know that the broom Gregory and Sammy find can fly them anywhere in the world. Does each one have a special magic?

Bertha: Some are for flying and some are for cleaning. The cleaning brooms visit people who need their houses cleaned, like the elderly. And the flying brooms go out every Halloween to give special individuals one ride. Except one of my brooms befriended a magical teddy bear, and the two of them go all over.

Elaine: I know just what teddy bear you’re talking about.

Bertha: How much longer are we going to be doing this, dear? I have some soup to eat.

Elaine: Speaking of which, was that really pea soup that Gregory and Sammy saw in your pot?

Bertha: Of course, it was. I make really good pea soup.

Elaine: What’s all in it?

Bertha: Peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, but it’s really the dried ants, worms, toadstool, and spiders that give it flavor and substance. Would you like a taste?

Elaine: Thanks, but I’ll stick to my recipe. It was a pleasure talking to you, Bertha.

Bertha: You, too, dear. Goodbye!

*And Bertha disappears in a poof of green smoke*


BLURB: One Halloween night, Gregory and his teddy bear Sammy go trick-or-treating, hoping for lots and lots of candy. But Sammy is scared of everything and is constantly asking, “What’s that?” Gregory gets annoyed until one of those things turns out to be a flying broomstick. And this broom wants them to go for a ride. Where will it take them? 

*Story picture book Ages 4-8.




Pea Soup Disaster: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

Doctor Mom: Amazon / Nook / Kobo

Elaine Kaye is the author of A Gregory Green Adventure series. She first created Gregory Green after her son, who loved her homemade pea soup.
Kaye has worked as a library assistant and teacher's assistant in elementary schools in the Sunshine State. She currently lives in Florida, but she has called Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Okinawa, Japan home.
She is a grandmother of three boys.


Enter here to win a signed paperback copy of Pea Soup Disaster, a hand-stitched bookmark, and a pea pod key chain! Open to all from September 16, 2018 – October 1, 2018!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG & the American Writers Museum

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

I am feeling a little insecure today as I didn't get any of the writing done that I wanted to in July, but I still had a good month and took a fun little road trip to Chicago, so I'm going to focus on that instead. I went to Chicago to see Hamilton, which was fantastic, but I ended up also visiting the American Writers Museum, which was amazing!

I'd never heard of this museum but my niece discovered it and we decided to head there since it was only a few blocks from our hotel. The museum only occupies one floor of a large building, but we spent several hours there and I feel like I could easily have spent much more time exploring the compelling and inspiring interactive exhibits.

Here are a few highlights of my visit. 

The Children's Lit Gallery was adorable, with large banners depicting famous works, including one of my childhood favorites Goodnight Moon.

"Goodnight comb and goodnight brush" ❤❤
The best was a mural depicting a tree full of squirrels all reading books, including a squirrel pondering over Gertrude Stein. So cute!

The center of the museum included a timeline of key events in American history and famous writers of the time.

And the ceiling was filled with books!

My favorite exhibit was the Word Waterfall, which initially looks like walls of unconnected words, but then lights up various segments to reveal famous quotations that reflect the American experience.

Images created by the lights, such as the Statue of Liberty in the above case, along with sounds such as ocean waves and birdsong, combine with the words to create a truly inspiring and mesmerizing display.

If you're ever in the Chicago area, I can't recommend this museum enough. There is something for every writer and reader to enjoy and I'd return in a heartbeat if I lived closer.

I hope all is well with everyone and I wish you all a Happy August!

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Road Trip & a Visit from Diane Burton

Hello, friends! I am not actually here right now as I'm on a road trip to Chicago to see Hamilton - yay! I'm so excited to be seeing the show and also to have Diane Burton as my guest on the blog while I am gone. Diane is here as part of the blog tour for her new release Numbers Never Lie and she's sharing a bit about the novel's Michigan setting. Take it away, Diane!

Isle Royale

Thanks so much for having me here today, Julie. I’m excited to share my latest release, Numbers Never Lie, a romantic suspense, that was over fifteen years in the making. Life intrusions made me set this story aside until this year. It was so much fun to finish it and be able to share it with everyone.

Be sure to see the Rafflecopter at the end of this post and sign up to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

The story takes place in West Michigan, near Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second largest city. Maggie Sinclair’s best friend talked her into helping with a group of girls who loved to camp. When her friend moved away, Maggie “inherited” the group of fourteen-year-olds who desperately want to camp at Isle Royale National Park.

