Saturday, December 25, 2010

Snow on Christmas Day

I took a much needed trip to visit with my folks and knew before coming up to North Carolina it was supposed to snow this weekend. After doing gifts this morning and eating breakfast, father was checking the weather info for Boone (where his church is located) and I happened to look out the window and sure enough it was snowing. Not sure when it started but still Christmas day and it is a white Christmas. I probably will be snowed in until Monday but it will be fine, I hadn't planned on going home until Monday anyway. Wishing you all a wonderful time wherever you may be and hoping Santa was good to you all - see you all in the postings - E :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Blogger - Heidi M. Thomas

Today, we look at Heidi's second book, Follow the Dream, the sequel to her Cowgirl Dreams. I thank you Heidi for gracing my blog with your book about your grandmother's dreams of being a cowgirl.

Synopsis: Nettie Moser’s dreams are coming true. She’s married to her cowboy, Jake, they have plans for a busy rodeo season, and she has a once in a lifetime opportunity to rodeo in London with the Tex Austin Wild West Troupe.
But life during the Great Depression brings unrelenting hardships and unexpected family responsibilities. Nettie must overcome challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams, cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster.

Will these challenges break this strong woman?

This sequel to Cowgirl Dreams is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.

Reviews coming in for Follow the Dream:
“I enjoyed Heidi Thomas’s bittersweet novel with its accurate depiction of the lives of cowgirls in 1930s Montana and its tender portrait of a marriage.” --Mary Clearman Blew, English professor U of ID, award-winning author of All But the Waltz: A Memoir of Five Generations in the Life of a Montana Family, Balsamroot: A Memoir; Bone Deep in Language: Writing, Reading, and Place; Lambing Out and Other Stories, and Jackalope (Flyover Fiction).

In her poignant tale of Nettie Moser's diligent pursuit of a dream, Heidi Thomas gives a stunning example of what it means to "Cowgirl Up." Follow the Dream is a dynamic story of a woman's strength and determination that is sure to inspire as well as entertain.
—Sandi Ault, award-winning author of the WILD Mystery Series, including Wild Indigo, Wild Inferno, Wild Sorrow, and Wild Penance.

Follow Your Dream draws the reader into the lives of tough Montana ranchers, Nettie and Jake Moser. Dreams come and go, but their ranching life goes on with hardships and struggles for basic survival, but also with abiding love and humor. A wonderful story of courage and endurance. --Mary Trimble, award-winning author of Tenderfoot, Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff.

5 stars A Dream Never Forgotten
By Dan A. Johnson -

This is the second novel written by Heidi M. Thomas that is loosely based on her Montana grandmother who grew up riding horses and competing in local rodeos. In the book, Nettie's childhood dream is to become a successful rodeo rider like her dear friend Marie. Follow The Dream begins when Nettie is invited by Marie to compete in a wild west rodeo in London, a chance of a lifetime. But fate has another plan for the newly married Nettie. The dream is put on hold, but never forgotten The story is set in Montana in the 20s and 30s. Nettie struggles with personal tragedy and the challenges of getting by raising horses with her husband. They face many droughts and blizzards, let alone the harsh realities of surviving in isolated rural settings. This book deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Ivan Doig's coming of age in Montana novels.

Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in her veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story.

Autographed copies of both books are available from the author’s website, from her publisher Treble Heart Books, and Follow the Dream is available on Kindle.

Be sure to follow the rest of the VBT Writers on the Move stops:

20th Marietta Taylor is featuring Dallas Woodburn
21st Robert Medak is featuring Kevin McNamee
22nd Donna McDine is featuring Elysabeth Eldering (Tis the season of giving - check out my article about giving the gift that never gets old).
23rd Shelby Patrick is featuring Martha Swirzinski
24th Mayra Calvani is featuring Heather Paye (wonder what my illustrator has in store for us this time)

Remember we are taking a break in December and January and will be returning in February, so hopefully you all will have a blessed holiday season. Wishing you all "Cowgirl Dreams"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review - The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade

The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade
Written by Lori Calabrese
Illustrated by Chet Taylor

The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade is a delightful story of Matt, a third-grader who finds a rare bug and is hoping to win the "Bug-A-Fair" with his unusual entry. The day of the fair, Matt has another bug that plagues him, and in turn the entire class.

I love how Lori has woven a common every day "bug" into this children's story of finding a rare bug for the school bug-a-fair and disrupts the whole class due to the bug escaping but everyone thinks he is just trying to make the whole class sick with his illness. With this being cold season, I can totally see how this bug would go around. The illustrations enhance this story that you feel sorry for Matt because he gets sent home before he can catch his real bug and enter it in the fair, but in the end it all works out well.

Anyone who likes bugs and creepy crawlers will enjoy this book. Lori's rhyming story is a delight to add to any library.

Product Details
Paperback: 24 pages
Reading level: Ages 4 to 8
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing, Incorporated (August 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936381052
ISBN-13: 978-1936381050
Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.3 inches

November 17
Raising Itty Bitty Bookworms

November 18
There's a Book

November 19
The Iron Bodkin

November 30
Into the Wardrobe

Lori's Bio:

Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her website to learn more. Lori Calabrese has a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University in Queens, New York, and is a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature and a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Lori currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and the family pets: two guinea pigs named Up and Down.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Skinks (lizards) and Snakes, oh my!!

Yesterday was critter day in my house. It's bad enough I have a mouse running around driving me nuts in the walls and stuff but the snake was the one that about did me in.

I had to pick my daughter up at the library after school and headed to the bathroom before I left. I turned on the light and almost stepped on the snake. I jumped back in panic mode at first and grabbed whatever I could find to kill him. It took me a bit of time but I found a sturdy oar standing in the corner of the hall area to smash him with. He didn't die too easily though; took me about 3 or 4 minutes to really make sure he was dead. I'm sure he was harmless and would have probably caught the mouse if given the opportunity but I do not like snakes and definitely do no like them in my house, in any shape or form, even though he may not be after me. I took him outside and I think Reeses got him and took him away somewhere because he is no longer where I dropped him. Did I mention I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES AT ALL!!!!

The skink on the other hand has been flitting around on some boxes that are behind my computer desk the last few days but yesterday he got brave and actually came on my desk and visited me on the tray where my laptop sits (very old desk with pullout tray for a keyboard but I use it for my laptop). I got him shooed away from the computer and the desk and I think he did escape to the rainy outside. He ended up going up the outside wall and under the plastic I have covering the bay window that lets in a lot of cold air, so hoping he made it up into the window area and found his escape to the outside.

