Dialogue Tags, Beats, and More. Are you using the right one?

As some of you know, I host a Fiction writing challenge on Fridays here on Ronovan Writes. It’s funny how I use Ronovan Writes as if it’s not me. Sometimes I shorten it to RW. That has nothing to do with this article, merely an aside.

Dialogue Tags and More by Ronovan Hester

One of the goals of the Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes is to improve the writing of those who participate. At the moment my goal with the challenge is to encourage the improvement of the basics of writing Fiction. Some problems I see, not just in a few challenge entries, but in books I review, are the use of Dialogue Tags, Action Beats, and Dialogue Punctuation. Also today I’ll introduce some of you to Grammarly.

This piece today is not just for those doing the challenge. This is for anyone who:

  • Writes.
  • Writes short stories
  • Writes novellas, or novels.

What I have here will help you. For some of you it will be a reminder.

Let’s begin with Dialogue Tags. A Dialogue Tag is when you have a speaker identified along with the dialogue and a word such as ‘said’.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

Notice there are words used to show what kind of speaking Bob and Sally are doing. Let’s change one to see what happens.

“The dog jumped the fence.” Bob pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

We know who is speaking here, Bob because he is the only one mentioned and he is doing an action associated with the act of seeing the dog jump the fence. Now let’s see what happens with Sally.

“Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

You’ll run into some people who despise Dialogue Tags, regardless of the situation. They would like you to use something like an Action Beat instead. What are Action Beats? An Action Beat is the actions taking place between the dialogues. The two examples above with Bob and Sally pointing are Action Beats. Notice there was no mention of the people speaking. You assumed who was speaking.

My personal opinion is you need a combination of Beats and Tags and nothing at all. Sticking to one and one tool only, in my opinion, would be boring.

Let’s take a look at passage using all three tools.

Example with Dialogue Tags and Action Beats.

“This class is crazy.” Billy ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
Larry picked up the weapon, marker dust covered his hand. He threw the eraser back at the offender. “We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Thanks, Larry.” Billy’s muffled voice came from the floor.
“You can get up now, Billy.”
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible.”
“Will that work?”
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much.”
Billy laughed, and said, “Either way she’s my favorite teacher.”

The above is not the best example, but it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about. I used one dialogue tag, and then only to keep the reader on track. I didn’t want to throw in lots of Action Beats. Action Beats work great, but can be overdone.
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Then you might have a passage with only Dialogue Tags.

All Dialogue Tags:

“This class is crazy,” Billy said and ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!” Larry said.
“Thanks, Larry,” Billy said.
“You can get up now, Billy,” Larry said.
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?” Billy asked.
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible,” Larry said.
“Will that work?” Billy asked.
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much,” Larry said.
“Either way she’s my favorite teacher,” Billy said.
How boring is that? Annoying? Except for the exclamation marks for Larry there is no personality or life to the scene. Now you see why you use dialogue tags as little as possible. You also use Action Beats only when you need to. Of course you can pep up the dialogue itself and accomplish a lot.
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One thing you need to do when writing is, give each character a distinctive voice. I always try to do that in every story I write. One character might speak in short sentences, another in long. This guy doesn’t use contractions, this guy uses them even when they don’t exist.

By giving distinctive voices, you can have a conversation without a lot of tags or beats. Beats are good. You do need them. However, if you can get as much as possible across in your dialogue you are a long way to being a success.

No Dialogue Tags and No Action Beats.

“Billy, duck!”
“These people are insane. That could’ve hit me in the eye. Thanks Larry.”
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Ooo, you nailed him with that eraser.”
“He shouldn’t’ve thrown it in the first place. Uh, Billy?”
“Stop hiding.”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks. Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“Put it this way, if I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act like an angel.”
“Will that work? This place is a disaster area. There is no way she will think we didn’t do some of this.”
“Worked last year.”
“Last year?”
“Uh, Billy, I’m a year older than you, remember? I failed by one point last time. But as bad as my grades were, I never got in trouble with Ms. Willett.”
“Larry, you’re always getting into trouble.”
“I know, but every time something happened, I stuck my nose in a book. She’s tough but fair. They don’t call her hard—”
“Okay, they don’t call her hard ‘butt’ because of how much she works out.”
“I don’t care why they call her that, she’s my favorite teacher.”
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Along with dialogue, one thing I notice in books I read and blogs I read is Dialogue Punctuation. I’ll only mention one form of punctuation at this time.

I’ll also make this as simple as I can. Where does the comma go?

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

In dialogue, we all know to use the quotation marks around the speech, the dialogue. Where does the comma go? Yes, there is a comma in most dialogue IF there is a normal expression of speech. Look at the example above. There is no exclamation nor a question mark, therefore you put a comma inside the quotation mark.

If you have an exclamation or question mark, then put the mark and close with the quotation, no comma is required.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence!” Bob said.

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

No comma was required in the examples above.

You can do away with commas by not using Dialogue Tags and sticking with Action Beats. Yawn. Okay, not really yawn, if done correctly. When you have a scene with two people conversing, you can easily do away with Dialogue Tags and stick with Action Beats and no manner of denoting who is speaking at all based on the rhythm of the exchange.
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Grammar and Spelling

For those without Word to help catch spelling and grammar errors, I have a suggestion for you. However, first if you do have Word, I’m going to refer you to Using Proofing To Help Your Fiction Diction & More!, for how you can make the most of Word

Another TOOL to use, if you don’t have Word is Grammarly.com. It can be used inside of WordPress or any place you type, even comments on blogs. Also, they have a FREE version, which I use.
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If you found this helpful, you may also enjoy:

UNDERSTAND THE TOOLS OF YOUR TRADE by Jo Robinson of any of Jo’s articles on Self-Publishing by clicking HERE.


Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in February 14, 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016



  • StashesTitle:  Stashes – What Ever Happened to Earn?
  • Author: P. J. Colando
  • File Size: 1011 KB
  • Print Length: 350 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Bookbaby, 1 edition
  • Publication Date: June 19, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Humor, Contemporary Fiction

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

Meet the Breeden’s

Meet Jackie and Steve Breeden, your average hard-working, dairy farming, salt of the earth kind of folks who live on a rural farm in Michigan. Time has marched on in their lives, and both, Jackie and Steve, realize that as they are getting older their dream of hitting the road and seeing the beauty of what America has to offer, in the style of their hero Charles Kuralt, is becoming a shadowy memory. Life for the Breeden’s has become predictable and dull.

Just when Jackie and Steve accept that their dream is gone, their son Brandon abruptly loses his job at the GM Plant not far from town. Armed with the knowledge that Brandon and his wife, Amy, a Vice President at the local bank, are going to lose their home to foreclosure, Jackie and Steve decide to buy a Winnebago. It is a win-win situation for all of them. Brandon and Amy can move into their house while Brandon tends the milking business, and Steve and Jackie can travel and explore the United States fulfilling their lifelong dream. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Amy is a conniving, whining, money obsessed twenty-something, typical of an entitled generation. Amy decides that she is not going to take losing all the things she worked so hard to possess, just because they wallowed in insurmountable debt.  In Amy’s eyes, she deserves her luxuries, no matter what!

In no time, Amy hatches a scheme to expand the Breeden’s micro dairy business by growing and selling marijuana edibles, convincing Jackie that this is the way of the future. One day while at work at the bank, Amy secretly manipulates the amount of the loan for the Winnebago and the line of credit to finance supplies for her burgeoning marijuana crop.

Jackie and Steve leave for their trip, entrusting the care of their home and business to their son and daughter-in-law finally free to pursue their baby boomer dream. What could possibly go wrong?


Stashes was one of the funniest and most enjoyable books in this genre I have read in a long time. Maybe it had to do with the language (I am from Wisconsin, the book takes place in Michigan) or maybe it had to do with the stage of life I find myself at but I felt a strong connection. I enjoyed the loveable characters of Jackie and Steve and felt right at home with their dialog and their thoughts. There were times that I silently howled with laughter at the situations all of these characters ended up in. The best part was that every challenge was believable and realistic in our world today!

I also enjoyed the approach that PJ Colando took in the story telling. She used two protagonists so you got both points of view, that from Jackie telling her side of the story, and Amy elaborating her’s. This made the story richer by sharing the generational ideals of the two women. You can only imagine the fireworks between these two.

The character of the daughter-in-law, Amy was fascinating to me. You had to love her determination and grit, even though she always seemed to make disastrous decisions. In fact, I liked that Amy mirrored many of Jackie’s attitudes. The fact that the women didn’t recognize that about each other added to the absurdity of their lives and decisions.

P J Colando describes her book as a “fictional farce,” and I couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, she shared with me that the cover illustration is by Cliff Cramp, who had done all of the cover art for the Star Wars DVD’s. She said he pictured himself on the cover, which he said is done in “National Lampoon” style. If you look on the lower right of the cover, he even signed it!

P J Colando also shares with us that “Cliff Cramp is a friend of a friend who is generous in every way. Cliff agreed to do the cover before my final revision; in part, because I sent him a picture of the apron on the cover – it is reversible. Has a dark side and a light side, just like The Force. I wear the apron to all book events, wearing the light side when I read a few pages in Jackie’s point of view and the dark side when I read daughter-in-law Amy’s point of view. She’s a whippersnapper, that one!”

