Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Treat: The Turnagain Arm Free on Kindle

I love vintage postcards! :D

I'm hosting my own little Halloween party and offering The Turnagain Arm for free on Amazon today and tomorrow. Get your free copy here!

If you have time to share about the promotion on Twitter or elsewhere I'd really appreciate it!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet The Character Blog Hop

I was tagged in the Meet Your Character Blog Hop by my good friend Cathrina Constantine, who is an absolutely fantastic writer. If you haven't read her books yet I highly recommend checking them out!

Cathrina is the author of Wickedly They Come (and the upcoming sequel Wickedly They Dream) and Tallas. Find Cathrina at her blog, Twitter, and on Amazon.

Thank you for tagging me, Cathy!

What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional/historical?

My character is Vasyl Dzubenko. He is totally fictional.

When and where is the story set?

The story is set in 1917 in a railroad camp in Alaska. Vasyl and his wife Lara run a saloon called The Turnagain Arm in the camp. The saloon is named for a nearby waterway, which is a real part of Alaska.

What should we know about your character?

Vasyl is a middle-aged man who moved to Alaska after moving across Russia while working on the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He is originally from Ukraine which was part of the Russian Empire at that time. Vasyl is devoted to his wife but he has a very big secret that even she doesn’t know. Vasyl is a witch, but he hasn’t practiced his craft since leaving Ukraine. The last time he practiced things went very bad very quickly.

What is your character's goal?

He simply wants to run his saloon in peace with his wife at his side. He is happy in his adopted home of Alaska and is thrilled that Lara is pregnant. He can't wait for his child to be born.

What is screwing up  your character's life (main conflict in writerly speak?)

Unfortunately for Vasyl, a Russian vampire named Aleksei Nechayev turned up at his saloon. The peaceful camp has never been the same since Aleksei arrived.

What is the title?

The book is called The Turnagain Arm and it is available on Amazon Kindle. It is a novella and a prequel to my novel Polar Night.

I am really bad about tagging for a hop because I can never decide who to tag. So anyone reading this who would like to participate, consider yourself tagged!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Riding the Rails at Untethered Realms & Wickedly They Dream by Cathrina Constantine

I'm posting over at the Untethered Realms blog today about the inspiration for my novella The Turnagain Arm. What was the inspiration? Train whistles!

Visit me over at UnRealms here and check out all the other writers and books in our group if you have the chance while you are there. I'm really lucky to be part of such an awesome group!

And speaking of awesome books and people, Cathrina Constantine has a cover for her upcoming release Wickedly They Dream. Both Cathrina and her cover are all kinds of awesome!

Here is the blurb for the book, which will be released on November 5:

After Seeley is possessed by an evil wraith, Jordan must dig deeper into the Satanic realm. Against Markus’s direct orders, she offers herself, body and soul in a blood covenant to rescue Seeley from the clutches of hell. Jordan assumes her guardian angel will not leave her to fight alone. But there’s trouble in paradise, and Markus has been reassigned. Can Jordan defeat both her internal and external demons to win him back? Or is he gone for good this time?

I read Wickedly They Come last year and it was a fantastic read. I have no doubt this one will be just as good. Jordan is a great character and I am looking forward to catching up with her again. :)

Congratulations, Cathrina!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog the Change for Animals & Cruelty Free International

Blog the Change

Blog the Change for Animals is a blog hop held four times a year to help spread awareness about animal related causes and charities. I haven't participated in a long time, but when I saw that the hop was coming up again this month I thought it was a perfect chance for me to get back to one of my original goals for this blog, which was to write about animal welfare.

The timing was actually perfect too as I've just recently become aware of an organization called Cruelty Free International, which works to end animal testing on cosmetics and household cleaning supplies and to support businesses which have already stopped (or never started) testing on animals for these products.

A bunny like the one pictured above seemed like the perfect photo to complement this post as from what I have read rabbits are among the animals most frequently used for cosmetic testing. In fact, the leaping bunny logo is considered the international standard for recognizing cruelty free products and companies.

Honestly, I hadn't ever thought much about animal testing before as I kind of thought it was just something that was done in the past. But once I learned more it felt very hypocritical for me to be supportive of animal rescues for dogs and cats while turning a blind eye to rabbits being blinded so companies can make mascara or other cosmetics.

Since humane and safe alternatives exist I decided it was important for me to support companies which are using these alternatives and putting out safe products for people to use without harming animals to do it.

So I started on a journey of replacing the cosmetics and cleaning supplies I was using with those made by cruelty free companies. This is an ongoing process but so far I have had very positive results. I have super sensitive skin and can break out in a rash just by looking at some products, so I was a little concerned about trying new ones. But so far the new products I'm using have actually been better for my skin, and my hair has never felt healthier. The laundry detergent I bought also works great and seems perfect for my sensitive skin.

From what I have found, the companies using cruelty free methods also use primarily natural ingredients, so I feel like I am getting healthier products as an unexpected bonus. I figure if I can cut back on the amount of chemicals I am using that has to be a good thing, both for me and for the environment in general.

