The Importance of Reviews

By Susette Williams

While the most common thought of using a review would be to help a customer decide whether or not to buy a product, there are other reasons for leaving a review as well. Believe it or not, writing can be a very discouraging profession. More often than not, people tend to leave reviews when they don’t like a product and are less likely to leave a review letting you know how much they do like your product, or in this case, your book.

You may have heard that musicians are moody. The truth can be said of the authors, but the reason these creative types have the ability to be moody, or have a wide array of emotions is it allows them to connect on an emotional level with the character in their book or song. That also enables them to connect with the reader or listener. For this reason, authors can often use encouragement and one way to give it, is by leaving a review of their book. While it does not take very long to leave a comment, it really does help to encourage the author when you leave a review and tell the author that you enjoyed their story, and what you liked about the story.

But what should you say in the review? It is important not to leave too much information or you may spoil the story for another reader. Tell the author what you liked, if there was a specific scene, or how the story made you feel. You want to leave just enough information that another reader can tell that you actually read the book and the author didn’t ask all of their friends and family to leave glowing 5 star reviews for them.

There has been a lot of controversy lately concerning a few authors unethical practices concerning reviews.  Principals to consider when leaving a review:

  1. You should never write reviews for your own book. Writing a synopsis, blurb, or back copy of your book is different. Reviews are generally endorsements, telling readers what you liked, or did not like, about a book. Reviews are generally left at places your book can be purchased, or in forums where book readers will read about their favorite authors’ books.
  2. You should never leave a bad review because you do not like the person or their beliefs. Also, if you have a problem with downloading a book on Kindle, Nook, etc. do not give the author a bad review. It is best to contact customer services with the place you are purchasing the book from and settle the downloading issue with them. The author has no control over this and it is unfair to rate their hard work based on problems with the distributor.
  3. It is unfair to an author if you downloaded their book as a free promo and have not bothered to check and see if the book is the type of genre you prefer to read or not. Example, if a person downloaded a book that had pornography, religious aspects or content they would find objectionable and would not intentionally set out to pay for that type of story to begin with, should not write a negative review for the book because your mindset is already against that book and its content. This is one of the downsides to offering a free book promotion—because consumers see free and then begin reading the story to only realize this isn’t their normal type of reading material. The author should not suffer because you chose something you would not normally read.
  4. A negative book review should only be left if the writing is poor, there are obvious problems with the plot, the story is inconsistent, the author didn’t check facts, etc.
  5. You should never leave negative reviews for an author because you purposely want their book to do bad. There have been some authors who leave bad reviews for competitors. When the public has found out about this type of practice, it generally will cost the unethical author sales and readers because of their attempts to manipulate consumers and their purchases.

Authors need positive reviews for encouragement and to sell books. An honest review allows readers to see what other people thought of a book and may help sway them in their decision to also purchase the book.

If an author does a book promotion, especially the free book promotions, many of the promotion sites will not carry the author’s books unless they have a set amount of reviews, and usually they must have at least a four star average rank in reviews.

The most natural place for an author to seek reviews is through customers who have purchased their books. Previous customers who have reviewed books can also be a great resource for future book reviews. Build a rapport with readers and offer them a free copy of a future book in exchange for an honest review. As a reader, you can also contact an author and offer to write a review if they will provide you with an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy).

Another place an author can solicit reviews are through Facebook groups for reviewers; or groups that connect readers, reviewers, bloggers and/or authors. Also, if you are looking for more reviews and do a special book promotion or free book promotion, whenever you post about the promotion, ask people to share the information and ask them if they would please consider leaving a review.

Always be polite and considerate, whether or not you are an author, reader, or reviewer. Consider other people’s feelings, and when leaving criticism, try to make it constructive. It also helps if you can find something positive to say, because it will help to take the edge off of negative comments.

Please take the time to show your favorite authors some appreciation by leaving them an encouraging review. It will inspire them to continue writing and sharing their stories with loyal readers like yourself!