Humor aside, this book deals with the realities of life in the heartland of America and how people are dealing with life in a downsized economy. The issues of medical marijuana are humorously discussed without demeaning the positive qualities of such a program, or demeaning the laws in place to protect the rights of all citizens.

What I loved most about the book was the moral tug of war Jackie had with herself while trying to honor her values as a friend, wife, and mother. Many of these lessons were interwoven with humor and faith, a joyful combination. Stashes will help you realize that staying true to your beliefs and values is not always an easy thing and sometimes you have to be creative to survive!


Author: P J Colando

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of five stars

4.5 stars
About P J Colando from her bio on her blog:

“As a licensed speech-language pathologist I wrote thousands of clinical reports – and some of them contained fabulous fiction, to urge a denial-oriented insurer to pay. Now I write for fun and freedom of expression. It’s an elegant hobby: I hide away in my home on a hill, out of earshot of the fray.

My short stories and personal essays have been published in magazines, newspapers, and non-profits’ newsletters. I write a regular column for ‘Lit Central’ called “Write Places”. My stories have also been included in the anthologies: Open to Interpretation, The Indiana Review, The Biscuit, She Writes, and Wisdom Has a Voice.

My satiric family saga, Stashes, was published in July 2014, its pot plot shock-and-awing my friends. Next in the series will be HASHES AND BASHES. Wonder what it’s about? Clues were stashed among the misadventures of book one…

I relish oral reads, including Dime Stories, Literary Posse, and LIT UP! I’d love to come to talk with your book clubs, groups of writers/readers. I have an extensive public speaking resume. I provide home baked goodies, giveaways, insights, and laughs. Connect with me.

My husband, Larry, and I are also widely traveled, a quest endowed by my parents. We grew up in small towns in the Midwest and now live in southern California. We feel deeply grounded, yet we crave adventure. No kids, no pets, lots of friends, and few financial obligations: what a life we’ve created, fellow Baby Boomers!  Come join … via my writing.

I post regularly on my blog, themed as “Stashes, Hashes, Bashes: Boomer Stuff!”

I write while my husband watches sports (read: often). He calls me a walking exclamation point! I dash –

I’m told there’s sunshine in my Voice, an inimitable, singular energy. I am having a blast!”

Find out more about P J Colando’s books here.

Make certain to connect with P J Colando through Facebook at P J Colando.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 12.22.15

#Bookrecommendations. About Barcelona.

Hi all:

I usually bring you reviews or articles, but this week I’ve been busy with a special project. Those who follow my personal blog will know that a few months ago I started volunteering at a local radio station, Penistone FM.  I’ve got to the point where I’m going to provide my own content for the next programme, tomorrow (26th of January) from 5 to 8 pm (GMT time). You can follow online if you have a chance, here.

I knew I wanted to talk about books, and I thought, being from Barcelona, Spain I could choose some of my favourite books about Barcelona (not necessarily about Barcelona, but where Barcelona plays a big part).

Here are my three favourite. I was going to say in no particular order, but the last one is one of my favourite books of all the books I’ve ever read. From the comments, not everybody is enamoured with the translation, but other people seem to enjoy it. I didn’t dare to review them for you, as I’ve read them either in Spanish or Catalan, and didn’t want to generalise my comments to the translations, that I hadn’t personally checked.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruíz Zafón
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruíz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind: by Carlos Ruíz Zafón

A stunning literary thriller in the tradition of Umberto Eco. The discovery of a forgotten book leads to a hunt for an elusive author who may or may not still be alive…

Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘La Sombra del Viento’ by Julian Carax.

But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.


You can check links in the authors’ website:


Here, what Stephen King says about the book:

‘If you thought the gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind. In Zafón’s hands, every scene seems to come from an early Orson Wells movie. One gorgeous read.’

Cathedral of the Sea. Ildefonso Falcones
Cathedral of the Sea. Ildefonso Falcones

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

A masterful epic of love, war, treason, plague, famine, witchcraft, anti-Semitism and the Inquisition.

14th-century Spain, the medieval city of Barcelona is enjoying a golden age of prosperity. Its humblest inhabitants are building, stone by stone, a magnificent church to overlook their harbour. This is the Cathedral of the Sea: a church to be built for the people by the people.
In its shadow, Arnau, a young serf on the run from his feudal lord, struggles to earn his freedom. After famine, plague and thwarted love, Arnau’s fortunes begin to turn when King Pedro makes him a baron as a reward for his courage in battle. But he is also forced to marry Eleonor, a ward of the King whom he does not love. His newfound status excites jealousy from his friends who plot his downfall with devastating consequences. Arnau’s journey from slave to nobleman is the story of a struggle between good and evil that will turn Church against State and brother against brother …


And my all time favourite:

In Diamond Square by Mercé Rodoreda
In Diamond Square by Mercé Rodoreda

In Diamond Square by Mercé Rodoreda

Barcelona, early 1930s: Natalia, a pretty shop-girl from the working-class quarter of Gracia, is hesitant when a stranger asks her to dance at the fiesta in Diamond Square. But Joe is charming and forceful, and she takes his hand.

They marry and soon have two children; for Natalia it is an awakening, both good and bad. When Joe decides to breed pigeons, the birds delight his son and daughter – and infuriate his wife. Then the Spanish Civil War erupts, and lays waste to the city and to their simple existence. Natalia remains in Barcelona, struggling to feed her family, while Joe goes to fight the fascists, and one by one his beloved birds fly away.

A highly acclaimed classic that has been translated into more twenty-eight languages, In Diamond Square is the moving, vivid and powerful story of a woman caught up in a convulsive period of history.


Thanks so much for reading, and I hope if you’re planning a visit to Barcelona, or even if you’re not, you check these books. And keep reading! (And listen to my programme if you dare!)

Olga Núñez Miret





Why are the first few chapters of your book great and then the yawn sets in as you continue reading through your first draft? Did two people write it?

The problem is common, happens to us all, and is something rarely if ever discussed. I believe it is because we know. We. Just. Know.

I call it Manuscript Mental Fatigue (MMF). We put so much into those first few chapters, editing as we go, and you know we do, then we make it past perhaps chapter ten and it’s over. We just write. It’s not that our ideas are but we just aren’t executing them the way we did earlier. A rule given at every turn about something not to do it, but we spent all of that time on those first few chapters. Instead of letting the words flow, we edited and tried to make those first chapters excellent when it was only a first draft. Why?

If you are like me, then you might say to yourself, “I know once I am finished writing this I am going to hate going back and just doing it all over again, so I am going to make it perfect the first time through.”

We hate going back through it because we put so much effort into the first draft in polishing as we wrote it the first time.


Every time we go through a draft of the book we keep getting tired a few chapters in, and once again, we have poorly executed chapters as the book goes on and in truth, they need executed properly in the burn barrel in the backyard.

Avoiding Manucript Mental Fatigue

How To Avoid MMF.

The First Draft

First, don’t write when you are brain tired. When you feel the brain beginning to tire—STOP. Go ahead and stop. Nothing good will come from forcing water out of a dry sponge.

While resting do nothing regarding your novel other than simply jotting down an idea that comes to mind and make sure to reference when you came up with the idea, why, and where it should go in the book. If you don’t reference and have written a three-word idea, you’ll be lost.

We have finished our first draft!

The Walk Away

Now we need to walk away and:

  • Begin our next novel.
  • Work on the second draft of a novel.
  • Beta Read for an author friend.
  • Do anything that will get our minds off that first draft. You need to give the brain and the story a rest, a time to refresh and see each other anew. I personally love doing research for books.

Time goes by; let’s say a couple of months. I know; I am being optimistic with saying two months, some people say three months to a year. (I also know I have used two semicolons together in as many sentences.) Then there is the optimism we will stay away from our work for even two months.

I have run across things I wrote years ago and had no idea it was I that wrote them. They just didn’t sound like me, but were! That’s what you want to achieve. Put your all in other things and put that book out of your mind.

  • Set some type of alarm, maybe on the computer or in the cell phone that goes off on the date to start the next draft.
  • Don’t have it marked on a calendar somewhere that will remind you of it.

The Return Part I

Now we are back to the second draft. We are reading it and making notes along the way, not corrections, just notes. If we make corrections now, we will become brain mush. Just read and take notes.


If we began corrections, we will begin to tire out during those first chapters, just as we would if we did editing as we wrote the first draft.

The Return Part II

Divide the book into three parts. Beginning, middle, and end. We will first work on the beginning, making updates/changes to the story according to notes.

Take a break of a few days to a week. Rest that brain.

Continue the same process through the middle and end parts of the book.

Walk away from the book and work on something else. No, we don’t have to be away forever, but we do want a bit of fresh eyes.

The Return Part III

Now it is time to read the book with the changes in place. We can do a few things at this time.

  • Take notes of problem areas.
  • Highlight problem areas.
  • Print the draft and mark problem areas.

The Third Draft

Work on the problem areas.

Use Word, or something like Grammarly to check grammar, spellings, word usage, and passive sentence structure, if passive sentences are something to be avoided which they normally are.

This is the time to become happy with the manuscript, happy enough for others to read it. We need to make a decision at this point to either have the manuscript edited or sent to beta-readers. There are different thoughts on which to do first, the editor or the beta-readers.

Some believe not to let beta-readers see the manuscript until it is as close to publishable as possible, with minor changes to take place at their suggestion.

