Monday, August 26, 2013

Welcome Guest Author, Irene Helenowski (CONTEST ALERT: ENTER TO WIN!!!)

Today we welcome guest Author, Irene Helenowski.  I had the pleasure to interview Irene regarding her latest release, Order of the Dimensions.  Following the interview are instructions on how to ENTER TO WIN a free copy of Order of the Dimensions!

Welcome, Irene.  Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Thank you!  Happy to be here.  I am a Chicago native and a biostatistician at an academic medical center here in Chicago.  My family emigrated here from Poland in the 1960s, where my sister and brothers were born but I was born here.

Wow, that’s very impressive!  What genres do you write? 

My first book and its sequel is science fiction, but I’d love to explore other genres.

Tell us about your newest release and what inspired you to write it. 

I was inspired to write Order of the Dimensions after watching a science special on the multiverse theory and thought it would be neat to write a story where the characters lead different lives in different dimensions.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, which one would it be and why? 

Okay, I'll say it - probably Anton.  He's evil but he is also kind of hot, LOL :)

What is your favorite part of writing? 

Just coming up with stories.  Sometimes I take daily anecdotes and elaborate them into exaggerated adventures.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

Editing, but it’s a necessary evil :)

Which of your works would you most like to see as a movie? 

I think  Order of the Dimensions would make a pretty neat movie :)

Who would you cast as the lead? 

I do already have a fantasy cast in mind, LOL.  It's even on my facebook page at

I know I will be sure to check out that cast!

So where do you get your inspiration for your main characters? 

Everywhere.  From other books and movies to different people I have meet in real life.

Does your hometown or other areas of your personal background figure into your work? 

There are parts of the story that take place in Chicago as well as places I've visited.

Have you done or currently plan to do any sequels?

 I am working on one now :)

Ahh!  You heard it here first!

Tell us about your experience with the road to publication?

I am self-publishing, but unfortunately, book sales have been dismal so I am trying to get into the traditional route.  That has also been harder than expected, however.

It’s not easy; in fact, it’s almost impossible (“almost” being the key word!).  That’s why it’s so exciting that you’ve actually done it twice and are working on your third!  But how do you balance your “real life” with writing?  

I just try to carve out time to write whenever I can.

Also easier said than done!

If you could go back in time, what historical period or event would you most love to visit? 

The Renaissance - I'd just love to talk to all the artists, scientists, and authors at that time.

How did you become a writer? 

I don't know if I still would consider myself a writer; I just still like writing for fun.

You most certainly are!  You are way too modest, but who are some of your other favorite authors? 

Joseph Conrad, Jack London, Michael Crichton.

What author would you love to trade places with for a day?

JK Rowling -- I'd love to know the secrets of all her success ;)

Yes, I agree – that would be fun! 

Does your family and/or significant other comment or critique your work? 

I have several good friends that offer me advice on my writing.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the book

Just hope people enjoy it and perhaps that young girls might be intrigued to look into the sciences.

Have you written other books, or have any other projects in the works that we should know about? 

I’m still working on a sequel now.  And I have some ideas for the future but haven’t gotten to them yet.

Where can we purchase Order of the Dimensions?

Buy Links:

And now for the contest!  ENTER TO WIN a FREE copy of Order of the Dimensions!

OK, the "widget" is supposed to be here, but it looks like it's being difficult!  So just click on the Rafflecopter link below to be taken to the "temperamental" widget!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Thank you for joining us today, Irene!  Please come back anytime – we look forward to hearing more from you soon.  In the meantime, we will follow you on your facebook page: and check out the cast as well!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Contributing Astronomy Editor, Prof. Dan Matlaga's August Post: "QUESTION"


Question: How many hours in a day?

Answer: There are twenty-four hours in a day.

Question: Why the number 24?

Answer: There are twenty-four hours in the day because that is the time it takes the earth to rotate once on its axis.

There is a problem with that answer.

Although it was the answer we were given in grade school, it flies in the face of history. 

The earliest peoples we know of who used a twenty-four hour day were the Egyptians of nearly five thousand years ago. The Egyptions of that time thought the earth was flat and stationary. They could not arrive at 24 because it is the time it takes a round earth to rotate once on its axis. Twenty-four must be related to something other than a rotating earth.

