Category Archives: e-books

Author Bette A. Stevens, Inspired by Nature

Today Bette A. Stevens is joining me for the Wednesday Author Interview series.

Welcome, Bette.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I am a writer inspired by nature and human nature.  As a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five, I live in Central Maine on a 37-acre renovated farmstead where I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature.  I advocate for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies–an endangered species (and milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).  My husband and I raise our own fruit and vegetables organically and share the bounties of our labor with family, friends and neighbors.  We retired in 2005 after spending several years working at traditional jobs in Maine, California and Virginia.  My childhood years were spent in California and New York, enjoying daily life and hoiliday events with family, including dozens of cousins.  Now that our human children are grown, we have had the privilege of being the adoptive parents of a delightful black feline named Midnight.  Life is good and adventures abound.

Q:  When and what made you decide to be a writer?

A:  I’ve been writing most of my life–initially it was in the form of photo blurbs and poems to celebrate family outings and events over the years.  During the 1980s I worked in the business world as an editor/writer/photographer, honing my skills in business writing.  By the early 1990s, after taking courses in journalism, creative writing and poetry at University of Maine Orono while pursuing a degree in education, I discovered that writing was a strong point in my repertoire of skills and one that pursued with passion.  Teaching became a career and sharing my passion for reading and writing with upper elementary and middle school students for over a decade before retirement was a genuine delight.

Q:  Can you tell us something about the genre of your books and why you write in that genre?

A:  Children’s Books–written to educate, entertain and inspire (Ages 4-11).

Amazing Matilda, A Monarch’s Tale (Children’s picture book based on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly inspiring kids to reach for their dreams)

The Tangram Zoo & Word Puzzles Too! (Children’s educational/activity book integrating language arts, science, social science and math)

Historical Fiction–written to inform, entertain and inspire (Middle grade-Adult).

Pure Trash, the Story (Short story prequel to Dog Bone Soup)

Dog Bone Soup, A Boomer’s Journey (Novel) (Compelling family drama-Shawn Daniels grows to manhood in a society where the poor are often quickly wrongly judged)

Q: Where do you get your ideas from?

A:  Ideas come from the world around me–whether in people, places, or things-inspirations abound.

Q:  Are you working on a new book at the moment?

A: Front and Center is a poetry collection that follows my personal journey through Maine’s four seasons.  I’m also working on another poetry collection that centers on gardens and nature in addition to historical research for a novel.

Q:  Which writers inspire you?

A: There are so many, but here are the first ones that come to mind: Beatrix Potter, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, C. S. Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, Diane Siebert, Tony Johnston, Khaled Hosseini, and Shel Silverstein.

Q: What book are you reading at present?

A: Nomadland (Surviving American in the Twenty First Century) by Jessica Bruder.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: READ. READ. READ.  Reading is the first step to becoming a better writer.  One of the top writer’s resource on my shelf is On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s not one of those stuffy book of Do This and Don’t Do That, it’s the story of King’s own writing journey and the book is packed with the nuggets he’s discovered along the way.

But the reading doesn’t stop there.  I belong to local and virtual book clubs, where we read and discuss books.  I’ve never read a book that I didn’t learn something from–and when I’m engaged in a book, my writer-self is right there with me learning how to improve my craft.

WRITE. WRITE. WRITE.  Get writing. Yup, that’s what writers do.  One a single piece for my blog, I may write, edit, and rewrite several times before publishing a given post.  When I’m working on a book–now that’s a different story.  Ask for editorial help from two or three readers along the way.

Save a copy of every draft just in case.  Email those drafts to yourself, labeling each one.  If your computer crashes, you’ll be so glad you did.  For novels, I do this chapter by chapter and date them.

Between edits, take breaks so you can look at the work with fresh eyes.  It’s amazing what you’ll discover as you travel the path to publications.

FINALLY--Be sure to hire a professional editor before you publish your book.

Q:  Do you have any advice on how to market your books?

A:  For me, marketing is all about building relationships.  Join groups that share your interests and book themes.  Don’t forget to actively support fellow member writers.  Be sure to use tags and categories for all of your blog posts and include descriptions and book links for your book covers and photos.  Follow, read and share book marketing posts that are helpful to you and thank the bloggers who post them.

Q:  What would you consider to be the worst thing about being an author?

A:  When it comes to being an author, getting any book to the stage where I’m ready to publish can be exhausting.  But after all the hard work, once that book is in my hands, I’m exhilarated.

Q:  What do you like to do when you are not writing, your hobbies, etc.?

