Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: The Place of Voices (Book 1 in the TimeDrifter Series)

I am a poet. I like poetic things. I love to find new ways to express old ideas. I love finding writers who have the ability to not only tell a story, but transport the readers to the place where the story dwells, to make the world a tangible place the reader can almost touch, feel and see for themselves. 
Lauren Lynch has a remarkable way of expressing ideas, and every movement, every thing sensed by her characters is also experienced by the reader, and it is something I have rarely seen so carefully done. 
The Place of Voices brings three children from very different worlds... and different times in history, together in a mysterious forest. They have each followed three animal 'guides'-- a koala, an elk, and a quetzal bird-- to this place. They are told by the elk their purpose is to 'rest and prepare' for adventures ahead. What follows is a wild journey of history, enlightenment, fear and good versus evil.
The many historical elements of this book are fascinating and meticulously woven in. I have rarely found a children's book with so much historical information to be gleaned from the story, especially one described as a fantasy. The book also has a clear Christ figure in the character of Ben, the Elk, as well as a being to symbolize Satan, or at least a demonic force. 

In areas, I did feel like the adventure was bogged down by a bit too much purple prose. There were times when I lost sight of the action because I was focusing on a lengthy description. Sometimes it was a little confusing as to who was talking or doing something. Sudden point of view shifts also occasionally made me have to 'step back' and get my bearings. I also felt like too much was crammed into the first story line, it might have been better to focus on one child's story at a time per book, I'm not sure. But despite these issues, I'm really glad to have read the book and I think anyone who enjoys allegorical and poetic fiction will be pleased to have this book in their library. You can purchase this book on Amazon here;

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know?

Sometimes God uses what seems like random circumstances to change our lives forever

Natalie Vallecott, a Christian Police Sergeant from England agreed to join a Logos Hope team on a ship to bring Christian literature to the world. What was intended to be a routine stop of three weeks at a port in the Philippines turned into a stop for repairs that lasted for months. During that time, Natalie's life was forever changed by a group of 'invisible' street children known as the Rugby boys.

Rugby was an addictive substance these boys would use to get high on during the day because it helped to stave off their constant hunger. Abusing this substance would lead to brain damage and eventually, death.
What amazed me about this book is the author's heart and determination.

It reminded me of the starfish story. A beach is full of thousands of starfishes. A man notices a little boy throwing as many as he can into the ocean. The man says, "I'm sorry, but you know you can't possibly save all of them." The boy picks up another small, orange shape and tosses it in the waves. He turns to the man. "But I saved that one." 

Natalie dealt with many frustrations as she tried to minister to the children. Language barriers, stubborn hearts, and a community who had given up trying to help. But she never gave up. No matter how many times 'her' boys turned on her and threw her kindness back in her face, she kept trying to help them and show God's love. 

It made me think about how many times in my life I have given up on someone who was less than pleasant to me? But God wants us to keep praying and showing love, even if we never see the results of our labor. 

They're Ruby Boys, Don't You Know? is well written and engaging. I found a few typos but just a few and they did not break my immersion in the story. I think any Christian would be inspired by this book of hope and determination.
The book is available at in Kindle and paperback.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Kitty Castle Book 1, Nightcat

A kingdom overrun by cats turned to dragons, children left with an absent-minded tutor in a castle filled with magic and a quite extraordinary cat... there are much in these pages for 4-8 year olds to delight in. This is the first book in a series written by Celesta Thiessan and her daughter, Kezia. They started writing the series when Keziah was seven years old, and the reader will get an instant feeling of fresh ideas that come only from a child's imagination. A cat with wings who blows magic sparkles? Why, of course!
A few of the ideas in the book will leave adults scratching their heads. Such as, if the kingdom has been laid to waste by dragons, why do the children think the tutor doesn't realize it? What did the king and queen think they could find to stop the dragons? But these are questions adults will wonder, most children will simply be turning the pages to find out what happens next.
As the first book in the series, it's available for free on Amazon in Kindle format.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: Chase Bartholomew Hastings

It's nice (and extremely rare) to find a Middle-Grade dystopian novel that will actually make you feel better about the world after you have read it, and that's what Chase Bartholomew Hastings accomplishes. This is a world where the only electricity is generated by windmills on roofs, where people have to ration food and view all newcomers with suspicion. Chase spends most of his time with his friends, Henry and Aaliyah, and children will enjoy reading about the ways they have fun even in an altered world. 

