Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

August 25, 2020

This is my 250th Blog Post!

Can Writers Authentically Write About Cultures Other Than Their Own Cultures?

Are Editors Responding to Submissions During Coronavirus?


It’s my 250th Blogiversary! Help me celebrate . . . do you want to win a great book?

I began blogging the year my first book was published . . . that was 2014. I started out sporadically at first and then began blogging twice per month, finally making the leap to (nearly) weekly blogging in 2017.  And then in 2018, I added the popular Writers’ Forum collection of monthly articles about writing craft, industry news, and book marketing.

To help me celebrate my 250th post – I want to give away some ebooks!!

1. For a chance to win, I’m asking... Continue Reading

August 20, 2020

I had been looking forward to reading Liza Wiemer’s The Assignment as soon as I heard a description. Based on a true story, Wiemer’s novel follows two teens who refuse to do an antisemitic assignment given in history class—one in which they’re expected to argue FOR the Nazi Final Solution and the murder of millions of Jewish people. Wiemer deftly handles this tough topic, creating two main characters, Cade and Logan, who are both fun and funny, witty and endearing, and just regular teens with regular teen problems on top of the huge challenge at the center of the novel. You’ll sink into the story as if you’re eavesdropping on their conversations. Wiemer’s dialogue writing is just that good! Standing up for the right thing should be easy, but somehow it never is—and the finely crafted... Continue Reading

August 15, 2020

I like a good story and I’m not picky if I read it, listen to it, or watch it on the big or small screen. While the big screen is a little difficult during a pandemic, the small screen certainly hasn’t been. I’ve admitted my TV addiction in a previous post, and if it’s even possible, I’ve been watching even more television since the pandemic hit in mid-March. 

I began with a complete rewatch of all seven seasons of True Blood based on the novels by Charlaine Harris. (In my defense, I did read the novels first.) But I really should have quit watching after season 4 or 5—seriously! Here’s the quick one-line description: “In a time when vampires... Continue Reading

August 7, 2020

Good query letter writing seems like a mysterious process, but its necessity to landing an agent or editor makes for a pressure-filled, intimidating task.

But it needn't be! 

In truth, writing a query letter is rather formulaic. I’ve split the process into ten manageable steps, so you can create a letter that will stand out from all the others flooding agents' and editors' email inboxes on a daily basis. 


Has it been edited? Multiple times? Have you used beta readers to give you feedback? (No, your cousins and aunt and grandma do not count—unless they are no-nonsense readers who aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings.) Are you sure it’s as good as it can be? Ignoring the self-doubt that we as writers seem to... Continue Reading

July 28, 2020

Irregardless is NOT a Word!

How Do Publishers Decide Which Books to Bet On?

What I’ve Learned About Presenting Online Writing Workshops.

Is Copyright Broken? The Indie Authors Guide to Managing Piracy and Plagiarism.



Irregardless is Not a Word!

I don’t know about you, but I was deeply annoyed by the inclusion of the NON-word irregardless in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. If you agree with me, you might enjoy this 1-minute discussion on the topic on NPR.

How do Publishers Decide Which Books to Bet On?

Nearly every author has pondered this question at one point... Continue Reading

July 20, 2020

During the spring of our discontent, which has turned into the summer of our discontent, the bad news for writers is many conferences have been canceled. But the good news is that many conferences have moved online. I attended the 2020 Writing Workshop of Chicago in June. While I missed engaging in-person with writers and agents, the event was a success. For me, it was efficient and enlightening, largely due to the expertise of the event facilitator, who is a combination of writing guru, tech-genius, and email wizard. Brian Klems, I lift a glass of bubbly in honor of your wonderful work during this three-day event. 

The sessions were both... Continue Reading

June 30, 2020

My seven favorite books from the past four months range from early middle grade to young adult and on to adult genres like suspense/thriller, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and contemporary fiction. I read a lot of books, but I don't review or recommend all of them. These seven definitely went above and beyond with their stories!


I can’t say enough great things about this story and this character. Meena’s a third grader with quirky traits that make her instantly likeable, but Meena also has some challenges. In the first book she is diagnosed with epilepsy and, now, in book two she continues to deal with her diagnosis in a very real and honest way that will appeal to readers of all ages. But these stories aren’t all about... Continue Reading

June 23, 2020

June is Audiobook Appreciation Month

Audiobook Production Resources

Podcasts to Support Your Writing 



5 Reasons to Turn Your Book into an Audiobook

Derek Doepker guest posts on the Build Book Buzz website with these 5 reasons to jump into the audiobook market. The main one is tapping an additional revenue or royalty source! But many authors think that audiobook production is expensive. In truth, it CAN be, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn how I produced my audiobooks on a budget in the podcast I link below.

The Writescast Network: My Podcast Episode on Audiobook Production

With June... Continue Reading

June 11, 2020

Barbara Britton brings us another set of dynamic characters in a unique setting with a page-turning plot in Until June. The story is set in 1918 in Alaska, and even in this remote area there’s worry about the Spanish Influenza epidemic sweeping the world. Geoff an upper-class young man returns home from the war as a double amputee. He’s surly and suffering, and he needs a caregiver – someone to accompany him to a remote island lodge to avoid the flu. Josephine takes the job and is determined to nurse Geoff back to health. The relationship between the two main characters is very well-written. Their banter and arguments are fun to read! Plus, there’s plenty of intrigue with a young woman staying alone (gasp!) with a young man for an extended period of time. Subplots abound and supporting... Continue Reading

June 9, 2020

I have been having great success with Facebook ads for my clients, but my own book promotion had been taking a bit of backseat, so I jumped on the chance to be part of a group of writers (Blackbird Writers) promoting a special Spring Flash Sale over Mother’s Day weekend.

To layer in extra promotion I boosted one of my posts to a select audience (fans of Diana Gabaldon/Outlander) for $15. That was this post below:

That boost went just fine.

I then decided to advertise to another select audience I had success with in the past (Celtic mythology, Irish lore folks). But when I uploaded the same ad image, I received an error message that there was too much text in my ad. (big sigh) So, I asked for a... Continue Reading