A dark day for dark coffee?

I thought the sun was going to shine today. I saw the flowers in bright colors and wondered if I'd need to water them. Then the skies watered, while smoke covered Paris, and gargoyles looked on; and I cried. Notre Dame is a beautiful cathedral, and its structure still stands, they say. But a church is more than its roofless walls and broken glass. And a building it more than picture postcards with stamps. A magically beautiful place is changed by a horrifying beauty of flames. And a new beauty will arise to fill the old, or so they say.

Which has nothing at all to do with writing book reviews though it does make anything so trivial seem even more so, while my fingers ache to click on that internet page with "breaking news" instead of typing words. And the hours go by.

Perhaps it's remotely fitting that I'm reviewing books built on magic, telling of worlds where magic's power, like fire's, changes everything. Or perhaps that's a stretch. Still, time to…

Rung any Bells recently?

My husband plays chess, so my son (aged 7 at the time) told his teacher I could help with chess club. Which I did... for 13 years (hence my book: A Bible Book of Chess!) Meanwhile my mum plays music, so my friend asked me to join the bell choir at church. Bell choir is fun! And to be honest, I do (or at least used to, sort of) read music. So it should be easy shouldn't it. But ringing bells is a bit like editing, trying to see too many things at once... which bell, which hand, ring it or bang it or shake it or thumb it or... and who's turning the page? Noticing whether the note has a triangle, a twiddle, a dot... and noticing in time to actually do what the symbol says. But we all play together and we all make mistakes and somehow it all comes out as music, and beautiful. So yes, bell-ringing is fun. And so is editing.

And so is reading. The reason I'm bell-ringing is 'cause the bell choir will play on Palm Sunday and Easter, and somehow--I'm really not sure how--t…

How aware are you of autism?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Sara Fitzgerald to my blog. She was named Writer of the Year
by the League of Utah Writers in 2006, and has written four romance novels and two young adult paranormal novels; plus two Christmas stories, A Miracle for Ann (click here for my review) and Saving Savanna. She lives with her husband and daughter in the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys spending time with her family.

Sara's website

and you can find all her books, listed below, on Saving Savanna
Mine for Keeps
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Yesterday’s Wish
Anything for Charity
Darkness Within
Magic Within So... welcome Sarah and thank you for visiting my blog. I'd like to start by asking about your latest book, A Miracle for Ann. I've just read and reviewed it, and I'd love to know inspired it... I wrote A Miracle for Ann because of my daughter. Savanna has autism. When she was first diagnosed, priv…

Christmas for Easter?

Easter's coming, so why am I reading Christmas stories? Probably because I am so, so, so, so far behind with my read-and-review (and post the review) list. So no, I didn't read all these books this week. I didn't even write all these reviews this week. But I want to get them posted so I can concentrate on writing for a while, so here goes... Some Christmas books for Easter! (And Christmas coffee too.)

Reel Christmas in Romance by J.J. DiBenedetto is a sort of old-movie-themed You've Got Mail. Warm, romantic, blending past and present very comfortably, it's an enjoyable read for Christmas or any time you need a warming infusion of words. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

A Miracle for Ann by Sara Fitzgerald tells the sometimes difficult story of a family facing a Christmas crisis when insurance won't pay for the child a small child needs. This one appealed to me because of the connection with autism. It's a heartwarming Christian tale of relatio…

How many different types of mystery can you think of?

I'm writing (and researching) John's Joy at the moment, a book of children's stories based on Revelation. I know it sounds odd, but I've always loved Revelation, and the more I learn about it the more I love it. So why not try to convey that excitement (and mystery) for kids.

Meanwhile I'm also rewriting my old Hemlock stories, in hopes of getting them published (maybe Ink-Filled Stories will take them, but that's a mystery). I'm compiling my cat tales into Claws for Concern. And I'm editing, formating, and generally playing with other people's books.

And I'm reading. So here are some more book reviews and coffee recommendations (because, of course, I'm also drinking coffee).

Someone Else’s Daughter by Linsey Lanier is the first in a mystery series starring a once-abused woman who's daughter went missing as a baby. Sensually direct, never sweet, and filled with contrasts and humor, it's the sort of tale you'd love to watch on TV. …

Distracted by covers?

I've been seriously distracted. Remember that big republishing thing, with all my books retaining their old covers, all to be rereleased with a different publisher. Then came the news, via Facebook (a wonderful source of news) that book covers on Amazon might not be printing correctly. The posting was soon ammended to say that only covers that weren't formatted correctly would fail. And then I learned... yeah, half of mine weren't formatted correctly. Now we're down to only three that need reformatting, and it's not a big deal. The publisher just needs to "flatten" the pdfs and change the color profile. But, knowing how Ingram Spark refuses to accept a cover that's saved with the wrong color profile, I can't help wondering why Amazon doesn't employ a similarly simple software test. That said, I'm told they have great "human" testers who rejected some of the newly flattened covers because the text color, unchanged, wasn't diff…

What's more important than genre?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author Joab Steiglitz to my blog. He's touring the internet with his novel, The Old Man's Request, a historical suspense set in pre-Depression New York, and centering around a Russian immigrant. It's an intriguing time and place (becoming more so the more I read about the novel... reader, read on!), and Joab has generously offered to share what he's learned about setting. He's also sharing a chapter. So, over to you Joab, and thank you for visiting here.

Why Defining Your Setting is Important
A lot of would-be writers set out to write a specific story: a fantasy with wizards and dragons, a spy thriller with a megalomaniac villain out to conquer the world, a vampire and werewolf love story, etc. These are all fine ideas, but where they take place is just as important as the characters and the plot.
Just as you want three-dimensional heroes and villains, a well-developed setting is imperative for your story to come to life. Locations a…