How an Iceberg is a Metaphor for a Great Story

Icebergs. I was thinking about icebergs this week.  The movie Titanic came to my mind, dragging with it the factual research I did just because I love learning about real events. That and more flowed through my brain in a moment of time along with the metaphor for writing a great story.

In case you’ve never thought about an iceberg, let me explain its deception. What you see floating on top of the water is only a fraction of what lies beneath.  A great story should be like that. The first page expands to the first chapter and holds your interest. Then as you turn the pages you go deep below the surface and find out the unexpected, the hidden things. Those parts of the story that bring it to life and take you on the adventure.

The iceberg which the Titanic hit was unexpected. It appeared smaller in the dark than it was, and the tragic adventure awaiting those unfortunate enough to draw near became the fate of the passengers.

Now, I’m not saying our novels should make people regret they read it.  Rather it should surprise them. The first page is in the middle of the action. The reader sees the action and wonders why and what is happening. If we throw a lot of backstory in the first chapter, then it resembles an inverted iceberg where all the height and breadth of it is there for all to see. Classic authors like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens began their books in such a way, telling us the why of the story and revealing the characters’ personality before we enter the scene.

The part beneath the water line is what makes the iceberg such a formidable foe for a ship or submarine that gets too close. Keeping that thought in mind consider the reader who discovers more of the characters and the story theme with every turn of the page. Now they are drilling down below the waterline and discovering more things of interest. An iceberg contains remnants of times past in its frozen layers. Once part of a larger ice mass, it now floats free in the water. As the reader turns pages of a novel he will discover the connectivity of characters with their past, the evil behind the idyllic setting, or the seeming uncrossable chasm between two lovers.

The difference between the massive ice and a novel is the conclusion. The iceberg will over time dissolve. What a boring fate. In contrast, a novel concludes with loose ends of the story resolved and the theme played, hopefully giving the reader a feeling of satisfaction as they reach the end. Or even better, a desire to read more from the author.

Writing life after Retirement

I’m Retired!!!

They say to wait until you make enough money writing to replace your job before you quit. My social security pretty much covers what I made at my part-time job. So, I think that qualifies.  Now that we are at last empty-nesters, our expenses have dropped significantly. I’ve worked part-time in some capacity for over 20 years. And before that, I homeschooled my five children for 15 years. Yep, and I still have most of my mind intact.

Choosing my own time to write.

I am a morning person. My most creative time is before noon. On my days off from work, I devoted my mornings to writing. Now I have every morning to write. Some may feel the need to hit the ground running. Me? I’d trip and fall in the process. Last week as my first full week of retirement. I took it slow. I need to figure out my new normal. Design a schedule that works for me and my husband. He is a writer too. We are also doing some rehab on our home and have ten grandchildren to spend time with. Did I mention I have five children? They have spouses. So yeah, it’s easy to get distracted from my writing goals.

Why retire?

When I was asked why I was retiring, I replied it’s time. I needed to devote more time to the thing I love—crafting stories. The company I worked for is now a new company under new management and the changes were—well changes. And some new software is on the way.

It was time. Stress from work made it hard to focus on writing. Wearing a mask for hours made me exhausted at the end of the day. And I’d felt God ‘s nudge back in 2019 that 2020 would be the year I would retire.

Is writing a real job?

Some who asked were the people who work those few-hours-a-week jobs to keep themselves busy. They had no idea how busy I would be writing every day. Most people haven’t a clue about all that is involved in creating a novel and marketing it. Even my son asked if I was going to get another job. He knows I have novels published. Yet, in his mind, it’s not a job. I love the sweet man and let his remark fade in the background.

Picking up the pace

Now on week two, I am ready to hit the ground at a quick walk. I have a to-do list and have scheduled my day to include time for things other than writing. I need to learn new marketing and find ways to improve my social media presence to name a few.  I’m more rested, less stressed, and looking forward to the days ahead. I’m sure I’ll continue to adjust my schedule as I navigate my new normal. So far it is everything I imagined it would be.

Have you retired from your job to write full-time? What does your day look like? Curious minds want to know.



Bogged Down by Murder’s Author and Editor Kathy Cretsinger

Delighted to have Kathy Cretsinger with me today. Welcome, Kathy.

