Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WWW Wednesday and A-Z Sign-Ups!

I can't believe it's already time to sign up for another A to Z April Challenge, but April really is right around the corner and the 2013 sign-up list is officially open as of today. If you'd like to sign up, just click on the badge above for all the info you need.

This will be my third A-Z Challenge, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If I hadn't stumbled upon a link to it back in March of 2011, I highly doubt that I would still be blogging today. Participating in the challenge jump-started my blog and helped me feel like I had some sort of place here in this huge blogosphere. I met so many wonderful bloggers, many of whom I still keep in touch with today, and realized how much fun blogging can be.

So if there is anyone reading this who is interested in the challenge but on the fence about whether or not to participate, I say go for it! I promise you won't regret it. :)

Also, it's Wednesday and time for another round of WWW Wednesdays, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next? 
I've spent January reading some great novels and novellas from writer friends, and it's been fun to catch up on so many fantastic stories. There are so many talented writers out here in blog land!

What are you currently reading? 

I just started reading Reaper's Novice by Cecilia Robert, who can be found at Cecilia Robert's Written Word. I haven't gotten far enough in the book yet to write about it, but I know Cecilia is a great writer so I've no doubt the book will be great as well.

What did you recently finish reading?

Witch's Nocturne by E.J. Wesley, who blogs at The Open Vein. E.J.'s Moonsongs series is excellent and the stories are fun and quick reads.

Weighted by Ciara Knight. An amazing prequel to Ciara's upcoming series The Neumarian Chronicles.

What do you think you'll read next?

I don't have an Amazon link for this book, and I won't be able to read it until it is published on February 14, but I will be really excited to be able to read Scream If You Wanna Go Faster by Wade Beauchamp. Wade is a fellow Ink Smith Publishing author, and we have been cheering each other on since we both signed our contracts. Visit the book's Facebook page to learn more about it.

That's it for me today. Have you read any great books recently? Are you planning to participate in the A to Z Challenge?

Hope everyone is having a good week! :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introducing Myself

Today is the day for the Re-Introduce Myself fest! Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Mark Koopmans, Elise Fallson, and C.M. Brown, this fest is a chance to get to know members of the ever-expanding blogging community better. All we have to do is share something about ourselves. Here goes!

I'm a sports fanatic even though I am the world's worst athlete. I can't play sports to save my life, but I love to watch them. I love football (college and  the NFL), college basketball, and baseball. Right now I'm enjoying cheering for the OSU Buckeyes basketball team and anxious for the return of the Cincinnati Reds in April. I love having a sport for every season of the year.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I'm also a total tv junkie and I'm a huge fan of (some may say obsessed with) Game of Thrones. Ever since I saw this promo for S3 I am counting the days until March 31. This in spite of the fact that I've read the books and probably know everything that is going to happen. I can't deny I may in fact be a little bit obsessed.


As this blogfest is intended to be "quick and fun," I'm going to leave it at that. And I'm looking forward to hopping around and getting to know more about my fellow bloggers!

Happy Monday to all. Hope the week ahead is a good one. :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Small Things and Huge Thanks

It's Friday and time for another round of the Celebrate the Small Things bloghop, which is the brainchild of Vikki at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The purpose of the hop is to post something you've accomplished this week, celebrate the small victories, and hop around and give others a cheer and a virtual pat on the back.

This week I learned how to add a group of "find me" buttons to the sidebar of my blog, with pictures and links to my other social media pages. I've seen this feature on lots of other blogs but haven't been able to figure out how to do it myself. But thanks to this page, I now know how to do it. I was totally thrilled that I could not only get the pictures onto my sidebar, but also get the links to actually work. Yes, I am a  simpleton. :D

Beyond that, this week has been all about my cover reveal for Polar Night, and I can't even begin to say how much the week has meant to me. Seeing my cover and book blurb around the blogosphere has been such a thrill, and I am beyond grateful to everyone who helped make this week so special for me.

THANK YOU to everyone who shared my cover, tweeted about it or shared it on Facebook, visited my page, or left comments here or on participating sites. If I hadn't already known how lucky I am to have become part of this amazing community, this week certainly would have confirmed that for me.

