Friday, February 28, 2014

Goals, Celebrations, and Galveston

The last Friday of the month brings quite a few hops, which is a good thing for me since I am still running on empty when it comes to ideas for blog posts.

First up is the Cephalopod Coffeehouse hosted by The Armchair Squid. This is a simple and fun hop where we all share the best book we've read in the course of the month. If you'd like to sign up and join in, visit Armchair here.

Source: Amazon purchase page

The best book I read this month was Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto. In a word, this book is fantastic.

I mentioned last week that I have become a huge fan of HBO's True Detective, which is also written by Pizzolatto. I picked up Galveston for this reason and wasn't disappointed. If you like haunting and atmospheric noir stories you will love this book. It's a thriller that is hard to put down and I was actually sorry when I came to the end of the book. I think Pizzolatto is an amazing talent and while I'm sure he is quite busy with HBO now I hope he will write more novels in the future.

Next up, Misha Gericke's Do You Have Goals? hop.

This is my second month participating in this hop and I'm really glad I signed up as it's helped me focus on my goal of making a full-time living as a writer by June, 2015.

February was really a great month for me in terms of working towards that goal. I wrote an article about Martha's Vineyard and The Ghosts of Aquinnah that was accepted for publication in the Spring issue of Cape Women Online. That issue will go live in April and I can't wait to see my article there.

I also set up a book signing on May 24 at Edgartown Books on Martha's Vineyard. I'm going to be on the island that week and I was thrilled to be able to arrange something for Memorial Day weekend. As I mentioned previously, I also got accepted to be a festival author at the Ohioana Book Festival on May 10 in Columbus, Ohio. Finally, I arranged to do a presentation about the Vineyard combined with a book signing at my local public library on June 24.

So I feel like I had a very productive month in terms of arranging activities to help gain more exposure. I'm excited about all of these events I have coming up.

Finally, it's time to Celebrate the Small Things again with Vikki at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author.

This week I'm celebrating getting several of my A to Z in April posts written and scheduled to post. Last year I had all of my posts done in advance and I'm determined to do the same this year as it made the Challenge much more fun and less stressful. Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge this year? If you're on the fence about joining in, I can't recommend it enough. Just click on the badge above to sign up.

I'm also celebrating the fact that our weather was warm enough last weekend to melt all the snow and I could walk with Clancy this week without stumbling around in the snow or worrying about falling on ice. The weather turned cold again during the week but that's fine with me as I actually like walking in the cold as long as there is no snow or ice accompanying it. So Clancy and I had some great walks in the park this week and it felt great to be out and about with no snow in sight.

Hope everyone had a great week and has a good weekend coming up!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Black Dog of Hanging Hills

Source: Wikimedia

I'm excited to be over at Debbie Christiana's blog today as part of her monthly CURIOSITIES feature. As anyone who read this blog back in the fall knows, I love spooky tales and ghost stories, so I was happy to come upon Debbie's feature earlier this year. And I was even happier when she asked me to be part of it!

I dug back in to my New England ghost stories file and came upon the legend of a mysterious little hellhound who reportedly haunts the Hanging Hills of Hubbard Park in Connecticut.

Please come visit with Debbie and me here to learn more about this unusual pooch. And if you haven't already read Debbie's book Solstice, you're missing a great read. :)

Thanks for the feature, Debbie!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things: First Drafts, Weekends, and True Detective

I haven't participated in this hop for a few weeks now because I've been kind of zoned out when it comes to blogging, but it's nice to jump back in and do a little celebrating. As always, this hop is hosted by Vikki at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. If you'd like to sign up and join the hop, visit Vikki's page here.

My celebrations for this week:

1. I finished the first draft of my Polar Night prequel novella! I know it needs a ton of work like all first drafts do but it felt great to get the basic story down. Since it ties in to the sequel I am planning it was fun to get those pieces in place. I've got the draft printed out and am looking forward to sitting down and scribbling all over it this weekend.

