#BonusGuestDayTuesday – #BlogTour – #JayeMarie – #GhostOfAChance

Please help me welcome Jaye Marie to The Write Stuff today. Jaye is sharing her thoughts on writing her newest DI Snow Mystery Thriller, Ghost of A Chance. I know you’re going to enjoy Jaye’s post, and as well as her  latest book, which, by the way, is already available for pre-order. With all of that in mind, the floor is all yours, Jaye. Take it away!


The Making of Ghost of a Chance

Initially, I wanted to write something different this time.

David snow, my favourite detective from my first three books, had already twisted my arm to be the lead in what would be book #4 of this series, so at the beginning, I wasn’t sure how different this story could be.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed with Snow’s performance in CrossFire. I thought giving him a female antagonist would spice things up a bit. But they didn’t like each other, and no matter how I tried, I knew that plot line was doomed. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but I didn’t care about the ending either. A shocking admission, but I blame myself; I should have had more control over the situation. This is why I wanted this new book to be different.

At the end of CrossFire, David Snow was severely injured while apprehending a serial killer, putting him out of action for a while, so there had to be a few changes in the new story.

I needed to talk to him, find out how he is and what he thinks he could do next. I knew Snow hadn’t enjoyed being incapacitated and was still not ready to return to work, so talking to him might be a waste of time.

I didn’t think I should talk to his wife, Jane as it would somehow feel disloyal.

The news of her leaving reached my ears, causing alarm bells to clang. What was happening to my Snowman? Had he been damaged beyond repair? I thought it must be bad for Jane to abandon the ship.

Not wanting to upset the apple cart any more than it was, I waited to see what would happen. Would he withdraw even further, or would Jane leaving trigger a positive response?

I watched David struggle to pull himself together, battle through the pain and try to join the human race again.

Could he put the past behind him, or would the pain of his injury haunt him for the rest of his life?

I had faith in my Snowman, but no one was more surprised than me when I realised where the story was going. Where did that ghost come from?

Ghost of a Chance was a new angle for me, but I enjoyed writing it…


Blurb

A damaged detective, out of a job
A relationship on the rocks
What does the future hold for David Snow?
Just when he thought life couldn’t get any worse
A ghost with a grudge adds to his pain
A ghost hell bent on stopping him from rebuilding his life…


PreOrder Ghost of a Chance HERE or HERE


Author Jaye Marie

I came to writing rather late but have always loved reading books. For someone who loathes computers with a passion, and I suspect this is mutual, I have managed to master the beast well enough to publish our own books.

I enjoy reading many different genres, so was very surprised to discover a passion for detective thrillers. I have written four of them to date with more to follow.

I also enjoy running a joint website/blog with my writer sister, Anita Dawes, and meeting all the lovely people who drop in to say hello!

My other love is bonsai, and my small trees demand a lot of attention in the growing season, or they will die. Sometimes, it is just like having children!


You can check out the full DI Snow series HERE

You can reach Jaye Marie on Social Media here:

 

Website
Twitter
Facebook 
Goodreads
Amazon Author page
Pinterest
***
You can email Jaye here: jayemarie01@btinternet.com

***

To  preorder Ghost of a Chance, go here:

Amazon UK
  Amazon US    

#GuestDayTuesday – #DWallacePeach – #TheNecromancer’sDaughter

It’s #GuestDayTuesday again, folks, and today we have author D. Wallace Peach visiting us with news about her latest release, The Necromancer’s Daughter. Don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never read a book by Diana I didn’t LOVE, and  I’m dying to read this one! (SOOOON, My Precious!)

Thank you, Diana, for joining us today, and now … you have the floor, my friend! Take it away!


Good morning, Marcia. I’m delighted to get a slot on your blog for #GuestDayTuesday. I started my book tour about three weeks ago for my new stand-alone novel The Necromancer’s Daughter, and I thought I’d share a little about the inspiration/theme of the story.

As you know, I write fantasy novels, but there are only so many plots to go around, and we all have to share them regardless of the genre we write. So, with billions of books out there, how do we ever make our stories original? It’s all in the details, my friend, and the way we put our unique spin on them with our unique voices.

As much as fantasy is about imaginary worlds and magical beings, there are few of us who have the talent to tell an un-human story. We want to grab our readers and make them care. To do that, we need to create characters they can relate to and then put them in situations that make sense. You, my friend, are a master at doing just that.

In writing fantasy, for my themes, I draw quite a bit on the quandaries and challenges of modern life, knowing full well that the hurdles we face have been around for thousands of years in one form or another.

The theme of The Necromancer’s Daughter is the biases and assumptions we make about others without really getting at the truth of who they are as people. Does that sound familiar in our politically divided country? Or in the prejudices around race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and a host of other ways that we differ from each other? It’s a tale as old as time.

In The Necromancer’s Daughter, the division is between those who practice necromancy (the raising of the dead) and those who believe it’s demonic and against the wishes of their goddess.

One of my main characters, Joreh, is stuck in the middle with the hard task of facing his ingrained biases and really seeing people for who they are. That’s no easy task, and he has a lot on the line, including his life.

And, of course, the pages are brimming with action, escapes, barbarians, and dragons. There’s also a touch of romance and tons and tons of snow!

Thanks so much for having me over today, my friend. It was fun getting a chance to chat a little about the book! And many thanks to your blog friends for stopping by. Happy Reading.