I think the mouse must have known that I killed his enemy because he was partying in the wall behind my bed last night and driving me nuts. I even bought some mouse traps - those covered glue traps a few weeks ago and he has avoided them completely. As long as hee stays out of my bed and away from me I'm okay with it for now.

And a totally off note not related to critters - State of Heights was proof copy ordered today so hopefully that will be released next week for purchase. This is the fifth book in the series. So far this year, State of Reservations, State of Successes and State of Heights have (will be) released along with Train of Clues (the story that started it all) and my Passport Across America (a supplement to keep track of the books in the series or to use for a traveling companion). Next year, we will release State of Nature, State of Acceleration, and State of Imagination between January and June and two others later in the year (as of yet they are untitled, although a tentative title for book #10 is State of Production, but that will be after I finish tweaking the clues and run it by my friend who usually comes up with my titles; this particular title is because Benjamin got to hear the clues and thought some of them were pretty cool and State of Production was descriptive of the state in more ways than one). I do have a cover for State of Nature, which will be released in January. You can check out all the information on all books available now on my website. All orders placed from the website will be autographed copies except for the Passport Across America as this is not really a story, just an activity booklet to supplement the series.

See you all in the postings - E :)

Monday, November 01, 2010

Good News - Butterfly Halves

I wrote a story for young adults either last year or the year before that had been printed as an ebook, although it didn't win that contest. The first part of this year, I submitted the story to an anthology - a children's story anthology but it was rejected for that anthology asking if I would let them consider it for the faery anthology they were planning. Yesterday (Sunday) when I checked my email, there was notification that the story had been accepted for the anthology. So congrats to me for getting that story published again. Here is the cover that was attached to that story as an ebook:

Grant it, this won't be the cover, but my name will be getting out there in other places. When I have a cover for the anthology, I'll share it. From what I can tell, the publication date is slated for March 2011. Rebel Books will be the ones publishing the anthology. (Looks like the title is Rebel Wing and I'll share a cover when available.) I'll keep you all posted on the updates of the anthology - E :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: Little Shepherd by Cheryl Malandrinos

Little Shepherd by Cheryl Malandrinos
reviewed by Elysabeth Eldering

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 16 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (August 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616330856
ISBN-13: 978-1616330859
Product Dimensions: 9 x 8 x 0.1 inches

Belief. Faith. Miracle.

In Little Shepherd, Obed is given the responsibility of keeping watch over his first flock of sheep. While keeping a watchful eye, the angels from Heaven appear to the shepherds and proclaim the birth of the Savior. Obed and his father and the other shepherds make their way to Bethlehem to see the new King. Obed worries that the flock will not be safe if they all leave, but leaves anyway. Upon returning, he sees that the flock is unharmed and exactly in the same spot he left them.

I have to agree with other reviewers that this is a great Christmas story and is definitely from a different viewpoint. My problem with the story is that the age of 5 seems to be too young to really be given a flock of sheep to herd or to have the fears the Obed experiences when asked to come to Bethlehem to see the newborn babe in the manger.

The story is truly a delight in all other aspects in that it takes the reader through the journey of what those shepherds many years ago experienced. I think Ms. Malandrinos brings a delightful way to tell the Christmas story to readers. A glimpse in the day of a young boy trying hard to find his place in the village.

I encourage families to sit down and read the Little Shepherd and then explore the story from reading the Bible. Have a little faith and stay strong to your beliefs and you can witness a miracle.

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online or the Little Shepherd blog.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Tours continue

Tomorrow, I'll be posting a review for Cheryl Malandrinos' book, Little Shepherd, as part of her virtual book tour. Don't forget about her giveaways as outlined here.

Remember to check out the VBT Writers on the Move ongoing book tour (see schedule on side bar). We have many new authors and some great information to pass on to you all.

Donna McDine is winding her tour down this week for her book The Golden Pathway, so don't forget to catch up with her.

Lori Calabrese's tour starts next week and here is the schedule. Stop the many stops and see what Lori has to offer us. I'll be hosting Lori on the 16th with a review of her book The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, and Lori will be stopping by throughout the day to answer any questios you may have.

November 2 - Mayra's Secret Bookcase

November 3 - Ingrid's Notes

November 4 - Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz's One Writer's Journey

November 5 - Book Dads

November 8 - Brimful Curiosities and The Children's Book Review

November 9 - Mrs. Hill's Book Blog

November 10 - Miss O's Library Land

November 11 - Tara Lazar's Writing for Children (While Raising Them/PiBoIdMo

November 12 - N.A. Sharpe's Realms of Thought

November 15 - Beverly S. McClure's The Story of a Writer

November 16 - Elysabeth's Stories

November 17 - Raising Itty Bitty Bookworms

November 18 - There's a Book

November 19 - The Iron Bodkin

November 30 - Into the Wardrobe

I hope to do a tour the first of the year showcasing the five new books in the state series that will be available. It is a busy time, so just bear with me on working up some new information for a short tour - may only be about a week or so long. See you all in the postings - E :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Come find out what type of writer you are

Come visit me on Robert Medak's blog for an article about writing by outlining or by the seat of your pants, written in honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) which is just around the corner. Come check it out and see you all in the postings - E :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mari Taylor - author of Surviving Unemployment series

My guest today is Mari Taylor, author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions to Go and her newest book - Girlfriends on Surviving Unemployment. Please join me in welcoming Mari for a quick interview and more info on her books.

Mari, why two books on the same subject?

The reason my publisher wanted two books was because the first was a devotional. Not everyone is going to connect with that type of book. So Girlfriends On...Surviving Unemployment is a “girlfriends having tea, cookies and a heart-to-heart talk about surviving unemployment” book. There are some stories and advice here that weren't included in the devotional. And I think the voice is very conversational, just as if I was sitting across the table from my reader. I absolutely love the cover she chose for it. It plays right into the feeling of the book. I'm hoping it reaches those the devotional book might have missed and solidifies a relationship with those who read the devotional.

What's next after these two books?

I am currently under contract for a holiday book. The working title is Celebrating Frugally Elegant Holidays. It will release in 2011. The theme of frugal elegance is one that will run through the majority of my books with See Media, Inc. The holiday book will release under the Simple Joy imprint. The first two books were purse-sized so that readers could slip it in their purse and read it “on the go”. The holiday book will be a full size book. I'm really excited about it!

What exactly is frugal elegance?

My definition of frugal elegance is concrete, simple ideas for maintaining or infusing elegance into your lifestyle without having to “beg, borrow and steal” from other areas of your household budget/spending plans. I know, I hate the “b” word and the “sp” combo as well! But lets face it, in today’s economy, they truly are a necessary evil. This type of lifestyle leads to less stress, more joy, less cash outflow and a life that looks and feels rich, classy and elegant. The bonus to this lifestyle is more time and energy to be extravagant with the relationships in your life. After all, it is quality relationships that truly make your life rich anyway, not the stuff!

