Monday, 25 July 2016

My 10 Top Favorite Things…

Now that summer is in full swing in the banana belt of Canada, I’m willing to bet most kids in the northern hemisphere are enjoying their free time doing their favorite things like playing with their friends, hanging out at the beach, reading books by their favorite authors (wink), or going on vacations with their families. That said, I thought I’d compile a list and share my ten top favorite things that I enjoy whether it’s summer, fall, winter or spring.

1. Enjoying my morning coffee outside (weather permitting) on our patio. True therapy.

2. Big. Bang. Theory. Sheldon still cracks me up!

3. The original Star Wars movie. I know, I’m dating myself, but I was one of those people who went
to the movie theatre to see it again and again. Of course movies were cheaper back then!

4. My reading chair. It’s comfy and cozy. Even when I have to share it with the cat.

5. Reading...in my reading chair…with or without the cat.

6. Writing the first draft of a novel that nobody sees because that’s where the fun begins!

7. My pets. After all, I have to read my first draft to someone. Right?

8. Writing ‘THE END’ on the final draft of my novel. Trust me, it’s a BIG deal! 

9. Connecting with my readers online and offline. Trust me, it’s a HUGE deal!


10. Single. Malt. Scotch. No explanation necessary.


So, what are some your favorite things? Would love you to comment and share! Enjoy the rest of your summer, and thank you for reading my blog! Cheers! 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Book Review: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones…

I absolutely love Arizona! I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice (Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale areas), and would love to go back and see the Grand Canyon, since I never got a chance to go there. K.S. Jones paints a vibrant and beautiful picture with her words, that allows me to feel my skin sizzle under the Arizona heat, and make my mouth water for buttery cornbread. So what’s my take on a story set in a place that can conjure up Geronimo’s ghost and make you sweat with every page you turn? This is what I posted on Amazon and Goodreads…



Lightning does indeed strike twice with this 5 Star Winner!

K.S. Jones combines a mixture of Apache folklore, natural phenomenon, and science fiction in a dessert setting to create her middle grade sci-fy adventure about 10 year-old Samuel Baker and his incredible journey into another dimension. Fast-paced from beginning to end, Jones weaves a fantastic and emotional tale wrought with love, death, magic, and hope.

Jones’s imaginative story is a must for any bookshelf (or ereader), and though geared for tween boys, there’s plenty of action to get the girls cheering for Samuel and his friend Isabelle to get them back home to the families they love. High fives for K.S. Jones and her electrifying tale!

Tagline and Blurb:

Life moves on — no matter what...

Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back. 

Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

Read an Excerpt:

Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.

“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”

A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.

So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.

“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.

“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.

Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.

As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.

“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”

“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”

Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”

Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.

“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.

“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”

Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”

Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing

Amazon 

Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author:

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

Connect with K.S. Jones:



Monday, 11 July 2016

Lessons from my Brother…

Ian at his home in spring 2014
I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my youngest brother, Ian, has left us. Truth be known, we actually got closer when he was diagnosed with cancer over two years ago. I’d phone him once a week, and he’d phone me when he was feeling up to it. He brought his son to our ‘Farewell to the Cottage’ party and had fun watching him fish and hang out with the family. Oh, there were times when I wanted to slap my brother across the back of his head for his bad behavior and callousness in the past. I know I’m not the only sibling in that boat! LOL! Still, in the end, Ian was my brother. And as the old saying goes, blood is thicker than water.

They say you can choose your friends but not your family. But I believe that we choose the family we want to be with before we’re born. Scary concept, eh? We choose what lessons we want to learn from our family that will help our souls grow, develop, and evolve into someone better than before we were born. And when those lessons are over, the teacher leaves us.

So this got me to thinking. What lessons did my brother teach me? I did a little time traveling, since I’ve been so good at that lately, and came up with some answers…

I remember when I got my father’s station wagon crooked in the garage and tried to straighten it. Um, not one of my finest moments. I scraped both sides of the car, until I realized that there was no way I could straighten it. So what did I do? I ran crying to my two brothers. I swear they couldn’t stop laughing, but my heart was pounding so hard knowing I was gonna get in trouble. Ian managed to get the car out, and drove it back into the garage with no sweat.

Lesson learned: Patience is a virtue. Oh, and never try to straighten a big-ass car in a small garage.

I remember when I used to cheer Ian on during his hockey games. I wished like hell I could have played hockey back then. But being born in a time when no such opportunities existed, I settled for being his team’s number one booster.