You Can Buy The Necromancer’s Daughter HERE

BLURB:

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.


MY REVIEW:

(NOTE: I got my wish,  devoured this book, and here’s my review.)

I’m a huge fan of author D. Wallace Peach, and have loved every book of hers I’ve read to date.  Fantasy has become my favorite genre in recent years, so I was eagerly awaiting release day for this one, and crossing my fingers that I hadn’t built up unrealistic expectations. What a joke! It was even better than I hoped. I can honestly say I loved this book even more than Peach’s others, and that’s high praise, believe me.

As always, Diana’s world-building is fantastic, from the beliefs held by each country, to the descriptions of every battle … and every DRAGON! Yes, there are dragons, and they add a wonderful sense of magic that becomes totally believable as the story grows. But even better than the world or its fabulous dragons are the characters! Each is fully fleshed out in a way that made them totally real to me, complete with faults and frailties, generosities and kindnesses, strengths and weaknesses, and all the other components that go into being human. (Or slightly more than. We are talking necromancers here, so it’s a given that this world is touched by magic, even in cultures where it’s forbidden, and practicing it is punishable by death.)

I enjoyed this book with its elegant cover so much that I want to display it in my library, and am ordering a print copy for that purpose alone. Just looking at it sitting on my favorite bookshelf will make me smile every morning.

If you enjoy fantasy, interesting worlds graced with magic, and beautifully rendered characters who will live on in your heart long after you finish the last page, grab your copy right now. You won’t be sorry!


Author D. Wallace Peach

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.


You Can Buy The Necromancer’s Daughter Here:

You Can Reach Diana on Social Media HERE:

Amazon Author’s Page
Website/Blog
Website/Books 
Twitter 

#GuestDayTuesday – #Blogger #MichaelThompson – #CommonplaceFunFacts

Today, I’m happy to announce that our special guest is blogger Michael Thompson. If you’ve already discovered Michael’s fantastic blog, #CommonPlaceFunFacts you know what a fun, entertaining, and informative place it is. If you haven’t yet run across it, I’m sure after reading today’s post, you’ll want to drop by right away. I’ve been following Michael’s posts for some time, and I’ve yet to read even ONE that didn’t amaze, inform,  or amuse me. Or all three. So, without further fanfare, let’s turn this over to Michael and let him tell you more. Michael? You’re on!

Thanks, Marcia!

I am Michael Thompson. I am the editor-in-chief, CEO, and high-muckety-muck of Commonplace Fun Facts. I’m not kidding – those are the words that appear on the business card.

Commonplace Fun Facts is about – well – everything. The name was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb.” Dr. Watson wrote, “We both sat in silence for some little time after listening to this extraordinary narrative. Then Sherlock Holmes pulled down from the shelf one of the ponderous commonplace books in which he placed his cuttings.” I was intrigued by that word commonplace. I always thought it meant “boring” or “ordinary,” and I couldn’t reconcile either of those words being attributed to Sherlock Holmes.

I learned that a “commonplace book” is simply a scrapbook of random bits of information that the owner finds useful or interesting. Once I learned that, I realized this was something I had been doing all my life — collecting random tidbits of information, and either writing them down or filing them away in my memory to be shared at some appropriate time.

I have always loved learning. That’s not to say that I have always loved school. School, in my experience, was a lot like eating a brownie, one ingredient at a time. Imagine trying to swallow a big mouthful of flour. After you choke that down, you treat yourself to a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Just when you begin to think you might enjoy the experience, you have to leave the sugar behind and endure a teaspoon or two of salt. Then you get the raw egg, baking cocoa (which isn’t nearly as scrumptious as you would think), and a bit of water to wash it all down.

If that is your only exposure to brownies, you’ll never have to worry about an expanding waistline. We all know that the delicious end product is the result of combining all those ingredients in just the right way. Trying to eat a brownie ingredient-by-ingredient wouldn’t be a treat; it would be an ordeal. (Especially if you use the Pentagon’s 26-page recipe for brownies).

That’s the way most of my schooling was for me. Each class was just one more in an endless series of dry, tasteless ingredients. In English, I’d try to learn the parts of speech, only to end up like Winston Churchill, getting my foot caught on a dangling preposition. Learning a bunch of dates in history was just as hard to swallow as a mouthful of flour. Science was like baking cocoa; it sounded promising at first, but instead of getting a chance to mix up chemicals in the laboratory, I had to memorize the parts of a cell.

My teachers said, “Go ahead and take a big bite of the dates of the Peace of Westphalia, the War of Roses, the Black Death, and the first flight of an airplane. Follow it up with a couple of teaspoons of algebra, the Periodic Table, and Avogadro’s Number. Sure, it may be a bit dry, but try your best to swallow Plato’s Republic and Longfellow’s ‘Psalm of Life.’ Top it all off with a generous sprinkling of memorization of the inventors of the printing press, cotton gin, and glasses.”

In short, school was boring.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a mom and a few teachers who showed me that the dry, tasteless ingredients dished out in the classroom could combine in a marvelous, delicious way. They may have been presented piecemeal, but there were connections that could make even the dullest thing interesting.