Isle Royale (sounds like “royal”) is a rugged, isolated island in Lake Superior. The only way to get there is by boat or sea plane from Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota. If you want solitude and adventure, it’s a great place. Backpackers, hikers, boaters, fishermen, kayakers, and scuba divers will find plenty to do. Camping on the island is primitive. But, if roughing it isn’t your style, Rock Harbor Lodge is available June through September. Maggie, her friend, and the girls prefer to rough it. Isle Royale and the other 450 surrounding islands make up the National Park.

An abundance of wildlife live on the island. You’re liable to come across moose, wolves, foxes, beavers, squirrels, plus pond life, like frogs, salamanders, and turtles. The girls in Maggie’s group are gearing up for the trip by learning as much as they can about the wildlife. One of the girls, who wants to be an ornithologist, is studying birds in order to recognize the different species. She even has a recording of bird songs so she can identify the sounds they hear.

In preparation for the trip, the girls need to toughen up. Walking every day and hiking each weekend would be ideal. But there’s one glitch. For safety reasons, Maggie won’t take the girls camping without another adult. The moms don’t want to and the dads are too busy. If only someone would volunteer.

When the girls thought all was lost and their camping days were over, Ellen says her dad (Drew) will chaperone their weekend camping trip. Yay!

But did Drew know what he volunteered for?


A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


Maggie Sinclair wondered for the tenth time that morning why she hadn’t had her head examined before agreeing to Ellen’s offer. The week before, Maggie called off the trip when not one parent volunteered to chaperone. She hated disappointing the girls who had been crushed when their leader moved away. For the past two months, they talked about camping again. But week after week they returned with the same news. Their mothers refused, and their dads were too busy.
So when Ellen said her dad would help, the girls went wild. And Maggie, who should’ve known better, believed Ellen who swore she’d asked and her father agreed. Maggie should have followed up with a phone call, but years of avoiding Drew Campbell prevailed. Years of unreciprocated longing—from when her heart first took notice, through the years when he was single, then when he was married. Except for that one time, she never let him know. Avoidance was best.
Now here she was needing his help with the girls. Preparing them for a week-long camping trip to Isle Royale had been Trish Morrow’s goal when she started the group four years ago. The girls loved roughing it. They just needed more hiking and camping experience before tackling the primitive island in Lake Superior.
Though they’d gotten a late start this morning because of the fog, Maggie noticed the girls’ energy start to flag after the fifth mile of the hike. That was when she put Drew Campbell at the front of the line. From the rear, she watched him trying to set a faster pace—especially after Gretchen’s assurance that they could keep up. The man was in a world of hurt even if he was making a concerted effort not to show it. He looked so trim, so athletic, Maggie had assumed he was in good shape.
Typical desk jockey. He probably got his exercise in a climate-controlled gym. No, wait. In a health club.
For better or worse—and she was afraid worse was the operative word—she was stuck with him for the next thirty hours.
Are we having fun yet? she mocked herself as she tromped through the woods with eight tough little girls on the brink of womanhood and her brother’s best friend. From the back of the line, Maggie watched his long-legged stride and the way his navy golf shirt revealed his strong shoulders and the way his obviously new jeans conformed to his butt. She lifted the tail of the bandanna knotted around her neck and wiped the sweat from her upper lip. She couldn’t blame the sun for the heat coursing through her.
Okay, Sinclair, she told herself, keep your mind on the matter at hand. And not how good Campbell’s butt looked in tight new jeans.
Good Lord, she felt fifteen again—instead of thirty-four. Her stomach in knots, her skin on fire. Lusting after the man who said she kissed like a guppy.

Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.

About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Connect with Diane Burton online:

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG & A Completed Manuscript

Hello and Happy July! Hard to believe we are now officially halfway through 2018, isn't it? Today is a rare Tuesday meeting day for The Insecure Writer's Support Group. The group was founded by our Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. To view list members and this month's co-hosts, visit the IWSG page here.

My insecurities have taken a backseat lately as I had a productive June and managed to actually finish my editing of A Killing in Kennecott! I set a goal to finish by the end of the month and to my amazement I not only met the goal but submitted the manuscript a few days early. I am so excited to have the story in the hands of the publisher now!

The long-abandoned Kennecott post office, which plays a key role in my story
I'm super attached to this story now after more than three years of working on it, so normally I'd be totally insecure about the publisher and everyone else hating it even though I love it. But for now I'm managing to keep those voices at bay by working on my Paris story. So far, so good!

