Monday, October 20, 2014


***I will return to my IT TAKES A VILLAGE  series next week, but right now I'd like to give a shout out to my friend and fellow Aniah Press author Renee Donne. Renee's wonderful book HUNTER comes out June 9th 2015, and I can't wait to add it to my collection!***

Book Blurb:

Moving across the country isn’t Hunter’s ideal start to her Junior year of high school. She has no friends to hang out with, no beaches to lounge on, and she’s living just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.

Living in Wyoming isn’t all bad, though, thanks to Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.

As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

Book Trailer:


Author Bio:

Renee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she's a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she's a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.

Friday, October 17, 2014

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Hiding From The Fashion Police

My mother, God love her, was a woman who struggled with the burden of poverty while trying to provide for her four children. While I was growing up in that poverty, I didn't quite understand the scope and depth of that struggle. I was a teenager in a small town with small minded people...where there was a very distinct line between the "haves" and the "have nots". There was one family in particular who had the cream of the crop when it came to talented, beautiful children who was raised to seek out the finest clothing, the best cars, and the grandest foods at any given moment in time.

All the kids in my family went through school with one of THOSE kids which made the depths of our limited means all the more prominent. But even without money available to her, my poor mother still attempted to at least try to dress her children in the latest fashion trends. Unfortunately, she didn't always understand exactly what those trends were and the Fashion Police had a field day with my wardrobe during middle and high school.

First there was the cut down, redesigned dresses she bought from the estate sale of some elderly woman who was recently deceased and no longer in need of her Sunday-go-to-meeting gowns that still smelled of mothballs. It was pretty hard to disguise the fact those hand me down dresses probably shouldn't be worn by a twelve year old.

Then there was Mother's attempt to help her youngest daughter to fit in with the popular kids by buying me a new pair of jeans. For the longest time the elementary school policy was females weren't allowed to wear pants of any kind to school. By the time I was in middle school, that outdated fashion statement was overturned and every girl in my class was sporting a brand new pair of blue jeans. I don't remember if I asked for a pair of my own or if Mother just realized what was different between me and the other girls in my class, but one day my mother gave me a pair of blue jeans of my own. The only problem with her generous gift which probably put her back a penny or two? At the very bottom of those very straight-legged jeans was this HUGE plaid cuff that was at least four inches tall. I didn't know what to say because my mother thought I should be grateful for the sacrifices made in the purchase of those blue jeans but in all honesty, all I could think of is that I would be a walking dorky duckling in the midsts of all the other beautiful swans wearing bell-bottomed, NORMAL blue jeans. I didn't wear them often, but I wore them enough to make my mother happy and spent those days hiding from the Fashion Police.

But it was when Mother decided to buy my sister and I matching dresses made purely out of paper that I thought she had finally hit on a fashion trend I could get behind.  They were made to look like you were walking around in a bright yellow rolled up newspaper with all the latest headlines swirling all over your body. In truth, I loved that dress and held my head a bit higher whenever I wore it to school.

There's one thing though no one thought to warn me about wearing a paper dress out in public.

Don't ever get caught out in the rain without an umbrella...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Charlotte Gunnufson

***In celebration of one of my favorite times of the year, come join the fun as I romp through adorable holiday themed picture books as we count down to Halloween***

Title: Halloween Hustle
Author: Charlotte Gunnufson
Illustrators: Kevan J Atteberry
Publisher: Two Lions Publishing
Ages: 4 to 8

"In the dark, a funky beat,
Something white with bony feet.
Skeleton dancing up the street,
Doing the Halloween Hustle."

Synopsis: Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Why you should read it: There is so much vivid color and delightful animation going on in Mr. Atteberry's illustrations I almost felt like I was dancing along with Skeleton! I wasn't sure where Ms. Gunnufson was going to go with her story when I first started reading but when I saw how skillfully she employed the "three" theme in her story, I couldn't wait to flip the pages to see what would happen next. If Halloween is your thing, you will enjoy this wonderful rhyming story!

