Guest Post and Giveaway: The Artist’s Touch by E.J. Russell

Today I am so pleased to welcome E.J. Russell to Joyfully Jay. E.J. has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Artist’s Touch (Art Medium #1). She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


The Artists Touch Tour Banner


The year that the film version of Les Misérables released, my family went to see it on Christmas day. I happened to be in the throes of pneumonia at the time, and made it through the film by mainlining Halls Mentho-Lyptus cough drops and hacking only during the battle scenes.

On the way home, while we were discussing the movie (my daughter always insists on knowing if we liked it or not and why—in detail), I mentioned that Victor Hugo would never have gotten the book published in today’s market.

Too. Many. Coincidences.

If we’re to believe Les Miz, France only had about ten people in it, and they ran into each other all the time. On the lam with a newly acquired child, escaping from that pesky Inspector Javert (who somehow always turns up)? No worries, you’ll run into the guy you saved from being crushed under a cart in a completely different part of the country, and he’ll help you get away.

In The Artist’s Touch, art-fraud investigator Luke is sent on a job to a remote cabin only to discover his long-estranged lover living there. Coincidence? Maybe.

But you know what? Coincidences happen.

When I was still an actor, I understudied Noreen Hennessey, the lead actress in the production of Peg O’ My Heart at South Coast Repertory. Later, we both worked at the theater during the same season (although I was a walk-on and she was featured). More than once, people in the company—people who knew me—mistook me for her.  Granted, some of our features are similar — dark hair (at least mine was at that time) and eyes, noses that no one could mistake for small—but I’m about six inches taller. I mean, come on.

The following year, I moved to Boston and began performing with a group in Cambridge. We’d just closed one show, and were getting ready to audition for the next. One of the other actors said, “I know which part you should try out for, because you look just like the girl who played it at my college.”

Guess who? Yup. Noreen. I’ve been conflated with her on both coasts. What are the odds?

Maybe not as great as my next big coincidence. After all, the theater community is already limited by those of us insane enough to participate.

But high school? That’s a much bigger pool.

I attended high school in southern California. After I graduated, I lived (successively) in Wyoming, southern California again, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., northern California, and finally Oregon, where I’ve roosted for the last twenty-eight years.

One day, at a meeting of my local chapter of Romance Writers of America, I was listening to the treasurer give her report, and a light bulb almost visibly blinked on over my head—I recognized her. She and I had gone to high school together. We had acted in the same plays. In the yearbook picture of the drama club, she’s sitting right in front of me.  She had signed my freaking yearbook.

Yet here we both were, forty-mumble-mumble years later, both romance writers, both living in Oregon, both members of the same organization. What are those odds?

I defy Victor Hugo himself to do better.


The Artists TouchTwo men haunted by more than the past.

Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.

Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.

As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.

Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.


E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:


To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, one lucky winner will receive a $40 Riptide credit! Winner will be pulled from entries to both blog tours. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following The Artist’s Touch tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.


  1. I do agree coincidences happen… I met a guy on a bus trip, he was nice, we chatted for a while. Anyway, I on my way to visiting a friend and I changed my return ticket, thus staying longer than my intended week. Well, on my way back I met the same nice guy… Who had also had to change his return ticket! It was a funny coincidence that had us talking all night… We were dating for some years as well, but that’s another story
    Congratulations on the release, E.J. It sounds so good!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful read. Looking forward to giving it a read.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  3. I’m looking forward to reading this book!
    kathleenpower at comcast dot net

  4. I pre-ordered this & the next book from riptide just on the strength of the description even though this is a new to me author. Can’t wait to start reading. Thanks for the giveaway!
    cloera5432 at yahoo dot com

  5. Debra Guyette says:

    I love books featuring the arts. I am adding to my list.

  6. I like books involving art.
    jlshannon74 at

  7. Paul Wilgus says:

    The book sounds great. I love that you met someone you knew forty mumble mumble years ago. That must have been so cool.
    heath0043 at gmail dot com

    • I couldn’t believe it at first (or that it had taken me three years of attending meetings with her to realize it). She writes under multiple names–including the name I knew her by in high school–so it took me a while to sort it out. Even then, I had to cautiously approach and say, “Do you remember our drama teacher?”

  8. Enjoyed the Fae Out Of Water series and I’m sure I’ll enjoy these too. You set me to thinking–no matter what state or country I am in, I always find a California connection in the friends I make. Congratulations on the new release. Moondrawn at gmail dot com

    • Thank you! This book is more in the “supernatural romantic suspense” category (like my Legend Tripping series), whereas I call Fae Out of Water “paranormal romantic comedy.” I still can’t write without side trips into humor and snark, however!

  9. I absolutely love the cover! 🙂

  10. Welcome, E.J., and congratulations on the release of The Artist’s Touch. I look forward to reading it.

    I enjoyed reading of your encounter with your high school drama club friend. My daughter took a History of Korean Music class at a nearby college when she was a junior. My daughter, who now works in Korea, recently encountered a student from that class. Yes, coincidences do happen!

  11. Sometimes it really is a small world–and even more so in fiction! My husband and brother worked for the same company–in a totally different state from where we met! And I can’t count the number of times I’ve done a double take on how people from totally different spheres of my life know each other on facebook.

  12. Thanks for the post. The book sounds really interesting.

  13. Thanks so much, Jay, for hosting me today and helping to kick off the tour! And thanks everyone who stopped by to help me celebrate!

  14. Aagh, can’t think of a relevant coincidence offhand! Love the anecdote, though…


  15. Congrats on the new release!

  16. Life can definitely be stranger than fiction some days!

  17. Thank you! And yes, it’s so fun there! I’m always looking for excuses to go.

  18. I’ve found it’s a really small world. I come from small town Ohio. Like so small we don’t even have a traffic light and the only reason it’s on the map is because a US Highway runs through it. So when I was attending my tech training after Basic in the Air Force there was a girl in our dorm who just happened to be a cousin to twins who were in my class in all through school. Then after I was at my first duty station, I was hanging out with someone I’d met during orientation & found out he worked with someone I’d met while I was in Basic. And all of this was yeeeeeeears before social media made it easy to connect with people. The internet may have existed but very few people knew about it at that point.
    legacylandlisa at gmail dot com

  19. Purple Reader says:

    Congrats, E.J., and thanks for the post. This sounds like an intriguing start of the series. I like the context of art, as well as the mystery. – Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

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