Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December IWSG: My Writing Space

Hello, friends! Today is the day for the December 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:

                 What are five objects we'd find in your writing space?

I am cheating a little here because I don't really have five objects in my space, unless you count things like lamps. My writing space is my living room couch and the only writing-related object I have there is my laptop, when I'm writing on it. 

Even though it's a bit boring, I love my writing space because I share it with these two handsome guys. 

If you've followed this blog for any length of time you probably already know my dog Clancy and my cat Nate. These two are both eleven years old and they have been along for the ride on every step of my writing journey since they came to live with me. 

One is the boss:

The other is the annoyed colleague who really just wants to sleep:

The Ohio State throw that Clancy is trying to use as his pillow there is a third constant in my space. 

So that's my writing space - my couch, my laptop, my throw, and my two furbabies. So I guess I do have five things to list, even though Clancy and Nate aren't things. Like I said, I'm cheating a little. 

I hope to spend a good part of December on my couch writing and I'm counting on boss Nate to get after me if I start slacking off. I didn't finish NaNo, or even come close, but I did make progress on my story so I'm hoping to continue with that this month and finish off the year on a productive front. 

I am looking forward to catching up with everyone after taking last month off. Happy December! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November IWSG: Third Time's the Charm?

Hello, all! Today is the day for the monthly 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 actually going to sit this month out because I decided at the last minute to sign up for NaNoWriMo and I'm busy working on that. I thought I would try one more time to finish a draft of my Window Box in Paris story. I tried last November during NaNo and ended up with about 500 words written, then I tried again during CampNaNo in the spring and ended up with even less. 

But I was in the mood to write again so I thought I would give it another go. With luck, the third time really will be the charm. 

I hope you all have a wonderful month ahead. And to those in the US like me I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

See you in December1 😊

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China by Sherry Ellis!

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Sherry Ellis’ BUBBA AND SQUIRT’S BIG DIG TO CHINA Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today. Welcome, Sherry!

I'm sharing an excerpt of the story, and Sherry is offering a tour-wide international giveaway featuring five autographed copies of her book. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

by Sherry Ellis
◊ Genre: Juvenile Fiction
◊ Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Paperback: 94 pages
◊ Grades 3-5

Squirt doesn't believe Bubba can dig a hole to China. But when the hole swallows them, the kids find themselves in Xi'an, China, surrounded by Terracotta Warriors.
          It gets worse when the ghost of the first emperor of China appears. He tells them they can't go home until they find his missing pi. The kids don't know where to begin until they meet a girl and her grandmother who promise to help find the pendant.
          Soon they realize they are being followed. And they are no closer to finding the missing pi. Will Bubba and Squirt ever make it back home?



It’s me–Bubba. My turn! I was glad to get out of the hole, but what I saw did not look one bit like home. What I saw was an army of men. Thousands of them! They were all standing there, lined up, ready for battle. Armor covered their shoulders and chests. Their faces looked fierce and determined. And do you know what else? They were made of stone.
Squirt came out behind me. “Whoa!”
“What is this place?” I asked.
Squirt stared. “I have no idea. But what I do know is that you got us into a big mess!”
“Sorry.” I put my hands in my pockets and looked down. I knew this was bad. The hole and tunnel were scary. Scarier than the Banshee roller coaster at Kings Island. It reminded me of my accident at the pond, when my sled crashed through the ice. Memories of the day I died.
I didn’t want those scary thoughts in my head, so I took a deep breath and walked up to one of the soldiers. He was big. As big as Daddy! I stood on my tippy toes to get a closer look. Then I scratched my head, because that guy looked kind of familiar. I did a little thinking. That’s when I figured it out. He looked just like the guy who works at Kung Pau Dragon.
I walked over to the next soldier. He looked like the other guy who works there. But this place wasn’t Kung Pau Dragon. That could mean only one thing. We were in China! A big smile spread across my face. The shovel had worked. I was right where I’d wanted to go. 
“Hey,” I said. “They’re Chinese! We’re in China!”
Squirt scrunched her eyebrows. “Bubba, that’s impossible!”
“But look.” I grabbed her hand and dragged her over to the big statue and pointed at its face.
She studied it real hard. Then she shook her head. “It couldn’t be.”
“Yeah, it could,” I said.
Her green eyes flashed. “No! You don’t understand. These look like Terracotta Warriors.”
“Terra-what?” What was Miss Smarty Pants talking about?

Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano.

When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Sherry, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia. 

For more on Sherry and her writing, you can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, her blog, her website and her Amazon Author Page.

This tour-wide giveaway is for five (5) autographed copies of BUBBA AND SQUIRT’S BIG DIG TO CHINA. The giveaway is open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Sherry on her month-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October IWSG & Trying New Things

Hello and Happy October! It's officially my favorite time of the year as I love the period from October through December. So many things to love! Cool temperatures, sweater weather, football, holidays - I could go on and on.

Today is the day for the monthly 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 trying something new with my writing this month and I'm definitely insecure about it, but I also feel like it's the best move for me to make right now.

I've always been a "pantser" when writing and have only made the most basic of outlines. This has worked for me in the past and I loved writing this way. But it's not working now as I'm continuing to struggle with getting my Paris story together. I've been playing with this story for more than two years now and have made so little progress I decided something has to give. This story has significantly more characters and time periods than I have ever attempted to write before and it's become a jumbled mess in my head.

My friend Madeline at The Shellshank Redemption recommended the book Story Genius to me several months ago and I kept meaning to give it a try but never did. I was intimidated by the idea and kept thinking my tried and true "pants" method would eventually kick in and work. Then when I was once again feeling frustrated with my writing I saw another author recommending this same book on Twitter. It seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something!

So I got the book and am now committed to giving it a try, even though I am still intimidated by the idea of totally changing my writing process.

Have you ever changed your writing method to suit a new project? Are there any craft books you recommend?

Happy October, all!

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:

Connect with Diane Burton online:

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert:

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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.

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