Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

March 16, 2021

It’s coming. Revision of my finished manuscript is approaching like warm weather—and mud and bugs. Writing the second draft of my novel will occupy my summer. I’m looking forward to the process like a new season; it promises new life and fresh ideas. But with every silver lining, there’s a cloud. Revising book chapters that have been ingrained in my mind for a year will be a challenge.

The subject of this blog post is in response to a survey that Valerie Biel conducted among her readers. How does a writer approach the second draft of a novel?

I’m offering advice for revision: First, consult (or create!) your book’s outline to highlight the... Continue Reading

March 2, 2021

“Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick” is an exceptional book about an exceptional woman. Andrea Friederici Ross’ extensive research is obvious and draws us into Edith’s story and all she was able to accomplish (despite not being taken seriously as a woman in so many situations.) This story will make you angry on her behalf but you will also admire her ongoing tenacity. This is a remarkable work that honors Edith’s many legacies and highlights a history that might otherwise have been lost. This is a well-written and beautifully documented work that has the suspense and pace of a fiction novel. 


To Purchase the Book:

Use coupon code SIUP20 to get 20% off Edith at the publisher’s website:... Continue Reading

February 23, 2021





Who Should You Ask to Endorse Your Book?

Sandra Beckwith dives into the process of gaining “meaningful testimonials from people your ideal readers admire and respect.” This article really helps you build a list of the best endorsers for your book. Even if you think that some well-known people might not be interested in doing this favor, it never hurts to ask—you may get a YES!

The Great Ebook Pricing Question

David Gaughran’s... Continue Reading

February 16, 2021

So, the novel is in the hands of the powers-that-be. While its future hangs in the balance, what does a writer do in the meantime?

It could be the perfect moment to step away from writing. Give the brain a break from creating and living inside your book’s world. Full breaks from the keyboard have benefits—and I do take advantage of it. Usually, it’s during the summer, and a pontoon boat and hot sun are involved.

Sending a manuscript out to be read by industry experts is thrilling. I know revision lies ahead for my work. And my mind is still in the story and characters I’ve created. But I don’t want to make changes until I have feedback from the experts. What’s a writer to do during “down time,” or the in-between stages of submission and revision?

This month... Continue Reading

February 9, 2021

Welcome to the February installment of the 2021 Author Series. Each month a published author takes the stage to share their wisdom as they tell us what they wish they had known before they published their first book or what advice they would go back and give their pre-published self.

Angie Stanton is a young adult author who I’ve known for many years. Back in 2014 when I had just published my first young adult novel, I noticed an article about her latest book release in the Wisconsin State Journal. I loved the story and reached out asking if she’d be interested in being interviewed for my blog. She said yes! Since then we’ve forged a great friendship and are often on writing journeys... Continue Reading

February 2, 2021

My five favorite books from the past month include a fabulous historical nonfiction (perfect to expand your knowledge during Black History Month), a heart-pounding young adult novel, a sweetly funny romance, a beautifully written (& illustrated) picture book, and a poignant, gorgeous collection of short stories.

What makes all of these extra special to me is that I know all of these authors and am so happy to share their beautiful work with you in this space.

The Clothesline Code: The Story of Civil War Spies Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker by Janet Halfmann

This is a delightful story of daring, unsung heroes from the civil war. I’m so grateful for writers like Halfmann who diligently tell the stories of little-known people who played important roles in our nation... Continue Reading

January 27, 2021






The Top Ten Publishing Trends Every Author Needs to Know in 2021

The biggest news in these trends is that more traditionally published authors will move to indie publishing and that more platforms (beyond Amazon) will be competing for that indie author business. Overall, there will be more competition—and that also includes audiobook sales’ platforms. Ebook sales will continue to be selling at a high rate at least for the first half of the year when people are still largely isolating before mass vaccination is... Continue Reading

January 19, 2021

The beginning of 2021 has been a “hold my beer” moment. We thought 2020 was a challenge. This year apparently has upped the ante. What is a writer to do? How do writers concentrate on plot points and fiction projects when life appears to be stranger than any thriller ever composed?

Methods to Improve Concentration

My writing students often express frustration with their ability to concentrate. It’s a common dilemma, I say. To improve concentration, medical professionals offer advice that includes writing things down. Ironically, however, students frequently blame poor writing skills as hindrance to the very solution that doctors recommend. First, I reassure them that... Continue Reading

January 12, 2021

Welcome to the first installment of the 2021 Author Series. Each month we’ll give a published author the spotlight and benefit from their sage wisdom as they tell us what they wish they had known before they published their first book or what advice they would go back and give their pre-published self.

I know many of you already know Silvia Acevedo! She is a good friend, and I count myself very lucky to be in a critique group with her! For those of you who don’t know Silvia, here’s your official introduction:

Silvia Acevedo is an author and co-leader of two associations for writers and illustrators.

For the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Silvia brings great kidlit... Continue Reading

January 6, 2021

This is my first blog post of 2021 . . . a year that we are ushering in with much hope, albeit guarded hope, as we are in the early days of the vaccination process that should begin to return our lives to some semblance of normalcy.

In this space, I typically review the previous year’s achievements, milestones, and funny moments. What can I say about 2020?

I don’t know if I’m really ready to write about it—but here goes. It was a bad year, full of anxiety, fear, depression, and loss.

My dad died this year. I miss him. I’ve already had that moment where I wanted to ask him something a hundred times, and then jarringly realize I cannot. (Delwyn L. Biel obituary.)... Continue Reading