Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

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

June 2, 2020

Everything’s Not Fine by Sarah Carlson made me cry—in the best way that a book can. Carlson’s writing transported me so completely into the story of 17-year-old Rose that I was heartbroken over the messed up family situation she finds herself stuck in along with all of the extra responsibilities that really shouldn’t be placed on a teenager’s shoulders. It’s no secret that this story centers around Rose’s mom’s heroin addiction and the overdose that nearly kills her. Carlson handles this timely topic with an honesty that acknowledges that young adult readers can deal with tough topics and, indeed, need authors to cover them because (unfortunately) they’re dealing with impossibly difficult situations in real life. That alone would have made the story a winner for me, but Carlson adds in... Continue Reading

June 2, 2020

Lake Fun for You and Me by Rinda Beach with digital images by Rick Starkey is a fun vacation story with fill-in pages for the young reader to document their own lake adventures. This is a unique book that is both a story to enjoy along with activity pages for the reader to fill in with their own details. The story also builds smart map-reading skills while giving the reader activity pages to fill in with drawings and descriptions of their own time on vacation. Kids will identify with the three siblings in the story as they compete for points in the Lake Hunt Fun game their mom has devised. Who will win? You’ll just have to read for yourself how it all turns out! This is a well-written story that gives the reader the chance to be a storyteller, too. Great concept!

... Continue Reading