2. I am off work today and have a three day weekend. Yay!

3. I have a new entry in my list of tv obsessions:  HBO's True Detective. I absolutely love this show and think everything about it - the writing, acting, directing, cinematography, etc. - is phenomenal. I've never been a  fan of Matthew McConnaughey but wow has that changed. I wouldn't be surprised if he takes home both the Oscar and the Emmy this year. I love, love, love this show.

4. I had a great dinner out with a friend this week and managed to control myself and say no to getting a dessert. I've been so sluggish this winter I didn't want to make a total pig of myself so I was pleased I was able to resist the temptation to wolf down all the chocolate in the restaurant. That doesn't happen very often. :D

Hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Library Lovers Month and The Ohioana Book Festival

February is Library Lovers' Month, which is "a month-long celebration of school, public, and private libraries of all types." I hadn't planned to post anything about that until my mom gave me this old faded photo she found of me when I had just turned three in December of 1971.

What does this have to do with Library Lovers' Month? I'm certain that the book I am pretending to read to our family dog came from our local library.

Even though there were tons of books around my house when I was little, I still always loved going to the library and picking out more. And my favorite books to pick out were the Peter Rabbit books by Beatrix Potter. Odds are good that the book I am holding in this picture is The Tale of Tom Kitten. Even though I wasn't actually old enough to read at this time, I imagine my parents had read the book to me so many times that I could page through it and tell the story well enough that my toys and my dog were none the wiser.

I knew exactly where the Potter books were shelved in the library and would run to them immediately when my parents would take me there. I can still see the row of little green books lined up on their home shelf and I remember what a big decision it was to choose which one to take home with me.

I work as a librarian and it's no secret that many libraries have fallen on hard times, particularly since the start of the recession in 2008. It's a simple fact that many people believe the digital age has rendered libraries obsolete.

I'm honestly not interested in debating that point. But this photo is a simple reminder of why I will always love libraries, regardless of what the future holds. I'm glad the little girl in this picture had the pleasure of going to the library and picking out which book she wanted to take home. And for the record, I still love Peter Rabbit and all of his friends.

I had another reason to celebrate libraries last week when I learned that my application to participate in the annual Ohioana Book Festival, which is put on by the Ohioana Library Association, was accepted! I'm so excited and can't wait to be one of the festival authors at this year's event in May.

I've been in a bit of a slump/funk since the start of the year but this invitation was just what I needed to get my spark back. It was such a thrill to get that acceptance e-mail! When I first saw it in my inbox I honestly assumed it would be a "thanks, but no thanks" rejection. My eyes nearly bugged out of my head when I opened it and read that I was wrong.

I'm also excited because Tara Tyler, who initially told me about the festival, was accepted too and this event will be the first time I get to meet one of my blogger buddies in person. Yay!

So I have more than one reason to raise a glass to libraries this month. Cheers! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Social Work Training and Writing Skills - Guest Post from Elizabeth Seckman

I've been on a bit of an unplanned blogging break in order to force myself to focus on writing, so I'm thrilled to have Fate Intended author Elizabeth Seckman here to help hold down the fort. Elizabeth and I are both former social workers, so it was fun for me to read her take on how this training can help with writing. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I agree with her points. Especially the one about the low pay. :D

Take it away, Elizabeth!

Hi Julie! Thanks for having me over. Running around the blogosphere and trying to come up with ideas can be hard, but every now and then, an idea feels like a perfect fit. Like with you! I know we share a background in social work, and I don't know if you agree, but I think this background has helped me as much as English class in developing writing skills.

1. Social workers see all sides of the human condition. The good, the bad, the unbelievable. No need for flat characters when you have met so many characters.

Not a social worker? Read true stories on the human condition. Read the kind that make you cringe, A Child Called "It" ,and the kind that restore your faith like Mother Teresa, an Authorized Biography.

2. Social workers are paid to listen, to absorb the person's speech pattern and reflect it back to them. Imitating dialogue becomes a natural condition. 

Not a social worker?  Active listening is a learned skill. Listen without the brain noise. Stop thinking about what you will say next or what you need to pick up from the grocery store. Just be still and pay attention.

