About The Author: Dr. Dawn Menge has won thirty-one national awards as the author of the Queen Vernita educational series. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, a master’s degree and a Clear Credential in moderate/severe disabilities, and a bachelor’s degree in human development. Dr. Menge has been teaching severely handicapped students for nineteen years. She has three children and five beautiful grandchildren and lives in Southern California.
Title: Dragon’s Breath
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Book Synopsis: Join King Teddy Bear as he seeks out the answer to his Kingdom's mysterious black smoke. It's his job to protect his villagers and help them to thrive. The once beautiful gardens and crops are now withering and his precious villagers are saddened and fearful. How can the mighty King solve this for those he loves?
Find The Book HERE! https://tinyurl.com/y3t8mve4
Visit Dawn's Website: https://www.drdawnmenge.com/
Don't Insult Your Reader
Whether fiction or non-fiction, reading is a preoccupation that requires a suspension of disbelief fostered inside trust. Those who hold books in their hands while curled up in the corner of the couch, studying intently at the library table, or hoping to be ignored on the subway during the evening commute expect excellence between the punctuation marks. They anticipate the reward of education or escapism after a long day’s slog through a frustrating encounter or an insufferable wait. Readers fall in love inside an author’s carefully crafted pages. They battle demons from the netherworld. They become more proficient at a skill, discover alien societies in distant galaxies, or seep into the comfort of places already understood and people already loved. It is our obligation to deliver on the promises of cover art and synopsis. It is a daunting task and a heavy responsibility. It is also a choice.
The act of writing, some profess, is a calling. It is a compelling conversation one has with Spirit requiring devoted attention of time, energy, sweat, blood, and tears. Many are driven to write because of an electric surge that prods at us. If we ignore it or somehow smother it, much like the consequence of refusing to inhale… we will die. Yet that is also a choice, albeit one too devastating to argue.
Because we decided to write, we must honor the process just as we honor good health. We must take in every piece of advice offered to nourish our craft. We must use every helpful tool we discover to polish our delivery. We need to learn all we can to protect our choice without regret – for ourselves or our readers.
It is a foregone conclusion that you will damage your relationship with your DNA by choosing to neglect your body’s essential requirements of life. So too, will you abuse your reputation with readers if you ignore their expectations of a solid story, engaging characters, and sentences that flow easily. Forcing readers to trip over grammar, spelling, continuity, and syntax mistakes may result in an agonizing punch to your writing career. Sadly, you may never recover.
Most authors can tell a fantastic story or impart tremendous wisdom while holding a reader’s attention for hours through a solitary, focused effort. Collaboration on the inside pages is not necessary for an author to enjoy success. However, suppose you violate a reader’s trust by allowing your ego to proclaim that your writing is above reproach. In that case, you are inviting a world of hurt that will cascade from one book to the next. Neglecting to connect with a professional editor simply because you ‘write well enough’ is unconscionable. Could you do it all on your own? Perhaps. Should you go it alone? Never. The skills, objectivity, and lack of emotional attachment a professional editor brings to your work are critical. We are far too close to our own stories to make the difficult decisions of which superlative passages to rephrase or which characters to help exit the story, stage left.
Only through the guidance of a professional editor can we avoid the plot holes, incongruencies of character, or misinterpreted messages that dissuade people from reading all the way to the back cover. Let alone lending or recommending our book to others. Even the best writers rely on editors. After all, they specialize in putting a sharper edge on the tension, deepening the authenticity of the emotion, and eradicating the oversights made in that fifteenth version we are sure is perfect.
Many Indie Authors edit themselves to control expenses and somehow balance the income against the art. It is a trick we play on ourselves to keep from falling headlong into a melting pint of ice cream and despair. It’s completely understandable. Retaining control of the budget validates all the long nights learning the multitude of steps involved in birthing your book on your own.
Find another area to skimp on as you develop your emotional and financial budget for your next writing project. Don’t snub the expertise of a reliable, knowledgeable editor just to save a few dollars. If you do, it will be at the peril of your book’s success and your writing career. Simply put, the fastest way to lose readers is to ignore or insult their intelligence by not hiring an editor. An editor may not make it perfect, but they will help you achieve excellence. That is what builds a dependable reputation of quality in your writing. With every stroke of the editor’s pen, you build trust with your reader. You will cultivate the strongest referral base for your future work out of that trust.
