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An Irish Country Family ~~ Book Review

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing          5 out of 5 quills 

 

Every time I begin the newest (#14) in this series it is like returning home to my village. BallyBucklebo, (the village), is a character unto itself.  This particular story goes back and forth between the current year (1969) in the village and when Barry Laverty is still in residency at a local hospital. (1964-5). So half the book is before Barry ever met the patriarch and senior country physician, Final Flahertie O’Reilly or was offered a position in his practice. 

A rich series that spans decades in the ‘wee village’ of Ballybucklebo, Ulster County, Ireland. Seldom will readers find characters more deeply drawn. Beginning with An Irish Country Doctor (2007), each book follows the characters’ stories.  The author, Patrick Taylor, has an opulent flavor to his writing which is brilliant. The reader can smell the salty brine of the nearby Lough, the whisky and stale smoke in the Mucky Duck (pub). See the golden crust of Kinky’s latest offering for lunch. Feel Barry and Sue’s personal pain. I particularly enjoyed the accurate weaving of medical history throughout the story. 

This writer intertwines his characters’ stories with a precise ebb and flow. Each book makes the reader wish for more.

Did you miss my Interview with Patrick Taylor 
Book Available for Sale ~ November 12th
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How to Create Tantalizing Book Covers

Intriguing cover. I see a young man and an old lady. Something tells me they are not related. The woman is blind. (see cane) Right away when I saw this cover I knew that they were unlikely friends. BTW, it turns out this is the best book I’ve ever read!

Nine Tips on Creating your Book Cover when self-publishing. There are dozens of platforms to create a book cover. Most publishing platforms have a ‘cover creator’ that you can easily use. This post is not about building a book cover. These tips are about  content. Images and titles that attract your reader. Making them want to pick up your book.  The ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ by example.

  1. A book cover is the very first thing a book buyer is going to be attracted to whether it’s in a book store browsing the shelves or surfing the digital pages on the web. It is the first and most important step in marketing your book. 
  2. Your cover should tantalize, intrigue, and compel the buyer to pick up the book or stop scrolling (on the Internet) and delve into your book.
  3. Your cover image should not be obscure. It should represent what’s inside. But just a tease.
  4. Park your ego at the door. Don’t be artsy, egotistical, or have a “I’m the author” moment when designing your book cover. Step back and try to objectively visualize what a reader might be attracted to. Represent your story with the cover image.
  5. There is a fine line between being clever and being stupid about the design for your book. 
  6. The artwork (find yourself a good graphic designer) should be as good as you can afford. The title should be in the largest font. A tag line is nice on the front cover and absolutely mandatory on the back. The author’s name is the least important.  Yep, that’s what I said. Unless you are Nora Roberts or Stephen King with enormous name-recognition, your name should take up the least amount of space. 
  7. The artwork (images) should tease; suggest what the story line is; make the buyer curious about the story inside.
  8. The image should suggest but not be specific; leave something for the reader’s imagination.
  9. Here are some samples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ covers in this blogger/reviewer’s opinion: 



    Say Goodbye For Now
    . Looking closely, it appears to be a younger Caucasian boy and an African-American boy. The dog looks like a Shepard/husky mix or a hybrid wolf. The cover is tantalizing; are the boys friends? how does the dog fit in? Who is going to say goodby? I give this a strong  

     

     

    The Orchid Sister. Too artsy and too dark in tone. The font is hard to read. The Cover doesn’t say anything except that there is a sister.  The vibe I get from this cover is it is probably about the occult. Which it was not. Poor decisions all around.
    I give it a                                  

     

    The Oysterville Sewing Circle. This cover is too obscure. It’s a deeply rich story but the cover short-changes it and  implies that it involves a bunch of women in a sewing circle which it is not.
                                                                                             Have to give it a

     

    Dance of Murder. I give my graphic designer (David White) all the credit for this one. So I can use it as an example. Over the years, I have developed such a relationship with him that I can give him a synopsis of the story and what I envision and let him loose. This is what I got.  I’m going to rank it as I had little to do with the creative side of things. This cover tells the buyer/reader that the story is about strippers who are murdered. The neon color of ‘Dance’  emphasizes that the story is around a strip club. The art work teases just enough to intrigue. It gets a

     

