About The Author: Carli Valentine is a Children's Book Author and Illustrator who has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. From a young age, she learned of the magic that existed in books and has been entranced by it ever since. As a child, she begged her parents for visits to the library so she could hand-pick from their vast collection of magical works. Her parents frequently caught her hiding under her bedcovers sneaking a book she couldn't put down, long into the night. It must have been the warm, soft glow of the reading light that gave her away!
Her goal as mother and an author is to share the magic of books with children so they can join in her obsession of reading. She loves to create fun stories by gathering inspiration from her children. She lives with her husband and two boys (Finnegan and Lochlan) in Ogden, Utah. When she's not working on her children’s books she likes to hang out with her family and volunteer at her son’s elementary school and with various children’s heart defect charities. She has written and illustrated five books for young readers.
Title: Big Plans For Tomorrow
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Book Synopsis: Little Sammy can’t wait to start the day tomorrow with his mom. He uses him imagination to develop big plans. This imaginative bedtime story for kids explores the never-ending possibilities of all the things tomorrow can bring with a playful child’s imagination. Helpful repetition helps target speech sounds. This easy-reading book will be a fun bedtime story and opens up conversations about things to look forward to tomorrow.
Find The Book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1957505001
Visit Betty’s Website: https://www.carlivalentine.com/
What does normalcy look like to an Indie Author? Spending afternoons surrounded by a herd of authors, soaking up their inspiration, and connecting with readers of every age. Unfortunately, as it did for nearly everyone else on the planet, the past almost three years meant a full-stop on normal. This is a challenging thing for an extroverted author who thrives on spending time in the company of other people who also enjoy words. It was a struggle. I tried to focus on writing during this time of seclusion, and I was fairly productive… I published a book of poetry, two writing workshop workbooks, and collaborated on a children’s picture book with my husband. Also, for the first time in many years, I was able to “win” at NaNoWriMo. But life just wasn’t the same. I found that I craved interaction with people… especially other writers.
So, I worked to fill the gap by creating a series of Virtual Book Festivals. I was a “green-broke mare” on Zoom when it all began. I stumbled through the learning curve, and eventually, it became almost second nature. Laughing and talking with readers and authors made the days of quarantine far more bearable. I was able to spend time with my “tribe” each night and felt a little more connected to the world because I could see their faces, hear their giggles, and groan at their silly jokes. I discovered some new-to-me authors… people whom I wouldn’t have known existed before the pandemic. Some of these folks have become friends, some have been welcomed into my tribe… and Drake even became close with a few of these wonderful souls. It was a fantastically fun experience… but still, it wasn’t the same. I missed their hugs, I missed the exchange of energy that happens when you get a room full of creatives together, and I missed meeting readers and hearing what types of stories they would like me to create next.
In January, I tentatively began going back into the world, participating in festivals and fairs, and connecting with humans in-person again. I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve missed these events. I began with a little pop-up shop experience in Brooklyn, Michigan. Cairns Creations & VIP, is an eclectic shop owned by the incredibly energetic, Stacy A. Saxton. Fellow Indie Author, Douglas S. Pierce introduced me to this opportunity, and I had a great time. Douglas and I shared the afternoon with Marianne Wieland, met some readers, and sold some books. I was a little shaky out of the gate, but soon, I regained my stride, and I remembered how it all worked. I began to feel comfortable back in the saddle of public events again… yet still a bit tentative with it all. You never know how the riding season will go when you’ve been away from the reins for a while.
March brought me to a familiar pasture, as I returned to the Michigan-Made Market at Leon & LuLu’s in Clawson, Michigan. This specialty boutique (which was built inside the renovated roller rink I frequented as a pre-teen) is one of my favorite places to spend the day. The energy is spectacular. The employees, the owner, the people who come to share their talent, and the visitors who appreciate what we do, always make my time there worthwhile. Making the day even more special, was my dear friend, and fellow Indie Author, Kate McNeil, who spent part of the day visiting and laughing with me (she took this photo). I’m looking forward to another event in this special space in June.
April ushered in Spring with an event to support a local animal shelter at the American Legion Hall in Lapeer, Michigan. For anyone who knows me… or meets me, for that matter, you’ll know that I usually jump at the opportunity to do anything that serves animals. On this day, I got to spend time with my good friend, Erik Rurikson, with whom I am collaborating on a fantasy novella, and some other super-crafty people. Seriously, the things people can make with their imagination and their hands fascinate me! We had a good day and helped some deserving animals feel a little bit safer in the world. I was having so much fun petting dogs and eating Girl Scout Cookies, I forgot to take photos!