Lesson learned: A team doesn’t just consist of players. The backbone of any sport is comprised of the blood, sweat, and cheers of all family members. Plus, I believe I found my true voice with all that cheerleading I did!

I remember when Ian let me drive his and my other brother’s green Challenger. Somehow, I managed to put one of the front wheels into a ditch while backing out. I think we had to pull it out with my father’s station wagon (yes, the same one that got a garage door make-over). Again, my brother got me out of another tight spot and didn’t berate at me.

Lesson learned: I always have the support I need to overcome obstacles. And never make wide turns in a small driveway.

I remember when my brother and his best buddy sat on me so I couldn’t go to church. They held me down until it was too late to attend. Um, yeah. Hope God forgave them for that one. Still, I know Ian was never one for religion or going to church, and sometimes we all have our faith tested again and again to see if our beliefs have changed from when we were kids. I know mine have.

Lesson learned: Develop an understanding of where other people are coming from. Even if those people are sitting on you.

I remember when my brother tried (operative word here is tried) to teach me how to drive three on the tree in his red truck. He drove me down to the town’s fairgrounds where I could practice shoving the stick-shift in the column. About ten grinds later, we called it quits before I did something very bad to the transmission. He never took me out again.

Lesson learned: When something doesn’t work for you, just let it go.

Finally, I remember when we celebrated the first Christmas during Ian’s apprenticeship as a mechanic. He bought us some wonderful and expensive gifts, and I truly appreciated his generosity. I still have part of that gift – the mirror to the tea caddy he bought me. Ian was very generous to our family that year, and I believe our father would have been so proud of him, had he lived.

Lesson learned: Enjoy the fruits of your labors, so that you may share them with those you love the most.
Ian celebrating our 'Farewell to the Cottage' party

As the first year of your absence in our lives comes to a close, I want to just thank you for choosing me as your big sister, Ian. It was a truly a gift from the Universe, and I believe I made the right choice too. Here’s a toast to you, who in the end, will always be my little brother…

“Be grateful to those who left you, for their absence gave you the strength to grow in the space they abandoned.” ~ Dodinsky

Monday, 4 July 2016

Ring in Summer with these Holiday Pork Kabobs…

The encroaching summer season in the northern hemisphere is filled with long weekends, vacations, and family get-togethers. In the Ledwith house, we have a sure-fire recipe that is guaranteed to fill your guests and family members’ bellies when they come a-calling during their holidays. We’ve used this recipe time and time again, and it has never disappointed even the fussiest eater. I hope you share this wonderful feast with your family, no matter what season it is!

Note: The total prep time takes 6 hours which includes marinating the pork tenderloin plus another 20-25 minutes to cut up the veggies and fruit. This kabob recipe serves approximately 6 – that’s with 2 kabobs a piece. Baked potatoes and corn on the BBQ make for excellent sides, and this mouth-watering meal is always a crowd pleasure on those hot summer days!

What You Need:

2 Tbsp. Asian Sesame Dressing (we use Kraft® brand dressings)
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. grated fresh gingerroot
1 pork tenderloin (1 lb./450 g)

What You Do:

MIX all ingredients except pork; cut meat up into 1- 1½ inch cubes, and pour marinade over meat in a large plastic bag. Seal bag and turn to evenly coat meat. Refrigerate for 6 hours to marinate. We find marinating the longer the better, so if you prefer, mix the marinade the night before.

PREPARE pork kabobs with your favorite veggies and fruit. Remove the meat from plastic bag and discard the marinade. We use an orange and red pepper, a sweet onion, and pineapple chucks to create our kabobs. You can use 3-4 pieces of pork, depending on your tastes and desires.

PREHEAT barbecue on high, then lower heat. Cook potatoes first. Corn can be put on with kabobs.

BARBECUE kabobs approximately 20 minutes or until meat is done. Make sure pork is thoroughly cooked.

DIG in and enjoy this feast with your family or friends!

That’s it! Easy-peasy, right? Now what will you do with all that time on your hands while the pork tenderloin is marinating in the fridge? How about relaxing in the sun, and indulging in one of my books from The Last Timekeepers series? Wink. Wishing you a safe and happy summer! Cheers!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Tackling Titillating Taglines…

Tackle your Readers attention with a great Tagline!
You need to hit readers hard, blindside them with an awesome tagline in order to grab their attention. I cannot overestimate the importance of this. Your tagline, blurb and excerpt are the most important sales tools you have for your book. Choose them wisely.