So will this year's holidays be “frugally elegant” for your family?

They will. My goal is to test everything in the book before it goes to print. Most of it are things that I've done over the years, but some are new ideas. Those are the ones I want to test drive with my very picky family! I don't want to offer any advice that I haven't used myself. I am also hoping to get a friend or two to join me in using the ideas for the fast approaching holidays. I think it will add more dimension and authenticity to the book.

Marietta (Mari) Taylor resides in Raleigh, NC with her husband of seventeen years and her two teenage daughters. The move from Chicago, IL to Raleigh proved a breeding ground for dusting off her dream of writing. Mari is the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions to Go, released March 2010 and Girlfriends On…Surviving Unemployment, also scheduled to be released in 2010. Mari was also published in Penned From The Heart VOL XV, a devotional anthology. Her column, Frugal Elegance, appears in Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend, an online magazine published by Extreme Diva Media.

Mari strives to show women how to manage the critical aspects of their lives elegantly, frugally and cohesively. Now if she could just get her two high maintenance daughters and one high maintenance husband on board. That ultimately will be the true test of her skill!

Mari has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and currently works in Healthcare IT. She loves forensics and Cafe World on Facebook. She’s a work in progress and ever evolving. The most important thing to her is that through her writing, others would come to know, accept and adore the God who has created such a crazy jumble of things that make her who she is.

To find out more about Mari, check out her sites:
Mari's blog Her personal blog is a hodge podge of book reviews, inspirationsl posts, family and personal news nad whatever else I might think of on a given day

website Her website explains more about my life philospohy of "frugal elegance". You can also find book release information and links to follow me on Facebook and Twitter

twitter account


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Book Review - The Golden Pathyway by Donna McDine

As promised in my previous posting, here is the review of The Golden Pathway, written by Donna McDine. Hope you enjoy.

The Golden Pathway by Donna McDine
Reviewed by Elysabeth Eldering

· Reading level: Ages 9-12
· Hardcover: 26 pages
· Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (August 12, 2010)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 1616330813
· ISBN-13: 978-1616330811
· Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches
· Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces

In the Golden Pathway we are taken back to a time of slaves and rights from wrongs. David's father is an abusive drunk who doesn't care who he hurts, as long as his way is the right way. One didn't have to do anything wrong in his eyes; just being a slave or a young boy coming of age could warrant a beating.

David is a compassionate child who knows that the beatings the slaves receive are not right by any means. He listens to the wails as his father beats the slave Jenkins, a boy not much older than David, but who really looks and acts much older than his stated age of 16. After many nights of helping the slave boy, cleansing his wounds after the beatings, risking his own life to do so, David gets a chance to go into town with his Pa and makes plans to help the slave move to a better life.

Although the book is well written and illustrated, I felt that the ending was too abrupt and that the events occurred too quickly. Knowing that the history of the time period is that for a slave to escape through the Underground Railroad (the actual Golden Pathway to Freedom) takes many days and sometimes even many months to plan and act upon, I felt that the timeframe was off on that this story seemed to occur only over a period of a few days. I almost wanted more story. The story only gives you a glimpse into the time period of slaves and the road to freedom. I give kudos to Donna for writing a children's story focusing on this difficult subject. Donna has taken a complete block of history and condensed it down to a 20-page story in the form of "A Day in the Life of a Slave." I rate this story 4 stars.

Book is available through Guardian Angel Publishing as well as many other online sourcces. Ask your local bookstore to carry the book too.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Promoting through virtual book tours

As many of you know, I participate in the VBT Writers on the Move virtual tour which is an ongoing, monthly tour where we host a group of authors. We offer an array of articles, book reviews and author interviews. See the schedule on my side bar for who is beig hosted by whom. I will be hosting Mari Taylor on this blog on the 6th, Heather (my illustrator for the remaining JGDS books) will be hosting Nancy Famolari on the 9th. I'll be featured on Robert Medak's blog on the 22nd and Heather will be featured on Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog on the 8th.

My good friend Donna McDine is in the midst of her virtual book tour for The Golden Pathway, a historical fiction story about the Underground Railroad. I'm not on her schedule to host her but I will be posting a review of the book tomorrow for her. Her tour has been running since the 7th of September and runs through the end of this month. You can find more on her tour schedule by clicking her name above. Donna is also part of the VBT Writers on the Move and these planned stops are part of her full tour. Stop by and see what Donna has to offer many writers.

Another of my friends, Cheryl Malandrinos, author of the Little Shepherd is starting her 75-stop tour tomorrow. For a full schedule, please visit Cheryl's blog. I will be hosting Cheryl on the 29th of this month with a book review. Cheryl is running two contests concurrently for this tour, which offer readers opportunities to win two different prize packages. Both are open to all, even overseas folks. For the details of the contests, please stop by Cheryl's Pump Up Your Book site. She is offering a package worth about $65 for those who comment during the tour and a package worth about $97 for those who have purchased a copy of the book since its release in August and through the end of the tour. For more on the Little Shepherd, you can follow the book on it's own blog.

The last of my friends (that I'm aware of or participating in a tour with) is Lori Calabrese, author of The Bug That Plaqued the Entire Third Grade. Apparently, there are two tours going on for this book, one through the Indie-Debut roup and one that she is doing in November. If you are subscriber to her newsletter, The Book Bugz, and follow her tour and leave comments, letting her know you are a subscriber, you will be eligible for a prize package. The othe part of the tour starts November 3 and I will be hosting Lori here on the 16th with a review of her book. For more information on both tours, please visit Lori's site and find out where she will be heading on this new adventure.

Other than participating in the VBT Writers on the Move tours, I've not planned any more for my series, yet. I'm working on a new aspect for the study guides (not taking them away as they are geared for individual books, but an added bonus for the series) and so I'm not concentrating on promoting my books like I should. I really need to promoting myself as well but just find myself tied up with work and other aspects of writing that I haven't spent as much time promoting (well, okay not true since I've been gone almost every weekend since the middle of August at one event or another - Love to Learn homeschool conference in Charlotte, NC; Mint Hill's Sunday in the Park in Mint Hill, NC (on the outskirts of Charlotte); Springwater festival in Williamston, SC; Celebration of Books in Highlands, NC; Geofest through the SC Geographic Alliance in Columbia, SC; and the SCBWI-Carolinas fall conference in Charlotte, NC). I'm at a loss this month since I only have one festival scheduled and it's local - the Sugarfoot Festival in my town. Next month I'll be at the CBF in Charleston, SC the first weekend of the month and the following weekend at the Savannah Children's Book Festival - I can't wait for this one; been planning and thinking of it all year. I guess I should work on some more virtual tours for my series since I do have more books available. For those of you following my JGDS series, all information on new releases can be found at either the JGDS blog or the JGDS website. Keep checking back for new books and for the info on the added bonus to the study guides for teachers and homeschoolers and co-ops.

