Monday, March 20, 2017

And The Winners Are....

Reader’s Views Awards

If You Were Me and Lived in… the American West by Carole P. Roman
2nd Place

Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Julie A. Gerber and Carole P. Roman
1st Place

Being a Captain is Hard Work by Carole P. Roman
2nd Place

Navigating Indieworld: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing Your Book by Julie A. Gerber and Carole P. Roman
The Book By Book Pub Award for Best Writing/Publishing Book

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Favorite Springtime Picks

Springtime gives us time to dust off the pile of books from the winter and spend time catching up on our reading. After all, can you think of a better way to do your spring cleaning?

Butterflies are always a good read

Ben Jackson

Charming, colorful, and sweet, If I Was a Caterpillar starts his journey doing exactly what a caterpillar should be doing, climbing trees, eating leaves, and traveling the world. Then his imagination takes off and so does his ambition. Now, caterpillar wants to do the things like wear a multitude of shoes or dance before the Queen, take tea with royalty, ice-skate and finally end all his activities in a toasty cocoon for a long nap, where he can fulfill his destiny as a beautiful butterfly.This is an adorable book about enjoying life and not be afraid of trying new things.

Spring Fever

I never read YA. I didn't even know it existed until I joined Google plus. I love historical fiction and buy almost everything I can get my hands on. I purchase, not by review, but by cover art. The cover interested me, and it wasn't until I read the first paragraph that I realized this was written for YA. What a great book!

Anderson captures your attention from the first page and weaves a gripping story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. She highlights characters from all walks of life, a grandfather, an African American, rich, middle class, poor. Captivating the sights and smells of the times, she weaves an engrossing tale of what life was like in colonial times. Building tension, she creates an atmosphere of fear and then hopelessness of the epidemic. A realistic read, it is timeless and should be required reading for any teen.

She deserved the award she received!

Starts in the spring of his life

A Gentleman in Moscow A Novel  Amos Towles

Elegant and refined, this book was a beautiful read. Count Alexander Rostov is put in house arrest to live his life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. The Count takes his sentence with the same savoir-faire that he lives his life. He continues interacting with the many denizens of the hotel, finding pleasure in new things, accepting his reduced circumstances with curious resignation. He is charming, never judgmental, and discovers a microscopic world to fill his time. As time goes on, he's role changes and he becomes an integral part of the hotel and the people surrounding it. The Count begins as a butterfly observing life with humorous detachment growing to become a fully invested worker bee, contributing and ultimately changing the lives of those around him. This was a beautiful book about acceptance and embracing what we are dealt in life then finding ways to make it work. I am a fan. Amor Towles writes with great humor and with a beauty I have never seen. Reading his book was as satisfying as a great meal and left me floating as if I'd danced a Viennese waltz. He made me part of his world and that's a great feat.

There's nothing like a good quiche in the Springtime

"Cosmopolitan! Pedigreed! Privileged!" cries Augusta as her rival arrives. "Vamp! Temptress! Femme Fatale!" Observes Lindsay. Little does small town native Augusta know, she's been judged and condemned by a writer from Boston named Lindsay. Lines are drawn and the competition is on.
Wickedly sharp, bitingly sarcastic, Eva Pasco creates an unforgettable novel about life in a small town. Charming Beauchemins, Rhode Island is stuck in a time warp. The same families have lived there for years. Secrets lurk in the shadows, and Pasco slowly reveals them with cleverly written prose. Addicting as the delicious quiche she describes, Pasco's writing is a treat to be savored and enjoyed. I will be back for a second helping.

Easy Spring reading

What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty

I should know better not to pick up a Liane Moriarty book so late in the day because here I am at 12 AM wired from reading at breakneck speed. What Alice Forgot is like being on a speeding train, you are careening on a twisty, windy track, not knowing exactly where she is going. The ride is awesome! Alice is a 39-year-old stay at home mom, who has hit her head and lost ten years of her life. With brilliant precision, Moriarty unveils Alice's life slowly in a seductive dance, so the reader thinks they know exactly what happened, but realizes they have no idea. Everything is broken in her life, her marriage, each relationship is strained with no explanation to the woman who can only remember life before happiness dissolved into bitterness. This book was profound, one that we have to think about.
Just today, my family and I happened to watch fifteen-year-old videos, and we stared slack-jawed with shock, wondering where the fresh-faced, happy, and hopeful people in the videos went. Illness, work, disappointment, worry change the landscape of our lives in an insidious, devious way, leaving us to wonder what happened to our lives, while we were living it? Great book, a keeper.