Thank you, Cindy, for inviting me to be on your blog. I love writing and talking to people about writing.

My writing career began several years ago. My friend, Wilburta Arrowood, visited me and told me I could write. I’ll have to say I had doubts. I wanted to write but had no idea how to get started. Wilburta helped me to get the writing bug.

After attending several conferences, I decided to self-publish my first book, and I began Mantle Rock Publishing in 2012. Little did I know I would not have time to write for myself, but we published a lot of books in the last eight years, several were best sellers.

In July 2020, I sold most of the company to a friend, and she started Scrivenings Press. Now, I have time to write for myself and publish a few books for friends. This brings me to my first book in two years, Bogged Down by Murder.

My husband grew up in a community in Tennessee called Shady Valley. Shady Valley is a beautiful part of heaven nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Three mountains surround the valley, and the Appalachian Trail runs through the top of Holston Mountain. The other mountains are Cross Mountain, which the Trail also runs across, and Iron Mountain. There is only one way to leave the valley without going over a mountain, the Gorge. The Gorge is part of Cherokee National Forest and includes an area called Backbone Rock. Beaver Dam Creek runs through the forest, filled with trout and rolling over rocks.

Inspiration for this book came from my daughter. We were leaving the valley after the Cranberry Festival a couple of years ago, and someone said something about Shady Valley. My daughter said, “Nothing shady ever happens in Shady Valley.” My brain began to turn, and I started working on this book. There are cranberry bogs in Shady Valley, not placed by human hands.

Shady Valley has a lot to offer people. It is secluded, quiet, and peaceful. We love to go to Shady Valley to visit with family, but we especially enjoy a slower pace of life. You buy with cash or check.

Tell us a bit about this mystery.

Imagine this. A city woman inherits a farm in Shady Valley, and she has to live there for six months to get the inheritance. She owns a large company that teaches people how to eat and live healthy. Shady Valley is a farm community. Most everything is either fried or not what she eats. She dreams of changing the community to eat as she does, no bread, fried food, potatoes, rice, sugar, or most meats. My mind began to go in different places, but I eat a lot like that. I knew the difficulties Daisy would encounter.

My writing this book, in particular, was encouraged by my husband and daughter. They kept me on track with everything. I had never written a cozy mystery, but now I love them. The series, Nothing Shady Ever Happens in Shady Valley, has several more books in my head. The next book will release in the spring, “Death by Doubloons.” My husband keeps telling me to finish other projects I’m working on and to finish this book on time.

My favorite place to write is in my office. The office is not the most glamorous place, but the best place for me.  I have Age-Related Macular Degeneration. I can’t see the screen of a laptop, but I have my laptop hooked up to a large screen. I have tried other places, but this is the best for me. I can think better, and I can close the door, even lock it.

A giveaway

There will be a drawing for a copy of Bogged Down by Murder. To qualify, you must leave a comment on this blog. The book releases August 31, 2020, but the E book is on preorder on Amazon. Click here.

More about Kathy

Kathy Cretsinger and her husband migrated from the hills of East Tennessee to the flatlands of Kentucky several years ago to be close to their children and grandchildren. This brought another change in their lives. Kathy began publishing her books, and a few years later, she decided to help other authors who are having a hard time in the publishing industry by starting Mantle Rock Publishing LLC. Recently, Kathy sold most of her publishing company to Scriverings Press.

Kathy loves being close to her family and enjoys growing orchids, which continue to multiply. She is now finding more time to write the books that have lived in her head for the last few years. Visit her at where she has a weekly blog.



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A List of Writing Craft books to Help make your Word Shine

We’ve written our first book all by ourselves. The words materialized on the page. It’s a best-seller.  So naïve. The publishers squash our dream of mega sales after multiple rejections. How is that possible?  Could it be we know nothing about creative writing beyond what we learned in English class? Time to get educated. Conferences are not always cost effective for newbies putting their toe in the writing river.

However, there are lots of writing craft books out there by well-established authors who took the time to share their best practices in a book.  I asked a few of my writer friends to tell me their favorite craft books and the response made me want to check out new resources. No matter what you struggle with as you create that manuscript there are books to guide you step by step. Most of the authors mentioned here have multiple writing craft books.   