For now, find an author, follow a virtual tour and have fun reading some new books.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Please visit me today

I'm being hosted by J. Aday Kennedy today as part of the VBT Writers on the Move blot tour. Please come visit and leave a comment. I will be back this afternoon (at a conference this weekend) and will answer questions and leave comments when I return home - see you all in the postings - E :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Meet Janet Ann Collins

It is my pleasure to introduce Janet Ann Collins, author of the Peril of the Sinister Scientist.

Let's find out a little more about the person behind the book:

Janet Ann Collins used to write feature articles for a newspaper in the Bay Area, is a columnist for the Antique Auction Explorer and her work has appeared in many other publications.

She is the author of two fiction books for children. The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is about a middle school boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him.

Secret Service Saint
is a picture book about Nicholas, who discovers the fun of doing secret good deeds and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus.

Signs of Trouble, an early chapter book about kids with learning disabilities who get separated from their class on a field trip, will be released in October 2010.

Collins is a retired teacher, enjoys public speaking and often teaches workshops at conferences. With her husband, she raised three deaf foster sons with special needs in addition to their birth daughter, and has one grandson. They live in the beautiful Sierra foothills of Northern California. To learn more about her please visit her website.

Janet can be found doing reviews on her blog

More information about Janet and her books can be found on her website

Books reviews and interviews for, by, or about people with disabilities are occassionally posted on her other blog.


VBT schedule and who's coming next:
Learn from new and experienced authors. Join Writers on the Move September 2010 Authors' Tour.

Visit Helena Harper with more on Debra Eckerling tomorrow.

Visit my illustrator, Heather Paye, on the 9th for a visit with Diane Sagan, ghostwriter.

Check out Heidi Thomas's blog for more info about Heather on the 16th, and visit with Jessica Aday Kennedy on the 26th of this month to find out more about me.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Meet Janet Ann Collins

Tomorrow, I am hosting Janet Collins, author of the The Peril of the Sinister Scientist, a middle-grader/tweener novel. Stop by and see who is behind this fun sounding book.

Book blurb:

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist by Janet Ann Collins is a tweener, or middle grade, novel about a boy who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him. It is available in local bookstores and on many online sites, including Amazon.

Book information:

Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (July 31, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935137794
ISBN-13: 978-1935137795
Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 4 ounces

Janet can be found doing reviews on her blog

Janet's website

Books reviews and interviews for, by, or about people with disabilities are occassionally posted on her other blog.

Book review - Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely! Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite . . .

Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischevious satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.

Fablehaven was recommended to me by Mr. Hughes' 6th grade class. I try to read books that are mentioned during class time if I can find it in our local library system (we now have a 10-county lending system across the state so it is easier to find authors and books that are available to folks in the entire state as opposed to just being limited to our 10-library county). When I first started reading Fablehaven, I found the writing to be passive - no dialogue to speak of, no action, no description, I felt compelled to continue reading until the end. The descriptions come but not so mucch as in your face, out there for the world to see kind of descriptions.

The further into the story I got I did almost feel like I was in a fairy tale land and viewing the creatures as best as I could see them (one needs magical milk to see the fairies and other creatures). The adventures one experiences are not fast-paced or constant but are slowly revealed and what seems like a normal excursion turns out to be a life-turning adventure for Kendra.

If you like mythical creatures and mythology, you will enjoy this book. I'm off to get the next in the series and find out more about the mystical preserve Fablehaven.

Book review - The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle

I finished reading A Cutting Edge last week or the week before and am just now getting to the review.

The Cutting Edge has a double meaning - a hair cutting place and the fact that Skye's shears are razor sharp and could easily cut through skin and veins if she so choose to do so.

Skye Summers is a hairdresser and has been for many years. Over the years, she has grown to dislike her job since she has to put up with the crazy women, and men, who sit in her chair, rambling on and on and driving her insane. She starts fantasizing about killing her clients and how she could get away with it. Enter the "Mass Avenger" unbeknowest to Skye, who happens to be a new client one Wednesday evening (the evening reserved for the men of the town). The Mass Avenger also has a double entendre (the killings are occurring in Massachusetts as the story is set in a small town in Massachusetts and he is avenging all the masses).

As I read further and further, I almost hoped that Skye would eventually knock off one of her clients or her husband's ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his child and uses the child for stupid stuff - trying to cause problems in the marriage (I dealt with a few of the issues similar to what Skye dealt with when my husband and I were first married, whereby his ex-wife would use their daughter who was 5 at the time to call our house and ask for money - stupid stuff). Skye was only a fantasizer but the Mass Avenger was real. Skye becomes the fascination of the Mass Avenger who feels a kinship with her but she doesn't realize this until the end. Skye does quit her job and states that "a serial killer saved my life" when it is all said and done.

As I read through the story and several new male characters were introduced, I kept thinking I knew who the killer was but it turned out I was wrong. For a fun look into a stylist's perspective of the daily doldrums of this type of profession, check out Darcia Helle's The Cutting Edge.

You can find out more about Darcia and her books here. I look forward to seeing more from Darcia.

Friday, August 27, 2010

VBTs are back

Starting Wednesday, September 1, the VBT group will be back in full force -

Well, we're back, and better than ever. We have a couple of new members also. As part of our author group, we try to provide our readers with writing and marketing information as well as updates, information, and reviews on great books.

Each day in September a different author and information will be presented. Just follow the schedule and click on the corresponding day.

So, stay tuned, we start September 1st.

For complete schedule, check out the main VBT blogsite. The schedule and links are also on the sidebar of this blog.

Looking forward to having new folks join us as well as new readers. See you all in the postings - E :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New glasses and more license plates

If you are following my JGDS blog, you will notice I posted about some different license plates on the way home from an event Sunday afternoon/evening. Today, I had to take the kids to town to get their new glasses and on the way home, they saw Missouri and Louisiana plates - yep - you can tell college students have returned as we are seeing many different states' plates. But it is cool for the kids to be aware of these sometimes.

So if you are on a long trip or even a short trip to town, play a game and make the trip more enjoyable - have fun - E :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Want to find some new authors?