    It’s Getting Scot in Here. I’m of the school that you should never show specific faces of the characters on the cover. The reader wants to have their own idea of what the characters look like, especially the heroine and hero. Why a gazebo on the cover? They were in one for a total of 3 seconds in over 300 pages of this book. While I was caught up in this fine story, my imagined lovers looked nothing like the people on the cover.
                                                                                                                                  This is a sample of what not to do:

    My Own True Duchess. This is what you should do. This cover represents exactly what the story is. A period romance. The reader can barely see what the lovers look like and leaves it to the imagination.  I give it a

      

     Blue Hollow Falls. I prefer that authors leave me to imagine what my favorite characters look like. This cover tells me that there is a single woman, probably in conflict. She appears to be discovering this conservatory or greenhouse for the first time. Her dress and the wild flowers tell me the season. I’m curious.  I give this a


    The Colonel and The Bee
    . This cover teeters between being too obscure or being just about perfect. The story is wonderful with fine writing. But the cover doesn’t tantalize like the story deserves so I have to give it a Only until after I read this fantastic story did I understand the cover. That’s a bad thing. I had never heard of the author. Something about the title made me purchase this book. But nothing about the image attracted me.

     

     

    SEE ALSO PROOF. This is one of the worst covers I’ve seen in a while.  The Title makes no sense and doesn’t present even a clue as to the story. I read the book so I can say the 5×7 note card has no relevance. And I dislike a plug for another book on the front.  Too bad because I really like what this author offers. The tag line, while a little long, is acceptable. But a very poor cover over all.                              

     I give it a

     

     

    Women Outside the Walls. Yep, this is mine. But it’s a good example of what you want your cover to achieve.  The three women speak of how different they are in social status and education. There’s rebellion and grief in their expressions. The title makes the reader wonder; are they outside prison walls? Probably. But how did they get there?  Again, the value of a graphic artist.  I give it a

    I want to emphasize how important the cover is. If you can, invest in a good graphic artist. My experience has been to give them some room to create. The front cover should be simple as far as text:  title, author’s name, a tag line. The back cover is where you put the synopsis, some reviews, another tag line (if you want) and a short bio of the author with a small photo. 
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    MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
     
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Review~~Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing4 out of 5 quills     Book Review

Sold on a Monday is riveting. Based on true events during the great depression; the selling of children was all too common. A last resort by mothers who could no longer feed their own children. The writing is very good and the book is a page turner for sure. 

The story begins when the oh-so-flawed hero and cub reporter discovers a sign outside a clapboard shack; KIDS FOR SALE. (Similar to this one below, caught and reported in an actual newspaper of the time.)  His intentions are true when he snaps a photo and returns to his office in the hopes that his story and photo will be published. When the photo is accidently destroyed he stages a new photo with the same sign but different children. (Not for sale.) Leading to his big break but with devastating consequences.

This story touched a very personal chord with this reviewer. I learned, very late in life, that before I was born my own mother had ‘farmed out’ my older sister and brother. (Not once but several times.) Sending them to strangers to work as indentured workers.   I had begun to write a loving and warm memoir (Wild Violets). The story plot was based upon my mother in her younger, entrepreneurial years when she was a bar owner in San Francisco (1920’s). Shortly after, I learned about the ‘farming out’ of my brother and sister.  If I was going to be true to myself as a writer, I had to write about this side of my own mother. Her motives were much more selfish. She was doing well and could feed her kids. But they were frequently in the way of her life style. Working hard, playing hard and many men.

After reading Sold on a Monday I have wondered if my mother’s circumstances had been slightly different would she have sold my siblings outright. A terrible thought.

I know my readers will enjoy this story and I highly recommend it. 

Did you catch my interview with Kristina McMorris?

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Dust Off that Play and do Some Rewrites…

Don’t be shy about looking at something you wrote a few years ago and rewriting and revising it. Most reputable publishing platforms will allow you to change the interior files and upload a revised, improved edition. I reviewed this children’s play of mine and in doing so found some editing and new writing. 

It’s October, Halloween is right around the corner. So I hauled out a play script that I wrote in 2013. Wow!  Did it need work. So I edited, did some extensive rewrites, gave it a new, more contemporary cover and then re-published. 

