Book Excerpt from Every Last Minute

The Time Wrecker Trilogy centers around a fictional but incredibly controversial concept: timeline rectification. This alternative type of parole allows criminals to return to the day of their original crime and choose a different path. Throughout the series, I included news articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces that give different perspectives on the controversy. Should timeline rectification be legal? Even if it is legal, is it moral? 

As I get Book 2 of the Time Wrecker Trilogy ready for publication, I'm sharing a few samples from Book 1, Every Last Minute, here on the blog. (You can read the first two samples here and here.) The third sample piece is below. Enjoy!

Book Excerpt from Every Last Minute, Book 1 of the Time Wrecker Trilogy: 3 Reasons I Wish I Could Have a Time Wreck And 4 Reasons I Know I Can't || from the blog October 3, 2018

3 Reasons I Wish I Could Have a Time Wreck
and 4 Reasons I Know I Can’t

By Brian Kendall


Long ago, before timeline rectifications, before the Internet, before reality television or answering machines or any of the other modern-day annoyances that have come to plague my life, there was a young man. He was sixteen years old and his name was Johnathan.

Johnathan was five-foot-eleven, played basketball at his high school, and was dating a girl named Becky. Like most high school boys, he aspired to many things: becoming an astronaut, visiting his uncle’s ranch in Wyoming, passing his geometry class.

Johnathan did none of these things, because on one warm spring evening, he was riding his bicycle home from Becky’s house. He was out later than he was supposed to be and was pedaling home as fast as he could; trying, I expect, to make curfew. He was not wearing a helmet, as children often didn’t back in the seventies. He was not watching the road, and thus he did not see the car coming around a sharp bend up ahead. The driver of the car also did not see him.

Johnathan was killed immediately on impact.

I was the driver of that car.

In the nearly forty years since that horrible night, I have heard many young people talk about this concept of “justice.” Of late, the most heavily debated iteration of criminal justice is timeline rectification, and, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to give you the perspective of one old man who wishes more than anything that he could be a time wrecker. These are the top three reasons I would gladly take a timeline rectification:


1.       Johnathan’s death was easily avoidable.

Those of you who have grieved are doubtlessly familiar with the “if only” game. I’ll share the highlights of mine:

·       If only I had waited five minutes to go to the store. Alternatively: if only I had gone five minutes earlier.

·       If only he had reflectors on his bicycle, I might have seen him.

·       If only I had taken that turn more slowly.

·       If only he had been wearing a helmet.

That a person should die due to factors as small and easily rectified as these adds an additional level of horror and injustice to that night.

2.      His passing cast a pall on all who knew him . . . and many who didn’t.

I have never claimed to grieve at the same level as those who knew Johnathan: his parents, his friends, his schoolmates. I can only imagine the burden of grief they carry and the hole that his loss has left in their lives. Despite never having laid eyes on this young man until the accident, after his death I became somewhat obsessed with trying to honor the life that I had, wholly unwittingly, brought to an end. I read his obituary, the memorial in his school’s yearbook, and every article the newspaper printed about the accident. It was his death and my role in the accident that caused me to descend into alcoholism, which additionally cost me my wife, my house, and my job. I went from being a full-time father to an every-other-weekend parent—that is, when I was sober enough to pick up the kids. After a hell of a fight and two years of sobriety, I have now regained a job, an apartment, and a strained relationship with one of my children.

3.      Johnathan deserved to live.

And don’t we all? Whether Johnathan had continued to play basketball or date Becky, whether he ever became an astronaut or passed that geometry class, he deserved to live.


However, timeline rectification is a tricky business. The government does not simply turn back time for every sad old man who wishes he’d lived differently. There are four reasons that I will never be able to take back that night.


1.       Legally, the accident was not a crime.

Certainly, I have felt the weight of my role as a killer each day of my life. Legally, however, no charges were ever filed, and none were ever sought. This was an accident. According to the rules and statutes of the justice system, there can be no rectification for events that were not criminal.

