Monday, October 10, 2016

Checking in on 2016 Goals

Early this year I set out some goals for 2016, not knowing what this year would bring. Boy, was I surprised. I thought I'd take a minute to check over those goals and ask myself, what the heck happened??  I'm not making excuses, but I can already tell you many of these fell by the wayside in March when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I also lost three aged, beloved pets this spring. It was not a fun time.

So what were my goals for 2016?

1) Read lots of books - The first casualty was reading. It usually is the first thing to go because it's a "nice to do" not a "have to do". I did read the new Harry Potter play, which was mildly entertaining. And Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I liked. (The movie totally changed the ending though.)

2) Write lots of words - Hoo boy! This I did NOT do. At all. When you're worried about your health and going to doctor appointments every week or more, you just don't feel that creative. No new projects were started this year. JuNoWriMo was skipped because of radiation therapy in June. However, I did complete edits on a middle grade manuscript I'm quite fond of called "Troll Teeth and other Bedtime Stories".

3) Travel - I was a little tied down this spring with radiation treatments every day for six and a half weeks, but after that I went to north Idaho to see family. I've also had some good day trips, some to places I've never been before. Most excitingly, I've got reservations for next spring break in St. Petersburg, Florida. I haven't been there for over twenty years.

4) Exercise and eat healthy - This really shouldn't be a goal; it should be every day life. I do mostly eat healthy, but I can't lie - when I thought I might be taking chemotherapy, I did some stress eating. I thought it might be helpful to bulk up before chemo so I had a little weight to lose anyway. Probably not what a doctor would advise, but it made sense to me at the time. I didn't end up getting chemotherapy, so I started watching my portions again. My exercise routine was interrupted by my surgery and I'm afraid I never really got back on the bandwagon. I still enjoy seeing how far I can go on my Fitbit each day, but I think weight bearing exercise is just as important as steps are. People keep saying "sitting is the new smoking". I got a standing desk at work and it's pretty cool.

5) Publish - I did the query thing, a got few nibbles, but no bites. My self-published titles are doing well on Amazon, so I decided to self-publish "Crawdad". It should be available very soon.  The rights to "Vessel" were reverted to me from the publisher this year, so I'll be self-publishing that as well. "Troll Teeth" is with a publisher for consideration, as is "Star Taker, Sky Dragon", a steampunk adventure story. If those don't work out, they're both candidates for self-publishing too.

6) Grow a garden that survives - This one I achieved!!  A new fence around the garden and a new greenhouse helped a lot, as well as a drop in the vole population spike.  I got tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans, onions, lettuce, and beets. I made pickles, salsa, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce. I've still got tomatoes, but I think I've canned just about all the stuff we can eat, so I'm not sure what I'll do with those. I also plan to make enchilada sauce when my anchos are dried. I also grew the prettiest flowers! The frost got the zinnias already, but there's still poppies and marigolds.

7) Save some money - yeah, not so much. Maybe next year?

8) Do some home improvements - other than the new greenhouse, not much of this happened either
9) Meditate - This helped me tremendously in March and April, which were terribly stressful months. I've meditated before with just a timer, but his year I found an app that had guided mediations for things like stress and worry. It was just what I needed. Check out the Gaiam Mediation Studio if you're interested.

10) Gratitude - If I didn't know how to do this before, I sure do now. Nothing like a life-threating illness to make you appreciate the life you have. I read an inspiring quote the other day that's going to stick with me for awhile....

We don't always know how we'll die, but we can always choose how we will live~

I chose to live life in peace, love, and gratitude.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Unlocked by the hypnotic Margo Kelly :)

Welcome to the book tour for the soon to be released Unlocked by Margo Kelly. Margo is a master of suspense. I'm really looking forward to this one :) check it out!


by Margo Kelly

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Release Date: October 1st 2016

Merit Press

Summary: A provocative thriller involving hypnosis, mystery, love, and friendship!

Someone has been moving the stuffed pink elephant in Hannah's room. She thinks. And ants crawl over her hands, across the steering wheel, all the time. Don't they? They're what made her crash the car on the way home from the fair, and she wouldn't have freaked out, wouldn't have caused her friend's death, for no reason. But she doesn't know if a person is messing with her, if the paranormal is messing with her--or if she's just going psychotic like her dad before her.