Books by Susette Williams:

 

falling in loveMaid for Murder: Deadly Business http://ow.ly/hJKp2

Accidental Meeting http://ow.ly/fR7ft

Falling in Love (Seasons of the Heart) http://ow.ly/fR717

Winter Chill (Seasons of the Heart) http://ow.ly/fR75F

The Quakers of New Garden (New Garden’s Conversion) http://ow.ly/fR7bB

 

Books for Children:

The ‘In’ Crowd (Life With Stef) http://ow.ly/fGsul

On My Own (Life With Stef) http://ow.ly/fR7GG

 

Author Website: www.susettewilliams.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Susette-Williams/182094681851446?ref=ts&fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusetteWilliams

 

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THE LOVE OF A MYSTERY

By Cynthia Hickey

Since I opened my first Nancy Drew mystery at the age of nine, I’ve been hooked. What is more fun than trying to figure out a clever crime along with a beloved character? Writing a mystery runs a very close second.

The challenge of laying subtle clues, depositing red herons like bread crumbs in a forest, provides as much fun for a mystery author as it does for the reader. The challenge comes when the author is successful at keeping the culprit’s identity a secret at the very end, yet leaving the reader satisfied that they weren’t cheated when they think back and realize how the clues led them down a cleverly placed trail. Then, the reader closes the book, smiles, and feels satisfied.

Add a quirky character the reader can relate to, and you’ve got a successful cozy mystery. Not an easy task for the writer. Most mystery authors are not seat-of-the-pants writers. Instead, writing a cozy mystery involves days, if not weeks, of planning and note taking. A lot of hard work and a lot of fun. Especially when the reader leaves positive feedback.

The items needed for a good mystery are:

*A quirky character

*Well-placed red herrings

*A supportive cast of secondary characters

*Humorous happenings

*A clever crook

*A satisfying ending

In my Summer Meadows mysteries, the main character Summer Meadows doesn’t start out with then intentions to take up sleuthing, but when she finds diamonds, a rusty can full of cash, and a bloody gardening glove, what’s a girl to do?

530859_525989884095235_1824965818_nDeadly Neighbors is the first in a new mystery series in which the first book deals with drug-induced sleepwalking.

When Marsha Calloway’s daughter is accused of a crime she didn’t commit, Marsha is determined to find the real culprit. She enlists the help of her Cadillac driving mama, the man who ditched Marsha at her high-school graduation but kept her heart, and a bumbling police officer. Folks around River Valley are having things disappear while they are sleeping with their eyes open. Seems everyone has a dream and not enough funds. Someone is determined to kill for that dream. Will River Valley’s cast of colorful characters live to see another day? Can Marsha find out who the thief is before she becomes one of the sleep walkers?

See all of Cynthia Hickey’s mysteries at www.cynthiahickey.com and connect with her on FaceBook where she loves to talk up a good mystery.

Best-selling mystery author, Cynthia Hickey lives in Arizona with her husband and the youngest of their seven children, where she is 155126_508450599182497_734971298_nbusy writing her next mystery. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, crocheting, or visiting with one of her five grandchildren.

Cynthia Hickey/Cynthia Melton
MYSTERY & SUSPENSE – CAN YOU OUTRUN WHAT’S CHASING YOU?
FUDGE-LACED FELONIES, CANDY-COATED SECRETS, 
& CHOCOLATE-COVERED CRIME, CHECK OUT MY OTHER EBOOKS AT http://www.cynthiahickey.com/ 

Have you ever felt God calling you to do the impossible?

by Heather Hart

I had that happen recently. God is constantly bringing me writing opportunities, some, He tells me about just to have me turn down – He has to teach me how to say no. Others, He brings me seem impossible, but He calls me to trust. The latest assignment He gave me was like that, and it hasn’t been easy. Early on in 2012, I set the goal of finishing an entire book – on my own – before the end of the year. I have started dozens of books in that time, and finished a few joint projects, but all the ones that were mine, God kept telling me, “not yet.”

marketing bookFinally, I felt God give me the go ahead on my book for 2012. It was to be called, “A Year of Book Marketing,” and would be released January 1st 2013. The problem – God didn’t give me the idea for the book until November. I kept telling Him that it was impossible to finish the book by that date, but He kept telling me to try. Simply try, and trust Him. So I did.

