Friday, December 13, 2013

It is not the end of the world, or is it

Sad news.  Deseret Book did not want my novel.  So, now I have to find some more publishers to send it off to.  While I'm waiting on that, I am still writing on Lily's story.  How disappointing.

Sunday last was 9 weeks so I sent an email to their submissions email account asking if I was going to hear something soon.  I got an answer back today saying they had sent me an answer on December 2, 2013 saying they didn't want my book.  Not a good night now. oh well...

I can't let it get me down.  I just need to keep plugging away.  Thanks for all of your support and please keep it up.  I'm working on a new novel.

Friday, November 29, 2013

4 star review for Murder by the Way by Betsy Brannon Green

This is a really good read.  I enjoy the Kennedy Killingsworth series, but I do have a little trouble with Kennedy.  I don't like weak women, unless that is their character for the story.  And that is not Kennedy.

When her ex-husband's new wife tells her to leave her husband alone, I think Kennedy should have spoken up instead of staying silent and making it look like she was loose.  I don't like that.  Kennedy should have stood up for yourself, but she didn't. Annoying...

The story is well written, but I don't like the way it was wrapped up.  I don't like who turned out to be the bad guy[s] and why.  It's like she couldn't figure what to do with everyone.

I'm glad she married Luke.  Not giving anything way.  It's in the first chapter.  And I can't stand Miss Ida Jean.  Kennedy's momma should have put her in her place a long time ago.  She's obnoxious.

But, the story is worth reading.  I just think you should read from the first book in the series.  I found the second book and read it first.  Then I read this one, which is the third book.  There really isn't any need to read the first book.  Doesn't matter who does what or why.  Usually it doesn't matter if I pick up a book in the middle of the series, but for this series it does.  So start with the first one.  They are worth reading.

You can find Betsy's books here: Betsy Brannon Green's website

I have not read her other series, but I do have another one of her books on CD.  I hope it's as good.

You can find Green's and other great authors' books here: Seagull Book.  So, stop by one of their local stores here in Utah or shop from their website.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lily's Dilemma

I told you last week that I would post which book I decided to write.  So here it is.

I am writing the mail-order bride story.  My heroine is Lily Jane Bounds.  And of course I cannot tell you who the hero is.  That would not be fair.  I also can't tell you why I choose another flower name, but I did.  I think this picture of the lily below is quite exquisite.

In the last week I have written 7,213 words.  Not bad.  There would be more, but it just didn't happen.

I hope you will follow me along this new journey.  No, I have not heard about the status of my book submissions.  And I don't like it either.  Say a pray the publisher will accept my novel and An English Summer will be published.

Go to my facebook author page and like me.  I appreciate the fan loyalty.  Brenda Birch Gallaher, Author Facebook page

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Writing Again...finally

Hello all, I submitted my manuscript An English Summer three weeks ago today.  So it's a waiting game now.  I'm praying for good results.  In other words, they want to publish my book.  I certainly hope so.  I spent a lot of time and effort on it.

So, I have been not writing for the last three weeks.  I have been thinking of what I should write on.  I have several story lines and had to choose one.  I finally chose one today.  But before I tell you which one I choose, let me tell you my choices.

1.  Young Adult novel about a 17 year old girl who goes to live with her grandfather in a Southern rural town.  Her mother is dead and her father is a CIA agent sent to the Middle East.  She makes three new friends, does her best to avoid the mean girl and her friends and finds out her grandfather's secret.  He has always been an eccentric type of man who would disappear for hour or days at a time, but for Hazel, he literally disappears.  So she and her friends decide to find out why and how.  And they do.  He's a time traveler.

2.  it's 1932 and a 12 year old girl is walking from Myrtle Beach, NC to California to join her father.  While she and her mother wait for her father to send for them, they live with her mother's sister.  She's bitter because the love of her life marries her sister.  Her mother dies, her aunt is outraged the young girl won't call her Mommy so she places her in an orphanage.  The girl runs away and starts walking to California.

She makes it to Colorado where a couple with three boys take her in.  They will contact her father and he can send for her or come and get her.  She's tired and decides to stay.  The older of the three boys don't like her and the boys' female cousin downright hates her.  Will she make it to her father.

3.  It's the 1890s and Lily has traveled from NYC to WY to get married.  She is a mail-order bride.  Her parents are not happy, but cannot stop her as she is 21 years old.  When she arrives by train the warehouse next door is blown up and she is knocked unconscious.

When she wakes up in the reverend's house she learns her fiance has been murdered and he has left everything to her, even if they don't get married before he dies.  She is shocked!  Should she stay and run the sheep ranch, or should she sell and return to NYC?  This is Lily's Delimna.

Please leave a remark below on which one you think I choose to write.  And if your choice is different than what you think mine is, then tell me why you think I should write your choice.

Next Sunday I will tell you which one I have decided to write.

Monday, October 14, 2013

5 Star rating for Garden Plot by Kirsten McKendry

Kristen McKendry is an LDS author from Utah living in Canada.  Her website is:  Kristen McKendry

I was at Seagull Books one day looking for my favorite author when I came upon Garden Plot by McKendry.  I read the blurb on the back and thought it sounded good.  The price was great so I bought it.  I have an hour lunch so thought I would read during work.  That didn't work out too well.  I would sometimes talk or I would get to a spot where I didn't want to stop, but didn't have a choice.  Back to work I had to go.  But I did finally finish the book.  I got a lot of it read while waiting for my two back tires to be fixed last week and I finished it off today while in the ER.  It's a great book.

The opening line of the book is where the heroine finds a faceless dead body in her garden.  Erin, the book's heroine, runs a wellness center and she finds one of her clients dead in the veggie patch.  How horrible?