I do see the merit of beta-reader last idea. If you have several beta-readers giving feedback then make the changes, send to the editor, and then publish, there may be changes made the beta-readers might like or dislike that would affect a review or recommendation.

The Book

Give it up to the reader fairies of the world.

Rinse and Repeat for the next project, that book you were working on while this one was at rest back up there after that first draft.

If you have ideas of how to avoid MMF, leave them in the comments below for others to learn from your wisdom. Appreciation in advance to anyone who comments below.


Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling by PS Bartlett and Ronovan HesterRonovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in February 14, 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016


Pineapple Lies

Title:  Pineapple Lies – A Pineapple Port Mystery

Author:  Amy Vansant

Website: Amy Vansant.com

ASIN:   B00VV773I8

Published:  April 8, 2015

Pages:  308

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Welcome to the Pineapple Port Retirement Community located in sunny Florida where Charlotte, a young woman in her twenties resides with a zany bunch of retirees. After Charlotte’s grandmother passes away she finds herself left with a home surrounded by a society of grandparents who look after her like she was their own.

As idyllic as this all sounds, Charlotte feels like life is passing her by. Her life and career is at a standstill. Looking for some sort of excitement she decides to plant a garden. When the neighbor’s dog helps her dig up a patch of ground a skull is uncovered which leads to the mystery of who is buried in Charlotte’s backyard.

Along with help from sexy Declan, the owner of the local pawn shop, and the only other young person in the town, Charlotte and a whacky cast of elderly characters delve into the mystery of identifying the body. The terrifying part is that the murderer lives right under their noses!

I loved the chemistry and humor shared between Charlotte and Declan. Numerous times I found myself laughing out loud, as the two young people try to deal with a mutual attraction to each other while surrounded by nosy neighbors watching them at all times. I look forward to seeing how the author, Amy Vansant brings the two of them together in subsequent novels. They are a great match and it will be fun to see their relationship advance.

amy vansant

Author, Amy Vansant

This is a cozy mystery with a romantic sparkle. It is filled with humor and kept me laughing till the end. On top of that, I did not figure out the ending until the very last, which was a pleasant surprise. If you are looking for a book to take on vacation or for a trip to the beach, Pineapple Lies is a lighthearted and fun read to enjoy with a relaxing glass of wine. Cheers!

Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.0

Buy it at: Amazon
Format & Pricing
Paperback: $11.30 US
Kindle: $2.99 US











#Bookreview by @OlgaNM7 Darkness Rising by @BrianMoreland. Horror, poetry and redemption

Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland
Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland

Title:   Darkness Rising
Author:   Brian Moreland
Published:  September 1st 2015
Pages:  113
Genre:  Horror


It’s all fun and games until…

Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise. 

Darkness Rising by Brian Moreland. Horror, poetry and redemption

I was given a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I have read several books by Brian Moreland and loved them all.

Darkness Rising is the story of Marty, a young man with a difficult past (his father is a serial killer who killed his mother and six young women and he had to grow up suffering bullying and abuse), who has found in poetry a way to communicate his feelings and to quieten down the darkness inside. He has big plans, goals, and is in love with a young girl, Jennifer, whom he’s been teaching poetry. Unfortunately, a gang of two young men and young woman have chosen his favourite spot next to a lake to make snuff movies and dispose of the bodies, and he’s spotted there with terrible consequences. What happens next is only the beginning of the horror for Marty and what he becomes.

The story, like the previous novels written by Moreland I had read, is written with a great sense of suspense, and very visually. One can imagine the movie that could be made from the book (although sometimes it’s best not too, like when describing the artwork Marty’s father creates). This novel is more than a horror story, and it includes beautiful passages about art, the effects of creativity, first love, and redemption. Despite the extreme violence (and even the descriptions of the evil beings are lyrical and vividly accomplished) this is a coming of age and a young adult story, and an inspirational one too. Perhaps the moral of the story would not be to everybody’s taste, but the message is ultimately positive. Marty talks about going through purgatory and… he might have a point.

I like my horror stories to end up in a horrifying manner, but couldn’t help and root for Marty, who goes a long way and works hard to be the best he can and to prove that one can fight against fate and blood.

This is not a conventional horror story but I’d recommend it to people who like beautifully written dark fiction, stories about the nature of creativity and art, and do not fear treading where others wouldn’t dare.

Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Kindle: $ 4.27 (http://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Rising-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00Y05TVUG/

I’ve read other horror books by the writer and loved them. If you want to follow him, here is his page in Amazon:


We connected in Twitter and he offered me some books for review:


Olga Núñez Miret




10 Writing Commitments for 2016 (Guest Post by Author Claire Fullerton)

Commit to being a Full-Time Writer.


Design on a Crime
Ginna Aiken
“Sometimes decorating can be deadly serious

Haley Farrell is taking a chance on herself. After earning her interior Desing on a Crimedesign certificate, she quits her retail job and opens a decorating business. But starting her own company may be tougher than she first thought. Just as Haley’s first assignment gets underway, she suddenly finds herself as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. What’s worse, the victim is Haley’s best friend and mentor, Marge Norwalk.

Reeling from Marge’s death, Haley soon realizes that the only way to prove her innocence is to find the real murderer. Before long, Haley is collecting clues and suspects like other designers collect paint chips and fabric samples. But will contractor Dutch Merrill and detective Lila Tsu be swayed by her investigative talents? Or will she be the one punished for this perfectly designed crime?”`-Amazon

Forbidden Mind
Karpov Kinrade
“From USA Today bestselling author Karpov Kinrade comes an award-winning series full of romance and page-turning suspense.
She reads minds. He controls minds. Together, they might get out alive.
Forbidden MindI’ve seen into the minds of killers and have crawled into the darkest mental corners of humanity, but even I wasn’t prepared for this.
I thought that when I turned 18 I would be released from my secret school of paranormal spies and free to follow my dreams and make my own life. That’s what we all thought. Until I met Drake.
Everything changed when I linked minds with the blond-haired boy strapped to that gurney. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the dangerous truth behind my life.
And now time is running out. We must work together to save ourselves and everyone we love. Before it’s too late.
“…a thrilling, dark and deeply romantic read that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and eagerly awaiting the next installment.” ~ Refracted Light Young Adult Book Reviews
Winner of 2011 Forward National Literature Award”-Amazon

Samson’s Deal
Shelley Singer
“Library Journal said: “Great bar scenes, a wonderfully wry narrative, and the obvious affection between Jake and Rosie will have readers clamoring for more.”
Samson’s Deal is the FIRST cozy mystery in the Jake Samson and Rosie Vicente detective series by award-winning author Shelley Singer.

“Singer has a good ear for dialogue among the witless … It’s fun to watch [Jake and Rosie] work together, and the bad guys eventually get their satisfying comeuppance, after an interesting plot twist that keeps things hopping till the very end.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian

Ex-Chicago-cop Jake Samson is tired of the rat race. He’s living in laid back Oakland, California with a couple of cats and just enough savings to eat canned oysters and accept collect calls from his bemused parents, when an old friend–a progressive political science professor–calls with an enticing offer. Seems the professor’s wife was found dead in the backyard of their Berkeley home, and he wants to pay Jake ten thousand dollars (plus expenses) to figure out whodunit.

The police pick up the usual leads; jealousy, dirty politics, and an estate worth killing for. Naturally, since the professor is the dead woman’s spouse, he’s the primary suspect. Samson doesn’t like the guy much, but the case heats up—quite literally—when the professor’s office is set afire by a radical right wing activist group, of which, it turns out, the wife was a member.

With his good friend Rosie, and her justice-dispensing two-by-four, Samson follows a twisted trail that leads through the Bay Area’s bizarre cultural labyrinth, from pop meditation ashrams to neo-Nazi rallies, to the startling but all too human truth.

“A fast-paced and often frightening look at the insidious attraction of the extreme right. Even though most of those drawn to the group may be on the lower end of any IQ chart, their sense of dedication to the mistaken idea that they possess a genetic and racial superiority is enough to make them very dangerous. This Shelley Singer novel is recommended.” -Bookbrowser

“…one of the nicer guys in the private eye business, who operates in a relaxed, casual style without need for macho posturing.” -Washington Post

WHO WILL LIKE IT: Fans of Parnell Hall’s Stanley Hastings series, Tony Dunbar’s Tubby Dubonnet series, Bill Pronzini’s “Nameless” Detective series, Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series, Susan Dunlap’s Jill Smith series, Julie Smith’s Rebecca Schwartz series … and vintage TV series like COLUMBO, THE ROCKFORD FILES, HARRY O, MAGNUM, and HAWAII FIVE-O.

Shelley Singer is the author of ten mysteries, two science fiction novels, one mainstream fiction, and many short stories.”-Amazon


Stevie Turner interviews million-seller author Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

Today I’m interviewing Michael Phelps, a man who has had a variety of interesting careers, but lately has concentrated on writing.  One of his books ‘David Janssen – My Fugitive’, co-written with the actor’s first wife Ellie in 2009, has sold two million copies.  In 2014 Michael’s two books of conversations between himself and David Janssen were also published.  You can check out Michael’s books by clicking here: http://www.MichaelPhelpsNovels.com (Michael can sign any books personally which are bought via his website).

Michael can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michael.phelps.copnovelist?fref=ts

And on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Phelps/e/B001KHHL2M/

1.  Why did you enlist in the Air Force (Military Police Combat
Defense Force) aged only 16, and for how many years did you serve?

