Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Big A-Z Reveal, Polar Night Character Closeups, and The Write Space with Ellie Garratt

Busy day here today! And just when I said I was going to cut back a bit on blogging LOL. 

First up, today is the day for The Big Reveal Blog Hop, hosted by Brits in the USA and Mina Lobo, so I am excited to reveal my theme for this year's A-Z in April Challenge.

I'm writing about Alaska this year to go along with the publication of my novel Polar Night. Alaska is the setting for the novel, and I had such fun learning about this fascinating state that I thought it would be a great A-Z topic. Looking forward to seeing what others have chosen for their themes!

And speaking of Polar Night, this is the last day for my Character Closeups feature on E.J. Wesley's site The Open Vein. Aleksei Nechayev is hanging out with E.J., so I'm a little worried about E.J.'s safety. Hope everything will go smoothly, as Aleksei is a dangerous guy to have around. Visit us here to get to know Aleksei and to sign up if you'd like to be included in my ebook giveaway.

Danny and Amanda already visited E.J. this week and had a great time. Thanks again to E.J. and to everyone who stopped by to visit!

Now on to the big news of the day! Ellie Garratt, author of Passing Time, is here today as part of her blog tour. I'm thrilled to be part of the tour and excited to have Ellie here to share her writing space with all of us.

Take it away, Ellie!

The Write Space 

Thank you for hosting me, Julie. It’s an honour to be passing time with you and your readers.

I believe every writer needs a space of his or her own to write, no matter how small. Why? It focuses the mind on the task in hand. It lets the business-like part of the brain know you are serious. It also lets other family members know you can’t be disturbed unless there is an emergency or they are bringing copious amounts of coffee and biscuits.

Like most writers I dream of having a room just for writing. It would have a large mahogany desk, fireplace, wall-to-wall bookshelves, a majestic view, and maybe even a dog sat by my feet. The reality for most writers is the complete opposite.

When I first started writing I sat on the sofa with a lap tray or used the dining room table. Both were great but meant I had to keep putting my writing stuff away. Then I bought an old writers bureau, which meant I could leave everything out all the time. It was small but worked perfectly. I’ve since moved house, and my bedroom now doubles as my writing area. In fact the reason I chose the flat was because the bay window was perfect for a bigger writing desk, and the estuary view inspiring (if you ignore the car park).

One of the UK writing magazines does a ‘Where I write’ feature every month, which I love. So I thought I’d share my current writing space with you.

As you can see I have a fondness for elephants–nothing at all to do with my name being Ellie. Honest.

On the left is my blog calendar. If I don’t note everything down, I will forget. Underneath the calendar is my current work-in-progress word count. The boxes contain all my writing and Star Trek magazines. The folders contain my current projects. I have a few good luck charms: a NaNoWriMo mug, robot USB hub, and various bookmarks.

Finally, the other side of my desk:

Neil Armstrong is hiding in the right-hand corner. You can just see the car park through the window, and beyond that is the River Exe.

So that is my writing space. What is yours like? Do have your own room or desk, or do you make do with whatever space you can find? Do you have a dream writing area? What would it be like if money and space were no object?

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?

Book Links

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

Last but not least, your chance to win a prize:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 18, 2013

Character Closeups with EJ Wesley and Writers4Writers

I'm cutting back a bit on blogging for the next few weeks in order to concentrate on writing before the craziness of the A-Z in April Challenge begins, so a few of the Polar Night characters are taking up the slack for me this week.

Danny, Aleksei, and Amanda are visiting with one of my favorite blogger buddies, the totally awseome E.J. Wesley, at his site The Open Vein.

E.J. recently started a new series called Character Closeups, and my characters and I are thrilled to be part of it. Danny is up first, so if you'd like to get to know a bit more about my protagonist visit E.J.'s site here.

I'm offering a free ebook copy of Polar Night at the end of the week, so be sure to stop by E.J.'s if you are interested.

Thank you to E.J. for including me in his series!

