Monday, March 30, 2020

Welcome Jean Grant

I usually post on Mondays, but Jean has an audio book out and I thought you might like to take a listen.

Will Rise from Ashes
Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Release date: April 17, 2019, Audio Release date: March 16, 2020
by Jean M. Grant

Social Media links:

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Tagline: Living is more than mere survival.

Living is more than mere survival.
Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.
Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

The Writer’s Journey
Will Rise from Ashes was by far my hardest book to write. For many reasons, some personal, some technical. I’d been writing romances with HEAs for so long, shifting to women’s fiction with grittier topics took some getting used to. The romantic in me though, did toss in a romance subplot, and I am a sucker for a happ(ier) ending.
A few more facts about this book:
  1. I began writing it in 2015, 5 years ago. The first draft took a year while working part-time and around kids’ busy schedules. Editing took a few more years…
  2. It underwent at least 8 full-length revisions before I submitted to my editor at The Wild Rose Press. I’ve also written/edited the entire manuscript at least 20 times.
  3. It’s my first book written in both first person (AJ, the mother) and third person (Will, the son). The dual narrators for the audio book did an amazing job.
  4. My villains are a volcano and humanity in the wake of this natural disaster.
  5. The book spans over a month of time and over 2,000 miles.
  6. My theme of heartache, healing, and hope dominates this book.
  7. It is the 7th book I’ve written, but 4th published. 
  8. The story tackles topics of widowhood, anxiety, autism, addiction, and redemption.
  9. I threw everything but the kitchen sink at AJ. I love an emotional journey, but I do enjoy lots of external conflict and roadblocks (teehee, in this case, literal roadblocks).
  10. Its title was changed from the original. It took quite some convincing from my editor to change it. 
  11. This book underwent the most “killing my darlings” (aka scene slicing) of all my books. All for the better, or course!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Welcome, Julie Howard

I spend a fair amount of time conjuring up ghosts and ways to kill people. Fictional people. As a mystery writer, it’s all in a day’s work. Creepy, I suppose. But consider this: There are thousands of mystery writers out there in the world doing the same thing!
 My latest book, House of Seven Spirits, releases today and includes the specter of murder and ghosts. The story is set in Australia’s Outback and I needed to imagine a mystery that would be unique to this setting.
I sipped my morning coffee, recalled a recent trip to that incredible land down under, and began writing. As usual, the plot came to me all at once.
Most of my books arrive fully formed in my mind and it’s just a matter of filling out the skeleton of plot. Because this was the second book in a series that revolves around ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester, I already had a main character. She travels the world to haunted locations and writes a hugely successful blog about her experiences. My experience in Australia brought home how different Australia is to my own home in the United States. Animals, plants, accents, and phrases were a constant reminder I was somewhere very far away. There are animals and plants in this country that are found naturally nowhere else on Earth. I wanted to showcase just a smidgeon of this in my story.
As a non-Australian, I was also very cognizant I was a bit out of my element. I didn’t want to get it wrong. I have an Australian writer friend who read an early version of the book and gave me some tips. Most of the time, I followed her advice – and, in a couple of cases (minor ones), I didn’t. Writers do take creative license with the facts, after all. Like conjuring ghosts and a haunted sheep station in the vast Outback.
I’m very proud of this book and it’s garnering wonderful early reviews. I hope you enjoy!


Some secrets are deadly, and ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester and her photographer boyfriend discover it's true when they set out to investigate an Australian family who disappeared without a trace in the 1880s. 
An abandoned sheep station rumored to be haunted by the long-dead Kinsley family is one challenge. The other is the beautiful but deadly Outback.

As Jillian probes deeper into the mystery, one thing becomes clear: She might not make it out of this quest alive.


“Don’t go up there,” Mason warned. “The wood’s apt to be rotted in places. The floor may not be safe.” 
She glanced over her shoulder at him and hesitated. Her California beach home was eight thousand miles away—a fifteen-hour flight plus a day’s drive along bumpy bleak roads. She hadn’t come this far to only examine the structure’s exterior. Her work required total immersion. 
She put a foot on the first step and tested it with her weight. Mason strode around the car and halted just below the porch with arms crossed. “Jillian.” 
The last thing she needed was someone hovering, directing her on what she could and couldn’t do. When she worked, the “real” world faded in importance. His uneasy energy interrupted her focus. “I’m fine.”
The stair was solid, at least. Not even a creak greeted her as she advanced onto the veranda. He cleared his throat as she took another step, but said nothing. 
Despite the heat, a sudden chill rippled up her bare arms, sending prickles all the way to her neck. For a split second, her world tilted and her senses were overwhelmed. The musty odor of freshly shorn sheep wool, clothes flapping on a line, young voices chattering, the sharp tang of blood. Just as quick, the images dissolved and all was still, dry and lifeless once more. She let go of a deep breath, and a feeling of exhilaration swept through her. 
Someone’s here. 

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime and Spirited Quest series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Now she edits an online anthology, Potato Soup Journal.