A few areas in the book I felt could have been developed a little more. Packages from a mysterious benefactor keep appearing with almost impossible to the world gifts. Chase believes these come from "Niceness Ninjas" but the origins are never explained. I also felt some of the events where a bit rushed and could have been explored further, but it works for the targeted age group. All together, a fun little book you can hand to your child without a worry.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Proud to Present: Beggar Magic

Beggar Magic is available today on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
I read a lot of books, and I truly enjoy most things Steampunk. Though Beggar Magic is what I consider 'lightly Steampunk' it brings forth a very unique idea... a town where mysterious music, called 'The Strains,' can be heard by almost everyone constantly. This music is perceived in different ways by different people, and can even be used to manipulate objects and help in every day tasks. 

Amazon description:

In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls’ friendship opens Leilani’s eyes to the world of the Highmost. She’s intrigued by Zeb’s close relationship with the Strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani’s strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the Strains at their back.

As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts’ intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the Strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind.

Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved Strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the Strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the Strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.

To me, 'Beggar Magic' is refreshing in idea and writing style, very well written and put together. There were parts of the story where I found myself frustrated with Leilani's friend, Zeb, because she can really be a brat, but everyone has that friend that drives them crazy but they love anyway, and she becomes rather endearing by the end of the story. Beggar Magic is a lovely blend of sci-fi, fantasy, friendship and romance that will appeal to a broad audience of readers. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Giveaway and Book Signing!

I'm running a giveaway in honor of my third book in the Toby the Trilby book series, "Toby the Trilby and the Forgotten City. Enter in the Rafflecopter for a great priza package! (Note: some of the prizes can only be redeemed locally, in Bastrop Texas. The prizes that can be shipped will be the angel, the three books and the CD only. These items will not be shipped outside of the United States)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review of "Vignette, Glimpses of Mysterious Love."

I'm a Coffee Drinker.

I look forward to that moment every morning (which I'm sure many can relate to), where I take that first sip fragrant java and slip into my day. And a good devotional can only make that time better. 

Vignette by William and Traci Vanderbush is not your ordinary devotional. You won't go sailing along on inspirational passages to lull you to dreamland. These short pieces will challenge you and bring new perspectives about love into your life. 

The passages don't follow a specific pattern. Some are shorter than a page, some are a few pages. Some are prose and some are beautifully crafted poems that will leave you breathless. Woven through each section is a common thread; the idea of love. Married love, love from the Father, and brotherly love through relationship.

If you are looking for a new morning devotional, give Vignette a try.

Amazon Description:

William and Traci Vanderbush were childhood sweethearts who decided to plunge into the wild adventure of marriage as teenagers. After more than two decades of doing life, ministry, and child-rearing, they have been inspired to share their insights on love, mercy, grace, and sexuality. Learning the art of falling in love with each other more than once, join them on the journey into the depths of love and the limitless abilities of the human soul. For more information about William and Traci, please visit

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For a Short Time: Smashwords Book Catalog Promo!

I was alerted to this special by Metilda Leland at Scribophile. If you have stories or books on Smashwords, this is a great opportunity to get your books promoted. Until the end of July, you can go to this link here and include whichever books you like in their catalog. You must offer the book at a discounted percentage (you choose the amount) or for free. The discount coupon will be displayed on the book's listing. This is a great offer for family and friends on social media as well.

I am very excited to announce I will be re-issuing my collection of short stories and poems, "Hidden Pictures," at the end of July. You can have a sneak peek at some of the stories for free if you go to my author dashboard at Smashwords, here. You can also download a FREE copy of my book for kids, The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby. These will be free until the end of July.
Do you have books you have included in the Smashwords free catalog? Feel free to add them to the comments below! (Please no horror or erotic).

Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing for a Purpose

What is your purpose as a writer? Are you writing for fun? Money? Because your head will explode if you don't keep writing?
It's good to sit down and write out a list of reasons, because there will be days when you question your sanity. When you receive that tenth rejection letter or when your Kindle book receives a not-so-great review, you might start wondering "Is this really worth it?"
I write lists for each one of my projects. It's a good way to generate ideas for blurbs and descriptions, to work into review requests, and to tell people when they ask, "Why should I buy your book?"

Here's a list I put together for my website about my series, "The Adventures of Toby the Trilby."