Books that introduce you to the art of writing

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas

(Donald Maas is the go-to guy for teaching writing excellence.)

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

(A classic)

On Writing by Stephen King

(another classic)

The Emotional Craft of Writing by Donald Maas

21st Century Writing by Donald Maas

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner

The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Books that speak to specific areas

Every writer stumbles with some aspect of writing. One of the suggestions below is sure to help.

How to manage your time to write your book

The Chunky Method by Allie Plieter

The flow and structure of your novel

First Pages of Best Sellers-What Works What Doesn’t and Why By C.S. Larkin

Super Structure the Key to Unleashing the Power of Story by James Scott Bell

First Fifty Pages by Jeff Gerke

Write your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell

The Last Fifty Pages by James Scott Bell

Specific areas writers struggle to grasp

Writing Unforgettable Characters by James Scott Bell

Voice: The Secret Power of Great Writing By James Scott Bell

Plot vs Character by Jeff Gerke

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Conflict vs Suspense by James Scott Bell

How to Write Dazzling Dialog by James Scott Bell

Writing Deep Viewpoint; Invite Your Readers into the Story by Kathy Tyers

Now you’ve finished your manuscript but do not understand the proper way to edit it. And rewriting is not very appealing after you’ve just sweated over 200,000 words. (please don’t even think about publishing that many words in one tome.)

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

Revisions and Self-editing for Publication by James Scott Bell

Murder Your Manuscript By Andrea Merrell

What about author blindness?

27 Blunders and How Not to Make Them by James Scott Bell

Writing with Excellence 201 by Joyce K. Ellis

What to do with your craft books

The key to success in learning the craft of writing when you acquire any of these books—READ them,  DO the exercises. Take the advice and apply it. It is better to buy one book and wear it out, rather than every book on this list, and leave them on your bookshelf. (Guilty.)

Then my last encouragement is to read in the genre you want to write. For example, if you want to write a thriller, read many, and study how the authors construct their stories. Read the best-sellers to discover how and why they are so popular. This applies to non-fiction too. Grab them up and observe the structure of the book. Most are available in e-book if that is your preference. There are hundreds of books available on writing craft. So, take the plunge and see if your writing doesn’t improve exponentially.

Add your favorite writing craft book in the comments.

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Ann Peachman Stewart’s writing passion sparked by caring for the elderly

Today I welcome writer Ann Peachman Stewart. She used her passion for the elderly and their families to find her writing niche. Welcome, Ann. let’s start out with a bit about your writing journey.

In 2007, my world turned upside down. Although my husband had suffered from worsening heart disease for several years before that, it wasn’t until the week he died that I realized I was going to lose him. I was 53, working full-time, one of my three children still at home and in the throes of grief. Nothing about my life made sense.

I decided to do what all the experts say not to—I made a major life change. I started a two-year course with the Christian Writer’s Guild. I’d always written and wanted to pursue it more, but life got in the way. The course changed me, and during the second year, I discovered I could write fiction, which blew me away. I went on to complete two more courses with them and had the input of amazing authors. I published articles, started a blog, wrote a novel, went to conferences, and continually worked to become a better writer.

This year has been another “turn my world upside down” year. Besides the pandemic, which has turned everyone’s world upside down, I retired. Three people who were special to me died of COVID-19. I finally started my website and moved my blog there. I’m transitioning my role from Advocate (my job) to supporting and advocating online. I also plan, this fall, to plot my next novel and begin to write it (again!)

Last week I officially retired from my job. I look forward to more time to write as well.

How did eldercare become your passion?

The short answer is: through working with them. In the 21 years I worked with elderly, I met wonderful people who changed me forever, bitter individuals who taught me how not to respond to life circumstances and many “characters” who generated great stories and taught me to laugh. I had many positions, but my title in the last years was Advocate. I supported the care partners who worked tirelessly to care for the elderly, their families and the elderly themselves.

I saw a gap. My residence had always esteemed the elderly. In the last several years they’d learned to respect and elevate the position of the care partners who looked after them. But the families…Those of us who worked as Advocates supported the families through admission to palliative care and death, but most homes didn’t have advocates or something similar. Families experienced unnecessary stress because of a lack of support. It became my dream to bring my blog to a place where I can support a wider audience.