The diagram shows the position of the Sun and the bright star Regulus in the evening of August 22nd. Don’t bother to look for the pair because the light from the near Sun will overwhelm the light of the much more distant Regulus. The diagram is a case of perspective. If we place the Sun next to Regulus, the star Regulus would outshine the Sun by 150 times.  It takes the light of the Sun just eight minutes to reach the Earth.  The light from Regulus, traveling at the same speed, will take 78 years to reach the earth.

If we wait one day, the sun would appear to move two of its diameters to the left of Regulus. On August 24th the Sun will appear four of its diameters to the left of Regulus, and so on until the Sun is back to the August 22nd position in 2014 three hundred and sixty five days later. That is one year. This apparent motion of the Sun is due to the Earth orbiting the Sun, a fact unknown to the ancient Egyptians.

During the year the moon orbiting the Earth traveled 12.4 times around the sky.  The nearest whole number is 12. The two brightest luminaries in the sky, the Sun and Moon shared the number twelve. Twelve then took on significance greater than simply a point on a number line.

The earliest time measuring devices found in Egypt appears they first divided the night into twelve parts, then later the day into twelve parts. Twelve plus twelve is twenty-four. This is how we get twenty-four hours in the day.  Note the number has nothing to do with the rate the Earth rotates but rather due to the ratio of twelve orbits of the moon around the Earth to the Sun’s apparent one.

If you have a timepiece in your home that divides the twenty-four hour day into twelve plus twelve hours, just keep in mind that idea is as old as the Egyptian pyramids and there it is, right inside your home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome Guest Author, Patty Campbell! (Contest Alert: ENTER TO WIN!!!)

Today I am happy to welcome Patty Campbell, whose new book, Once a Marine, was just released in June.  Patty's other fabulous novel, Jelly's Big Night Out (don't you just love that name?) is also available AND we are running a contest for a free, signed copy of "Jelly"!  

Welcome, Patty!  First, please tell us a little about Once a Marine.

Sure thing!  Here is a brief synopsis:

Caught between a rapidly deteriorating relationship with her demanding fiancĂ© and her erratic and tyrannical boss, BD James is ready for a meltdown. What she isn’t ready for is Rafael Cruz; a big ex-Marine with one thing on his mind.

A chance encounter with BD, and Rafi’s single-minded agenda is to find a way to get her in his bed. Rafi Cruz is a man who makes things happen, but the timing couldn’t be worse, he’s leaving on a hostage rescue mission in two days. No time for a long seduction. He has to work fast, or this hot little package will slip right between his itching fingers.

Rafi is the private charter pilot her boss hires to fly them to Hawaii. Tall, dark, and handsome is next to his name in BD’s mental manual of men to avoid.

Fresh off a broken engagement, the last thing she needs is another manipulating man.

She’s worked too hard to get this far in her profession. She’s given up too much to complicate her life with another man just when her career is reaching a critical turning point. She’s tired, brokenhearted, disappointed and angry.

Early in the morning Rafi comes looking for BD. He finds her asleep by the swimming pool at her boss’s Honolulu villa, where he  chauffeured them late the night before, after flying them over from L.A.

As a Marine, Rafi’s nothing if not resourceful. He’ll talk her into going to Kaneohe Bay for a day of surfing. Or kidnap her if necessary, and then let nature take its course.

The last thing BD’s interested in is taking surfing lessons from this dangerous looking guy, so how she let Rafi talk her into it is a mystery. Surfing indeed.

That sounds intriguing, to say the least!  Wow...I've been fortunate enough to go to Hawaii twice, but nothing like that ever happened to me...hmmm... that you've "hooked" us, how can we get started reading Once a Marine right away?

You are just a click away!  Here are the buy links:

Great!  Here is some info. on Patty's other novel, Jelly's Big Night Out.  Patty has generously offered to raffle off a signed copy to one lucky winner!  Scroll down for info. on how to enter the contest.


            She has an eye for fashion and hungers for romance, but family commitment comes before love.


