Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

May 17, 2014
This week I have read two non-fiction books that I highly recommend. One was a movie and one might be made into a movie, but that’s where the similarities of these titles end.

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel is the story of allied forces hunting for the art stolen by the Nazis. And, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen follows the author through her 8th-grade year using the advice from a 1950’s guide to teen popularity.

The Monuments Men is the story which inspired the movie that many of you may have seen. I needed to know more, surprised and a little ashamed that my historical knowledge was so lacking about the extensive and astonishing movement of art into the hands of the Nazi’s from each country as it was invaded. The book follows the epic story... Continue Reading

May 13, 2014

I’ve been invited on a blog hop! It’s like a game of tag, and I'm currently "it."       

 I was tagged by Kimberli Bindschatel, author of the young adult novel The Path to the Sun.  I’m intrigued by her novel and have it waiting in my soon-to-read pile. Here’s a little teaser . . .

You do not question The Way. Every Toran knows this, even Kiran, a lowly orphan. But at age sixteen, he’s still tormented by doubt. So when he and six other teens embark on a quest to save their drought-stricken village, for Kiran, it’s a chance to seek the truth. 

Visit Kimberli’s website to learn more about this epic adventure that is getting great reviews.


My blog hop came... Continue Reading

May 6, 2014

Rex Owens is a Wisconsin writer and author of Murphy’s Troubles, a historical suspense novel set in Ireland during the times of the “troubles” which is the name given to the battle to reunify Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. I met Rex at the Writers’ Institute conference a few years ago and have followed his publishing journey as he worked to give birth to his novel.

Rex, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I began attending the UW-Madison Writer’s Institute in 1997 and was inspired by the keynote speaker Robert Moss.  In 1998 I began a critique class with Dr. Laurel Yourke who teaches writing craft by specific weekly assignments.  After several years Dr. Yourke suggested I had enough material to think about a novel and... Continue Reading

May 1, 2014

I’ve been deep in a final round of edits on my teen novel Circle of Nine – Beltany, so deep that I barely realized that today is MAY DAY!!  (Which is nearly sacrilegious in a Pagan sort of way, given that the heart of this novel is the May Day Celebration.)

May Day is also called Beltane in Ireland. There’s a stone circle in County Donegal named Beltany featured in many scenes in my book.  The name suggests that the Beltane holiday was celebrated here, but of course, we just don’t know.  That’s not surprising. There’s an awful lot we don’t know about these stone circles, making them incredibly intriguing – at least to me.

The Beltany stone circle is 145 feet in diameter with 64 stones remaining.  The circle probably had 80 stones originally.... Continue Reading

April 23, 2014
  (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

In 2009 I began to keep track of the books I read with the goal to reach 100 books each year.  That year also coincided with the point I decided to take my fiction writing seriously and finish writing a book within a year. I managed to reach both goals, completing the first draft of my teen novel CIRCLE OF NINE – BELTANY and reading 149 books that year. Obviously, I love to read. 

So far this year I’ve read 26 books. Some are my tried and true favorites by JD Robb (Nora Roberts) and... Continue Reading

April 18, 2014

The only thing that I like more than writing stories and reading books is traveling.

People have been asking me about the photos on my website.  Most of these photos are from our family   travels. Some of them are the work of my photographer daughter.  The header above on this blog includes the Rodin statue “The Thinker” on the left from Rodin Museum gardens in Paris and on the far right are the gargoyles from the top of Notre Dame in Paris.  The center picture is of the walkway along the old city wall in Rothenberg, Germany. (Aren’t those gargoyles fabulous??  If you get to Paris, take the climb to the top of Notre Dame. The view of the city is awesome and the gargoyles most definitely can’t be appreciated from the ground.)

Traveling (... Continue Reading

April 15, 2014

I’ll admit it. I love a good book cover.  (Don’t we all?)

And while I understand the spirit of the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I think that boring book covers cause us to pass by what may be wonderful stories.

If a book has an interesting, eye-catching image that pops as compared to the other books sharing shelf space, it is that much more likely someone is going to pick it up and at least read the jacket copy.  Even in the e-book market when you are wading through a number of book summaries, that little thumbnail cover has to be powerful enough to draw the reader away from all of the other choices on the screen.

Right now, I’m lusting over the amazing book cover and really the entire book design of Nora Roberts’ Shadow Spell. (This is the... Continue Reading

April 9, 2014

The Writers’ Institute conference was a blast this past weekend. It always takes a couple of days to recover from having my brain filled with so much great information.  The conference was also awesome for catching up with other writers and forging new friendships and professional connections.

Particularly helpful to me were the sessions on Independent Publishing – a topic often ignored at other conferences where acknowledging this increasingly successful trend appears to be taboo.  Indie publication authors were also given the chance to be part of a book signing and sales event and not relegated to second-class status.  Indeed, many of these titles are... Continue Reading

March 31, 2014

This morning as I write my first blog post, I am feeling like Veronica Roth’s character Tris in the Divergent book series (and now movie) as she survives a multi-story leap into a giant net.

I am not normally a jumper . . . I am an observer of jumpers, more likely to read their stories than be the story. That’s why I am such a huge reader. In a good year I can log 100 titles and rarely read less than 80. That can seem a little freaky to some people, but if you love books like I do, you completely understand this.

I love being transported into a different world an author has created for us. I can’t remember NOT loving this. As a kid, I... Continue Reading