Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

March 31, 2020

Welcome to a three-part series on the pros and cons of independent or self publishing. This is going to be an honest discussion about what you need to consider before deciding which route is best for your publishing goals and skill set. First, we’ll look at overall concerns within the positives and negatives of each type of publishing. Part two will dive into potential earnings and royalties along with the business concerns you must address for successful independent publishing. In part three, I’ll detail the many decisions you must be prepared to make if you choose to indie publish your work.

Traditional Publishing Positives

Advances: Most authors are paid an advance when a publishing house buys their work. Advances vary in amount, based on the genre of the work,... Continue Reading

March 24, 2020

Turning Anxiety into Creativity

What Amazon’s Slowing of Book Deliveries Means for Authors

How to Host Webinars, Online Conferences, and Online Events



Turning Anxiety into Creativity

I’ve heard from more than one writer that even though they have the time to write, their anxiety has stopped them from being creative. Lia Keyes from the Good Story Company shares some “tips and tricks to help you turn anxiety into creativity, and chaos into opportunity.” These tips vary from working on some new marketing plans or taking an online class to restructuring your new-found... Continue Reading

March 17, 2020

A little over one year ago, we were introduced to Meena the main character in Meena Meets Her Match by Karla Manternach. Now, Meena is back in Never Fear, Meena’s Here!

Again, 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 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 her medical condition, and that’s what why I suspect Meena’s stories are gaining attention. These stories are about Meena, a girl navigating the perils of grade school who wants to be a superhero and is frequently... Continue Reading

March 10, 2020

I love books. I read a lot! I also like to talk about what I read. Lucky me . . . I have a blog where I can do that. Here are my favorite reads so far in 2020. 

Write in Time by Meg Matenaer

I can’t believe this is Meg Matenaer’s debut novel! Write in Time is simply a delightful read with an interesting cast of characters that interact in authentic and often humorous ways. You’ll love them, quirks and all. As a writer myself, the struggles of these writers to get their stories right, along with their ever present self-doubt and time constraints of real life responsibilities, had me rooting for their success... Continue Reading

February 25, 2020


Should You Pay to Display Your Book at BookExpo?

Facing Common Author Challenges with a Positive Outlook


Should You Pay to Display Your Book at BookExpo? (Short Answer: No)

The advice of Victoria Strauss is indispensable to authors and I highly recommend that you subscribe to her blog directly to make sure you don’t miss any of her pertinent warnings about less-than-honorable practices within the book industry. In one of her recent articles, she details why spending money to display your title(s) at BookExpo is not a great use of your hard-earned dollars. Read it here: ... Continue Reading

February 19, 2020

I have recently returned from a nearly two-week trip to the African countries of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. This trip was part of the outreach efforts for The World Orphan Fund charity that my husband founded. I mainly play a supporting role to this effort, but I often get asked how “we” started this charity.

Here’s the team we traveled with on this trip. (L to R Dena Donovan, me, RJ Johnson, Tom & Elizabeth Evenson, Steve Donovan, and Ellen Nowak)


Ten years ago, my husband (RJ) was a chaperone on a mission trip our daughter was on. One of the male volunteers had dropped out and they needed someone in a hurry. He went. One of the staffers he met on this trip told him about a special place in Honduras called Orphanage Emmanuel that members of... Continue Reading

January 28, 2020

Make Writing Resolutions That Stick
Writer Beware: 2019 in Review


Make Writing Resolutions That Stick

Kristen Overman at the Good Story Company writes a perfect post for the beginning of a new year (and decade) on how to make writing resolutions that you can actually keep. Her key points are really thinking about what you want your writing year to look like, investing in yourself (maybe go to a conference?), and measuring your small steps toward greater goals. She even gives us five (sample) resolutions that might help us get started. See it all HERE.

Writer Beware:... Continue Reading

January 21, 2020

The making of an audiobook was something of a mystery to me before I jumped into this market in 2019. The audiobook listening audience is growing—myself included. The first audiobook I listened to was Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. 

She narrated it herself, which makes sense as it is her autobiography. The experience was a delight and I was hooked. I love having a book keep me company as I go about other tasks—cleaning, exercising, driving, and (yes) berry picking. (Seriously, the massive 2019 blueberry crop allowed me to devour two books while harvesting! Yes, my life is soooo glamorous!)

So . . . with a number of readers consistently asking... Continue Reading

January 13, 2020

Amazon Publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing are NOT the same thing.

From the consumer perspective, everyone knows about Amazon and its vast array of products available to you with a few simple clicks. In addition to e-commerce, Amazon also focuses on cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

In the publishing world, Amazon is both a traditional publisher and the parent company of Kindle Direct Publishing—the most prolific of all independent publishing platforms. This alone causes much confusion, which I will sort out for you here. But let’s start at the beginning . . .

Amazon – A History

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in Bellevue, Washington in July 1994 as an online marketplace for books. In 1998, they began selling music and videos... Continue Reading

January 5, 2020

In the past few weeks, I’ve viewed a plethora of 2019 year-in-review and/or hit-the-ground-running newsletters/blog posts for 2020. To be honest, while I champion the work of fellow writers and appreciate all the positive messages, I skimmed over many of them.


December had me feeling a bit tired and unfocused. Truly, I didn’t feel like I accomplished much in 2019. And that made me feel BAD!

Typically, I am a positive person, but I realize I am a bit hard on myself when it comes to my to-do list and what I THINK I should have accomplished this past year. In an effort to buoy my spirits and prove to myself that I actually DID STUFF in 2019. I started going through my calendar. I highly recommend this to everyone. Not only will you see that you accomplished more... Continue Reading