            After life takes a tragic turn, Jelly Swanson has no time for men. Providing a safe, nurturing home for her little sister, Emi, and running a successful boutique left her too busy for much else, and forced the idea of a love life to the back burner. But when she goes to school for a teacher conference, her sister’s science teacher takes her completely by surprise. The chemistry between Jelly and Dr. Henry, with the unpronounceable last name, is undeniable.
            When Emi goes missing, a tangle of secrets and past loves may destroy any chance they have at happiness.

AND NOW:  Here is the info. for the contest:

To win a signed copy of Jelly's Big Night Out, send an email to, with "Contest" in the subject line. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.  Good luck everyone!

Here are the Buy Links for Jelly's Big Night Out:

Thank you so much for joining us today, Patty and for offering a free, signed copy of Jelly to one of our readers!

Thank you for having me, it's been fun.  Good luck everyone!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Welcome Guest Author, Ally Shields!

We are thrilled to have Ally joining us again today, this time to discuss her newest novel, Burning Both Ends.

Here is a short Author's Bio and then we'll get started:

Ally Shields was born and raised in the US Midwest, along the Mississippi River, the setting for her urban fantasy series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009, and Awakening the Fire, the debut novel in her Guardian Witch series, was released in September 2012.  Ally still lives within driving distance of the Mississippi with her Miniature Pinscher, Ranger. When not writing, reading, or spending time with family and friends, she loves to travel in the US and abroad. Way too often she can be found on Twitter.

Welcome Ally!  Please tell us about your newest release and what inspired you to write it.

Burning Both Ends is the third book in my urban fantasy Guardian Witch series. While each book has at least one crime/mystery that supernatural cop Arianna Calin resolves within the book, there are storylines that continue throughout the series. This novel was really a consequence of the first two, although I added a few new elements to keep the reader on their toes. :)

Burning Both Ends is all about divided loyalties. The vampire Andreas, who holds a piece of Ari's heart, is surrounded by enemies in Canada, and her friend Steffan, the local werewolf leader at home in Riverdale, has been kidnapped.  Ari can't be in two places at once, but she can't abandon either one. When the Magic Council orders her home, she's forced to face impossible choices with life and death consequences.

Did you do specific research for this project?

Not as much as I've done for others. Basically, it was small things like flight times between Riverdale and Toronto, and I Google-earthed (new verb :) ) some districts in Toronto. The biggest issue in this book was keeping the time line straight.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, which one would it be and why?

Hmm, for a change of pace, I think I'd pick Claris, Ari's best friend. Claris is a human who runs an herb and healing shop in the Olde Town tourist district, selling live and dried plants and natural healing mixtures. It would be fun to learn all about her craft.

Which of your works would you most like to see as a movie?

Of the three published so far, I think this third one would be the most fun as a movie. It has a little bit of everything, including a semi-retired spy!

How do you balance your “real life” with writing?

I don't do a very good job of that. When I'm writing or editing, my real life gets put on hold. Especially with editing, I work long hours to get it done. Sometimes I have to force myself to take a break, get away from the computer, got out to eat or shopping, and enjoy time with friends or family. I hear a lot of complaints from the real life side!

If you could go back in time, what historical period or event would you most love to visit?

Regency England, but since I know it's been overly romanticized in fiction books, I'm not sure I'd want to stay very long. It would be fascinating for a while to see the fancy balls and the carriages in Hyde Park, until I verified the people bathed infrequently and London had open sewers!!

Who or what is the epitome of a hero to you?

 I think we find heroes in every walk of life and in unexpected situations. They are mentally strong, naturally protective, confident, but willing to be vulnerable to those they love. A hero stands up to challenges and runs towards the danger rather than away. Unfortunately, the US has needed a lot of real heroes in various tragedies this year.

Is there anything else you would like to share about Burning Both Ends?

Because of the continuing story arcs in this series, I strongly recommend that the books be read in order.

What other projects are you working on?

I'm currently writing book five in the series, and I'm marketing a spy thriller.  If I find time, I want to write a short story for a new anthology coming out, and I also have a plot for a #YA novel running around in my head.  My muse just never sleeps!

We'd love it if you'd share a quick blurb on Burning Both Ends.