So, nourish your relationship with your readers. Deliver on promises and cultivate trust for accuracy and consistency within your work. You will be stronger in mind, body, and spirit because of it… and your career will reap the rewards. Do the right thing. Make the best choice. Always hire an editor before you publish.
About The Author: Michael Beardslee is currently retired after thirty-four years of working in the auto insurance industry, with the majority of that time being spent as a field trainer. He has written five books, with his sixth on the way. He has lived in the State of Michigan his entire life. He currently resides in Brighton and West Branch, Michigan with his wife, Terese Fitzpatrick, and Molly, their Golden Retriever.
Title: Bad Hombre
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction/Memoir
Book Synopsis: This story is loosely based upon the author’s senior year of high school which took place during the 1969-70 school year. While he is many ages removed from those days, he still treasures the friends and great moments of that time.
This book contains many factual moments of his life. He has also used some creative writing skills to allow the direction of the book to read how he would have actually liked his life as a 12th grader to have taken place.
So, if your memory or research skills show that a certain athletic conference does not exist, or if a result of a High School Band District Festival is different than what history shows, then that is when you will find the imagination of Mike Beardslee running rampant.
This book is written in journal style. This book begins with the latter part of August 1969 and run through the end of September 1969.
Find The Book HERE!:
Visit Michael’s Facebook page HERE!
Watch The Reading on YouTube HERE!
This is the second time this year that I’ve read a new cozy mystery written by an Indie Author, who has delightfully written against the grain of traditional publishing’s expectations for the genre while still giving me what I love. In this one, I was pleased to discover dogs and squirrels instead of cats; and a flamboyant dress designer instead of a kindly elderly lady. These tiny, inventive details are what made this story so enjoyable.
Ms. Mooney is a wonderful storyteller who draws you into her mystery much like an imaginative child might tell you a story, with a sincere enthusiasm for sharing her imagination. Her plot has all the recognizable distractions of every day life, juxtaposed with the mystery of a crafty “whodunit”. At each turn of the page, I became more immersed in the next “you’ll never believe it” moment. The effect was refreshingly dramatic.
This is book seven in a series, but honestly, I didn’t feel lost for jumping into the middle of the fray. The characters have been clearly defined with enough backstory that I felt as if these were friends I’d just recently met. Perhaps I didn’t know every detail of their history, but as it is when you meet new people, that didn’t really matter. What made all the difference in my enjoyment of this story was that I felt they were indeed real people, with real frustrations and joys in their personal lives, moments I could relate to easily.
The mystery was exciting, with twisty bits I didn’t see coming. I worked hard to pay attention and predict the outcome, but like the weather, even though we understand the rules of science, that doesn’t always mean Mother Nature complies. Sometimes, a small squall comes up and tussles your boat of rationality upon the waters of intrigue. I found each new piece of evidence and possible suspect shifted my perspective on who the culprit might be. Truly, I didn’t know who the perpetrator was until the reveal. That is very satisfying. To have my need for an intricate detective story, while also being comforted by real people, schnauzers, and squirrels was satisfying and simply nice. And there’s a lot to be said for nice.
I will certainly go back and read this series from the beginning… or, I might just read them out of order… but I will absolutely read them. I appreciate good writing, and even more so when it’s provided to me by the hands of an imaginative Indie Author.
A little while ago, I saw a post in an online networking group defining the term Brand. The writer supplied a bullet list of things that are not a business' Brand. Included were such things as a logo, business cards, YouTube videos, and blog posts. The writer explained that these things are ancillary and not at the heart of branding. They continued to explain that instead, a business’ Brand was defined as the connection between themselves and the customer or client. They refuted the expense of time and money on the other items, declaring them insignificant, and wasted effort.
I noodled this around in my head for about a week and considered the question from several angles. I've been active in various networking groups (in-person and online) for over ten years. As a result, I've been attentive to how branding is used across many different industries. So, after considering this writer's point of view and my own experience, I came to this understanding:
Perhaps the writer mentioned above overlooks the impact of having both a Brand and a Reputation. The first is meant as a marketing tool to provide comfort and accessibility for prospects. The second instills confidence and security inside an interaction that fosters loyalty and endorsements across years, and we would hope, decades.
