Two Too Long Reads

I am in a different place today than I was last year. But I found this to be relevant as pertaining to length of books, particularly fantasies or science fiction. Even though I did break up the proposed third book of my series to become two I find myself writing well over 102,400 words so far on the third installment. Not where I thought it would be. I am cruising into the final scenes and action and then will return to the beginning and begin first round of editing – hope to cut a lot of words. Below is where I was at one year ago – reading two too long books. Oh, I did finish The Curse Breaker: Enchanted before the end of 2017. Still frustrated and not sure I want to go through the process again with a sequel. I have my own to write and, today, I am praying my third book, The Blades: The Stone’s Blade, Book Three will not drag on and on and the ending will tie up some loose sub-stories while intriguing the reader to continue to follow the characters as they and their societies discover their true past and embrace their new identities. So on with my thoughts and reactions to two books from a year ago.


Below are reactions to two of my most recent reads (in early 2017). Both are fantasies. Over the past several weeks I have wondered how I managed to start two “long” books at the same time. I am a bit miffed with myself for trying to do these, perhaps, overly long diatribes (at least one of them) while working to publish a quarterly publication for a nonprofit organization and get a handle on the third book of my own science fiction/fantasy series. Now I am glad I realized that I needed to split the proposed third book and now have a fourth in the planning stages. I really don’t want to publish a book over 400 pages. Book one, The Blood, has 362 pages and book two, The Balance has 382 pages. So, anyway, here is my take on two different fantasies that are a bit long winded.

The Curse Breaker: Enchanted by Melinda Kucsera. I have struggled with this one. I abandoned it after Chapter 77 and was only about 60% through the book. A very long book that is taking way too long to get to the point. I have put it down for weeks at a time but still try to come back to it so there is something to the story but then it gets bogged down again and I put it down. At 564 pages for the print book and well over 100 chapters (actually 137) it is almost boring in many places. Too often I feel like I’ve been at some point more than once. I just want the author to get on with it. I think a good editing job would bring it under 400 pages and there’d be more action and it would hold the attention of many readers better. It feels like the author is telling the story in a very roundabout way, not wanting it to end – maybe she’s stuck in the labyrinthine maze of tunnels under the mountainous weight of the story. She seems to have included all the cut scenes (or scenes that should have been cut). I want to finish reading but I have other things to do that require my time and energies. Perhaps I will return to finish it. I thought I might be the only one who thought this was too long and repetitive, but there were several reviewers on the same page as me. The author refuses to end it just as Sarn refuses The Queen of All Trees’ summons, refuses to help himself (so far at 60% into it), and refuses to accept his magic, etc. Perhaps this type of journey story is not my favorite cup of tea, as another reviewer put it – for me the tea got cold thirty chapters ago.

I have abandoned only one other book so far, but feel like I am wasting time, spinning wheels, or being led down another twisting endless tunnel with no end in sight. Too bad, I had hopes for this one.

The Emperor’s Blades, by Brian Stavely. Another long read. Finally hit its stride about page 167. After that my reading speed went up as did my interest in the story. I liked how Staveley handled the P.O.V.s, even though the book begins with Adare and it is a long time before she is back – almost forgot about her. Most of the book concentrates on the brothers so it is almost a shock whenever Adare’s story appears. A bit on the gruesome side which is sadly typical for many of today’s fantasies. Cruelty makes people better? I wonder.

That being said, I am still intrigued with the “story” as a whole and am curious about the second installment.

At least I finished this one!

Have you abandoned a book? Did you ever return to it and finish reading?


Thoughts Brought on by Hugh Howey’s Blog

I just read “Writing Insights Part One: Becoming a Writer” on Hugh Howey’s blog,  Hugh Howey, the Wayfinder. The first of a four part series. It has started me thinking, given me support, and inspired different thinking when it comes to marketing. I find much of Howey’s ten things he wished he’d known before he started writing hits directly on me. I understand what he is saying. I have either been there, am there right now, or will be there. It is a relief to know that I am not the only one whose first real attempt at writing something I thought might be publishable was when I was a teenager and that it was more than twenty years later before that particular attempt became a finished product. It is a relief to know that it is okay to want to write and read – to need to write and read. It is a relief to know there are readers out there looking for my books, my stories – I just have to write them first. Then once they are written I can spend the time marketing them to those readers. But I have to write them first.

