Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

May 7, 2019

From April 5 to May 5, I taught at three writing conferences, hosted the 4th Anniversary of the Books and Beer book club, and led a writing workshop for a total of twelve “event” days. Frankly, I’m a little tired, but I’m also grateful and rather excited to edit my work in progress and start a new project. Here’s why . . .

Writing conferences, workshops, and bookish events are always a good idea for writers, no matter your experience level. You get to chum around with other writers (sometimes rather famous ones), make new friends, and remind yourself that even if you spend most of your days in front of your computer in your pjs (guilty), you ARE part of a bigger network. These folks are your PEOPLE! (And for the readers in the group, they also write awesome books . . . simply... Continue Reading

April 30, 2019

I'm pleased Amanda Zieba is able to join us again. Amanda is an author, a word nerd, a mom, a wife, a teacher, and so much more. Today she discusses plotting your story or writing by the seat of your pants, aka being a pantser. Amanda originally published this article on her website. The question of whether a writer should carefully plot out a story or whether it is okay to write by the seat of your pants is one that is asked often at writing workshops and conferences. I hope this article helps to guide you. I use both techniques now, after firmly believing I'd never be a plotter. 


Plotters vs. Pantsers... Continue Reading

April 23, 2019


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Choosing BOTH Amazon KDP and IngramSpark for Print-on-Demand Titles


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 2

Lee Foster writes a summary about the world of publishing in its current state for The Book Designer website. This article is a quick look (based on his print book) at how publishing best practices continue to evolve. In Part 2, he focuses on an author’s website, social media, promotional activities, and marketing. Read the whole article:

... Continue Reading
April 15, 2019

April is my birthday month. So it follows that I’d offer ideas about gifts. There are many great sources for special items including Writer’s Digest—that typewriter keyboard is a hoot—and I especially like this list from New York magazine. Who can resist those floating book shelves? The Christmas season always is a source for cute ideas, too. But I’m on a mission to declutter my office this year. I have computers that need to go, a desk that needs to be cleaned, and files that need to be tossed... Continue Reading

April 9, 2019

We all want a shiny gold sticker for our cover! With more and more writing contests popping up every day, it’s important to determine which ones are reputable, whether entry fees are acceptable, and how to spot dangerous terms that infringe on your copyright.

For a more detailed discussion on this subject, you may wish to take my course: Are Writing Contests Worth the Fees? It is a 30-minute video, including how to make the most of a contest win, along with a resource sheet for $25.

Why Enter?

As an indie published author, I wanted to differentiate myself from... Continue Reading

April 4, 2019

I’ve been reading a lot of manuscripts and advance reader copies lately, and right now I’m not allowed to talk about those books. They’ve all been wonderful, and soon I’ll be able to share my reviews of these stories. In the meantime, here are the other books I’ve read these past two months that I recommend.

In March, I interviewed Rochelle Groskreutz and wrote a review of her delightful picture book Easter Elf. I also reviewed a stellar middle-grade ghost story, The Griffins of Castle Cary, written by Heather Shumaker, who also... Continue Reading

March 26, 2019


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 1

& 13 Tips for the Work-at-Home Author


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 1

Lee Foster writes a summary about the current state of the publishing world for The Book Designer website. This article is a quick look at how publishing best practices continue to evolve—sometimes very quickly. He includes the historical perspective on how indie publishing arose. Nice summary, particularly if you’re on the cusp of deciding whether to go the indie route or seek to traditionally publish your work.

13 Tips for the Work-at... Continue Reading

March 18, 2019

Writing and Movement: How Not Thinking Boosts Creativity

Last month I wrote a blog post about the ... Continue Reading

March 11, 2019

Easter Elf by Rochelle Groskreutz with illustrations by Leah Di Pasquale is such a unique and fun picture book that I’m telling everyone they need to order one for the young readers in their lives. If the name Easter Elf, doesn’t make you look twice, the colorful and playful cover will have you pulling it off the shelf for a closer look. And then you’ll be hooked, because it just gets better from there. After all, you’re going to want to know all about this elf who doesn’t live at the North Pole and does Easter-ish things. When a Christmas Elf crashes into the picture, the situation becomes a little interesting for Easter Elf, but I won’t give it away. You’ll just have to read for yourself how it all turns out! It’s a well-written,... Continue Reading

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