 I'll do better than that - here is a blurb and an excerpt, but first, the video trailer:

Burning Both Ends (Guardian Witch #3) Blurb:

Friend or lover. Life or death…

Supernatural cop Ari Calin arrives at the hostile Toronto vampire court with an ultimatum from the Riverdale vampires: Sebastian, Toronto’s vampire prince, must stop his unprovoked attacks—or else. Ari wasn’t expecting a fight—the “or else” was typical vampire grandstanding. But even with vampire Andreas De Luca by her side for a show of strength, things get ugly fast. Toronto’s vampire world is in crisis, and surrounded by enemies, Ari and Andreas find themselves under attack.

Then Ari gets the call from the Magic Council ordering her home. Steffan, a good friend and leader of Riverdale's werewolves, has gone missing during top secret negotiations with the US government, and is believed to have been kidnapped—or killed.

Andreas can't abandon the Toronto vampires, and Ari can’t leave him to face impossible odds alone. Neither can she disobey her orders from the Council, or leave her friend Steffan to be tortured and killed. Ari's loyalties pull her in two directions—the closest thing to love she’s ever known on one side, and friendship and duty on the other. If she can stay alive long enough for the choice to matter…


Fangs flashed where her cheek had been an instant before. Ari whirled, crouching to meet the vampire’s return charge, and her fingers sparked, witch blood clamoring for action. Refusing its urgent call, she threw the magic powder as he wheeled and sped toward her in a blur. Green particles sparkled. A loud thump. The vampire recoiled from the invisible barrier and took two staggering steps. A direct hit. Before a smile more than touched her lips, the dark figure recovered and leaped. Ari backpedaled, but his weight drove her to the hard ground.

He grinned down at her, a lock of dark hair falling across his forehead. Trapping her arms above her head, he leaned close, his dark eyes glittering. He brushed her lips with his and whispered, “Better—but not yet good enough.” Andreas shifted his six-foot, muscled body, sprang up, and offered her a hand.

Ignoring the courtesy, Ari scrambled to her feet. Getting pinned by your boyfriend wasn’t always a good thing. “Back off, bloodsucker,” she grumbled. She shook out the fallen leaves and pine needles that clung to her long, honey-colored hair.

Andreas chuckled. A rich, warm sound. “Touchy tonight. Did I put your nose out of joint, little witch? And here I was, trying to help with your training.” Andreas glided across the forest clearing with the smooth grace of a natural predator. He collected their cell phones from under a park bench where they’d stashed them earlier in the evening and handed her one.

“Thanks.” Ari avoided his eyes. Damn right she was annoyed. She was competitive, and second place wasn’t good enough—even against a master level vampire. Especially one who wasn’t really trying to kill her.

Andreas studied her face, his voice pragmatic. “I am glad you are taking this seriously. Other combatants will be less charitable than I, less mindful of breaking your pretty neck. I can almost guarantee Sebastian will continue his fight with Prince Daron, and next time he may lead the attack. You might have to face him again.”

“Oh, come on. You can’t really believe he’d come to Riverdale. He’s too comfortable lording it over everyone in Toronto.” Andreas shrugged. “It is unlikely, but a sobering thought. With Sebastian, anything is possible.” He frowned, obviously thinking about the brutal vampire leader. “He has grown more aggressive, erratic, perhaps less sane, as sometimes happens with the elder ones. Our defeat of his minions will only fuel his rage and make him more determined.”

“Minions? What kind of word is that?” Ari demanded. “You really should update your vocabulary. Being born in seventeen hundred and something is no excuse for using words no one understands.” She was just being bitchy. In truth, she wouldn’t change a thing about Andreas’s speech or sexy voice. The archaic words, the faint accent of Italian aristocracy, and the shivers of sensation it produced were all part of him. She never got used to the seductive effect…even when she wanted to be annoyed.

OK, now that you've "hooked" us...where can we buy Burning Both Ends and keep up with (or at least "follow") you?

Buy Links:

Author contact links:

Other books in the series:

  • Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1), published September 2012
  • Fire Within (Guardian Witch #2), published Marsh 2013
  • Blood and Fire (Guardian Witch #4), coming in the fall of 2013

Thank you so much for joining us today, Ally!  All the very best of luck to you with Burning Both Ends and please come back again anytime!