Erin is a widow with a 13 year old daughter.  Her daughter likes an older boy with lots of piercings and purple hair.  The contractor who's fixing her cottage thinks she has a crush on him, she doesn't.  And two of her guests are father and son, the above mentioned boy with purple hair.  They fight all of the time.  But all of this pales in comparison to Erin finding a dead body in her vegetable garden.

It's a great story.  She meets a good looking police detective with his own demons who never smiles.  She sees a slight uptick of one corner of his mouth.  But no smiling.  He likes her cooking and he gets along with her daughter.  But who killed one of her clients?  To find out, you will need to read the story for yourself.  If you want a book full of filthy language, gratuitous sex and/or violence then this book is NOT for you.  This is a great story told without all of the disgusting trappings of the world.  It is well worth reading and you don't feel like you have wasted your time.  It's entertaining at times and heartbreaking at other times.  She writes with great humor.  So pick up your copy and enjoy.

I give her 5 stars.  She deserves it.  I would love to see a sequel to this story.

Kristen McKendry, Author

Sunday, October 6, 2013

An English Summer - done and submitted

Today, between Conference sessions, I finally finished my novel.  I made some changes to my query letter and summary.  The changes were necessary in order to be more concise and logical.  Then it happened, I submitted to Deseret Books.  Please say a prayer they like my story and want to publish it.  It would mean so much to me.

I started this novel in mid-January  I wrote the first draft, a very rough draft, in four months.  When I finished that first draft I had around 55,000 words.  Now that it is finished and submitted, it has a total of 87,934 words.  What a big difference editing has had on my novel.  I added over 32K words, almost a whole novel worth of words.  The smallest novel is 40,000 words.  Mine is more than double that, but after the first draft it was barely over that amount.  A writer friend of mine said a normal size novel is from 60-90,000 words.  I'm at the top amount.  I'm not sure if that is good or not, but I certainly do hope so.

I want to thank several people for their help throughout this process and journey of mine.  First is author Emily Mah Tippetts.  She would offer words of encouragement when needed and praise when I did something really good.  I appreciate that.  Second is Laura DeLange Bastian, who was kind enough to read my novel and act as editor.  He suggestions for changes and additions was greatly appreciated and acted upon.  It made my story so much better and my writing so much tighter.  Third I want to thank two people who read for me.  The first friend is my long time friend Theresa Lynette Friel Newbury and Philomena Callan.  They both read for me, but did not edit.  The read to tell me if they were interested in the story.  They both liked it.  It kept me going.

Now that the novel as been submitted I can relax.  But just for a little while.  I can relax and enjoy some non-writing time.  I can maybe get a book read now instead of write write write.  I will keep you updated on the progress of my novel as I hear things.

Thank you for following me and being their to support me.

Brenda Birch Gallaher
Author, An English Summer

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Almost Ready for Submission

Yippee!!!  My novel is almost ready for submission.  That doesn't mean I am, but my novel almost is.

I went through the suggested changes from Laura who acted as my editor.  I agreed with 98.5% of them.  I worked hard on them and did my best to make them sound as good as she suggested.  One I didn't agree with her on and the other I wasn't really sure what she was referring to.  So I left it.  If the publisher doesn't like it either, then they can make the suggestion to change it to something else.

Now that that's done, it's not complete.  I have to go through one more time and look for missing commas.  I forget to add them around someone's name when they are being spoken to.  An editor at a publishing house will not want to see that so I need to catch all of those before it goes off.  That's really the only thing I'm looking for in this edit.  If I find other things of course I will fix them, but I think I have fixed them.  Keeping fingers crossed.

Now you ask, "what will I do once all of the commas are corrected?"  That's easy, wait for my friend, Emily to return my query letter and summary.  You always need a second eye on something.  When those are returned and I make whatever suggested changes, then I can submit my novel.  I think the worst thing about writing, is the query letter.  I'd rather do a thousand rewrites than one query letter.  oh boy...

So, please drop me a comment of support as I gear up for my next step in this writing process.

Brenda Birch Gallaher

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Austenland movie review - 2 thumbs up!

This is a different type of review.  Instead of a review of a book, it's a review of a movie made from a book.  I have not read the book.  I had not heard of the book until I read it in the credits, the movie was from a book.  I will have to see if I can find the book and read it.  With that said, here is my review of the movie.

This week I went to see the movie Austenland with my friend Bev.  I had seen just one preview for the movie, so I wasn't really sure what it was about.  Something about a young woman who loves Mr. Darcy.  Who doesn't love Mr. Darcy?  For all of Jane Austen's heroes I prefer Captain Wentworth.  If there was no Captain Wentworth then it would Mr. Darcy.

Keri Russell plays the heroine, JJ Field plays Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Coolidge plays another woman who has decided to experience the time of Jane Austen.  Jane Seymour plays the lady who runs Austenland; a place where young ladies [and old] can come and live out their fantasy of being a Jane Austen character.  They dress and act like they live in the Regency Era.  At first thought, it seems a little odd that such a place would exist, but once one thinks about it we have Disneyland and Dollyland, so why not Austenland?

Keri Russell's character Jane is so into Jane Austen and her stories that she has finally lost her boyfriend.  She spends all of her money to go to Austenland in England.  She has bought the cheapest packet so she is mistreated.  She isn't sure she should have come but she sticks it out.  She is wooed by the regular grounds keeper as opposed to one of the men who are playing one of the men from an Austen novel.  They have different names, but you can tell by their behavior and mannerisms which one they are.

Now, did I like the movie?  The characters?  Yes and No.  Jane Seymour's character was just mean and I don't like to see actors/actresses I like playing meanies so I didn't like her in this.  I was not happy with her.

Jennifer Coolidge's character I did not like.  I don't like stupid women.  Don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying that Coolidge is stupid.  I'm strictly referring to her character.  Someone else told me they thought she was simple.  She was not simple by any means.  She was stupid.  And the character was just a little gross and over the top.