A: Spending time with family is top on a very long list.  Then there’s reading, gardening and preserving our abundant produce  from the farmstead (and watching for those amazing monarch butterflies searching for the milkweed interspersed in our flower and vegetable gardens), bird watching, playing with Kitty Middie, walking trails on the farmstead and taking photographs, reading to children at our local library and schools, visiting with family and friends, Bible study on Tuesday mornings, day trips to the coast with hubby Dan, supporting friends who are involved in local theatre productions, book club at our local library and the list goes one…

Q: How long on average does it take your to write a book?

A: For me it’s been about a year from first draft to publication.

Q: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

A: Being a night-owl, I generally write for two or three hours in the evening.  But, my schedule changes drastically when a new book is about to be born and life gets CRAZY!

Q: Who designed your book(s) cover(s)?

A: I’ve designed all of my book covers with CreateSpace’s Cover Creator.

Q: How are your books published?

A: I use CreateSpace for print books and Amazons KDP for eBooks.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: The quote below always reminds me that books provide us with a free and fantastic mode of transportation that can take us anywhere any time.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” Mark Twin, (“Innocents Abroad”)

Q: What is your favorite books?

A:  The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye.

Q:  How can readers connect with you?  Facebook, Twitter, Website, etc.

A: Website/Blog: http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorbetteastevens.officialfanpage?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BetteAStevens

Q: Where can readers purchase your books?

A: All of my books can be purchased on Amazon where I invite you to take “A Look Inside.”

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author.betteastevens

Q: Would you give us an excerpt from your book or one of your books?

A: Here’s an excerpt and a page illustration from Amazing Matilda, A Monarch Butterfly’s Journey (Children’s Literature/Ages 4-110 written and illustrated by me.

Excerpt:

“I do so want to fly,” Matilda sighed. Just then a cottontail rabbit hopped up onto the ledge where Toad had sat.

“Why, you don’t look like you can fly,” chuckled Rabbit. “You don’t have any wings!”

“Sparrow said that I must have patience and follow my instincts. You and Toad say that I need wings, too. Where can I find all of those things?” Matilda asked Rabbit.

“As for wings, I don’t know where you can find them. In fact, I don’t care anything about them. But I am an expert on patience and instincts,” Rabbit boasted as she twitched her black nose, making her whiskers sparkle as they danced up and down.

“When I was just a bit of a bunny, Papa told me that I must have patience, too. I so wanted to bound up onto this rock ledge where I could see the whole world. But, I could not do it. I could barely hop a short distance before I would fall backwards, flip-flop, right into the tall grass. But, Papa said that I must not give up. He told me it would take patience to learn to do all of the things I wanted to do. He said I could do anything that I wanted to if I only tried long enough and hard enough.

“Papa was right. I kept trying. I kept hopping and hopping and hopping, until at last I could bound. Every day I would land a little farther. Now I can reach this very ledge any time I want to see the whole world,” Rabbit boasted as she bounded across the field.”

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A History Book Disguised as a Debut Novel

Today, I am interviewing Sheena Macleod author of Reign of the Marionettes, a historical novel set in the Highlands in Scotland.

Welcome, Sheena!

Q: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

A: I live in a small seaside town in Scotland with my family, and two dogs – Lola a Dalmatian and Missy a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  My working life was spent in mental health nursing, first as a practitioner and then as a specialist practitioner (Cognitive Behavioural Therapist). Around this time, I moved into nurse teaching, gaining an MSc in Advanced Mental Health Nursing and then a PhD.  After taking early retirement from the University of Dundee, I combined my love of history with my passion for research and set out to write a series of historical fiction novels. Reign of the Marionettes, a historical drama based in Restoration London, is the first of these books and my first published novel.

Q: When and what made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

A: I love to read and have since childhood. I became interested in the Highland Clearances and started researching the life of the Duchess of Sutherland – Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower – who is regarded as one of the principal agents involved in clearing tenant farmers from the internal straths and glens of the Highlands in Scotland to make way for sheep.

I traced Elizabeth Sutherland’s family back through the generations, trying to understand her background and role in the Highland Clearances. The main character in Reign of the Marionettes, Elizabeth Herbert, is a distant relative of the Duchess of Sutherland.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

A: From history. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I write historical drama and enjoy including small details of the time. Despite writing historical fiction, I try to keep a current feel as if events are happening now.

Q: How are your books published?

A: Reign of the Marionettes is published by Dark Ink Press.

A short story, “Ghosts of Culloden”, was published in a fiction anthology in March this year by the One Million Project. Over a hundred authors from around the world contributed short stories to form three anthologies- Fiction, Thriller, and Fantasy. All proceeds, less costs of publishing the anthologies, will go to help Cancer Research UK and homelessness.