Author Links:

Buy Links for House of Seven Spirits:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Our Corona World

Welcome to the world of social distancing! By now, we’ve all heard of it, and are hopefully following it—seriously, people, you need to do it. Move over. I’ll wait.

Thank you.

In all seriousness, my family has spent the past week and a half trying to get everyone home and now we are self-isolating just in case one of us brought it home. What does that mean?

Well, the Princess is home and is working on her online classes in a very different time zone. She’s recovering from jet lag, being followed around by me with a bottle of Lysol and a Chlorox wipe (and getting mighty sick of it) as she completes the rest of her coursework. 

Banana Girl is also home and completing her online classes online. Also being followed around by me. 

Neither one of them is particularly glad to be here and not be allowed to see their friends, not that any of their friends is allowed to see them either. They’ve discovered the joys of taking walks outside (6 feet away from everyone else) and sitting on the deck when it gets slightly warm. They’re bored, but managing.

The husband is working from home, holed up in his office with the door shut for a majority of the day. Which is better than when we were driving to pick up Banana Girl, and he was working in the car, the hotel, the dorm and anywhere else he could find WiFi. Especially because he is a very loud typist and talker.

I’m having my home space invaded by three people who aren’t usually here all at the same time. It’s lovely to see them and have them here, but I really, really, really need a door. I have no idea how to buy food for four anymore, or supplies. I’d mention toilet paper, but we’re okay for right now. In a week or two, who knows?

I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but not really. We’re fine, we’re healthy and we’re lucky. We’re lucky to be together, and we’re lucky we’re not in worse shape, like some others. For us, this is an inconvenience. But it’s essential to help others in this time of crisis. So, make sure you’re staying away from people, if not for you than for others. Stop buying more than you need. Donate to a food bank or a domestic violence shelter (seriously, can you imagine having to shelter in place with your abuser?). Put up with the inconvenience and remember it’s temporary. Nothing lasts forever and this will end. 

But feel free to find the funny. Because no matter what is happening, humor always helps.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Blogging Challenge

There’s a blogging challenge that a bunch of my writer friends are participating in this week, and while I’m not officially playing, the topic is one that interests me. What is one skill you wish you had, but don’t.

Well, I have always wanted to learn how to hot wire a car. Must be the inner rebel in me—I certainly don’t have an outwardly rebellious streak, but I know it hides inside somewhere—but I would LOVE to learn to do this. Every time I see someone do it on TV, I tell my husband I want to learn.

No, I have no desire to steal a car. In addition to not having an outwardly rebellious streak, I’m a hopeless rule-follower. If there’s a rule, show it to me and I’ll follow it. So the “Thou Shalt Not Steal” pretty much guarantees your car is safe from me. Well, that and the fact that I don’t know how to hot wire it.

Must be all the crime TV shows I watched as a kid—Magnum, Simon & Simon, CHIPs, etc. I know, everyone thought I was watching because of the cute guys (and it’s true in the case of Magnum), but what I was really doing was drooling over the hot wiring. Zip, zap and the car zoomed away.

I really want to know how to do that! 

So, who wants to teach me?

Monday, March 2, 2020


We’re getting ready to go on a big vacation, and I’m breaking one of my habits. I’m laying out clothes early.

I never do this. I scoff silently at those who do—sorry, but I’ve always wondered why this is necessary. Of course, we haven’t gone on any big vacations in a long time, so obviously I was scoffing out of ignorance.

Because we’ll be gone for two weeks and I have no idea how to pack, what to pack or how I’m going to fit anything into the suitcase.

Originally, I thought I could take the big suitcase, so I didn’t worry about it. An entire suitcase to myself? No problem. The weather will be warm, but there’s air conditioning, and potential rain and different outfits and shoes and stuff. But a huge suitcase to myself? Awesome.

Then I found out the big suitcase was too big for some of our air travel. We lent the perfect sized suitcases to the Princess for her world travels, leaving less than ideal ones for us. My husband showed me what he thought might work and I yelled. Because there was no way two weeks worth of clothing would fit in the small suitcase. 

He measured and figured and measured and borrowed and measured some more. He bought new suitcases to get me to be quiet and they’re still awfully small. There’s no way I can fit my clothes in them.

Then again, I can’t visualize worth anything. Just ask anyone whom I feed. I’m convinced we’ll need way more food than we actually do, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise I can’t visualize what will fit.

The Princess even asked me to help her pack for her travels, but when she saw how I was doing it, she asked me to sit in the corner and look pretty while she did the work (I might have slightly exaggerated my ineptitude in order to get her to do the work, but still...).

So I decided that maybe, perhaps, there might be a reason people who travel more often than we do start laying out clothes ahead of time.

There is. I did a first round laying out and I think there’s a chance I might be able to fit my clothes in the suitcase my husband is suggesting for me to use. Of course, I haven’t yet done shoes. Or toiletries. But we’re not camping, so I should be able to get anything I can’t bring with me. 

I still have two weeks to play around with things. But I might have learned my lesson.