So thanks again, and thank you as well to Vikki for coming up with this great hop to end the week. I hope we all have lots of things both big and small to celebrate.

Happy weekend, all! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Polar Night Cover Reveal!

I'm so excited to be able to share the cover for my debut novel Polar Night, which will be published on February 7 by Ink Smith Publishing. 

I worked with super-talented artist George Cotronis on the cover, and I'm so thrilled with the idea he came up with. When I first saw the cover I was amazed by how well he had captured the mood of the story. 

I'm also thrilled to share the blurb that will be on the back cover of the book. I have to admit, just writing "back cover" makes me squee a little bit. It's still all so surreal!

But enough of my squealing. :D This is the synopsis:

When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

Huge thanks to everyone who signed up to help me with the cover reveal this week, I'm so grateful to all of you!! I drew a winner for the Amazon gift card using, and Michael Di Gesu won. Congrats to Michael and thanks again to all!

I look forward to the opportunity to return the favor at any time. :) 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blogfest Roundup

I learned of some fun upcoming blogfests while hopping around blog land this week and wanted to help spread the word about them. Also, I can't deny that organizing them into one post helps me remember what I have signed up for!

First up, Jamie Ayres is hosting the What Are Your 18 Things? Blogfest starting today and running through Thursday, January 24.

The fest is to celebrate the release of Jamie's debut novel, 18 Things, on the 24th, and all you have to do to enter is post about some items on your bucket list any day between now and then. You don't even have to post 18 things if you don't want to, Jamie is being so flexible about it that you can post one thing and that will still count. Anyone who enters will be signed up to win a bunch of great prizes, including books, gift cards, and critiques. To see the whole list of prizes and to enter, click here.

Huge congratulations to Jamie on her big release!!

Coming up next is the Re-Introduce Myself fest on Monday, January 28. Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Mark Koopmans, Elise Fallson, and C.M. Brown, this fest is a chance to get to know members of the ever-expanding blogging community better, and to allow them to get to know more about you. All you have to do is share something interesting about yourself. The hosts are billing this as a "quick and fun" fest, and short posts are welcome, something I'm sure we can all get behind. Click here for the Linky List!

On February 1, Annalisa Crawford and Kyra Lennon are hosting the Imaginary Friend Bloghop to celebrate the first anniversary of the release of Annalisa's book Cat and The Dreamer

Julia, the main character of Cat and The Dreamer, has an imaginary enemy. So Annalisa and Kyra want to know about our imaginary friends when we were kids. This hop is sure to be a fun time. And, if you haven't already read Cat and The Dreamer, I can't recommend it enough! Annalisa is a fantastic writer!

Also in February, Writers4Writers returns and will be held on the third Monday of each month. If you participated in W4WS back in December and helped spread the word about Nancy Thompson's The Mistaken, you know it is a fun way to help publicize fellow authors and their work. February's featured authors will be Gwen Gardner and Melissa Bradley. To learn more about Writers 4 Writers, visit the W4WS page here.

Finally, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has signed up to help with my cover reveal for Polar Night! You guys are the best and I am so grateful for your support.

If you haven't signed up and would like to participate and be entered into the drawing for the Amazon gift card, the linky list below will be open through Saturday, and you can share the cover any time next week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Polar Night Cover Reveal and Giveaway


I am so excited to reveal the cover for my upcoming novel Polar Night that I decided to host a giveaway and offer the chance to win a prize to anyone who helps me out.

I am going to reveal the cover and the book blurb on Monday, January 21st and I'm inviting everyone who is interested to help me spread the word. I know it's short notice, but if you could share the cover any time between Monday, 1/21 and Friday, 1/25 I'd be so grateful!

I'm including a linky list below and everyone who participates in the reveal will be entered for a chance to win a $25 gift card from, or, for anyone outside of the US, $25 to spend on your choice of items from the International Book Depository. The winner will be chosen randomly after the reveal.

The linky list will be open through Friday, 1/18. Thank you in advance to all who sign up!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Polar Night Release Date!

I'm so excited to be able to announce the release date for Polar Night! The book will be published on February 7. I can't believe it!