Like-O-Meter Rating: 5 out of 5...grab it!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I know my publisher will want me to get out in public once THE STORY CATCHER comes out so I have put together a list of ten things I need to keep in mind as I get closer to my book's release date. Hopefully some of these ideas might help someone else as well...

1. If you have ready-made Event Flyers for the personnel at your event to hand two weeks in advance, it will help build momentum prior to your arrival. Include things like the title of your book, how they can purchase it, book cover with blurb, date & time of the event, and who to contact for more information.

2. Add a Bookmark to those event flyers and your audience will have information regarding pre-orders or even directing them to your website.

3. Plan a Talk instead of just a book signing. Interact with your audience to help them feel connected to what you have to offer.

4. What about holding your event somewhere other than a bookstore? Maybe at a local youth group community center? Or out in the open? The library closest to my house sits on the corner of a small park and there is a pavilion large enough to have a table, chairs and even displays with grassy areas for the audience to lounge on the ground picnic style.

5. Pair up the purchase of your book with something else...i.e. two for one sale. You might want to bundle your current book with an older one as a package deal. Or maybe if they purchase your picture book, you can include some illustrator coloring pages as well for free. I have an idea I'm going to shoot past my editor and publicist I came up with to help promote pre-orders or just orders in general. I've NEVER seen what I'm wanting to do and I hope I get the green light to go ahead before I can share my idea.

6. Make sure you have a way to contact the people attending your event. Have a sign up sheet for email addresses and offer some type of incentive for providing that information. Maybe you already have a newsletter you send out just to your email subscribers. Maybe you have worked out a deal with your publisher to offer 10% off their purchase if they sign up to receive occasional emails from you.

7. Arrive an hour before your event and greet the store personnel. Thank them for their assistance in helping to create a successful event. If at a bookstore or other retail space, mill around and hand out copies of your event flyer. Encourage people to come by and visit with you later.

8. Make sure your local newspaper, radio, and TV stations know about your event. If your publisher doesn't send press releases, make sure YOU do. A lot of media outlets have community boards or ways of getting the word out about local talent. Announce it on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and any other social sites you regularly participate in. Ask your friends to help get the word out about your event.

9. After the event send a thank you note to the person in charge of opening the doors to you in the first place. If your event was at a bookstore offer to come back at another time to autograph any pre-orders once they are delivered. It's going the extra mile to impress them so you will get a return invitation for your next book!

10. Take a moment to make notes about your impressions of how things went. Even if you just sit in your car after loading things up, write down estimates of how many attended, if you know how many books were purchased or ordered, what kind of questions were asked, if the audience seemed engaged as well as things you might need to work on before your next event. If you wait until you are back home, you might forget something you really wanted to remember during the excitement of the day.

I will share other ways to market your books in the weeks leading up to release day of my book so stay tuned. If you know of anything I've left off my list that would help, please add it in the comments below...

Friday, October 10, 2014


Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. Growing up in the swamps of Louisiana didn't have as much color as living in the hills of Tennessee but I still had the chance to splash in rain puddles and feel a nip in the air as I walked the dozen blocks or so to school each day. Being allergic to the heat and sun, I couldn't wait to wake up to ice crystals on the ground and seeing my breath dance around me on a frosty fall morning.

There was only one thing to dampen my love of Autumn. My medical Achilles heel was that I was sick a lot growing up. It was only during the fall and only two things brought me under the weather on a regular basis...strep throat and bronchitis. I don't know if it was because my mother was a heavy chain smoker which affected my breathing or whether it was just inherited but I could always plan on being sick at least once a month for about four to five months of every year until well into my thirties.

My mother got to the point that she knew how to take care of me better than the old town physician could and most of the time I just stayed at home. Mother even had three tried and true remedies for whatever ailed me...alcohol baths, Vicks vapor rub and poached eggs on dry toast.