Both of my older brothers served in the USAF during the Korean Conflict.   My eldest brother Jack, came home from the Air Force and started several  businesses, and for the next three years, I was “forced into labor”  (kidding).  I enlisted in the USAF in March, six months prior to my  17th. Birthday.  I had been in ROTC in High School & told my mother I  was going to “ROTC camp” so she would sign the Parental Consent form.   By  the time my Mom figured it out, I had  completed Basic Training.   As for Jack – I owe all my successes in life to HIM!  My failures are  all my own. LOL

2.  Apart from serving in the Air Force and working in the law
firm, you have also been a law enforcement officer, a security officer for a hotel chain, and a co-trustee for a multi-million dollar trust fund. Which job have you enjoyed the most?

One thing I learned from my brother Jack, something he told me  repeatedly – “Find a job you LOVE and you will never work another day  in your life.”  I have enjoyed every job I have ever held, law enforcement is a tough job, but very rewarding in that you actually help  people in difficult situations.

3.  How did you meet the late actor David Janssen?

I met David & Ellie Janssen while working a private party in the Bel Air  mansion of the late Conrad Hilton.  Our friendship developed two weeks  later when he called and invited me to join him for drinks.

4.  Did you meet other actors through your association with Mr
Janssen, and if so, are you still friends with them now?

I met Raymond Burr & Rock Hudson at a dinner party in Dave & Ellie’s  home.  He also introduced me to: Lucille Ball & her husband Gary Morton,  Singer/Songwriter Carol Connors, Actress Rosemary Forsyth, Martin Milner  and Charles Bronson.    I am good friends with Carol Connors & “e-mail” friends with Rosemary Forsyth.

5.  You have published 2 books of conversations you had with David Janssen. Did you find that you had a lot in common with David Janssen as you got to know him?

I think Dave and I were both shy and reserved. I joined him in drinking  a lot of scotch (been there-done that – have not drank alcohol for the  last several years – but do so only socially).  He and I both  appreciated beautiful women.

6.  Which marketing strategies did you employ to be able to sell 2 million copies of the book you wrote with Ellie Janssen ‘David Janssen –My Fugitive’, or do you have an agent?

All marketing for “DAVID JANSSEN-MY FUGITIVE” was handled by the  original publisher, Lifetime Books, Inc.  I have no knowledge of  their marketing strategy.  Ellie & I were both busy with other  projects (individually).  We made a short book tour and that was the  extent of our involvement in marketing the book.

7.  Do you think it’s better to live life to the full and die in middle-age before the effects of ageing take over as David Janssen did, or live to 100 and see your grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up?                                               

Well, that is an interesting question.  I am 72 now, and I have lived  a full life.  In regards to someone dying in “middle age”, I think of  David Janssen – and aside from the shock of his passing, I felt he was  “cheated”, I do not think he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor  and his tremendous success in his profession.

8.  Speaking generally from the male viewpoint, do you think
that men cope less well than women when it comes to dealing with stress?

Yes, I actually do.  The stress a man experiences seems to be more  related to work related pressures and financial pressures.  I think  God provided women a better psyche for handling stress – being a  mother and raising children must be more stressful than any man could  handle.

9.  Your detective novels in the Mike Walsh series are based on real-life crimes you encountered while working as Chief Investigator for a law firm.  Which was the most bizarre case you ever investigated?

My current work-in-progress is entitled “INSANE JUSTICE”.  It involves  a double homicide in Miami Beach in 1993.  It was the most bizarre case I  ever encountered in that it revolved around a homosexual love- triangle,  drugs, etc.  Our firm had been court-appointed to defend the perpetrator.  He was guilty, yet we mounted a solid defense and his first trial ended with a “hung jury”.  His second trial, he was convicted of much lesser charges. We kept our promise to him, we kept him out of the Electric Chair.

10.  The second book in the series ‘Jockey’s Justice’ deals with the murder of a highly respected horse racing jockey.  Is a murder in the racing world unusual, or did you discover a dark underworld in your investigations?

Murder in the world of horse racing is rare, but not unheard of.  There  is a lot of money involved.  We did uncover one other murder (unsolved)  and a lot of corruption, race fixing, etc.

11.  The third book in the series Insane Justice is not yet published.  Could you give us a brief outline please?

A young Cuban immigrant became involved with a young man from Kansas in  a homosexual relationship.  Nine months into their relationship, he  discovered his “lover” with another young man.  He shot & killed both.  My investigation proved the deceased “boyfriend” had been “using” the  defendant, taking him for all he had and then “discarding” him. It was  a very unusual case.

12.  What’s next in the pipeline after Insane Justice is published?

There are about three other memorable cases I worked on for the law  firm.  After that, I may resort to investigating and writing novels  about high profile cases in the Miami and/or New York City area.

13.  If you had to pick just one, would you prefer to live in
New York or Miami?

I relocated to Miami 42 years ago after 15 years living in  Manhattan.  I usually make 3-4 trips to NYC during a year.  I  think when my book sales allow me the luxury, I will move back  to NYC and get used to the harsh winters I had escaped.

14.  Were you in New York at the time of 9/11?  If so, how near were you to the Twin Towers?

I was checking out of my hotel, waiting for the parking valet to bring  my car.  It was taking a long time, I entered the lobby, and there was  a crowd around the television.  I saw the second plane hit the Tower. I  went outside and saw the white smoke billowing up, and coming north (I  was at West 49th. St. & Tenth Ave.).  It reached all the way to about  34th. Street.  Immediately after, I learned from the TV News that all  Tunnels and Bridges had been closed.  I ended up spending the next 3  days in the City before I could leave for my return trip to Miami.  I  also found I could not drive south past 34th. Street to get a closer view of the carnage.

15.  Which is your favourite genre for reading?

American History, true crime.

16.  Can you play a musical instrument?

NO – want to learn piano though – if I can make the time. (LOL)

17.  Did you go to the Woodstock music festival in August 1969?

No, friends did – from what I was told, glad I did not. (LOL)

18.  What do you think is the most important thing that is
needed in order to be able to live a happy life?

Love what you do and treat all others as you wish to be treated –  respect each individuals right to their own religious beliefs and treat  all living creatures with kindness, compassion & love.

19.  Where will you be spending your holidays this year?

I spend holidays at home in Miami Shores, Florida.

20.  Do you or did you practise any of the martial arts?

In the USAF, we underwent “Combative Judo” training.  We joked  because it was called”Operation Tough Tiger”.


My thanks go to Michael Phelps for agreeing to answer my 20 questions.  If any other authors or publishers are interested in being interviewed, please contact me via my website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk with some information about yourself in order for me to formulate the questions.


The Birr Elixir

  • Title:  The Birr Elixir, Book 1 of the Legend of the Gamesmen
  • Author: Jo Sparks
  • File Size: 1178 KB
  • Print Length: 196 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Oscar Press
  • Publication Date: May 31, 2013
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D4R7PZ4
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction,

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

In the land of Missea – under Skullan rule

King Bactor’s son Tryst, must undertake his first epourney in order to become a man to fulfill his destiny of becoming the future King of the Skullan people and all Trumen. Since a prince’s epourney is undertaken with a best friend, Tryst leaves with three of his best friends, Baldar, Mauric, and Jason. When it is determined that Mauric is ill and cannot travel, Kellan one of the prince’s lesser companions goes in his stead. Now, the adventure begins!

In the City of San Cris, one of the Sandy Towns…

A young apprentice potion maker, named Marra, works in the potion shop of her dead mistress, under the care of Snark, her mistress’ evil brother. Marra’s training was to include, “… learning the power of herbs, the alchemy of powders and potions to heal and enhance…” (pg. 9). After the death of Mistress Britta, Marra’s training stalls under the cruel care of Snark.

Until one day, when the mysterious Drail, a legendary gamesman, comes to the shop begging Marra to make a special potion for him and his crew of men set to play against the Skullan gamers. Marra agrees to make the potion, called “The Birr Elixir,” and Drail and his team win, believing the potion is responsible for their success.

Drail returns to the shop where he witnesses Snark beating Marra, who did not believe she had brewed the elixir that helped the Truman beat the Skullan’s at the game. After taking care of Snark and knocking him out cold, Drail invites Marra to accompany him and his team so that she can make more of the Birr Elixir for them.

A new life

Marra agrees to leave the only home she has ever known to follow Drail and his men as their Brista. As she is gathering her things to leave, she spots an unconscious man on the floor of the shop. Not wanting to leave the man to Snark’s mercy, Drail decides to take the man with them.

Marra realizes that the man is under a deep spell. Along the road, she works hard gathering herbs and preparing potions to heal the young man. Finally after many days, the man awakens and says his name is Tryst…


As Jo Sparks debut novel, this book has the potential to be a great story and series. I loved the richness of the characters and enjoyed the interactions between them. Many of the apt descriptions of the desert towns reminded me of the book, “Dune,” by Frank Herbert.

However, I was left with so many unanswered questions as to where the story was going that I had to go back and reread various passages to make sure that I followed the story. I felt like there was an attraction growing between Tryst and Marra, although Drail seemed to care deeply for the girl also. There are few clues in this book to shed any light on their relationship.