JJ Field who played the character after Mr. Darcy is an unknown to me.  I have not seen him in anything before, but he's a great actor.  He played Mr. Darcy to the hilt.  Just perfect.

And then there is Keri Russell.  She did a great job.  She played it great both as a modern woman from New York and a young woman in the Regency Era.  This was a good script for her.  She should choose more roles like this one.

Do I suggest people go and see this movie?  Absolutely!!!  I think anyone who likes Jane Austen's books will like this send up to her.  The movie was cute, loved the ending and glad I had the chance to see it.  So, go see the movie and go read the book.  I will have to look for the book to read.  Hopefully I like that just as much.

Here is Shannon Hale's website.  Shannon is the author of Austenland.  After you read my blog stop by hers.  She has more books than just this one.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finally - latest edit finished

Hello Followers.  Late last night I finally finished my latest edit.  At which point I emailed it off to my reader.  She said she'll have it back in a week.  Yeah, when it returns I will either accept and make the changes she suggested or ignore the suggestions.  You never have to accept any of the suggestions a reader/editor suggests, but if you're going to send it to someone you should seriously considering accepting the changes.

The story I ended up with is not the one I started with.  Oh, the story is the same in essence, but so many things have been added or deleted.  Twice while doing other edits I would delete 10,000 at once.  I ended up with 89,645 words.  A novel needs the minimum of 40,000 to be a novel.  Under that amount it's either a novella or short story, depending on how many words your story has.

I am sure that once it returns, more words will be both deleted and added.  I am hoping to have it ready for submission by the end of September.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I will keep you posted.  Thanks for following my blog and I hope you continue to do so.

As an added note, I would also like to offer my prayers and thoughts for those people who either died, were injured or lost a loved one twelve years ago in the World Trade Center towers.  There are certain things in History we must remember.  This would include both December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001.

Brenda Birch Gallaher

Friday, September 6, 2013

0 Star Review for Robyn Carr's "The Wanderer"

First let me say that I received the book for free.  I got the book, The Wanderer, off of a drawing on Twitter.  I just don't remember if it was a giveaway by the author, her publisher or someone else who had the book.  I've had it for about four or five months now.  I had other reading commitments and writing commitments that it took me awhile to get to it.

Robyn Carr's writing style is very good.  The Wanderer is a great story, or at least the part I read was good.  Her descriptions are good, she has tight writing and her characters are both believable and likable.  Or in the case of Jag, unlikable.  Cooper is both likable and you feel a little empathy for him.  He's almost forty and no family and lives out of a trailer that he hauls behind him wherever he goes.

Her setting is beautiful and she makes you want to visit.  She has captured the Oregon Coast very well.  The small town football fever was there.

With all of these glowing remarks you probably wonder why I'm giving a NO star review for The Wanderer.  Robyn Carr writes with a potty-mouth.  I don't mean she uses just damn or hell, but she dropped the F-bomb.  She waits until page 158, and you've been sucked into the story, before she decided to show her potty-mouth.  It's sad.  Now I won't know how the story ends.  Did the bad boy get his karma or if the nice boy ended up with the pretty little cheerleader.  I won't know if  Cooper finally meets the girl in the red slicker, the one on the beach with the dog.  What a waste?

The front of her book says she's a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, but what is she selling?  SMUT?  I think so.  Why do authors think that such language is needed or wanted.  I was excited to find an author that wrote so well and had a good story to sell.  But what I got instead was some very vulgar language.  I'm glad I didn't buy the book as I would have demanded my money back.

I do wish books would list on the front or back if it includes vulgar/potty-mouth words or sex scenes.  I don't want to read that either.  It's just sad.  So, you decide if you're interested in reading books.  Now you have been warned.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

How I Hate Revisions - well maybe I do

I finished my first rough draft of An English Summer back in May of this year.  Great I thought!  Now I will do some editing, send it over to a beta reader and then off to a publisher.  Hah...was my next thought.  It is not that simple; not unless you're Clive Cussler or Emily Mah Tippetts.  Then you can get away with one rough draft plus one or two edits.  But not me!  No, I'm a new writer and have so much to learn.

And what have I learned you ask.  I learned that I have several words that I like to use repeatedly.  They are: that, what and okay.  I also like to use the phrase of course a lot.  I did one edit where I went through and removed most of the thats and whats.  Then someone in my critique group noticed I used a lot of okay.  Usually that would be fine as there weren't that many of them used.  The problem is, okay is a 20th Century word and my novel is set in the 19th Century.  So, going through the manuscript I changed 90% of the okays to alright with the other 10% to fine.  Alright did not fit every time and fine was a better choice.  Not the kind of usage of fine the way a woman says it today.  But more like, yes, I'm fine.  So it worked out okay.

I also learned that I use a lot of compound sentences.  I have attached two perfectly good sentences that can stand on their own by adding the word AND.  It's unnecessary and makes me look/sound dumb.  I have gone through and reworked the sentences to either stand on their own to read as one sentence to convey the message without the use of AND.

At first my two main characters were to be Magnolia and Penelope with Aspen being a side character.  Turns out that Aspen pushed Penelope out of the way and took second place.  She also pushes her sister around in the story.  You'll have to read it find out what I mean.

So, as I work with someone on what I hope is the last edit, please get in gear to buy my book once it's published and enjoy the read.

And I really don't hate revisions.  They are a necessary evil so we will get readers.