That realization began a lifelong hobby. Unlike most of my classmates, who had hobbies such as sports or friendship, I started collecting fun facts. I savored the little snippets of history that connect events and give them extra flavor. Yes, it is somewhat interesting to learn that the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora in 1815 was so powerful that it was heard 3,000 miles away. What is truly fascinating is that the ash from that volcanic eruption plunged Europe into a year without a summer. As a result of the gloomy weather, a group of tourists in Geneva was forced to find ways to cope with the inclement weather. One way they amused themselves was with a contest about who could write the best ghost story. That is how Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein, the book that has scared children of all ages for over 200 years.

Although I found these fun facts fascinating, I wasn’t sure anyone else did. For some reason my helpful observation that Abner Doubleday probably didn’t invent baseball, but he did fire the first shot of the Union in the Civil War failed to earn me a spot at the jocks’ table during lunch. Equally as baffling was the sad realization that “Did you know that wombat poop is cube-shaped?” did absolutely nothing to impress any of the girls.

Fast-forward a couple of decades. I lucked out and found an awesome wife. Before long, we had four sons. Much to my surprise and delight, each of them showed the same interest in those weird, obscure fun facts that I did. As they grew and developed into bookworms, they began collecting fun facts as well. Commonplace Fun Facts was born out of our need to find a way to catalog and share our findings with each other.

Commonplace Fun Facts launched in 2014. My boys are now adults, and they continue to be the primary contributors of ideas. We have learned, however, that we are not alone. Commonplace Fun Facts has readers from all over the world. Many of them write and offer pieces of their own collections of fun facts or give us ideas of additional topics to explore.

When I sit down to write for Commonplace Fun Facts, I ask, “What do I want to learn about today?” The prospect of learning now fills me with even more anticipation than the aroma of freshly-baked brownies.


 

Blogger Extraordinaire Michael Thompson

You can reach Michael on social media here:
Twitter
Facebook
And of course, on his BLOGCommonplaceFunFacts

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #JackieLambert – #Writer’sTravelogueSeries – #KeepingAJournal

So happy to have Jackie Lambert visiting us again today, and I know you’ll be happy to welcome her, too. (With any luck, we can coax Jackie into visiting us often to share tales of her adventures on her World Wide Walkies!) As with her last visit, Jackie has some fun and interesting stuff to share with you today, so let’s get right to it! You’re on, Jackie!