I won’t tell you that I had perfect faith. I stressed over this decision a lot, and went back and forth about how smart it was to write and publish a book that fast, but God kept telling me to obey.

Before the book was even completed, God prompted me to start marketing it. I argued with this as well. I said, “God, it’s not even done yet! What if I don’t make my deadline?!” And His response? “It’s not your deadline, but mine. And I will meet it, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

So I obeyed. The project continues to grow, and God finally calmed my fears by allowing me to publish the Kindle edition of the book in two parts. Part one was released earlier this week, although I’m still not sure if God called me to write it for a specific author who needed it, or even just to teach me a lesson about trust, but I’m happy to announce that it is finished. Part two will be released in May of this year.

If you’d like to learn more about “A Year of Book Marketing,” you can find the information about it on my website at: http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/p/book-marketing.html or it is also available on Amazon.com

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Helping other authors since 2009, Heather Hart lives in Texas with her husband, Paul, where she fills her days caring for their four heatheryoung children, writing for Christ, and studying God’s Word. Heather works as a self-publishing-coach.com liaison, author, and authors assistant whose desire is to glorify Christ through her work and to help other authors do the same. You can learn more about Heather by visiting her website: http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/

Or, by connecting with her in the following places:

Twitter: @_HeatherHart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heatherhartauthoreditor

Happy Birthday GNFA!!

It’s amazing to look back at all the accomplishments that we’ve had in a year. It’s amazing that what started with a handful of authors wanting to get together with one vision, working together to provide quality Christian books to the readers and support Christian authors throughout their careers, it’s now close to 200 authors and tons of books published all in one year.

The best way to celebrate all those accomplishments this group has had in the last year is to hear from some of the authors themselves about their experience with GNFA.

 

Mary C. Findley-“I wouldn’t know much of anything about Christian book promotion or have as many awesome fellow writer friends if it weren’t for GNFA.”


Ada Brownell-“I am thankful for GNFA because of how it has increased my horizons in marketing, camaraderie, support, and given me spiritual encouragement and blessings. What a blessing all of you have been to me!”

Precarious Yates-“I have had increased sales because of GNFA, that’s for sure! Also, the encouragement from fellow authors who ‘get’ the trials of an author–that is priceless!”

Mikayla Kayne-“Oh the things I would have done differently if I had GNFA in my life two years ago. It’s been an amazing resource for education, encouragement, and friendship. I especially love seeing the excitement and rallying around new releases and chart climbers.”

Lynnette Bonner“GNFA is a place where authors from all walks come together to support, encourage, uplift, and promote one another. It is also a place where those new to marketing can come to find fabulous tips and ideas for what works and what doesn’t work in promotion. I’m thrilled to be part of the group!”

Suzanne WilliamsGNFA taught me how to market my books and provided encouragement to keep writing.I’ve made lots of great friends.”

Heather Hart“I love the fellowship, encouragement, and advice offered here.”

Diane Lesire Brandmeyer- “GFNA has shown me how to focus on marketing in a small amount of time. The support of this group is priceless.”

Bev Schrader Nault-”When I felt alone and clueless, the GFNA community embraced me.”

April McGowan-”GNFA has taught me to push ahead and try–not to wait for someone else to market my book. They’ve been a place of encouragement, a place of celebration–a place of support and prayer. I’m so grateful to be part of the group!”

Shelley Hitz-“I love GNFA. Being part of an active community of Christian authors has been so encouraging for me. Writing and publishing can be very lonely at times and yet GNFA has provided the much needed camaraderie encouragement and support I needed during a difficult time in my life. Thank you Staci, Naty and every one of you…I’m so thankful to have found this group.”

God Bless you all and looking forward to another year of great writing! Stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter

Staci Stallings                                       Naty Matos

I Write Because I’m Happy

Sitting in the van as the family drives from Wyoming to North Carolina gives a young a girl a LOT of time to pass.  When I was really little, before the time of laptops and iPads I would read, play car games or stare outside. As I grew older and technology changed I began to write to pass the time. I spent a plethora of happy hours creating stories on the family laptop. One of the joys of my childhood was having a car charger for the laptop so I could type as long as I was in the car.

