Category: Blogs

REVIEW – Long and Short Reviews

REVIEW – Long and Short Reviews

What an interesting book! What a talented author. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this…the blurb sounded intriguing, but it felt as if there would be some “gray area” here in terms of right and wrong. I was right, but I wasn’t as conflicted as I might have been…

The book starts slowly, but I was never bored. The author weaved her words carefully and well, with strong descriptions and solid “showing” and not telling. I learned about each character–even the dogs!–in significant detail cleverly shared. I went into this thinking it would be an edge-of-your-seat thriller and it was, but it wasn’t. Honestly, I loved this book and didn’t think writing a review for it would be difficult, but it kind of is because this book wasn’t like the usual “thriller” I’ve read. That was a good thing, and interesting and definitely set this book apart from many others.

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Guest Blog Post – Long and Short Reviews

Guest Blog Post – Long and Short Reviews

Proximity and Touch: In Life, In the Pandemic and In Emergence by Ellie Beals

I have a new puppy – he’s 15 weeks old now, and is doing a lovely job of taking brisk walks around the neighborhood on a loose leash. Many people we encounter on these walks get that soft, mushy “OMG, a puppy!” look on their faces when they see him, and I respond affirmatively when they ask if they can greet him. This is a pandemic puppy – he needs all the input and stimuli I can allow or provide. I keep him on a long leash, and step back and turn my face away, to allow appropriate distance between humans, while he moves forward to greet the new folks. As I watch puppy and humans interact, the way the humans revel in the physical contact seems more pronounced to me than what I’ve witnessed in the past with other puppies. Am I imagining this? I don’t think so. I think the hunger for the tactile exchanges that we used to take for granted are profound. We have all become, or are becoming, pandemic puppies ourselves – constantly attached to invisible leashes that prevent us from interacting with the world the way we want to. The way we need to.

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Interview with The Avid Reader

Interview with The Avid Reader

What made you want to become a writer?

I became a writer as soon as I learned to write, and in the process discovered that I could think better when I wrote. So it was my drive towards both complexity and clarity, the qualities that have always epitomized the fun of thinking for me, that drove me to become a life-long writer. I’m not saying I was a wunderkind, producing great philosophical treatises as a seven-year old. The complexity and clarity achieved were age-appropriate, but fun nonetheless.

I was a social kid, and enjoyed sharing my fun with others. So even though I did considerable introspective writing in my journals, I also wrote plays, poems, and short stories that my friends and I had fun with. Recently, I reunited with a couple of grade-school friends with whom I’d lost touch when we dispersed for 7th grade. I was amazed that in our reminiscing, they both quoted passages from an epic play about Andrew Jackson that I’d written for a school project. Though I remembered none of it, they had retained quite a few of my punchier lines: “Unhand him, you scurvy knave!” was a favorite.

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Interview with The Reading Addict

Interview with The Reading Addict

What inspired you to start writing?

Despite, or perhaps because I’m generally a highly focused human, I’ve always enjoyed the occasions when I allow my mind to wander.  I enjoy how my stream of consciousness meanders through concepts I didn’t know were related to one another until I found them intermingling in that stream.  But that stream is evanescent –  by the time I’ve followed it to its end, I’ve forgotten where it started and what twists and turns took me to where it ended. I remember being frustrated by that even as a very young child, before I learned to write, and how similar it was to being unable to remember a dream teasing on the far-side of memory, upon awakening.  From the time that I first learned to write, I recognized it as the tool I’d always longed for, to allow thought chains to be captured and enhanced.

It was that delight in playing inside my own head that first inspired me to write.  Which I did throughout my life, either as a method of self-discovery or artistic expression, or as the foundation of my professional success as a management consultant – a field I entered as a specialist in plain language.

But that’s not what inspired me to start writing Emergence.  The inspiration there was very concrete:  a flashing sign, as I approached my 70th birthday, saying:  NOW OR NEVER.  I knew that I was a technically accomplished writer.  But I didn’t know if I was capable of what for me, has always been the zenith of accomplishment for a writer:  producing a novel.  Could I prove to myself and whatever portion of the world had the slightest interest, that I could write the kind of book I most like to read? And so I embarked on a project to write a novel of psychological suspense, featuring powerful women, realistic dogs, and a sometimes lyrical voice. Emergence was the output of my Now or Never project.

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Guest Blog Post – All the Ups and Down

Guest Blog Post – All the Ups and Down

Me, OJ, & Psychological Suspense

I have had a love-ignorance relationship with football all my life. Despite having a father and husband (a former player himself) who were not only fans, but were extremely knowledgeable about the arcana of this complex sport, I never took the time to master that. Lazy Ellie! The rules still elude me, and I have only the broadest general understanding of the game. But that’s all I need. Because I LOVE watching football for completely different reasons. The extraordinary beauty and power of these athletes transfixed me from the time I was first exposed to them as a child. My abiding memory of how little Ellie perceived her first view of Jim Brown playing, only a day after my dad had introduced me to a wildlife special on the big cats of Africa, was “OMG – some rare humans can also effect the grace and power of wild animals”. (Not in those words of course. But that was the idea.)