This has been a rewarding process for me so far but as I said it is an ongoing one. Some of the products are significantly more expensive so I'm working on finding affordable alternatives. Still, it feels good to know I am at least making an effort, however small, to be the change I want to see.

If you'd like to learn more about Blog the Change and see other participants, visit the Be the Change for Animals site here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Turnagain Arm Giveaway Winners & Excerpt

Hello and Happy Monday to all! I hope everyone had a good weekend. I'm still recovering from the premiere of The Walking Dead last night! So happy the show is back. I needed something fun to watch after the Bengals proved yet again that they are the Bengals by missing what would have been a game winning field goal at the end of overtime. Years go by and players come and go but the one sure thing is that the Bengals will always be the Bungles.

Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway last week to celebrate the release of my novella The Turnagain Arm. The two winners are Michael Di Gesu and Annalisa Crawford! Congratulations to Michael and Annalisa and thanks again to everyone who joined in and helped me spread the word.

Gwen Gardner, the author of the fantastic Indigo Eady series, is sharing an excerpt from the novella on her blog today. Visit her here to read it!

Since I sent Gwen an excerpt to post I thought I would share an excerpt here as well. This excerpt features Aleksei Nechayev, who is not only one of the main characters in The Turnagain Arm but also the antagonist in Polar Night

Aleksei watched from the trees as the two security guards patrolled the area outside of the Turnagain Arm saloon. He had bid them a friendly goodnight just a few minutes earlier when he’d closed down for the night, but there was nothing friendly about his plans now. Aleksei was hungry and wanted nothing more than to drain both of the guards and satiate his hunger while also letting them know how useless their pretend soldiering was. His eyes nearly rolled back into his head as he watched them strutting about like peacocks. But while that course of action would feed him for the night, it would ultimately be short-sighted. And much less fun than what he had planned.

He had barely kept his composure while listening to Dzubenko blame the recent disappearances on bear attacks. It had been so difficult not to burst out laughing in his employer’s face. But he knew that the grizzly bear explanation had brought some semblance of comfort to the workers. It was much easier for them to come to terms with an angry wild bear than a murderer on the loose.

Imagining how they could come to terms with the murder of their guards by someone who was clearly not a bear made Aleksei smile from ear to ear. As much as he wanted to bite the guards and drain them, bite marks of any kind would spoil his fun. They would also spoil his plans for Vasyl Dzubenko. Aleksei knew he had made a rare mistake when speaking with Dzubenko earlier, and it had not gone unnoticed by his employer. The man was one of the few intelligent people in this camp, he’d give him that much. And he also felt sure that Dzubenko was different in ways beyond just his intellect. Aleksei could sense it. So if he had to deal with Dzubenko, he might as well lay the groundwork for that now. Truth be told, the idea of that merely added to his amusement.

Aleksei fingered the butcher knife he had stolen from the Turnagain Arm kitchen and stepped out of the trees.

One of the guards immediately snapped to attention and pointed his rifle at the sound of footsteps coming towards him.

“Who’s there? State your business.”

Aleksei walked into the light of the lanterns the guards held in front of them with his hands palms out in front of him.

“Don’t shoot,” he said. “It’s just me.”

The guards both relaxed and let their weapons hang loose at their sides.

“Aleksei? What are you doing back? Did you forget something in the saloon?”

“No, no, I just wanted to show you men something. I’m afraid it looks suspicious.” He gestured towards the woods next to the camp. “Over here in the trees.”

The men walked towards him, reminding Aleksei of the livestock that walked calmly to their deaths on his grandparents’ farm back home. 

Lambs to the slaughter…

Want to read more? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Turnagain Arm Launch & Giveaway!

I'm really excited to announce the release of my first self-published work, The Turnagain Arm. It's a novella that is a prequel to Polar Night and to its sequel Polar Day, which will be published by my publisher Ink Smith in January, 2015.

To celebrate the release I'm hosting a giveaway all this week. Two winners will receive a $15 gift card and an ebook copy of The Turnagain Arm. If you'd like to enter just leave a comment on the blog or tweet about the book/giveaway. I wanted to make the Rafflecopter very simple! :)

I didn't set up a blog tour or launch party for this release but I want to say a huge thank you to a few friends who are helping me spread the word this week and next. And also to the wonderful Michael Di Gesu who designed the cover for me and is posting about the book today as well.

Now on to the book! :)

Polar Night's Aleksei Nechayev leaves war-torn Russia in 1917 and makes his way to Alaska. Settling in at a railroad camp, Aleksei comes up against an adversary who seems to know the truth about the newly-turned vampire's identity. An adversary who soon gives Aleksei much more than he bargained for at The Turnagain Arm.

Cover design by Michael Di Gesu
Only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle

Book Blurb: 

Locomotive wheels screech to a halt. Potters Creek, Alaska is nothing more than a small camp set up alongside the tracks. A weathered sign dominates the scene.

The Turnagain Arm Saloon 


Only one passenger remains and exits.