How Keeping A Travel Journal Led Me To Publish Five Books!
~~~

Keep a diary, and someday, it will keep you.”

(Note from Jackie: When I looked, I found this popular quote attributed to Mae West, Margot Asquith, Lily Langtry & Anonymous!)

Making a living from writing is difficult, but not impossible, although writing books and making money was certainly not the reason I started keeping diaries about my travels.

My memory is terrible, so when people used to ask me things like, “What did you do on your trip-of-a-lifetime to Zimbabwe?” I would say things like, “Er. Nothing much…”

My Zimbabwe trip was in 1994. Thankfully, I kept a journal – as I did for all my other trips since, which have taken me across six of the seven continents. This shabby collection of mismatched notebooks is now one of my most treasured possessions.

My 1994 journal describes six days rafting 60 km down the crocodile-infested Zambezi River, from Victoria Falls to the Kariba Dam, on some of the biggest white water in the world. Then, it takes me on safari, where I walked through the bush with wild elephants, buffalo, hyena and some rather large pussycats, protected solely by Jane, the only female white hunter in ‘Zim’, as the locals call their home country. After that, I flew over Victoria Falls in a microlight before launching myself 111 metres into freefall from the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia; the highest bungee jump in the world at the time.

No-one would embark on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ without their camera – and if I ever forget to pack a notebook and pen, I come home with sheaves of hotel stationery, paper bags, or Post-it notes covered in scribbles.

More than a quarter of a century on, my journal not only brings back the sights, but the sound of churning white water, the scent of campfires and African dust, and the range of feelings – from sheer  exhilaration to pure terror – that my trip to Africa invoked. I love the way it helps me to recall and re-live the experience in a way that photographs can’t – and I wouldn’t part with it for the world.

***

My husband, Mark and I were made redundant in 2016 and accidentally bought our first caravan (RV trailer). Some way down the second bottle of celebratory champagne, we had a wild idea,

“We could sell up, rent out the house, and tour Europe in her full time!”

Of course, when we sobered up, we decided this was a brilliant idea. So, in May 2016, we set off with our four dogs, Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby and Lani, and Caravan Kismet – meaning ‘Fate’ – in tow. We planned a three-year trip to out-of-the-way places, and our aim was ‘To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before’.

Naturally, I kept a journal. During our first year on the road, people asked about our travels and encouraged me to start a blog. That was easy – after all, I had all the notes in my journal. The blog attracted readers from all over the world, who seemed to enjoy my scribblings. One of them even encouraged me to write a book…

Mark and I are now into our sixth year of our three-year trip and do not intend to stop touring any time soon. I have now published five books about our travels and number six is at the editing/revision stage. Several travel anthologies and travel publications have even invited me to contribute.

Without my travel journals, which I treasure and thoroughly enjoy creating for their own sake, I would never have started my blog, and without the blog, I would not have written the books.

Also, without my journals, if someone asked, “What have you been doing since 1994?”

I would still reply, “Nothing much.”

I can’t promise that one day, your diary will keep you, although I can absolutely GUARANTEE this;

Keep a diary and someday, it will keep you entertained!


Author & World Traveler Jackie Lambert

Fans of Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert’s doggie/travel blog, www.WorldWideWalkies.com said, “You should write a book!” So, she did. In fact, she’s written five…

If you’ve ever considered giving up work to head off into the sunset with surfboards on the roof–or you just like dogs, travel and humour, her Adventure Caravanning With Dogs books are for you.

The first, Fur Babies in France, was described by one reviewer as, “Laugh out funny and a great travel guide”. It tells how she and husband Mark gave up work, accidentally bought their first ever caravan, then decided to rent out the house, sell most of their possessions, and tour Europe full-time with four dogs in tow.

Dog on the Rhine; “An inspirational travelogue” follows this intrepid couple as they get more adventurous, and head into Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. But just to prove that Living the Dream is not all sunshine and rainbows, they return home to a huge Fidose of reality…

Dogs ‘n’ Dracula; “Armchair travel delight” gives the full low down on how Jackie and Mark set off for Spain and Portugal, but decided to turn left…

Pups on Piste is a “Fun and interesting book” about the trials and tribulations of their first ski season in Italy, during which a ski instructor tells them, “Don’t miss the turn, or you’ll go over a cliff.”

In her latest memoir, It Never Rains But It Paws, released on 6th May 2022, Jackie and Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain leaves the EU. Brexit could mean their four precious pups would be unable to travel. Then, a few months into their trip, the pandemic leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot…

She is currently working on her sixth book, To Hel In A Hound Cart – A Road Trip Through Poland In A Pandemic, which will be published later in 2022.

In her first year as a published author, Jacqueline was delighted to receive multiple five-star reviews, a letter from Prince Charles, an invitation to Bucharest to collect an award for Dogs ‘n’ Dracula, and Amazon No. 1 Bestseller status in the German Travel category for Dog on the Rhine. Some of her travel tales BC (Before Canines) have been featured in travel anthologies, alongside other bestselling and award-winning authors.


You can check out all of Jackie’s books on her Amazon Author Page HERE.

Or grab them one at a time here:

Year 1 – Fur Babies in France
Dog on the Rhine
Dogs n Dracula
It Never Rains but It Paws

And you can reach Jackie on social media here:

Blog: WorldWideWalkies.com
Email: jackielambert07@gmail.com
Facebook
Goodreads
BookBub

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #SueRovens

 

I am very happy to welcome Sue Rovens back to The Write Stuff as our special guest today! Please join me in making her feel right at home! Sue, the stage is yours! 🤗


A big, juicy THANK YOU to Marcia for allowing me the opportunity to visit with you today! While I don’t have a brand-new book to promote, I do have one that came out last year which might be of interest. (More on that shortly.)

            I am a suspense/thriller writer from Normal, Illinois. I used to say I write strictly horror, but over the years, I discovered two important things.

One, I actually don’t write exclusively “horror” per se, but rather a mix/mash-up of suspense with some horrifying elements woven into the story. Lately, when asked, folks who have read my books told me that the stories are more weird than scary, which I find to be a compliment. 😊 So, I dropped the HORROR label (except in relation to some of the short stories), and now promote my work under the banner of suspense/thriller.