Also, today is the day for another round of Writers4Writers! This month's featured writers are Angela Brown and Kyra Lennon, so congratulations to these two fantastic writers!!

If you want to join in and help spread the word about these two authors and their great works, visit the W4WS page here for all the info about this monthly project. 

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a good week ahead. In addition to spending time concentrating on my writing this week, I am really looking forward to the start of March Madness. Go Buckeyes! :D

Hope to see you over at E.J.'s place this week. I'll be popping back in here on Thursday for The Big Reveal A-Z Theme Hop and to share a guest post from the wonderful Ellie Garratt

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

National Wormhole Day and The Blog Blitz

It's time for the National Wormhole Day hop, hosted by Stephen Tremp, LG Smith, and Laura Eno.

Here is the info on the hop:
What would you do or where would you go if you could traverse a wormhole through space or time just once? One safe round trip passage. Would you go back in time and talk some sense into a younger you? Go five years into the future and bring back the Wall Street Journal? See just how the heck the Great Pyramids of Giza were really built? View what the other side of the universe looks like? Kill Hitler?

And here is my answer:

I'd go back in time to 1930s Cincinnati so that I could meet my maternal grandfather. He died in 1946 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, and I've always been sorry I never got to meet him. Based on what I've heard about him from my mom, he was a kind and decent man who enjoyed life and loved his family. I think he would have been a very fun grandfather to have. So I'd like to go back to the '30s before he became ill and spend some time with him. It would also be fun to see my maternal grandmother when she was young. I was only 9 years old when she died, and I've always regretted not having more time with her than I did.

My mom's family was 100% German, and they loved their beer. I think it would be fun to go back and spend a day with them when they were all in the prime of their lives. It might be a little weird though to be around my mom when she was a little girl. Maybe I could arrange this Wormhole trip for a time when she was out visiting her friends. :D

Thanks to Stephen, Luanne, and Laura for hosting this great hop! If you'd like to join in, it's not too late to sign up! Just visit here for the list and join in the fun.

Also, DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude 2.0 has come up with a great idea to try to garner support for all of us here in the blogosphere through a rotating Blog Blitz. I'm just going to copy and paste DL's description of his idea so you can get the gist of it:
But what would it be like if the support, encouraging nature, and community spirit of the blogosphere were ever focused on a single blogger?  A few of us have experienced that sort of attention via book launches or other publishing announcements, and still others have achieved that level of awareness through the popular blogfests we host.  In most cases there is a lot of work that goes into generating that amount of interest.  What I'm talking about is being suddenly thrust into the spotlight, without even lifting a finger. What would it feel like to be the recipient of that kind of exposure? Could something like that even be possible? Can the power of the blogosphere be harnessed and directed?

Everyone knows I like to try new and different things, so today I present to you the BLOG BLITZ.  Here’s how I see it working.  Sign up on the linky list below, making sure to record your email address, and you’ll instantly become a member of the Blog Blitz Team.  Then from time to time, I will select a deserving blog (that must be part of the Blitz Team) and a specific date.  I will then email the team members that information and on that date we all will go out of our way to visit that blog and leave an encouraging comment on their most recent post.  I'm talking about hopefully a 100+ comments appearing out of the blue in one day!

When I first read about DL's idea it reminded me of the Writers4Writers project, which from what I have seen is a big success and a lot of fun. So I think DL is on the right track for helping to spread the blog love around even more. If you want to learn more about the project and sign up to be part of it, visit DL's post here.

Are you on board for the Blitz? Where are you heading after you hop through your wormhole?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chatting with Brinda Berry

I'm thrilled to be hanging out at Brinda Berry's blog today for a chat about Polar Night and some of my other writing activities. Come over and visit with us here!

Brinda is the queen of giveaways, and she is holding another great one for March. Stop by and enter for a chance to win an Amazon or B&N gift card.

And if you don't already know Brinda, you're really missing out. She is the author of The Whispering Woods series and I can attest that her books are excellent. She's also a super nice person and a dog lover, so what more could you want? :D

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and has a great week ahead. See you at Brinda's

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sample Sunday: Polar Night Excerpt

This short excerpt from Polar Night features antagonist Aleksei Nechayev, the proprietor of the haunted asylum turned tourist attraction in the Alaskan Arctic. 