The early afternoon full moon peaks through a shimmering snow fall as a shadow casts over each split rail. The wind howls, sweeping the cloak of a hooded figure. He follows   the tracks toward the distant saloon. A hulking man crunches through the snow, attracting his attention.

Calling out to him in a foreign accent, the townsman stops in mid step. The stranger catches up and engages him.


The man disappears under the stranger’s cloak.

Blood drips from his lips, and he wipes the remaining trickles from his mouth. After disposing of the body, the mysterious figure continues on his journey. He glides through the snow as if on a sleigh, leaving no footprints behind.

*          *          *          *          *

Within a short period, he convinces Vasyl, the owner of the saloon, to hire him. Aleksei charms everyone he meets. But soon mistrust enters every tense line on Vasyl’s face as others disappear, and his wife falls under Aleksei’s spell.

The classic game of cat and mouse continues, but who will win?

Is a mere mortal any match for Aleksei?

A spark ignites within Alexei after yet another of Vasyl’s attempts to disgrace him.

This man knows of me. He must be a witch. Aleksei laughs. You are no match for me or my plan.

Buy The Turnagain Arm for 99 cents on Amazon Kindle

Enter to win one of two prize bundles featuring a $15 gift card and an ebook copy of The Turnagain Arm. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG & How To Climb The Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

Today is the October meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as always by our favorite Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's also the day that many writers are posting contributions to the IWSG Anthology! I'm not contributing to the book but I will definitely look forward to reading all the entries.

My IWSG post is going to be very short as my insecurity this month is the same as it was last month - blogging. I had hoped to get back into a rhythm of some kind last month but ever since my mom was diagnosed with cancer my heart is simply not in it. We've had a lousy few weeks and my energy has gone out the window. I've been very lax about other social media as well but lately I find when I am not helping my mom I just want to spend time reading or engaging in other quiet activities that don't require much effort on my part.

I do have my novella The Turnagain Arm coming out next Monday, October 6, so I am happy about that and hope it will help me get some of my energy back. I'm excited to share the story and a related giveaway next week!

For now though I'm happy to be hosting Elizabeth Hein, who is here today talking about her new book How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. If you're not familiar with Elizabeth's blog Scribbling in the Storage Room I highly recommend checking it out.

Take it away, Elizabeth! :)

It’s a pleasure to be here on Julie Flanders’ blog today. When I sat down to write something for Julie’s blog, it seemed natural to talk about the sense of place within a novel. Julie’s books take you places like Martha’s Vineyard and Alaska and make you feel like you are there right alongside the characters. 
My novels are set in the fictitious town of Magnuson, North Carolina. Magnuson is nowhere in particular, yet shares the features of several cities in North Carolina. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting my adopted home state, North Carolina is unique. Just a few miles outside the cities that dot the interstates, life is still rural and rooted in tradition. In the cities, you’d find high-tech biomedical parks, cutting edge research hospitals, and banking hubs. It is a place where you can get a plate of barbecue cooked in a century old pit one day, then eat the trendiest of prix fixe meals the next.
Magnuson was the perfect place to set How To Climb The Eiffel Tower because I wanted Lara Blaine, the narrator of the story, to live in a place without a tremendous amount of history. Lara works in one of the many financial services companies and lives in one of the thousands of town houses that popped up in old tobacco fields during the last few decades. The city didn’t exist before the nearby river was dammed to provide electricity or the advent of highways. The handful of farming families were pushed out by the onslaught of newcomers that came to work in the new industries that grew in the state during the 60’s. Lara could disappear in the sea of people from somewhere else, yet still feel a sense of connection to the North Carolina that she remembered from her early childhood. 
Magnuson is also the home of the Ellery Cancer Center which was based on Duke Cancer Center, where I was treated for cancer in 2002, with touches of the Carolina Medical Center and the Baptist Hospital. Ellery plays a large part in How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. The entire facility is color-coded with each department having its own color. The waiting rooms are all decorated in that color and the department staff all wear that color. The system is there to help patients find their way around the maze of hallways, yet it also makes Ellery feel impersonal and somewhat surreal. For instance, at one point Lara gets confused as to which way to go until she figures out that she needed to follow the colored tiles in the floor to get from department to department. I wanted the setting to reflect Lara’s sense of being detached from her illness yet completely surrounded by it. 
Readers, how much do you notice a sense of place when you are reading? What are your favorite settings to read about? Fellow writers, do you think about setting before plot, or do you come up with your plots and then figure out where they will happen?

Book blurb:

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allows Lara to confront the past and discover that she is not alone in the world. With the support of her new friends, Lara gains the courage to love and embrace life. Like climbing the Eiffel Tower, the year Lara meets Jane is tough, painful, and totally worth it.


Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. She learned that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse. Prior to the new book’s publication, Elizabeth was invited to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) conference and has received excellent advanced reviews on her break-out new book.
 Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her first novel, Overlook, spotlighted a housewife dealing with a cheating husband and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Elizabeth has published several short stories and is currently writing a novella and beginning to write a historical family saga about how love and identity effect four generations of women. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

Buy links:
Amazon UK 

Twitter: @_ElizabethHein