This is so wonderful. Both of my parents had to transition to care facilities. Dad is gone but mom is now in a skilled care facility. With the pandemic, it makes things so much more difficult for caregivers. I so appreciate you.

Now let’s talk about your writing. What is your greatest writing challenge?

Right now, it’s SEO, search engine optimization. How to find my audience and have them find me? I’m trying to learn without spending more money, as setting up the web site was an investment. Second would be actually getting paid to write. Everything on the blog is free but I’m trying to submit more articles. Like many writers, I shy from marketing. Trying to push myself out of that comfort zone at least once each week.

I can so relate to the difficulty of marketing. I find it so much easier to help others. You have a passion in a specific niche. May God bless your search.

What inspired you to write the book you just finished?

The Trouble With Mom explores the journey of a dysfunctional family when their strong, choleric mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The protagonist, Marg always struggled with feelings of insecurity when it came to her relationship with her mother, but now found herself at odds with her siblings, her husband, and her daughter. While looking through paperwork at her mother’s house, Marg discovered the missing piece which explained everything and gave her insight into the trouble with Mom.

The families I worked with provided my inspiration. Most had some relationship problems before they became caregivers and the stresses of that journey exacerbated it. Fear made them angry and entitled, worry caused them to fight among themselves. Through developing a trusting relationship, I was able to support them and allay their worries and fears, but what about those families who had no advocate? That thought was my inspiration. My book is not published. YET.

Sounds like a great premise. And there are a lot of boomers out there in this situation. I look forward to reading it when it comes out.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

In grade three I realized I could write (and I couldn’t do math!) but sometime during that first course with Christian Writer’s Guild, I caught a vision. I could write, be published, and make a difference. Wow!

I took that course. I understand the feeling.

Is there a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

I believe God plans to use me, and that’s incredibly exciting!


What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love Christian fiction. When my church library closed with the pandemic I was bereft for several weeks until I discovered how to get free audiobooks online. Now I can do my housework and read at the same time! I learn from other authors and hopefully, it helps me improve my craft.

I’m about to make the leap to listening to audiobooks myself. Everyone I know who have loved the experience.

Now please tell us about your blog.

Started in 2012, Small Miracles seeks to provide support to those who care for elders. Do you give hands-on care? Are you a professional caregiver? Are you family of someone living in a care setting? Or perhaps you volunteer or have a friend you visit occasionally? Every one of these scenarios is a “care partner”—part of the team who cares for that person. My mission, through the blog, is to provide education, support, and resources to support you.

The name, Small Miracles, came from my belief that although the journey of the care partner is difficult, God supplies small miracles along the way to give us joy, if we look for them.

More about Ann:

As someone who worked among the elderly for 21 years, Ann Peachman Stewart developed a passion for respectful eldercare which provides purpose and growth to the end of life. In that time, she gathered a treasury of experiences and stories, some of which play out in the lives of her characters. In supporting families as they take on the role of caring for an elder, Ann empathizes with their confusion and fear and how it manifests. Dysfunctional families can become more so and relationships may become strained. She reaches deep to find both compassion and the ability to have difficult conversations. Her sideways sense of humor keeps her sane and she brings the richness of these experiences to her novel and blog.

Ann, writing from a Christian perspective, recognizes that people of faith, like other humans, sometimes fail when facing a crisis. She strives to bring authenticity to her characters as they stumble, learn, and grow.

Ann Peachman Stewart began her career with no education in this field but later obtained her Certificate in Gerontology with Ryerson University. A life-long learner, she completed the Apprentice, Journeyman and Craftsman courses with The Christian Writer’s Guild. She won awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing through Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and has been a Word Weaver’s president since 2011. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and is owned by a dog named Teddy.

Visit Ann on social media.

Facebook Author Page:







Ann is doing a very special give away for September. A stress reliever box valued at $20. Click on the link below and refer a friend for another chance. Click the link in her social media list above to follow Small Miracle of you are interested in her eldercare help.