The kind of books I set out to write when I started the series:

  • Books that kids will want to pick up and read, especially boys. Even though lots of girls like my books, I wanted to write books with lots of exciting adventures that boys could get into and enjoy.
  • Books that leave kids (and adults) encouraged about life. So many books in the futuristic genre leave people (at least me!) feeling depressed and hopeless.
  • Stories that don't talk down to kids, but rather encourage them to find out what larger vocabulary words mean. The best way to teach kids big words is to expose them to them in a context where they can figure it out for themselves, or say "Hey. Mom, what does this mean?"
  • Books families can read together. Yes, there are some deep ideas in my books, and some extremely intense moments. I hope that families can read and discuss these books together, even though they are fine for individual reading as well!
  • Books that bring people closer to God. Yes, they are simplified, and no, they don't teach the entire gospel message. I wanted to explore a few, simple truths in each book, like "What is my purpose?" "How do I know God loves me?" and "How can I forgive that person?" I'm hoping to encourage kids to want to find out more about the Giver of Truth, to be excited to seek new ideas for themselves. 
The great thing about having a list like this is you can go back and check to see if you are meeting your goals. I have had great feedback from kids about my book, especially boys. I have had many people tell me the book has helped them understand more about God. So even if it's never a bestseller, I feel like I have, at least partially, accomplished what I set out to do.
So what's your process? Do you write a list of goals for each book? I would love to hear any thoughts you have in the comments!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Publicity... Worth Paying For?

As most self-published authors learn a few months after they have nudged their literary child out of the nest to flutter its way into the Kindle world, sales don't come easy. A great deal of time and effort, perhaps even more than was put into writing the book itself, must be put into marketing the book. It would be nice if all you needed was a good product, and then people would be attracted to it like a BBQ stand in Texas, just by the scent of a delicious new story. Unfortunately, the internet is not scratch and sniff.

I published my Christian Sci-Fi story, "The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby" in November of 2013. 
I worked very hard to get good reviews from friends and strangers and list it for free anywhere I could. Currently, I have 13 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. (You can read them here)

So where to list it? I currently have the book for 99 cents, in hopes that people will read the first one and want the sequel (You can find it here)

I found a good list of places at this link and began researching them to find the best places. 

Most of them are pretty pricey. I also went to Fiverr and found a few gigs that advertised putting Kindle books on their blogs or FB pages, or they would do the work and submit your book for you. Here is the list of gigs I have tried so far:

So far, I have only seen results from bknights, and I only sold two copies during their promotion. I am not saying they didn't do a good job, I'm sure other people have had better results depending on genre. Just saying what worked for me.

But there is one place I had spectacular results, and that was eReader News Today. (website here) In order to list with them, you have to have at least 10 ratings on Amazon and at least 4.0. They charge you a small percentage of sales made on the day your book is listed, but they are only paid if you make sales. I made 56 sales with them in two days during my promotional period, which was spectacular for me! They also promote free Kindle books as well.

I have heard from other authors that and are good places to promote as well, but so far, though they made sales, I haven't talked to anyone that made back the 40.00 to 300.00 it costs to list with these sites.

I have spent about 20.00 advertising my FB author page (you can see it here) but saw no sales and very few likes for my money.

Do you have any experiences to share about book marketing web sites? A great gig on Fiverr or a free Facebook page worth listing on? I'd love to hear about it, after all, we are here to help each other!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Tamer," Free Short Story

I love vintage circuses and early twentieth century entertainment, so the idea for Tamer just grew and blossomed until it became what it is, one of my favorite short stories. I can now offer it to you for free if you download it on Smashwords. I would love it if you could leave me a review after you have read it! Please note: Yes, this is a sad story. So is Romeo and Juliet, folks.
You can download it for any e-reader format (including smart phone and computer) from Smashwords here:

While you are there, you can check out a bunch of my other stories as well at my Smashwords profile here:
Are you a writer with short stories on Smashwords? Feel free to add your link below! No erotica or horror, please!

Book Review: Affinities, Chris Hollis

I put it out there that I would do periodic reviews on my blog, and I've had lots of requests, but I didn't take into consideration that most of my reading time is done in the bathtub, (sorry if TMI), and most writers submit Kindle books. Since I can't risk waterlogging my phone, these reviews will come further apart than I intended, but I did finish this exciting book by Mr. Chris Hollis and wanted to share it.