2.       There was a fatality.

Timeline rectifications are not performed for incidents that resulted in a pregnancy or a death. I understand, in principle, why the Department of Timeline Rectification would make such a stipulation. In my heart, I think those of us who have seen crimes result in loss of life wish for the opportunity to turn back time even more earnestly.

3.      The accident occurred before 2000.

The technology for timeline rectification has existed since 1999, when the Supreme Court ruling was made. Presumably, Dr. Bennington had invented it before that, earlier in the nineties. However, partly due to the ruling and partly due to preventing some type of time paradox, we cannot change events that occurred before timeline rectification was first enacted under law.

4.      The accident involved a minor.

One of the facts I ruminate on the most is that Johnathan was killed in the prime of his life. Sixteen years old, with years of school and career and love stretched out before him. As much as I wish I could give that back to him, the law prohibits rectifying crimes that involve a minor, either as the perpetrator or the victim.


Often, people who are perhaps well-meaning or perhaps not will claim that there is a good and worthy reason behind every tragedy. Some will press me to believe that Johnathan was an angel meant to be called home early or that his death must surely have inspired some new law, some spiritual awakening, some good act that made this tragedy understandable. There is none. From one man who wishes he could change his past, to those who could change theirs: seize the opportunity you have. Nothing is worth a lifetime of regret.

Interested in reading more from Every Last Minute? The book is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million. Ready to decide whether you would be a time wrecker? Take the quiz here to find out!

Why I Write

Last week, author Stephanie Verni challenged five authors to share five reasons why we write. That was a really good challenge--it took me a week to decide on my top five!

Even though I've been writing stories in one form or another for most of my life, the "why" behind my writing changes from time to time. Here are just five of the reasons I love to write:

Why I Write || from the Ellen Smith Writes blog

1. Writing turns tiny, fleeting thoughts into something real and permanent

I almost always have a blank book going where I can jot down anything that crosses my mind. Some years of my life are pretty well-recorded with diary entries for every week, if not every day. Other years, my blank books are mostly a collection of doodles, story ideas, dreams I want to remember, and other bits and pieces of my life. Occasionally I go back and read through these books, either to remember some real detail of my own life or to dig up an old story idea--both are equally likely.

For the same reason, I keep all the old drafts of my books (Just to give you an idea of how much paperwork that is, I have nine drafts of the book I'm working on currently, plus notes). I reference these old drafts all the time, just in case I find I've edited out some character background or something like that. It's fun to see how much the story has changed over time, too!

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Anais Nin || from "Why I Write" on the Ellen Smith Writes blog

2. Writing is an adventure of self-discovery

Sometimes I think my books know more about me than I do.

I may think that I know how I feel about a certain issue, like healthcare, or criminal justice, or even just small-town politics. Then I decide to write about it and I realize how much I really don't know. By the time I finish doing my research, I can guarantee I've learned something. By the time I complete the final draft, I've learned a lot!

One interesting consequence of writing the Time Wrecker Trilogy has been learning more about a variety of issues. For example, I hadn't spent nearly enough time considering how criminal justice really works in America. I hadn't thought as much about the concept of healing before, either, both from intended and unintended injuries. I'm curious to see how I'll feel about these issues by the time I'm done writing the third book! 

"The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe." Gustave Flaubert || From "Why I Write" on the Ellen Smith Writes blog

3. Writing is all about possibility

The first time someone called me a science fiction writer, I thought they'd mistaken me for someone else. I didn't feel like I was making up very much about the physical world in my stories, and compared to many science fiction authors, I really don't. The worlds I write about are only slightly different from this one. Take a small town in southern Virginia, and add a woman who can see the future: now you have Reluctant Cassandra. Take Washington, DC over the past decade, but make it possible to use time travel for criminal rehabilitation: now we're in the Time Wrecker Trilogy. I love taking these tiny steps outside reality. And according to one of my favorite authors of all time, that is science fiction. (Thanks, Ray Bradbury.)

"Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible." Ray Bradbury || From "Why I Write" on the Ellen Smith Writes blog

4. Writing is my creative outlet

I've dabbled in just about every creative hobby out there: music, sewing, paper crafts, crochet, baking...but I always come back to writing.