I'm feeling good and optimistic and I'm hoping to keep riding these feelings through the second half of the year. My goal now is to have a first draft of the Paris story done by then so I hope I can share good news again when we get to December.

For now I hope this new month finds you all well. Happy 4th of July to my American friends!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A visit from Jacqui Murray!

Today I'm participating in the blog hop to celebrate the launch of a great new release from Jacqui Murray, Born in a Treacherous Time. This is the first book in Jacqui's Man vs. Nature series.

Series Logo

Jacqui gave her tour hosts the opportunity to participate in a Q&A about her book, its genre, and its characters. I chose this question to learn more about Lucy, the main character of the story.

What one characteristic would you say allowed Lucy to survive in a world populated with Sabertooth Cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?

Jacqui's answer:

Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Lucy had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But we did. The biggest reason: Even then, Lucy was a problem solver. She faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Lucy had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.

To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.

Thanks for the Q&A, Jacqui. I am intrigued by Lucy now!

Here's all the information on the book!

Book information:

Title and author: Born in a Treacherous Time
Series: Book 1 in the Man vs. Nature series
Genre: Prehistoric fiction
Cover by: Damonza 
Available at: Kindle

Book Blurb:

Lucy struggles to survive prehistoric Africa

Book Summary:

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.
This is a spin-off of To Hunt a Sub’s Lucy (the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist).

Congratulations and Best Wishes on the release, Jacqui!! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: A Killing in Kennecott & Some Very Messy Medieval Magic

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

I'm feeling great today as it's the first time in a long time I've actually been excited about writing and blogging. I can't even count how many times in the past few years I've been close to throwing in the towel on both. I'm so glad I didn't!

Last month I didn't even post because I was so annoyed that I got nowhere on my A Window Box in Paris story during my April CampNaNo attempt. But then I decided to go back to my Alaska story and to my astonishment I actually finished it.

I'm so thrilled to be able to share that after three years and countless changes, so many that the story now bears almost no resemblance to the one I started with, A Killing in Kennecott, the third book in my Polar Night series, is done! I've had my trusted readers read it and they've given me great feedback, so all I need to do is go through one final round of revisions and edits. I'm so excited!

I've already talked to my publisher about the story and they are interested in it, so I can't wait to have it polished and ready to submit. It feels so good to be excited about writing again.

Now I'm feeling inspired to return to my Paris story yet again and I feel like I can finally make progress on that as well. Fingers crossed! 

Image result for snoopy typing

I also want to help spread the word about the new book from C. Lee McKenzie, Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. The book was released last month by Dancing Lemur Press and is another great book from Lee! Everyone who knows Lee knows she is one of the nicest bloggers around so I'm happy to have the opportunity to share her latest. Congratulations, C. Lee!


By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand. http://cleemckenziebooks.com

Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/some-very-messy-medieval-magic-c-lee-mckenzie/1127622061?ean=2940154648575
Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/some-very-messy-medieval-magic
iTunes - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/some-very-messy-medieval-magic/id1324257652?mt=11
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Some-Very-Messy-Medieval-Magic/dp/1939844460/
Kindle - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V72G8R
Foyles - http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/childrens/some-very-messy-medieval-magic,c-lee-mckenzie-9781939844460
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37537343-some-very-messy-medieval-magic

Monday, May 7, 2018

Dog Rescue with Guilie Castillo!

Hello, friends! I'm on a bit of a blog break but am popping in to share a dog rescue story from Guilie Castillo as part of the blog tour for her book It's About the Dog: The A-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers. I am a sucker for a dog rescue story and this one about a sweetheart named Jake and the wonderful group that worked to save him went straight to my heart. 💓💓

Welcome, Guilie, and thanks for all you do for dogs!
Sometimes rescue just… flows. Sometimes the stars seem to align for the rescuer—and for the dog. Sometimes the dog treats you like a long-lost best friend (and, who knows, maybe in another life you did know each other) and isn’t just willing but eager to jump into your car. Sometimes all it takes is couple of treats and a leash. […] 
More often than not, though, rescue gets rough. And, because the universe loves irony, it’s usually the dogs in most urgent need of help who refuse to cooperate. Because they’re in panic, because they’ve been abused and don’t trust humans, because they’re hurt and in pain. Whatever the reason, it comes down to this: 
How do you catch a dog that doesn’t want to be caught?