May sunshine brought me to my first outdoor paddock in a very long time. Although I was out of practice setting up my tent, and couldn’t have done it without help this first time out, I feel confident that I can do it now on my own, forever. Great trainers make it all seem so easy! Thank you, Andrew. It always feels good when I can participate in an event that lends support to a charity or school. This time, I was pleased to lend my day to the Kearsley Marching Band in Flint, Michigan. I was a little disappointed by the absence of the band, but the day was still a ton of fun. How could it not be? I shared my tent with fellow Indie Author, Andrew Allen Smith. We’ve been friends for a while, and I simply can’t think of a better way to spend my day than laughing and talking about writing and life with this gentleman. The sunshine welcomed us, warmed us, and stayed all day. The visitors we encountered were kind, energetic as they trotted through the sunshine, and many were interested in our books. We spoke to several for an extended period, and the conversations were quite enjoyable. The rain waited until just a few minutes after we packed up and were on the road before it sputtered from the sky. Gratitude for the delay was abundant in my heart. The high energy of the day reminded me again, why humanity is one of my favorite things about life. I’m excited at the thought of returning next year to do it all again.
This past Saturday, I spent the day with two author friends, D.M. Taylor and Clay Boura… and met a bunch of extremely talented authors that were new-to-me at the Macomb Intermediate School District’s Author Festival. Although it rained heavily shortly after we arrived, the rain didn’t stay long. Fortunately, we were indoors. However, we got to enjoy the reverberation of thunder’s hooves upon the glass dome of the foyer. It was a spectacular sound. I was pleased to meet several children, some of whom wanted to become authors themselves, one day. I also learned a bit about the weather from Owly, the mascot of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). I had a lot of fun. It’s hard not to when you get to hang out with such wonderful people and gallop through an afternoon filled with the written word.
I have many more events scheduled this summer and autumn, and I feel I’m ready… seat in the saddle, hands on the reins – not too tightly – ready to canter through the days of wonderment as I introduce readers to my books. I hope to see you at one of these lush pastures. If you don’t find a book on my table that interests you, I hope you’ll stop anyway and say hello. To me, each of you is like a carrot to a mare spending her days grazing in the warm sunshine… a special treat to be cherished.
In the second installment (of what I am hopeful will be a continuing series), Andrew presents fourteen new short stories to engage our senses and catch us a little off balance. It’s an interesting idea, investigating the many layers and perspectives of fear, and this author does it with authenticity and ingenuity. Some of these stories will scare you, others will leave you unsettled, and others may touch a soft spot inside your own fear that you didn’t realize was there.
In The Boathouse, the concept of fear is imagined from three very different perspectives. As we read, we discover that although the players are the same in each narrative, faced with the same situation, each character interprets fear differently. It makes for an interesting study of how each of us reacts to something we find unnerving.
Much to my delight, Andrew added an act two to the story he began in the first volume. Where he began with The Edge, he continues here with Edges. I was fascinated by the first act of this tale and having the opportunity to see how the story evolves in the second was marvelous. The introduction of a sacred book to the story requited my desire for new secrets, enticing my imagination with how the sword was forged and why it was sanctified for its purpose. Like a chocolate torte cake, each layer reveals a little bit more delicious tension and suspense. I am hopeful this story will one day grow into a novella or a full stand-alone novel. My anticipation for even more layers to be revealed is undeniable.
The entire book is filled with gems of literary wonderment, none to be missed. However, my favorite in this collection is a story entitled Monster. This piece grabbed my soul and would not let go. The story considers the fear that lives inside apathy, insatiable greed, altruism, sadness, and revenge. I would love to tell you more… but I won’t. This is a story that should be experienced by each reader on their own terms. But I will say this, I will refuse to forget it, and have enjoyed it with each new read (four so far).
If you enjoy literature that tingles your brain and stings your skin just a little bit, this collection will not disappoint.
When Drake (my Muse, for those of you who have yet to be introduced) and I discovered this author on an Instagram post, we were immediately drawn to her book, and curious about what she may offer in its pages. It had a cute and inviting cover, so I bought it.
This was a fun, slightly introspective, and super-quick read (just 100 pages). This simple guide uses ducks as the example we should all strive to emulate. As a lover of ducks, I agree, of course. Each chapter presents a specific duck character trait and then provides a way for humans to adopt that quality into our lives. A few of the eight chapters cover topics such as “Ducks Can Right Themselves,” “Ducks Are Content,” and “Ducks Know Their Limitations.”
The book touches lightly on each opportunity to grow more duck-like in our daily habits, but unfortunately, only scratches the surface of what could have been a deeper conversation. I enjoyed the whimsical approach to these philosophical ideas, but craved more from this author, as clearly, she understands both duck supremacy and human potential.
I was a little frustrated with the formatting and the editorial errors, as the author is also a teacher, and because of this, my expectations were set a little higher. That being said, if this author were to write a sequel that investigates this conversation with more detail, and is professionally edited and formatted, I would buy it.