As I’ve become an adult I’ve become even more in loving with writing. I find it a joy to put words on a page and craft a story, and crafting it is. Creating a story (be it fiction or non-fiction) that will appeal to an audience is not an easy task. Each writer will go about this task just a little bit differently. Some authors create storyboards, some authors use an outline, and some authors just sit and type and see what emerges and once a general concept is on the page, a more delicate approach can be taken to get from point A to point C.

I think that I am somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I love to free write and just see what emerges, but I do a controlled free write. I start with a basic storyline and the message that I want my readers to grasp at the end. I do a lot of research in the beginning so as I write the details are true to life, but as I’m writing I will do more research and talk to professionals.

Many authors will tell you to write about what you know. If you are a gardener, make your main character a gardener. If you are a pastor’s wife, write about that, if you are a pediatrician write about pediatrics. There is a lot of wisdom in that advice, but I not only write for my audience, I write for myself.

I write to stretch myself, to learn about a new subject, to experience something that I will never actually experience.  I write because I love escape into another world and tell a story. I write because I get incredible joy out of it. I write for the same reason that an artist paints or a singer sings. I write because it is fun, challenging, lets me be creative, passes the time and gives me something to share with others. I love to write stories for my husband and daughter. I write because I can’t imagine not writing. I write because I’m happy, I write because I’m free!

***********************************************************

I’m Jessie Lee the author of {the soon to be released} Joyfully After All: My Journey from Rape Victim to God’s Princess. I grew up in the wild west of Wyoming and now I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with my handsome husband and our adorable 8 month old daughter.  I spend my days playing with our daughter, taking care of the house, volunteering with a variety of church events/groups and writing. You can find me on Facebook under: Joyfully After All or on my blog: www.victoryoverrape.blogspot.com

 

Maximize Your Book Sales and Exposure by Using Your Free Author Central Account

By Shelley Hitz, http://www.Self-Publishing-Coach.com

Did you know that Amazon gives you a free tool to help you in your book marketing efforts? I did NOT know about this tool in the first two years of my publishing journey and I wish I had because I know it would have helped me sell more books. What is this free tool? It is called your author central account. You can sign up for your account here: http://authorcentral.amazon.com . For each version of Amazon, you will need to sign up for a different author central account (i.e. http://authorcentral.amazon.uk, etc.). I wish they would combine them all into one account, but for now they are separate.

 

Update Your Book Categories

One of the most powerful things you can do in your author central account is to change your book categories. By changing then to less competitive categories, your book can easily become a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Who doesn’t want their book to become a #1 bestseller?

All you need to do is to research your categories and then contact Amazon via your author central account about the categories you would like changed. There is a contact link at the bottom of the webpage where you can contact them directly. For Kindle books, you need to use the contact link in your KDP account.

The first time I discovered this option and changed categories on one of my books, within a few days the Kindle version became a #1 bestseller for its category!

 

I was amazed and looked at the book sales. It didn’t actually sell more copies than previously, but it had become a bestseller simply because I chose more relevant and less competitive categories. I show you exactly how to do this in my training “Amazon for Authors” here: http://amazon.self-publishing-coach.com.

 

 

Modify Your Book Description

Another great feature of your amazon author account is the ability to change your book description on Kindle or print books. You can add bold, italics, numbered lists, bullets and more to your description.

Your book description is one way to pre-sell your book to your potential readers, so adding this extra formatting can really help your book stand out from the competition.

 

Add Reviews to Your Book Sales Page

Along with adding extra formatting to your description, you can also add quotes from your most powerful reviews on your sales page via your author central account. For each book, there is a section that you can add reviews and this will then be published on your Amazon sales page giving you more credibility and catching your potential reader’s attention. You can also format these reviews with bold and italics but don’t go overboard. They will speak for themselves!

 

Get Help

Finally, through your author central account you can get help and get your questions answered. Their customer service has always been great anytime I have contacted them. You can contact them via phone or e-mail. For phone, they will call you back within a few hours and with e-mail they usually reply within 24 hours.