Brenda Birch Gallaher

Sunday, August 25, 2013

1 Star review for Past Suspicion by Therese Heckenkamp

I received "Past Suspicion" by Therese Heckenkamp free in exchange for an honest review.  Heckenkamp’s writing for the most part was good.  There were a few errors, but we will place that blame on the editor.  That is the editor’s job to check for, find and fix any such mistakes.  The really big glaring mistake Heckenkamp did was what a majority of people do.  She used the term “Victorian style” to describe her protagonist’s uncle’s house.  There is no such thing.  It is Victorian Era.  There are quite a few style that came fourth during the Victorian Era such as Italianate.  Again, her editor should have known the difference.
To the story itself, I’m even less impressed.  It was touted as a Christian Romance story.  It was more of a religious story.  Every third page or so there was some religious reference.  It is quite overtly Catholic.  It really was a put off.  I don’t like reading such books.  I read an Amish love story once and that was enough.  If I want to read an overtly religious books, that’s what I’ll do.  I’ll go and read one of my church books.  Not a novel that I’m reading for please, for an escape from reality for awhile.  There was another author I read that did a trilogy.  The first book had a little reference, the second book and the third was just too much.  Then she wrote more books in the serious and I won’t be reading them.  But to each their own.
Heckenkamp’s protagonist Robin finds herself an orphan at age 17 and is forced to move from California to Wisconsin to live with an uncle she never knew existed.  She wants to return as quickly as possible to California.  This sounds like the great beginning of a book.  That’s where it ended.  She does a prolog, and it’s supposed to set up the book.  By chapter 9 the prolog still does not make any sense.  It could have been left out entirely or used as back story throughout the novel.
I was so bored with the book that I gave up at the end of Chapter 8.  When Robin works in her uncle’s bookstore she meets two young men, two young men totally different.  At the end of the meeting of the second young man I had figured out which one was going to be the good guy and which one was going to be the bad guy.  I skipped to the end of the book, read the last chapter and the epilog.  I was right on which one was the good guy.  I’m not going to bother to read the rest of the book.  I really don’t care about what happens to Robin, her uncle or the two boys she meets.

Theresa Heckenkamp’s writing was good, I just did not care for her story.  I sincerely hope she does well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jordan River Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Jordan River Temple is the house of the Lord.  A place where someone can go and become closer to God and His son Jesus Christ.  I know this post has nothing to do with writing, but since it's Sunday, I thought it was a good post to make.  I hope everyone is enjoying their Sabbath.

Heartkeeper by B.T. Lyons

Book One in the Heartkeeper Saga

Heartkeeper is free on Amazon

“People of the Field, of the Cave, of the Forest, and of the Mountain, and all the places and habitats in between, our race is able to gather here tonight because in time past we found that we were not the warden of the Earth, but the Earth was our warden, our sustainer, our parent...”

Mankind has survived the near-collapse of life as they knew it, now living in harmony with the world around them.  Adain, a young Tenderfoot of this Future Earth, is about to take part in his Heart Chase – the search for a companion animal spirit that will act as his companion and conscience for the rest of his life.  Success in the Heart Chase and surviving the subsequent Trials over the year ensures his place amongst the People as an adult, but failure means his certain death...
...and his whole future lies on the Heart of a mouse.

Heartkeeper  is the first book in the “Heartkeeper Saga”, an epic adventure of friendship, challenges, and danger as humans struggle to regain their foothold in a new world that is no longer theirs to control.  Can they survive in balance with the Earth, or will the Earth decide they no longer belong?

It's a new year, a new batch of Tenderfeet, and a new Heart Chase... but it is not the joyous occasion it has been for generations.

Shan, a Tenderfoot from devastated Sunperch Village, wants nothing to do with Hearts, the Heart Chase, or the Trials.   All he wants is for the surviving children of his home to be safe... and he's willing to do anything to protect them.

Cill, now the youngest Heartsworn ever chosen by the People, is thrust headlong into a side of his People's culture that is changing daily, where the answers to life's challenges are never easy and what is “right” is not as obvious as it once seemed.

New alliances will be forged, an entire way of living will be questioned, and the mystery of the Hearts and the Guardians deepens in  Heartbound, Book Two of the Heartkeeper Saga.

Interesting Facts:
One thing that makes this cover extremely exciting is that the artwork was created by the author herself! (To see more of her art, check out her  art page on her website.) 

The novella of Heartkeeper was featured in Clean Teen Publishing's break through anthology,  Wonderstruck  and has received numerous outstanding reviews. When B.T. Lyons accepted our invitation to submit a full length novel for this fantastical story, we were so pleased. All of us at CTP are super excited to have such a talented artist and writer on our team!

Get to know the Author

 Top 10 List from B.T. Lyons:

B.T. Lyons' List of Top Ten Books – Appropriate for Many Ages
I never grew up, and my favorite books reflect that very clearly.   I am just as likely to curl up with a children's book as I am with the latest Dan Brown or Stephen King.   For this list I have compiled my favorite books of all time that can be enjoyed by young adult readers and up, with many on the list appropriate for children of all ages.   In the spirit of Clean Teen Publishing's content disclosure policy, I've made notes about anything that parents or readers may want to be aware of ahead of time.   I've marked these with a star and a brief description of what they include so that you may use your best judgment; however, it should be noted that all of these books are common in middle or high school libraries (if not the children's section) in schools in many countries, and have been enjoyed by readers for years, so please do not think that a notation of “adult situations” is the equivalent of the content of an adult magazine, for example.   Those marked with a star are ones that I would take a look at before handing them to a child under twelve if the notes are of concern to you.
1.)    *Watership Down  by Richard Adams –  not just a simple story about bunnies, this is a remarkable book about freedom, oppression, and survival by wits.   Not to mention it has some of the best modern fairy tales (for rabbits) ever written snuck into some of the chapters.   The animated movie of this book is a Christmas broadcast tradition in the U.K. . (Includes violence between animals, references to natural animal behaviors of adult nature)
2.)    *Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch  by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett –  very simply the funniest romp in the Apocalypse you will ever take.   I also blame the authors for being prophetic themselves, for after reading this book my 1976 Toronado got “The Best of Queen” jammed in its 8-Track player.   You'll have to read the book to understand. (Mild language, references to adult situations, violence, references to drinking and smoking; reader MUST have a sense of humor in relation to Christianity and religion to appreciate this one.)
3.)    *The Cat Who Went To Heaven  by Elizabeth Coatsworth –  a Newbury Award-winning children's book that everyone should read, about a cat in ancient Japan.   Bring tissues. (Emotional ending; though this is a children's book, if your child has lost a pet recently, read it first before deciding if it is the right time for your child to enjoy it.)
4.)    Momo  by Michael Ende –  little-known on the American side of the pond, this book by the author of  The Never Ending Story  will be loved by anyone, but will be especially appreciated by those who never seem to have enough time.
5.)    The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series  by Betty MacDonald –  these classic books are wonderful for young children, bedtime reading, and threatening those who don't want to take a bath or don't clean their room with delightful magical cures for misbehaving.
6.)    *The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  by Douglas Adams –  brilliant British humor about the destruction of the Earth, how to travel for free between the stars, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and why you should never go anywhere without a towel.   (Mild language, adult situations, violence, references to drinking and smoking.)
7.)    *Tailchaser's Song  by Tad Williams –  incredible tale about a cat's journey to the ends of the earth and beyond to find his lost friend.   Blows the “Warrior Cats” series out of the water. (Violence between animals.)
8.)    *The Jungle Books  by Rudyard Kipling –  THE classic children's stories with talking animals. Though I rarely recommend a movie based on a story as much as a book, don't miss Chuck Jones' (of Bugs Bunny and the Grinch fame) animated version of  Rikki Tikki Tavi  if you can find it. (Violence between animals.)
9.)    *Childhood's End  by Arthur C. Clarke –  one of the best science fiction books ever written, hands down.   Deep, philosophical, and for more advanced readers.   Extremely impressive as a book report.   (Mildly written but emotionally powerful.)
10.)                   *Anything by Mark Twain –  no top ten list is complete without Samuel L. Clemens.   My personal favorites (although I love all of his writings) are  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court  and the short story  The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.   (Works may include racial references that were common at the time of the writing but are considered offensive by today's standards.)

B.T. Lyons was born in 1973, growing up in Boylston, Massachusetts, and lived her early life working on the family goat farm and learning wilderness survival skills in the surrounding woodlands.  She is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as everything from a zookeeper to bookstore manager, to a horror theme park actress, to a radio personality, to a builder of utility trucks. In a current fit of happy mid-life crisis, she is a history major at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.

She shares her home with her husband and her thirteen-year-old daughter, as well as a rat terrier, a Pomeranian, a ball python, and a rotating guest list of foster animals from the local humane society. B.T. is a rabid video game addict, and also enjoys drawing and creating various Neolithic-style handcrafts as her other hobbies. Her role models include Jim Henson, Jackie Chan, Hiyao Miyazaki, and Bill Cosby, and she is inspired by authors such as Richard Adams, Tad Williams, and Ray Bradbury.

Connect with B.T. Lyons: 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 Star Review of Isabelle Webb Legend of the Jewel by N.C. Allen

I have met NC Allen and she signed my book.  But, she did not give me the book in exchange for an honest review.  I had bought the book about six month before I had met her and I had so many other books to read that I finally got around to this one.  I was at a writing conference and she was kind enough to sign it for me.  This is the first in her Isabelle Webb series and I had already read the second book in the series.  She was kind enough to sign that one for me also.  No strings attached.  Here is my review.

Isabelle Webb is an injured Pinkerton spy.  The American Civil War is over, Lincoln is dead, she isn't talking to her sister and she and her ward Sally are traveling in London for rest.  Webb is a Yankee and her ward is a Rebel Southern Belle.  They are polar opposites.  Both had suffered during the war.  But they both depend on each other.

Of course being the first book in the series it sets up all of the characters and how they meet and who wants what and why.  Who gets shot, attacked by snakes in the jungle, who's chase by whom and so forth.

While in London Belle and Sally meet an American man named James who is looking for his brother Phillip.  His brother is in bad company and the young man was asked by his mother to retrieve his brother.  The two brothers are from Utah and so far he had been able to trace his brother to London.  Sally, being more open and younger, has convinced the two adults that the girls should tag along on his adventure to look for his brother.  After all, they are going in the same direction.  And so they do.

The story is about what happens on their way to India by boat and once they get to India in search of the young man.  Some of it is good as Isabelle's heart is beginning to open up to the possibility of love.  And the bad happens with murder and attempted murder.  Since I had read the second book first I already knew that some of the characters in this story would not survive til the last page.  But I did not know how they died so this was a good book to read.

Allen's writing is easy to read, and the story is good.  I would suggest this book to anyone fourteen and older.  It's a good clean adventure/romance novel that can be enjoyed by anyone.  It's a great historical romance for those who like those.  She describes India very well and the story is well worth reading.  There is a third book in the series so now I need to find it so I can see how the story continues.
This is the third book in the series that came out in March 2013.

Her blog is:

Allen also writes the Faith of our Fathers series.  I have not read those yet, but if they are anything like her Isabelle Webb series, they will be worth reading.

