Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On My Nightstand - Forever Love by Jessica Nelson

Maggie McCormick loves her job as a sky-diving instructor. After living on the wild side, she's turned a corner and makes some changes. She has a dream to open a home for young mothers.

Pastor Joe O'Reilly is impressed by her vision but has no intention of selling her the land that's been in his family for many years. He sees the changes in her life and is attracted, but will the terrible secrets she hides be a deal breaker?

I've read a couple of Jessica's books and was impressed by the interesting plots. The characters had me cheering for a happy ending, and kept me thoroughly engaged.

If you're stocking up for beach reads, this is a good pick. I'm giving Forever Love 4 Stars and looking forward to more books from this author.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher requested a review. I did not receive any payment for it, and all opinions are mine.
Writers:     Jessica's character is a sky-diving instructor. Have you chosen any unusual occupations for your characters? Please share.

Readers:    What types of books do you select for your summer reading enjoyment?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Marketing - The Advantages of Giveaways

Did you know that the author of the wildly successful book, "The Shack," gave away many books to create buzz? Whatever your view of the novel, his marketing approach worked.

Many people argue that giving away books or articles devalues an author's work. It takes much time and effort to produce a quality piece.

So, should we do giveaways? The answer: It depends.

1.  If an author has a series, giving away or offering the first book at a discounted rate can introduce readers to a new author or genre. This can reap benefits of increased sales for subsequent books.

2.  Guest posts on blogs generate more comments and greater traffic if a giveaway is involved. Again, a freebie introduces a reader to the author and/or their work.

3.  Publishers and authors routinely offer Advanced Reader Copies (ARC's) to generate buzz and reviews about a new book.

4.  Submitting articles to non-paying ezines, charities, etc. can result in greater exposure. The benefits must be weighed against disadvantages. Some publications will take advantage of a writer's desire to be published and routinely refuse to pay. Great caution is urged.

5.  Limited time offers for freebies/discounts can pump up sales during seasonal spurts like Christmas and Easter. I've found this an effective tool.

Writers:   Have you done giveaways/freebies/discounts? What are your thoughts on the subject?

Readers:  Do you support an author who gives freebies by doing reviews, sharing promotional posts, and buying their other books? I'd love to hear how you view freebies.

Photo  Credit:  Alex Ling

Friday, March 25, 2016

They Could Not

I love Sandy Patty's rendition of, "They Could Not." I'm signing to it on Resurrection Sunday. Enjoy!

Writers and Readers: What is your favorite Resurrection Sunday song?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On My Nightstand - A Side of Faith: A Christian Inspirational Romance Novella by Krista Phillips

Rachel Carter isn't interested in tall, red-headed men. They remind her of her ex-boyfriend.

Cameron Foster - you guessed it - a tall, handsome redhead knocks on her door. A neighbor and friend of a friend, he's shocked by the chilly reception.

Krista Phillips dishes out the dialogue with her signature humor. I thought this would be a simple romance, but loved the element of suspense she wove into the book.

A quick, delightful read, A Side of Faith is well-suited to a lazy afternoon at the beach. I'm giving this one five stars. (Hey friends, I might try painting a wall one of these days in wavy stripes.)

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a review or paid me for it. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you tried injecting humor into your writing? Please share.

Readers:  What types of characters attract you? Heroines that are sassy, funny, a bit crazy or (insert the quality you like here)?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Newbie Corner - Baby Steps Count

Baby steps. Those two words bring many visuals to my mind. There's something exciting about seeing a child take their first steps. Even though they make little progress in terms of distance, their bravery and determination inspires me.

While I'm a big picture person, I know the journey consists of many small decisions. Some of the small decisions yield big rewards when put together.

Here are some key baby steps I took:

1.  Praying for wisdom and direction were critical to getting from Point A to Point B and beyond. God put writer friends and mentors in my path. They shared the nuggets they'd learned and steered me away from pitfalls.

2.  Attending writers conferences - This is the best way to meet industry professionals, learn the publishing business and the craft, and meet other writers. While it's possible to catch the eye of an agent or editor by submitting, there's nothing like a face-to-face introduction.

3.  Setting up a blog and joining social media platforms - Somewhere along the line, I read platform building should begin 5 years before a book is published. While the benefits were many, meeting people and upgrading my skills made the effort worthwhile.

4.  Having critique partners - Another set of eyes on your manuscript is like putting on your glasses before you look in the mirror. They highlight problems you'd never see otherwise.

5.  Making a quality decision to keep writing, submitting, and pursuing what God has put on my heart - Yeah, there were hard times when I wanted to quit. While we look forward to the prize before us, we also recall how far God has brought us from those early days.