When I first started using my author central account I had several questions that they were able to answer right away and helped me tremendously. Also, if you notice anything wrong with your sales page let them know. I recently noticed that my entire book description wasn’t showing and there wasn’t a “show more” link. I was getting ready for a big book promotion and contacted them. Within hours it was corrected and I was ready for my promotion.

 

Conclusion

If you are publishing on Amazon through print books or Kindle eBooks, using your free author central account is one technique that I recommend to all authors. What are you waiting for? Get started now here: http://www.authorcentral.amazon.com.

If you want more step-by-step help setting up your author central account, sign up for one of my most popular trainings, “Amazon for Authors” here: http://amazon.self-publishing-coach.com

 

 

 

Shelley Hitz is a Christian author and speaker. Her main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others which she does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements. You can learn more about Shelley’s ministry here:www.ShelleyHitz.com

Shelley also offers advice to authors including free author tools and templates that you can download here: http://www.self-publishing-coach.com/newsletter.html

 

How to Write a Book Review the Author Will Love

By Mary C. Findley

I am a big classics fan. I have, however, recently begun reviewing book by modern authors, and especially Indie writers, some of whom I’ve become friends and acquaintances with through author and reader sites I have joined.

I have gotten good responses from the authors so far, even if I gave them the dreaded “three out of five stars.” One who was at first very unhappy with her three stars admitted that it was a very good review, she liked it, and she quotes from it as she promotes. Another author said she loved my review so much it made her cry. It’s the only five star I’ve given so far, and she really deserved it.

I’m going to use Tale of Two Cities as an example of how to write a book review by reviewing it. Mr. Dickens won’t mind.

First, an author wants you to find out the solution of his book’s mystery by reading it, not by the reviewer giving it away. In Tale of Two Cities, why in the world does that drunken lowlife Sidney Carton get to hang around sweet Lucie the whole book, almost?

The author does want the reviewer make readers interested, though. So I will just mention that Sidney has a much bigger part to play than just standing up in court looking remarkably like Charles Darnay, thus saving his life.

Second, the author wants the reviewer to get readers to like the people in the story. For this example, let me introduce you to Mr. Lorry. Mr. Lorry represents an ancient, trustworthy, boring bank, but Mr. Lorry is hardly boring. He’s vain about his fine calves, though he’s past sixty. He rescues a parentless child although he says he is “merely a man of business.” He warns off a most unsuitable suitor, protecting a young lady from an arrogant and disgusting predator. He goes along with an unknown plot for an impossible rescue. This can hardly be a service to the bank he has served his whole life, but is an extraordinary example of compassion and courage.

Third, the author knows his book isn’t perfect, though he loves it as his own child. He doesn’t mind if you tell people imperfections, as long as you are honest and have good reasons. Tale of Two Cities, like most of Dickens’ works, is very wordy. I don’t care how many people say he wasn’t paid by the word, he was. He wrote serials. He had to pad out the work to fill a certain amount space in a magazine and make a cliffhanger out of every installment to get people to keep reading. That’s a guaranteed recipe for wordiness. Some of Dickens’ books are much longer than this one, but a modern editor would certainly be chafing to trim it down. I know as a former editor I would.

Fourth, a reviewer needs to warn readers if there is material not suitable for certain ages or groups. Dickens describes people in grinding poverty virtually starving to death before our eyes. He has a careless nobleman run his cart over a small child. The noble gentleman cares nothing about it except to try to throw a coin at the father and ask why he makes such an infernal noise. People are beaten and beheaded and described as blood-covered and murderously enraged. Sometimes just the sheer callousness and indifference toward death is hard to take. However jaded young readers might be today, it’s still not the best thing for very young readers. There is no real sex. Reference is made to breasts but only for nursing children.

In conclusion, I give Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities a four out of five, because I think he could have written a better story without so many words. Otherwise, it’s probably my favorite fictional work of all time.

About Mary C. Findley

I grew up in rural NY and met my husband at college in South Carolina. We taught school in AZ, MO and PA, homeschooled, and created curriculum and videos for church and commercial productions. We have three 20-something children, and now travel the 48 states together in a tractor trailer.