Monday, August 5, 2013

author interview with award winning David Handler

Today’s author interview is with David Handler.  David Handler is originally from California but now lives in Lyme, Connecticut.  He has written three distinct different series: Hoagy & Lulu, Danny Levine and Berger & Mitry.  My favorite is the Berger-Mitry series.  This August he comes out with a new series; Runaway Man.  His website is:

1.      You have been writing for a long time, in fact you have three very well received series.  What inspired you to write?
I've been writing ever since I went to work on my high school newspaper when I was fifteen. I discovered that I love to write.  And I've never lost the love.
2.      Do you still work off of that inspiration, or do you now have a new inspiration that you work from?
I tend to write about what’s happening in my life, so as I've evolved and grown my work has evolved and grown with me. Or so I tell myself!
3.      When did you write your first book?  When was it published? 
I started writing my first book, an autobiographical novel called “Kiddo,” when I was in my mid-twenties.  It took me ten years and 24 rejections before it was finally published ten years later in 1987.
4.      How many books do you publish per year?
Lately, I've been averaging a book a year.
5.      You have a new series that will be out in August.  Can you tell us a secret about it?
Absolutely not. That would be telling.
6.      What is your launch date for the new series?
August 20.
7.      Please give us a brief synopsis of your new series.  Help us fall in love with your new characters.
RUNAWAY MAN is the first novel of a new crime series about Benji Golden, a 25-year-old would-be actor, who works in his family’s struggling mom and pop business over a 24-hour diner on Broadway and W. 103rd Street in New York City. Golden Legal Services was started by Benji’s father Meyer Golden, a hero cop.  The business is now run by Benji’s mother, Abby, who used to be the only Jewish pole dancer in New York City, and is staffed by Lovely Rita, an eye-popping computer wizard who’s a former lap dancer.   Golden Legal Services is a private detective agency.  Baby-faced Benji, who is exactly one-quarter inch shy of five feet six, weighs a buck thirty-seven and answers to the nickname of Bunny, specializes in finding missing young people.  Runaways who've disappeared in the City’s seamy underbelly. When it comes to tracking down teen runaways there is no one in the City better than Benji. The kid is shrewd.  The kid is feisty.  The kid has been there.  He was a runaway himself.
8         What was the inspiration for your new series?
When I was a young reporter in New York City I had a chance to interview Ray Bradbury and he gave me the best piece of advice I've ever gotten: “Write what you love to read.” I love to read nuanced, sharply observant crime novels that feature smart, funny, flawed characters.  Characters who I’d to like to know. Recently, I was hunting around for just such a book to read and couldn't find what I was looking for.  That’s because most of the writers who I've come to know and love over the years, like Donald Westlake, Ross Thomas and Stuart Kaminsky, are no longer with us, I’m sorry to say.  So I simply decided to write one of my own.
9        Why a new series?  Why not just write more books in your current series?
I’m still writing the Berger-Mitry series. My next book, THE COAL BLACK ASPHALT TOMB, will be out in March.  One doesn't preclude the other. I can do both.
10    How does this new series stand out against your previous ones?
I’d say it’s consistent with what I've been doing all along. Probably the biggest change is that Stewart Hoag and Mitch Berger are both amateurs.  Hoagy is a failed novelist.  Mitch is a film critic whose lady love, Des Mitry, is a Connecticut State Trooper.  RUNAWAY MAN is my first private eye novel in the traditional sense.  Benji Golden is an actual licensed PI.

11    You attended Columbia Journalism School and then worked as a journalist.  How did you transfer from journalism into writing novels? 
It was always my dream to write novels.  I made the transition to story telling by way of television and movie writing, which I began doing when I was 26 in addition to my newspaper and magazine work.
12    What awards have you won for your writing?
I’ve won an Edgar Award and an American Mystery Award. I've been a finalist for an Anthony, a Dilys and a Derringer award.
13    Is there anything else you would like my readers to know about your writing?
Be prepared to have a wicked good time.

I want to thank David Handler for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer questions today for my blog.  I do appreciate your time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hazel's adventure, well at least the first three pages of it anyway...

Hello Followers.  Thank you for joining me today.  I have started a new novel.  No, I do not have a title for it as of yet, but it is about Hazel and her friends in high school.  It's a fantasy story.  So, I am posting my first three pages, and I want your feed back.  Is there enough "showing what I mean" instead of "telling" and does it read smoothly.  Tell me if you think something is out of place.  Do you want to read more?  If you don't want to read more, tell me why not.  thanks...


