Spotlight on Julie Howard

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard. Today, Julie shares her author journey and new release, The Three Widows of Wylder.

Here’s Julie!

Thank you, Joanne, for hosting me today! This is a lucky day for me because my eighth book, The Three Widows of Wylder, releases today.

I never thought I’d have eight books out. My dream was to someday have one published. My journey to becoming a novelist was both long and short. My childhood dream was to be a novelist and I was always creating stories and jotting down plot and character notes. I majored in journalism in college and was a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor for a number of years. This was a great training ground as I learned quite a bit about human behavior during the stories I reported on (motivations), how different people speak (dialogue), and understanding what made an interesting story (plot). For a few years, I worked in marketing before I realized time was growing short for realizing that old childhood dream.

In my forties, I quit work and started writing my first novel. I learned writing fiction was very different than nonfiction. While I had the technical abilities, I still had a lot to learn. I took a few classes, attended conferences, and read a number of books on writing fiction. I spent a few years researching and writing a historical fiction novel and then, mentally exhausted by that effort, decided to write a mystery to clear my mind. That book, Crime and Paradise, was picked up by The Wild Rose Press.

What seemed like an immediate success to those around me was actually the culmination of years of work putting the building blocks in place. I’ve stayed with the same publisher for seven subsequent titles and am now working on my next novel. Finally, after all these years, I’m living my childhood dream.

Tagline

Three women. Three terrible secrets.

Blurb

Three women on the run.

After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.

With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.

Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?

After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?

Excerpt

Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth.

“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”

The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.

Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”

The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.

“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.

They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”

As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.

“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”

Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”

Buy Links

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Author Bio and Links

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time outdoors cycling, walking or gardening. A fifth generation Californian, she now lives in Idaho.

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Revisiting My Childhood Dream

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard sharing her creative journey and new release, Spirit in Time.

Here’s Julie!

Briefly describe your first act.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Nothing else appealed so when I went to college, I was faced with a dilemma: what major would best enable a writing career? English came to mind, of course, but journalism was more practical as far as earning a living while writing. My first act, then, was as a reporter and editor for a variety of newspapers in California, Nevada and Idaho. I loved this career even more than I expected, not just because I could write every day, but also because the people I interviewed were fascinating. I interviewed celebrities, company CEOs, and average people who ended up in extraordinary, newsworthy situations. I learned a great deal about human behavior – from kindness to deception.

What triggered the need for change?

Oh, the ‘80s and ‘90s decades were great for journalism! Newspapers had plentiful staff to tackle issues of the day and all I had to focus on was good, solid reporting. The technology changes came swiftly and complicated my job. Layoffs began in earnest and about one-third of newsroom staff were suddenly gone, meaning I needed to do even more. Frankly, the joy of working in the newspaper industry disappeared and I began thinking more and more of my childhood dream of being an author.

Second acts can take a lot of time and planning. I knew what I wanted but didn’t quite know how to get there. With two kids soon heading to college, we couldn’t afford for me to quit. But I tinkered with fiction here and there in my (very) limited spare time. I realized that fiction-writing was much different from non-fiction. There was point of view, voice, story arcs, plot, character development, and so many more things to learn. It took me a few years to make the transition.

Where are you now?

I have seven books published and am hard at work on the eighth. I have several more books in mind and can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Starting a second act can be scary. Who knows whether you’ll succeed? But what if you do? Even the effort is an achievement. Not everyone even gets a chance, or pursues a long-burning dream. Don’t expect success right away, stay the course and be patient.

Tagline: Time is not on her side.

Blurb

Time travel isn’t real. It can’t be real. But ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester discovers otherwise when an enigmatic spirit conveys her to 1872 to do his bidding.
Jillian finds herself employed as a maid in Sacramento, in an elegant mansion with a famous painting. The artwork reveals another mystery: Why does the man within look exactly like her boyfriend, Mason Chandler?

Morality and sin live side by side, not only in the picture, but also within her. As her transgressions escalate, she races the clock to find the man in the painting, and hunt down a spirit with a disconcerting gift.

But will time be her friend or foe?