The alcohol bath was supposed to help break my high fevers but all I could feel was the stinging cold of the alcohol on my heated skin. I would shiver under layers of blankets while Mother kept a watchful eye on the thermometer numbers. Today, doctors would probably frown on dipping your children in rubbing alcohol but back then, one mountain woman's fever reducing remedy was as good as any doctor's pills.

I didn't mind the Vicks vapor rub that much other than the fact the strong smell felt like it was burning my nose hairs. Mother would rub a generous amount all over my chest and throat before bundling me up in hot, dry towels under a mound of blankets. Not only was she trying to break my fevers by sweating it out of me, Mother thought the Vicks vapor rub would somehow help my coughing and congestion.

But it was the awful food I was forced to eat whenever I was sick that I hated the most. For some reason I will never understand, my mother thought the best way to help me on the road to recovery was to feed me slimy poached eggs on dry toast and unsweetened lukewarm tea for every day I lay in bed. It would make me gag but in my house the repercussions for ever trying to say no to Mother was much worse than simply choking the stuff down and hoping it stayed there!

Today, as I look outside my Tennessee home and watch the leaves turn a lovely shade of rich orangey-red, I'm feeling a bit under the weather.  I still have my rounds of strep throat and bronchitis I deal with but not nearly as often as I did in my youth. What I'm fighting now is probably a sinus infection but you can bet I will NOT be indulging in any of Mother's home remedies to help me get over this. 

My eggs will be fried, my toast will be buttered, and my tea will be hot and sweet. Thanks, Mom, for looking after me when I was younger but I think I'll try something different for a change...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


***In celebration of one of my favorite times of the year, come join the fun as I romp through adorable holiday themed picture books as we count down to Halloween***

Title: T. Rex Trick-or-Treats
Author: Lois G Grambling
Illustrators: Jack E Davis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Ages: 4 to 8

Synopsis: It's the darkest, scariest night of the year and T. Rex can't decide what he wants to be for Halloween. Maybe his friends Diplodocus and Iguanodon can help him decide before it's too late to go trick or treating!

Why you should read it: Universal themes like what will you wear to go trick or treating appeal to me because Fall is my favorite time of the year and Halloween is the beginning of the holiday season. Maybe it's the delightful illustrations created by the award winning Jack E Davis or maybe it's because I wrote a somewhat similar story two years ago before I even discovered this one that made me appreciated Ms. Grambling book. Either way, younger readers will enjoy going along on T. Rex's journey to select the most perfect costume to scare up a little fun on Halloween!

Like-O-Meter Rating: 5 out of 5...grab it!

Monday, October 6, 2014


When I finished my manuscript for THE STORY CATCHER, in a way I thought that was the end of the journey. Then I got my book contract and realized it was the beginning of my publishing journey. Now my book is about to be born and I have started my marketing/publicity journey.

One of the by-paths I might find myself on during my marketing journey is the road to a possible book award. No, I don't presume I have written a Pulitzer Award winning book, but when there are literally thousands of potential awards up for grabs, maybe my own little contribution to the literary world will be noticed by a selection committee. I might even find myself the recipient of some small book award along the way which would mean just as much to me as my winning the Newberry.

Authors should Google "book awards" as I did and they will discover hundreds of options to research. I have included some of the national level ones below but there are still more just in my own state of Tennessee I should follow up on. Winning a book award would help validate my book to potential readers and I would even get a nice sticker to add to the front cover. How cool would THAT be?

Goodreads Awards List…
Association For Library Service to Children…
Indie Book Awards…
National Book Critics Circle Award…
Pen/Faulkner Award…
Book Spot Childrens’ Awards List…
Book Spot Nonfiction Awards List…
Book Spot Fiction Awards List…
Eric Hoffer (Small Press) Award…
Children’s Choice Book Awards…
Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards…
Book List Online Awards List…
eLit Book Award…