My Writing Journey

By Amy McGuire

I’m the youngest of three children of parents who were missionaries in East Africa until I was ten.  My dad was a pilot and pastor to remote villages and my mom was a nurse. I came to know Christ personally when I was seven and I was baptized when I was twelve.  From as early as I can remember, I have loved to read and write stories; happy stories, stories about princes and princesses, stories about love, joy and living life to the fullest.

I love to write.  When I write, my imagination takes over and I feel like almost anything is possible.  I write and read romance because I enjoy reading and writing about people falling love.  I’m a hopeless romantic.  I love engagement parties, weddings and baby showers because they’re all about love.  Love is the most powerful thing in the universe because the One who created love is the most powerful thing in the universe.  God is love. My favourite kind of love is unconditional and one of my favourite verses about that is 1 John 4:10 which says, “This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  We didn’t have to earn His love.  He loves us regardless of what we say or do.

I’m drawn to love stories and love songs like one magnet is drawn to another.  I can’t resist it.  I don’t know why God wired me to have such an attraction to everything to do with genuine love but He has.  When I was quite young, I began writing stories about how my parents met, fell in love and got married.  As I got older, the stories were about me and the boy who would one day fall in love with me.  As I matured, my stories became more about fictitious people and less about anyone I knew, but the theme was always the same.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks girl to marry him and they live happily ever after.  My upbringing-a mix of parental values and Disney-is probably what created that particular formula in my mind, but even now, that’s my idea of the perfect romance.

When I started to write The Heart’s Discovery in 2009, it was kind of an escape.  My daughter was just over a year old at the time, and I had been one hundred percent immersed in motherhood up to that point.  I had weaned her, so she didn’t need me for at least one of her basic needs anymore and she was starting to put all her little naps into two long ones-one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It was summer by this time and as my husband is a youth pastor with flexible hours he was able to stay with her at least once or twice a week while she napped.  I spent many of those naps outside our apartment on the grounds, soaking up the sun as I wrote.

I took advantage of these times to be by myself, write for the pure enjoyment of it and get lost in a world without diaper changes, breastfeeding, baby babble and everything else that comes with being a mom.  Now don’t get me wrong; I love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything in the world.  But being a full-time stay at home mom can be both physically and emotionally draining at times.  So I dove back into my passion and wrote every chance I got.  I wrote on the bus or train while my baby slept in a stroller beside me.  I wrote while she napped at home and I often wrote late into the night after she had fallen asleep.

For me, writing became an outlet for my thoughts, hopes, dreams and imagination.  It was my husband who encouraged me to get my first book published.  Though the idea of someone else reading my work and thinking it was terrible terrified me, I began to seek out agents.  Rejection letter after rejection letter came my way and still my husband wouldn’t let me give up.  So, at long last I thought I had made it when a traditional publisher contacted me with a request for my first novel.  It was July of 2011 when I was told my book had been accepted to a publishing house in Michigan.  For two weeks after the announcement, I heard nothing.

Then I received a lengthy email informing me that even though they thought my book was good enough and were excited about my series, they were going to be focussing on the authors they already had.  It ended with a note saying, “We think you’ll be stronger on your own” and a suggestion that maybe I should self-publish.  Self-publishing didn’t (and still doesn’t, to an extent) get much respect in the literary world, and I remember thinking, “This is it.  My dream of becoming a published author is over.  Nobody wants my book.  I’m just wasting my time.”

I was so discouraged that I stopped writing for almost a month. I didn’t look at my book even once the entire time.  Then I finished my pity party and looked at my book from a reader’s perspective.  I sat down and read all the romantic parts and felt all mushy.  I laughed at my characters and their awkwardness and cried when they cried.  It was then I came to the realization, “Hey, this book isn’t half bad.  In fact, it’s kind of good!”  Knowing I was biased toward my own work, I sent it off to a couple friends who were also romance nuts, just for the overall opinion and some editing help.  I was surprised and thrilled with their responses.  “We want to read more!” they both said.  I had several friends who just ate it up and I even let them read the rough drafts for books two and three since I had written them at the same time as The Heart’s Discovery.  They couldn’t seem to get enough.

