Monday, 18 August 2014

Guest Post: Why Author Jan Flores Walks Shelter Dogs…Part 1

Animals are near and dear to my heart. In 2007, I had the privilege of working at our local animal shelter. From this experience I got an idea to write a book for my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series—a young adult teen psychic series—now in the hands of a few reputable traditional publishers via my agents at Walden House (Books & Stuff). It was through my love of animals that I met fellow author and kindred spirit, Jan Flores, who I found loves our furry friends just as much as me. Jan has had some wonderful experiences, especially with shelter dogs, and I asked her if she’d be so kind as to share them with you. Take it away, Jan…

Five years ago, I walked into our local animal shelter and changed my life forever.  It wasn’t easy. In fact, volunteering to walk shelter dogs was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I know that will probably sound silly to a lot of people: after all, what’s the big deal about walking dogs? Put a leash on and go.

For me, it wasn’t that simple. Blessed (or cursed) with a writer’s super-active imagination, I didn’t know what would be waiting behind the reception desk, locked away out of sight of the public. I pictured rows of dogs in wire kennels, unloved, unwanted, dropped off by owners who abdicated responsibility because the dog was sick, or old, or injured, or ill-mannered, or just something to be thrown away because it was, after all, only a dog.

I’ll admit it: I was anxious—scared that I’d make a fool of myself by bursting into tears as soon as I saw the dogs; sure that I wouldn’t be able to turn away from all those sad faces, begging for rescue.  I was positive I’d have nightmares about frightened and confused dogs, who didn’t understand what had happened to them, or why.

Then I saw a poster that made me feel like a coward, writing checks to assuage my conscience, donating money instead of time so I wouldn’t have to see what I didn’t want to know. The poster showed a dirty, skinny little dog with a huge chain hanging from a studded collar around a neck that looked too frail to hold it up. I couldn’t look away from the depth of pain and hopelessness I saw in that dog’s eyes. The caption under the picture read:
 
You might not be able to help all the lost dogs in the world, but you can help the one in front of you.

That day I walked into the shelter and volunteered to walk the dogs.

Janis Flores was born in Montana, and raised in Colorado and California. After graduating from college, she received her license in Medical Technology, married Ray Flores, and they moved to northern California—she to supervise a laboratory, he to establish his horseshoeing business. She found time to take a class on the short story, but instead wrote her first book—a Gothic suspense titled HAWKSHEAD, which was subsequently published in hardcover by (then) Doubleday and company. Thirty-four novels—from historical to contemporary mainstream—followed.

SWEETER THAN WINE, published by Musapublishing.com, is her first ebook.
The award-winning TOUCHED BY FIRE has now been reissued in ebook form.

Both titles can be found at:

SWEETER THAN WINE:

TOUCHED BY FIRE:

You can find Jan on her website: www.janisflores.com

On Twitter: @JanisOFlores

Monday, 11 August 2014

Save Atlantis. Save the World... with MG author Mikey Brooks

Book Review: The Gates of Atlantis: Book 6 Battle for Acropolis by Mikey Brooks...

Magic is dying. And it’s up to 13-year-old Talon and his foster sister Hattie to save magic…and Atlantis at the same time. Oh…my…Poseidon! Brooks had me hooked from the get-go. This middle grade read is the sixth book in The Gates of Atlantis series, and it doesn’t disappoint your taste buds if you love adventure, fantasy, and fair play. Brooks has created a world where magical beings, human animal hybrids, and humans come together to save not only Atlantis’s fate, but Earth’s fate as well. Non-stop action and plenty of surprises are the main ingredients to this well done story. Whether you’re looking for your next book series to read, or a new author, Battle for Acropolis may just be your ticket to a world that will put a smile on your face, and take you on a journey you’ll never forget.

Here’s the Blurb:
Thirteen-year-old Talon is in trouble…again. He didn’t mean to burn down the school library. It just happened. Things like that always happen to Talon. His life is a mixture of the weird and bizarre. No one else he knows can shoot fire from their hands or cause an earthquake…but he can. Every night the same dream haunts Talon: the destruction of an underwater city. He hasn’t a clue what it means but he feels like fate is trying to warn him. It’s not until he runs away with his foster sister Hattie that he discovers his trouble-making powers and strange nightmare are connected. Together they are the key to saving magic…to saving Atlantis.