The second thing I learned came directly from interacting with people at events and seeing how their demeanor changed when I said that I wrote “horror”. While a few folks were intrigued, the majority cringed, backed away, or refused to engage at all. They wouldn’t even pick up one of my books and read the back. Something about the very word was off-putting. It didn’t matter how much I tried to explain that my stories weren’t hardcore horror or gore-heavy. Just the fact that I used “that word” turned them off completely.

I’ve read hardcore horror (body horror, splatter, etc – not my bag, but I’m familiar). My books are NOT that. I was mistaken to ever label the novels “horror” and thus changed how I promote myself and my work. When I was a new writer (back in 2012), I pegged myself as a horror writer because I wanted to be in that camp – with the Stephen Kings and Jack Ketchums of the world. While I enjoy reading some select horror (good stories and not just killing for killing’s sake), I had to realize that my own books simply didn’t fit that moniker. They’re related in a very distant way, but they are what they are: suspense/thrillers.      



Rage is Available on Amazon HERE 

Author Sue Rovens

Sue Rovens is an indie suspense/horror author who hails from Normal, Illinois. She has written four novels and two books of short horror stories. She is currently working on her fifth novel, Sanctum, which should be out sometime in 2023.

Track 9, her second novel, snagged a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly (May 2018), her short story, “Coming Over,” from her book, In a Corner, Darkly (Volume 1) was turned into a screenplay and short student indie film by the theater department of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and another short story, “When the Earth Bled,” won 2nd place in the Support Indie Authors short story contest in 2021. Her two most recent books (Buried and Rage) are under Plump Toad Press.

Sue owns a blog (suerovens.com) which includes interviews with authors, musicians, podcasters, and artists. She is an Executive Producer for an indie (short) horror film which is currently in production called “Let’s Do Things that Make Us Happy.”

Sue is a member of The Chicago Writers Association and the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi).

***Special Note!***

I, too, interview authors (as well as musicians and artists) on my blog. If you are interested, please shoot a quick email to me. ALL are welcome on the blog regardless of professional level or genre. Email me at srovens@yahoo.com. Thanks! 😊


You can reach Sue on Social Media here:

Email: srovens@yahoo.com
Author Page
Blog
Twitter
Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #Children’sAuthor #Mike Allegra

Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing an author new to The Write Stuff, Mike Allegra. Mike writes charming children’s books, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy getting to know him better. In fact, I recommend checking out Mike’s webpage later from the links below, and from there, his blog. Trust me –it’s wonderfully funny! And on that note, let’s get right to today’s post. Take away, Mike!


Thanks, for having me today, Marcia!

The Dusting Distraction

I am a children’s book writer. I am also a house husband. As a house husband, I have to do House Things like the shopping and the cooking and the bills and the cleaning and the laundry.

Lots of laundry, actually.

I’m still not certain how all that laundry materializes every day. Sometimes my son goes through two sets of pajamas in one night. Sheesh, kid, if the long sleeve jammies are too warm in the spring, just put them back in the drawer and put on the short sleeve jammies! That’s all you have to do. What you don’t do is throw the long sleeve jammies in the hamper. Wearing long sleeves for 20 minutes doesn’t make them dirty!

But I digress.

My point is, even if your house is small, the chores add up. Just when you think everything’s under control, there’s another shower to scrub or lunch to make or a whatever-it-is that needs a bit of whatevering.

In some ways, this is good for me. I’m kept busy. Idle hands are the devil’s blah blah blah. More importantly, my wife and son appreciate what I do for them.

On the other hand, chores give me a pretty dang good excuse to not write children’s books.

Writing is hard. When I’m between projects or I’ve hit a rocky patch in a story or I just can bear the thought of doing my jillionth rewrite, my attention drifts to my toilet and I soon discover a newfound sense of purpose.

How can I be expected to write, I ask myself, when that porcelain isn’t glittering?

This is a problem I think a lot of writers have who work out of the house instead of, say, in an office environment. At home there is no cleaning crew to whisk that cobweb off the ceiling. If you don’t go for the Swiffer, the web is stayin’ there. That nasty microwave in the breakroom is not someone else’s responsibility, it’s yours, because it’s your microwave and that breakroom is actually your kitchen. Home is where the heart is; it’s also where the distractions are. And that is how procrastination happens.

I think I know what you might be thinking right about now. I think it, too, sometimes: Is it really procrastination if you’re not farting around on YouTube watching baby goat videos? Is it really procrastination if you’re replacing one task with a different task? Is it really procrastination if what you’re doing instead of writing is something that really, really, really needs to get done?

Yeah, it kind of is.

Running a house is an important job. Crazy important. But writing is a job, too. And if you make a living at it like I do (or wish to make a living at it), writing also needs to be deemed very important. Time needs to be set aside for it. This isn’t easy. I’ve been writing children’s books since 2012 and I still need to remind myself that my Dyson vacuum (The best vacuum in the history of ever!) can, under specific circumstances, be just as insidious a timewaster as posting photos of toaster waffles on Instagram. 

It’s about balance. Emptying the dishwasher (or, fiiine, watching a couple of YouTube videos if you must) in the middle of your regularly scheduled writing time can be a nice palate cleanser. Breaks go a long way toward relieving some of the mental anguish of a Bad Writing Day. Just don’t let those breaks pull you away from the writing for too long. Set an alarm and jump back into the world of letters. Because if you don’t find the time to write your story, your story will never get written.

And don’t worry, a dirty toilet is patient; it’ll wait for you to finish that draft.

As for me, the last chapter of my middle grade novel is taking a lot longer than I had hoped. I need to devote more time to my writing. In other words, my boy is gonna have to learn the simple joys of going to sleep in sweatpants. That’ll teach him.


Author Mike Allegra