If you like learning about new and upcoming authors, you may be interested in stopping by and checking out the newly created forum where authors and readers can join in discussions about upcoming books - E :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Killer Recipes" now available

Print ISBN 978-1-60318-350-5 Suggested Retail $13.95
Ebook ISBN 978-1-60318-351-2 Suggested Retail $5.99 (my only problem about the cover is that it really should say Susan Whitfield, et al since there are many contributors to the cookbook, but other than that, the cover is killer- pun intended)

My online friend, author of the Logan Hunter mystery series, Susan Whitfield has composed a recipe book. She asked other mystery writers to contribute recipes that would be "killer" for the cookbook. "Killer Recipes" is now available. For more information, you can order directly from the publisher's website, L&L Dreamspell or several other outlets. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. So pop on over and check out some killer recipes to try out on your unsuspecting victims, um, I mean family - lol. I've contributed a recipe for no-bake fudge which I borrowed from the Boy Scouts. This is really a no-bake, no-cook anything fudge recipe and it is to die for - so delicious - hope you all enjoy.

I will try to get copies later (after my events) to have on hand but right now there is too much else going on with the JGDS series to worry about adding another non-series book to my list. See you all in the postings - Mrs. E :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alan Gratz, mentioned again

I know I just posted about Alan Gratz' new book Fantasy Baseball and the "fantasy book team" that Beth Revis has going on her blog, but this is worth mentioning in another way. As members of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), we have regional groups as well as international groups. The SCBWI-Carolinas' own Alan Gratz recently did a 6-week stint in Japan under their scholar-in-residence program. How cool would that be to have the recognition of your books to be able to spend several weeks in a foreign country? For more information about Mr. Gratz's visit, read Japan's newsletter (they do a bi-annual newsletter; we do a quarterly one) and see how Alan went back to Japan to work with 7th graders writing stories. It seems one of other illustrators for our newsletter (Pen & Palette) was mentioned also - Bonnie Adamson - for all her wonderful contributions to the SCBWI-C newsletter. For comparison, here is the Carolinas' newsletter. I always have to save the files and then open them; seems I can't just open from the website for some odd reason. Hope you all enjoy - E :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fantasy Book Team?

As a member of the SCBWI-Carolinas group, I'm still lurking but occasionally will see a post I respond to. We have some pretty cool authors in the group and hopefully I get to meet a good many of them at the conference in September. I already know Carol so that will be one person I know for sure. On our little yahoo forum yesterday, Beth Revis posted her "fantasy book team" from a cover of fellow author Alan Gratz who just shared his Fantasy Baseball cover with the group (click on Alan's name for his fun elevator pitch/blurb about the book). Click on Beth's name and read her "fantasy book team" posting and post your own fantasy book team either in her comments section or on your own blog and post your link in the comments for everyone to read. She will feature the best one on her blog in the near future. I might think about posting a "fantasy book team" here but at the moment I can't even think of any characters I'd want for heros, heroines, villians, let alone a plot and setting - have fun with it - see you all in the postings - E :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Great Sale going on over at

I just did a reorder of bookmarks since I've a lot of events coming up in the next couple of months (August 14, 22, 28 and September 11, 18 and then a conference on the last weekend of the month) - When I placed my order back in February, I paid $35 for 1000 bookmarks. Today, I placed a re-order for that same 1000 bookmarks and my shipping was almost as much as my order. 1000 bookmarks for only $15.75 --- HELLO!!!! -That's 1.575 cents per bookmark. So I thought maybe it was a fluke or something. I tried the order form of 2500 and dang, for about $10 more bucks, I could have gotten 2500 which is right at 1 cents each - you can't beat that. If you are an author looking for great quality bookmarks and are in need of an inexpensive online site, definitely go here and check them out. I've had so many compliments on my bookmarks - the quality that is - that I wouldn't dare pay bigger bucks. A sale - you've got to order at least a small batch to see. See you in the postings - Mrs. E :)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Modern day pirates; aka smugglers

This is a cross posting from my JGDS blog.

Max Anderson, an acquaintance from several forums, writes books geared for boys. His latest will be available August 1 - check it out.

Lost Island Smugglers is a new action-adventure that kids will love. Find out more here.

"Sam Cooper Adventures are like good, family movies . . . as an ordinary kid finds himself in exciting and extra-ordinary adventures!" Bill Myers - author

"Max Elliot Anderson brings a lifetime of dramatic film and video production to the pages of his action adventures and mysteries." Jerry B. Jenkins, Author

PS. You can also go to the Lost Island Smugglers UPDATE page for more information.

*The above was taken from Max's blog. For more information about Max and his works, follow the links noted above.

Friday, July 02, 2010

MoonZeLent - a new vampire saga

Check out Heather's blog, my new illustrator, and you will find an interesting interview with an upcoming vampire novelist. The cover for this new novel can be found on her website. She is in the process of adding the cover for "Train of Clues" so keep an eye on this young lady as she has some raw talent and is about to embark on an adventure that will hopefully get her known. She is wanting to work with Disney/Pixar studios in the future, so hopefully the work she will be doing on the rest of the JGDS series covers will help her get there. I'm truly pleased with the cover and inside illustrations for "Train of Clues" and can't wait to hold the booklet in my hands.

As new covers in the series are available, you will be able to see them on my other blog and my website.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good things are happening!

What a whirlwind of a few weeks I've had.

Last Thursday, I attended the Family TOUCH workshop as a vendor. The coordinators of the event are interested in having me come do my workshop "Writing Roads" for the co-op group. Yes, that's the same workshop listed on my website and they are aware of the costs. They will have the families participating contribute to the cost so that I can do the workshop.

My friend, Heidi Ippolito, called me last week and asked if I would be interested in a new venture - a teaching one. Now, I've not taught anything before but I told her to go ahead and give my contact information to the person at the Junior College in town and I would see if I could do it. So today, the young lady calls me (she's the one in charge of setting up instructors for the classes). So, starting Thursday (yes, July 1, this Thursday) I'll be teaching a transcription class at the college - what an exciting new item to add to my resume. (Of course, this is a paid job too, so that makes it doubly exciting).

I've been trying to get in touch with the South Carolina Council for the Social Studies (SCCSS) folks and so today left a message on the president's office phone and her cell phone and she called me back. We were discussing the conference to be held at Myrtle Beach this fall and me being a vendor. I explained a little bit about my books and she asked me to consider doing a presentation for the social studies teachers, the same type of workshop I have geared for kids. So now, I'm thinking with this new teaching job and a little supplement to my income, I can make the trip and do the presentation. I was telling Hailie about it and the first thing she says is that if I go to Myrtle Beach this year, she's going with me. Yay!! Now I know if I go, I'll have help in my booth while I do my presentation, and she will get to spend some time on the beach. She was a bit disappointed to find out that it was in October saying it was too cold in October to go to the beach, but honestly this is South Carolina - hello! - trust me, in October at Myrtle Beach, it will be nice enough for her to be on the beach.