There is something in me that needs to create. I can hold it over by doing little projects around the house, like cooking dinner or practicing the piano. But eventually, I'll need to sit down and carve out time just to be creative. I love working as a freelance writer because it allows me to fill that creative need so often, but I balance it with fiction writing, too. Of all the ways to be creative, writing is the one that suits me best.

"And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss." J .K. Rowling || From "Why I Write" on the Ellen Smith Writes blog

5. I have to write. There's an idea that just won't let go.

This is my very favorite reason to write. Sometimes I'll have a story idea percolating in the back of my mind for months (or years...) and then suddenly it becomes a story I have to tell. That's the really fun part, when I'm racing to my notebook or my computer to write down some little scene I just imagined, or I'll be driving and suddenly figure out a plot twist. If I had to pick one reason why I write, this would be it. I know the story is already there: I just have to write it down.

"An idea in the head is like a rock in the shoe; I just can't wait to get it out." Phyllis Reynolds Naylor || From "Why I Write" on the Ellen Smith Writes blog

Life Lately...Plus a Book Excerpt from Every Last Minute

Sometimes you find the exact words you're looking for hidden in the pages of a book.

And sometimes, in a bizarre turn of events, that book is one you wrote yourself. 

Today marks twelve weeks since my foot surgery. I have some mixed feelings about that milestone, especially since I still have a long way to go. I'm working hard in physical therapy and I am so grateful for the progress I've seen so far. However, I've had a few setbacks the past few months. Healing is a slow process. Just to give you an idea of how I've been handling that, I'll tell you: when I called my doctor's office a few days ago, instead of saying "I'm a patient of..." I accidentally said, "I'm impatient..." 

Freudian slip, anyone?

Throughout this long recovery, I've been holding out for a moment when I'll feel "normal" again--or even a time when I'll hit a new normal. I thought maybe it would be when I ditched the crutches, or when I was finally able to drive again, or when I had more energy and less pain. And then I remembered:

"This is forever--this one broken, beautiful life. We're only guaranteed one chance to do it right." Book quote from EVERY LAST MINUTE by Ellen Smith

Even though I don't feel "normal" yet, my broken, beautiful life is happening now. That includes my writing life. Projects for my freelance clients always come first, but I've still managed to squeak out some energy for editing the Time Wrecker Trilogy. It's so easy for me to get frustrated by the ways my current life compares to my old writing routine, but you know what? I'm going to refocus on how much I love this story, and how determined I am to get it right. Every step forward is worth celebrating because it brings me a little closer to my goal.

It was so funny to me that the words I needed to hear were tucked away in the first book of the Time Wrecker Trilogy, Every Last Minute. They're spoken by Renee Rasmussen, the "voice" behind one of the editorials included in the novel. The full text is below. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt!

Book Excerpt from EVERY LAST MINUTE by Ellen Smith: "You Get One Life."


You Get One Life

By Renee Rasmussen


One life.

One time.

One chance to get things right.

There are so many times that I’ve waited and wished and prayed for a second chance, only to be denied. Have you read all the articles out there about timeline rectification? I have. Have you looked up an inmate in the system to see if they’re nearing eligibility for parole . . . meaning they might have a shot at getting into the rectification program? I have. Have you written personal letters begging an inmate to consider a rectification? I’ve written over 200—averaging one a week for four years.

I had a perfectly ordinary life until I was thirty-two years old. Not perfect, mind you. Perfectly ordinary. I had a roommate who was friendly and a cat with terrible cat-food breath and a job I liked well enough but wasn’t a career.

And then, one day, in the middle of my very ordinary existence, I was knocked unconscious. I woke up in a hospital bed, attached to more monitors than I’d ever seen in my life. My apartment had been broken into by two teens who were high on drugs and looking for anything they could steal and sell on the black market. I didn’t know them, and neither did my roommate. Our door was locked. Our blinds were shut. We just had the bad luck to be in the first-floor apartment when these two men got the idea to break in.