Mike Allegra is the author of 17 books for children including the picture books Scampers Thinks like a Scientist (Dawn, 2019), Everybody’s Favorite Book (Macmillan, 2018), and Sarah Gives Thanks (Albert Whitman and Company, 2012). He also wrote the chapter book series Kimmie Tuttle (Abdo Books, 2021) and Prince Not-So Charming (Macmillan, 2018-19; pen name: Roy L. Hinuss). Scampers was the winner of Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teacher’s Choice Award and was selected for inclusion in the Literati Kids subscription box. His story, “Harold’s Hat,” was the winner of the 2014 Highlights fiction contest and was published in the July 2015 issue.

His new picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) will hit store shelves in October 2022. You can preorder it now!

You can Pre-Order a Hard Copy of Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles HERE

A Few More of Mike’s Books to be Found on His Author Page

You can reach Mike on Social Media here:

Website
Facebook
Amazon Author Page

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #AmandaJaneRoss via #DarleneFoster

Good Morning, Everyone. I’m very happy to share a wonderful post with you today, featuring Darlene Foster’s beloved character, Amanda.  I know you are going to thoroughly enjoy the things Amanda shares with you, so let’s get right to it. Amanda, it’s your turn, now!


Hi! This is Amanda Jane Ross.
            Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Marcia. You probably already know that I love travelling to interesting places. My curiosity gets me into trouble sometimes, but I always meet interesting people and learn fascinating new things. What you maybe didn’t know is that I enjoy collecting recipes from the places I visit. I’m an only kid and my parents work a lot. So I do much of the cooking. They are happy to eat whatever I make them.
            I like to read, and I read a lot. Can you believe, I even read cookbooks? And I love visiting graveyards. My friend Leah thinks I’m a bit strange.
            Leah Anderson is my BFF and we travel together. We met in the United Arab Emirates where we had a great time. We got lost in the desert, were chased by bounty hunters and even encountered a sandstorm, but I got to ride a camel named Ali Baba which was so cool.
            Leah thinks I’m a bit too impulsive and curious. I like helping people, like the young girl we met in Spain who needed help to get her pony back from nasty horse thieves.
            Leah invited me to visit her and her parents in England, that’s where they’re from. Wowza, was that ever exciting. We visited amazing places like Windsor Castle, Hampton Court and the Isle of Wight. I loved being up close to all that history I’ve been reading about since, well – since I could read. We had to find a missing vintage novel which took us to some creepy places.
            So I invited her to visit me in Alberta. I thought it would be boring but she loved it! Go figure. We went on a cattle drive and bought cowboy boots together. The Calgary Stampede was fun and so was visiting the dinosaur museum in the Badlands. Too bad about that mean cowboy who wanted a rock I found and followed us wherever we went.
            Then, we all went on a cruise down the Danube River. I can’t believe I was able to tear Mom and Dad away from work to go on a holiday with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. We saw so many great places in Germany, Austria and Hungary and I ate tons of apple strudel. We all had a good time but I had trouble keeping that precious violin safe for the homeless musician I met. It was hard to know who I could trust at times.
            Leah didn’t come with me to New Mexico because it was a school trip. I went with a new friend from class, Cleo, who was spooked about seeing ghosts. Some weird things happened on that trip and now I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts or not.
            I was excited about going to Holland to meet Leah and her dad. We saw lots of tulips and windmills and found an abandoned puppy! Then Leah sent me a postcard from Malta. I had a funny feeling she was in trouble so I went there to help her out. Malta is a great place, you should go there sometime.  We’re going to France next. I love adventure but I promised Leah I would stay out of trouble this time.
            We’ll see.


You can buy Amanda’s latest adventure,  Amanda in France, HERE


 

Author Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. Darlene has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Reach Darlene on Social Media Here:
Website
Blog  
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My Amazon Author Page

 

#GuestDayTuesday – #Bold&BlatantSelfPromo – #Excerpt – #TheEmissary2: To Love Somebody

See, this is what happens when you guys don’t have any news or ideas you want to share: when #GuestDayTuesday rolls around, you just might get ME as the guest! Et voila! Here I am! 

Decided to share an excerpt from my second Emissary Trilogy novella. It’s a scene I hope you’ll find amusing, even without knowing all the particulars of the story at this point.  And for those who think they’d enjoy reading more, these three novellas should definitely be read in order.

But for now, Happy Reading!

 


EXERPT:

Sitting in a Booth Where Cracked Red Vinyl Had Run Amuck,
Ordering That Too-Late Breakfast or Too-Early Lunch,
While Studiously Avoiding Each Other’s Eyes. 

“WHY DO YOU supposed diners always have red plastic seats and red Formica tables? I mean, is it like a law, or somethin’? Part of the original blueprints? Or building code?”

Jake watched Dodger drumming nervous fingers on that very Formica tabletop and knew the boy wanted to talk. He wasn’t going to push him, however. As proven once again by this morning’s events, that never worked. When he was ready, he would talk. Until then, apparently diner décor was what interested him most.

“No idea. Maybe you can research that while we’re on the road so we’ll learn what’s what before we stop at another one.”

Dodger stared out the window. “You’re bein’ condescending, you know.”

“Sorry. Just trying to help you find something to talk about.”

“Well, don’t. I don’t really wanna talk about diners or Formica or anything else like that, and you know it.”

“Yeah, I guess I do. But to be fair, you did talk about it, so I was just playing along.” Jake took a sip of his iced tea, waited a beat, then tried again. “Dodger, you don’t need to explain anything to me. I’m in your corner, no matter what. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell me every detail from your life before we met.”

Finally, Dodger’s face swung back toward Jake. “But I do—at least I do, if it’s somethin’ I need you to understand. And this is.”

“Okay, then. As long as it’s what you want, I’ll always listen. And I’ll always help if I can.”

“I know that. I think I’ve known that since that day in the hospital parking lot, when you told me you wouldn’t take me back to the crap life I was livin’ before you rescued me. And I do trust you. It’s only that I’ve never talked about stuff like this to anyone. Ever. I don’t have any idea how to start.”

“Well, before you go any further, let me say that I didn’t mean to act like there was something wrong with you. Not at all. The honest truth is, as I look back on my own life and think about what was going on with young people around me, I suspect there were way too many of them having sex before they were emotionally mature enough to take that step. But the right time and circumstances are different for everyone, and I didn’t mean to sound like I was judging you.”

