Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's My Birthday....Wait! How old am I?

Well....another year down.

As I often do when in need of something relaxing, I took advantage of a brief break from the rain yesterday and went for a walk. It allowed me to reflect back over this past year and hit on the highlights. I have a lot to be thankful for!



With my writing, I published three more books in my middle grade mystery series, and released another audiobook. I had plans for at least one more book and another audiobook, but life always tosses some things out there to slow you down! However, in spite of that, I'm really happy with how it's gone. I reached some other big goals, one of them being to run a campaign on the huge BookBub site! It catapulted The Mystery of Hollow Inn into the coveted 'Amazon Best Seller' status, and the whole series is still being carried a little by the wave it caused.



I had some amazing hiking trips this summer, and a somewhat spontaneous photography trip to Yosemite with a new friend I made at a local street fair! She is also a photographer, and it was an amazing time. Along those lines, I have had two great local shows with my canvas prints, and participated in a few street fairs where the feedback and interaction was simply worth more than anything I could sell.



I went to my first convention! Galacticon (in Seattle) was such a mix of experiences. It was overshadowed by some pretty bad moves on the head organizers, which almost caused a last-minute cancellation, but the true fans stepped up and pulled off a great event. I was SO lucky to be placed next to these guys, brothers, who really just made my weekend. We have continued to communicate via Facebook, and they (Tim and Mathew!) were the first to teach me how important (and fun) networking is. I had my first true random fan come running up to my table, excited to meet me, I met some actors from my favorite scifi shows and even had Richard Hatch sign Bloodline!!! (and we spoke to each other for over 15 mins!)



I had my first official book signing! It was Barnes and Noble in Bellingham, and again...I learned all about networking, and how as an author, it is essential. I met some truly amazing authors, including Graham Kerr!!! :)



The summer was warm, which meant it was good. :) I love the outdoors, and thrive in the sunshine. Hiking has become my new favorite outdoor activity and I plan on doing a whole lot more of it this coming year, even though I will be.......





Wait. HOW old am I????

Well....I was born in 71. But, since my birthday is a few days shy of the end of the year, it makes it a little confusing. I had to do some math to figure it out, because I honestly stopped keeping track after 25. We could just stay I'm 25. Right? Well, maybe not. How about 35? I might be able to pass for that still....;)  I'm really 44, so lots of good times still ahead!

Have a blessed 2016!!!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of my new release, The Heiress of Covington Ranch, I am giving away two free ebook copies! The first two people to leave a comment, get it!!!

The Heiress of Covington Ranch


A fun, middle grade mystery!

Monday, December 21, 2015

New Release!

I'm excited to announce that book #4 in The Samantha Wolf Mysteries is HERE! It's available in both ebook and paperback format, and as always, is Free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited!


The Heiress of Covington Ranch



  • Free with Kindle Unlimited!

Middle school presents a new kind of challenge for Sam and Ally, but also a chance to make a unique friend. When one of their teachers needs help, the three of them come together to lend her support.


Nestled in the woods that surround their homes is Covington Ranch. An abandoned estate once used to raise famous horses, a family tragedy has left it forgotten and neglected. But someone has come back.


What does their teacher, a rich stockbroker, and a stolen ruby called The Eye of Jupiter all have in common? Sam and Ally vow to find out, and in doing so, start a chain reaction. It could either have dire consequences for those involved, or bring a broken family back together again.

Monday, December 7, 2015

.99 Sale for the Beach House Mystery




THE BEACH HOUSE MYSTERY


The fun continues in book #3 of the Samantha Wolf Mysteries! 
What should be a quiet week at the beach turns into the most challenging mystery that Sam and Ally have uncovered yet. What’s the truth behind the odd family renting the cabin next-door? Is the tale of a sea creature and haunted lighthouse just a myth? How does a missing girl, and suspicious boat tie into all of it? The girls can’t solve this puzzle on their own, so they turn to their brothers for help. 


Travel with them to the scenic Washington Coast and into the Olympic Rainforest, where the four have to work together to untangle the clues and fit the mysterious pieces together. 





This is book #3 in the series, and one of my favorites! This is your chance to get caught up on the series before the fourth book, The Heiress of Covington Ranch, comes out on December 21st!


I also have a special promo code for you! You can use this code: BOOKDEAL25 for ONE paperback/hardback book purchase, and get 25% off!