One other place to contact about being a vendor for their 1-day workshop in September and hopefully everything else falls in to place.

And Heather, my new illustrator is working out wonderfully - have the almost final layout for "Train of Clues" and then it's off to the printers, so be on the look out for the story that started the whole series within the next couple of weeks -

See you all in the postings - E :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

VBT virtual tour guest - check it out

I'm the guest of Gary Murning's. This was another fun interview as I got to share a little bit more of myself and actually from a different angle. Check it out and leave a comment - E :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Anonymous Remailer Services and creepy emails

For my email, I use GMAIL and have the notification turned on so I can see who the email is from and the subject. Just a bit ago, I received an email with subject "Books" from Anonymous. I was thinking maybe this person had used my contact form on my website to contact me about ordering some books or something pertaining to my series.

I jumped over and read the email. It was kind of weird. It really is from an anonymous person (due to the services of an anonymous remailer). I have no idea who sent it or why they are targeting me and my books. The email wasn't really bad towards me but towards 4RV in a round about way. I've seen comments on blog postings after I've left a comment that are nonsense type things and haven't really thought much about it. This email is kind of creepy though.

Here is the message from the anonymous person:

Hi Elysabeth,

I wanted to let you know that I've been reading various blogs about your book project. I think you've come up with a wonderful idea for children. I looked at the company's site for more info, but it doesn't look very pleasing. (Did you know they've been red flagged?) I'm glad to hear that you're leaving them because their books look terrible and I don't think you'll get noticed or taken seriously. Hopefully you'll be able to get better looking books with your new publisher and you'll be able to get them into our schools.

Good luck out there.

I tried sending a reply to the emailer and then got another response - basically saying that I couldn't reply to folks using the remailer service but could block them from sending me emails. Here is the reply from my reply email to the anonymous sender:

This message is being sent to you automatically in response to an email
that you sent to .

Most likely, you tried to reply to an email that has been sent through
this service. If you did not send an email to ,
please ignore this message.

The Anonymous Remailer is a free service that
allows individuals including crime victims, domestic violence victims,
persons in recovery, and others, such as those living under oppressive
regimes, to communicate confidentially in a manner that ensures their
privacy under even the most adverse conditions.

To block individuals using this remailer from sending email to your
address in the future, please send a message to
containing the line


anywhere in the body text of the email. You can simply forward this
entire email to using your email
program for your current email address to be permanently blocked
from users of the Anonymous Remailer.

For more information about the Anonymous Remailer Administrator's
strict anti-abuse policy, please send a blank email to


-- The Anonymous Remailer Administrator

It almost makes me feel like I'm being stalked. I wish I knew who sent it so I could figure out what they meant about 4RV being red flagged. I don't agree with them and perhaps they have another publisher confused with who I was with. Weird. Creepy. Unnerving. (I don't want to go into hiding, no I won't do it - lol)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Making room for your Dreams

Make Room for your Dreams
By Debra L Eckerling

There is no better time than now to pursue your dreams – whether it’s to write a book, start a business, or find love. We all are busy, and frequently relegate our passions to the backburner. Well, if that’s the case, that blog will never get written, that concept will never get marketed, and that room will never get redecorated.

Take time, even if it is just a few minutes each day, to dedicate to you. And remember to think positive … and to have a plan. Pursuing your passion is the best gift you can ever give yourself.

1. Visualize: In order to get what you want, you have to see it. If you have trouble seeing it in your mind, let the Sunday newspaper assist. Do you want to write a New York Times bestseller? Then cut that column out of the paper, and write your name in the top spot. Do you want to write a blockbuster movie? Take out the calendar section and rework the text for the weekend’s big release. Want a new house? Go shopping in the “Homes” section, pick out a house, and put it on the fridge or somewhere where you will see it on a daily basis. If you are going to dream, you may as well dream big. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

2. Eliminate Clutter – both physical and mental: All of the positive energy in the world will not help you if your life is cluttered. Clean a closet, you’ll be surprised how free and motivated you feel. Do you have stressors in your life you feel are beyond your control? Get up 5 minutes early and meditate before you start your day. Then, when you have some down-time, you can put your energy towards something positive. It’s amazing the power a dose of “hope” can have.

3. Make a Plan: Set goals: both personal and professional. Even if it’s to organize your workspace in a month or to write a page a day or a page a week, it doesn’t matter. Make goals that are attainable. Also, do not allow yourself to get sidetracked if circumstances beyond your control prevent you from working several days in a row. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.

4. Make Time: The biggest roadblock people face is a lack of time to work on a long-term project. The quick fix is to use the time you have, no matter how short the increment. When you are waiting in line at the grocery or pumping gas, take those few moments to work on your project. If you are writing fiction, do some people-watching, and make physical or mental notes. If you are working on a pitch, you can always practice it in your head for five minutes.

5. Believe in Yourself: There’s a lot to be said about the power of positive attitude. Eliminate negative thoughts and negative people from your life. And, while we’re on the subject, you might want to keep this special project to yourself—at least at first. You can tell one or two people who have your best interests at heart and whom you trust. If you truly believe in yourself and surround yourself with those who believe in you, anything is possible.

Those overnight success stories rarely happen overnight. Remember the Tortoise and the Hare? Slow and steady wins the race. But even better … the shortest distance between you and the realization of your dreams is a straight, consistent line.

Debra Eckerling is a professional writer and the founder and leader of Write On!, a live – and online – writers support group, which focuses on goal-setting, productivity, and networking.

Dream It, Then Do It! Debra recently launched a seminar series with life coach/matchmaker Marla Martenson (author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker), which offers workshops, tools, and inspiration to put people on the path to their dreams.

For more information, e-mail

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Come visit with Debra Eckerling

Debra Eckerling will be my guest Sunday and she has prepared an article on making your dreams come true, which ties in to her goal setting article posted previously. Come visit and see what she has to say on how to make your dreams become a reality. See you all in the postings. E :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Zombies Amuck" second place

I posted previously about all the winnings and good things going on. This evening I had to pick up son from girlfriend's house and then bring him to the house to pick up a few things so I could turn around and take him to his friend's house to spend the night. On the way home, I stopped at the post office since I've not checked it in a couple of days. It was full of fun envelopes and not so fun ones (those are the pesky bills). One of the fun ones was my second place story, "Zombies Amuck," with the judge's comments and my check for winning ($20 for second place; first place person received $30). It's fun trying to decipher the comments made but for the most part they pertained to expanding more, describing more, give more detail, et cetera.