Dodger appeared to be inspecting the Formica all over again while his face turned just as red, but waiting was something Jake was good at. It was a skill the boy had helped him perfect.

A few minutes crept by, then Dodger plunged in. “Don’t know if I was ready for it or not, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Not at first, anyway. I was a shrimpy little kid, and way too young to interest the girls. A couple of years later, I’d put on some weight, and must have looked better. Next thing I knew, there was some coked-up, empty-eyed girl or another backin’ me into a corner every time I turned around.” He paused, then ground out, “I hated it!”

“Okay. Do you want to tell me why?”

It took three tries before Dodger was able to answer, and Jake wasn’t surprised at the pain in the boy’s voice.

“I had this dumbass idea when I left home that I’d find someone who cared about me. Someone I’d matter to.” He looked up, eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I guess I just wanted somebody, somewhere, to love me. No one ever had, Jake, and even as messed up as I was by then, one thing I knew for damn sure—none of those girls followin’ us runners around were gonna love me, either.” He paused, then stared out the window again.

“So, you waited?”

Nodding, Dodger went on. “Yeah. I waited. And kept waiting. Not like I was holdin’ out for something permanent or anything. I just wanted it to matter. I wanted me to matter. Stupid, huh?”

“No, Dodge. Not stupid at all. Love is the one thing in the world that truly does matter, above all else. Of course you wanted it. We all do. We’re born reaching for it, and the fact that you already knew the truth of that at the age of sixteen is one more example of how special you are. Azrael was right in telling me to save your life at all costs, and right again in bringing you back. You have so much to give this world, and you’re making a real difference in the lives of others every single day. And as for someone loving you, I know this isn’t the same, but I couldn’t love you more if you were my own son.”

“Thank you for that,” Dodger whispered. “I can’t even put into words how much that means to me.” The boy stared at the Formica again, his face still forlorn.

“But?”

“But I still wish I’d managed to get laid. At least once.”


You can download The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody HERE
(But don’t forget, these 3 novellas are meant to be read in order.)


BLURB:

They’re back!

Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.

They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. You know the ones—the kid thinking about stealing from a corner market or the man planning to lie about a coworker and destroy her career. Yeah, them. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.

Of course, there are rules by which the emissaries must play, and the archangel Azrael stands ready to enforce them. First and foremost, a person’s free will must never be compromised. Emissaries are allowed to use only the smallest of mental nudges. Thankfully, a whispered suggestion here or images of a better course of action there is usually all it takes. The potential mugger walks on by. The thief drops the wallet back into the unattended purse. But whether the results are obvious or not, Jake and Dodger are fully committed to making a positive difference, even as they struggle with issues of their own.

Will Dodger get over losing his chance to learn what true love is all about? Will Jake survive the grueling angelic equivalent of Boot Camp? Will Azrael ever finish the Official Emissarial Guidebook—including the chapter titled Do Not Even Think About It?

One thing’s for sure—Jake’s and Dodger’s strengths are growing daily, as they help more and more people make better choices. But is the price for so much power higher than they’re willing to pay?


#This&That&TheOtherThing – #GuestDayTuesday – #AmWriting – #HappyEaster

Just a quick catch-up this afternoon, since I don’t think I’ll be around much this weekend. All sorts of stuff going on around here, as usual, and also as usual, I’m way behind on ALL of it. Plugging away at things, though! Honest!


THIS

Putting another call out for #GuestDayTuesday posters. If you have a new release, a cover reveal, an excerpt you’d like to share (new or old), a promo you want to share, or some interesting tidbits about writing or marketing, #GuestDayTuesday is a perfect way to go. I’m very flexible about the topic of your posts and will include your author bio and photo, book covers, links to buy your books, and social media links.  Every other Tuesday is pretty much wide open from May 3 through the end of the year. Email me and we’ll set up a date that works for you!


THAT

I have some fun (I hope) ideas in mind for some random posts in the weeks ahead, to include “Question of the Day”  and “Forgotten Words,” for two possible examples. Stay tuned for more. 


THE OTHER THING

Meanwhile, I haven’t forgotten that I promised you Rabbit fans out there a new series of novellas featuring that very special little boy (and his equally special abilities), his doting father, MacKenzie Cole, and his unofficially adopted big brother, Austin Dupree. (The upside of being alone in the world at ten is that you have a chance to choose the perfect family for yourself.)

I know I’ve been unable to work on this novella for a few weeks, but I promise that one way or the other, that will change. Cole, Cole, & Dupree Investigative Services (Motto: We Can Help!) IS coming to a Kindle store near you just as soon as I can make it happen!


And that wraps up this edition of This & That & The Other Thing.
Happy Easter Weekend to All!



#This&That&TheOtherThing – #BlogBreaks – #GuestDayTuesdays – #Excerpts

Time for a quick catch-up, since I’ve nothing scheduled for today, but do have a few things I’d like to mention. Here goes!


THIS

Just a quick reminder that this week, my blog break day is Friday, so while I might check my email to see if there are urgent things awaiting me, I really won’t be around much too much.


THAT

Just want to remind you again that I’m ready to start scheduling #GuestDayTuesday guest posts for those of you who have something writing-related you’d like to share. I’m flexible on content for this one. Could be a new release or a cover reveal. Could be part of an upcoming blog tour. Could be you’d like to promote one of your books via your blurb and an excerpt. And it could also be something you’d just like to share about the process of writing and publishing. As always, I’ll include your bio, photo, cover, and all Buy Links and Social Media Links, so you’ll get some exposure that way, as well. For complete info, check General Blog Rules and Various Feature Instructions


THE OTHER THING

Another blog feature I plan to resurrect in the weeks ahead is “Excerpt Week,” wherein you are invited to share a favorite excerpt from one of your books, along with all of the Usual Stuff to promote the book.  I will, of necessity, limit the number of posts per day to two, so there will only be 14 spots booked for the week. But if it’s as much fun as it used to be, I will schedule it more often. And to get you in the mood, here’s an excerpt from my 3rd Wake-Robin Ridge book, Harbinger, which deals with the legend of the Black Dog as a harbinger of death. Happy reading!


***

Early June, 1994
North Carolina Mountains