I would say the main attraction of the story is the “games” themselves. The “game” appears to be played in an arena with two opposing teams. In the words of the author,

“It is a wild game with few rules. Players wore leather vests to protect themselves, but in truth, the decorated material was more to mark the teams for the spectators than any real padding.” (P. 17)

At the inner circle in the arena, a line is drawn in the sand by a judge. It is forbidden for the teams to cross the line until the judge allows it. There is much jockeying for the balls by both team members. There are four leather balls that need to be dropped into a cone shaped area in order to score points, which are determined by the judge. Each ball contains special markings which determine the number of points each ball is worth. As contact sports go, I envisioned the game to be a combination of football and hockey with players participating in a game to the death in order to win, if necessary.

If you love the excitement of a fast paced game and the mystery and intrigue of a fantasy world, you will enjoy this book as much as I did. I do hope in the next sequel, the author will shed more light on where the story is leading. Right now, the possibilities are endless.


Author, Jo Sparks

Character Believability: 4
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 4
Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars
About Jo Sparks:

A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes “…writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”  Not only are those words a compliment to Jo’s skills as a writer, but a true reflection of her commitment to her work as a screenwriter.

Jo Sparkes graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program.  Some years later, she renounced life in the corporate world to pursue her passion for writing.  Jo went on to study for two years with Robert Powell; a student of renowned writers and teachers Lew Hunter, and Richard Walter, head and heart of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.  The culmination of those years of hard work was the short-film “The Image”, which Jo wrote and produced single-handedly.

Since then, Jo hasn’t looked back – having written seven feature film scripts.  Jo’s body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, commercial work for corporate clients, as well as a being a feature writer on ReZoom.com.  As a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network; where she has been called their most popular writer, she was known for her humorous articles, player interviews, and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.

She has served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College and even made a video of her most beloved lecture. More recently she has teamed with a Producer and a Director on a low budget thriller. Her book for writers and artists, “Feedback  How to Give It  How to Get It” was born to help her students — and indeed, all artists.

Her original script, Frank Retrieval, won the 2012 Kay Snow award for best screenplay. Her fantasy series, The Legend of the Gamesmen, has garnered two B.R.A.G. Medallions and a 2015 silver IPPY award for Ebook Juvenile/YA Fiction.

When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, with her Husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

To watch a trailer for the book click the link below.

Make certain to connect with (author) through her Twitter @Sparks777

And her blog at, Jo Sparks – Quill & Hound.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 10.2015

Stevie Turner interviews author, promoter and publisher Susan Toy

I am pleased to be able to share another of my 20 question interviews, this time with author, promoter and publisher Susan Toy.  Susan, apart from writing novels and publishing them through imprints IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts, also goes out of her way to promote self-published authors and their works on her ”Reading Recommendations’ blog.  This time it’s Susan who is being promoted, so sit back with a cup of coffee and find out more about her……..

Susan Toy photo

  1.  I have been on holiday to the beautiful Beaches district of Toronto, where you were born. If you had to choose just one, would you prefer to live in The Beaches, in Calgary where you have also lived for many years, or in Bequia in the Caribbean where you have a house?

Our family cottage north of Toronto was also a very important “home” during my life. So, along with The Beach (we always referred to the area in the singular), Calgary and Bequia, I identify with these places. While I’ve thought of living, or have tried to live, in all four places again, I haven’t been successful, so I now split my time between the Caribbean and Canada. Your question had me returning to a blog post I wrote in 2013 titled, “Home and a sense of belonging” (https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/from-the-vaults-home-and-a-sense-of-belonging-april-19-2013 ), because I have been again wondering exactly where it is I do belong in this world. What I have discovered is that each of these main places where I’ve lived during my life have been used extensively as settings in my writing. And that they are all situated next to bodies of water/ranges of mountains that allow me a “view”, so to speak, that leads to introspection – not a bad way for an author to pass the time.

And, just to add more locations to the mix, last summer we bought a mobile home that permanently sits in a campground that’s close to Lake Huron (another large body of water …). To me, the campground is just like spending summers at the cottage, all over again! So, not really going home, but close enough to my memories of that home.

2.  Do you thrive on extreme temperatures? Do you tend to spend Canadian winters in Bequia, and Caribbean summers in Canada?

I’ve always been a summer person. I was born on the first day of summer, my parents bought a cottage north of Toronto the year I was born, and I spent every summer there until I was 17, when I began working summer jobs in Toronto. I never enjoyed winter sports, but have always been a great swimmer. So it’s not so much the extreme temperatures I thrive on as the ability to pursue summer activities year-round.

  1. If you were the only person left stranded on Bequia, how would you spend your day?

Pretty much as I spend every day now – sitting on my verandah, drinking coffee, writing, and reading. But the island would be gratifyingly quiet!

  1. You have based your travelogue/mystery novel ‘Island in the Clouds’ around the Caribbean island of Bequia. Is Bequia really the paradise on earth that I imagine it to be?

As my main character Geoff quips, “Paradise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” I personally believe that no place on earth can ever be considered “Paradise” and yet anywhere we are can be a kind of paradise, if we think of it that way for ourselves. It’s truly all in our minds.

  1. What are you writing at the moment?

I’m trying to finish rewriting the second novel in the “Bequia Perspectives Series” titled One Woman’s Island. More about the island but involving different characters than were in the first novel, and therefore a different perspective of life in this place.

  1. In 2008/2009 you won first place in writing contests for ‘Hockey Night on Bellefair Avenue’ and ’50 Ways to Lose Your Liver’. Can we find these stories in print?

Both stories have been published in two issues of the White Wall Review, a literary journal produced by Ryerson University (http://whitewallreview.blog.ryerson.ca/) that spotlights writing by their students and instructors. I may own the only extant copies of those particular issues, however. I did post PDFs of both stories in a blog post I wrote in 2012. https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/calling-all-readers-my-gift-to-you/

  1. Which social media do you find the most useful for promoting your novels and short stories?

Facebook followed by Twitter. Although promoting my own writing is not really why I use any social media. They’re both my go-to sites for promoting other authors, writing and reading in general, for news and for sharing whatever I post on all my blogs. For promoting my own publications, I prefer to use Goodreads.

  1. What is your preferred genre for reading?

Fiction – usually international authors and foreign-language in translation, both novels and short fiction.

  1. You created the writing contest Coffee Shop Author in 2011. Have you any plans in the pipeline for any other writing contests?

I have discussed the possibility of resurrecting the contest with one of the previous Coffee Shop Authors winners, because we both really enjoyed the whole premise behind the contest, which was to bring writers and their writing out into a public space so people could see that we really do work at our craft. But we need to figure out a way to finance the contest first … It would take a chunk of money to get that up-and-running.

  1. Do you think entering any fee-paying writing contest within their budget is good experience for a self-published author?

Yes, as long as they keep in mind that it’s the writing and entering part that count more than actually winning a writing contest. Contests impose a deadline and discipline, and they’re excellent practise, as well.

Plus there are many, many free-to-enter contests that offer the same kind of benefits as above.

  1. Which is the best writing contest for a self-published author to enter?

I’m not really in tune with the contests that are out there any longer, so I won’t be much help on this one. There are a couple of sites I subscribe to that offer listings of contest opportunities: [places for writers] (http://www.placesforwriters.com/ – and they also list calls for submissions) and Aerogramme Writers’ Studio (http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/). I entered the 3-Day Novel Contest (http://www.3daynovel.com/) 4 times and didn’t win, but came away with three novellas and the beginning of a collection of short stories. That contest was like a kick-in-the-seat-of the-pants to write a novel within the 3-day time limit. Well worth the cost of admission, I thought, as I managed to actually get a huge chunk of writing completed in a very short time.

  1. You own Alberta’s newest publishing company, IslandCatEditions. Does the company promote Canadian authors primarily?

IslandCatEditions was something I created to publish my own first novel – to give myself, as a self-published author, some credibility. I had never intended to publish other authors under that imprint. IslandShorts (https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/islandshorts/), however, is an ePublishing-only imprint I developed to showcase longform short stories and novellas. So far, I have only published short stories written by Michael Fay and my own novella, but we do have plans to publish more. And I am considering publishing work by other authors. My intent though is to publish writing I think is particularly good, no matter where the author may hail from.

  1. You promote authors and books on your blog ‘Reading Recommendations’ (https://readingrecommendations.wordpress.com/ )  Do you find it takes up quite a lot of your time, or have you managed to balance the amount of time you spend networking and writing?

Yes, a lot of time … and then, as if that wasn’t enough, I created another associated blog, reading recommendations reviewed (https://readingrecommendationsreviewed.wordpress.com/ ), which offers reviews (not written by me!) of books written by authors I’ve promoted on Reading Recommendations.

But I find that what I get out of both these blogs, in the reciprocal promotion of me, the blogs and my own writing, far outweighs all time spent putting the blogs together. I’ve discovered many, many great authors – from around the world! – I’ve had the great pleasure to read and promote, and quite a number have subsequently become good friends.

  1. Do you have any advice on how authors can find new readers?

Funny you should ask, because I’ve recently refocused my main blog (https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/a-new-focus-for-a-new-year/ )  and will be primarily writing about promotion and finding new readers. Here’s one of the blog posts I wrote previously on the subject.  https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/looking-for-readers-in-all-the-right-places/ And you can count on there being more to come in the future.