Andrew wakes up at the same time two nights in a row, disoriented, with no memory of how he passed his day. He begins to fight for lucid moments, his weariness keeping him captive in his own home. This is not Andrew's first taste of hardships, he experienced a devastating car wreck two years before that caused him to have to learn to walk again.

This psychological thriller is definitely an exciting page-turner, well written and edited. You find yourself sympathizing with the main character and hoping he will win in the end. There were a few moments that didn't quite fit in with the flow of the book for me, and the ending was pretty far-fetched, but it was unexpected, which is rare for me. All in all, very good read from a self-published author.
For those interested in content, this book contained a few mild profanities, quite a bit of thriller-style
violence, and a few suggestive secenes. I would rate it PG-13. I give it four stars. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sometimes we try so hard... things look so easy. Aaaand we fail. Oh well, they tasted good!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: "Midnight is a Place" Joan Aiken

Midnight is a Place is one of my all-time favorite books, by one of the 20th century's best children's authors, Joan Aiken. Lucas Bell lives with his guardian, Sir Randolph Grimsby. Everything in his life is dark and gloomy. When a new child, Anna Marie, is brought to the house, Lucas tries to make friends with her, but finds her spoiled and rude. When disaster strikes, Lucas and Anna Marie find themselves on a terrifying journey, involving sewers, the streets of London, and a factory that will keep you from ever looking at a carpet the same way again. You can get this book on Amazon for a penny plus shipping in paperback, or download it to Kindle for 9.99. Worth the read! Once you try Midnight is a Place you will want to read every single one of Joan Aiken's books.
Are you an author looking for an honest review of your work? Check out my review policy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Selling Books at Booths.

As a writer, everything is found by trial and error. What works great for someone else might not work as well for you, since every book is different. I am finding methods that work well for romance and fantasy books written for adults might not generate the same results for the Middle-Grade audience I am trying to reach. So far, my best sales have not been generated from ebooks, book signings or advertising. My best sales have come from booths.
Kids want to pick something up and hold it. They see the excitement on your face and it's contagious. The greatest feeling I've ever had as an author has been when a child sees my book cover and starts jumping up and down.

I have worked extremely hard to find the right cover, lettering, mood, etc. for my book, and that's one thing about kids. They are honest. They don't pretend to like something, they either do or they don't.
I designed bookmarks with my book cover, QR code and web address. At street events I will watch the street for kids that look to be in the right age range. I will walk up to them and ask if they like to read and hand them a bookmark. At my last street event, 50 percent of the kids I handed bookmarks to came over with their parents and bought both of my books. That's amazing! 
It's also good to have a different book to use for an example. Because my book is set in a future, post-apocalyptic environment, I asked each kid "Did you read Hunger Games?" Most of them had and were thrilled to know I had a book in the same genre.

So here are some tips I am compiling through trial and error. 

1. Make your table inviting. Create a large poster of your book cover and glue it to foam board. Have candy or other treats to hand out.

2. Have bookmarks with your book cover and QR code. I designed mine and had them printed on cardstock for 20 cents a page at Staples (each page was five bookmarks). I cut them out myself with a paper cutter. You can also order them from an online company. Think of each one as a seed and possible future sale. 

3. Approach people and be excited. This might be hard for some people if you aren't naturally a people person, but if kids don't think you're excited, they sure won't be.

4. Don't hesitate to ask. If you can't afford a pricey booth at an event, ask if you can go in with a small portion of space with another vendor. Or ask the event cordinators if you can bring an activity or read portions of the story throughout the day in exchange for a discount.

5. If you have more than one book in a series, offer a discount if all are purchased. I sold every single customer both copies of my book because I offered a discount. 

Do you have any more tips? I would love to hear them!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Writer Inspiration

I agreed to put in a blog post as part of a blog hopping event. The writer who asked me to participate is Vila Gingerich.
You might not know who she is now, but when her books are published you will, she is an exceptional writer and I can't wait to own printed copies of her work.
Here are the questions I was asked:

1. What am I working on?
Right now I'm working on a short story for a collection being put together by my friend Joshua Mercier from The Bearded Scribe called "Twice Upon a Time." The collection is going to be fairy tales re-written with a speculative twist. Mine is a re-take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears called "Meta-locks"

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most people are pretty surprised to see a book that is a Christian/Fantasy/Science-Fiction/Dystopian. It's not normally a grouping you would see together, but it has been done, as anyone who has read C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy would know.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I want to write books I would want to read. I like books for kids the best. So I write books for kids.