Two of my favorite comments were here: (this is right after George, the main character tries to keep Amy and William, his two best friends, away from the family plot so they don't discover he's a zombie)

"Well, I've seen plenty of graves and there's nothing special about that little plot back there. Figured we should just move on and go find some more interesting ones."

Amy finally caught up to us, her face ashen like she had seen a ghost, or a zombie.
(Judge's comment - Good image)

He did say a little further on that I had use of dialog (whew - because that's what I use most in my stories - lol).

And his final comment: Very interesting story. You develop interesting characters and an element of mystery & surprise in the story. I enjoyed it!

I think if we had a another thousand words I could have developed and expanded the areas that he felt needed more description. As is, the story limit was 2000 words and I came in at 1793 words (so guess I did have a bit more to play with but I don't like really cutting right up the max limit). So now I have a certificate and a story with comments for my entry and who knows, next year I may do it again.

I like getting packages like this in the mail - see you all in the postings - E :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What does the "butt in chair theory" mean to you?

Find out by stopping by Virginia Grenier's blog. She had posted this question on several forums and I responded to her. Come see what I had to say along with several other working/writer women. You may even be surprised by some of the responses. E :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Counters, why do they differ?

I have a counter on both blogs and my website, set up through Amazing Counters as well as one on my website set up through weebly. I was looking at my statistics for the last few days, and this is what I've come up with:

Counters through Amazing Counters:
Website: From 05/16 through yesterday I had 5, 5, 2, 6, 8, 6 and 18
JGDS Blog: Same dates, I had 11, 12, 18, 16, 29, 13 and 26
EEC blog: Same dates, I had 2, 5, 2, 1, 8, 5 and 2

On weebly's counter on my JGDS website, same dates, I had 12, 29, 18, 36, 31, 26 and 64.

Now I don't know about you all but that's quite a difference in hits on my website from both counters. So if anyone knows the answer to that, please leave a comment so I can stop fretting about the peculiar way the counters are adding visits or hits to my sites.

And I will be reaching a milestone for the JGDS blog hits within the next few months. Maybe I'll run acontest or something for hitting 5000 visits to my blog. I'd like to see more followers and more email subscribers over there also. I'm thinking this summer, I will definitely need to run a contest/competition or whatever to try to get more readers/followers/email subscribers, especially since I will be doing several homeschool conferences and there are at least two new titles coming within the next month to month and a half, with one more coming shortly after that. I'm still thinking on this, but I'll keep you all informed on what I decide to do - E :)

And the winning continues

I'm a member of the Foothills Writers' Guild and every spring and fall a members' only contest is held. In the fall, the following categories are available to compete in: Poetry (Guild Prize, Muses Prize, Jean Brabham McKinney Prize, and Children's Poetry Prize), Prose - Fiction (Arrows to Atoms Priza) and Nonfiction (Freedom Prize and President's Choice Prize). In the spring the following categories are available to compete in: Poetry (Archibald Rutledge Prize, Pegasus Prize, Dramatic Poem Prize, and Carolina Prize) and Prose Fiction (Betsy Byars Prize, Sandlapper Prize, O. Henry Prize) and Nonfiction (Gus Wentz Prize).

I entered the Betsy Byars Prize this past spring and won second place (since there were only two winners, I can only guess that only two of us entered this short story for children category as I understand that in some of the past years there have been no entries in this category), which pays out $20.

I'm having fun - lol - see you all in the postings - E :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winner, again!

Talk about it being a good week all around - I've won a second book - a signed galley of Marshall Karp's Cut, Paste, Kill. From the website, here is the original posting with my response. Don't know why I posted a response but it sounded like fun. I apparently was following M. J. Rose's sites stumbling on this contest. The solutions and ad man's answer can be found here, which I like much better than my puny little answer - but it was a starting point I guess. Of course they are advertising gurus, whereas I am not. I do what I can and have very little budget. Maybe I should see if he would do an advertising campaign for my series - lol.

1) I won a copy of Reading Magic by Mem Fox from the Indie-Debut 2010 site (see my posting on the other blog)
2) I've been sending out an email campaign to homeschool associations/groups and so far have hit 25 of the listed 53 states/territories in a total of 11 emails and some of the email addresses are bouncing back but some are bringing in results
a) I've been asked to advertise on The Link Magazine website but I can't afford advertising right now, so will have to wait for that
b) I've been asked to join the H.E.R.I. convention in Jacksonville, FL in July as a vendor (I had considered this one recently but because of the deadline being a couple of weeks ago and me not having the funds at the time, decided to forego this one this year) but they will take applications through the 1st of July, which helps me since I can probably swing the fees by then
c) I've been asked to consider attending another conference next year (this year's has already happeened) in Illinois as a vendor (this one being a 12+ hour drive, I really need to think about this; perhaps they will have an advertising campaign that I can participate in)
d) From the email campaign, received a response stating that she had passed info to other members in the group and that her daughter loves geography and history and that they would be using my books to study US History in the fall - I told her about the special deal I had going right now, and she placed an order (my first sale for Reservations) this morning - woohoo - go me!!! - (for more information on this, please see my other blog for a "Sweet Deal" - the deal has been extended to June 5, so order your copies in the next two weeks)
3) I won a copy Marshall Karp's book as listed above.

Hopefully the emails will pay off in the long run and Reservations will be in my hands by the 15th of June and Altitude will be available shortly after that. I'll keep you all posted (on the JGDS blog) when books are available. E :) - ((((((doing the happy dance, has won two books and things are looking up for the series))))))

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Well, First I didn't know I was even entered for a drawing of anything when I posted my comments but when I was contacted by the person for my address, I was like - wow - I won and didn't even try to win - lol. Check out Indie Debut's 2010 posting on what I've won. Thanks, Donna McDine, for posting the wonderful topic which led me to write an article for the VBT Writers on the Move this month. The original discussion on Indie Debut's 2010 site can be found here.

Check out my other blog for a limited time sweet deal on the first three books in my series. Deal is good through midnight tomorrow night. Come on over and order your copies today. E :)

On being human

I received this posting from Heidi Thomas, author of Cowgirl Dreams this morning and felt that it was worth sharing with you all. Hope you enjoy. E :)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Is Free Profitable by author Dana Donovan

Ten years ago I finished my first book, "Attraction of Blood". Since then I have written another ten books, taking time between each to author the perfect query letter design to hook a literary agent into selling my work. Typically, after a hundred or so rejection letters, I convince myself that maybe this book doesn't have what it takes to go mainstream, and so I endeavor to write a better, more marketable novel that no agent in his right mind can pass up. Such has been the endless cycle of the last decade.

Naturally, amid all the writing and querying, I am also self promoting, self publishing and self marketing. For most of you, this is nothing new. That you are reading this now is likely because you are a member of VBT or some other writers group and by being here, you are presently engaged in this very practices.