Here is a link to my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE where you can take your pick! How about starting with the first book in The Samantha Wolf Mysteries? Or maybe Bloodline, the first book in my YA trilogy? You know, books make great Christmas gifts! :)



(As always, if you have Kindle Unlimited, ALL of my books are FREE!)




Friday, December 4, 2015

How to (not) Take a Break

I recently finished writing the fourth book in my middle grade mystery series, and have a release date of 12.21.2015. (it's up for pre sale now)

Having just concluded a read-through/edit and sending it off for Beta Readers and editing, I sat back and immediately began planning what to do next.

A break. I needed to take a break. Thanksgiving was just a few days away, and then a huge couple of weeks of work, a book signing, photo shoot, and CPR instructing at the local High School.

A break.

Right. I don't think I quite understand the meaning of the word. Even when I try to force myself not to take anything else on, I seem to continuously think about what I should be doing, and then find myself writing out 'The List'.

Anyone else with me?

I always have a long list. Full of have to do, need to do, would like to do...lots of do's. Being an Indie Author, there is always something to DO. The good news, is that I love to do it. :)

This is how I know that being an author is my calling. Because no matter how tired, or stressed, or over-whelmed I get with everything else on my list, the one thing that will always make me smile and feel at peace is the 'write' item. I don't see it as a chore. I absolutely LOVE it.

So while I might not have allowed myself much of a 'break', and I'm a bit run-down and behind on my sleep and 'me' time...I'm still okay. Because in another week, I will be adding 'write a chapter' back to the top of my daily list, and my world will be right again.

Who's with me? :)


A picture I took while on my 'break'. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

New Book Release: Lily Of The Valley

LotV Release Banner

Happy Cyber Monday! In honor of the biggest internet shopping day of the year, or at least one of them, Faith Blum decided to do a blog tour release of her newest novel, Lily of the Valley. There are two giveaway opportunities and lots of fun interviews and excerpts.

About the Book

Howdy, Teacher! You don’t know me, but my kids talk bout you a lot. I been lookin fer a wife and mother fer a few years and was wonderin iffen we cood meet and get to no each other a bit. I’ll come after skool to git yer answer. Grover Miller
Lily of the Valley FrontUnruly schoolchildren, three suitors, and too many things to do. When Ruth Brookings rejects one of the suitors, he refuses to accept no for an answer. To make matters worse, when she prays for guidance, she’s answered with a challenge instead: To encourage her friend to find a wife—whether he wants one or not. Will she lose her friend just when she needs a friend the most? Will she be able to weather the storms she’s about to face? Purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B016VAJ7EW

About the Author

Author Picture 2015-2016 b Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. (The picture doesn't show it well, but there are scribblings on the page of Green Eggs and Ham). Now that she's grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn't stop her from trying. When she isn't writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.

Free Book

BTMV Free Promo 11 Today is the last day to get Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West #2) free! Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NF3QV52

Giveaway

Faith has a Goodreads giveaway going on through November 30th! Be sure to check it out and enter to win one of two signed paperback copies of Lily of the Valley.  

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lily of the Valley by Faith Blum

Lily of the Valley

by Faith Blum

Giveaway ends November 30, 2015. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/161619 In addition to the Goodreads giveaway, Faith is also giving away all four of her paperback novels to one lucky winner! Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Bloggers involved

  November 29: Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Tour introduction Shanna Hatfield-Book Spotlight November 30: Musings of Inspiration-Author Interview/Book Spotlight C.K.Rich-Book Spotlight Singing Librarian Books-Book Review/Author Interview Writing Dreams-Author Interview/Character Interview/Book Spotlight Tara Ellis - Wife. Mother, Indie Author and Photographer-Book Spotlight Christa Reads & Writes-Book Spotlight Rebekah Lyn Books-Book Spotlight The Overactive Imagination-Author Interview Wildflower Acres-Book Review/Spotlight Jaye L. Knight-Book Spotlight Zerina Blossom's Books-Book Review/Spotlight God's Peculiar Treasure Rae-Book Spotlight Tamie Dearen’s Blog-Book Review/Spotlight  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kindle Countdown Sale for The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines



The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines


This is the second book in The Samantha Wolf Mysteries. The first book, The Mystery of Hollow Inn, is an Amazon best seller in the kids detective story genre! Don't miss out on the second installment!

.99 cents for three more days!