Every author wants people to read their book, right? Well, they aren't going to find your book unless you put it out there and MAKE them want to read it. Throwing away your tagline and blurb is just like taking your book and throwing it off a bridge in the hopes that someone will fish it out of the ocean, find it, and think it's great. So let's go over developing a tagline that will make readers care enough to pick up your book and purchase it.

A tagline is—or should be—one of the simplest things to create. A tagline is—plain and simply—a one sentence summation of the theme of your book. Something quick and catchy. If you're moving on through publishing by attending conferences and conventions, a tagline is similar to what is called an elevator pitch. What you want to do is to catch a reader's—or an agent's or an editor's—attention with a one-sentence description.

Remember, a PITCH and a TAGLINE are two different things. A PITCH is to get someone to buy your book with the intent to publish it. A TAGLINE is to get someone anonymous, in a bookstore or online, to buy your book to READ it. So your tagline should be about your BOOK.

Here’s the tagline for the first book in my middle grade/young adult time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:

“Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.”

Is it the best tagline ever? Nope, probably not. But it tells the reader exactly what the theme of the book is. Look at the points it covers—what it tells you about the book. What does that tagline cover?

Children. Keys. Future. Hope. Past.

That's the purpose of a tagline and how to make it work for you. Therefore—homework lesson number one. Sit down and READ your book. You may think you know what it's about, but if you're a writer like me—you don't. READ IT. As you read, jot down notes to yourself. One. Word. Notes. Hit the high points of your book. What themes, what high points do you think sell your book? No—even simpler: what tags or key words are IN your book? Because those are what will sell your book. Readers don't always know what they're looking for in something to read. Your tagline will give them clues.

A few examples of great taglines:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Remember. Survive. Run.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson – Two lives are bridged – and nothing will be the same.

Do you see what all of these taglines have in common? They titillated enough readers to become bestsellers.
 
So that's your first job after your book is written. To sit down and read your book, and to pull a tagline from it. And this is where the elevator pitch and the tagline come together. In an elevator pitch, you've got maybe thirty seconds to gain the interest of an editor or an agent—just as long as it takes the elevator to get to their floor. With a reader, you have your book cover and one sentence—just one sentence—to convince them to click through and read more. You cannot afford to throw that chance away. So a tagline that's trite or vague or boring cannot be an option.

BTW – Here’s a sneak peek at the tagline for the next book in my time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret set to be released on October 17th 2016:

“Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.”

Hope I've done my job and piqued your interest! What are some of your favorite taglines? Cheers and thank you for your time and attention today!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Book Tour and Guest Post: THIS NIGHT SUCKS by Elizabeth J.M. Walker...

Welcome to the Book Tour for Elizabeth J.M. Walker's new novella, This Night Sucks!

Follow the tour each day to read reviews, guest posts, and exclusive excerpts.


Book Details:

From the author of She Dreamed of Dragons

Title: This Night Sucks

Author Name: Elizabeth J.M. Walker

Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires, Comedy

Release Date: June 17, 2016

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing 

Mirror World Publishing Link:  

Amazon Link: 

Link to the Tour Schedule:



About the Book:

Lana is a high school senior enrolled in Vampire Education – a class to teach students about the very real presence of vampires in the world. Lana and her classmates don’t really expect to meet up with any undead bloodsuckers. Vampires are a lot like other scary things that supposedly exist but you hope you’ll never come across: nudist colonies, mad cow disease, and your parents’ sex life.

What is part of Lana’s everyday reality is navigating through one last year of high school while desperately trying to be less nerdy. She still loves spaceships, fantasy novels, and cat stickers, but she also recently got her braces removed, grew boobs, and is working on the makeup thing. She never expected her crush-of-a-lifetime Pete to even notice her – let alone ask her out on a date. 

The date is going great until Pete’s ex-girlfriend Katy shows up, all bloody and pissed off. Lana quickly realizes that Katy is not just her ordinary bitchy self – she has been turned into a vampire. After a near death experience, Lana learns that she is changing into a vampire too.

Lana needs answers, and the only way to get them is to find the vampire who started the chain of events – and to find him before sunrise...

Fun Vampire Facts – Book Edition!