In a nutshell, though, the best way to find readers for your own writing is to PROMOTE OTHER AUTHORS!! I’m not kidding.

  1. You represented authors directly through your company Alberta Books Canada. Are you still representing writers? If not, why did you stop?

No. I folded Alberta Books Canada when I moved out of Calgary and back to Bequia in late 2012. While I wasn’t charging much money to promote authors then, I found that many thought they couldn’t afford even that small amount. A few very loyal friends always appreciated the value in what I offered, but they were very few, in the scheme of things, and not enough to sustain the business. So I now promote authors on Reading Recommendations for free with the proviso that they in turn promote me, my blogs, and the other authors I promote. Sadly, even now, few of those authors actually reciprocate.

It’s ironic that authors believe all promotion should result in sales of their books, which then not only provide them with a return of that money they spent on the initial promotion, but also a profit. I have had a heck of a time convincing authors to think in the exact opposite way. Yes, you have to spend money to make money, and if you don’t do any promotion at all, you will never sell any copies. If you think in terms of your overall promotion costing you X-$$$s, and build that cost into the production expenses of your book (editing, design, formatting, etc.), you will already have taken into consideration the costs upfront – when you set the price for your book. (This is what traditional publishers do, folks!) And this way, you only take on paid promotion for which you have already allocated funds, so you won’t be crying poverty, because you haven’t yet sold any books.

We’re ALL poor! And we would all love to sell oodles of books and be able to make money from our writing. So don’t tell me you can’t afford to pay for promotion. Start looking for free promotion, if that’s the case, but don’t complain about poor sales being the reason you can’t pay for promotion. You have to be willing to do the real work (or pay someone else to do that work) of promoting and trust that those sales will eventually come, but not be guaranteed that they will. (Stepping down from the soap box now …)

  1. How was your trip to the Fernie Writers’ Conference in 2009 a life-changing experience?

I met the right people at the exact time I was planning on making changes in my life, and in the job I’d been doing, and found a sympathetic ear with whom I was able to share my dreams and ideas. Shortly after that, I quit my (paid) job, began Alberta Books Canada, and developed the contest, Coffee Shop Author.

  1. How did taking part in writing courses help you to improve your own novel writing?

I’m not sure that the courses helped me that much (other than to teach me that workshopping classes were not for me), but the writing community that was created, and the established authors who both taught and gave lectures during the conference were a great boost to my writing overall. It was that sense of belonging, and of being taken seriously by our peers, that was so empowering, and that led to an improvement of my writing.

  1. You are also an accomplished amateur cook. Do you try and plan something different to cook every single day?

I like variety and seldom cook the same recipe more than once, unless it’s really outstanding. I’ve taught myself to cook recipes from many different cultures, but am best at East Indian, Italian, and Mexican, plus baking breads and desserts. (Dennis cooks Asian, primarily Chinese and sushi, and is very good with BBQing and smoking foods.) I have a lot of cookbooks and really do enjoy looking for new recipes.

  1. Which is the most unusual ingredient you have ever used in your cooking?

Whale meat. And I will leave it at that.

  1. Are you superstitious?

I have to say I am not superstitious. I do believe in fate and that things happen the way they do in our lives because they were meant to work that way. But we’ve been owned by several black cats and my mother always thought of “13” as being her lucky number, so I guess I didn’t have a “superstitious” kind of upbringing at all.


You can find Susan on the following social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanmtoy  and also at https://www.facebook.com/Island-in-the-Clouds-135848643200688/?

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SusanMToy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1316805.Susan_M_Toy?from_search=true&search_version=service

My thanks go to Susan for the interview.  If there are any other authors or publishers out there who would like to answer 20 of my questions, please get in touch via my website http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk and leave me some information about yourself.

Look out for my next interview later in the week with author Michael Phelps.












#Bookreview of Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso (@enriquelaso). Translation by Olga Núñez Miret. You don’t need to be weird to solve the case, but it helps.

Hi all:

Although I bring you a book review, because the circumstances are a bit special (I’ve translated the book to English and therefore these are my impressions of the book in Spanish, rather than a rigorous review of the book in English) I decided not to follow the usual format, because I’m somewhat involved in the process. But I wanted to bring you the book, because we’ve had the writer as a guest before, and because I’m very excited about this project. I also leave you some information about where to contact me if you’re interested in translating your work to Spanish.

But first:

Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. Translation Olga Núñez Miret

Shiny Bones de Enrique Laso. Traducción Olga Núñez Miret
Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. Translation Olga Núñez Miret

The FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit special agent Ethan Bush must investigate a serial killer in Nebraska…
The monster lives in each one of us. We are beasts that have learned, over the centuries, to control ourselves, to restrain our basic instincts and live peacefully in society. We are, after all, fully domesticated and well-trained beasts.
Only on rare occasions, the wild animal that hides deep in our entrails goes on a rampage, giving rise to an insane nightmare…

If you enjoyed novels like ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ or TV series as ‘Criminal Minds’ or ‘True Detective’… this is the story that you have been waiting for.
The county police had cordoned off the zone less than an hour after the boys’ find. A pathologist established that the remains were human, although a large part of the skeleton was missing. In fact, what was missing was what would have been most helpful in the task of identifying the body: the cranium.
“Do you have any clues as to how long have those bones been here?” the sheriff asked, perplexed. His head was full of the terror that he knew would grab hold of his entire community just a few hours later.
“Not long. And one of the boys has told us that he comes for walks in this area often and they weren’t here a few days ago.”
“But this stiff croaked some years ago, don’t you think?” asked the sheriff, pointing at what looked like a tibia. Never in his life had he seen such a thing, and it perturbed him.
The pathologist looked at the grayish sky, where clouds were growing and thickening threatening to release a good downpour. But that storm would only be a child’s game in comparison with what was hanging over the county where he lived.
“I don’t know,” he replied, laconic.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” asked the sheriff, who felt he’d got a completely senseless answer. These were the remains of a skeleton; therefore one didn’t need to be an eminence in medicine to deduct that the guy, no matter who the hell he or she was, would have stopped breathing a very long time ago.
“These bones have been thoroughly cleaned. They have been manipulated. Without studying them in detail, right now I can’t tell you if the owner died yesterday or over ten years ago.”

THE BLUE CRIMES review on Amazon:
‘And so proceeds Enrique’s THE BLUE CRIMES and the manner in which he places Ethan Bush and team in the resolution of crime is tense, suspenseful, and at all times involving. This is quality mystery writing by a voice new to most of us – a welcome addition to the thriller genre’
Grady Harp, TOP-100 Reviewer/ Hall of Fame/ Vine Voice

Shiny Bones by Enrique Laso. The second Ethan Bush novel. Translation Olga Núñez Miret. You don’t need to be weird to solve the case, but it helps.

As I had mentioned when I read the first novel in this series, thrillers that purport to follow the investigation of complex crimes usually have two fundamental elements that go almost hand in hand: the crimes and the investigation (which allow the readers to put their wits to the test), and the investigators, individuals or teams, and less often, the criminals.

It is true that if the crimes are highly intriguing or very strange the book might be interesting even when those doing the investigating aren’t gripping individuals. On the other hand, there are times when the personality and the adventures of those doing the detecting are more interesting than the crimes themselves (as is the case in many ‘cozy mysteries’ like many of Agatha Christie’s novels). The best novels of the genre manage to achieve a balance between the two.

Shiny Bones has a bit of everything. The case is extremely convoluted and twisted, clearly the work of a complex and traumatised mind (and no, I’m not taking about the writer), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to solve, quite the opposite.

And we also have Ethan Bush, an FBI psychologist who comes back, as arrogant, intelligent and annoying as before (in The Blue Crimes). The mature Etan Bush of years later offers us his comments and reflections, not only about the case (where he keeps many things quiet, of course), but also about his own actions, therefore acting as an ersatz reader (or perhaps more accurately, author).

This time Ethan doesn’t have his team at his disposal (that in fact is not “his” team, as his boss keeps reminding him throughout the novel), and he’s obliged to work with the Nebraska State Patrol, the local force, and has to try and reach a compromise with them, although that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to use all the tricks in the book to get his own way. His intelligence, his skill manipulating people, and even his feelings are put to the test in this case that’s a big challenge for him.

To those of you who enjoy solving the cases whilst you read the novel, I’m afraid I have to tell you that, although you’ll have many suspects, you won’t be able to guess who did it. Even with that it will make you think and question many things.

Personally I am eager to go back to Kansas to discover who murdered Sharon Nichols, a case that’s central to The Blue Crimes but never solved, and I’m waiting anxiously the arrival of Las libélulas azules (The blue dragonflies).

As I mention above I’m happy to disclose that I’ve translated the novel. The book has also undergone professional editing/proof-reading. Due to this circumstance I haven’t shared this review in selling channels, although the original is a review of the Spanish novel, rather than of my own efforts in translation.



Just in case you’d like to know more, I interviewed Enrique for Lit World Interviews, here and I reviewed his first novel in the series The Blue Crimes, here.

Ah, if you think you’d like to know more about getting you books translated, in this page I talk about it (I talk about other things too but, keep reading…). And if you want to see examples of books I’ve translated, you can check here.

Thanks very much to Enrique for this opportunity, thanks to you all for reading, and remember it’s good to like, comment, share, and feel free to click too. 