Howey suggests getting five to six books published before really diving into marketing. I am not quite halfway there. So in the mean time how do I get the word out? How do I build that 1,000 followers who will demand my books, share my books, talk about my books? Do I have to figure out how at the same I should be writing? Can I do multiple things at the same time? Should I spend money on getting someone to help me in this area just as I have hired an editor, book designer,  proofreader, and e-book transformer? I know I am struggling in this marketing portion. I know I can’t do it all. How can I get those readers who seem to like what I’ve written so far to help me?

And I have a several readers who are passionate about what I am writing. Some of them are helping me get the word out by telling their libraries to get copies of my books; by telling their friends to get my books; and they are buying books to give to others because they want to share their excitement and enjoyment for what I am writing. They are demanding the next book. I am learning from them – becoming a better writer. I am filled with energy and ideas that I receive from conversations with them about my books. I still have a long way to go. I know I have to get the third book of the scifi series out. That it has to be better than book number two, which was better than book number one. Each one will be better than the last – at least that is my goal. (see my blog about Another Award Winner!)

I am listening to those readers who talk to me. Their voices are filled with excitement. Their body language is animated. They ask lots of questions. Some I won’t answer. Some I can’t – not yet. They give me ideas, they explain their thoughts on why I wrote something, or what they hope I will include or what they hope will happen. They tell me how much they like my writing style, my author’s voice. Sometimes I wish they would write it all down and post to their Goodreads pages, to Amazon, to my Facebook pages, to LinkedIn, and to my blog page. I wish they would go to my website and write down these comments, questions, etc. I so enjoy seeing them, hearing them and I want to share their enthusiasm. Right now these interactions happen between tips at a dance event, during an interlude at a meeting, late a night after an event while Bob & I are trying to clean up a hall or just before an event is to happen and we are setting up.  I am trying to figure out how to let others hear and see their reactions to what I am writing. And I realize that while I am trying to research and learn how to share that, I am not writing the next chapter of the next book. The few I have so far, already really want the third and fourth books, as soon as possible. So, I am in a quandary. Write? Market? Both?


Another Award Winner!

My cell phone buzzed, my editor’s name scrolled across the screen. I clicked into the text message. It read: You got SECOND PLACE!

I was in Wyoming at a national dance event and not able to attend the 2017 Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s EVVY Awards for independent publishers. I had been informed two weeks prior that The Balance, the second book of my scienthe_balance_cover_for_kindlece fiction series was a finalist in the science fiction category but I would not know if it had earned enough points to place until the award ceremony on August 19, 2017. Since I knew that I would not be able to attend the ceremony I had asked my editor if she would represent me just in case the book picked up an award. She graciously accepted saying that, of course, The Balance would place. I was not so sure because I had entered it in two other categories, Fantasy and Cover Design, and it had not been a finalist in either. My reaction was mixed on learning that – but that will be left for another blog.

I was surprised at my relief after reading Melanie’s text. Then I reread the text. SECOND IMG_1727 2017 EVVY Award 2nd PlacePLACE! I did a little happy dance and ran to find my husband and friends to tell them.

In 2014, the first book of The Stone’s Blade series, The Blood, had placed Third in both Fantasy and Science Fiction categories and the cover & interior design had received a Merit award. I had originally planned to enter The Balance in the EVVY Awards in 2016, the year it was published. However, due to unexpected delays in the cover design, publication of the book would not be in time to enter. So I had to wait almost a full year. It seems the wait was worth it.

I knew the second book was better than the first. There was a tremendous amount of work to keep story line’s straight, characters straight, and the decision to focus on particular story lines was perhaps the most important, all the while continuing sub-stories moving forward at the same time so I could highlight them in the third and perhaps fourth books being planned. And to my surprise (yes, I was surprised) a Second place in the 2017 EVVY Awards stated that we had succeeded in our goal of making The Balance better. It took team work to get this award and I thank my daughter, Kristina Book, for sparking the idea that led to the story line; my editor, Melanie Mulhall, for her coaching, mentoring, editing, and help in ferreting out the intricacies of writing a complicated series; my proofreader & e-book transformer, Helena Mariposa, for her talents, and my cover & interior designer, Nathan Fisher, for his inspired vision of the Stones which graces the cover.