Sometime around my birthday in November I began to take the publisher’s comments that I would ‘be stronger on my own’ to heart and I began to research self-publishing and what it meant to be an ‘indie author’.  Then I spent the next three months editing my first book and coming up with ‘the perfect cover’ (which I would change several times after releasing the book online).  In late January I bought a book by a fellow indie author that walked me step by step through the process of selling my book on my own website (which I had since September 2011) as well as major online retailers like Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Amazon.

On February 12 I took the plunge and my book went public.  Since then I have learned so much about marketing, cover design, editing, networking and a whole host of things I never imagined myself being a part of.  My world has opened up and I have met fellow indie authors from every walk of life, as well as a few traditionally published authors, all of whom have become dear friends.  The publisher was only partly right when she said I would be stronger on my own.  I do have more control over the whole publishing process but I didn’t do it alone.

God brought a host of people; family, friends and total strangers who later became friends, into my life to encourage me, guide me and support me every step of the way.

I took a trembling step out in faith and in His amazing love, God showed me that there’s a really good reason He made me the way He did.  I learned that I can share love with others through my writing and to never give up before I really get started.  If I had given up back in July of last year I wouldn’t be selling my book and doing what I really love to do.  God gave me a special talent and my responsibility is to use that talent to bring glory to Him.  I fervently hope I am.

About Amy McGuire

First Choice brightened upAmy is the youngest of three children of missionary parents. As a result, her childhood was spent mostly in East Africa. She now lives in Ontario with her husband, young daughter, two cats and plants that she keeps forgetting to water.  Almost from the moment she could pick up a pen she has been writing stories and poetry.  She developed a love of English Literature at a young age and considers William Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudicetwo of the most romantic books ever written.  She began writing comedies in middle school and by junior high had graduated to writing romances.  Her favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon is on a lounge chair with a good novel, some chocolate and soft tunes off her rather eclectic collection of Cds.  She has written many stories but never dreamt of publishing them until her husband gave her a nudge in 2009.

Review: A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee

Review: A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
Reviewed by Valerie Comer

On the heels of the Civil War, a dying man gave Doctor Travis Logan the deed to his Tennessee farm. The man’s brain must have been a bit addled, because he also offered Travis Heaven and Angel.

Life is tough in Tennessee as the war closes, and Heaven Wharton has her hands full keeping marauders off her land. Surely soon Pa will return to take Heaven and her sister off to Chicago. Too bad Heaven is a lousy shot. When she attempts to shoot over a man’s head, she accidentally grazes him instead. Horrified, she drags him into the house and tries to save his life.

Angel, her 12-year-old blind sister, has been trying to get a bit more freedom to do things on the farm, but Heaven has been protecting her. It’s been a stop-gap measure while they wait for Pa. But when the stranger regains consciousness, she finds that not only has Pa died and given away the family farm to this. . .this stranger, but he’s thrown in Heaven and Angel as well. Surely that can’t be right!

A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennesee is a wonderful glimpse of life in a difficult time. So many men didn’t return home from the Civil War and, of those who did, many were so changed they found it impossible to pick up their lives where they’d left off. This story showcases several characters with differing levels of war-induced trauma, making the issues feel very real.

Although I loved Heaven’s spunk and Travis’s determination, my favorite character was Angel. She has such conflicting emotions and no hesitation speaking up, from wondering if she is a suitable chaperone (being as she’s blind), to telling both Heaven and Travis things to make them think more kindly of the other. So many times I wanted to laugh and cry and cheer with Angel.

If you enjoy historical romance, or possibly even if you don’t, you’ll love A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennesee by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer. This is one of my favorite books so far this year.

Christian author Diana Lesire Brandmeyer lives in Southern Illinois where the corn grows at a rapid rate behind her home. She’s married and has three grown sons all on their own now, each of them bringing someone special to join the family. Yay! Daughter-in-laws!

Diana writes historical and contemporary romances. She’s also written We’re Not Blended-We’re Pureed, A Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families. Once widowed and now remarried she writes with humor and experience on the difficulty of joining two families.

A digital copy of this novel was provided by the author for review. However, the opinions are, as always, mine alone.

