I spent about three days this week traveling to and from Oklahoma to visit my sister and her husband for Thanksgiving. Everyone in our family went and it was my first time to go up there to see her. I went by car on the way there and by train on the way back and did a lot of eating and family time together in between. I had never been out of my state before. I have traveled to foreign countries, but not other states in the US, since Texas is so big that it takes a while just to get across it. 😊 Besides, I’ve never been a big traveler—I would definitely call myself a homebody. So getting to see the beautiful state of Oklahoma was a first for me and I am really glad I went. Soon after crossing the Red River I snapped this awesome moment of a row of wind turbines silhouetted against a low afternoon sun. Fantastic. Next week I'll post some pics of places we visited, including a Christmas lights show and a park with a waterfall. But I didn't have time to go through the photos before sending off this newsletter.
Getting out of the house made me reflective about my writing. Sometimes I spend so much time locked on the computer screen worrying if I am expressing myself clearly and communicating my message that I don’t think about people outside the writing bubble. Seeing all the people on the train and in the places we visited in Oklahoma made me wonder if they would be interested in my books. I imagined describing books to them and making a sales pitch—although I didn’t actually do this as I didn’t want to distract from the holiday time with my family. Many writing coaches recommend getting a really targeted visual image of your reader in your mind, almost as detailed as a specific person. While that focus hasn’t been 100% absent from the last few years, it hasn’t been at the forefront as I was more zoned into the actual mechanics of putting the books at a good level of writing. Journeying to a new place always creates a new story for me—and it also inspires me to get my books out there even more for people to read.
Review copies for the next 2 weeks are Victoria: A Tale of Spain and A Year with the Harrisons. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion.
Victoria: A Tale of Spain Review Copy
A Year with the Harrisons Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
Last month I listened to a couple of free webinars taught by New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Alessandra Torre. She is also the founder of an online writer’s conference called Inkers Con which features specialized classes on many topics. I’d seen some ads for her teaching on FB and I thought “What the heck? Why not give it a try?” Although her genre isn’t the same as mine, most of the topics she covered are applicable to every fiction author because they are basics: how to find an audience, how to promote a book, and how to use Goodreads. It was great to see not only an insight into the industry (she is both traditionally and independently published, so she has knowledge about many aspects of publishing) but also the comments from other authors in the thread below the videos. Many had the same questions I did, such as if her tips would work for children’s authors too and whether Goodreads is even worth it because of all the trash reviews.
The three things I really liked after taking 2 hour-long video classes with her were:
So yes, as you can see by all the smiley faces I went into this webinar sure I’d hear only a thousand and one ways I was behind the curve. (Or I'd hear only tailored, specific advice for her genre which wouldn't help me.) And I certainly heard a lot of things that made me feel like I had a long way to go. But I would wholeheartedly recommend Alessandra’s webinars if you can catch them because I also went away feeling increasingly confident.
On a side note, fall has actually come here! I woke up a few mornings ago to this wonderful foggy mist covering our orchard and the remains of our garden. (Need to get to work preparing it for fall, I realize looking at this picture. Summer went by so fast. It’s time to dig up those old plants and get the strawberries ready for winter.) In the front you can see a little planter of red flowers. Another memento from my sister’s birthday, this chrysanthemum adds some bright color just as the year is starting to get chillier and grayer. Very cute, I think.
Review copies for the new two weeks are The Test of Devotion and This Merry Summertime. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (MerrySummer is a good sampler to read if you're just getting started on my work because it contains funny, pint-sized miniatures of every genre I've written except sci-fi. Be aware these stories are meant to be funny! Don't be one of those readers, and I've had several of them, who missed the point of something I wrote or even got anxious and offended because they didn't understand it was meant to be comedy. Not that any of you are that dumb, I'm sure--but anyway, you are duly warned!)
The Test of Devotion Review Copy
This Merry Summertime Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
My list of recommended children's and YA adventure books is up on Shepherd.com! After reading my list you can navigate the site to find a page about submissions if you'd like to create a list of your own. It's open to authors who can create a 5-book showcase centered around a theme that ties into one of their own published books. (Does that sound wordy and clunky? Well, I'm probably not good at explaining it. Just click on the link and read my list and once you have seen it, everything will be clear.)
The best amazing children's adventure books about family and exploring.
I've read a lot of wonderful books that couldn't make it onto the list. For one thing, because the list allows only 5 books on it--that one is pretty obvious. If you've read more than 5 books in your life, which I hope describes all of you, then some will have to be left out of such a small, to-the-point list. But also I've read a number of books that aren't in the same genre as mine and the point of the list is to line up some books that resembles one of yours, so you can both praise other authors who have done good work and give readers an anchor for defining what sort of book you've written. I don't have any nonfiction or fiction for adults in my repertoire, but I have written lots of young adult books and books that walk the murky tightrope between children's and young adult.
Since I've read many juvenile fantasy books, I chose one for each of the last 5 years and linked one of my younger, more MG titles (Ryan and Essie) into the theme. So the first book on the list was my top children's book pick from 2017; the next one is my top pick from 2018; and so on. The last book is my favorite of books I've read so far this year. I know I still have a couple months before the years ends--but I'm pretty sure this book will stay near the top no matter what else I read this year. My goal was also to include an example of every age division in the kid's fiction I've read, from picture book to lower YA. (So you can actually get a feel for what I've been reading.) I really should create some recommended lists for the other genres I've read. But that will be for another day.
Review copies for this week are Ryan and Essie and The Birthday Present. If you complete a 5-star review and put it on 3 or more retailers, you can email me with your mailing address and links to the reviews and I will mail you a complimentary signed paperback copy of the book you reviewed. This isn’t an “incentive” just a thank you, and should not encourage you to put up a favorable review unless it is your real opinion. (It's great that Ryan and Essie is one of the books for this newsletter, because it is also the book that is featured with my recommendations list. I've just been doing the review copies in alphabetical order and the list publication coincided with it this week. Nice!)
Ryan and Essie Review Copy
The Birthday Present Review Copy
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Adventure Stories
Always looking to better my craft.
Join the newsletter and get a mini-book with first chapters from all 11 of my published books.
Check out my list of Top 5 Best Children's Adventure Books About Family and Exploring I've Recommended on Shepherd.com!