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Looking for Authors to Interview

I hope those who read this blog post today will share with all your author friends.

I am looking for authors to interview in order to help them promote their books.

If you are interested, please contact me at cyannris at gmail dot com.

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2 New Books

Here are two new books I think you will enjoy.

Newberry Sin by C. Hope Clark, available now.

 

The third book in the Battle Scars series by Charlene Newcomb, that will be available tomorrow, May 1, 2018.

Follow Charlene Newcomb.

 

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Holiday Book Gift Guide

A while back I put out a call to authors to be included in a Holiday Book Gift Guide that I was creating.

WOW! What a turn out.

I really did not expect too many to participate, but am so happy they did.

You can view the Holiday Book Gift Guide here:

Be sure to take some time to visit all the authors who participated.  Some have special sales going on until December 31.  Others are offering free chapter samples and others, if you sign up for their newsletter, will give a free copy of one of their books.

I ask everyone who is reading this post to please share on your social media sites.

Note-authors were NOT charged a fee to participate in the gift guide.  This was FREE for all who participated.  And if everyone promotes this guide, the cross-promotion has a huge wide potential.

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Does the Pop Singer Meet the Love of Her Life?

By:  Tara Randel
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Genre: contemporary romance

Book Excerpt: The help only he can offer…Cypress Pointe, Florida, is a long way from LA, where pop singer Cassie Branford needs a hit to prove she’s not a two-album wonder. But her case of writer’s block could be over when the struggling songwriter meets Luke Hastings at a family wedding.

The legendary musician walked away from success at the height of his career. Yet Luke is already inspiring Cassie with his dedication to building a permanent community outreach center for troubled teens. Volunteering to help bring music into these kids’ lives is also bringing her and Luke closer. Maybe they’re not as different as he thinks…

Author Bio: Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in the Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

Connect with Tara:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Tara-Randel-Books-219272758140488/

Twitter: @TaraRandel

Where to purchase the book:

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Adam’s Stepsons

Title: Adam’s Stepsons
By:  M. Thomas Apple
Genre: Science fiction
Publication Date: April 15, 2017

Book Excerpt: Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic

Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle?

Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands, or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle?

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Coming in June 2017 – Adrift on Edisto

COMING IN JUNE 2017!

Title of Book: Adrift on Edisto
By: C. Hope Clark
Genre: Mystery

Book Excerpt: Blood rushed in Callie’s ears. With an embarrassed board frozen before her, stunned citizens behind her, Callie stiffened in defense. “Excuse me?” She crushed the papers in her hand, but she wasn’t sure she had the strength for Brice’s challenge, or the focus to handle it properly. Not without getting fired on the spot . . . or being arrested for murder.

And God knows there’d been enough murder on the island.
She’d been exonerated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in the shootout. But that fact paled in the shadow of Mike Seabrook’s death. The community had adored him. And he’d been the man she’d professed to love just twenty-four hours before he succumbed to a bullet and a knife on a muddy, desolate, rained-out road.

The room had gone silent. Silent! How many people still held her accountable?

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Spring Forward Book Attack

Do you like to read? Do you like free books? Of course, you do! This is Goodreads!
Support for Indie Authors is proud to announce our first Free & Bargain Book event of 2017!

Load up your Kindle with more than 125 free and 99¢ book deals in a wide variety of genres!

Details: For three days beginning Friday, March 31st and running through Sunday, April 2nd, visit our event website to nab a whack load of free and 99¢ Kindle ebooks by our indie author members.

That’s it! No RSVP, no obligation, and best of all, no need to put on pants!* Some books will be offered all three days, but there are many one day only freebies, so make sure to check the site each day!

*Pants are only optional if you are browsing our event from the comfort of your home. SIAFBB is not responsible for pantsless readers wandering aimlessly in public spaces.

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Murder Any Witch Way

Title: Murder Any Witch Way
By: N. M. Howell
Publisher:  Dungeon Media Corporation
Published Date: September 12, 2016
236 Pages, 492 KB
Genre: Cozy Paranormal Mystery

About the Book:

Being a witch is hard. It’s even harder when you live in a town that doesn’t believe in witches.

When young witch River Halloway moves to sleepy Brimstone Bay for her very first journalist job, she doesn’t expect to cover anything ground-breaking. That is, until a paranormal festival comes to town and a body is found on opening night. Now, with all evidence pointing towards a witch, River must find the true killer before she becomes the prime suspect, or worse, the next murder victim.