Chapter 1
            Hazel placed silverware and napkins on her lunch tray, paid the lady who sat at the register, picked her tray up and turned around.  All she could see was a sea of teenagers in the cafeteria and not an empty seat.  She sighed.  The noise that assaulted her ears was almost deafening.  As she scanned the room she found a table with a sole occupant.  She weaved her way through the tables filled with other students and stopped at the rear empty table.
            The blonde girl at the table looked up at Hazel and she asked, “Are you saving this for anyone or may I sit here?”
            “Uh…no…go ahead.”  The blonde blinked several times.
            “Thanks.”  Hazel put her tray down and then sat on the small round seat.  “I’m Hazel O’Quinn.  I’m new here.”  She put her hand out to shake.  The blonde took it reluctantly.
            “I’m Daisy Jones.”  She gave a weak smile.
            Hazel shook her milk carton and opened it before she took a huge swig.  “I’ve never been to a school with this many kids before.  There are so many.”  Hazel looked over her shoulder at the other students.  “What grade are you in Daisy?”
            “I’m a junior this year.  And you?”
            “I’m a junior also.  My homeroom teacher is Mrs. Cook.”
            “You’re across the hall from me.  I have Mr. James for a homeroom teacher.”  Daisy took a drink of Sprite.  “I heard the mayor’s granddaughter was going to start school here.  Is that you?”
            “Yes, but don’t let that scare you off.  My grandfather is a kind man.  He’s my mother’s father.”  She took a large bite of her cheeseburger.
A group of five bleached blonde girls approached Hazel from the right side.  The leader of the group tapped her on the shoulder.  She turned to look at them and grinned widely and showed perfect white teeth.  “I’m Adeline and you need to come and sit with me and my friends.”  Adeline was dressed like Lindsay Lohan when she went to court.  In other words, Hazel thought she was completely inappropriately dressed.  Her hair was bleached blonde and the girl wore enough makeup for two girls.
“Oh, I’m perfectly happy sitting where I am,” Hazel said after she swallowed.
“As the mayor’s granddaughter you should seriously consider whom you sit with.  If you choose the wrong people, then you may not make any friends.  No friends mean you will be an outcast at school and at school functions.  You really should not be sitting with Pushing Up Daisies.”
Daisy looked down at her lunch tray and did not move.
“I don’t think calling someone names is very nice.  And I’m happy sitting where I am.  Thank you.”  Hazel smiled.
“I really don’t think you understand.  Who you sit with on your first day will determine whom you will and will not be friends with.  Certainly people will not talk to you if you don’t choose wisely.”
“I think I have chosen wisely, but thank you for your concern.  If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to finish my lunch before the bell rings.”  Hazel returned to her food.
Adeline’s face turned a beat red and the four bleached blonde girls behind her gasped.  Adeline clinched her fists and stormed off.
“You shouldn’t have done that.  She is the most popular girl in school and she’s only a junior.”
Hazel lifted the right side of her mouth and her right shoulder.  “I don’t care.  It is rude to ask one person to come and sit with them and not the other person.  It’s uncalled for.”  She grabbed a few limp French fries and shoved them in her mouth; she savored the salt on them.  Daisy continued to eat her salad.
The two sat and ate quietly when the five girls returned with the assistant principal.  He was a tall skinny man that Hazel was sure if he tried he could fit through a wire coat hanger.  His name was Mr. Snod.  “Hazel,” he said.
 She looked up at him which made her slightly light-headed.  “Yes sir.”
“You need to come with me and sit at better table for lunch.”
Did she just hear him right?  Was he ordering her to move?  She looked at Adeline who stood next to Mr. Snod and she smiled like the Cheshire cat.  “Are you ordering us to move and sit somewhere else?”  She cocked her head in hopes of looking dumb.
“Not both of you.  You need to sit at a more appropriate table.”
“If this table isn’t appropriate for me how could it possibly be appropriate for Daisy?”  She cocked her head in the other direction and just stared at the assistant principal.
Mr. Snod leaned over and picked up her food tray.  He did not touch her purse.  “You need to move young lady.”
By this time other students in the cafeteria stared at what happened at Hazel’s table.  Before that she had been invisible.  She stood up and asked, “So you are ordering me to move?  I just want to make sure I understand so when I speak with my grandfather this afternoon I tell him the truth.  He wants me to tell him everything that happened the first day of school.  I just want to make sure that when I tell him I had to move lunchroom tables it is because you ordered me to, even though I did not want to move.”  She had a blank look on her face.
Mr. Snod replaced her tray on the table.  “Of course not, I’m not forcing you to move.  I…I was under the impression that you wanted to move, but didn’t know how to politely.”  He stepped back a few paces.
Hazel sat down.  “No sir, I am fine where I am sitting.  I do not wish to move.”
“Then enjoy your lunch Hazel.”  Mr. Snod quickly left the cafeteria.
Adeline, with fists clinched at her side, stomped her foot, made a nasty noise and stormed off.  The other four girls followed her.  The others in the lunchroom either laughed at Adeline as she passed or clapped loudly.  Hazel returned to her lunch and smiled at Daisy.
“I don’t think you should have done that.”
“Done what Daisy?  Not let some girl with too much makeup on tell me what I can and cannot do.  Or whom I can or cannot eat lunch with?”  pfftt….  “I do as I please.  My parents taught me to think for myself and to not let others bully me.  I’m not about to start now because I have to live with my grandfather.”
“She can make your life miserable.”  Daisy did not look at Hazel.
“Only if I let her.  On the other hand, if you didn’t want to eat with me, you should have said so before I sat down.”  She looked at the other girl without blinking.
“It’s not that.  I just know how mean she can be.”
“Who?”  A very handsome boy asked as he sat down next to Daisy.
Daisy answered, “Adeline tried to force Hazel to sit with her for lunch by getting Mr. Snod involved.”
“And you didn't move?”  Hazel found his golden eyes to be mesmerizing.  They went well with his golden hair.
“I am fine where I am.  I will sit where I want to.”
Daisy said, “This is my cousin Logan.  Logan, this is Hazel and it’s her first day.”
He smiled.  “I saw her in History class.  I sit in the back and I saw you take a front seat.  Why sit up front?”
“I like history; especially Egyptian and the 1800’s.  Why do you sit in the back?”
“It’s expected.  I’m the football captain.”  He nodded his head.
“That is sad, to expect our athletes to be dumb.”  She drank the rest of her milk and wiped away a milk mustache.
“Oh, he’s not dumb.  He gets A’s in everything except for history, then he gets only a B.”
“Maybe he could get an A if he sat in the front.”  The two girls giggled.
“I’m not good at remembering dates.  Besides, it doesn’t matter where I sit.  I just don’t get certain things when it comes to history.”
“I understand that.  I’m not the best in math, but I love history and science.”

End of lunch bell rang.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

iWriteNetwork: St. George Writing Retreat Announced

iWriteNetwork: St. George Writing Retreat Announced: Are you ready for this? You are not going to want to miss this one. It's time to take your writing to the next level. Join us. ...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Author interview with Josi S. Kilpack

Today is a great day!  Josi S. Kilpack has agreed to do an author’s interview with me.  She is one of my favorite authors and I love her character Sadie Hoffmiller.  Here is some info on Josi and her writing.  If you want a great cozy to read with a little romance, get one of Josi’s books, or several.  I have enjoyed all of the ones I have read.