They were arrested quickly, did us the favor of admitting their guilt, and are currently serving their sentences. This is where the story gets interesting: at the end of the trial, my lawyer turned to me and said, “Give it a few years. If they qualify for the rehabilitation program, you’ll probably get a time wreck. This isn’t forever.”

This isn’t forever. I clung to those words as I tried to rebuild my life. My roommate was too traumatized to consider another apartment in the city. She ended up moving back to her home state to be with family. She took the cat too. I hope they’re doing well, but to be honest, the whole experience was so hard that we can’t talk without it all bubbling back up.

I don’t have my old job anymore. When it reached the point that I’d been in the hospital longer than I’d ever worked there, they let me go—and legally, they had no obligation to keep me for as long as they did. Finding a new job and getting insurance with what are now “preexisting conditions” was a nightmare. I’d like to go back to counseling, but I can’t afford it. I think a vacation could be restful, but I have to save up all my days off in case I need another surgery.

For years, the only thing that kept me going was the chance that someday, I might get a timeline rectification. Believing that all my struggles were temporary helped me handle every challenge.

At last, the time came when the criminals could qualify for the rehabilitation program. They both signed up.

They both dropped out.

I felt like I was going crazy when I found out they’d left the rehabilitation program. What happened? Why did they change their minds? Could they try again? Finally (after I wrote many, many letters), one of them wrote back. He had been willing to put forth the effort to rehabilitate, but his partner in crime wasn’t. Prison was working for him. He was powerful there, respected. He didn’t want to change. The other criminal—the one who had written to me—was very sorry, but unless they were both willing to rehabilitate, a time wreck would be impossible. He was working toward his own parole, apologized again for his actions, and wished me well.

This is forever. It took me one letter to realize it, but much, much longer to believe it. For over a year, I devoted myself to the cause of convincing these two men to change their minds.

But after a while, I began to realize that I simply couldn’t change people who weren’t willing to change. The only person I could rehabilitate was myself. And so—slowly, painfully—I began the long, hard process of accepting my reality.

This is the problem with time wrecking: it lets victims focus on changing the past instead of shaping the future. At some point, we all must decide whether we’re going to keep looking back or start moving forward. My journey has been full of stops and starts and many, many backward glances, but I am finally moving forward. At last, I’m starting to heal.

This is forever—this one broken, beautiful life. We’re only guaranteed one chance to do it right.

Let’s make it count.

#ReadLocalDC Blog Hop: It's About The People

In 2007, I came to Washington DC as a twenty-one-year-old grad student. I was newly married, newly enrolled at The George Washington University, and completely new to city life. I'd spent the previous four years going to college in Lynchburg, Virginia, where "mass transit" took the form of a city bus. On my first day at GWU, I couldn't even figure out how to get out of the Foggy Bottom Metro Station.

I had rarely felt so out of my league.

Granted, I'd been to DC before. Pretty much anyone who grew up in Maryland or Northern Virginia can tell you stories of class trips to the Smithsonian, complete with lunch on the National Mall and pictures outside the White House. I felt familiar with Washington, DC--but I didn't feel at home.

I spent my first few months in the District mentally cataloging all the ways I didn't fit in. The people around me talked faster, walked faster, and thought faster. I kept quiet and avoided eye contact at the same time that I wished I had someone to talk to. What could I possibly have in common with anyone else in this city? 

Then one day, I looked up. Not at my shoes, not at the book I was reading, not at the map that was falling apart from overuse. I looked up at the gorgeous classic buildings that I walked past every day on my way to class. I saw art installations and murals scattered throughout the District. There were bookstores and boutiques tucked in between government buildings and museums. I couldn't believe how much I'd missed. 

This city was beautiful.

But, I came to realize, not half as beautiful as the people that live here. 

Selfie outside the Library of Congress, sometime after DC began to feel like home.

Selfie outside the Library of Congress, sometime after DC began to feel like home.

I had made the mistake that we're all guilty of from time to time: I was so consumed by my own experience that I hadn't really paid attention to the people around me. Once I turned my focus outward, I realized that I had never been the outsider I imagined myself to be. In DC, you're almost as likely to meet someone who's originally from another country as you are to meet someone from another state! I was far from the only newcomer navigating my way through a strange city.  