This is book 1 of the Brimstone Bay Mysteries series. If you’re a fan of Amanda M. Lee, Juliette Harper, and Amy Boyles, then be sure to get your fill of magic, mystery, and murder with this cozy new paranormal mystery series.

Book Excerpt:

Every day was a busy day at the office, given that the paper had only been around for a few weeks now and we were still trying to make a name for ourselves. JoAnn worked us extra hard, often expecting ten stories from each of us at a time, just to be sure that we didn’t run out of fresh material for the paper. It was a weekly publication, but by the number of hours that we worked every day, you would think that it was a daily report. I rolled my eyes with my back to her and took a big swig of the burning-hot coffee. God, it felt glorious.
When I turned back towards her, I noticed her eyeing the messy stack of papers I had on my desk and she raised her eyebrow quizzically like she so often liked to do.

“Oh, I just had an idea for a story. I wanted to get in early and prepare before you got here, but I’m not too sure I found what I was looking for.”

“Okay then, let’s hear it.” JoAnn picked up her cup, leaned back in her reclining chair with her feet up on the desk, and took a long sip of hot coffee. “What’ve you got?”

“Well, I was thinking. Nothing too exciting ever really seems to happen in this sleepy town. Why don’t we make something happen?”

“I’m listening.” She looked skeptical.

“Well.” I chose my words as cautiously as I could muster. “I heard the Shadow Festival is passing through Portland this week. Why don’t we ask them if they’ll come through Brimstone Bay on their tour?”

I sat in my chair and sipped my coffee, watching JoAnn as she stared at me wide-eyed.

She laughed suddenly. “You actually think a town like Brimstone Bay would allow the Shadow Festival to come through?” She laughed again.

“No, think about it. Summer is almost over and before we know it, fall will be here. The Shadow Festival will get people excited for the Halloween season. If anything, it will bring money into the town and help all the local businesses.

Besides, who doesn’t love a little spooky fun?”

She continued to laugh and shake her head. “It’s just not going to happen.”

“It would make for a great story,” I said. “There are only so many births, birthdays, and deaths that we can put in the paper before people start dying of boredom from what we’re writing.”

“I agree, it would make for a great story. It would certainly liven up this sleepy town. But there’s no way to get anyone here to agree to let the festival come through.” JoAnn sat her coffee on the desk and opened her laptop to begin her day’s work.

I chewed my lip, trying to think of ways that we could get past this hurdle. The Shadow Festival was a traveling fair that went from the West Coast to the East Coast and then back again each year, celebrating all things paranormal. Most people assumed it was just a show and took their kids there as a fun way to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season. Sometimes, it was just a fun excuse to do something spooky in the off-season, depending on when they came through each town. They had all the typical treats like candied apples and caramel corn, but the real treat was seeing all the witches, werewolves, ghouls, and other paranormal creatures coming out in their full glory. They would be out and about and wouldn’t have to hide behind closed doors.

Of course, most people just thought that they were wearing costumes and were part of the show, but everyone from within the paranormal community knew otherwise. It was a fun way for us to get together, celebrate our heritage, and finally get to be ourselves in front of non-magical people. Not only was it fun and exciting, but it always drew a massive crowd and brought a lot of money into each city it traveled through. It was just the kind of thing that Brimstone Bay needed, both socially and economically.

“Well, if I can find a way to get approval from the mayor…” I eyed JoAnn, waiting to hear her response.

She glanced up at me from behind her laptop, raised her eyebrow again and made a mmhmm noise. “Well, you have my blessing, dear. Good luck with that.”

I grinned. What JoAnn didn’t know was that our young new mayor had a bit of a crush on me, and I had a feeling that I could persuade him to allow the festival to come to town. Not only did he like me, but he had spent the better part of 20 years in Los Angeles and was familiar with the paranormal community. Mayor Scott confided in me that he had a number of friends that were witches back in the city. While I never admitted to being one myself to him, I suspected he knew anyway.
I finished the rest of my first coffee, grabbed the second, picked up my sweater and backpack, and bounded out the front door before JoAnn could protest.

Author Bio:

N.M. Howell is an author, publisher, and all-around nerd from the West Coast of Canada. She has an obsession with coffee, spicy food, and the rain, and she absolutely hates sleeves! (Seriously, they’re like little fabric prisons.) When not working on her latest book – or latest ten books, more realistically – she spends her time working on her Master’s Thesis and fighting with her micro-wolf pup over who gets the best spot on the couch. Hint: the dog wins.

 

Author Contact Links: www.nmhowell.com/newsletter

Where to purchase the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01L0MEDYK

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