1.      One of the first recorded accounts of a vampire dates back to an ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth dating to 4,000 B.C.
2.      Over 1,000 vampire novels have been published, most within the past 25 years.
3.      The first full work of fiction about a vampire in English was John Polidori’s The Vampyre. The Vampyre was a short work of fiction published in 1819.
4.      Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, remains an enduring influence on vampire mythology and has never gone out of print.
5.      A key inspiration for Dracula was said to have been Vlad the Impaler, the 15th-century Transylvanian-born prince.
6.      The character Dracula has been featured in over 200 films.
7.      Popular vampire writer Anne Rice has sold over 100 million books.
8.      Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries have been published in several countries, including: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Swden, Denmark, and many more.
9.      The children’s book Bunnicula, by James and Deborah Howe, has won more than ten Children’s Choice awards, including the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and the Nene Award.
10.  The Twilight books are the only vampire related book series to have sold over 100 million copies. 

Meet the Author:


Elizabeth J. M. Walker lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She has always loved books and writing. As a teen she discovered zines, which inspired her to publish her own litzine of odd fairy tales for over a decade.

She Dreamed of Dragons is her first novel.

Connect with Elizabeth J.M. Walker:

Facebook: 

Amazon US: 


Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 



Monday, 13 June 2016

Author 2.0: How Writers Are Supposed To Succeed In This New Publishing Paradigm…

An Author's work is never done!
Honestly, my head hurts from thinking about what authors have to do now-a-days in this new publishing paradigm. I’ve written posts before about this topic and all the tasks writers are up against. Write, rinse, repeat has become an author’s slogan. The world wide web is crammed full of blogs, publishing services, publicists, and anything a writer needs to get their books into the hands of readers. This whole industry has changed so much in the last ten years, and I’ll wager it will keep changing. What won’t change are those who try to pass themselves off as ‘authors’ and continue to write bad books thinking they’ll get rich quick, and those who are in for the long haul, invest in themselves and write good, even great books. The proof is truly in the pages.

Apparently there are five ways authors can succeed in publishing. Bet you’re biting at the bit to know what they are, right? Okay, I’ll share, but just to let you know, I found this same information on numerous blog posts I read (when I should be writing my next book). That said, I added my own two cents based on my own experiences as an author. I believe most of this advice is just common sense, but you be the judge:

Have a strong, savvy social media presence. When I first burst into the publishing world with my debut book, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, I had a year under my belt with my blog, and a Facebook account. That’s it. My then publisher (now defunct) gave their authors a basic idea on what we had to do to promote and market our books, but it truly felt like once my book was published, I was put out to sea in a life raft with one paddle and a megaphone. Since then, I’ve gotten more of a presence (Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn), and made so many social and business connections for which I’m eternally grateful. It takes a village to raise an author!

The Power is in the Pricing ($2 to $3.99). Readers love to fill their ereaders up, and giving them a great price for hours of entertainment or education is your best bet to building your audience. This is a no-brainer. Although, if a reader wants to spend $10 or more on an ebook by his or her favorite author, then they don’t break a sweat when hitting the buy button.

Pre-Orders. Again, you’re creating buzz with this sales tactic. Add a cover reveal, a Goodreads giveaway, or raving book reviews into the mix, and you may just have a bestseller on your hands. When I was first published, we never had this option, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it works with the next installment of my YA time travel series, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret due out October 17th, 2016. (Yes, that's me creating buzz! Wink.)

Write a Series. I’m on that gravy train! Or at least I’ve left the station. So far I’ve got two books in The Last Timekeepers time travel series out: Book #1, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel, Legend of the Timekeepers. Now with Book #2 contracted and scheduled for release, I feel I’m on my way. I’ve already started to research and outline Book #3. The master plan is to have a total of ten books with the prequel making eleven. Guess I’m in for the long haul for sure!
  
Hook Readers with a Free Installment. Part of me has a problem with this. Authors work hard, damn hard, at their craft. Somehow, a free book seems to cheapen an author’s work (but that’s for another blog post!). I do get the idea, and technically FREE is a good thing. Hell, I like free stuff. Who doesn’t? I’ve even have a free short story on my website for readers to download. Still, many authors give away their first book for free in the hopes that readers will like it enough to invest in more books written by the same author. Again, a great strategy, but I somehow think it’s akin to selling a piece of your soul. That’s just my opinion.

For another book sales strategy, here’s a comical, great post that helps authors to understand how finding readers is comparable to shopping at warehouse stores like Sam’s or Costco:


So there you have it. Five ways to try to find success as Author 2.0. Hate it or love it, publishing has become a game of misdirection and manipulation – the trick is to find a Houdini instead of a charlatan. Authors, have you found success using any or all of these strategies? Readers, do you buy books based on price point, pre-orders, an ongoing series, or do you just download free books? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!