Get it HERE


BLURB:

What could be better than hiking, swimming, and horseback riding? Having a mystery to solve, of course! 
When Sam and Ally embark on their next quest together, they have no idea what secrets hide in the shadows at Camp Whispering Pines. Set in the beautiful, rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the clues are slowly revealed, and it’s up to the two girls to figure it out. 
New friendships are formed, while at the same time enemies lurk nearby. The closer they get to uncovering the truth behind the camp, the further they are pushed into danger and deceit. Can Sam and Alley put all of the pieces together before it’s too late? Follow them on another thrilling tale filled with excitement and adventure, along misty, high mountain trails and deep ravines, where the answers wait to be found! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cover Reveal for Book #4 in The Samantha Wolf Mysteries!

The Heiress of Covington Ranch


Available NOW for pre-order HERE





Middle school presents a new kind of challenge for Sam and Ally, but also a chance to make a unique friend. When one of their teachers needs help, the three of them come together to lend her support. 

Nestled in the woods that surround their homes is Covington Ranch. An abandoned estate once used to raise famous horses, a family tragedy has left it forgotten and neglected. But someone has come back. 

What does their teacher, a rich stockbroker, and a stolen ruby called The Eye of Jupiter all have in common? Sam and Ally vow to find out, and in doing so, start a chain reaction. It could either have dire consequences for those involved, or bring a broken family back together again. 




Book #4 in the The Samantha Wolf Mysteries

I'm excited about this one. It's a little more involved than the previous three, and really expands upon the characters. I'm in love with the cover, and already plotting book #5. Get your pre-order in now, so you don't miss the release date on December 21st, just in time for Christmas!

Looking for a unique gift for a loved one? Look no further!


Friday, November 6, 2015

A New Christmas Novella with Recipes from Author Deborah Garner!

Mistletoe at Moonglow



A Christmas novella with cookie recipes included!


The Timberton Hotel has always provided a perfect Christmas retreat for regular guests, as well as newcomers. But the small town of Timberton, Montana, hasn't been the same since resident chef and artist, Mist, arrived, bringing a unique new age flavor to the old western town. When guests check in for the holidays, they bring along worries, fears and broken hearts, unaware that Mist has  a way of working magic in people's lives. Old-fashioned time spent together, exquisite food, conversation and a snowball or two offer guests a chance to trade sadness for hope. One thing is certain: no matter how cold winter's grip is on each guest, no one leaves Timberton without a warmer heart. 




Have you read any of Deborah Garner's books? If so, then I don't have to tell you that you are in for a treat with 'Mistletoe at Moonglow'. If you haven't, then you need to. I'll give you a little sample of the story, and it will immediately be clear as to why I enjoy her writing!


****
Excerpt from Mistletoe at Moonglow:


Mist set to work, weaving tapestries of eucalyptus and pinecones, bursts of floral colors and dry branches, ribbons and bark. As she created, she hummed Christmas melodies she’d known since childhood, the music of memories. Hours flew by. In the end, a magnificent arrangement spanned the center of the buffet, with miniature renditions of the same on each table.
“Mighty fine.”
Mist turned to see Clive standing in the doorway, nodding his head with approval. She smiled. It was a far cry from the western art he displayed in his gallery, but he was clearly impressed. That was the thing about holiday decorations. People’s hearts could bond over them.
“Good afternoon, Clive. What brings you around today? Wouldn't be a certain lady we both know?” His face reddened like a schoolboy caught kissing a pretty girl under the bleachers.
“You can tease me all you want, young lady,” Clive said. “But I’m here to replace a bulb in that entryway chandelier before the cookie exchange this afternoon. I don’t want Betty climbing up a ladder. Her hip’s been bothering her lately. She won’t say so, but I see the way she runs her hand over it when she’s been working too much.”
“I’ve seen her do that, too. I’m glad you’re here to help her.”
“Well, if not me, you’ll be climbing those ladders, too. And we don’t want that.”
“That’s sweet of you to worry about me, but I’m strong and don’t mind climbing ladders.”
Clive laughed. “Oh, I’m not worried about you. I just don’t want you falling and breaking an arm. What would we eat? The whole dang town might just starve.”
Mist swatted him with a eucalyptus branch and pushed him out of the room. Both laughing, they almost bumped into a woman who stood directly under the chandelier in question. They straightened up quickly, like children just caught misbehaving.
“Welcome to the Timberton Hotel,” Mist said, extending her hand.

*****






Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.



Be sure to go pick up your copy, light a fire, grab a blanket and whatever hot beverage you desire ... and enjoy!!!