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MEDIA COVERAGE – Ottawa Life Magazine

MEDIA COVERAGE – Ottawa Life Magazine

Local author’s debut thrills with dark backwoods drama

Grace Giesbrecht
Posted: March 31, 2021


After fleeing the city with her husband and dogs to their cabin in Quebec as the pandemic set in, Ellie Beals’ started writing. The result was her debut novel, Emergencea quirky Canadian backwoods thriller set in the wilds of the laurentian mountains.

“I wrote Emergence in just three months, after fleeing the pandemic in Ottawa to ride out the storm in our cabin in Quebec.” Beals’ said. Her love for and experience with the backcountry where she wrote her debut, set in the same corner of the wilderness, shines through. So too does her unique background.

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Guest Post Blog – Fabulous and Brunette

Guest Post Blog – Fabulous and Brunette

Fierce Women: Empathy Vs. Pity

When I was a little girl, my favorite game was Make Believe – essentially a child’s version of role-playing.  A persuasive child, I was able to convince my playmates that there was a better choice than those on the usual Make Believe menu of doctors and nurses, cowboys and Indians, or mommy, daddy & me.  My better choice was a family drama that featured one prominent character: the troubled teenaged daughter. I don’t know how I became aware of this stereotype when I was so young, but assume that I encountered it in television or movies, and as an emergent histrionic personality, was drawn to the dramatic possibilities written into this type of family drama.

So is it a surprise that years later, I became a legendarily Troubled Teenager?  I think not. This speaks to the power of archetypes, whether they’re drawn from real life or from any of the media with which we’re constantly bombarded.  For those of us who are readers, the archetypes we absorb unknowingly can have a tremendous influence on our identities – including, and perhaps most particularly about what makes for an appealing woman. Many writers over many decades have recognized this and shaped female protagonists from Jo March (Little Women) to Nancy Drew, to Hermoine (Harry Potter) to help girls recognize strength and independence as desirable qualities for girls. But I wonder to what extent that kind of early indoctrination stands up to a steady and very different archetype that may subtly invade and pervade our adult reading?

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Guest Blog Post – Becoming Extraordinary

Guest Blog Post – Becoming Extraordinary

A Sort of Well-Behaved Minor Character

In my books I usually have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked Ellie Beals if she had such a character in her novel, Emergence? And if she didn’t, I wanted to know how she got the characters in her head to behave so well!

Here is her fascinating answer.

I have been a chronic over-planner and over-preparer all my life.  I waited an obscenely long time to start work on a novel, because I so dreaded what I anticipated to be the long and grueling planning process required before I could actually WRITE.  And then one day, I said:  What if?  What if I don’t do that?  What if I just sit down and start writing?

And that’s what I did.  My plan at the outset was this simple:  I knew that:

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Guest Blog Post – Westveil Publishing

Guest Blog Post – Westveil Publishing

Which characters in Emergence were easier to write, the humans or the dogs? – Or, what’s love got to do with it?

Long before you can hope to write well, you have to be able to SEE well – to observe your subjects, or characters like your subjects, well and truly, in order to be able to describe them convincingly to your readers. I am a dog-trainer, and in the dog-training world the paramount phrase that constantly recurs is: “Read your dog”. You have no hope of being successful in this field if you are not able to understand what your dog is telling you.

Of course, dogs have no words. Which is not to say that their communicative abilities are limited. They speak with their bodies, and for those who have learned it, canine body language is as richly nuanced as any message you receive from a human. And it is vastly easier to read, because given the dog’s absence of ego, you don’t have to triumph over and through attempts at repression, concealment, obfuscation and even deceit, which ego so often superimposes over the messages that humans transmit. For those attuned to canine communication, the amount you can read, simply from watching the action of a dog’s butt, as it quivers with joy, tenses in fear or anticipation, moves nervously as the tail fast-twitches from side-to-side, or goes up in the air telegraphing fun as the dog produces a play-bow, is exquisite. How often I’ve approached humans, wishing our bottoms were similarly communicative, so I’d know if the person I’m approaching is indeed, feeling approachable.

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Guest Blog Post – Andi’s Book Reviews

Guest Blog Post – Andi’s Book Reviews

What does dog training have to do with becoming an author? Ellie Beals, author of Emergence, is going to tell us all about it in a special guest post today. You can also check out an excerpt from her book before you download your own copy. Be sure to also follow the rest of the tour to get to know her even better, adding your own comments and questions along the way. Best of luck in the giveaway!

My Journey to Becoming an Author: Thank you, Dog-Training

If you’ve read my novel Emergence, you’ll know that Cass Harwood, one of my protagonists, is a management consultant who is also a dog-trainer. As a successful mangement consultant, she is a chronic over-preparer, whose foundation of preparation allows her to put aside whatever script she’s created in order to successfully improvise. The same thing is true of her as an obedience competitor. This creative friction between the two poles of performance readiness (no preparation vs. obsessive planning) is an undercurrent throughout Emergence.

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