Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reviews for Return to Cinder

I wrote this short story because it was commissioned. This is what happened: My son and his wife are adopting. It's been a long, painful, and costly process. But they've been selected by a birth mom, and their baby boy is due at the end of February. In an effort to offset the expense (it will be nearly $45k) my daughter put together a fundraiser--an auction. Family and friends donated goods and services. My niece asked if I would write a short story based on someone. I thought and said, no one will pay for that. But someone did. Three people, actually. Two of those three were my nieces and since I know them quite well, I put together stories in my head for them. Then, at the last hour, my daughter-in-law's mother outbid them.

I don't know Jen's mom all that well, so I worried she might not appreciate it. But she said she loved it. Here's what she said, "After I read both stories, I found myself teary-eyed.  I love your story and it was very fun to see my name in a story – I feel quite honored." 

I loved it, too, so I decided to publish it not knowing if anyone would actually pay for a short story. It's fun because I foresee a whole bunch of short stories in my future. And also because a couple of people not only read it, they also left reviews!

I'm thinking I'll go ahead and write the stories I'd come up with for my two nieces.

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved it. Stories like this one stay with you.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This was such a fun, quick read! Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Named of the Dragon, by Susanna Kearsley

Oh my goodness, I loved this book. Maybe because my grandmother was full Welsh, but probably because it had an engrossing plot, a sweet romance, and poetic prose. I had to look up the castle and all its legends and part of me began planning a trip to Wales.

Here's a few of my favorite lines:

And with one hand at my back, he steered me back into the ebb and flow of life along the pavement.

As I stood there in the churchyard, where the tiny ivy tendrils had stretched over from my grandmother's grave to twine around the glossy leaves of holly at the base of Justin's stone, I'd felt a sense of continuity--of life returning and repeating endlessly, and falling into slumber.

I saw him standing in the doorway still, a solid shadow fixed within the light. And something told me he'd stay standing there until I'd reached the house and shut the door behind me, and he knew that I was safe.

He stretched out his legs, careful not to disturb Chance, who had fallen asleep on his back on the brick hearth with all four feet up in the air, looking for all the world like something that had just been struck by a lorry.

The cluster of ewes kept a respectful distance on their side of the fence, heads lifting now and then to watch us, soft breath steaming in the crisp air of the dying afternoon. We were losing the light, and the setting sun and tinged the clouds a golden rose that glowed against the cold flat blue of dusk.

Sigh. I was sorry to see this one end.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Wrap-up

You can read 2016's projections here 


Witch Wishes
Blog book (nonfiction)
Little White Christmas Lie (novella)
Anywhere Else (short story)
Return to Cinder (short story)

Newsletter Subscription:
400 to nearly 10,000

Speaking at Ellen's school:
Valuable because:
I got the outline for Menagerie
I realized I could do it
It was enjoyable
(Would I do it again? Definitely. In fact, I should try to line this up.)

The ANWA writers' retreat
Valuable because:
I met a lot of nice people
I wrote 15k words over a three day period
(Would I do it again? I'm not sure. It seems like I could achieve the same results, minus the people, by going and writing at the condo.)

La Cuesta Writer's Conference
Valuable because:
The classes I attended on marketing changed the way I saw things. I'm very glad I went, but I don't think I'll go again because of time and expense.

What I learned:
Christmas Lie was by far my most successful release. I contribute that to:
 My newsletter.
A clever subject line for my newsletter
A hungry market
Making a list
Asking for reviews before release

Going forward:
Ask for reviews before publishing a book
Book new release ads
Have the book in KU so I can book freebie days in conjunction with ads

Get reviews for Cowboy and Pirate so I can get prime ads (bookbub)
Have six books bookbub worthy so I can (try to) have a bookbub every month
1. Beyond
2. Hollow
3. Pale
4. Beyond Box set
5. Highwayman
6. Cowboy (needs 15)
7. Pirate (needs 18)
8. Witching Well box set
9. Menagerie (needs 9)
10. Christmas Lie (next October)
 (Currently, I have two books that have been accepted for bookbub)

Run KU promotion days based on when I get the advertising spots with:
Robin Reads

Melee, third book in Menagerie series
The Winthrop series
The Edit

Promote for one hour a day and keep detailed notes

Submit books to PNWA contest (February)

Read all of Susanna Kearsley's books and try to be like her (but wittier.)

Contact six friends about speaking at their schools.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Return to Cinder

I just published a short story. I'm pretty much in love with it. It's based on a friend's actual (creepy) experience. Although, I don't think my story is creepy, at all. I hope others find it uplifting.

This is what happened: A number of years ago, my friend's family was on a road trip and their car broke down somewhere between Reno and Vegas. If you're at all familiar with that area, you know that there isn't much there other than dust, cacti, and tumbleweeds. And Area 51.