I've been doing the happy dance (see above :D) ever since getting the news. And, my head is spinning in 100 different directions thinking about what I need to do between now and then.

I hope to share the cover and also set up a launch party next week, but for now I think I am just going to keep doing the happy dance. Thanks so much to all of you for being so supportive of me through this process, I'm so grateful and one of the first things I thought of when I learned the official date was that I couldn't wait to share the news with all of you. I'm so grateful to be part of this community!

I hope everyone has a great weekend coming up!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Social Media Just For Writers

A few months ago I was contacted by Trish Collins at TLC Book Tours about reviewing the book Social Media Just For Writers by Frances Caballo. I received a copy of the book in exchange for writing a review here on the blog, and I'm so glad I signed up to participate in the tour! I ended up enjoying the book immensely and, most importantly, I found it very helpful.

As I've written on this blog before, most recently for December's Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting, participation in social media is not something that comes easily or naturally to me. I've always been an introverted and generally shy person, so while I've created social media accounts in order to increase my presence online, I haven't exactly been jumping up and down at the thought of posting on any of them.

But one of my goals for the past several months has been to become more comfortable using social media, so this book couldn't have come at a better time for me. Caballo includes chapters on all the main social media sites, with additional chapters on the two kingpins Facebook and Twitter, and presents useful tips and advice in an engaging and easy-to-read manner.

The most helpful part of the book to me was Caballo's discussions of the most helpful apps to use on all of the various sites. I was actually surprised to learn that LinkedIn has a "goodie bag" of applications as I've really never used that site enough to learn about its features. Of course, there were also lots of suggested apps for both Facebook and Twitter, and I am looking forward to trying them out.

I also appreciated the chapter on Pinterest, as that is a site I have been meaning to use more so I can see what all the fuss is about. Caballo discusses how Pinterest can be used with SEO as a tool to drive more traffic to writer websites and blogs, and I thought her ideas were interesting and definitely worth trying out.

Ultimately the whole book is about how writers can make the best use of the resources available online in order to market their books. Caballo also includes a chapter on offline promotion which provides ideas for more traditional marketing practices.

I think this book is a great resource for indie or self-published writers and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in increasing their online profile and utilizing all that social media has to offer.

You can learn more about Frances Caballo and her work here:  website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest

Today is the day for the Beginnings Blogfest, hosted by L.G. Keltner in honor of her first blogoversary. Congratulations to LG!

The idea for this blogfest is simple. As LG wrote in her original blogfest post:
"In celebration of completing one trip around the sun since I started blogging, I want to give everyone a chance to write about a beginning that is important to them."
As I am a totally lazy blogger, I decided to share a post I wrote about this very topic last year around this time. The post was done for a guest spot on Misha Gericke's My First Book, and I wrote about my own writing beginnings.
My writing beginning came about at an age when many people are getting serious about planning for retirement. I'd never worried much about age before, but that changed when I turned 40. At a time when society says we are supposed to be happily settled and basking in the rewards of middle-age, I found myself feeling lost and unfulfilled, and wondering what on earth I could do to change what looked like a dull and uninspiring future.

I felt like I'd hit a low point, and I made the decision that I was going to make changes. I had no idea what those changes were going to be but, somehow, just making the decision felt like a step in the right direction.

I started reading all kinds of self-help books, but I quickly realized that I was simply reading as a means of putting off actually doing something. The reading was easy. The doing was the scary part.

Finally, I sat down and thought about what it was that I enjoyed doing. The answer came easily. From the time I was in school, the one thing I had always felt confident about, and had brought me pleasure, was writing. Whether writing papers for classes, writing letters, or writing academic articles as a librarian, I enjoyed all of it. In addition, since childhood I had loved constructing stories in my head about characters I saw on tv or read about in books. I never wrote them down; as I thought writing stories was something creative people did. And I wasn't creative.

If there was one skill I had mastered in life, it was saying “I can't,” or “I'm not.” Now that I had reached this low point, I thought I had nothing to lose by trying “I can” and “I am” on for size. If nothing else, I resolved to say “I'll try.”