As with speaking and listening, I believe that we should never focus on one without the other. This is especially true for Independent Authors as they grow their writing careers.
Speaking to readers with business cards, websites, YouTube videos, Amazon advertising, podcasts, and other marketing outreach is vital toward expanding the opportunity for discovery. Using these tools requires a fundamental understanding of message presentation and emotional aesthetics. A solid branding practice shares an author's "novel" approach to their iteration of a genre. Physical takeaways or digital evergreen content allows readers to see that our books are interesting, enduring, disarming, and desirable. Branding acts as a gateway for the reader to access the author, coming closer with a warm invitation. Branding is the coy smile shared between an author and a reader across a crowded room. Branding teases a love affair that will evolve in intensity over time.
Listening to readers is an entirely different set of practiced skills. The author's Reputation creates a safe space where the reader feels comfortable in the author's vulnerability as they share their imagination. It is the connectivity an author initiates with genuine interest as they engage in conversation at a festival or signing event. Always attentive, interested, and accessible to the reader; eager to hear their impressions of the work and how a reader was touched. Reputation is about building relationships, risking rejection, and delivering on promises made on the page and in person. Listening to readers and learning what they desire most through authentic connection is how authors pave the way for readers to develop a deep devotion to their books and encourage referrals to other readers.
Branding is the overture to the symphony of your writing career. Reputation is the intellectual and emotional connections authors establish in a safe space, directly with a reader's heart and soul. Branding and Reputation are intrinsically intertwined. An author cannot expect to reach readers without first extending an invitation, nor can they expect to maintain their Reputation without the emotional attention all relationships expect and require.
So, build book trailers, pass out rack cards, and design enticing table displays. But don't neglect the personal interaction between you and your reader. Respond to their conversations at festivals, interact with them on social media, and thank them for their honest reviews, regardless of whether that review was good, bad, or indifferent. Each relationship you invite and maintain will help encourage a footbridge of referrals to your future work.
Indie Reads Aloud with Ian Tadashi Moore and "Where All The Little Things Live"
About The Author: Ian Tadashi Moore is a father, designer, musician, and artist from southeast Michigan. He grew up talking to the bugs in the back lawn and plinking melodies on piano keys. He likes the sounds words make and will probably never act his age. He has written and illustrated three books, Zōsan (2015), Tama-ishi (2018), and Where All the Little Things Live (2020), and lives in southeast Michigan with his wife and sons.
Title: Where All The Little Things Live
Genre: Children’s Middle Grade
Book Synopsis: A story of friendship, courage, and self-discovery for young readers and the young at heart.
Naio the feather (from Tamaishi) is a lonely, lost feather in the valley Where All the Little Things Live. A terrible storm sweeps her into the sky where she learns her origins and the true nature of the clouds.
Find Ian’s Website HERE!
Find The Book HERE!
Listen to The Reading on YouTube HERE!
About The Author: Jared Morningstar is a high school English teacher and adjunct English professor. He loves to write poetry and short stories that reflect his interests and his observations of the world. In addition to literature, Morningstar loves music, playing guitar, late night diner experiences, and long road trips. He lives in Michigan with his wife and children.
Listener Advisory: Strong Language; Violence
Title: A Slice of American Pie: New and Collected Poems and Stories
Genre: Dystopian Short Fiction/Satire/Poetry
Book Synopsis: That living in America is complicated should not be surprising, as the nation itself is incredibly complex. Digesting the country's politics, pop culture, history, class dynamics, prejudices, cuisine, and daily life isn't always easy. While there is plenty about America that is worthy of patriotic celebration, there is also a dark side that citizens ignore at their own peril, whether they realize it or not. Jared Morningstar's A Slice of American Pie is a collection of new works along with previously published poems and short stories that aims to shine a light on many aspects of American life. Enjoy the many lessons it presents within its pages.
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Jared's Facebook Page HERE!
Watch The YouTube Video HERE!
Cozy mysteries are fun because they give you an opportunity to experience all the “whodunit” excitement without the overwhelming car chases, gunfights, and gruesome autopsy details. This particular cozy was a departure from nearly every other book I’ve read in the genre because of its subject matter.