Synopsis: A young family rents a deserted lighthouse so that their critically ill daughter can enjoy the sea breezes and beautiful countryside. Little do they know that, for centuries, the lighthouse has been the home and is in the ‘possession’ of four outrageous spirits.  
 
Ben, an eight year old boy, has no trouble whatsoever making friends with two of the spirits, Baubles and Chaos.  The story climaxes as Claire, ill with cancer, slowly fades toward death. Baubles and Chaos have no intention of letting that happen! 

Available now!

 
While this play has it’s serious moments, for the most part, it is a comedy and makes for great fun as the spirits romp around the stage. The adults can neither see nor hear Chaos and Baubles as they converse and play with the children and terrorize a ‘Man of the Cloth’! All in innocent fun, of course!  4f. 4m. 2 children

If you’re an aspiring playwright you might want to take a look at >>>>>>>>>>>>>

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Available now!

We’ve Lost One of the Great Writers

Dorothea Benton Frank

TS.  By now fans around the world have heard about Dorothea Benton Frank’s passing earlier this month. A rare blood cancer swiftly took her life at age 67. When I interviewed Dorothy Benton Frank back in 2015 it was a large feather in my cap as I had been a fan for decades. I found her warm and friendly, much like her stories. As a tribute to this wonderful story teller, I have resurrected that interview so that we might once again enjoy her humor and inspiration. You and your stories will be sorely missed, Dorothea.

The interview

dottie.lowcountry.5

in her office

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

A. I write in my office in my home in NJ or in my office in my home in SC. My dream work space would be to occupy my little office in SC full time. This cruelty of this past winter’s plummeting temps, deep snow and black ice has cured me of any desire I may have had to remain in NJ. It’s not that I have anything against NJ. I have had many wonderful years here. It’s that I’m trapped indoors for months. But check back with me in a few years when I finally do reside in SC and hurricanes have me screaming for higher ground. Is anyone ever completely happy?

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

New Release 2019

A. Water. Solitude. My work space is neat and tidy in chapter one. By the end of a book it looks like someone dropped a bomb on my desk. Usually I dress for work the same way you would if you reported for work in a very casual corporate environment.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

A. The nuns who taught me in high school told my parents I wasn’t “college material.” Nice, right? In 1970, parents believed teachers, especially clergy, as though their words were spoken Ex Cathedra.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative? 

Click here for more

The book that started it all….stories about the low country>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review~~Allie and Bea

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 5 out of five quills      A Review

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde is breathtakingly beautiful. Once again the author takes two unlikely characters and puts them together in such a way that the reader doesn’t question how or why it happened. It becomes believable and a delightful read. 

I could especially relate to Bea. Senior citizens are mostly only a social security check away from destitution. One little thing can tip the scales. And since I avoid writing spoilers, at all costs, that’s all I’m going to say. 

The story is crafted by this author, word by word. It had everything for this reviewer. Struggle, pathos, heartbreak, friendship, love, and a surprise ending.
My favorite book in the world is Hyde’s Have You Seen Luis Velez? but Allie and Bea runs a very close second. I loved this story!
A must read!

Did you see my Interview with CRH?
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs  September: Alan Foster (sci-fi) and October: Kristina McMorris
 
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Book Review ~ Oysterville Sewing Circle

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   5 out of 5 quills ~~ A Book Review 

Domestic violence is when a husband or boyfriend physically abuses a mate and only in the privacy of their home. Right? Wrong. Who would have thought that the bigger than life, extraordinarily beautiful models strutting down the runway, would be hiding a dirty little secret? And had the bruises to show for it? You don’t imagine their life filled with anything but exotic locations, Krystal Champaign, fancy yachts and handsome escorts.

In Susan Wiggs’ newest novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, she explores the fashion industry and the mental and physical abuse that regularly occurs there. But, oddly, this is not a dark story. It’s filled with love and hope and two of the most adorable children you could ever hope for. 

The characters are well drawn. The reader is rooting for Caroline and the two orphans from page one. Sewn into the fabric of the tale is a wonderful love story. And redemption for the survivors of domestic abuse. 

As my readers know, I don’t write spoilers in my reviews.  For me it’s all about the story and the writing. Susan Wiggs never disappoints. Her latest offering is filled with surprises, twists and turns. I highly recommend this book. 

Did you catch my Interview with Susan?