As I started getting to know my fellow Washingtonians, the most common questions were, "Where are you from?" and "What brings you to DC?" Some people, like me, had come to DC for school. Others came for work, for family, or for politics and activism. Through these conversations, I came to realize that who we are, what we value, and what we believe doesn't form in a vacuum. Our past experiences had given us all very different reasons for being in DC and very different perspectives on our time here.

I had always been taught to listen to differences of opinion. It wasn't until I was a transplant in a city of transplants that I began to appreciate how we formed such different opinions in the first place.

Every Last Minute by Ellen Smith ||

When I began writing the Time Wrecker Trilogy, Washington, DC was the only setting I could have imagined for the story. The series centers around a fictional controversy: what if time travel was used as a form of criminal rehabilitation? Would it be moral to allow criminals to go back in time and undo their offense? Would it be ethical to deny them the opportunity? While the time travel element qualifies as science fiction, the emotional conflict is familiar for many of us. The characters in my story are simply trying to make the right choice in a society that is conflicted about what it means to be "right." 

In the first book of the trilogy, I tried to show the different sides of this contentious issue through the perspectives of my two main characters. But there was still something missing. These issues often have more than two sides, and I wanted to represent that. Throughout the story, I included blog posts, newspaper articles, and opinion pieces about timeline rectification written from a variety of perspectives. Writing these creative nonfiction pieces gave me a chance to step outside my own assumptions of why a person would be for or against erasing a crime from the past. It made me think about how someone would have arrived at their position and why they might hold it so strongly. It made me realize how people on every side of an issue could feel misunderstood, misrepresented, and outright attacked.

With our monuments and marble buildings and grand avenues, Washington, DC exudes an aura of confidence and power. But when we look past those things and into the eyes of our neighbors, it's easy to see that we all have moments of being the "outsiders." I've lived in the area for over a decade now, but I'm still tapping in to that lesson I learned when I first came here: when we're brave enough to step outside our own experience, we often find we aren't alone.

Thanks for reading! To return to the #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop on Ellen Smith's website, click here:

#READLOCALDC Blog Hop: It's About The People || Posted on Ellen Smith Writes Blog for the #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop

#READLOCALDC Blog Hop: July 11, 2018

If you've been following my Facebook and Twitter accounts the past few weeks, you already know I'm a huge fan of the #readlocal movement. I took part in a social media takeover for Hometown Reads, which is a really cool website that organizes authors by their communities. Since I'm local to Washington, DC, my book is listed alongside fifty others that were written by fellow Washingtonians. It's been such a fun way to find new books and connect with other authors! As a reader, I love finding books from my home town--and as an author, I love supporting my local network! 

In that spirit, let's keep the momentum going and have a blog hop for Washington, DC authors! In two weeks, I'll be hosting a #ReadLocalDC blog hop right here on the Ellen Smith Writes blog!

#READLOCALDC social media.jpg
Calling all #WashingtonDC #authors! Please join the #ReadLocalDC blog hop hosted by @EllenSmithWrite on July 11, 2018! Read the details here:

What Is A Blog Hop?

A blog hop (also called a linky party) is an online event that creates a linked list of blog posts written around a central theme. Readers can then "hop" from one blog post to the next, reading each post and meeting new bloggers along the way. 

Who Can Join?:

If you call yourself a Washington, DC author, we do too! Feel free to join the #ReadLocalDC blog hop if any of these apply to you:

  • You live in the DC area (Maryland and Northern Virginia, that includes you!)
  • You once lived in the DC area
  • Your story is set in the DC area
  • You're a published author (fiction or non-fiction)
  • You're an unpublished author excited to meet the local community! 

When and Where:

The #ReadLocalDC blog hop will take place on July 11, 2018, right here on this post! You'll see the Inlinkz link-up at the bottom of the page--it will go live on July 11, 2018 at 8:00 am and end at 11:59 pm EST.