How adding smell and taste to a manuscript can draw a reader deeper

One of the hardest things at times to describe in a novel is the sense of taste and smell. They are probably the least mentioned for that very reason. We may say it was a delicious meal of roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Or the stench was overwhelming in the closed-off room. We leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  We all have our ideas of what that roast tasted like and what constitutes a rank smell.


We better serve our readers when we can create the smell on the page. It helps them go deeper into our stories. Let’s take these two examples and see what we can do. (When I say we, I am expecting some of you to add your own creation in the comments.)

The meal mentioned above seems pretty common, and delicious is a relative term. I do not find anything delicious about Jalapeno peppers so if they were in the mash potatoes, I would disagree 😊. If the meal is essential to creating your story world or to revealing something about your characters, you need more than delicious.

What does this delicious roast taste like? Taste includes texture.

The Dr. Pepper marinate gave the melt-in-your-mouth pork roast a touch of sweetness. Betty’s mash potatoes reminded Leo of Ma’s home cooking, just a few lumps, and extra pepper. He’d never had green beans laced with bits of bacon, but the flavor made him scoop out another serving. Betty’s food erased the last ten years of loneliness with a meal laced with memories of his childhood.

Okay, not great but you get the point. Texture was added with lumpy potatoes. For Leo that made them delicious because his mother’s always had lumps. Can you see how I tried to give you a bit about Betty’s character? She doesn’t cook with wine, rather soft drinks. Cooking is her love language for sure.

How would you show the reader the delicious meal? Add it to the comments.

Let’s look at the smell reference now.

The overwhelming stench in a room could be anything from stinky shoes to a corpse. The sense of smell is often described with similes.

Jeffrey’s socks would stand like sentinels after he’d worn them for two weeks. Mother used tongs to capture the pair and marched the offending objects to the trash. Her other hand covered her mouth while she made retching noises.  My brother swore his favorite football team did better if he never changed his socks. And I swore if I had to sleep one more night breathing in the scent of raw sewer I would toss his bed out the window with him in it.

Again not great, but you get my point. Can you smell the socks?

Now it’s your turn to paint a scene to describe an overwhelming stench coming from a closed-off room.

We don’t want to fall into purple prose, overwriting descriptions. There are moments where the senses of taste and smell are important in crafting your story. If you understand your character and your setting, then you’ll know which of the five senses will best show the scene to the reader.

In the taste example, we see Leo as a lonely man who loved his childhood. And as I said it appears Betty’s love language is cooking. These could be the beginning of a romantic connection or a mother-son relationship. Food would play a big part in this story no matter what genre it is because I have given it as a connection between these characters.

In the smell example, Jeffrey is superstitious and oblivious to the grief it is causing his family. His long-suffering brother is at his wits’ end. I’d like to know what other ways these brothers are different. Is he the long-suffering younger brother or the patient older brother? This appears to be a smell example for the moment, but in a YA book stinky feet could be referenced throughout the story.

Okay, share your rewrites with me in the comments or post a favorite sensory description from a favorite book or a novel you’ve written.

I’d love to see your examples and it’s a great way to wake up your brain for your writing projects.


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A peek at Sherri Stewart’s newest work and a giveaway

Sherri Stewart is my special guest today. Like me, she is a Jubilee Writer. One who started her career later in life. I am so encouraged by her life message and her newest release.

Welcome, Sherri. I always like to start out these interviews learning about my guest’s writing journey.

I came to writing late in life, but my publisher has been helpful in keeping her writers busy writing for new series and collections. I’ve had a lot of careers: French teacher, Principal, Flight Attendant, and Immigration Attorney, which inform my writing a great deal. Word Weavers International opened my eyes to the world of writing and helped me improve. Now I run a freelance editing business and have too much work since March when the pandemic began. I guess there are a lot of writers who dusted off old projects during the last five months.

As busy as you are you’ve managed to get another of your own projects done. Tell us a bit about it.

The Promise Keeper is a romance novella that will also be part of a Christmas collection. The common theme is “Misstletoe,” missed chances. Readers who enjoyed Serendipity, An Affair to Remember, and Sleepless in Seattle will like this book.

I’m intrigued. I loved those movies.

All writers do research on some level to bring realism to their work. How do you research your books?