3. Social workers are taught to be information gatherers and evaluators. It's easy enough to write down all the facts, but what do they mean; how do they influence the situation?

This is one of those things where practice and organization makes perfect. I like to keep a folder for each project, so as I print information or take notes, I can keep them all in one place with a notation on top about what it's about. For a book I might have: setting, character, plot, etc. 

 4. Social workers are trained in personality and family assessment theory. We know that the family condition at age two can have an effect on personality twenty years later.

Not a social worker? Read books on personality development. One of my preferred reads in that area is Erikson's Identity and the Life Cycle

5. Social workers are used to working hard for little money. Those tiny book checks barely phase the "oh so used to being poor crowd".

Now, that whole getting used to being poor thing? There is no book on that, but I suppose you could start sending your excess cash to Julie and me. We are natural team players, and we'd take one for the good of the group. 

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

TALLAS by Cathrina Constantine and New Covers from R. Mac Wheeler

I am so happy to have my friend Cathrina Constantine here today to celebrate her new release TALLAS. Congratulations to Cathrina! Ever since I first saw this cover I have been so anxious to read the book, and I'm so glad it's finally here.

Cathrina is here to share this tense and chilling tease from the novel. She is also hosting a giveaway to go along with her release, so check out the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

TALLAS Excerpt: 

Keeyla stopped when Fabal whimpered. He was hopping on one sneakerless foot while clutching the other.
“I stepped on a rock,” he whispered with a hurt look on his face.
Flustered, she rummaged in the satchel and withdrew a pair of scruffy sneakers. She shoved them on his feet then pecked a kiss on his forehead for reassurance. She knew her son was baffled by their strange flight, though, now was not the time to explain. She clasped his hand and rushed on.
By venturing far from the village, Fabal thought she was leading them to certain doom. He’d heard rumors regarding the peculiar creatures and oddities surrounding the forest. He eyed the approaching treeline and gasped. In the distance, dark silhouettes of giants with countless gnarled arms were bowing and stretching, and he and his mother were headed straight for them.
How did she miss seeing the giants that were waiting to snatch them? Distraught, Fabal yanked on his mother’s hand. She turned with a scowl, but continued to pull him toward the danger zone. With shallow breaths and widening eyes, he dragged his feet as she entered the gaints’ shadows.
As they drew closer to the looming menaces, Fabal breathed easier, recognizing the leafy branches of lofty trees, not a giant at all. Feeling silly, he felt a chuckle clutch in his throat. His relief at crossing the verge into the thicket was short lived when his mom spat, “Duck to the ground.”
Keeyla pressed a hand to Fabal’s spine, forcing him to the dry earth, her other palm cupping her mouth to stifle her own heavy breathing.
Tension gripped Fabal. All he could hear was the hard beat of blood in his ears.

Now I bet you want to read more. :D Here is the blurb and info on the book:


In a decimated world, setting foot outside the protected village of Tallas is certain death—or so they say. Mutations caused by those in the wilderness have plagued Tallas’s citizens—or so they say…

For Doogan and Keeyla their belief in a Free Tallas has lost its glimmer. And when their young son, Fabal, is given a very dangerous assignment, they risk everything to protect him. Fleeing Tallas, they head for the wilderness. But when they are ambushed by cruel Mediators, Doogan is recaptured, and while Keeyla and Fabal escape, she is severely injured.

Can the two of them survive in the wilderness? Will Doogan get away from the clutches of the Mediators? And are the terrible legends about the monsters beyond the walls of Tallas true?

Constantine’s Bio:

Cathrina resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and two cats. Constantine is represented by The Belcastro Literary Agency. When not with her family, baking, crafting, reading, or stationed at the computer writing, you will find her walking in the backwoods with her dogs, conjuring up a new tale. 

Constantine’s Social Media Sites:

Also, R. Mac Wheeler has some great new covers for his Revenir books, so I'm excited to share them here as well. 

Here are the purchase links:

Huge congrats to both Cathrina and R. Mac! 

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