When her friends bail, Hannah is left floundering. Not even her boyfriend Manny believes her, and new girl Chelsea is practically replacing her at school. Only artsy outsider and self-proclaimed occult expert, Plug, agrees to help Hannah find out the truth about hypnosis and demons, and even he can't help Hannah reclaim her mind from whatever's taking over. She'll have to do that herself if she wants to save her friends, her mom and herself.

~About the Author~

Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, Margo is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Her critically acclaimed debut, Who R U Really?, was published by Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) in 2014. Her second novel, Unlocked, will be published by Merit Press in October 2016. Margo welcomes opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Margo Kelly loves to be scared … when she’s reading a good book, watching a good movie, or suffering from the hiccups. She loves writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give you the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Margo is represented by the not-so-scary, but totally awesome, Brianne Johnson of Writers House.

Author Links:

~From the Author~

One of the main themes of UNLOCKED is “Choose to act for yourself or be acted upon.” If you’re not making your own choices, then who is and why? Under what circumstances is it okay to give up that power and control to someone else? Which leads us into the topic of hypnosis.

When I was in college I attended my first hypnotism show.

In an auditorium along with a couple hundred other students, I watched as fifteen guys and girls went on stage and participated in the show. The audience laughed and clapped and hooted when the hypnotized students did ridiculous things such as quack like ducks or sing like rock stars. It was great. Terrific. Until the end.

While the participants were still completely hypnotized, the hypnotist turned to the audience and spouted his political views. He didn’t even try to hide what he was doing. He spoke clearly and abruptly. The people to my left and to my right sat in shock. My own mouth dropped open in disbelief. The hypnotist went so far as to tell everyone exactly how to vote in the upcoming election. I was dumbfounded. I felt like my trust had been violated, and I wasn’t even on the stage. I was not hypnotized. I was not in any sort of suggestive state. But those students in the show still were. And I bet there were plenty of others sitting in the audience who were impressionable from watching the hypnosis being performed.

That’s the exact moment when I decided I would never willingly take part in hypnosis. Sure, that was an isolated incident. Some hypnotists are trustworthy. But not all. Some do not have a very high ethical code. And because of that, to this day, I hate giving up control to anyone, under any circumstances.

I’ve never forgotten that college night, and it inspired my novel, UNLOCKED.

For more information, I’ve written an in-depth post on hypnosis here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Meddlers of Moonshine cover reveal~

Welcome to the latest cover reveal for The Meddlers of Moonshine by A.E. Decker with artwork by the talented Cary Vandever. If that's not creepy, I don't know what is! Puts me in the mood for Halloween already.

The Meddlers of Moonshine is the second book in the Moonfall Mayhem series by A.E. Decker and will be published by World Weaver Press on October 25, 2016.

~About the Book~

Something is rotten in the town of Widget, and Rags-n-Bones knows it's all his fault. Ever since he snitched that avocado from Miss Ascot's pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see.

Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself!

Who's meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a troublingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history.

~About the Author~

A. E. Decker currently resides in Pennsylvania. She holds degrees in English and Colonial American History and has a macabre fascination with the French Revolution. Other obsessions include chess, the Headless Horseman, chocolate, and DALEKS! A former ESL tutor, tai chi instructor and doll-maker, she now spends her time picking apart tropes and putting them back together in the strangest ways she can think of. Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Hers are named Dorian, Xavi, and Bucky.

~Praise for the Moonfall Mayhem series~

“Falling of the Moon is a fantasy fairytale like nothing I have read before. Mystery and secrets take you to a fantastic mystical world sure to have a book two. It is Pirates of the Caribbean meets Cinderella. Looking forward to Ascot’s next adventure. Strong and determined with her loyal friends she will certainly make the Moonfall Mayhem a great series of books. I am ecstatic that this is just the start to what will be a truly great trilogy.”— Girl + Book

"I'd say it's like Shrek meets The Wizard of Oz if Dorothy were Wednesday Addams and Toto a talking cat with bat wings. Fun and funny with many laugh-out-loud moments. Can't wait for the next book in the series!"— Susan Sullivan, author of the Cleo Tidwell Paranormal Mystery series

"A unique and clever fantasy, The Falling of the Moon is a thoroughly entertaining read from first page to last. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduring favorite."—Midwest Book Review

The Meddlers of Moonshine will be available in trade paperback and ebook via,, World Weaver Press, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram.