The theme: 

How does Washington, D.C. inspire your writing?

The Rules:

  • Please include "#ReadLocalDC Blog Hop" somewhere in your blog title and include at least one image in your post! The InLinkz linkup will feature a title and thumbnail image for your post, so be sure to choose a picture that represents you and your work! InLinkz has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to add your blog post to a blog hop here: How To Add Your Links In a Link Party
  • At the end of your blog post, please link back to the hop by including this text:
Thanks for reading! To return to the #ReadLocalDC Blog Hop on Ellen Smith's website, click here:

{This step is important! We want to make it easy for readers to visit every participant on our blog hop--linking back to this page keeps the hop going!}

  • Please visit the other participants' blogs, leave a comment, and share on social media! Our hashtag for Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is #ReadLocalDC.
  • Washington, DC can inspire our writing in many ways--for some of us it's the history, for others it might be arts and culture, and for others it might be politics and activism. We're going to operate under the standard Washingtonian dinner party rule: honesty makes interesting conversation as long as you're respectful of the other guests. ;)
  • Have fun! I'm excited to hear more from the DC authors I know and to meet new people, too! 

#ReadLocalDC Blog Hop || a blog hop hosted by July 11, 2018 8:00 am - 11:55 pm

Questions? Ask away in the comments section below!

Sample Chapter from Every Last Minute: In Defense of Timeline Rectification

The Time Wrecker Trilogy centers around a fictional but incredibly controversial concept: timeline rectification. This alternative type of parole allows criminals to return to the day of their original crime and choose a different path. Throughout the series, I included news articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces that give different perspectives on the controversy. Should timeline rectification be legal? Even if it is legal, is it moral? 

As I get Book 2 of the Time Wrecker Trilogy ready for publication this fall, I'm sharing a few samples from Book 1, Every Last Minute, here on the blog. The first sample piece is below. Enjoy!

Book Excerpt from Every Last Minute on the blog


Krushin' It Together

A personal blog by Klara Krusher


In Defense of Timeline Rectifications

Published March 31, 2011


So I try to stay out of politics on this blog. I do. If you’ve been following my blog for the last couple of years, you know I like to keep things upbeat. But in light of the protest in DC this week and the bloggers coming out of the woodwork to rage against Deirdre Collins’s new reality show—which, come on, isn’t reality TV pretty rage-worthy anyway?—I feel like I need to speak up.

Look, I don’t like the idea of timeline rectifications any more than you do. I want to say that they’re a terrible idea, that there’s no problem so big that it justifies mucking around with time. I want to post the numbers to some hotlines and give the websites for some charities and tell you that no matter how bleak life seems, there’s always help available.

But you know what? That’s not true. The kinds of crimes that qualify for a timeline rectification leave more lasting damage than you can fix with three sessions of talk therapy or a couple months in the slammer. They cause big problems that require big solutions.

 I feel like I’m going to lose some readers for this. Maybe a lot of readers. But I feel like there needs to be a point where we stop talking ourselves in circles and start doing something to help.

I’ve been really frustrated with the tone of the online conversation surrounding timeline rectification. We’re all about raising awareness these days. We throw data and statistics at each other to support our points of view. We get angry and drop friends and lose followers as we passionately stand up for what we believe.

But what are we doing?

Because, honestly, if you’re so against crime victims agreeing to time wrecks, are you doing anything to help them in this life map? If their insurance runs out—or if they don’t have any—would you pay for their physical therapy? Their mental healthcare? Give them a job? What if they need help even after you think they should have “moved on”? What if they aren’t back on their feet before you’re bored of playing the white knight in their story? 

And what about the offenders? How many people with a criminal record do you know, really? Are you supporting rehabilitation programs? Would you rent to someone who had just been released from prison? Would you hire an ex-con, or is finding them a job someone else’s problem?

Because if not, guess what?

You’re the reason why people think timeline rectifications are their best option. You’re the reason why people think they have more to lose and nothing to gain by staying. You’re the reason people think there’s no help for them in this life map.

Because sometimes, it’s true.