Spring is time travel in history

Terrific and comprehensive book describing every aspect of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer leaves no stone unturned, discussing every aspect of life, from one's diet, to transportation, clothing, jobs- you name it. Jam packed with interesting information, the reader takes away the sights and smells of living in the 16th century. Each chapter is filled with little gems, nuggets to keep the reader interested and compelled to learn more. I came out of this book learning that the Elizabethan age was a turning point, where new discoveries and knowledge gave the world a nudge to grow into the modern age. Mortimer states "It is often said of Shakespeare that he is "not of an age but for all time"- a line originally penned by Ben Johnston. But Shakespeare is of an age-Elizabethan England. It makes him. It gives him a stage, a language, and an audience. If Shakespeare is "for all time," then so too is Elizabethan England."

Spring in the prairie

This is My Words  Nancy Turner

This book unfolds as time passes and grows with the writer as she blossoms from an uneducated teenager to a self-taught woman. It is the story of a family who crossed America to settle in Arizona and fight hostile natives, bandits, and the adversarial weather. There are births and deaths, sickness, marriages and heartache, happiness and most of all, the day to day changes that represents life. It is so well written, you fall in love with the characters as they grow and change over time. The hardships Sarah and her family suffer as they navigate their harrowing trip across the plains is heartbreaking as well was horrific. Written in diary form, it has a rare intimacy, as though you are reading about a neighbor, or relative and I felt strangely connected, invested in the outcome of their story. Sarah matures and changes as life throws her constant curve balls. Throughout the whole book, is the simmering love story between Sarah and Captain Eliot, the brave leader of her wagon train, who relentlessly courts her. We share the joys and tragedies that are the stuff of real life; and while this ends up being a tender romance, the realities of life do intrude reminding us it is a recounting of a real life, though fictionalized. Well written, with rich characters, this is a great read to be savored.

Spring Cleaning

Open House  Elizabeth Berg

This is my favorite of all Elizabeth Berg's books. It was the first one I read, and made me a huge fan. Berg captures the angst of the everyday woman, caught up in living life, that she misses the messages all around her. Stunned with the betrayal of her husband, she is reeling with insecurity. Her life ripped out from under her, she must mend her heart, and learn to trust not only other people, but herself as well. A moving book, you will laugh and cry and finally cheer right along side of Sam as she grows before your eyes.

Birds and the Bees

"The Death of Bees" by Lisa O'Donnell is a chilling tale of a drug-fueled dysfunctional family. Narrated by three characters, it begins with two orphans hiding a terrible secret in their yard. Fending unsuccessfully for themselves, they find love and protection in the most unlikely places. In this upside down world, parents are the villains and drug dealers and sex offenders turn out to be heroes. While I wasn't surprised by the ending, it was touching. What did bother me was the indifferent way the teens handled sex abuse as well as murder. Each child hid secrets to protect the other and in this warped world, every safe haven appeared to have poison deep within.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Interview: Meet Rohvannyn Shaw

1- You have a wide variety of books, what genres do you write?

So far, I've written fantasy, light horror, non fiction, historical fiction, hard sci fi, and a how to book. I write sci fi, non fiction, and fantasy most often. 

2- You illustrate as well, which books have you illustrated and how did your drawing impact the book?

I illustrated my fantasy novel, The Dice of Fate.  I also illustrated a novella called From a Summer Sky by Glynda Shaw, a holiday anthology, a childrens' book, and a few magazine articles.  I find that when I make an illustration for a book I have a much clearer idea of the world the book happens in.  It helps my writing be more consistent and more detailed as well.  For that reason, I think The Dice of Fate is a better story than it would have been, had it not been illustrated.

3- Which is your favorite character and why?

At the moment I really like Tom, a character from my recent novel "Rageth."  I like him because though he looks like a tall, pale skinned, heavily tattooed metalhead, and in fact he is the lead singer for a death metal band, he really has a good heart and a truly gentle spirit.  He's one of the more complex characters I've written about.

4- What, if any books are pulled from your life experiences?

There's a little of me in everything I write.  My main characters often know things that I have learned, or share some traits I have.  They are never pure "Mary Sues" because they have faults and foibles all their own, but they are like me in many ways.  I will sometimes use things that have happened to me and put them in my books.  For instance, in "Rageth," the main character does the job I do and some real life situations she encounters also happened to me.  

5- Who are your favorite authors?

I really enjoy Tom Clancy, Robert Heinlein, John Dalmas, Diane Duane, L. Neill Smith, S. M. Stirling, and C.B. Archer.

6- What books impacted your life the most?

Anything that taught me something about myself.  Biographies actually impacted me the most, I think, because I learned to admire some of the people I read about.  That helped shape who I was as a person.  In particular, the lives of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart were very inspiring, as well as Winston Churchill.