When I picked up the physical award from Melanie the following week she commented that she expected the third book to bring in a First place when it was entered – she’s thinking of 2018 and I’m thinking 2019. No pressure there. Since I am only a third of the way into the rough draft I guess we will just have to wait and see. There’s exciting stuff coming up.

In the mean time you can get your own copies of award winning science fiction The Blood and The Balance via Amazon (paperback and e-book) or paperbacks at any of the three locations of The Tattered Cover Bookstore in the Denver metro area – they are in the young adult fiction shelves. Of course, you can always track me down and get a signed copy from me at a reduced price.

Let me know what you think. Oh, I am available for author events, book signings, etc. Contact me at

I Did Not See That Coming

So, you never know who will read your book and be so excited that they tell every one they know how good it is. I truly was not expecting what happened a couple of months ago.

I was the substitute representative of my Chapter at a P.E.O. meet and greet tonight and part of the introductions included what we “did.” I explained that I owned a small independent publishing company and that my second book had just been published. One of the women present asked what genre of book. I replied that it was a science fiction/fantasy  cross over. She responded with “I love science fiction and fantasy!”

I pulled out a business card which had a photo of the cover of the first book with a list of the awards it has received and a direct url on Amazon. After she studied the cover photo for a minute she announced “My daughter has this book! She has read it and told me that I should look into getting it quick because it was going to be a great series!”

I did not see that coming. I was skeptical that it was the same book but she insisted, saying her daughter described the cover very well and that it was just too different not to recognize. She then asked if I had either one with me. Now how did she know I had several copies of both books in a box out in the car? She pulled out her check book, asked me how much for both books and could I sign them both to her daughter. Well, I was not going to say no to that. I brought in the box and several other women passed them around – sharing the excitement and small worldliness of the exchange. Another of the attendees said she remembered seeing an article in the May issue of the P.E.O. Record about the book.

Yes, it is a small world and therefore you as an author need to make sure your book is the best it can be because, believe me, people will talk about what they read. Plus you should always have business cards with your book cover images on hand to hand out to interested people. Make these clear and concise without too many words and include a link or QR code to where they can purchase it/them. This is ESPECIALLY important if you don’t have actual copies of the book with you.

She was so excited about giving her daughter two signed books and she is planning to swipe her daughter’s current copy for herself and bring it back to Denver so I can sign that one to her. I asked her where her daughter lived. The answer? Washington state. Kind of bizarre if you ask me.

This interaction has made me aware of several things:

  1. If you write a good story people will read it and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Make your cover memorable – it helps with recognition.
  3. Design a good business card and always have several on hand.
  4. Be proud of what you write. Own being an author. Don’t keep it a secret.
  5. Always have a couple of copies on hand.
  6. Keep writing – because if they liked this one they will want more.



Radio Interview!

Last fall I participated in an author interview on KYGT in Idaho Springs, Colorado. I was nervous but show host Jerry Fabyanic had given me a short list of topics he planned to cover, so I was not going in to this new experience totally unprepared. Even so I hope you will pardon all the umms and uhs on my part because it was broadcast live – no cuts or retakes on that first airing. The link, below, has had the local announcements of sponsors and upcoming programs removed but otherwise it is what it was. Jerry has been a radio host on KYGT, known as The Goat, since 2004. He interviews local and regional authors on his radio show “The Rabbit Hole.” I was introduced to him  early in 2016 at a Colorado Independent Publishers Association meeting as he was preparing to publish his first book, Sisyphus Wins, which garnered a 3rd Place award in the 2016 CIPA EVVY Awards. His editor, Melanie Mulhall of Dragonheart Writing and Editing, is also my editor so we have a bit more in common than being award winning authors.
mtn-goat-8-july-2006Anyway, for your listening curiosity, here is a link to that show: Radio Interview. Jerry made me feel very comfortable and we wandered around a variety of topics involved with writing, especially on writing science fiction and fantasy. He was intrigued that the characters in my books talk to me in dreams and often won’t leave me alone until I tell their story the way it “actually” happened.