My opportunity to put my words into action came about in a completely unexpected way. I discovered a show called Dog Town, which was about dogs at Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. I fell in love with the place, and looked up their website. To my surprise, I found a listing for volunteer writers for their site. On a whim, I submitted an application.

Before too long, I had my first assignment, and wrote about people in Florida who had come to the aid of starving and neglected cats. I was so nervous when I submitted my article that I was afraid to open the response from the editor. But I had no reason to be afraid, as the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive.

I felt buoyed in a way I never had while doing my “real” work. I wrote more articles, and continued to get wonderful feedback from both editors and readers alike. In addition, I was thrilled to be contributing to a cause I cared about, and helping both people I admired and animals I loved.

Suddenly, being a writer didn't seem like something I couldn't do any more. I went from “I'll try” to “What if?” What if I branched out and wrote for other outlets? What if I could actually get paid for doing this?

“What if?” became “I will,” and that was my beginning. Now nearly two years later, I feel like I've finally found the passion and sense of fulfillment I'd been missing for so long. And even though I still have a long way to go to be able to support myself with writing, the small amount of money I have made has been worth its weight in gold. What's more, the personal rewards have enriched my life in a way no amount of money ever could.

So my advice to would-be writers is simple. Begin. No matter your age or experience, there’s never a wrong time to get started. It may seem frightening, but take that first step. Volunteer, write a blog, or sit down and start that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

The step you take is up to you. The important thing is to begin.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Two Cover Reveals!

Today is a big day for Ellie Garratt and Carol Kilgore, as they are both revealing the covers for their upcoming books. I'm excited to be participating in the reveals.

Here is Ellie's awesome cover for Passing Time:

And here is Carol's amazing cover for Solomon's Compass:

I think both of these covers are fantastic! Congratulations, ladies!

Now on to the scoop on the books and their authors:

Passing Time by Ellie Garratt

Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre

Book Blurb

Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.

A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.

In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.

A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free. And will truth finally be set free in The Letter?

Publication date: February 11th, 2013

About The Author

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror, meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time is her first eBook collection and contains nine previously published stories. Her science fiction collection Taking Time will be published later in the year.

Author Links

Please visit Ellie’s blog on Friday, January 11th, when she will be interviewing Passing Time’s cover designer, Ida Jansson.

Solomon's Compass by Carol Kilgore

Book Blurb

A missing belt—her uncle’s prized possession. The lure of buried treasure. And a sexy former SEAL who makes U.S. Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell crazy. What more could any woman want. Right?

Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor's certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy's dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.

Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.

Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.

But the killer's actions are just what Jake is afraid of.

About the Author

Carol Kilgore is an award-winning author of several published short stories and many essays and articles. Solomon’s Compass is her second novel, a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss – always at least one crime; always a love story. Carol and her Coast Guard husband live in San Antonio, Texas, with two herding dogs that like nothing better than pack time on the patio.

Find Carol here:

Big congratulations again to Carol and Ellie! I know I am looking forward to reading both of these books. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG: Another Voice

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.

I saw this quote on Goodreads yesterday and couldn't believe how well it fit with the ideas I had swirling around in my head for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group. As always, the group is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts are Tyrean Martinson and Jamie Gibbs.

December 31 was my two-year blogoversary and to say it's been an amazing two years would be an understatement. This whole experience has been so much more than I ever expected it to be, and when I wrote my first post back in 2010 I never would have believed that this blog would still be active and continuing to grow two years down the road. The most surprising thing about this journey to me has been the fact that I've gone from wondering what else is possible to actually seeing myself as a writer.

For a long time I was insecure about calling myself a writer and thought I would be considered foolish if I treated writing as anything more than a hobby. But the past two years have taught me that there's nothing foolish about it, and in fact no one I've told about my writing goals and achievements has ever acted as if I was at all foolish. 

So with the new year at hand, a year which will see the publication of my debut novel, I decided to push down that insecure voice and try out another one.

As writers, we all know the power of language and voice. For me, it's been very powerful to say out loud and in print that I'm a writer, first and foremost.
To that end, I've made some changes to the blog and decided to retire my old title. Instead of wondering what else is possible, I'm celebrating what is. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 will bring, and excited about continuing this journey with all of you.