A Mormon bishop welcomed them into his home and they stayed there for several days waiting for their car to be repaired. After the family returned home, my friend's dad wrote the bishop and several other members of the town thank you notes for their hospitality and kindness.

I won't tell you what happened next because I want you to read the story.

I thought about changing the bishop to "minister" or "pastor" to make the story more universal, but decided against it. The man claimed to be a Mormon bishop. Besides, there is a (sometimes naive and undeserved) trusting steak in the Mormon culture. As a people, we tend to assume if someone is a "worthy priesthood holder" that person is deserving of our trust. I confess, if my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, if given the choice, I would pick to stay with a Mormon bishop and his wife over any other set of strangers. I'm sure my friend's family, also devote Mormons, felt the same.

Return to Cinder should be available soon.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Introducing Lincoln Cole!

A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big problem. When the townsfolk of Raven's Peak start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon to discover the root of the evil affecting people. She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she's ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay alive.
Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in the supernatural that he knows nothing about. Now she's forced to protect him, which is easy, but also to trust him if she wants to save the townsfolk of Raven's Peak. Trust, however, is something hard to have for someone who grew up living on the knife's edge of danger.
Can they discover the cause of the town's insanity and put a stop to it before it is too late?

Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

He has won more than twelve literary awards for his novels from Reader's Favorite, Literary Classics, New Apple, and many other organizations. He has also reached the top #50 rank for all books in the Kindle store on Amazon and bestseller in many different categories.

If you would like to follow and find out what is happening with Lincoln, sign up at:

...and get two free stories!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Introducing J.K. Knauss!

Spain, 974. Gonzalo, a brave but hotheaded knight, unwittingly provokes tragedy at his uncle’s wedding to beautiful young noblewoman Lambra: the adored cousin of the bride dead, his teeth scattered across the riverbank. Coveting his family’s wealth and power, Lambra sends Gonzalo’s father into enemy territory to be beheaded, unleashing a revenge that devastates Castile for a generation.
A new hero, Mudarra, rises out of the ashes of Gonzalo’s once great family. Raised as a warrior in the opulence of Muslim C√≥rdoba, Mudarra must make a grueling journey and change his religion, then chooses to take his jeweled sword to the throats of his family’s betrayers. But only when he strays from the path set for him does he find his true purpose in life.
Inspired by a lost medieval epic poem, Seven Noble Knights draws from awe-inspiring history and legend to bring a brutal yet beautiful world to life in a gripping story of family, betrayal, and love.
J. K. Knauss writes thrilling historical fiction set in the exotic world of medieval Spain. Seven Noble Knights is her first novel, and a sequel is in the works. Find out about her cantigas stories when you sign up for her newsletter and see her contemporary works under the name Jessica Knauss at her website:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Edits, Excerpt, and an Idea

 I had told myself that I wouldn't work on my books between Thanksgiving and New Years, but I got the edits back for Melange and I couldn't help myself. The fun thing about this book is it really didn't get to where I thought it was going. About midway through, it took a surprising turn. And although this is what I love about it, I'm wondering if others will feel the same.

My novella The Little White Christmas Lie has been doing really well. It's been in the top 100 of its genre pretty much since its release. I guess people just love Christmas stories. This morning, I got an this email.  Your book has all ready kept me up way past bedtime!You are a terrific writer!Thanks for sharing your world with your readers. Which is really sweet, but also has me scratching my head. Really? You couldn't see where this is story was going? It's a romance...all romances have to have a happy ending. It's in the rules. If it doesn't have a happy ending, it's not a romance. Period.

So, what is Melange--other than the sequel to Menagerie (which, by the way, is FREE through the weekend.) It's definitely a love story. But the ending is not the ending. Eventually, the series will have a happily ever after, but I'm no longer sure how many books it will take me to get there.

Because I really loved writing The Little White Christmas Lie, I'm going to begin a series of contemporary romances, but not until after the New Year. And maybe not even then. I'm debating on whether or not to finish the Menagerie series before starting something new. OR, should I just let the Menagerie series be several books long...and write other books when I want to...I have a few weeks to decide on what I want to start on next.

But in the mean time, here's an excerpt from Melange. It's currently up for pre-order with a tentative release date at the end of February. I think I'll release it in January since I'll be sending it out to beta readers in a few days. (Which means it's pretty much done.)