~~~ 

           With a loud whoosh, the doors pulled closed on the big, yellow bus, and it rumbled down the old, two-lane highway, leaving the shrieks and laughter of the last few kids hanging in the muggy air. Sissy Birdwell stood on the dusty berm, waving goodbye to friends she wouldn’t see again until the fall, and watched the bus disappear around the curve.
          Reluctant to start the mile-long hike up the narrow, red clay road toward her home, she kicked aimlessly at some pebbles and twigs. Part of her was happy her mother had finally agreed she was old enough to walk home alone. After all, she was eight years old now, and certainly able to find her way to their house, which waited at the very end of the steep track. Another part of her shivered at the thought of the lonely, winding road ahead, which curved higher and higher through the thick woods, until it reached their clearing near the top of the ridge.
          She would never tell her mama this, but the dark beneath the trees scared her. She was afraid of bears. And coyotes. And snakes. And lots of other things that might want to share the road with her on an early June afternoon. But nobody in the whole Birdwell family would understand that, not even the women. They’d been part of these mountains forever, and she was sure nothing scared them at all.
          Of course, she could wait around for the second bus, then walk home with her brother—but that would be like admitting she was still a baby. No way she’d do that. So she squared her shoulders, and trudged up the drive toward home, refusing to look at the dusty trees and bushes that crowded close on either side. Instead, she pictured the litter of tiny pups their hound had presented them with last week, and tried to guess if any might have opened their eyes today.
          Thinking about cuddling those precious babies with their sweet puppy breath warm on her face made Sissy walk a bit faster, kicking up puffs of reddish dust from the dirt road. As she rounded the first broad curve, she saw a lone figure coming toward her. Even from a distance, the way the sun glinted on his coppery hair told her it was Cadey Hagen, the son of their nearest neighbor, but what he was doing on their drive, she wasn’t sure. The Hagen cabin was a good ways down the eastern slope of the ridge.
          “Hey, Sissy. You just gettin’ home from school?”
          “Hey, Cadey. Yeah. Sorry you missed the last day party.”
          He snorted. “Who needs them ol’ cupcakes, anyway? ‘specially if you gotta eat ‘em in a room full of stupid little kids.”
         “Wasn’t all little kids. All the grades were there, an’ the cupcakes were pretty good, too. Why’d you skip it?”
         He scowled, kicking at the dirt in disgust. “Didn’t skip it. Ol’ Lady Bratton suspended me for the last three days, just cuz she found me smokin’ behind the washroom.”
          “Oh. Didn’t know you got suspended. I heard you were in trouble, though. Only I heard it was because you had you a knife at school, and then you smart-mouthed Miz Bratton when she caught you.”
          “Well, she deserved it, dang ol’ biddy. Was only an ol’ Buck knife. Everybody carries ‘em. It don’t matter none to me, though. She’s the one gonna be sorry.”
          Sissy wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but she’d heard the bigger kids say Cadey was a boy you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of, so she kept quiet.
          Oh, he looked innocent enough, with his gap-toothed grin, freckled face, and jug ears poking out from under a thatch of hair that was more red than blond. He reminded Sissy of Opie Taylor, from the television reruns of the Andy Griffith Show, except older. Maybe twelve. She didn’t really believe he’d hurt anyone. Still, something told her not to ask any questions.
          They talked about school a moment or two, then Cadey made an announcement. “I got a secret. I’d tell you, but you ain’t old enough to trust with it.”
          Of all the things he could have said, implying she was still a little girl was the one guaranteed to get a rise out of Sissy. “Am so old enough! Ain’t nobody can make me tell a secret, Cadey Hagen. Why’re you grinnin’ like that? I wanna know.”
          “Just thinkin’. How old are you, anyway?”
          “I’m eight, an’ I know how to pinkie swear, an’ everything. I ain’t gonna blab your old secret. Probably isn’t all that good, anyway.”
          Now, Cadey was insulted. “Is so. Might be the best secret I ever had. You’d be pretty surprised, I bet.”
         They stood, indignant, in the middle of the dirt road, hands on hips, glaring at each other, then Cadey cocked his head. “What’s your real name, anyway?”
          “Cecelia Ann Birdwell. Why?”
          Cadey looked her up and down. The two of them were a study in contrasts, and Sissy scowled at the boy, as he took in her long black braids, tied with red cotton bows, and her smooth, tan skin, so different from his pale, freckled complexion. Even her tip-tilted black eyes, which clearly showed the Cherokee heritage in her family, contrasted sharply with his bright blue ones. When he finished his inspection, he seemed to have come to a decision.
          “Well, Cecelia Ann Birdwell, do you swear you’ll never tell? Hope to die? Lightnin’ strike you in the eye?”
          She huffed out a breath. “Yes. I swear I won’t tell nobody, hope to die, an’ lightnin’ strikes, an’ all. Now what’s your big ol’ secret?”
          “Come with me, then, an’ I’ll show you.”
          Without a moment’s hesitation, Sissy Birdwell took Cadey Hagen’s outstretched hand, followed him into the woods … and never came out again.


And there you have today’s This & That & The Other Thing
Hope you’ll start thinking about doing a #GuestDayTuesday soon,

and consider some excerpts for an upcoming #ExcerptWeek post, too.
Have a great day!