Listener Advisory: Strong Language
About The Author: Joan Havelange has been writing fiction since her early twenties, beginning with romance stories. Always a fan of mysteries, she is an avid reader and writer of cozy mysteries.
She is an accomplished actor and director of community threatre, which lends well to her writing. Joan is a world traveler and enthusiastic golfer. She lives on the prairies and has three grown children.
Title: Wayward Shot Chapter 17
Genre: WhoDoneIt Cozy Mystery
Book Synopsis: When Mabel slices her golf ball into the town cemetery, she and her best friend Violet think the worst that could happen would be a lost ball. That is until they discover a dead body, and it isn't six feet under. Mabel's golf ball lays in the middle of his forehead, it’s murder.
The ladies take it upon themselves to solve the mystery of the dead body in the graveyard. Using the information gleaned from Coffee Row, a collection of eccentric townspeople. This leads them to investigate golfers and relatives of the deceased. Their investigation frustrates a newly appointed RCMP officer, who does his best to put a stop to their interference.
But nothing stops the intrepid detectives. Not the RCMP, a stampede of cattle or even shots fired at them in the dark. They have an uncanny ability to find trouble and dead bodies. Almost getting themselves killed before solving the murders.
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Joan's Website HERE!
Watch The YouTube Video HERE!
About The Author: Michigan-based author Kristoffer Gair wrote his first puppet play in 1st Grade and continued writing in one form or another from that point on. Much of it was crap, but there were tiny nuggets of potential mixed in with the likes of Pickle Pony Gets A Puzzle. He spent three of his years at Fraser High School performing in plays, then attended Grand Valley State University where he graduated with degrees in Film & Video and Creative Writing.
The first professional piece Kristoffer completed was Honor Unbound, a historical non-fiction novel he co-wrote with retired Fraser High School teacher Diane Abbott. He then went solo, donned the pseudonym Kage Alan, wrote several comedy novels within the LGBTQ genre, and contributed to a series of comedic anthologies (affectionately known as the Butt-Thology).
Kristoffer shed his pseudonym in 2017 and has since published under his real name, starting and continuing on with the Falling Awake series, a serious departure from his previous comedic novels.
When not writing and editing, Kristoffer spends his days tormenting management at his day job, shopping at ALDI, being bossed around by the dog he inherited from his mother, playing Halo, listening to music, and going to see The Motels play in concert whenever they're in the area.
Title: The Beautiful Moment
Genre: LGBT+ Romance
Book Synopsis: The decade from hell. First, Wesley Traylor lost his father and grandmother, then COVID took his mother. His sole remaining family member will stop at nothing to steal his inheritance. In desperation, Wesley escapes to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where no one knows him and he can exist without fear of his uncle’s brutality.
Circumstances force Wesley to the emergency room and face to face with the beguiling Dr. Clark Matsuda. The last thing Wesley needs—between dealing with strange occurrences at his new house and emergency surgery—is a doctor who’s made it his personal mission to get to know Wesley.
Destiny offers the possibility of love and, for Wesley, the one thing that has eluded him his entire life: a beautiful moment.
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Kristoffer's Website HERE!
Watch the YouTube Video HERE!
Listener Advisory: Strong Language
About The Author: Lauren Emily Whalen is the author of three books for young adults, including Two Winters, a queer YA reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Lauren is a freelance writer, professional performer, and very amateur aerialist who is an unabashed devotee of the Bard. She lives in Chicago with her cat, Versace, and an apartment full of books.
Title: Take Her Down
Genre: Young Adult
Book Synopsis: In this queer YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, stakes at Augustus Magnet School are cutthroat, scheming is creative, and loyalty is ever-changing.
Overnight, Bronwyn St. James goes from junior class queen to daughter of an imprisoned felon, and she lands in the care of her aunt and younger cousin Cass, a competitive cheerleader who Bronwyn barely knows. Life gets worse when her ex-best friend, the always-cool Jude Cuthbert, ostracizes Bronwyn from the queer social elite for dating a boy, Porter Kendrick.
Bronwyn and Jude are both running for student body president, and that means war. But after Bronwyn, Porter, and Cass share a video of Jude in a compromising position, Jude suddenly goes missing. No one has seen her for weeks and it might be all Bronwyn’s fault.
Will Jude ever be found? Or will Bronwyn finally have to reckon with what she’s won―and what she’s lost?
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Lauren Emily's Website HERE!
About The Author: Mackenzie is the award-winning author of the young adult fantasy series The Rite of Wands. A storyteller at heart, she loves to inspire the imagination. Mackenzie makes her home in Michigan, where she is currently penning her next adventure.