Aleksei lay in his huge king-sized bed and dreamed of blood. He clutched at the thick black bedspread and recoiled from the sounds of gunfire in the distance. The gunfire came closer now, and was accompanied by screaming. 
Men screaming for their mothers, for their wives, for God. Ear-piercing screams of unrelenting agony. He tried to block out the yelling, but it was impossible. The screams were so shrill they echoed through his skull, causing him to cover his ears with his frozen hands and beg for silence. 
The hunger was even worse. Pangs of hunger threatened to take over his whole being. And the cold. Icy, bitter cold covered his body and left him shaking from head to toe. He longed for a real coat and gloves that were more than tatters on his fingers. 
He couldn’t have that, but he had her. She was there, next to him, her hand brushing his blond hair from his forehead. He was sure she was an angel. 
Aleksei woke with a start and sat straight up in bed. He cursed at the bedspread crumpled in his hands. He had never intended to fall asleep. He had work to do. 
He got out of bed and quickly re-arranged his bedding and pillows. He hated an unkempt bed. He ran a brush through his hair, and straightened his black sweater and pants. He didn’t need a mirror to know that he looked perfect. He always did. Satisfied that his bedroom was back to being presentable, he left the room and headed for his kitchen. 
He didn’t want to keep his guests waiting.

Find Polar Night at:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon UK 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Clancy Is Not Impressed and Other Friday News

Just in case I ever think about getting a big head because my novel was published, my dog Clancy is around to make sure I keep my ego in check. A few weeks ago, after I had I received my author copies of Polar Night in the mail, I wanted to take a picture of Clancy with one of the books. We were at my mom's house and, as you can see from this picture, Clancy was not even a little bit impressed.

He reluctantly agreed to sit and stay for the picture, then took off in a flash as soon as the camera's flash went off and he knew we were done. My mom was cooking chicken in the kitchen and Clancy knew there were more important things to concentrate on than my book. Begging for chicken from Gran vs. a book with my name on it? Is it even a contest?

After this experience, I didn't even try to take a picture with my cat Nate as I can only guess how that would have gone. I guess we can always count on our pets to keep us humble.

Speaking of pets, and especially of dogs like my Clancy who are considered DINOS, or Dogs In Need Of Space, I learned about a great project recently and wanted to help spread the word about it. The Yellow Dog Project is aimed at helping dog owners identify their own dog who needs space by attaching a yellow ribbon to the dog's leash while out and about. This is intended for dogs who are afraid of or reactive to other dogs, dogs who are nervous around children or strangers, or even dogs with injuries or health issues who need to be left alone while they are healing.

Clancy is afraid of children and I always make sure to keep him on a short leash while we are out walking so we don't run into any problems. Because of that experience, I think the idea of identifying dogs who need space for various reasons is a great one and I wanted to give the project a shout-out here on the blog. I also wrote an article about it this week for my animal news column, so if you'd like to read more about it you can find that article here.

Moving away from dogs, I'm very excited to be part of Jessica McKendry's blog party to announce the Kindle release of her debut novel, From The Ashes. Congratulations, Jessica!!

Here is the book summary:

Jaina Indera has been preparing her entire life for the chance to prove herself a superior and loyal citizen of the Imperial Alliance. In order to do so, she believes she must win the galaxy-wide competition known as the Trials. With training at her Gifted School progressing swiftly, everything looks like it is on pace for her to achieve her dream…until a boy named Dragon enrolls in her class.

Suddenly doubting herself and everything she’s been taught to believe, Jaina and Dragon are teamed with six of their classmates for the chance to compete and achieve their dream: winning the Trials. Consisting of four different tests, the Trials are about to challenge these eight young adults to the limits of their abilities. But learning to work as a team is more difficult than they ever imagined and dark secrets from Dragon’s past emerge that put them in mortal danger. Now Jaina must discover what she’s really fighting for if she and her team have any hope of finishing the Trials…alive.

