Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

May 11, 2016

Strangely enough, three out of the five books I read in April were set in Door County, Wisconsin, and they were all very good stories, but that is definitely where the similarities end.

My favorite book of the month was most definitely Hello? by Liza Wiemer. This fabulous story interweaves the lives of five Door County teens in a fabulous tale with an amazing twist. I don’t want to tell you more about this one just yet because Liza Wiemer has agreed to do an interview about this novel later this spring. So hang tight – or better yet – pick this book up and read it before I feature her interview. I promise you are going to love this book.

The official description of... Continue Reading

May 6, 2016

Nearly all of you know how much I love to travel, and you probably know that I was incredibly excited for the recent trip I took with my husband to Ireland and Italy. It was a fabulous adventure!

We spent most of our days in Ireland in County Donegal. Here we stayed at the wonderful Harvey’s Point Hotel on the shores of Lough Eske just outside Donegal Town. I fear that this hotel has spoiled me forever! We had a lakeshore suite that was enormous with the most beautiful view.








... Continue Reading
April 20, 2016

In 2009, I attended my first writing conference—the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute. I didn’t know anyone or anything. I didn’t even know the proper way to format a manuscript. Since then, I’ve learned a heck of a lot (ha/ha). Now, I definitely know how to format a manuscript, a query letter, a synopsis, an e-book, a paperback . . . you get the picture. The majority of this I learned from writing conferences and a healthy dose of trial and error.

Since that first conference I’ve returned every year except one and attended others throughout the state, but this one is the best by far. The keynote speakers are always inspiring and the smaller sessions are informative with so many to choose from no matter where you are in your publishing journey... Continue Reading

April 5, 2016

I am so happy that I finally was able to read Newberry Honor Winner Ingrid Law's books – Savvy and Scumble. These were graciously loaned to me by one of my beta readers many, many months ago. I will miss their beautiful covers sitting around in various places in my house.

From the opening lines of Savvy, the strong voice and unique plotline of these novels had me caught in a magical storytelling web as we follow a mad-cap family through their adventures as each person receives a special power (savvy) when they turn thirteen. These savvies often arrive with a whirl of wind or a blast of lightning, but sometimes, they slide in with barely a whisper, leaving the new owner to unravel what power they... Continue Reading

March 30, 2016

Two years ago I began this blog in anticipation for my debut book release later in 2014.  I won’t say the usual things. Where has the time gone? How can it be two years already? Because it feels like two years. In fact, sometimes it feels like five years or even a decade!

Most days, I still feel like Tris jumping into the abyss after joining the Dauntless faction. (Don’t you love this video clip?)

I also love the word dauntless.

Because that is what writers have to be. And those that independently publish need to tape this word to the edge of their laptop screen. There are many obstacles in our way on a daily basis, but you have to forge ahead, take on those challenges, and not be deterred from your goals. I like to say that I’ve spent each day in... Continue Reading

March 18, 2016

Growing up on a farm and in a climate with very distinct seasonal changes, I had always been aware of the rhythms of the earth as we progressed through the year--particularly when what often seemed like the never-ending winter finally gave way to spring and the first good-smelling days had us cracking open the windows and shedding our winter coats.

You can imagine then when I began writing the Circle of Nine series, the Wheel of the Year with its eight celebrations did not feel that foreign to me. This calendar celebrates the four solar holidays (the two solstices and the two equinoxes), which are also called quarter days and the four holidays which fall directly between them, also known as cross-quarter days. The calendar begins with... Continue Reading

March 6, 2016

I swear I read a lot in February! It’s just that I read the same thing over and over and over again and that was the Circle of Nine – Novella Collection that will be (drum roll please) officially released on the Spring Equinox, March 20. (Or for those of you who have read the first Circle of Nine book . . . that holiday is better known as Ostara.) Here's a first look at my cover for the collected set. (For those of you who were following the releases of the individual novellas as e-books, you've seen the cover in its varying shades already.) 

For any author moving toward publication, the number of times you read through your book can seem infinite. At each step in the process, you read through again, checking for typos and/or formatting errors at a minimum. Now, I’m at the... Continue Reading

February 1, 2016

I have set a much more realistic goal of reading 60 books in 2016 – 4 down, 56 to go. On the first of each month, or as close to it as I can manage, I will review the previous month’s reads. As you can see below, I am an eclectic reader. January included titles from many genres—middle grade, young adult, romance, and suspense. 

Ruby on the Outside by Norah Raleigh Baskin is a sweet, sweet story for middle-grade readers on up. Ruby has a secret—a terrible secret. Her mother is in jail, and she is being raised by her aunt. Ruby navigates through her life with half-truths and outright lies until everything comes crashing down around her. While there’s no happily ever after when your... Continue Reading

January 18, 2016

Whenever I return from a trip to Honduras, I go through a culture shock of sorts. You know that feeling when you walk back into your house after having been on a trip and you think, "Is this really where I live?" because it all feels a bit strange and a bit too nice? So on my first night back I was feeling a little disconcerted and overwhelmed as I began to worry about the kids we had just said goodbye to.

Here I was sinking into my posh mattress and staring up at the perfectly painted cathedral ceiling, when just one night prior at the orphanage I had been worrying about the same thing, laying on a very basic mattress and staring up at a dubious looking bug nest hanging from the rafters right over my head. (I had tucked the sheet in carefully around my legs and arms, attempting... Continue Reading

December 31, 2015

I have failed on my Goodreads reading challenge for 2015. I set out to read 80 books this year. (Yes, I know this seems like a lot, but I have previously read 100 books in a year—so I didn’t think this was an impossible total.) But in an attempt to start the new year as a glass-is-half-full kind of gal, I will be focusing on the fact that I did read 55 books. Or I will have read 55 by midnight, because I fully intend to finish Colleen Hoover’s book “Maybe Someday” before the end of the day. I consider this a major accomplishment because Colleen Hoover’s books have been on my list to read for ages and ages. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that about once a month I share one of Colleen’s posts. She... Continue Reading