Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

March 5, 2019

The Griffins of Castle Cary by Heather Shumaker is a delightful ghost story with high stakes for the characters that I love in a middle-grade tale. A trio of American siblings travel to the English countryside to spend a week with their aunt who lives in a small cottage on the grounds of a Mendip Manor and the ruins of Castle Cary—long believed to be haunted. As they explore their temporary home and make some new (rather odd) friends, strange happenings put everyone on edge. The climatic moments of this story are fabulously told! (But I won’t give anything away!)

Kudos to Shumaker for not shying away from the scary parts that keep everyone (even adults) turning the page. I adore the characters in this story from big sister... Continue Reading

February 28, 2019


50 Best Writing Blogs of 2018

50+ Publishing Resources You Should Know About


50 Best Writing Blogs of 2018

Well, look at that . . . this blog was named one of the top 50 Writing Blogs of 2018 by the UK Writers’ Hub. I’m really pleased to be in the company of so many great information sources. I read a lot of these blogs myself—and that’s where I get much of the great information that I put here in the Writers’ Forum each month. Check out the full list at:

50+ Publishing Resources You Should Know About

And since we’re all about lists of 50 . . . here’s an... Continue Reading

February 19, 2019

The New York Pitch Conference (NYP) focuses on one thing: the pitch that sells a novel to an agent. It’s more of a workshop than a conference. There are no breakout sessions about craft, editing, or book marketing. The NYP is all about the pitch. If you’re in the right mindset, the event could be a valuable step in your writing journey. After four days in the “hot seat,” writers learn to be concise, persuasive, and engaging in a pitch.

I recommend attending the conference if you’re open-minded about your work and, most importantly, willing to change it. The four-day event is an emotional rollercoaster. Be prepared for honest feedback.... Continue Reading

February 12, 2019

On a snowy Wisconsin evening with just a smidge of the remaining holiday chocolate at my side, I cozied up on the couch to read Amanda Zieba’s latest romantic, candy-inspired story, Champion Chocolatier: Reality Bites. Zieba’s writing has a wit that comes through in both the dialogue and creative plot, hooking the reader (me included) immediately. I had to laugh at the trials of Emmy (the main character) as the candy-making contest she is part of turns vicious and she’s contending with others who do not play fair. I thoroughly enjoyed Emmy in Champion Chocolatier and thought it was so fun to be able to see what happens next in her life. Zieba skillfully references some of the not-so-great moments Emmy experienced in the earlier... Continue Reading

February 5, 2019

Since the beginning of the year, I have read 15 books. That’s a lot—even for me! This is a great start toward my goal of reading 60 books this year. Does anyone else set book-reading goals? Goodreads has a fun way to do this and keep track of what you’ve read.

You probably already know about two of my January favorites from my separate blog posts that included both a review and an interview with the authors. If not, catch up on what I thought about R.R. Campbell’s Imminent Dawn (a sci-fi thriller) and... Continue Reading

January 28, 2019

Imminent Dawn by R.R. Campbell is not your run-of-the-mill sci-fi novel. For one, it takes place in the near future in a world that looks much like ours today—except for all the cool technology—not all of which is benign. This is truly a suspenseful thriller with a fast-paced plot line and well-developed characters whose smart dialogue keeps us turning the page. If you’re someone who thinks all sci-fi takes place in outer space—this genre has a lot more to offer. And Campbell’s work is a particularly fine way to prove that. This is the first installment of Campbell’s Empathy Series.

... Continue Reading

January 28, 2019

FEATURED ARTICLES: Wordplay Author Lineup & Top 10 Publishing Industry Trends for 2019

The Writers' Forum is a compilation of the month’s important publishing news and helpful writing information for authors, particularly those independently publishing their books. As an independently published author who is now agented, I provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my publishing adventure. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press. I'd love to use my skills to guide you through the steps of independent publishing!

FEATURED... Continue Reading

January 22, 2019

Meena Meets Her Match by Karla Manternach is a sweet treat of a read that I highly recommend for young readers and their parents. Meena is a relatable main character with her own set of quirky traits that make her instantly likable. From the ups and downs of friendship and the misunderstandings of elementary school to an even bigger worry, this story takes us on Meena’s journey in a skillfully written way. The vivid descriptions will transport grown-ups back to the classroom! The illustrations of Rayner Alencar give us Meena in her full-color glory and add a flair that makes this book an extra-special kind of fun.

... Continue Reading

January 16, 2019

Often, the first impression people form about authors comes from digital sources – an author website, social media accounts, book sales’ websites, blogs and more. This handy checklist makes sure you won’t miss any of these important ways to reach readers and others in the publishing world. Even for pre-published authors, these digital resources are important. Consider it dressing for the job you want!


One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating the content for your online image is to be consistent in how you present yourself. This means that you should not only be using the same general artwork, colors, and fonts, but also that you should be using the same biography and information about yourself and your books. Consistency... Continue Reading

December 27, 2018

FEATURED ARTICLE: The Writer’s Vision for 2019

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