4) How does my writing process work?
Sometimes I will go crazy and do nothing but write for days on end. Sometimes I only write a few minutes a day. It depends on what's going on with the family and how I feel about it that day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Review: Dragon's Curse by HL Burke

(From the Amazon Description Page)

On her first assignment out of the Academy, young healer and scholar, Shannon Macaulay is summoned to the struggling kingdom of Regone to see to the wounds of a young but crippled king. When the unwanted attentions of an aggressive knight and the sudden appearance of a hated dragon turn her world upside down, she decides to take matters into her own hands even if doing so proves dangerous. 

Finding herself strangely drawn to the company of the dragon, Gnaw, Shannon must force herself out of her safe world of books and botany to come to the aid of her unexpected ally in a strange kingdom, cursed by a fateful encounter with a dragon and the loss of a beloved prince. Can she learn to put aside her fears, and perhaps sacrifice her deepest desires, to help a friend and restore a family? 

A fast-paced fun read by HL Burke. I liked the idea of a human making friends with a dragon, and Burke's characters are well-rounded and fun to get to know. This story glows in your mind days after reading it.

You can get the book on Kindle FREE today only!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sequel Jitters

I've been typing up the sequel to my children's novella, The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby, and one thing has really surprised me. I'm super nervous.
I have done public speaking, sang in a rock band, submitted countless works to editors, and gone to job interviews. I gave birth to three children, for crying out loud. But I have NEVER been so nervous as posting my first two chapters of my sequel up for review.
Here's the cover of my first book (available in paperback from Amazon and on Smashwords for any ebook format)
I have had great reviews and feedback so far, especially from my target audience, the hardest critics to please: kids. So what is my problem?
Anyone else out there deal with sequel jitters?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Marketing Individual Short Stories

I never knew there was a market for short stories to sell individually on Kindle and Smashwords, but apparently several authors make a decent living from doing just that. Offering short stories for a limited time also helps people lead people to your novels.

I decided to hop on the short story train since I already had several. These were included in a short story collection I self-published a few years ago, but all needed major polishing. So I took the book off the market and began to rework them, with the help of my many friends at Scribophile.

I couldn't invest a ton of money on covers, but I found a gentleman on Fivrr from Switzerland who does brilliant work. He has all positive reviews, and I could see why. So I gave him a chance and was very happy with both of the covers he created for me.

I uploaded both books to Smashwords for free for now. I will probably keep the Falconry listed as my "Freebie" to draw people in and get them interested in my other books, Dryad's Tale will eventually be 99 cents. I have been told by other writers as long as you are upfront about word count, most customers are fine with paying 99 cents for a short story.

In 19 days, I've had 80 downloads of The Falconry. I've had 43 of Dryad's Tale in three days. I'm hoping these people will take time to leave reviews! I have also sold one copy of my novella, The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby, as a result of someone enjoying The Falconry. I'm hoping for more to come!
While Gallery Cat offers a list of sites to market your free Kindle books, ( most of these places only accept book-length submissions, books with several star ratings, or books only available from Kindle with Amazon. You can also check out, which offers free and paid services for authors looking for markets. I am still searching for places to market my free Smashword short stories, and would love to hear suggestions. As I find good places I will come back and revise this blog post.  

Some Tips:
1. Only publish your best work. Get several people to beta-read your short story, ideally people who don't know you and aren't worried about hurting your feelings. Much better to get honest feedback before you publish and when you can still fix things! Scribophile is the best place I have found, a huge critique forum of beginner and professional writers who work hard to support each other. Can't recommend it enough.
2. Follow the Smashwords guideline for format uploads so your story looks good in e-reader form. It can look perfect in Word and look terrible on Kindle. Smashwords has a whole manual on uploading, and they provide an awesome template you can cut and paste your story into. I promise, it will save you hours.
3. Choose a compelling cover. If you don't have graphic design experience, get someone else to design it for you. If you don't have a big budget, give someone at Fiverr a chance. I've been happy so far.
4. Spread the word. Let friends and family know through Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. Make sure people know they can download the Kindle app for free for their smartphone or computer, even if they don't have an e-reader.
5. Include links to your novels, website and other short stories at the end of your books. If people like one story, they will probably want more. Make it easy for them to access your other word.

I would love to hear your experience publishing Kindle short stories and any other comments you have.

You can download my two short stories for FREE from my author page at Smashwords. Let me know what you think!