Sunday, November 1, 2015

FREE Ebook! The Mystery of Hollow Inn

Are you a fan of Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, or the Boxcar Children? Have you been looking for a current middle grade mystery series for you or your kids? The Samantha Wolf Mysteries is a fun, clean read suitable for all ages.

The Mystery of Hollow Inn is the first book in the series, and will be FREE from 12/1 to 12/5. Now is the perfect time to discover the world of Sam and Ally, two twelve-year-old girls that manage to always find a mystery, and help some people along the way.

There are three books out right now, with the fourth available for pre-order this week!

(The first two books are also in audiobook format!)

GET YOUR FREE COPY HERE!!






Twelve-year-old Samantha Wolf, and her best friend Ally, are excited to spend part of their summer break in the mountains of Montana. But unbeknownst to them, Hollow Inn is bathed in mystery and legend. After arriving, they soon discover that things are not going well for Sam's Aunt and Uncle, who own the Inn. There's vandalism, ghostly sightings, and rumors of lost treasures. Determined to help, Sam and Ally embark on a challenging journey to discover the truth. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Release From a Promising New Author!

The Firethorn Crown


I'm excited to share this new release, by Lea Doue. It just came out on October 24th, and is still priced at only .99! I haven't had a chance to read all of it yet, but I've gotten far enough to feel confident in recommending it. Better yet, this is even a clean read. (and I have to say that this cover is really, really good!)







The Firethorn Crown
Lea Doué

            Princess Lily, the eldest of twelve sisters and heir to a mighty kingdom, desperately seeks a break from her mother's matchmaking. Tradition forbids marriage with the man Lily loves, so she would rather rule alone than marry someone who only wants the crown.

            Fleeing an overzealous suitor, Lily stumbles into a secret underground kingdom where she and her sisters encounter a mysterious sorcerer-prince and become entangled in a curse that threatens the safety of her family and her people. Lily can free them, but the price for freedom may be more than she's willing to pay.


            The Firethorn Crown, a re-imagining of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” is the first novel in the Firethorn Chronicles, a series inspired by fairy tales and other stories. Follow the sisters on their adventures in a land where sorcery is feared, women can rule, and dragons fly.


Find it on Amazon.





A little about the author!



Lea Doué

A native of south Georgia, Lea currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, their two boys, a rescue greyhound, and a cat. But, sadly, no dragons. Homeschooling and writing take up most of her time, but she also enjoys directing a small puppet team at her church. The Firethorn Crown, a re-imagining of Grimm's “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” is the first novel in the Firethorn Chronicles, a series inspired by fairy tales and other stories.

You can connect with her here:



Monday, October 26, 2015

My New Audiobook is Out! The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines

The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines
Book #2 in The Samantha Wolf Mysteries
3hrs 45min

Amazon Link

ACX Link




What could be better than hiking, swimming, and horseback riding? Having a mystery to solve, of course! When Sam and Ally embark on their next quest together, they have no idea what secrets hide in the shadows at Camp Whispering Pines. Set in the beautiful, rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the clues are slowly revealed, and it's up to the two girls to figure it out. New friendships are formed, while at the same time enemies lurk nearby.

*******
With nearly four hours of entertainment, The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines is sure to keep the kids happy for that long car ride. You may even find yourself getting lost in the story. :)


The first book in the series, The Mystery of Hollow Inn, is also available as an audiobook.



Check out all of my titles and formats on my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE and be sure to let me know what you think of my work!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Descent is on Sale for only 0.99!!!

Do you love to read Young Adult novels, or know someone that does? I know how hard it is to pick and chose from the thousands of options out there, so I've enrolled the third book in my trilogy, Descent, in a Kindle Countdown promotion. For the next week (10/8-10/15) it will be on sale for only 0.99!!!  (ALL my books are FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!!!!)

Please share this post/link with any book lovers that you know, and help spread the word!





Blurb
Sides are chosen when an ancient ruler returns to claim Earth as his prize and war ensues. A reluctant pawn, Alex is recruited to lead the resistance. Although her friends and family fight beside her, she struggles to find the strength to fulfill her destiny. Unsure of what she’s become, Alex battles her own tormented emotions to find the truth. Can she rise above the darkness? Or will she ultimately descend into its cold embrace? 

Descent is Book Three in the Forgotten Origins Trilogy 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Starlight Chronicles - check out this amazing deal!