Olga Núñez Miret





When Trolls Wear Princess Dresses by @JoRobinson176

We’re all allowed to be as mean as we want to trolls when they rear their ugly heads. It’s probably not a good idea though, and reporting and blocking the swine can be just as satisfying as having a nice little square of bubble-wrap to play with, if ignoring them is too much to ask. This is all very well, and nicely cut and dried. There is another breed around the internet too though, who somehow manage to be trolls “under the radar”. They like to show people up in “nice” ways, while at the same time appearing to be nice themselves – if you get my drift. I don’t buy this crap though. Unless someone openly attacks you or yours first, why would you be mean simply because you disagree with them? I’m not talking about the hilariously offensively filthy lurkers in the comments sections of some newsletters around and about, but often bloggers with their own avid followers who think that they’re just the coolest thing since ice-cream. They’re subtle, and while coming across as helpful and benign, they often inject little bits of venom where they can – sometimes disguised as “humour”. Well, as far as I’m concerned mean is mean, no matter how much honey you coat it with. I prefer the straight in your face evil trolls to these guys, who probably don’t even realise just how horrible their actions are, because they’re too busy basking in the joy of being “right”. Often it’s pretty obvious that the reasons for these behaviours are rooted in envy, which doesn’t often help heal the feelings of gentle souls so insidiously attacked, but it’s still pure old green eyes at work.

Man Sucking Lemon

Image: Ryan McGuire

I’ve only been properly knocked for a loop once, where the attacker successfully masked the attack by posing as a little injured puppy, shortly after I joined Facebook years ago. Good luck trying that sort of thing with me now though. I reckon that’s probably the reason why I don’t often go there, and when I do, I still tread very lightly. I’m a very happy bunny on all my other sites though, and so far I’ve generally managed to ignore the couple of tiny trolls that have attempted to get up my nostril. I’m unlikely to swat them with any particular force unless I really lose my temper, which is quite hard to get me to do. I find it much more satisfying to incinerate them legitimately. Occasionally I’ll see them getting up to their nastiness elsewhere, and I’ll shake my head and move on, unless of course they happen to injure a friend of mine. This can result in the awakening of that scary one thing of mine that is a hundred percent Irish – the temper. Luckily my friends are genuinely nice people, and able to rise above such pettiness. It helps to understand what causes this behaviour when you feel an uncalled for shot across your bow. It’s just one of those poor souls who truly believe that insulting someone else is the road to their own coolness, and get to put on their cool happy faces when their followers like them up when they try and make someone better than them look small. Their cool happy face.  Like so.

Pulling Face
Image: Ryan McGuire

There isn’t much you can do about these things apart from moving right along. Definitely try and do that if you can. Never break your stride for too long because of them, and brush the painful nip of their caustic “wit” away just as quickly as you can. People who get up to these things aren’t worth any of your time. There’s something you have, or are, that will always instil in some strangers along the path of your life the desire to try and bring you down. Don’t ever let them. Ignore the mean-spirited sods and treasure the wonderful friends that you do have. If what you share with the world is genuine, and coming from a good place inside your heart or mind, you’re on the right track. Make sure that those who you take advice from genuinely have your best interests at heart, even if they make a tiny oops along the way – we all do. Beware of those who only want to “help” you to make themselves look good, because often the tools that they give you to use are wrong, and could get you hurt.

Man using banana as a gun
Image: Ryan McGuire

There will always be some little ball of envious rage lurking somewhere, outwardly wearing robes of light and a halo, just waiting to pounce on someone who they feel needs “bringing down a peg or two”. The bigger you get in your chosen space, the bigger the apparent benefit to showing you up will be to these people. Well. Pfftt. Never mind them. You just carry on being you, and move past and say good luck to the hindmost trolls, with their clever little humble-brag pokes.

Man in thong on bicycle

Image Credit: Pixabay

Originally appeared on Jo Robinson’s Blog.


Jo Robinson

Jo Robinson Author“Jo Robinson is the resident Indie Author Guru of LWI. Visit her Amazon Author Page for numerous books she’s put out into the world through her  own sweat and tears. (And we hope not much blood involved.)  Click HERE for he blog, and HERE to follow her on TWITTER.”~Ronovan Hester

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Creatures of A Day by Irvin Yalom #BookReview by @FTThum

It is such sweet anticipation knowing a book by Irvin Yalom awaits me.


Title:                    Creatures of A Day and Other Tales of Psychotherapy
Author:                Irvin D Yalom
Publishers:        Piatkus (5 March 2015)
Format:                Paperback
ISBN-10:             0349407428
ISBN-13:             9780349407425
Website:             http://www.yalom.com/index.html
Pages:                   224
Genre:                 Literary Non-Fiction; Psychology

What’s it about?

Once again, Irvin D Yalom does not disappoint. On the contrary he proves (not that he needed to J) yet again his mastery in conveying the complexity of the human psyche into short stories designed to engage the imagination and to teach. For those who do not know, Yalom is an eminent existential psychotherapist and author. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Standford University who is cautious of the perils of diagnosis and pathology, rather preferring to delve into human psyche. At the age of 82 (when the book was written), Yalom’s curiosity and ‘work’ on himself lies with the reality of impending death.

In ‘Creatures of a Day’, Yalom explores through ten tales (of real cases) the existential theme of ‘death’ or ‘existential death’, and how we, no matter our age, experience and respond when confronted with our own mortality. There is no formula, no correct answer – just a deep appreciation for the complexities that is the human psyche. Yalom’s humility and candour shine in the short stories. Though a master therapist, Yalom does not shy away from owning his missteps in therapy sessions, nor his judgment, non-engagement and not-knowing. What is important, as he highlights in ‘Creatures of a Day’, is the therapeutic relationship between him and his clients, one that is authentic, honest and transparent. He demonstrates the transformative power of this healing relationship.

If there is one ‘flaw’ it is that ‘Creatures of a Day’ through Yalom’s exquisite storytelling makes the psychotherapeutic process seemed a ‘natural’ process and can be attempted with ease. Here is the paradox – the therapeutic process is hard work and difficult for the client and the therapist; it is never simple.

As Yalom states,

The patients in these stories deal with anxiety about death, about the loss of loved ones and the ultimate loss of oneself, about how to live a meaningful life, about coping with aging and diminished possibilities, about choice, about fundamental isolation.

Yet this book provides such an uplifting, hopeful perspective to our humanness and our capacity for growth.

Would I recommend it?

So would I recommend this book? A resounding ‘yes’.

And the book’s audience?

I will quote Yalom. “I write for those of you who have a keen interest in the human psyche and personal growth, for the many readers who will identify with the ageless existential crises … and for the individuals who contemplate entering therapy or are already in the midst of it.”

Savour the book not just its entertaining tales but take time to explore the nuanced interactions between Yalom and his patients.



Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think:               4.5/5
Overall enjoyment:           5/5
Readability:                       5/5
Recommended:                 5/5
Overall Rating:                   5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD $8.27
  Paperback USD $15.99
Booktopia Paperback AUD $23.80
Bookdepository Paperback £9.38

– FlorenceT



© 2016 LitWorldInterviews


Beth’s Book Reviews: Forgotten Things

Forgotten Things

Written By: Stephen Mullaney-Westwood

A little about the author (taken from his Amazon.com author profile):

Stephen has tasted the earth from the depths of his soul, grown anew and stretched his branches towards the sun, with roots firm and strong in their darkness…

Born in Hertfordshire, England, he had a hard time adjusting and finding his place in the world. His sensitive and artistic nature outcast him somewhat, and his mental health suffered throughout those teenage and young adult years.
But, ultimately, it was a journey and writing has always accompanied him along the way.
Now more positive, older, and wiser at the grand age of 40 he writes with a potent message which comes from a deep love of the natural world.
To write, and to breathe the words of nature is the place where Stephen belongs, doing something he truly loves.
The faeries and spirits of the woods have always asked to be heard, and Stephen has offered to be their voice.

His first release is ‘Unforgotten Tales’ a collection of thirteen short folktale style stories, modern fables and fairy tales, written in a method now often forgotten. Intentionally allegorical, darkly twisting while yet enlightening and inspirational.

Fairy tales are one thing…faeries, are another.

Find Stephen at:





Product Details


Book Synopsis: ‘Forgotten Things’ is a novel of nature in contrast; sinister, beautiful, wise and innocent. With an otherworldly twist it explores the importance of influences; of growing up, whilst still looking backwards.
We see through the eyes of one man recounting the bitter sweet memories and adventures of his childhood. His love for the woods… his draw to them… but also his fear.
Similar to a classic ghost story the ‘horror’ is subtle and unnerving, while the ‘fantasy’ is simply a glimpse into another reality.
The little people are our antagonists, spoken of in whispers and presented in their true form; age old beings which transpose boundaries- taken seriously and sitting in mysterious juxtaposition with the secular world.



 I’m not going to lie to you, I had a difficult time with the beginning of the book. Mr. Mullaney-Westwood’s writing style is not typical of anything I had previously enjoyed reading and it took me three tries to get past page two. I even messaged the author at one point and asked him about his choice of voice and use of incredibly in-depth descriptive passage. There are several places that tell us the showing instead of showing us the setting (did that sentence make sense? I know what I meant so if you don’t, ask…I may or may not be able to remember).  However, I’m glad that I pushed on and got into the meat of the book.