For more information about domestic violence:
#MeToo
www.thehotline.org
1-800-799-SAFE
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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Interview with Best Selling author, Susan Wiggs

TS. Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather, she commutes to her writers’ group in a 21-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR, and has given programs for the US Embassies in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. She is a popular speaker locally, nationally, internationally, and on the high seas.

The author is a middle child, a library enthusiast, a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, where she divides her time between sleeping and waking.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

SW. I write all over the place and always have. On the patio, on the sofa, on the ferry, on planes and boats…pretty much everywhere. I write when I travel. A good portion of The Oysterville Sewing Circle was written during storm season in Ilwaco, WA, close to the historic town of Oysterville. I learned early on that I can write anywhere. For me, the place is not as important as a good span of time to focus.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

SW. Oh, where do I begin? Clairefontaine grid-ruled notebook—check. Sheaffer fine point fountain pen with peacock blue ink—check. Mariage Freres French blue Earl Grey tea—check. Lenny (spirit animal)—check. After my first handwritten draft, I read the copy into WordPerfect. then edit on screen. And then print off that draft and edit by hand. It’s a messy process, but I’ve been at it for 30+ years and it seems to be working. The actual writing never gets easier, though. Every book is its own unique challenge.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

SW. I’m left-handed, a middle child, I speak French, I have several art pieces by Dr. Seuss, and I’m working on an unauthorized screenplay about his life.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

SW. I try to do the “heavy lifting” (composition, revision) first thing in the morning before the internet wakes up to distract me.
Emerging writers often lament that they don’t have time to write. I’m not having it. You make time for what’s important to you. There was a time when I was a full-time teacher with a small child, a house, dogs, etc. And yet I still wrote 2 books per year. My writing session began at 9pm after a full day. I’m grateful that I don’t need to do that these days, but the point is, it can be done. It’s all in the motivation.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

SW. Do as I say, not as I do! Minimize distractions and set realistic goals for the day. Decide you’ll write a scene, or a minimum number of pages (3 or more is good). Try not to get lost in your own process, “plotting it out” should not take six months.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

SW. It varies from book to book. In The Oysterville Sewing Circle I discovered Caroline in bed next to me. My husband Jerry is an apparel designer, and I wanted to write about his world. The story took a dark turn, however, as I interviewed women in the industry who dealt with workplace harassment and worse. Their stories fueled one of the most heartfelt novels I’ve written—the explosive issues around domestic violence and the drama and healing that can result when women come together.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Part 2 of my interview with Susan ~~ August 23rd.
Book Review for The Oysterville Sewing Circle ~ click here

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (Sci-fi)
 
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NEW Journal…How To Write a Play

My newest Journal created for aspiring and established PLAYWRIGHTS has just been published and can be found in your favorite bookstore. 

245+ lined, blank pages for your writing PLUS Sections with instructions on ‘how to‘. 

Section 1……How to Begin… 
Section 2……How to Write a Play… 
Section 3……Creating Rich Characters…
Section 4……Story Telling 
Section 5…… How to Block… 
Section 6…… Snappy Dialogue… 
Section 7…… Set Design… 
Section 8…… Formatting your Play… 
Section 9…… Terminology..

To Purchase 

Other custom journals for your journaling pleasure: 

 

 

 

 

How to Create a Tantalizing Book Cover 

 

Writing Tips: Prequels and Sequels

fairies, books for children, literacy, reading, bullying, bullies, elves,

Recently I’ve returned to the Fabled Forest  writing a new book for the series of children’s books.   
Emma and the Aardvarks will address endangered species when two sisters, aardvarks, arrive unexpectedly in the Forest. Just when I think a series has run its course another book pops into my head. 

I write fables (not fairy tales) with a lesson in every story. Subjects like bullying, running away, being different, ecology and so on. 

For you new writers:  A sequel, of course, is a new story that continues (almost) where you left off in the last one. It has reoccurring characters and the scene is usually the same as in my forest. 

A prequel is a story of what happened before your current book.  For example: I might write a story about Emma’s life before she entered the fabled forest and met all her mystical friends.

Is there a prequel or sequel to a story you have written? I’ll bet there is. This idea is very popular with readers. If they like a story, they want more of the same.

GIVE IT TO THEM! 

 

Cinderella's stepsister stumbles into the Fabled Forest clearing

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
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