Excerpt

“Are you a ghost?” A young girl stood where the guard had been only minutes before. She spoke matter- of-factly, her dark eyes alive with curiosity.

The house was still whole, she was alive, and the world hadn’t ended. Jillian scanned the room for damage, then blinked. This must be a dream. The long dining table—bare just moments ago—was now laid for a meal. Glasses sat upright, forks and spoons lined up in perfect order, and a tall flower arrangement appeared unscathed. A crystal chandelier above the table remained perfectly still.

The guard and Asian man were nowhere in sight.

The girl, dressed neatly in a calf-length white pinafore embellished with pink ribbons, didn’t appear rattled by the cataclysmic jolt.

“What happened?” Jillian asked, still crouched on her knees. “Are you okay?”

“You don’t belong here. Mother will be angry.”
Even though the floor had ceased to shake, the roiling continued in her head. Might this very real looking girl be a spirit? Most apparitions wavered in some manner, their appearances paler and less there than the tangible world around them. This child appeared solid in every way, from the tips of her shiny chestnut hair to the toes of her lace-up black shoes.

Buy/Read

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About the Author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write.

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Top 10 Ways to Embed Carrots Into a Recipe

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard. Today, Julie shares tips on embedding carrots into recipes and her novel, Crime and Paradise.

Here’s Julie!

Okay, this is a strange topic. But Joanne has this “top ten” list theme on her blog, and this came immediately to mind.

I love carrots. I love my children. But when my kids were little, they didn’t like carrots. As any good mother would do, I tricked them at every opportunity into eating plenty of these vitamin-laden vegetables. Over the years, I became an expert into sneaking carrots into recipes.

My children are now grown, but I still sneak carrots into a variety of dishes where they wouldn’t normally belong. Now I deal with a husband who hates cooked carrots, so I’m still up to my old tricks.

1. Chili – I dice them up and toss them in. They get soft during the hour or so the chili is on the stove or crockpot. With all the other strong flavors in chili – from garlic to red peppers – the carrots add a delicious hint of sweetness.

2. Enchiladas – Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is my favorite, but I love adding a hefty variety of vegetables to the mix. My enchiladas are 2/3rds veggies to 1/3 chicken, and of course I never forget the carrots.

3. Zucchini or pumpkin bread. It’s easy to add a little extra veggie to these breads, and grated carrots keep them moist.

4. Lasagna – Same as enchiladas. I dice them up, give them a quick saute, and sprinkle some in. I love adding a few extra veggies to lasagna, even zucchini or spinach. I’m careful not to overdo it though as too many veggies can make your lasagna watery.

5. Potato latkes – I don’t make these too often, but when I do, I grate some carrots in. They add a nice color to the savory pancakes and a bit of sweetness. I’m not sure why more people don’t do this.

6. Smoothies – You need to cook the carrots first so they are soft and will blend well into the rest of your ingredients. I’ll make a fruit smoothie and add in a carrot for extra vitamins, and you’d never know it was there.

7. Salads – I’ll grate a raw carrot and add to a salad. Those tiny orange tendrils add a beautiful color to a green salad without overwhelming the flavor.

8. Stuffing – This isn’t weird at all! I’ll microwave a carrot until it’s soft, dice it up and add it. Stuffing can be so bland so it’s just begging for some variety – like some carrots!

9. Jello salad – I’m not the first in my family to trick kids to eat carrots. My mother added shredded carrots to Jello salads all the time. This is a tried-and-true way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

10. Carrot cake – I’m going end this on a sweet note. I love carrot cake, a dessert that is unabashedly carrot-based. I learned quickly not to call it “carrot” cake when my kids were little. Anyone want some cake?

Voila! And eat your veggies.

Blurb

Meredith has been uprooted to the middle of nowhere with two kids and an abusive husband. After she fantasizes about ways to kill him, he ends up dead. Despite all the evidence pointing to her, Meredith finds an unlikely supporter and friend in the county sheriff. Together, they uncover some ugly truths about her husband and this small, isolated town.

Can Meredith make this place a new home for her family, or will the real secret behind her husband’s death send her away for good?

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About the Author

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, and spends many delightful hours writing her books.

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