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Author Josi S. Kilpack
Author Bio:
Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13.  From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and accredits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then.  She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped.  Her novel, Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney Award 2007 for Mystery/Suspense.  Lemon Tart, the first book in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series was a finalist in 2009.  Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah with her husband, children and super-cute cat.
Information on the Whitney Award Josi won is: The Whitney Awards is a program meant to recognize great writing by LDS authors. The process starts with reader nominations and you can nominate your favorite titles by going to or sending an e-mail

1.      Tell us what was so special about The Witch of Blackbird Pond that you fell in love with reading?
I’m not sure what it was specifically about that book, instead I think it was a combination of things. I think that because I was a 13 year old girl, reading about a girl close to my age made an impact, I think I had reached a level of maturity where I could relate to her differently, and I think that because I had limited what I read before then to animal books (another story in there) I had very little experience with a book about a person that could feel “like me.” That story was the first time that I felt “caught up” in a book, as though I were there, as though I were a part of it. That feeling changed me forever.
2.      Did this book also make you think that you could write you own book?
No. I did not think about writing a book for many years—never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties and on bedrest and in the throes of a two-book-a-day habit to ward off a growing depression that I thought “I could do that.” Even then I thought I was writing a short story. But I stayed in bed, and stayed pregnant long enough that the story grew into something I had no idea I could create.
3.      What is your biggest inspiration for your writing?
I would have to say that regular people are my biggest inspiration. It amazes me that if I talk long enough to someone I can see their story come out—their trials, their hardships, their victories are reflected in who they have become. The thrill of creating that same realness in a fictional character is very exciting to me. My stories all start with a character I fall in love with and want to know better.
4.      I absolutely love Sadie Hoffmiller.  What made you, a young woman in good shape, write your heroine to be in her early to mid 50’s and having a little trouble with her weight?
When I started writing about Sadie she was closer to my age, but as I considered the story I wanted her to play a part in I realized that I wanted her to be a mother, but if she had children she was still responsible for, she couldn’t be so diligent in trying to solve a murder. So I made her older. Then I realized a husband would also make it tricky, so I made her a widow. As for her size—I made her the ‘average’ woman in every way. She is not brilliant, she is not a prodigy, she is not model-beautiful, or perfect in her relationships. Like every other average woman out there she’s imperfect. My favorite thing about her is that while she’s not as thin as she wants to be, she has made peace with her body. For every woman I know who worries about keeping herself in good shape, there’s a woman who at her core wants to be a peace with herself.
5.      I read them out of order.  I read book 5 first, Blackberry Crumble.  Did you intend for your books to be read alone, or did it just happen that way?
We tried hard to keep the books as stand-alone as possible. We wanted them to be readable out of order because we realize that not everyone will stumble upon a copy of Lemon Tart on their own. It’s been very tricky and as the series has progressed it’s been harder to do but we still work hard at it. We want to make sure that if you read Tres Leches Cupcakes, for example, you won’t already know the outcome of English Trifle. We want readers to see each new book as its own story. And yet there is a character arc that grows throughout the series too. I tell people that if they haven’t read any of the books, they might as well start with Lemon Tart, but if a particular book (cover) sings to them, they can start there.
6.      I love that you add recipes to your books.  Are these family favorites or are they ones you’ve come up on by yourself?
Some are ones I’ve made for years, but most are provided either through my test kitchen or from friends and family that I ask for permission. Other recipes I go on the hunt for because they will work well in my book but I’m unfamiliar with them. When that happens, I make a few versions of the recipe a few times and figure out my own recipe from that experience.
7.      Why a series related to cooking?
Originally it was just about an amateur sleuth that loved to cook. My publisher suggested I add the recipes which would make it a culinary mystery. I went along with their brilliance and Voila!
8.      What made you write Daisy, a different series?
As much as I love Sadie and have enjoyed writing her, I’m on my 5th year of her dominating my thoughts. With two books coming out a year I spend a whole lot of time with Sadie and her wild ways. Writing Daisy was like recess. I loved writing someone new in a new genre and it helped me enjoy Sadie as well. 
9.      How did you come up with writing with the other three ladies?
Years ago I had had the idea of writing a parallel series about a group of women, each volume being that woman’s story. On a book tour I took with Julie Wright we started discussing the idea and with her help we filled in the holes that existed in the idea. By the end of that trip we had come up with the idea for four books written by four different authors. Annette and Heather were friends of ours and solid writers who we knew we could work together with. After the first set we started working on the second set. It has been a remarkable experience.
10.  Will you start a new series, or will you add more to the Sadie Hoffmiller books?
I am working on book 11 right now and then will start the last volume, which will be book 12. I don’t see me writing more than that because I don’t think I can keep the story fresh for much longer. I try hard to keep each book its own story but that means having to come up with new motives, new methods, new internal and external conflicts. I don’t want the series to get bad before we end it. After book 12 we will be doing a cookbook that includes all the recipes from all the books.
11.  Pumpkin Roll is one of my favorites with its twist.  I won’t give it away, but why that little twist?  Was it to throw off your readers and keep them guessing?
I try to choose a theme for each book that sets it apart from the other stories. Pumpkin Roll was set in Boston at Halloween time, so it made perfect sense to play on the ghost story angle. As the story progressed, however, the ‘twist’ kept niggling at me. It would provide cause for different books and put Sadie in ongoing danger. So I went with it. For the most part I’m glad I did, but it has always painted me into a few corners. It’s the only book with a bit of a ‘to be continued’ feel to it which I have not yet resolved so I have to keep explaining it without giving away the ending. It’s been a challenge.
12.  Are you a member of a writing group or critique group?
I have belonged to my writing group for seven years. They are priceless on many levels and I count them among some of my best friends. Getting ongoing feedback helps keep me on track with the stories I write and helps fuel my flagging motivation at times.
13.  How long does it generally take you to write one of your books?
Before Sadie I was writing a book a year, but with that series we wanted to do two a year in order to keep the series moving quickly. So I learned to write in half the time.
14.  Where can my readers find your books for purchase?
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull.
15.  Where can my readers fine you on the net?  There are links there for my social networks and blog
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16.  Is there anything else you want my readers to know about you and your writing?
Just that I love what I do and am so grateful to have the chance to do it. I have grown in so many ways that tie directly to my writing and though it is not a path without difficulty, it is a great joy of my life. We all have things that I believe were planted in us that will bring us joy while also influencing good in the world. I hope all your readers seek for that seed with them and find ways to nourish and grow it.