Interested in reading more from Every Last Minute? The book is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million. Ready to decide whether you would be a time wrecker? Take the quiz here to find out!

June 2018 Book Giveaway Winner!

I've got to say, the giveaway contest from last week might just be my favorite ever! Over the past week, I've had emails, Facebook shares, comments, and messages from pet-loving readers who wanted to share stories and pictures of their pets. I loved it! 

However, there was one Facebook comment that definitely stood out as my favorite. Erin Lloyd's memory of her adorable cat Precious made my day--and so did the picture! Congratulations, Erin! You're the winner! Your signed copy of Reluctant Cassandra is on its way!

Congratulations Erin/ June 2018 Giveaway Winner|| Erin won a signed copy of Reluctant Cassandra for sharing her favorite pet story

Congratulations, Erin, and thank you to everyone who contacted me to share their stories last week. Readers are the best!

Time for a Book Giveaway!

Reluctant Cassandra Turns 3 Years Old Today!

Today marks THREE years since I published my first novel, Reluctant Cassandra! To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed paperback copy here on the blog--and since it wouldn't be a celebration without a game or two, we're going to have a little fun first!

I've shared before that one of my favorite characters in Reluctant Cassandra is Thor, Arden's boxer puppy. Allergies prevent me from having pets of my own (boo!) so I loved living vicariously through Arden's bond with her dog. I'd love to hear about your favorite furry friends, too! (Or feathered...or finned...we're inclusive pet-lovers here.) For this giveaway, the only entry requirement is sharing a picture or story of your pet. I can't wait to see what you all share! 

Time for a Book Giveaway! Reluctant Cassandra is 3 Years Old Today! || Enter your pet photo or story before June 9, 2018 for a chance to win a signed copy of Reluctant Cassandra by Ellen Smith. More on the blog:

Here's how to enter:

  • Post a picture of your pet in the comments. If you don't have a pet (or if they're just camera shy), share your favorite animal story in the comments instead! Post as many times as you like, about as many pets as you like. 
  • In one week, I will pick my favorite picture or story and post the winner here on the blog! If it's you, you'll want to email me back with your mailing address so I can send you a signed copy of Reluctant Cassandra! 
  • International readers: this giveaway is open to you, too! Some of my past giveaways were limited to US residents due to mailing restrictions, but this one is open for everyone!

The giveaway contest starts now and closes at 9:00 am EST on Saturday, June 9. Have fun!

Counting Down Every Last Minute

"How much of your book is inspired by real life?"

When it comes to the Time Wrecker Trilogy, I'm relieved to say: not much. Thank goodness, right? Even after drafting all three books, I'm still not sure what I'd do if I was offered the chance to travel back in time.

However, there are a few things I have in common with my main characters. For example: like Mara Sterling, I've lived with chronic pain. In fact, several months before the release of Every Last Minute, I had a much-anticipated surgery on my right ankle. After a lot of rest and a lot of physical therapy, I was able to walk and move more comfortably than I had in a long time. On my book release date, I walked in to the party pain-free, and it felt amazing.

After that, I felt confident setting some big publication goals for Books 2 and 3 in the trilogy. Since both books were already drafted, I planned to release Book 2 in the spring of 2018 and Book 3 in the fall. Yep, two books published in one year! I knew it would be a big push to make it happen, but it was totally worth doing. After all, as a reader I don't like to wait too long between books in a series. Is it any surprise I'd have the same preference as a writer?

Unfortunately, my pain-free days didn't last. Over the winter, chronic pain slowly crept back in to my life. After a lot of thought, I decided to push back the release date of the second book in the series to prepare for my next surgery, which will require a longer recovery time.

As hard as it was to make that decision, it was definitely the right thing to do. Like many things in life, chronic pain has a way of throwing a left hook at my neatly-laid plans. The good news is, I can always reassess, refocus, and revise my goals. 