Exploring the nature of self-reliance and self-confidence, McKendry delivers a perceptive, nuanced portrait of the importance of teamwork and the strain it puts on individual desires and motivations. Playing with the concepts of dark and light, her novel is a complex coming of age story that encapsulates the complicated hero’s journey from student to leader. A dark tale of love and revenge, From the Ashes is a powerful reminder to think for yourself instead of blindly following what you’ve been taught to believe.

Check out Jessica's website or follow her on Twitter (@JessicaMcKendry) for more information. Yay, Jessica!

Finally, it's time to once again Celebrate the Small Things with Vikki

This week I'm celebrating the fact that I got back to exercising after several weeks of being lazy. And I even managed to get Clancy out on a walk with me so we could both get back in the swing of things. I still have a ways to go before I'm back to where I want to be in terms of exercise, but at least it was a start.

I hope everyone had lots to celebrate this week. Happy Weekend to all! :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IWSG and the Overcoming Adversity Anthology

It's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as always by the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I was having trouble thinking of a topic for this month's group, and then I learned about the new book Overcoming Adversity - An Anthology for Andrew, which went on sale this week.

I missed the official release date, which was Monday, March 4, but I thought the IWSG meeting would be a great chance to help spread the word about this wonderful book, which is brought to us by fellow blogger Nick Wilford at Scattergun Scribblings.

Here is the information:

A collection of seventy moving and uplifting original pieces - real life, flash fiction, and poetry - about battling against the odds and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. The contributors include Amazon bestselling authors Alex J. Cavanaugh and Kyra Lennon, and the cream of upcoming talent.

The anthology is part of a fundraising effort to send the editor's stepson, Andrew McNaughton, to a specialist college in England. Andrew has cerebral palsy, and is a remarkable young man with a promising future. However, the free further education options offered in his own country of Scotland will not challenge him and allow him to progress. In order to access the education he deserves, Andrew will have to pay exorbitant fees, thus creating a situation of discrimination.

Help us get Andrew to college by buying a book that runs the full gamut of human emotions, ultimately leaving you inspired and glad to be alive. Whatever struggles you are going through, our sincere hope is that this book will help.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
I remember reading some of the stories that are included in this book during the Overcoming Adversity Bloghop, and they are all truly moving and exceptional. And I can't imagine a better cause than helping a young man get the education he deserves. 

I thought this book fit in with the IWSG because for me, when I am struggling with insecurities, it can be very helpful to read inspiring stories of people who overcame their own personal obstacles and beat the odds. It's a great way to get me out of my own head and get my butt in gear.

So I'm excited to have the opportunity to help spread the word about this wonderful book and to help the cause in whatever way I can. I wish all the best and much success to Nick and Andrew! :)

Hope everyone is having a good March so far, and I wish everyone a great month ahead, with insecurities kept firmly in check so they can't cause any trouble. :D

Monday, March 4, 2013

March Mania at The Tiki Hut and The Boomtown Craze Launch Party


Carol Kilgore is running all over the blogosphere this month for her March Monday Mania event, and I am excited to be holding down the fort  Under the Tiki Hut today in her absence. As part of the mania, Carol is giving away a copy of her novel In Name Only and I am giving away an ebook copy of Polar Night, so visit Carol's site if you'd like to find out how to enter to win. Or just come to chat with me about Alaska and the Arctic while we hang out at the Tiki beach.

Today is also the day for M. Pax's Boomtown Craze launch party, and I'm thrilled to be taking part in the celebration. Congratulations, Mary!!

Here is all the info on the latest in the totally fantastic Backworlds series.

A Grand New Age of Boom or Dust?

Boomtown Craze, Book 3 in the Backworlds series is here!

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

To secure his future, Craze must propel his world into a more prosperous era. Only days away from the grand opening of his new and improved tavern, he is confronted by a loony Backworlder intent on mucking up his plans. Gaunt and trembling, she claims her spaceship is possessed. She also has a connection to the underworld that shakes loose the dark past of one of Craze’s closest friends. It all threatens to end Craze’s prosperity before it begins.