First, I read every book I can find on the period and place in which the book takes place. I watch every documentary on Prime and on YouTube. There’s a goldmine of information on YouTube. So for my latest release, The Promise Keeper, the characters meet in London at an Eagles’ concert, so I bought tickets to their concert at Wembley Stadium, and if the characters eat at a specific restaurant, I eat at the restaurant—even order the same food. I walk the streets to get a feel for the architecture, the atmosphere, the smells, etc. Sadly, because of the COVID virus, I had to cancel my trip to the UK. But I’ve been studying the Welsh language for the last six months, and I’ve watched every travel film I could find on Wales. Fortunately, some of the book took place in Atlanta so we were able to visit without fear of spreading the virus to other lands.

I appreciate that you didn’t let COVID keep you from your research. There is so much available information out there without traveling to a location. I love how immersed you get in your research. Can’t wait to read The Promise Keeper. We authors often get a germ of an idea that evolves from there. What inspired you to write your book?

I’m not a big chick-flick fan, but I have my favorites—Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity. In fact, it was Serendipity that made me start thinking, what if? There’s something charming about destiny bringing two people together, yet it’s even more exciting if the God who created us has a special someone in mind for us, and He brings us together in creative ways. That’s the essence of the providence of God. So I started thinking: What if God had two Americans who live far apart meet up in another country? Since they’d eventually return to their own homes, they’d have to make plans to meet up sometime in the future. Wales came to mind. I don’t know why because I’ve never been there, but since choosing Wales, I’ve fallen in love with the country and have been studying Welsh, which is a daunting language.

Wow! What a wonderful premise. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your writing process and your upcoming novella.

A bit more about my guest:

Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance, and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. Sadly, her research for The Promise Keeper trip to Wales and London was canceled due to COVID, but she did visit Atlanta, and she’s still learning Welsh for a future visit. A recent widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her lazy dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who can fix anything. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at

A giveaway- who doesn’t love those.

 Sherri will do a giveaway of The Promise Keeper. Leave a comment here on teh blog for a chance to win. She’ll choose a winner on Friday to receive either a paperback or e-book copy.

Link for The Promise Keeper:


Connect with Sherri Stewart


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Show some love, do a book review

We all have our favorite authors, favorite genre, even favorite plot lines. Yet how many of us write reviews when we finish a book. I try hard to write reviews for every book I read. Sometimes I’m an epic fail. Book reviews don’t have to be very long. I’m not sure how many people take the time to read a long one. I know I don’t. Often we are intimidated by those professional sounding reviews that talk about things like POV. All authors need reviews. It shows publishers that the author has fans. It helps the author get noticed. Amazon gives them more screen time if the reviews reach the key levels of 50 and 100.

Your review can be a few lines, a few words even.

I loved the story.

This is my favorite author. This book did not disappoint.

I love Mail Order Bride stories, and this was delightful.

The characters were so real.

I dreamt about the story and what was going to happen next with the characters.

You don’t have to give a 4 or 5-star review. Sometimes 2 stars reviews can help with sales too.

I prefer the bedroom door closed. (Someone else might like it open.)

The story world was so weird. (another sale to those who love weird.)

I wish I’d read the first book in the series then things might have made more sense. (Possible series sale.)

Each of these comments is short but lets the author know why you gave it a lower rating.

If you are worried about typos

Amazon and Goodreads catch them and highlight so you can correct them before you post it.

The authors you love have a better chance to get more contracts with lots of reviews.

Show some love by praising their work for others to read.

It only takes a few minutes of your time to write one. I posted six this week. None of them are more than a paragraph. And two of the books were 2-stars.

It’s your opinion

Reviews are opinions and everyone has different expectations of what they want in a book. Romance readers have a hot-o-meter when it comes to sexual tension. Historical readers want accuracy in setting and culture. Fantasy and otherworldly fans may gravitate toward specific characters ie.. vampires, aliens, or shapeshifters. All of these expectations determine the kind of review the reader will give.

Some readers are afraid if they give a negative review the author may respond with angry comments. Most authors don’t. As I said reviews are opinions and an author who isn’t thick-skinned enough to handle a less than stellar review without waging a war against the commenter probably should find another profession.

Writers, do you post reviews of books you read?