And… here’s my Endorsement:
Things are not what they seem in Mikey Brooks’ Battle for Acropolis, the last installment of The Gates of Atlantis series. And trust me—it’s a GOOD thing! Kids of all ages will love this fantastical adventure that will make them believe that in coming together and acting as one, we can accomplish great things. Well done, Mr. Brooks!

~ Sharon Ledwith, author of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken,  ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.
singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary…

This upcoming August 30th marks the 1st Anniversary for the book release of Legend of the Timekeepers, the prequel to The Last Timekeepers time travel series. In keeping with my giving nature, I’d like to mark this occasion with two Goodread Giveaways. Not only am I giving away a signed copy of each of my books: Legend of the Timekeepers and The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, but I’m throwing in two signed trading cards and a rubber wrist band with each paperback.


This Goodreads Giveaway starts August 10th (the date of my 29th Wedding Anniversary) and runs until August 31st so you have plenty of time to enter. I’m hoping whoever wins these giveaways may choose to do a book report on one of my books since back-to-school will be in full swing in just over three weeks. Hint, hint. Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to enter to win! Cheers and enjoy the rest of your summer season!



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Legend of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith

Legend of the Timekeepers

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends September 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win



Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon Ledwith

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

by Sharon Ledwith

Giveaway ends September 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, 4 August 2014

Fire-up your Summer with Mouth-watering Maple-Planked Stuffed S’Mores...


Sticky, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth heaven. I’m talking about S’Mores – one of the mainstays of camping and a first choice with kids around the campfire. Here’s an easy-peasy treat that takes five minutes to prep, fifteen minutes to make, and serves eight. And guess what? No campfire is required. You can create this treat in the comfort of your own back yard with your barbecue.

What You Need:
8 jumbo marshmallows
16 milk chocolate squares
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup of crumbled honey graham wafers (about 3) spread on a plate, plus 16 whole wafers for serving
Maple grilling plank, soaked in water for 2 hours

What You Do:
Preheat barbecue to medium.

Make a slit in the middle of each marshmallow end. Stuff each marshmallow with 2 squares of chocolate (one in each end), hiding chocolate inside. Lightly brush stuffed marshmallows with butter and roll in graham crumb to coat evenly.

Grill soaked plank for 2 to 3 minutes on each side (to help intensify smoky flavor and prevent warping). Once plank begins to smoke and crackle, place prepared marshmallows on top and close barbecue lid. Bake for 3 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted and slightly gooey.

Remove plank from barbecue and set on metal pan. Serve marshmallows directly on plank with whole wafers for scooping and sandwiching.

ADDED BONUS – if you feel adventurous you can spread smooth peanut butter over the milk chocolate squares before stuffing it into the marshmallow. Trust me—it will make a peanut butter cup blush. Oh, and make sure you have plenty of napkins or wipes on hand. Enjoy!


Monday, 28 July 2014

An Author's Comfort Zone...

Note: The following post was originally published on the Writer’s Fun Zone blog, a site designed to help writers succeed and improve their author platform. When you have time, I urge you to check out this fantastic resource.

This post could have also been dubbed ‘Balance 101 for Authors’. About sixteen months ago the first novel in my middle-grade/YA time travel series hit the cyber bookshelves. There was so much to do, and it felt like there wasn’t enough time to do everything. I needed a time portal just to get all my marketing and promoting put in place. This included getting a website up and running, ordering promotional giveaways, setting up blog hops, writing blog posts, and joining the appropriate social media networks. The lists seemed endless, and when the date finally arrived for my book release, I was wearing my shoulders as earrings.

Needless to say, by the end of my first book blog tour, I was exhausted, spent, and bent out of shape. Even my eyelids ached.

What I learned from that whole experience last year is that authors need to learn to structure their writing life, or their writing will take a nose dive. We need to learn to create balance so that the task of being a writer plus a marketer plus a promoter doesn’t wear us down. So, how do we do this when so much is expected of a writer nowadays?

Start with finding your comfort zone. Find your personal comfort level with promotion or marketing, do that and do no more. That’s it. Do it. Or you’ll get burned. If you don’t heed my advice, then sure as shooting, negativity will leach into your writing. And that’s the last thing a writer wants!

