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Today I am so pleased to welcome E.J. Russell to Joyfully Jay. E.J. Russell has come to talk to us about her latest release, Howling on Hold. She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Plotter’s Dilemma

If you happen to overhear a bunch of writers talking about their writing process, chances are one of the first questions you’ll hear is “Are you a pantser or a plotter?” (In case you’ve never heard the term, “pantser” refers to a writer who “flies by the seat of their pants”—aka, does minimal planning before beginning to write and lets the story unfold as they go.)

I used to think I was a pantser because my freshman (that’s high school freshman, so we’re talking *mumble mumble* decades ago) English teacher, Mrs. Sleeper (and yes, that was really her name), once said, “Ellen writes by instinct.” So, as is my wont whenever somebody says something about me, I believed her, and when I first dove back into fiction writing, I attempted to craft stories without a lot of planning.


I discovered that as much as I admired Mrs. Sleeper, she didn’t really know how I wrote those “instinctive” in-class essays. While I didn’t start scribbling an outline the instant Mrs. Sleeper wrote the question on the chalkboard (yes, we depended on chalkboards in those days), I always came up with two critical things before I started writing (in long-hand—cursive long-hand): the last line of the essay and a title that encapsulated my main argument. In other words, I needed to know where I was going, and I needed to know what I was writing about so I’d know how to get there.

When I first started writing fiction again in about 2009 (after what amounted to a forty-year detour into expository and business writing), I flailed about until I realized that in fact I cannot write by the seat of my pants. I need to plan, and plan minutely in order to write a coherent story.

Yep. I’m a plotter. A hard-core, wild-eyed, radical plotter. Cue maniacal laughter here—which is not to say that this is a bad thing, or that I’m at all ashamed of it. In fact, I’m thrilled that I figured out the way for me to get from the germ of a story idea to a finished book.

But there is at least one drawback.

Because my story roadmap is so specific, I really never have any deleted scenes—and deleted scenes are golden when it comes to blog tours! Since I don’t have any, I have to come up with other things to write about that might interest you lovely folks who follow blog tours. Things like pontificating about my writing process for instance?

Wow, this is getting so meta.

But I do have a point…more or less. Howling on Hold centers around a group of young adult werewolves who live in a sort of werewolf frat house. When I started the story, I mapped out the characters for five guys besides the Chase and Tanner, the main couple. But by the time I finished the first draft, I realized that one of the guys—Ramon, Hector’s cousin—was kinda unnecessary. Anything  he did or said could pretty easily be assigned to one of the other guys, so after writing over seventy thousand words, I went back to the beginning and pruned the poor guy out.

The moral of the story is even when you plan what’s supposed to happen in every thousand words of the book like I do, you can get to the end and say, “Shit. Never saw that coming.”

So RIP Ramon. Maybe someday I’ll find a way to write a story just for you.


Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.

That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.

Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.

It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”

Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.


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 this release, one lucky person will win a $25 gift card to Riptide. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on January 17, 2020. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. For more chances to enter, follow the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! https://riptidepublishing.com/pages/blog-tours

  • 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.
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