Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

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

May 26, 2020

What Writers Have to Learn from The 10X Rule

3 Amazon Secrets Every Author Needs to Know

More encouragement for writerly projects during a pandemic.



What Writers Have to Learn from the 10X Rule

Carmen Amato writes a helpful analysis of the book “The 10X Rule” by Grand Cardone on Jane Friedman’s blog. The premise of this book is to make your goals 10 times bigger than what you think you can achieve. Audacious? Perhaps. But there are some extremely solid points to back up this assertion. My favorite part is that there is no shortage of success: “Success is not a zero sum game, there can be many winners.” Worth the read at:... Continue Reading

May 21, 2020

I often share writing tips and indie publishing shortcuts in the Writers’ Forum at the end of each month, but today I’m writing an entire article devoted to my favorite products and platforms that make my life easier. These are my secret weapons! (Well – not so secret anymore!) Some of these are free and some are well-worth the money, depending on where you are in your publishing journey/adventure.

I do have an affiliate relationship with a few of these products*, which means that at no cost to you purchases made using some of the links below give me a small fee. But please know that I never recommend products unless I feel they are useful and worthy of the investment, because we all work too dang hard at our writing to eat up our profits with bad products!

... Continue Reading

May 12, 2020

Welcome to May, writers. In Wisconsin, it’s a month of flowers, sunshine, end-of-school events, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. May is a wonderful kick-off month to summer.

Not quite this year, however. If the month of May were writing a story about itself, its inner critic would be going wild. I envision May’s self-editor saying something like this:

I’ll begin by getting folks excited for the start of the warm season. I’m the intro to summer, after all. But wait, there have been frost warnings—and then there’s the pandemic. Scrap everything I was going to write about. The forecast calls for overcast skies and temps well below average for another few days. I’ve got it: I’ll email February and ask him... Continue Reading

May 4, 2020

The third installment of the Champion Chocolatier series (Champion Chocolatier: For Better or Worse) is as fun as the first two! I really loved Emmy from the first time we met her as she heads to Duluth to run a chocolate shop. In book two, Champion Chocolatier: Reality Bites, we join Emmy as she competes in a reality TV candy-making contest. That story had some fun twists and turns! Now, she’s getting married and convinces her fiancé to take part in a couple’s contest to win a honeymoon. This book is the perfect story to read while we are sequestered away from the world. The characters are well-developed (and we already know and love them from the previous books). The author writes dialog with an easy banter that makes the reader feel like they’re right there with the characters. She’... Continue Reading