Title: The Rite of Wands
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Book Synopsis: One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever
And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.
Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.
But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.
Find The Book HERE!
Visit Michael’s Website HERE!
I love words. I love diving deep into sentence structures, vocabulary, and the rhythm of one paragraph, flowing after another, page after page. Words can be powerful and gentle. They can be uplifting, instructive, and revealing. A page filled with letters grants me a gift I can’t find anywhere else… intellectual and emotional freedom. Books are a judgment-free zone where I am allowed my own interpretation of the message and even the silent mispronunciation of names, places, and magic spells. Words allow me to choose what I see rather than someone else dictating my vision. When reading, I get to decide when to take a “commercial break.” I can slow down when the pages become overwhelming. I can speed up when situations become exciting. Without losing my place, I can inhale deeply and take a few minutes to collect my thoughts or contemplate an outcome. There are no rules about reading below, at, or above my “reading level” (whatever that means). Without recrimination, I can set a book down and walk away if it becomes too sad, too angry, or too dull.
My lexicon is so much a part of who I am that I actually dream in words. It’s odd, I know. Instead of seeing the dreamscape in images, like the rest of the “normal” people of the world, my dreams appear in words. I read them as they are printed on a page or sometimes scrolling on a blank screen. We dream to interpret experiences and work out the stress of our waking lives. Words have always been my safe place, so it makes sense that I dream in words. I’ve never questioned it.
When I was a child, I escaped into a universe of books. Sunday afternoons, my family visited the library. It was a requirement to read at least one book per week. I often read four or five. When I was “caught” reading by my parents or a teacher, they were instantly distracted from any wrong I may have done and instead praised me for my “good choice.” At school, my teachers rewarded me for reading with free pizza coupons. At home, my parents encouraged reading. During long trips, I read in the car to avoid interacting with my older siblings. I was never reprimanded for too much time spent loitering in the library, bookshop, or even in front of the magazine rack at the grocery store. A love of reading gave me time without the intolerance of my parent’s “to do” list. Reading brought me peace.
I realized early on that writing was the thing that called to my soul. I started writing in second grade. I told stories to my friends on the playground and later put them on paper. I coveted silent reading time in class. I spent my summer vacation eagerly, willingly writing research papers at the library. I saw the card catalogue as a big treasure hunt, and Roget’s Thesaurus was the map. I wrote papers for friends in high school, not only to help them pass their classes but so that I could have the fun of exploring their ideas with my words. Yes, I was that kid. More than anything else in this world, books are where I find my home. Books are how I experience the texture of life. This is why I chose to become an editor.
An editor’s duty is to help writers wade through the frustrating bits. We point out the plot holes that need to be filled. We manage timelines and strengthen a writer’s talent to connect readers to characters with subtle dignity. It is our obligation to help maintain the author’s authentic voice while enticing the turn of each page with an appropriate pace. We maintain continuity of details and mask the effort of creation. Simply put, an editor makes the process of refining a book less daunting. I help writers whistle while they work, frolicking through the task of polishing the grammar and dusting away the cobwebs of a story to reveal its pure brilliance. And I love it.
I love conspiring with an author to flesh out their ideas. I love watching word choices change the meaning of a group of sentences as they march off to serve the hero or teach a lesson. I love the nourishment punctuation offers a story while helping a victim scream, a lover swoon, and a villain rage against a truth they would rather ignore. I love diving into symbolism as it serves a subplot. I love the anticipation of setting up a red herring that forces the reader to go back over the last six pages with the intoxication of reading them for the first time. There is nothing more satisfying to me than helping an author sculpt their thoughts in a way that is surprising, reaffirming, enchanting, or beguiling to a reader. The day is not wasted if I can offer my perspective, skills, and experience to help writers improve their stories.
The joy of becoming an author is not found in the final book on the shelf… although that is a happy moment worthy of celebration. The more profound pleasure lies in the creation of it. The fascination is in finding just the right word or turn of phrase. An adrenaline rush comes to the author when bringing a story to the pinnacle of tension and then teasing the reader with another twist. There is tremendous satisfaction in forcing a reader to wait until the end of a story to reveal a suspect, savor or suffer the commitment of love, or dangle a cliffhanger that tempts the next book in a series. Editors protect that rush.
My love for the written word, and my belief that all words, whether I agree with them or not, are sacred, led me to become a book editor. It takes a lot of courage to put our thoughts on the page. A vulnerability exists in writing that is rare and precious. I strive to help others who find comfort in words realize their dream of publication. I’ve worked with authors on all levels of experience, from novice to veteran. Mentoring an author as they find their voice and craft their stories is an exercise in wonderment. I’m honored that so many have trusted their work to my influence. I can’t imagine spending the hours of my life doing anything else.
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