Welcome: Amy McGuire

I’m so pleased to welcome Amy McGuire to our author spotlight….

Can you tell us a little about your background, Amy?

I was born in Campbell River, B.C. and grew up the child of missionary parents in East Africa.  Due to my unique upbringing I have moved many times and experienced many cultures.  This I feel helped in the creation of my first published novel.  Since I was a little girl I have written stories.  In junior high I liked to write comedies but by high school I had graduated to writing romance and have never really considered writing anything else.  In 2009 I began the saga I am working on now, finishing up book 1-3 by the end of 2010.  Romance is my passion and I hope to continue to write love stories for many, many years to come.

I’m with you on the romance thing!  Tell us about who you are when you are not writing.

I’m a stay at home mom and have been since my little bunny arrived in May of 2008.  I love to sit and read just about anywhere, but I truly love the outdoors.  I love to dream and see inspiration in a lot of things around me.  My idea of the perfect vacation is one where I have my feet in the ocean, warm sand sifting between my toes, a book in one hand and a tall glass of root beer in the other.  The only decision I have to make is whether I’ll spend part of the day swimming or sightseeing.  I love the taste of chocolate, the softness of my daughter’s hair, the sound of birdsong, the smell of cut grass and suntan lotion in summer and the amazing contrast of colour in the world around me.

Who are your greatest influences either writing or personal?

I think Lucy Maud Montgomery would be one of my greatest influences.  Since I was very young I have read the Anne of Green Gables series many times.  Her characters are dreamers, thinkers and free spirited.  I think what draws me to her work the most though, is that she writes about Canada.  I read a lot of romance but find very, very few based in Canada.  I don’t know why that is, since Canada is so beautiful and diverse.  As such, I think she truly inspired me to write what I know and love.

If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

‘No dream is too big if you’re willing to work for it’ and ‘you’re never too old to fulfill your dreams’.  Those are two pieces of advice my mother gives me often.  She has taught me to dream big and go after those dreams.  I know we are put on this earth to care for others and have a relationship with our creator, but I also know we were meant to dream and strive for those dreams, as long as they won’t harm others.

What has been your greatest challenge in life so far?  How did you handle it?

Motherhood, hands down.  It’s been a joy as well as a true challenge to raise a child in this world.  There are moments I question whether I’m the right girl for the job.  I’m so grateful to have a big God to take care of both of us.

Motherhood.  Definitely a new challenge every day!  So, what do you like to read?  What are some of your favorites that you have read?

I like to read romance, the occasional young adult novel and a romantic comedy if it makes me laugh out loud.  My favourites are pretty much anything by Nora Roberts, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Green Gables, The Twilight Saga (there, I admitted it) despite the writing (the story was good but made a much better movie saga than books), Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness, The Oath, Visitation, a few of Debbie MacComber’s works, the occasional Fern Michael’s book.

Peretti is one of my literary heroes as well.  🙂  So what are you working on now? 

I am currently working on editing as well as marketing Sweet Love, the first in my The Heart’s Five Senses saga.  I hope to have it in print edition from CreateSpace for sale on Amazon as well as for any book signings I may have in the future.  Book Two, The Essence of Romance is due to come out in e-book format in December with a print edition shortly thereafter.  I have a blog I try to keep updated with all the latest happenings with my books and a website I am proud to say I created myself.  You can find both at www.shesanauthor.com.  I have recently started being a guest on a Google On Air program for Indie Authors hosted by Jason Matthews and AC Cruz.  It runs every night from 6-7 pm PST, 9-10pm EST and we talk about the different elements of self publishing.  I’m very excited to be an author in such a digital age where someone on the completely opposite side of the world can buy my book and be reading it only minutes later.

Where can readers find you on the ‘net? 

My website as I stated before is www.shesanauthor.com and my book can be found at www.shesanauthor.com/webstore and http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Love-ebook/dp/B0077IUEX6/ref=sr_1_44?ie=UTF8&qid=1332876155&sr=8-44

Thank you so much for this fantastic opportunity, Staci.

Thanks so much for joining us, Amy!  It was great to have you.  Please come back and share with us again!

 

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