The journey goes on - there's always the next manuscript, the next book release, and the effort to improve our skill set.

Writers:  What are some baby steps you're taking to move your writing forward?

Readers:  When you read an author's books, do you notice improvements in their writing? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Amanda Mafioletti

Friday, March 18, 2016

Setting/Publishing Rights/Skinny Genes/News/Clutter Hypocrite

1.  Dena Netherton uses her stage experience to talk about setting in our writing. Her examples are spot on.

2.  Every aspiring writer dreams of getting "the call." While it's an emotional rush after years perfecting our writing, signing a contract is serious business. This advice also apples to self-publishing contracts. Susan Spann guest posts at Writers in the Storm about what rights a publisher really needs.

3.  FRC Action sent me an email entitled, "The Skinny on Genes." (Now, there's a lesson in attention-grabbing headlines.) We've heard a lot about GMO's in relation to our food, but what if they started genetically engineering people?

4.  Writer Unboxed reports on what's new in the digital publishing industry.

5.  Jeanette Levellie writes with her usual tongue-in-cheek style about being a "clutter hypocrite."

Writers:  Do you enjoy creating a stage for your characters? What are some of the things you take into consideration?

Readers:  Do you collect a lot of books? How do you keep any kind of collection from taking over your house?

Photo Credit:  Anonymous

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On My Nightstand - On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Georgiana Taylor's work as an Army Evacuation Nurse brings out her fears and makes her yearn for the safe, pampered life she'd enjoyed back home. Her family and boyfriend are more than happy to urge her to ditch the Army life.

John "Hutch" Hutchinson has a girlfriend waiting for him back home. He and his father are working hard to convince Congress to form a Pharmacy Corps and commission officers. Officer Training School would get him back to the States. The disrespect he gets from officers and mean comments about his profession feed his discontent.

I loved how these characters developed over the course of the story. The constant danger pushed them to rely on God and realize He was their safety. On Distant Shores provided a generous dose of romance, Christian values, danger, betrayal, and conflict.

Sarah Sundin is one of my favorite authors, and she delivered big time with this book. I was sorry to see it end. The one consolation:  I have the next book in this series. 5 Stars - grab it! It's well worth your precious reading time.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review and did not provide any remuneration for it. All opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered writing a series? What are your thoughts on the subject?

Readers:  What do you like about historical romances?

Monday, March 14, 2016

5 Reasons to Love Editing

Writing a first draft makes my heart soar.

Editing makes my brain sore. Writing muscles are stretched taut and leave me with more pain than an hour at the local gym.

I have a confession. Exercising at the gym ranks just below a doctor visit, but the benefits keep me plugging away 2-3 times per week. The same holds true for editing. Yes, I like the end results, but not the process.

How do I get an attitude adjustment, especially when I should be editing my latest manuscript right now? Let's think about all the positive aspects of polishing that book or article:

1.  It will give me a better shot at another book contract.

2.  The possibility of rave reviews and sales grows with each re-written phrase or grammar correction.

3.  Knowing I've done my best gives me a sense of accomplishment.

4.  Giving readers a great story and a beautifully written book shows respect for their intelligence.

5.  Excellence honors God.

Okay, that last one got me. As a believer, I'm His representative to the world. If I put out a shoddy product, what does that say about the One I serve. My most important goal is to honor Him in all I say and do.

For readers, who are also believers, our love for them shines through when we give them a professional story. We're not merely entertaining them, we're ministering via our words.

As I'm writing and editing, I'll be praying for all those who will read my books. Perhaps my efforts will then be a labor of love rather than a dreaded task.

Writers: Do you prefer editing to writing or vice versa? Please share.

Readers: When you read a well-written book, how does it make you feel?

Photo Credit:  Andrew Beirle

Friday, March 11, 2016

Presumption/Photos/Speaking Tips/Trivia/One Hour

1.  Nadine Keels talks about Book Presumption. As an author and reader, I could see where a particular title, cover, blurb could make me wrinkle my nose and pass.

2.  Are you having a hard time finding the right graphic for your blog posts? Why not take your own? Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives tips on how to build a library of photos. I put this one in my favorites.

3.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives 18 Speaking Tips to Rivet Your Audience. Whether you're an author/speaker, teacher, or trainer, you'll find something useful in this post.

4.  Many of us grew up reading the Little House books and watching the TV program. Mary, the oldest Ingalls girl, went blind, supposedly from Scarlet Fever. A researcher has studied the subject and came to the conclusion that was not the real reason. Check out the article here.

5.  Writers and readers are always looking for ways to save time, so they can get in more writing and reading, of course. Check out this post from The Happier Homemaker. She tells you how to clean your entire house in one hour.