If you know where to look for 'free' or 'deals' for ebooks, then you're familiar with the plethora of material out there. I typically just share my own sales for this reason, but every once in a while I come across something that I think is too good not to share.

THREE books for only .99. That's about 1/4 of the cost of a latte, and about the same as a K-cup. (you get my point. Yes, I like coffee) You have absolutely nothing to lose here, and a good solid few days of entertainment to gain.

I haven't personally read this series (yet), because I was just introduced to it, but they really do look good. All three have gotten good reviews, the covers are amazing and what's even better; they're a clean, YA read. (which is SO hard to find!)

SO, without dragging things out, here's a blurb, links, and bio on author, Lisa Orchard. (who is delightful!)




“The Starlight Chronicles”
The box set is on sale for $.99!

Blurb:

Lark Singer is seventeen years old and already on the way to a brilliant music career. But as she and her band, Starlight, gear up for a competition, life seems to be throwing her a few curve balls. The mysteries of her past seem to be unraveling, and she’s no longer certain she wants to know those answers or how knowing about her past will affect her difficult relationship with her mother. And when her best friend, Bean, changes things between them, all her plans for a musical future are placed in jeopardy. How can she balance her complicated personal life to keep her musical goals on track?

BOX SET CONTAINS ALL THREE BOOKS IN THE STARLIGHT SERIES:
Gideon Lee
Lark Singer
Starlight

Buylink:
Social Media Links:








Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on books by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first published works are the “Super Spies Series.” These stories revolve around a group of friends who form their own detective squad and the cases they solve. “The Starlight Chronicles,” is the next series that Lisa created with musical misfit, Lark Singer as her main character.
   Lisa resides in Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the next book in the Starlight Chronicles Series along with a few new ideas that may turn into stand-alone novels. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A New Cover for Bloodline

I took the plunge and had Mel do a little makeover on the cover for Bloodline. I've had growing concerns that the combination of the name, lettering and full moon gave the impression of it being a vampire or werewolf story. SO...here is the new one! The changes are obvious, and I hope that this one screams "science fiction!" when you look at it. :)



LINK  on Amazon


Also, a new blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Alex is your average teen who thought she’d be spending the next few years suffering through high school…not saving the world from an alien plague. But when a rare meteor shower unleashes something otherworldly, she finds herself at the center of a five-thousand-year-old conspiracy. 
Guided by cryptic clues left from her deceased father, Alex is plunged into a strange world predestined since ancient times. As the mystery unravels, she discovers her bloodline is anything but average. 
Pursued by both the people she loves and unknown enemies; Alex is forced to rely upon her instincts and the help of her friend, Chris and loyal dog, Baxter. Together, they race against time to find a cure. 

Let me know what you think, and be sure to sign up for my newsletter!!   Newsletter reg.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Getting Out Alive; The Autumn Veatch Story (A true account)

The following short story is a true account of a brave young woman's survival. Not only was she the sole survivor of a plane crash, but she then managed to hike for three days through some of the most rugged terrain in the country, and essentially rescue herself. I was extremely fortunate to be able to speak with Autumn, and she shared her story with me, so that I could write it for you.

I took great care to keep it accurate, and this is published with Autumn's consent and I have also given her the copyright, because....well, it is HER story! Enjoy!! :)

-Tara






Getting Out Alive

The Autumn Veatch Story








Written by
TARA ELLIS
As told by
AUTUMN VEATCH










Photograph copyrights for:
 Image 1. Autumn Veatch, 2. Chelsey Clark, 3. Chelsey Clark, 4. Sara Esperance



Copyright © 2015 Autumn Veatch

Cover art design Copyright © Tara Ellis
Photographer: Tara Ellis Photography


All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Tara Ellis Publications
2015









Getting Out Alive
-The Autumn Veatch Story


Preface

This is a true account of the fatal plane crash that occurred on July 11, 2015, in the Northern Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Autumn Veatch was the only survivor. This is her story, as told by her to author Tara Ellis. It has been written and published with her consent and parental approval.

1.This is a self portrait Autumn took that day and sent to a friend, not long before the crash.












***Update: 1/12/2016
This is now available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon. Please see my author page to find it and my other publications!
http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Ellis/e/B00IVF1JQK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bloodline Wins One Award and is a Finalist in Another!

It's been a good month for my YA scifi novel, Bloodline!!

Amazon Link


First, it was chosen as a finalist (among thousands of entries) in the IAN Book of the Year Award.