Most cozies install part-time private investigators to solve the mystery. Rarely does this genre offer mysteries solved by “regular” folks with no connection to the profession. It was fresh, inventive, and unpredictable. It is clear Mr. Belz knows his way around architecture, too. I wouldn’t have imagined a setting heavy on blueprints and ductwork to be a believable backdrop for murder, but it turns out, with the right author holding the pen, it certainly can be.
The tension between subplot characters was evenly measured against the main story arc, which meant I was left suspecting a new culprit at nearly every chapter break. The details of the world of architecture were made more interesting when juxtaposed against these very human characters… each given equal time to establish themselves emotionally without revealing the solution to the mystery too early in the game.
It's always interesting to read a story that you know was based in familiar territory. Even though Mr. Belz changed some of the place and road names, I easily identified these local Detroit area landmarks and enjoyed imagining that this novel could have been based on actual events. This story was a comfortable mix of reality and fantasy. Only once did I find myself thinking, “That couldn’t actually happen.” Then once again, like a live trap, I was snared back into the mystery. That one moment aside, the pace of the story was deliberately robust. At each turn of the page, I was challenged to figure it out. As a result, I found it harder and harder to stop turning pages.
I don’t know if Mr. Belz has other novels to discover, but if they exist, I will read them. His style is comfortable and completely accessible, which is exactly the definition of a cozy mystery.
Shifting Sands by Emma Palova
Imagine a Venn diagram. Each circle is a distinct segment of life. Now, add to each sphere the spice of fiction. The result is an entertaining glimpse into how reality and imagination might overlap. In this collection of thirteen short stories, Mrs. Palova was able to draw on her own experiences from life, then fill in the gaps by crafting diverse voices to share tales of small-town Americana. By all accounts, fictional, these stories focus a spotlight on society from the insulation of imagination. After reading, I was left asking, “I wonder how much of that is real?” That pull of wonder, from the reader in me, is a tremendous vote of confidence for the work.
I enjoyed “In The Shadows” for its gentleness in examining recollection and truth. Walking down memory lane is sometimes bittersweet. Taking that journey with an adult child can invoke emotions that perhaps we aren’t prepared to endure. This story was touching for the reflection a special place can show us. We are reminded that sometimes, the words we don’t say can serve as a strong legacy, as well.
The eerie experience of “The Death Song” satiated my desire for a curiosity that illuminates secrets we may not expect. This was my favorite of the collection. The details of this story were foggy in some places, and extremely precise in others, which kept me on my seat’s edge as I waited for the final curtain. I was not disappointed. However, it does make me wonder, what was the inspiration for this story? Was it just a pantomime of possibility in a moment of dreamy shadow, or perhaps a validation for the deed actually done? In either case, the layers of mystery here were delightful to read.
Not all of the stories connected with me, as is to be expected with a short story collection; but the bulk of them did. I read this book in its e-book format and found some flaws in the formatting and a few editorial mistakes. However, those minor issues did not detract significantly from my enjoyment of the collection, overall. I am interested to read what else this author has to offer.
The Exile by Donald Levin
This is book two of the "Dry Earth Series". The first episode, “The Bright and Darkened Lands of Earth”, appeared in the dystopian short story collection “Postcards from the Future”. I was eagerly waiting to see what would happen next with these characters and where the story might go. Dr. Levin did not disappoint.
With this installment, we are taken deeper into the environment, community, and culture of a dystopian Earth. The emotions of the characters are experienced in real-time, offering readers an opportunity to become fully immersed in the impact of what they revere and why. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of any novel that treats books as sacred. This story does that, and more. In this harsh world, the gentle adoration of the written word, even for those who cannot read, is deeply understood.
Levin delicately introduces us to characters who are “different”, though never “less than”, which again supports his reputation for embracing the strength of a story through viewpoints that perhaps we may not have considered, especially in this genre. His heroes are unlikely, which compels us to cheer for them. Woven into this story is Levin’s approach to the responsibility of family – whether by blood or not – and the consequence of protecting that legacy. The impact is stunning.
Donald Levin has already proven himself a Master of the police procedural mystery. With this novel, he can claim that title for the dystopian genre, as well. I look forward to the next book in this series.
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