Writers:  Do you take photos for your blog? What kind of camera works best for you?

Readers:  Did you read the Little House books as a child? What did you think of the article on how Mary went blind?

Photo Credit:  Andrey Volodov

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

On My Nightstand - Voice of Truth by Dana Pratola

Sophia Gallo, practically tone deaf all her life, one day discovers she can sing. Not only can she sing, but her gift rockets her to the top of the entertainment industry. She has everything she could possibly want except love and a personal life away from work.

Cade Fioretti, famed biographer, sets his sights on this extraordinary talent and wants the real scoop. What makes her tick? Can he get to know the real Sophia Gallo instead of the public personna?

Dana Pratola, another new-to-me author, came up with an intriguing story. There's a strong Christian thread woven into this romance, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish she hadn't revealed back story so early. It slowed the action for me and took the edge off the suspense. Still, I'll be searching for more of her books.

I'm giving Voice of Truth a thumbs up - 4 Stars. Way to go, Dana!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a review or paid me. All opinions, as always, are mine alone.

Writers:  How do you come up with story ideas?

Readers:  Do you like a bit of mystery/suspense in your romance reading? Please share.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bits and Pieces - Pulling It All Together

While I'm a Seat-of-the-Pants Writer, I'm always thinking ahead. The first book of The Moses Trilogy, The Moses Conspiracy, and my current work-in-progress were hard to write because:

1.  I didn't know my characters yet. They showed up, and the relationship had to develop. As they interacted with each other, I saw where the story could take a surprising turn or what conflict would ramp up the suspense.

2.  Subplots took on a life of their own and threatened to take over the main story. Integrating them so they made sense challenged my imagination and sent me to my prayer closet on a daily basis.

3.  Tantalizing ideas reminded me of going on a road trip. "Ooo, why don't we stop here and explore that historic mansion." I had to remain focused on where I wanted the story to end.

One of the things I learned through this process involved keeping an eye on each character. The seemingly insignificant cast member could be the star of my next book. Each one had a story to share, and it was up to me to ferret it out.

Yes, writing a novel can be all-consuming. Editing one...that's a story for another day.

Writers:  Whether you're a plotter or a SOTP writer like me, how do you keep track of your storylines and get them to fit together?

Readers:  Do you like series books? Do you get attached to the characters and want the stories to go on forever?

Photo Credit:  Bartek Ambrozik

Friday, March 4, 2016

Alzheimers/Amazon/Denmark/Jerry B. Jenkins/Weak Words

1. Jeanette Levellie, at Hope Splashes, talks about ways to avoid Alzheimer's and Dementia. It's no surprise that reading can provide some much-needed mental exercise.

2. There's been a lot of panic about Amazon's new rules for ebooks. John Dopp has clarified the rules, and it's not all that scary. Your book will not be pulled off the market or get a warning for an occasional typo that slips through. Get the real scoop.

3. A lot of people are touting Socialism as the way to go. Denmark is a prime example of a Socialist country. One of their citizens gives us the real story on what it's like to live under that system.

4.  Positive Writer interviewed Jerry B. Jenkins recently. He talks about his writing journey and how he still deals with insecurities.

5.  The Blogging Bistro talks about 11 Weak Words That Dilute Your Blog Posts' Impact.

Writers:  What are some weak words that trip you up?

Readers:  Do you agree that reading is good mental exercise? Please explain.

Photo Credit: John Pilge

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

On My Nightstand - An Insignificant Life by Connie Almony

Tiffany's life as a Resident Assistant on a college campus puts her in direct contact with a wild lifestyle of sex and drugs. Her world is turned upside down when she discovers she's pregnant and faces the choice to have the baby or abort it.

Adam works with the Campus Police along with his dog, Daisy. He rescues Tiffany from a lecherous guy and thinks his job is done.

Their work keeps throwing them together, and each one struggles with secrets from their past. Can they resolve their differences or will their budding relationship come to a screeching halt?

Connie Almony is another new-to-me author. When I first started this book, I wasn't sure I'd be able to stick with it. I'm glad I did. While there's a strong spiritual thread, it definitely qualifies as "edgy," dealing with real-life issues in today's world.

The book is well written and kept me turning pages once I settled into the story. She told the story, managing the mystery and suspense with a skillful hand. Unlike some books, I didn't figure out the whodunit part until she was ready to reveal it.

I've already bought another one of this author's books. I'd give this one 4 1/2 Stars.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher requested this review. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered writing articles or books dealing with controversial subjects? Please share.

Readers:  Does "edgy" fiction turn you off or are you a fan? Please share your thoughts.