Then yesterday I found out it was awarded Honorable Mention in the Reader's Favorite Awards!



These are both international book contests, and while not as prestigious as some of the better known contests, they are still quite competitive. It's always encouraging to have your work recognized and I will admit that it helps give me hope that my trilogy still might take off one of these days! For now, I will still get excited if I have more than one download in a day, and rely on the honest feedback and reviews, to continue to improve my writing!

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Galacticon IV - all in or bust!


[Here I am in a bit of an altercation with a cylon. Fortunately, security was there to intervene. :) ]


Although I have been a scifi fan literally since the time I was old enough to comprehend it, I never attended a conference. When I decided earlier this year that since my trilogy is complete, I need to get out more and try to 'spread awareness', I did some random searches for conventions. Fortunately, I live just over an hour away from Seattle, a mecca for comicon and scifi conventions of all sorts. It was too late to get into most of them for 2015, but I was thrilled to be accepted at the Galacticon IV show, since I'm a HUGE fan of everything Galacticon. There were also stars from Firefly, Serenity, Farscape and the original Land of the Lost, so I was giddy with anticipation.

I planned, worried and prepared for several months. How many books did I need? I finally settled on 30 copies of Bloodline and 25 of Heritage and Descent. I found a cool crystal skull and an LED display base to light it up. (needed something to get people's attention!) I made a sign, a t-shirt and more bookmarks to hand out. In all, it was a bit of an investment of both time and money.

SO....three days before the con (which was July 31st-Aug 2) the organizers for the event dropped the bomb: due to unforeseen trouble with the hotel, they were cancelling most of the reboot Battlestar Galactica cast. You can understand the implosion that followed. There were fans traveling from Europe, spending thousands of dollars to see these actors and actresses. There were VIP tickets pre-sold, along with all the photo-ops, panels, classes, etc.

It was pretty frakked up.

The main organizer resigned within hours of the announcement, and the people left behind (mostly volunteers and fan groups), scrambled to do their best with the mess that was left. I, like all of the other vendors, considered whether or not to go. For me, the decision was easier, because I only had to commute the hour drive a couple times each day, as well as parking (15/day). Most of the vendors, however, were traveling from out of state and had huge expenses involved. The chances of getting enough people through the convention to make a profit was not promising. Honestly, we all were just hoping to break even. Most did not.

In spite of all of the drama, I had a BLAST! (pun intended)

This was in large part due to the two brothers in the booth next to me. Tim and Matt, of Interstait Designs, are hard to describe. Their positive energy and obvious joy at being there was contagious. I liked them immediately.



These guys have an amazing selection of unique, laser cut designs in wood and acrylic (so far). You can find something from just about any well-known scifi series or movie. If they don't have it: they'll make it! (they're going to make a medallion for me that will be a replica of the one Alex wears in my trilogy!!!)


On Friday, the first day, I got my booth set up and then hoped for the best! While attendance was very low, it was still a fun day. I sold a set and paid for my parking. :)




When we came back on Saturday morning, we were greeted by Richard Hatch rocking a kilt!!  (he was the original Apollo in Battlestar and had a recurring role in the new series) After a nice, fifteen minute talk with him, he signed Bloodline for me!




I was still on cloud nine over that encounter, when I had a fan (Sara, without an h!), run up to my table excited to meet me! That was the highlight of the convention! (picture to come). It was beyond cool to get to discuss my trilogy with someone who read and loved it. She immediately got the relevance of the crystal skull and ghost quartz I had out, and was excited about having the necklaces made and available for fans. (fans! :) )






Claudia Chrstain (Babylon 5) was SO nice! She constantly walked among the vendors, talking with us and just being an over-all positive influence. I was incredibly impressed by her presence and genuine kindness.


On the third and final day (Sunday), I went all out and dressed up! Here I posed with the 'doc', after he loaned me his weapons. :)





It was over-all a great experience, and while attendance was understandably low, the staff that was there went all out to pull it off. I made enough to cover my own expenses, so I was happy (personally) with everything. I know there were plenty of other vendors that can't say the same thing, and I feel horrible for any loss they endured. The best part, was that I made some friends and got invited to several other events/conferences. Tim and Matt are my long-lost brothers, and I look forward to networking with them!!!



So did I have a good time? Absolutely! Will I do it again? Already planning the next event!

Since it was my first scifi convention, I felt like an addict at their first AA meeting: I'm NOT alone!!!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Trek of a Lifetime: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Those of us that are fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest have likely heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, and know that it runs the length of Washington State (North to South).