Need help finding your comfort zone? Go to the dollar store and buy a timer. It will be one of the most important investments (and cheapest) as a writer you will make. For less than two dollars you can purchase a piece of sanity to help you organize your writing life and keep you in your zone. Set your timer to check emails. Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Then do the same for Facebook and Twitter. But keep in mind which activity will help you as an author in the long run. Apply the 80/20 rule. Write (produce) for 80%, promote and market for only 20%. After all—social networking is a marketing strategy—as long as you treat it as such. Then, once you have laid the timer law down, set it for how long you want to sit and just write, with no interruptions (unless the dog really needs to pee).

So, stop pushing the zone. Relax. Let go. Breathe.

That doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t learn or try new things. By all means learn and try. Get your hands dirty if you must. But don’t burst a vein in your brain doing it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you collapse into a quivering mass of writer goo. As writers, we must protect our work—and ourselves. It takes time to build an on-line (and off-line) marketing presence in this new publishing world. Learn this, cut yourself some slack, and prosper.

Thank you for reading my blog. How do you find balance as a writer? Love to hear your voices…

Monday, 21 July 2014

Just Rewards…

There are many people in the world eager to take the back end rewards without contributing effort at the front end. They have the attitude of entitlement. Asking, “What can I get out of it?”

Um…not how the Universe works. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Look at it this way: A farmer earns rewards after the harvest, putting in his or her effort (a.k.a. blood, sweat, and tears) up front by preparing the ground, planting the seeds, nursing the seeds, making sure the seeds are not crowded out by other species, and are properly irrigated. With me so far? Then after harvesting the crop, the farmer collects the back end reward. Having no idea at the start what that final reward may be, farmers know only what might come from their labors if they do everything right. If the farmer messes up or Mother Nature steps in and wreaks havoc, then it makes sense that a lesser reward is taken. The farmer is only entitled to the results of the harvest.

So how does this work for writers?

Simple. All writers should ask themselves, “What can I put into my writing career to get the best possible reward?” Figure out what steps you need to take, and from there follow the farmer analogy above exchanging the word ‘seeds’ for ‘books’. Every author writes for different reasons. To hit the bestseller list, you need to be in for the long haul. Patience is the name of the game here. To make any kind of money in this business—and like farming, writing IS a business—it takes time plus a back-list of about 4 books to produce a sustainable author career. You need a plan if you want to become a professional writer which includes some form of on-line presence like a website or blog (think irrigation). If you’re just writing for you and having a blast self-publishing on Amazon or Smashwords, you’re strategy may not be the same, but you will still earn rewards. So figure out what you need to put into your writing career/hobby and work toward those back end rewards.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share what you’re putting into your writing career, and how it’s worked out so far. Cheers!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Celebrate the Dog Days of Summer with Backwoods BBQ Ribs...

Ribs - a favorite of Grill Warriors. Ribs conjure up images of cook-offs and eat-to-the-death contests at festivals and fairs. Here’s a sweet and spicy rib recipe that will make your neighbors jealous, and your friends and family get down on their knees to beg you to make every time they visit. The secret is in the sauce, and most people can’t get enough of it! It takes fifteen minutes to prep, with a cook time of two hours and is ready in three hours, fifteen minutes. In the end, you’ll have enough ribs to serve eight, but will most likely kick yourself (or be kicked) for not preparing extra!

Backwoods Barbecue Ribs
4 pounds pork spareribs (we use back ribs)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup Heinz® Ketchup
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup rum (we use amber or dark)
½ cup Heinz® Chili Sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 dash ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Cut spareribs into serving size portions, wrap in double thickness of foil, and bake for 1½ hours. Unwrap, and drain drippings. Place ribs in a large roasting pan.

In a bowl mix together brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rum, chili sauce, garlic, mustard, and pepper. Coat ribs with sauce and marinate at room temperature for one hour, OR refrigerate overnight.

Preheat grill for medium temperature. Position grate four inches above heat source.

Brush grill grate with oil. Place ribs on grill, and cook for thirty minutes, basting with marinade.

WARNING—if eating outside, anything with wings (fairies included) will end up sticking to your hands, fingers, or face, so make sure you have plenty of napkins or wipes on hand. Enjoy!