So here's the new plan: I am working towards a tentative release date of October 18, 2018 for Book 2 in the Time Wreckers Trilogy. I've also set a tentative release date for Book 3: October 18, 2019. (If you've already read Every Last Minute: Book 1 of the Time Wreckers Trilogy, you know why October 18 is a significant date!) I love the symmetry of releasing each book one year apart. I won't make my original goal of releasing both Book 2 and Book 3 in 2018, but that's okay. I'm still going to meet my goal of telling all the stages of Will and Mara's story. I promise it will be worth the wait.

Thanks for sticking with me through this unexpected turn of events! To celebrate the six months since Every Last Minute released, I am offering the Kindle ebook for free (today only, so if you don't have a copy for your ereader yet, be sure to grab it now!) 

Every Last Minute by Ellen Smith || available FREE on Kindle for April 11, 2018 only

Regardless of any other circumstances, writing and sharing these stories with you has been a dream come true. I'm grateful to be an author on any publication schedule and I'm looking forward to everything 2018 and 2019 will bring! Stay tuned! 

For the Love of Ebooks

It's hard to believe now, but I held out on getting a Kindle. For years. I didn't feel a single pang of jealousy when my friends would pull out their sleek, six ounce ereaders. I was perfectly happy with my paperbacks. It just felt more real, holding a physical book in my hand. Besides, I had to look at screens all day for work. Why let the hand-held/ touchscreen phenomenon take over yet another part of my life?

Over time, my stubborn opposition to ebooks dwindled away. When I had to rearrange the contents of my purse three times to fit the book I was almost finished reading alongside the book I wanted to read next, I knew. It was time. 

In 2013, I got a Kindle. I don't feel like I'm exaggerating (much) when I say it changed my life.

For the Love of Ebooks || blog post by Ellen Smith at

Turns out I love ebooks.

Seriously. My Kindle has solved bookworm problems I didn't even know I had. Stuck in a long checkout line? No problem. I just read three more pages in my current book. Need to look up a line from a favorite story? Easy--instead of going home and getting lost in a sea of books, I can find the passage I want with the flick of my finger. And did I mention that I can even highlight and make notes on my Kindle? I hate to take a pen--or even a pencil--to my paper books. Now I can jot down notes to myself whenever I want!

Not to mention that this little thing can house almost as many books as my living room. Beat that!

For the Love of Ebooks || Blog post by Ellen Smith on

Probably the best (and most dangerous) feature of ebooks is the price point. When your family reads as much as mine does, things like "new books I had to buy and read immediately," become a regular line item in the budget. We love the library and we also have awesome bookish friends that are happy to trade books back and forth. But sometimes, I still see a new book on Instagram or Goodreads and the need to get my hands on a copy is almost compulsive. An ebook on sale for $.99 or even $3.99 isn't too bad for an impulse buy. I mean, it's less than a cup of coffee! 

(Listen to me, justifying my book habits to myself.)

Thankfully, there are several awesome discount ebook sites. They're kind enough to send me daily emails of ebook deals I might enjoy...and more often than not, they're right! These are two of my favorites:


Fussy Librarian

(Click at your own risk, fellow bookworms. Don't say I didn't warn you!)

That's not to say that I've abandoned my paperback and hardcover books completely. There are still some things that an ebook will never be able to replace for me. Special fonts, white space, and decorative chapter headings don't translate well onto ereaders. For example, the paperback version of Every Last Minute has two slightly different fonts to differentiate between regular text and the news articles that are sprinkled throughout the story. That can't be replicated for an ebook and I kind of miss the effect!

Favorite books and classics are almost always purchased in hard cover, too. If I truly love a book I read on my ereader, I'm pretty likely to buy a hard copy--especially if it's signed by the author! (Hmmm...maybe reading ebooks isn't saving my budget after all!)

I also make an effort to put all the screens away when I'm winding down for the evening, so paperbacks are my first choice for bedtime reading. Besides, there really is something wonderful about holding the weight of a real book in your hands. Ebooks have a big place in my reading life, but they'll never replace hard copies for me. 

Which do you prefer--ebooks or physical books? Let me know in the comments!

Speaking of is the last day to enter the Amazon giveaway for Every Last Minute! Enter here for your chance to win one of five ebook copies!