Be sure to pick up Book 1 too!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Writer Rebooting

I've been quiet this summer.

It's been that kind of year. The kind of year where I take long, unexpected breaks from writing. Sometimes I plan it. Sometimes I don't. It just happens.  I had ambitions to get more writing done this year than I did, but I'm trying to be easy on myself because life happens and it's nobody's fault.

I still have lots of projects I'm working towards completing. I just may have some surprises left in me yet ;)

Stay tuned....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Life is a Series of Last Chance Canyons~

A wise cowboy once told me his personal philosophy ~ life is a series of last chance canyons. He said he realized it once while he was riding the range in Last Chance Canyon and wondered about the name. Dry Creek Canyon was named for the creek that went dry in the summer. Rock Creek Canyon had a lot of rocks. It occurred to him that someone must have had a last chance in this canyon once.

He said you have a lot of chances in life, firsts and lasts. Everyone remembers their firsts: your first bike ride, your first date, your first day of school are things everyone recognizes as significant. You remember some of your lasts too, like graduation is an end to you childhood, but some you don't notice until they're passed. Like your last chance to hold your child on your lap or jump on the bed with them. Pretty soon they grow up and you've lost that chance. Or you last chance to see an old friend or loved one. Most of us have experienced a sudden loss where we didn't know the last time we saw or spoke to someone was our last chance to be with them, to share a special moment with them, and let them know how we feel. If we'd only known.

Life is a series of last chance canyons. Don't be afraid to take a chance~

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hair in all the Wrong Places Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the Hair in all the Wrong Places Blog Tour!  Read about the book and be sure to enter the giveaway!

~About the Book~

Hair in All the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

What has he done?

What’s happening to him?

And what on Earth is that smell?

For Colin Strauss, puberty stinks. Blackouts, hallucinations, and lapses in memory are the perils of growing up werewolf.

Worse than that, Colin worries he might have had something to do with the recent attacks on the townspeople. He may have eaten a person. It doesn’t matter that it’s someone he doesn’t particularly like. What kind of boy goes around eating people?

Foolishly, all Colin can think about is how Becca Emerson finally kissed him for the first time. Yep, hormones are afoot. Yikes!

But girls will have to wait. Collin better get himself under control before someone else ends up hurt or worse . . . dead.

~Find the Book~

~About the Author~

Andrew Buckley attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program. After pitching and developing several screenplay projects for film and television, he worked in marketing and public relations, before becoming a professional copy and content writer. During this time Andrew began writing his first adult novel, DEATH, THE DEVIL AND THE GOLDFISH, followed closely by his second novel, STILTSKIN. He works as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Andrew also co-hosts a geek movie podcast, is working on his next novel, and has a stunning amount of other ideas. He now lives happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with three kids, one cat, one needy dog, one beautiful wife, and a multitude of characters that live comfortably inside of his mind.

Andrew is represented by Mark Gottlieb at the Trident Media Group.

~Enter the Giveaway~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Information: Contest ends June 24, 2016

· One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Hair in the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley (INT)

~Author Interview~

When did you start writing and why?

I enjoyed writing throughout elementary and secondary school in the UK and, if I’m being honest, it’s the only subject I really excelled at throughout my entire academic career. I always found satire to be a natural thing to write and was considerably chastised in 5th year English class with Mrs Mallinson when I wrote an essay satirising Macbeth and his terrible decision-making skills. Not long after that I started writing screenplays (funnily enough my first screenplay was a terrible action movie about werewolves) and in my early twenties I transitioned to writing novels.

What's your favorite scene in Hair in the all the Wrong Places and why?