You can read more about Jerry and his works at and you can listen to all his interviews and shows on “The Rabbit Hole” at, The Goat.

If you are an author living in the Colorado area, you should consider contacting Jerry to see if he can get you on his schedule. It was a fun and different experience. My husband, Bob and I got to Idaho Springs early and walked the main streets until show time. We were delighted to be scheduled that particular weekend because the town was celebrating “Dynamite Days” and the streets were lined with all sorts of artisans and performers. All that helped me relax. Once at the radio studio Jerry and I exchanged books and then launch into the interview, which lasted about one hour. It sure went by fast! Afterward Bob and I celebrated this event with a late lunch at a restaurant, Mountain Prime (MTN Prime), across the street from the famous Beau Jo’s Pizza. Since I shouldn’t ingest gluten or dairy products (darn, I love pizza but really cannot handle the usual crusts & ,toppings – they cause the joints in my hand to swell and hurt, a lot) the menu at Mountain Prime suited my alterations better. And, honestly, I had one of the best hamburgers (without the bun) and sweet potato fries I think I have ever had. We will be going up there again!

Have you been on the radio? What did you do to relax? What about celebrating?

Something has changed

Something is changing. In the last two weeks I have been approached by several authors who have liked my reviews on various books that I have read (some I read and reviewed more than two years ago!). They liked my review of whatever book it was and they are offering free downloads of their book if I will give them a review. I am fascinated by this.

Should I have expected this? No one said that I should. I did not. It has caught me completely off guard. Amazon notifies me if someone likes one of my reviews or if someone found my review helpful, but that is all. It is they, these authors, who have reached out to me because of my writing.

I  am suddenly curious as to how I can use this to some advantage. Obviously first I should probably be careful in which books to review. I have interacted with only two of these authors so far because their books actually interest me. If the subject or genre is not of any interest I know I will not be able to review a book properly. I do try to widen my reading diversity but some subjects or genres are very low on my list.

A couple of the requests have come from authors who have written in a completely different genre than the book they liked my review of. (that is a awkward sentence – did I get the point across?). I am trying to figure out whether or not to respond to them at all. It’s like receiving a letter addressed to Mister Allen Rigg. Obviously they have not done their research – a top priority. First I am female and appreciate and expect the correct salutation. Second and probably most important spell my name correctly. If the review they liked is on a children’s book and they are asking me to review their steam punk erotica book, I am probably not going to say yes – there is a slight disconnect between the two. However, if their book is on writing and they have contacted me because of a review of a similar book then the answer is probably on the positive side.

I was surprised by the first request which came to me three weeks ago. I have since received three more requests. The realization that I have been “out there” reading, reviewing, writing, and publishing for over four years and all of a sudden I am getting attention from other authors is intriguing, unexpected, and (if I am honest) humbling. I have written things that have made an impact on someone. And they want my opinion on their book. I am honored.

At the moment my hope is that the ones I choose to read and review are decent and have something to offer me as a reader and as a writer. But something has changed and I don’t know what.

Have you experienced anything like this? Have you been asked to read and review a book because of a review you have written? How do you handle the request. Do you use the same technique and contact reviewers of books that are similar to yours and ask them to read and review your book? Should I do that?

In Search of My Expertise

Jeff Goins says in his blog,, from May 2016 that “One way to help others is to first share how you’ve helped yourself. Hidden in your experience is an expertise other people need.” Click here for more of Mr. Goins’ blog on how writing can enhance your life.POV outline 2 for The Balance 1-16-2015

I know writing has made me happier than ever, excited about the future, and has encouraged me to expand my knowledge. Writing and reading lets me explore new worlds, new ideas, and old things in new and fantastic ways. Writing encourages my imagination. Sometimes it helps keep order in my world and other times it bleeds words and chaos – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Writing has shown me that I love life, my life. I wake up every morning wanting to write. I go to bed every night wanting to write. I dream about writing.

Is this the expertise other people are in search of or need? I don’t know. I am not the one to say what others need. I do know that I am going to write until I find it and then I will continue to write.

Come along with me. Let’s do it together, let’s discover our own expertise by writing. Starting right now.