No. Do you claim you don’t have time? You had time to read it. Use the review writing as an opportunity to warm up your brain for the projects you’re creating. Besides if you write reviews, those authors may return the favor.  And I am going to pretend there are no authors out there who never read. Writing reviews should be part of your marketing strategy. It shows you are part of the reading community. And readers love to talk about books.

No need to write a new review for each book sale site

Everyone can cut and paste the same review on Amazon, Goodreads, Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and any other site where you buy books. It’s especially helpful to post reviews directly on the publisher’s website.

Please, please, please write reviews.



Great Summer Reads to add to your TBR pile

As always I’m feeding my reading addiction. Last week I mentioned closing books that were poorly written. Let me share some that kept me engaged from page one and did it all right IMHO. Here are a few new books I recommend you add to your TBR pile.

This first one is a historical romance set in WWI. I loved it because the author captured the cultural and historical time period so well. Loosely based on her own grandparents’ love story Patti Stockwell made Three Little Things feel oh so warm and inviting while at the same time giving the reader a realistic view of what wartime both at home and abroad was like.

Wartime Romance

Three Little Things  buy link 

One forbidden love. Two broken hearts. Three little things.

Hattie Waltz should forget the troubled neighbor leaving for boot camp in 1917. He forgot about her ages ago. It had always been the Waltzs verses the Kregers, his family pitted against hers. When she hands him a farewell gift, a chemistry lesson unfolds. The good kind.

Arno Kreger can’t leave Iowa or his old man fast enough. He’s eager to prove his worth on the battlefield and stop blaming himself for his brother’s death. Before entering the train, he bumps into Hattie. He’s loved her forever, always from the sidelines, because nobody crosses Hattie’s pa.

One innocent letter soon morphs into many. Arno and Hattie share three little secrets in each letter and grow closer together. But he’s on his way to a war across the ocean, and she’s still in her father’s house. Their newfound love will need to survive dangers on both fronts.

A Crime Suspense

Tom Threadgill is a new author to me. I had a chance to grab a ARC copy Collision of Lies and was totally engaged. The twists in the plot were so unique to any other crime suspense I have read in the past. I’m always impressed when a man can write a female character that doesn’t act and sound like a man. Maya is a clever, ambitious Hispanic female. I also appreciate that there is no swearing. Yep, a cop drama where the police are tough without tossing out unnecessary curse words. They still come across as tough guys.

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Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she’s correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others–and herself–that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy lives. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

A fresh voice in suspense, Tom Threadgill will have you questioning everything as you fly through the pages of this enthralling story.

Novella Collection

Courting Calamity  buy link

My last recommendation is a historical romance novella collection Courting Calamity. Some novellas feel incomplete when you reach the end of the required word count. But not these four. There is so much realism and history in each story. And the focus of each is different.  They are in chronological order by time period spanning thirty years.

Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik has a lot of suspense as a Wells Fargo Agents helps a lovely woman who is the guardian of eight orphan children while he pursues the men who robbed the train. All the clues that were carefully laid out to get the reader to the end of the story are mixed with well-research historical accuracy. The epilogue is sigh worthy.

The Second Hand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo was a fun read. Again the story is historically accurate and full of interesting characters.  By the time Zeke and Lizzy get together the small town of Polecat Creek has warmed your heart.

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer

The author decided to write the story of Alex, the one who didn’t get the girl, from The Tale of Two Hearts novella in the Of Rags to Riches novella collection. This is a marriage of convenience story matching a wealthy man with a poor Italian immigrant. Taking places in 1900 Minnesota the setting is beautiful and the characters are compelling. Add a few surprises twists and continuous page-turning is inevitable.

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barrett takes place in New York City in 1909. This is a tale of poor immigrant factory workers who find love in the midst of union riots and unbelievable circumstances. This is not your typical romantic setting. The twists in the plot are based on actual historical accounts while Aileen and Lorenzo are fictitious.  After reading the final word I had mixed emotions. I was happy for the couple but the historical events made me sad.

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.
Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik
California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?

The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer
Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt
New York City, 1911
Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to survive in the land of opportunity. But when her sister is accosted on the streets, she’s forced to accept the help of policeman Sean Doyle, a widower with a young son. When tragedy engulfs the city, will Sean and Aileen’s newfound love survive the raging flames?