The National Trails System act was created in 1968 by President Johnson, thereby defining both the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The PCT had been previously scouted by the YMCA from 1935-1938 and the final trail closely followed it.

At present, it is 2,663 miles long and connects Mexico to Canada. It's an amazing trail and the stories that come from it's crossing are equally inspiring. Many lives are forever changed (or saved) deep in those mountains and it doesn't take one long to understand that it's a special journey, while browsing through the videos, blogs, and even movies that document it.

Today, I saw a man with a large hiking pack standing on the sidewalk on Burlington Blvd (in Burlington, WA). As I approached him from the North, I saw that he was holding a sign that read "HWY 20...PCT...trail head". Even though this is a well-known trail, I was concerned that most people passing by wouldn't know what the sign meant. Or think that he was trying to go to PCN (Pioneer Center North), which houses one of the few detox centers around.  While stopped at a light, I asked him how far he was trying to get, and he said to the trail head at Rainy Pass, which is about two hours East. I suggested he go up a few blocks so that he was actually on hwy 20, so he'd have better luck finding a ride.

After completing my brief shopping, I decided that if he were still out there, I would offer him a ride as far as East of Sedro Woolley. I wasn't able to go further than that today, due to other obligations. I found him a few blocks out on Hwy 20, and since there was a driveway I could pull into, I went ahead and stopped. Turns out that someone else had just offered him a ride, but would be back in an hour. (he hoped!) I chatted with him a bit more, and then asked if I could share his story, which he was happy to do. Here it is!


Meet Jason, a mid 30's Army vet from Queens, New York. He was deployed in Iraq in 2005 and had heard in the past that hiking was a good way for soldiers to decompress. About nine months ago, he saw the movie, 'Wild', staring Reese Witherspoon, which is based on Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir. Jason knew of the Appalachian trail, but it was the first time he had heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, and it was the beginning of what has turned into a life changing quest.

For the past nine months, Jason thought about and planned his hike, which will start at Rainy Pass (hwy 20) and end around 900 miles south in Ashland, Oregon. Last night he flew into Seattle from New York, and was going to take Amtrak into Mount Vernon. But while at an REI in Seattle, he got to talking with another hiker, who offered to give him a ride to Burlington. He stayed at a local hotel last night and his goal today is to make it to the Rainy Pass trail head, which is about a two hour drive East from where I found him.

For those of us that are avid hikers, the PCT is a often a dream or a goal that we fantasize about. To make the trek a reality is something few of us see. Why do people even want to submerse themselves so deeply into nature, that they are completely isolated from the rest of the world? I can't speak for everyone, but I know that for me, it's all about stripping yourself down to what's really at the center, and then examining what you find. You can then use the calm and healing presence of nature to build and restore, leaving a clear sense of what is truly important in this life. As Jason said, he expects to be humbled, and to experience extreme highs and lows, which he hopes to grow from.

I wish Jason a safe and fulfilling journey, and I ask that if you are traveling East this weekend, and see a man in clean fatigues with a large, green pack and a cardboard sign asking for help to begin his trek...that you consider extending a hand. He's a nice guy, and if it is within your comfort zone (and ability), maybe you can become a part of his story.


"Pacific crest trail route overview" by w:USFS and EncMstr - Adapted from http://web.archive.org/web/20060624223438/http://www.fs.fed.us/pct/pdf/Large_PCT_Map.pdf


(looking for more info on the PCT? Find it here , at the official organization site)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New Book Release! The Beach House Mystery

I am thrilled to announce the release of my next book! It is book #3 in my middle grade mystery series, (Samantha Wolf Mysteries) and is titled, 'The Beach House Mystery'.

This is another light hearted and fun installment in the series, good for young and old! If you are a Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys or Trixie Beldon fan then you should really check this series out! :)



Amazon link

For just $2.99 (ebook) you get a full length novel to enjoy!

Blurb:
What should be a quiet week at the beach turns into the most challenging mystery that Sam and Ally have uncovered yet. What’s the truth behind the odd family renting the cabin next-door? Is the tale of a sea creature and haunted lighthouse just a myth? How does a missing girl, and suspicious boat tie into all of it? The girls can’t solve this puzzle on their own, so they turn to their brothers for help. 

Travel with them to the scenic Washington Coast and into the Olympic Rainforest, where the four have to work together to untangle the clues and fit the mysterious pieces together.