Melange, Chapter 4

She had to do something. Lying in bed was no longer an option. Somehow, someway, she had to prevent Declan and his mom from ever getting on that boat. The floor beneath her feet felt like ice, but she didn’t care. She pulled a pair of overalls and a flannel shirt from her dresser, shoved her feet into a pair of boots, and tugged a black hoodie over her head.
“Where are you going?” Tennyson peeked one sleepy eye open.
“To the docks.”
“What are you going to do?” Tennyson now had both eyes open.
“I’m not sure.” But maybe a salmon would help.
While the moon hung as high as it could go, Lizbet led Trotter out of the barn. She adjusted his saddle and stuffed the frozen salmon into the saddlebag. Of course, it didn’t fit all the way so its head poked up, its mouth gaped open, and its beady black eye glared at her as if it knew her plans.
“You stink,” the horse said.
“Here.” Lizbet drew an apple out of her hoodie’s pocket. “I have something for you.”
Somewhat appeased and not quite as cranky about being woken for a midnight ride, Trotter munched on the apple while Lizbet put one foot in the stirrup and threw the other over Trotter’s back. According to the GPS, they would be able to take trails most of the way to Eleanor Bay. They could bypass most city streets, but a few times they’d have to cross bridges and navigate neighborhoods. Hopefully, they’d do it all in the dark.
They hadn’t gone far before Trotter lifted his muzzle. His nostrils flared and his trot slowed. Lizbet urged him forward, but he balked.
“What is it?”
“I’m not sure.” Trotter sidestepped.
Lizbet patted his neck reassuringly. “Come on, the sooner we deliver the salmon, the sooner we can get home.”
Trotter blew out a noisy breath, bucked up his courage, and pressed forward into the dark night.
Lizbet tried not to worry about wolves, but dark shadows flitting through the trees kept her tingly awake despite the hour.
The moon cast long beams of light across Back Bay. Boats of all shapes and sizes were moored along the docks. Most would be empty, but she couldn’t count on all of them being unoccupied. She led Trotter to a lamppost and tied his reins around it.
“This shouldn’t take long,” she told the horse as she patted his neck. “We’ll be safe in the barn soon.”
The horse looked skeptical, but he didn’t say anything.
Lizbet drew the salmon from the saddlebag. It had thawed slightly on the long trip and now felt slimy and cold. She held it in front of her like a platter. Other than her footsteps echoing on the boardwalk and water slapping the pilings, everything was quiet and still.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Where were the sea lions?
The chain-link fence surrounding the marina was seven feet high. Lizbet tossed the fish over to the other side before scaling the fence. She landed beside the fish, scooped it up, and went in search of the Gloria Hallelujah.
Like all the other boats in the marina, it was covered by an enormous nylon netting. Leaving the fish on the boardwalk, she got to work.
“Whatcha doing?” A seal popped his black head out of the water.
Lizbet smiled as her apprehension slowly drained away. “Unwrapping this boat.”
“What for?” the seal barked.
“Well, I thought maybe you and your friends would like someplace comfortable to hang.” Lizbet untied the ropes securing the net before rolling it up.
“Maybe I don’t want to share.”
Lizbet finished pulling back the net and rolling it into ball. She straightened, and met the seal's stare. "You don't have to share, but that is a really big fish for you to eat all by yourself.” She picked up the salmon and waved it in the air. As she had expected, several seals and sea lions poked their heads out of the dark water. Lizbet grinned and tossed the fish onto the deck of the Gloria Hallelujah.
The animals, of course, would trash the boat, but she needed to not think of it like that. If the birds were right, she was actually saving the boat. The animals would be much kinder than a bomb. Maybe.
The seals and sea lions grunted, slapped their fins, and squealed as they attacked the salmon.
" you think you guys could hang out here?"
No one looked at her.
"I can bring more fish... All I ask is that you stay on this boat. Deal?”
It wasn't a long-term solution, or even a reliable one. After all, Lizbet knew seals and sea lions were notoriously slippery. But she also knew that the animals would hang around at least until tomorrow. But just to be sure, she stripped down to her bra and panties and slipped into the water. The cold enveloped her. She rose sputtering. Then she grabbed the tow rope and started the long swim out of the marina.
Pulling a boat laden with sea animals was not easy. Not that she had thought it would be. "Don't let me drown, okay?"
One seal rose and clapped his fins, applauding her. That was all the encouragement she needed. The bay rippled as she moved through it. She didn't meet resistance until they left the cove. There, the tide roiled and the boat bucked against the waves. Lizbet tugged at the rope and fought the waves for as long as she could.
She heaved onto the deck. The cold air raised goose pimples on her skin. Her arms and legs felt like wet noodles. She scooched the animals with her foot so she could reach the captain's chair. She plopped behind the wheel and pointed it at the rocks jutting out of the water. Inhaling several long breaths, she tried to regain her strength. She would need it for what was coming next. Leaning back, she studied the star-studded sky. Then, when she thought she could, she ran and jumped off the stern of the boat. Mustering her depleted strength, she gave the boat a push. As she’d hoped, the Gloria Hallelujah hit the rocks with a sickening splintering of wood.

Exhausted, Lizbet headed for shore. She slept on Trotter's back all the way home.