7- It appears some of your books are humorous- which are harder to write, humor or drama?

Depends on my mood, actually.  When I'm in a dramatic mood, comedy is hard, and when I'm in a humorous mood, drama is hard.  These days I'm in a dramatic mood more commonly than comedic.

8- What is the hardest part of publishing?

Making sure the book is edited properly.  It's so easy to miss errors, even when I am working with an editrix.  They just creep in around the edges!  Still, my editrix is a life saver and I'd recommend her to anyone.

9- Where do you see yourself in five years?

I intend to have many more books on the shelves, a blog that has many more viewers and is much more popular, and I want to have at least one complete series out.  I want to balance my own work with helping and promoting other indie authors and artists.  That's something I'm very passionate about.  In five  years, I'd like to have enough royalties that I can count on them as a portion of my income.

10- What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a final edit of my humorous horror story "Rageth," a rough edit of a fantasy novel called "Silverwings," and I'm in the planning stages for a military sci fi series.

Buy the books here:

Follow her here:
Twitter:  @Rohvannyn

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Interview with Amy J Hamilton

1-      Explain how you use humor in your books.
The humour really just happens. I’m probably taking experience from stage work I’ve done in the past and scripts I wrote while I was at school. I never sit down and plan something to be funny and I don’t think I’m particularly hilarious, I just end up reading something back and thinking “that’s quite amusing.” The humour tempers the dark aspects of some of the subjects I write, but is a natural entity. Life is not just one thing or another, it’s a mixture of light and dark, funny and sad, love and hate. There are people with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever, but the majority of people I have met over the years have the ability to say something that will amuse at least one other person. So much of the humour in what I write comes from the characters and dialogue rather than the narrative, just because that’s been my experience. I never intend it to happen it just turns up.
2-      You said that Modified started out as a story in a mundane office and then you moved it into space, can you explain why.
Sheer terror. I am constantly looking at ways to reduce my stress levels. I had tried to write the story set in London and on our moon. A couple of weeks before I published I realised I barely had a grip on reality anymore and was terrified that someone would point their finger at my fictitious version or London or some piece of technology that I’d made up and take joy in pointing out that what I’d written was ridiculous. A lot of it is ridiculous, but that’s the point, it fires the imagination. Throwing the whole story onto a made up world just took away the stress of potentially dealing with people who think everything set on our world should be absolutely true to what we know about our universe. It’s my world, I created it, therefore my rules apply.
3-      What are the challenges of being an indie and juggling your regular life?
Finding time. I read so much about how authors write until 4am or get up hours earlier than everyone else. I can’t do that because one of the symptoms of my hypermobility syndrome is fatigue. I need to sleep. I have a family and I run a small part time business, there are a few hours of the day, usually in the morning when I’m awake enough to get things done. Being an indie is hard work. It’s not just about writing the book. If you haven’t got the money, you’ve also got to edit the book yourself, format it, create the cover and do the promotion. It’s a huge amount of work. Another challenge is dealing with self-doubt. It’s there and I deal with it some days better than others. Modified should be available as a paperback by now, but my head is full of too many “what if’s” and not enough “oh for crying out loud woman, just do it’s.”
4-      What life experiences have helped prepare you for being an indie?
I’ve run my own business for the past 16 years. It’s a people based business. I’ve spoken to and advised hundreds of people in that time. That form of communication, along with previous blogging experience and work I’ve done with online forums has helped hone an ability to get a story across in what I hope is an engaging way. It was gratifying years ago to read that my blog was the first thing someone would read when they got to the office in the morning. It gave me confidence. I have had a few knock backs in life, whether it was the abuse growing up or not quite being good enough to get into drama college when I was a teenager. These things have helped me remain more of a realist. I am not expecting to win awards or make a fortune or be remembered in 200 years for anything I write. All I want is to write things people think are fun to read and vaguely enjoyable.
5-      Where do you see yourself in five years?
Writing full time and better. Better at writing, better at editing, better at covers, better at promotion. Or, better than that-better at writing and affluent enough to pay people better than me to do everything else.

6- What would you tell your 21 year old self?
When you meet the guy you’re married to now and you’re looking to buy a house-MOVE AWAY! Go far and do not be tied to the abuse you grew up in. Escape. I really should have done that.
7- If you child tells you they want to become a writer, what advice would you give?
They both already write. I believe they have both published online. I won’t pry because I won’t do to them what my mother did to me. I would tell them to read widely and keep writing and if they haven’t produced it in bottles you can buy in the shops yet-learn patience.

Follow Amy Below:

Navigating Indie World

If You Were Me and Lived in the...Ancient Mali Empire.