There are several but I’m partial to two in particular. There’s a scene when Colin’s crush breaks into his house to enlist him into investigating a crime scene (that Colin may or may not have been involved in) and it places Colin at the very height of his awkwardness. I may love awkward Colin more than any other version of himself. There’s also a scene with Colin’s Grandmother that I can’t talk about because it gives away too much story but you can find it in the chapter called ‘Granny Storm’.

What's your writing routine?

It’s very simple: ‘Write Whenever I Can.’ Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time as I’d like but I try to complete one book a year. I spend a lot of wonderful time with my wife and kids, I work two different jobs, and I write whenever I’m able which is usually late at night when everyone is asleep. I used to write with no clear direction when I was younger but these days I plan out the overall story arc and then plan chapter by chapter as I write.

What do you have in store for readers in the future?

I’m working on a ‘couple’ of different things at the moment. One is a secret project that I can tell no one about, the other is a TV concept pitch that I can also say nothing about. I have a new novel series started that covers the hilarious life and times of Jack the Ripper, and I have sequels for my first two novels, plus a sequel to HAVELOCK (writing as Jane D Everly) and then there’s the sequel to HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES . . . if anyone has a TARDIS, Time Turner, or an almost flawless cloning machine, please let me know.

Friday, June 3, 2016

My newest title: Cancer Patient

After having been diagnosed this March with breast cancer, I've been through a whirlwind of medical tests and treatments. Surgery appears to have removed it all. Does that mean I'm cured? In remission? I don't know, but I do know that I'm still a "cancer patient" and probably will be for the rest of my life.

I feel pretty good. I'm lucky enough to only go through radiation therapy. I actually feel guilty that I seem to have gotten off so easy. I still have my breast and my hair. It seems weird to say "I have cancer" because technically, it's gone for all intents and purposes. But many years of cancer research say my odds of reoccurrence are higher now and it's best to be vigilant.

Radiation has been an interesting process. I'm finding most people don't know much about it or confuse it with chemotherapy, which involves taking medications that treat the entire body. The two work very differently. Here's what I've learned, but keep in mind: I'm not a medical professional. This is just my understanding, which may or may not be right.

Radiation is basically a high powered x-ray beam that targets a specific area of the body, in my case, the tissue around my surgery site. That's the place most likely to have microscopic cancer cells still floating around that were missed by the surgery. The radiation kills cells at a certain stage in their life cycle, including cancer cells, and encourages new healthy cells to grow back in their place. This happens naturally all the time, but radiation speeds up the process, which is kind of amazing if you think about it.

The machine that delivers the radiation beam is a huge thing that takes up a big room. It rotates around you while you lay on a table. The process is painless, like an x-ray. There's no light or heat, but there is a green laser line they use to position you exactly the same way each time. The machine clicks a little and whirs when it rotates. It buzzes when the beam is delivered, but it's nowhere near as loud as an MRI machine. It's much faster too. Each treatment lasts maybe 5-10 minutes on the table.

They play an oldies radio station in the room so there's music to distract you, which I think is a nice touch in what could be a really sterile, dark room. The day of my first treatment, Elvis came on the radio. He was singing a song about feeling his temperature rise and I had to laugh. It all seemed so absurd at that moment, lying on my back, half naked with my arms over my head while two technicians I've just barely met push me around on the table until I'm lined up properly. (The position reminds me vaguely of being strung on a torture rack, although it really doesn't hurt, I promise.)

The worst part I've found is the hard "head rest" that isn't that comfortable and essentially being topless in the company of strangers. Thank goodness they're all professional. I guess it's like giving birth - you lose your modesty out of necessity.

The best part is the awesome rose garden the hospital has adjacent to the parking lot that I get to visit every day if I want. The roses are all in bloom this time of year.

Most days I feel pretty good about where I am in this cancer patient stuff. So many people are struggling so much more than I am. Sometimes the terror hits me. What if I'm fooling myself that I'm OK? Lots of women go through breast cancer twice, even three times. I know it could come back anytime. Could be five or ten years down the road. How much longer do I get?

The truth is, none of us know how much time we have. Could be two years or two days. I have to focus on the right-now or I'll drive myself bonkers. Right now, I feel good. I'll take it and be grateful for it. Smell the roses. Every single day of it. You should too.