So my topic today is more of a question, which I will pose after sharing this observation with you. It is something I have noticed this past year having participated in the monthly rotation of hosting and being hosted on the "Writers on the Move Virtual Book Tour." There seems to be two equally interesting facets to the typical format that participating members employ when featured on the tour.

First is the self promoting format. I love this type. Except for the newest members to the VBT community, I have stopped by all your blogs and met (I think) everyone in the group. The diversity amazes me. The wealth of talent assembled within this micro community inspires and encourages me to plow ahead whenever I feel deflated by the infinite dead ends I hit in my efforts to further a career still in-waiting. So to all of you I say thanks. Your good-fellowship is priceless and heart warming.

The second format that I see employed in these tours is the academic side. Though I love the self promoting facet, I especially appreciate the brass tacks, tactile, take it and run advice that some of you offer when your turn comes up in rotation. I am talking about the helpful hints and pointers offered as a means to further one's career, to move one beyond the rut that we all sometimes find ourselves in. Stephen Tremp does this well, so does Marvin Wilson, the Old Silly. Last week I hosted Mayra Calvani who also shared with us her tips on helping us dig out of our ruts by cultivating the right mood for the type of writing we are trying to express. Karen, Lea, Maggie; you too work the ropes expertly. Truth is that many of you thoughtfully share tips with us of things that have worked for you.

It is in that spirit that I attempt to share with you something that has recently worked for me in gaining exposure as an author, and by extension, sales of my books. My suspicion is that this may not, in fact, be news for some of you, but hopefully it will be for others.

What is this cool marketing tool? Perhaps not so surprisingly, it is the oldest marketing tool in business, used by corporations large and small, by emerging young enterprises, pushcart street vendors and even (though I don't condone it) by illegal drug dealers. I am talking about the Free Sample, the Buy-One-Get-One and the outright Free-No-Questions-Asked promotions.

Like many of you, I am self published and have listed electronic versions of my books on, among other places, Smashwords. I applaud their concept: read half free, buy the rest if you like it. It is not original. I know that. Frankly I have used that same marketing strategy on my on website for years. But I have recently taken that construct to another level. Instead of letting a prospective buyer read only some of the manuscript (book), I let them read all of it. Better still, I let them read a second one as well, absolutely free. The hook is the same. If they like it, they will buy more. What I have found, however, is that if they like an entire book (or two) they are far more likely to buy additional books from you than they are if given only half. Trust me on this. I have really followed this closely.

To be clear, again we are talking about ebooks only now. Naturally, print copies are out of the question. That said, I can tell you that sales of my ebooks on Smashwords have been fair, especially compared to e-versions at Lulu. In the first few months on Smashwords, where nine of my books are listed, I averaged one thousand sample downloads, resulting in six books actually sold. A little over a month ago I made available the first two books of my Detective Marcella Paranormal Mysteries series totally free. This resulted in a virtual flood of ebook downloads (nearly 8000 in six weeks), which translated into one hundred and seventy eight sold copies of my other books!

Of course, this does not work well if you only have one book, but it does if you have two or more, which many of you have. Now I know that no author relishes giving away her hard work for free, but the exposure to a mass audience is something I am willing to compromise on. The sales this month of my ebooks on Smashwords by far eclipses the sale of those same books on Lulu in the past ten years. Does that mean it is right for you? Maybe not, but I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter just the same.

So now my question. What practice do you employ to bolster sales of your books, and how well is it working?

Dana E. Donovan,
author of the Detective Marcella Paranormal Mysteries series
Resurrection, Abandoned, Skinny and more.

free downloads>

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Prom 2010

I haven't posted much on the kids lately but just got this picture of daughter and her boyfriend at prom. Aren't they adorable? I like the dress she finally decided on, although the other one she had bought was very pretty. I'd like to see it on the girl she lent it to so that I know it wasn't a wasted purchase. E :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Meet Author Dana Donovan

Dana will be my guest author on May 6. Check out how he's turned "free promotion" into a profit. Here is a bit about Dana and his books:

Dana Donovan grew up in New England where folklore and superstitions can mold a town’s history as much as its people. Here, in the fictitious town on New Castle, Dana exploits that phenomenon, perpetuating the enigma of small town life and the belief in all that dies is not dead.

Books by this author include: Abandoned, A Talisman’s tale, Resurrection, Skinny, Death & Other Little Inconveniences, The Witch’s Ladder, Eye of the Witch, The Witch’s Key, Bones of a Witch, and soon to be released Witch House. For more about the author, stop by his website.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Q: Wiffiti?
A: Wi-Fi/graffiti

Okay, it's a funny sounding name and probably hasn't made the rounds yet but according to SLJ's article "Cell phones in the classroom? Wiffiti says yes," this new method of using cells phones in the classroom (for educational purposes, not just to have them in the class) is the new and upocming thing. For more, check out the article by clicking the linked SLJ's above.

I checked out Wiffiti's site a little and I can see this being used for brainstorming, especially in a writing class or even, as one teacher used it for, as help tool for foreign language classes.

There are probably as many uses for cell phones in the classroom as there are schools and teachers. Check it out and see what you think. I'd love to hear some of your opinions on this. Leave a comment - E :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Today is earth day and according to one site I happened upon today, this is the 40th year we have been celebrating earth day. I think earth day really came to be known as such within the last ten years or so. What all are you doing to save the earth?

While I was out briefly around noon time today, I was thinking of ways I could help save the earth. It's 3/4 of the way through April and in the South, it starts really warming up here, although my hormones are changing (not for the better at this point in my life), just leaving my car parked in an unshaded area for about 15 or 20 minutes I found it rather warm when I got back in. I hadn't been running my car air conditioner (certainly not the one at home since it's still pretty chilly in my downstairs work/sleep area) very much and I had to turn it on for a couple of minutes to cool the car down and I thought - what's a person in the south to do when it's hot and humid and all the pollen is out and making breathing intolerable without air conditioning. I didn't really want to turn it on, but had no choice because if I had opened my windows, I probably would have sneezed all the way home from the grocery store and wouldn't have been able to see too well driving.

So although I only ran the air conditioning a couple of minutes to help quelch the heat in the car, I wasn't doing anything to save the earth. But I'm trying to do better.

Recycle your plastic water bottles and use them every day (they make great trip bottles to pack in a cooler and have water handy in your vehicle for emergencies). Don't send them to the landfills. Turn off lights when not needed. Don't open and close the refrigerator a lot looking for something to eat.

No matter how small you think the deed is, if it helps save the earth, do it. So what are you doing in honor of earth day? Mrs. E :)