Just last week, a group of rescuers here in Curaçao had one such case. Back at the beginning of April, someone had spotted a dog with a severely in-grown collar at Parasasa Beach, but no one had been able to find him. Then, finally, someone spotted him again, same place, just before sundown. He ran off, though; shy and skittish, probably terrified of humans (probably with good reason). 

Parasasa Beach, Curaçao. Image credit: CuracaoTodo.com

This dog was not going to come in without a fight.

But the rescuers from Feed Friends Foundation weren’t about to give up. They went back the next day, armed with kennels and leashes and food—good stuff, tasty (and smelly) bits of kidney or liver canned food, which they placed around the beach and laced with Tranquigel (a mild gel sedative; best invention since the dog leash, I tell you). Then they sat, at a distance, and waited.

At sundown, the dog showed up. Among the five rescuers (including a seven-year-old girl, daughter of one of the rescuers—yes, it runs in the blood) quiet cheers went up when the dog, whom they'd started calling Jake, wolfed down the food. Now it was just a matter of time; Tranquigel can take up to an hour to kick in. 

Jake had come from the direction of the Marriott property next door, currently being 'renovated' (officially, but us locals have our doubts) and thus closed up. If he made it back there, the rescuers wouldn't be able to follow. It wouldn't matter whether they set out liver or raw tenderloin: no one was going to be seeing Jake until the next morning, when the sedative had worn off and they'd have to start all over again.

Everyone wanted to avoid that. Even at a distance, the wound around his neck looked bad enough to make this an urgent rescue. Jake was going to end this day at the vet, in safety; everyone agreed on that.

Jake, however, had different ideas. An hour had passed, and he showed no signs of calming down. Parasasa Beach is not a quiet spot; the neighborhood is home to several hotels, offices, and restaurants, which mean an abundance of cars and buses and people. And every time any of them came to within five meters, Jake bolted. 

The rescuers took up positions between the beach and the Marriott property line, to prevent Jake from escaping in that direction. They tried to close in on him, towels in hand, using every trick in the book—but each time Jake managed to slip away. Finally, with daylight fading fast, they began to consider one last option, an option no one liked: the dog catcher's pole. 

The dog catcher's pole: a rescuer's best frenemy. We love to hate it. We hate that it saves our butts so often.

Rescuers tend to hate the pole: it's unwieldy, it looks threatening even to a calm dog, let alone a panicky stray. In Jake's case, there was an additional factor: the open wound around his neck where a too-tight collar had bitten into his skin. The pole's looped end had to go around his neck, and none of the rescuers liked the idea of causing this poor dog any more pain. 

Many people have the idea that rescuing is a 'fun' thing, all unicorns and rainbows and cuddly puppies. The truth? It's hard-core, and it requires hard-core people. People who rescue have to care about the dog—otherwise why are you out there chasing a dog in the middle of the night?—but they have to be able to make tough decisions. Keep priorities straight. Stay focused on the goal. Do what it takes.

And, right now, it looked like what it took to get Jake to safety wasn't going to be pretty.

Meet Jake. Photo quality shows how far away the rescuers had to stay in order to keep him from bolting. No close-up of the wound here, but — if you have a strong stomach — you can see it at the Feed Friends page on Facebook.
(Photo courtesy of Dyveke Fraaij-Brugman)

They looked at each other, jaws set but eyes glistening. Twilight had come and gone, and in the dark the chances of catching Jake were dwindling with every minute that passed. It was now or never.

They did catch him. As soon as the pole's loop tightened around his neck, he stopped struggling—which, ask any rescuer, is the most heartbreaking moment of any rescue. He was wrapped in a towel to prevent him from biting the odd arm or leg, the loop was loosened and taken away, and he was tucked into a kennel—safe, finally. For the first time in... who knows how long.

Once in the car, with more light, Jake's rescuers were able to get their first good look at him. The in-grown collar was worse up close, and a few nods of we did the right thing were exchanged. Also, they found out why the Tranquigel hadn't worked: other than the wound on his neck, Jake was in pretty good shape. Dirty, long nails, a couple of bald spots, but not emaciated, not even skinny. He had found a good source of food, either scraps left by people on the beach, or a restaurant trash can; whatever it was, it means he has excellent chances of healing quickly and properly. He's also young, probably not much older than a year. His is a success story, and this part, his rescue, is only the beginning.

