Monday, August 27, 2012

ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD with author C.Lee McKenzie

I'm thrilled to have my first guest blogger C. Lee McKenzie here to promote her wonderful new book ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD.  Lee is a talented author and supportive blogging friend. Her characters are richly woven, and appealing to all ages. Now Lee will fill you in on her latest adventure.

Julie, Thank you so much for helping me out with the launch of my first middle grade book. I really appreciate your support and it's great to be here on your blog today.


Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town's bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he's up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn't the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete's guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find the witches and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

About the author
  A native Californian, C. Lee McKenzie lives on the edge of a redwood forest with her husband and assorted cats. When she's not writing or blogging she's hiking or practicing yoga. She usually writes young adult fiction that deals with contemporary, realistic issues. In Sliding on the Edge (2009) she dealt with cutting, and in The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010) she wrote about a family that loses almost everything and has to rebuild their lives together. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. Lee blogs at and her website is

There's a free eBook (any format) for one of Julie's  followers who leaves a comment and says s/he wants a copy of Alligators Overhead. I'm not big into Rafflecopter where readers have to jump through hoops for a book. If you want to tweet this post or give me a like on my Alligators Overhead page on facebook, that would be wonderful . . . just not required.

Thanks for the wonderful post Lee! After your visit and this exciting trailer, I can't wait to read it, with the lights on of course!  ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD is available at:


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WEIGHTED Release Day Blitz


The WEIGHTED Release Day Blitz is here! Below is the suspenseful tagline for award-winning author Ciara Knight's Prequel Novelette:

Weighted (The Neumarian Chronicles) by Ciara Knight
Price: $1.99 USD. 11090 words. Published on August 11, 2012. Fiction.                

I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Ciara Knight writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, released in 2012 is her young adult series, Battle for Souls. Book I, Rise From Darkness, won July Book of the Month at Long and Short Reviews

Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Battle For Souls Series:
Ascension Of Evil - Coming October 2012

The Neumarian Chronicles
Weighted - Coming August 21, 2012
Escapement - Coming early 2013

The Curse of Gremdon Amazon, ARe, B&N

With all of Ciara Knight's accomplishments, I am most envious of this uncanny ability, "She has learned to embrace chaos, which is a requirement when raising three boys, and utilizes the insanity to create stories not of this world including Fantasy, Paranormal, Sci-Fi and Young Adult Dystopian."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Slumming It In College


Last weekend our boys left for school. While our older son set off for his third year of law school, we drove our youngest for his third year of college. Both boys completed their physicals, were updated on all of their shots, had their teeth cleaned, hair combed and were good to go. Their clothes were washed and pressed, and they were starting off on the right foot. Unfortunately, our younger son's left foot got stuck in it when we arrived.

He was moving into an older house with three other boys, and I thought I was prepared for the worst. The rent was too good to be true, and I strongly recommended that he find another place last spring. My husband agreed, but he assured us that this was a great house conveniently located near the campus. It pains me to write these words, but we sort of trusted him.

It was raining when we pulled up to the wood shack, so the muddy walkway only added to the ambiance. We walked into the kitchen with a flickering ceiling fixture, and a sunken floor made of mismatched tiles with large gaps throughout. There were missing electrical outlet covers, missing sections of dry wall, and huge holes in the ceilings. All of these slight imperfections were found in the kitchen and living room. I was afraid of what else was lurking in this four bedroom house, and never made it further than our son's bedroom.

He lived in a fraternity house his sophomore year, and spent freshmen year in a dorm. I remember how we helped him set up his room each year, but this time I was afraid to even touch anything. He was offended when I said that his happy home resembled a crack house, and looked to his father for support. My husband calmly likened it to a slum. He tried comforting me by reminding me how our older son almost lived in a converted garage when he was an undergraduate. To this day, we're not sure if we talked him out of it, or if he was just relieved to get a better offer.

After the screaming subsided, my son told me that I was a snob. He went on to say that this house wasn't good enough for me. I told him that this house wasn't good enough for any human being, and that he didn't need to be in a place that wasn't safe to live in. To accentuate my point, as our son's foot gently brushed the top of the stairway, we watched the metal threshold come tumbling down.

Another pleasant thought occurred to me. Because our son is the first one in the house to turn twenty-one, I was wondering if he would be held responsible if there were an accident. For example, if an underage girl is over-served, and stumbles over a large rat at a party in their basement, would our son be carted away? Our older son alerted me by text that the owner would be responsible. 

The next day, my husband and my son went to talk to the landlord. His office said that they would be happy to make any repairs and even offered to replace the dilapidated kitchen floor. They claimed that the house had already been painted. My husband asked how they could've painted over areas with missing drywall. Of course they blamed this on the hooligans who rented the house last year. 

When we said our goodbyes, my son smiled and assured me that he would be okay. He told me that I should stop being such a negative person, and focus on the positives. I hugged him tightly, as I did a mental count of all of his fingers and toes. Then I took a deep breath and said, "Well, at least you're only about a block away from the hospital." 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keeping Up With The Geriadashians

Walkers are props for most Abbey Delray tappers
(The Abbey Delray Tappers from The Palm Beach Post)

Now that the networks are showing previews of  the upcoming fall lineup, I thought it would be fun to create a new reality show for seniors. It's centered around three women who struggle to maintain their independence in an assisted living community. The series begins when the newest member is dropped off kicking and screaming, as her children drive off. 

After the new kid on the block calms down, she is escorted to dinner by the eyes and the ears of the joint directly to The Warden's table. Peeps is The Warden's right hand woman who scouts out the new girls who have the potential to be in their powerful inner circle. The Warden has been in charge for a few years now, and is sharp as a tack at ninety-two. Her eighty-nine year old sidekick Peeps aims to please, drives within a five mile radius in the daylight, and has excellent hearing and vision skills. The newcomer quickly realizes that ninety is the new sixty at this residence.

The Warden nicknames her "The Kid," because she is the youngest at seventy-seven, and she shines as bright as her red hair.  She's savvy enough to nibble at her dessert, leaving an extra bite or two. This puts her in The Warden's good graces, so that she'll be invited to another dinner at the "cool table."

Like other reality shows, they'll be plenty of backstabbing, and catchy lingo. Instead of "GTL" standing for "Gym, Tan, and Laundry" on Jersey Shore, our stars will create a whole new meaning. In conversations with their children "GTL" will stand for Guilt, Taunt and Lie To.

Another craze that I'm hoping to inspire is a new drinking game. Each time one of the character's proclaims to her family, "I don't want to be a burden," will be an opportunity to drink a shot. Hence, the kids and the ratings will soar together.

In keeping with the competition, part of the initiation into the seniorority will be special lightning rounds. For example, when a resident's daughter calls to ask if she needs anything the first response is, "Oh, no thank you. I don't want to be any trouble." After the daughter insists, the clock starts, and the resident has exactly one minute to rattle off as many items from various out of the way locations as possible. The winner will receive unlimited bathing assistance, and walker tune-ups for a month.

Viewers will also venture to exotic locations when a new character, The Faller is sent to different nursing homes for rehab. She charms the handsome paramedics into believing that she is steady on her feet, until they are summoned to pick her up again the next day. When she falls again in the nursing home, they outfit her with an alarm for her protection. This alerts the nurses every time she tries to stand up, or grab something that is not within reach. After her protests to be freed from "living like a caged animal" are not met, she finds a way to disconnect the alarm herself. Word travels to The Warden, and she is immediately promoted to an executive board position in the seniorority.

© 2012 Julie Kemp Pick