Our narrator and main character are both named Adam Briggs. In fact, they are both the same Adam, approximately a lifetime of adulthood apart. The narrator, a grown Adam, is remembering the year he turned twelve and moved with his family to Grandfather’s little cottage near the wood. We follow his twelve year old self as Adam meets Grandpa for the first time, navigates a new place and his same old parents…and learns a bit more than he expected to about things that aren’t supposed to be real.


The personification of natural elements, the conversations between Adam and his Grandfather, and the peeks into the world behind the ‘veil of reality’ are all beautifully rendered.



Life becomes very surreal when a dream becomes reality.


The dream here is both that of country life and Adam’s new knowledge of the Little People that is being fed by his newly adored Grandpa. Coming into this new life as a sort-of brow beaten, mother run twelve year old city boy, Adam is discovering all sorts of new things coming into his world. Let’s talk about the other characters for a moment:


Mother – Adam’s mother, Annie Briggs, is Grandpa Finn’s daughter and seems to be his direct opposite. While Adam wishes to explore and use his imagination fueled new country knowledge, Annie is begrudging in her approach to living again in Cornwall. Having moved to her childhood home in order to help her ailing, aging father, Ann is cold and reserved throughout the story as she lectures, begs, and hopes that her child will not be pulled in to her father’s world.

Father – Thom Briggs, the enigmatic, whipped husband to Annie. He is very work centric and distracted for most of the scenes in which we find him.

Grandpa Finn Penrose – Ann Briggs’ father, Grandpa is an aged dreamer and firm believer in the Little People. His illnesses may keep him from wandering the wood with his Grandson now, but he is a veritable treasure trove of information and support as Adam embarks down this new path.

Martin – The first boy from his new school that Adam meets, Martin is sensitive, shy, and as fond of the coastline as Adam is of the wood.

Josh – Large framed boy, sporty and protective. Martin’s best friend and, soon enough, Adam’s as well. The three boys are incredibly close and adventure together throughout the story.


“Old Bob’s Wood” – The local name for the woods behind Grandpa’s home. Adam becomes intimately acquainted with the woods, and their inhabitants, throughout the book.


There are animals, there are ghosts, there are mysteries, and there are hard lessons to learn. Friendships, family dynamic, and growing up are all part of life and, unfortunately, sometimes twists and turns make us get banged up a bit. Forgotten Things weaves it all beautifully together. This book combines old world charm, the ‘truth’ on the Fey world, and a coming of age story that will keep you entranced and pushing forward to learn more. Do not let the density of the story, the deep well of truths hidden in what some will call ‘fairy stories’ stop you from picking this up. Mullaney-Westwood has put together a story in which the characters are real and you forget that you’re just an audience member.


Character Believability: 4
Flow and Pace: 3.8

Reader Engagement: 3.5

Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 3.8
Overall Rate: 3.82


Prairie Moths Memories of a Farmer's Daughter

  • Title:  Prairie Moths – Memories of a Farmer’s Daughter
  • Author: Judy Dykstra-Brown
  • File Size: 2447 KB
  • Print Length: 50 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Judy Dykstra-Brown
  • Publication Date: June 13, 2014
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Genres: Biographies, Memoirs, Literature, Poetry

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, which follows*

Join me…

Step back into time and travel on the dusty-white gossamer wings of prairie moths into the childhood memories of Judy Dykstra-Brown where she grew up on the South Dakota plains. Her dramatic prose and photos will sweep you into her sometimes stark rural life as she lived it in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

This was a kinder and gentler time when parents told stories to their children of gray wolves and the perils of being lost in a snowstorm, all the while sparking their young imaginations with their storytelling. Like any child, Judy longed to be free of her home place and to strike out on her own not realizing at the time how amazing her young life truly was.

My Recommendation:

As a child, I spent many summers visiting my grandparents in Central Kansas. I was immediately transported back to that time and could literally hear the sounds of the prairie grasses rustling beneath my feet as I read the hauntingly beautiful words of Judy Dykstra-Brown.

Her writing style is pure poetry, with verses that flow from her memories rich with tales of her home life. Much of her words center on her hardworking father, acquainting the reader with a man who was as strong as the mightiest  cottonwood trees that hugged the girth of their property.

I love this passage Judy shares about her father:

“He was a man who planted—

a man with a hard life

who tried to shield us from this life.”

My favorite of her writings was called, “The Summer House.” This is the story of a shanty her father called the summer house which enchanted Judy with all the possibilities of what this humble cottage was and what it could become. She spent countless summers cleaning that old abandoned shack waiting patiently for her family to move there each summer. At home in her winter house in town, the child named Judy would dream of her summer house, remembering her favorite tale of the three bears and thinking her summer house was just right.

I enjoyed and appreciated Judy’s poetic style. Her words are truly enchanting and I was often moved by the vivid descriptions of her home life.

Young and old alike will enjoy “Prairie Moths,” as it is an evocative and lovely collection of verses that will transport the reader back in time to their own childhood filled with abundant memories of when the vast world stretched before us ripe with all the promises of our own lives ahead of us.

Judy dykstra-Brown

Author, Judy Dykstra-Brown

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

About Judy Dykstra-Brown

Judy Dykstra-Brown grew up in South Dakota and lived in Australia, Ethiopia, Wyoming, and California before finally coming to rest in San Juan Cosala, Mexico––a small pueblo on the shores of Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, Mexico––where she has lived for the past 14 years.

Her work may be found in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, including New Poets in Los Angeles, the Sculpture Garden ReviewAgave Marias ( an anthology of ten women writers who have broken boundaries and crossed borders); Veils, Halos, and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women (an anthology that will be coming out in April of 2016.) and an upcoming anthology of stories and poetry by Alzheimer’s caregivers edited by Kenneth Salzmann.

She was a semifinalist in the Atlantic Journal international poetry competition and first place winner of the Tennessee Writer’s Alliance National Poetry Prize in 2002. She has published over 75 poems, articles and stories in various publications and online magazines including “Living at Lake Chapala,” “Ojo Del Lago” and MexConnect.

Her book of poetry, Prairie Moths: Memories of a Farmer’s Daughter; a nonfiction/memoir book entitled Lessons from a Grief Diary: Reinventing Your Life after the Death of a Loved One, and her children’s picture book Sock Talk are available on Amazon and Kindle. Two more children’s books are completed and will soon be available as well.

She posts daily on her blog at judydykstrabrown.com

Please connect with Judy on Facebook at Judy Dykstra-Brown.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 10.2015

#NEW #BOOK PROMO SITE! Check out the #FREE opportunity NOW!


Thank you to those that participated.
Authors, do you want to get in on the ground floor of a NEW BOOK ADVERTISING SITE about to launch?


eBook Site


LWI’s own Dr. Jason Royle contacted me with this proposal;


Email and offer removed due to spots filled.


There is also a “Author in the Spotlight” spots.  To be featured simply email me an “author photo” and “title of book” on Amazon and they will be listed on the site, (with a link to their book) permanently.


The title of the site is eBook Christian, but you do not have to be Christian to submit a book.  The only requirement is that your book does not contain vulgar language, graphic violence, or sexual/erotic content.  


Children’s books, poetry, self-help, fiction, non-fiction, suspense, romance, etc. all genres welcome.

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How to create a link to your #freeaudiobook in Audible. Thanks to Patrick Jones(@PatrickJones56)

Hi all:

You’ve probably read some posts recommending audiobooks as the next big thing. And you probably know that if you live in the US or the UK you can use ACX to either upload your e-books and sell them (through Audible, Amazon, i-Tunes), or to find a producer/narrator (either by paying or by offering split royalties) and get your book made into an audiobook.

Patrick Jones, an author friend has also been working hard on his novels and audiobooks and he shared a very interesting post about an easy way to try and market your audiobooks. (He shared a post within ACX itself. Here is his link. And as you’ll be in his blog, check his fabulous stories and videos. Patrick and his wife Sandy are great.)

I had a go at it, and it works. But let me explain. If somebody is not an Audible client (it’s a  subscription service like Amazon Unlimited, or Oyster… Or quite a few others, but for Audiobooks. By paying around $15 you can get a new audiobook per month, cancel at any time…) they can get a free audiobook by signing for a 30 day free trial. (For the author, is somebody signs on via your book, you get an extra bonus)

The idea with this method is you can get a link to a page that offers your audiobook for free, and once you get the link to that page, you can use it to promote your audiobook.

If you read the above post, you’ll see it seemed to cause some confusion. So this is my easy version.

  • Get the ASIN for your audiobook. If you’re like me you’ll keep a list with links to all versions of your book, so you’ll probably know where to find the ASIN for your book in Audible.com. But if you don’t, here I show you a screen capture of one of mine, so you can see where to find the ASIN (If you put your title in the search box, remember to click the title once it comes up). You can click in the picture to see it bigger.

    Here where the 1 is and the red marker, the ASIN for the audiobook
    Here where the 1 is and the red marker, the ASIN for the audiobook

Note: A word of warning, this method does not work for Audible.co.uk (at least not yet or using the same method).

  • Add the ASIN to the end of this url:


The equal sign must remain there. No need for spaces between it and the ASIN. These are the links to my 2 audios, so you see what I mean.



Try with your own and you’ll see.

And if you want to shorten the link, use bit.ly or any other link-shortener you like. And Bob’s your uncle!

Thanks to Patrick for sharing this resource. Thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and click!

Olga Núñez Miret