Jake has been taken in by the Curaçao Animal Rights Foundation (CARF), an organization known for its work with the cases that would stump (and bankrupt) most other rescue groups. They'll provide the best medical care Jake can get, and, when the time comes, they'll make sure he goes to a home where he'll be loved and cherished and spoiled to bits.

Jake is safe. His future is bright and shiny. And none of it would've been possible without the five rescuers who refused to give up that day on the beach. This is my standing ovation to them.

(Photo courtesy of Dyveke Fraaij-Brugman)

Would you like to contribute to Jake's recovery, and help get others like him to safety? You can donate to CARF here and to Feed Friends here, and a Like on Facebook (CARF, Feed Friends) goes a long way. Rescue, however, is very much like sustainability practices: start local. The best way to help is to get involved with organizations in your area and find out what they need; not everyone can do the chase-down-a-dog routine, and there are plenty of other ways to make a difference. You can help organize fundraising, for instance. You can make flyers. You can donate stuff, or collect it from your neighbors and acquaintances: old towels and bed sheets, bowls, blankets, collars, tags... Seriously, the list is endless.

Julie, thanks so much for having me here today, and for giving little Jake's story a chance to reach, and maybe touch, more people. I'm honored to get the opportunity to share his story, and I'm delighted that it found a home here with you and your readers. Looking forward to chatting with everyone in the comments!

Guilie Castillo, Mexican expat, writer, and dog rescuer, is the author of It’s About the Dog: The A-to-Z Guide for Wannabe Dog Rescuers (Everytime Press, April 2018), a hands-on, less-tears-more-action, 100% practical introduction to dog rescue. 

This post is a part of The Dog Book Blog Tour; during April and May, author and book will be making the rounds of dog-loving sites on the blogosphere to talk dogs and rescue—and to give away THREE signed copies (More about both tour and giveaway here.) Come join us!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG: Camping & the Tick Tock Anthology

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

This month's IWSG question is: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

This seems to describe my writing life for more than a year now, and anything I've done to "dig down" hasn't made much of a difference up to this point. So this month I'm trying something different and going camping, thanks to the encouragement of my friend Madeline of the Shellshank Redemption

I've never tried Camp NaNoWriMo before, mostly because the past few times I've tried NaNo itself it's left me even less motivated than I was at the start, but after hearing about the relaxed retreat-like atmosphere of Camp I decided to give it a try. I set the modest goal of simply finishing the first draft of the Paris story I've been struggling with for almost two years. I'm hoping to get comfy in my writing tent and emerge at the end of the month with a draft, no matter how messy it may be. 

I'm also excited to help spread the word about the latest IWSG anthology, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime. Gwen Gardner is here with some tips for solving mysteries. Welcome, Gwen!

Thanks for hosting the Tick Tock mystery writers, Julie!

I hope you have some mystery lovers here today, because this year’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology, Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, is all about mystery, crime and thrillers.

I’m a complete mystery fanatic in all its forms—except psychological. I lean toward the lighthearted, cozy side. And I am an excellent armchair detective, if I do say so myself. It helps when you read, write and watch mysteries!

How do you solve a mystery?

If you have a literary amateur sleuth or armchair detective in your life, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

1. If someone is looking way too innocent, don’t count them out! Just because Aunt Agatha seems frail doesn’t mean she’s a sweet little old lady. Trust me, Aggie’s been around the block a few dozen times and probably has moves you know nothing about. Even Julia Child was a spy during World War II! Spies come in many shapes and sizes. Aunt Aggie might still have a decent karate chop in those gnarled, arthritic hands. I watched a scene just like this on Midsomer Murders once, so it must be true.

2. Never take an alibi at face value. It doesn’t matter if the Queen of England says she was on the royal throne at the time. If nobody saw her (close up, because it could have been a body double), then her alibi is no good. I love her dearly, but you know she was a mechanic during WWII, right? All I’m saying is that the woman knows how to wield a spanner!

3. If you’re sleuthing it’s because you’re connected to the victim in some way, however tenuous. So if you find the murder weapon, for the love of god, please don’t touch it! Because once you touch it, your fingerprints are all over the murder weapon. And boom! Now you’re a suspect. And now you really have to dig yourself out of a hole. I tell my sleuths this all the time, but do they listen? No. They do not.

If you enjoyed these tips, you’ll enjoy the anthology even more! There are lots of stories to choose from in nearly any mystery/crime/thriller sub-genre. It’s on pre-sale now at all major venues and will be released on May 1st by Dancing Lemur Press.