Meanwhile off world, Captain Talos works desperately to outwit the mercenary Jixes and lure them away from his and Craze’s budding prospects. The mind-control weapon Talos uses against them is wearing thin, and his next move may be his last.

Will Craze and Talos’s efforts bring about a grand new age of boom or damn them to forever struggle in the dust?
Available in ebook at:

Other Outlets can be found at

It will also be available in paperback from Amazon shortly.

About the author:
M. Pax is a Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats.

You can also find M. Pax on LinkedIN, Pinterest, YouTube, and Wattpad

Mary is hosting a great giveaway of both paperbacks and ebooks at her site, so visit her here to find out how to enter. If you haven't already read The Backworlds, you're missing out! I've no doubt this third installment will be as fantastic as the first two.

Congratulations again to Mary and I'll see everyone over at The Tiki Hut! :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Trio of Hops

Hello and Happy March to everyone! I'm always so glad when March arrives as it's great to know that Spring is right around the corner.

It's another busy day here as I'm participating in three blog hops.

First up, the Back From The Future hop, hosted by Suze, Mary, and Nicki.
You're up before dawn on a Saturday when the doorbell rings. You haven't brewed your coffee so you wonder if you imagined the sound. Plonking the half-filled carafe in the sink, you go to the front door and cautiously swing it open. No one there. As you cast your eyes to the ground, you see a parcel addressed to you ... from you.

You scoop it up and haul it inside, sensing something legitimate despite the extreme oddness of the situation. Carefully, you pry it open. Inside is a shoebox -- sent from ten years in the future -- and it's filled with items you have sent yourself.

What's in it?

My box contains the following items:

1. A copy of the New York Times Bestseller list with my book in the number 1 spot
2. My latest novel, the fifth in a series featuring Polar Night Detective Danny Fitzpatrick
3. The deed to a home I own free and clear. The home is big enough and has enough land around it that I am able to take in rescue animals who are waiting for homes. I'll have my own pets too, of course.
4. Two t-shirts - one celebrating the Cincinnati Reds' World Series win and another celebrating the Cincinnati Bengals winning the Super Bowl

If you know anything at all about Cincinnati sports, you know that #4 is by far the most far-fetched item on my list. ;) :D

Thanks to Suze, Mary, and Nicki for hosting this great hop! It was fun to think about what I'd like to see in my future, regardless of how far-fetched it may be. :)

Next, The Bloghop of Joy, hosted by Kyra Lennon and Claire Dugmore.

This hop is all about sharing the little things that make us smile. Kyra and Claire asked for participants to share a minimum of five things that put a spring back in our step.

Here are five things that bring me joy:

1. My dog Clancy running around the house and jumping up and down like a lunatic because I've come home from work
2. My cat Nate snuggling next to me and purring so loud that I wouldn't be surprised if the neighbors can hear him
3. This video:

4. Turning the calendar over to March like I did this morning
5. Planning my upcoming trip to Martha's Vineyard, which I'll be taking in May

Thanks to Kyra and Claire for this joy-filled hop! I am looking forward to seeing what makes everyone else smile. :)

Last but definitely not least, it's Friday and time to Celebrate the Small Things with Vikki.

This week I'm celebrating that I figured out how to set up my first giveaway on Goodreads, and I learned how to run an ad for Polar Night on Facebook. To say I don't know anything about marketing is an understatement, but I'm having fun learning as I go along.

I'm also celebrating that I got a start on my sequel to Polar Night and received an email from my awesome publisher saying she would be interested in it. That definitely helped kick start my motivation!

Finally, I'm simply celebrating that it's Friday and the weekend is here. I've been fighting a sinus infection all week and feeling crummy, so I'm thrilled that the week has come to an end. And I suppose if I think about it, I am fortunate that a sinus infection is the worst thing I have to complain about! That's something to celebrate right there.

Happy weekend, all! :)