Review: I Am Twee by Susie Caron

Author: Susie Caron

Do your children complain about the things they don't have? Do they believe they are not as smart, athletic, talented, or 'cool' as other kids? Twee' does! Do you ever wish your children understood how being different makes them unique and special, with their own gifts to share? Twee' does! Read "I am Twee'" together and share the discovery! Twee' is a bit older now, but is she wiser? In this second picture book-allegory from Susie's "Between You And Me" series, this young pine tree feels useless because she has nothing to share. Twee' notices the apple trees in the valley offer many gifts, which draw children and adults to visit them. However, the people don't even see Twee', and she begins to wish she were an apple tree. After many seasons, Twee' is ready to give up, when an unusual event changes her mind. Join Twee' as she journeys to discover that by being herself and different she has something special to contribute.

This book is so cute! The story beautifully tells an important lesson for kids about self worth. Twee is jealous of the attention the other trees get and feels left out. She wishes she could be like them until one day she realises that what makes her different from others also makes her special. The illustrations are also beautiful. This book definitely gets two thumbs up from both me and my kids. I highly recommend it.

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Inkitt’s “Darkest Place” Horror Contest

Today we're taking a look at a writing contest that will be taking place next week. Inkitt’s “Darkest Place” Horror Contest, starting 2nd Feb 2015. 

What is Inkitt?
Inkitt is a free platform for writers to cultivate ideas and watch their stories grow. On our site,users collaborate with fellow writers and readers to give each other feedback and improve their work. Our vision is to help writers get the exposure they deserve and the publishing deals they covet without having to jump through the fiery hoops of traditional publishing, or wade in the shark-infested waters of self-publishing.

What is the theme of the horror contest?
"You are in the darkest place in the world." (This theme can be interpreted literally or figuratively.) We want writers who will submit their blood-curdlers, spine-tinglers, skin-crawlers, and hair-raisers; writers who will make it their duty to scare and shock their readers; writers who can really take us to the darkest place in the world.

What are the guidelines?
It’s all about fiction: flashes and shorts up to 10,000 words, written from any point of view. Entries must be posted on the Inkitt contest page to be considered eligible.

The contest opens on February 2nd and closes on February 28th. The contest is completely free to enter, and authors will retain all rights to any and all work submitted in the contest.

What are the prizes?
All entrants will have the chance to show their work to a growing community of authors and readers hungry for high-quality fiction and win the following prizes: 

1st Prize $25 Amazon gift card, Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook, custom coverdesign for the Inkitt story of their choice (created by Inkitt’s designer). 
2nd Prize $20 Amazon gift card, Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook.
3rd Prize Inkitt custom mug, Inkitt custom notebook. 

For more details, check out the contest URL:  or send the Inkitt team a tweet using Twitter Handle: @Inkitt. The official Hashtag for the contest is #DarkestPlace. 

Disclosure: I'm not in anyway connected with Inkitt or the contest. just sharing the news as I thought some of you might be interested ;)

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So You Wanted to be a Published Author...

You braved the trenches of Query-land. After goodness only knows how many submissions, you were shot at repeatedly by form letter rejections and nice supportive “No thank yous” until you got that literary agent then publishing house nod or that “We’d love to publish your novel” response from an editor.


Maybe you worked through multiple rewrites, edits and the whole shebang involved in self-publishing a product you could be proud of.
Congratulations! You’ve done it! You are a published author.

For many authors, the first reaction is to jump up and down screaming with joy.

Next thing to pop into their head: What did I get myself into???

Well, take heart in knowing there are lessons every writer learns after they publish that first book.

1. Keep the buzz machine rolling – Before the book you slaved over and nurtured made it to the bookshelf or became available with one click of a button, you probably started building buzz, alerting readers and bloggers to the arrival of your baby – erm – book. Maybe you did a cover reveal and ARC giveaways. That buzz was great, but it shouldn’t slow down. Keep the buzz moving, keep the momentum going and add fuel to a little thing called “word of mouth.” Okay, it really isn’t a little thing. It’s very powerful and can be key in helping build sales of your novel. For a few statistics on the power of word of mouth, go here.

So You Wanted to be a Published Author... guest post by Angela Brown for
2. There is power in multi-tasking by priority – I am a single mother, employed full time, love to read and have self-published two full length novels, novellas, and participated in a few anthologies, including Untethered Realms’ Twisted Earths, since September of 2012. My schedule was hectic before I published Neverlove, my debut upper YA novel. Afterwards, multi-tasking took on a whole new meaning. I struggled, sorely, on this front, but I do the following to help with accomplishing my goals:
 - Get up an hour early to check e-mail and review the marketing items I need to accomplish for the day.
 - Utilize work breaks and lunch to get in reading (while nibbling on something yummy), taking care of errands, and sneaking in a little bit of writing.
- Spend time with my daughter first so I invest in our family relationship. It also provides me with a chance to communicate my writing schedule so she understands why I’m hunkered down at my desk for the next three hours.
- Make time for writing. The stories want to be told and it can’t happen if time isn't allotted for it. A timer helps. Sort of like how the pressure of a looming deadline can be a motivator.

3. Deals are brokered and broken, so keep writing – Book deals can happen, modest advances brokered, and an excellent novel released to the world. But if sales flop, it’s a hard part of the industry that the three book deal can just as quickly be canceled. Because… publishing is a business. It isn’t intended to be ruthless, but these things happen. It’s the same with self-publishing. Professional book covers, content editing, proofreading, book tour setups, etc., cost money. I could choose to do none of those things but I want to put out a product I can be proud of sharing with the world. That is also why it’s important to keep writing. If a book deal falls apart, the writing is always there. If sales just aren’t going well, the writing is an ever-present opportunity to work on something else. Things may not go perfect with the first book, but keep writing so it definitely won’t be the last.

It can be tough learning these lessons after publishing that first book, but armed with newfound knowledge, the first time author doesn’t have to be a one-hit-wonder.

So You Wanted to be a Published Author... guest post by Angela Brown for
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Angela Brown now calls Central Texas home. She's a lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered delicious-ness. Steampunk, fantasy and paranormal to contemporary - mostly young adult - fill her growing library of books. Mother to a rambunctious darling girl aptly nicknamed Chipmunk, life stays busy. Her favorite quote keeps her moving: "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

She is the author of the upper YA paranormal Neverlove and its new adult follow up They All Fall Down of the Shadow Jumpers series, Frailties of the Bond and Atone of the NEO Chronicles: Characters Revealed series, andBeacon, the first action-packed title in the YA urban fantasy series, Ripped Ties, published by Evernight Teen.
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Interview with Naomi Bellina

Today I'm joined by author Naomi Bellina. 

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
I came across this quote the other day from Gustave Flaubert:  "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."  Don't you love it? It appeals to the kind of obsessively organized girl in me and also to the wild one.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
I love doing research. When possible, I like to experience locations and situations myself but that isn't always an option. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I can find out just about anything from the convenience of my home. Recent example, I have my hero shooting a Tazer and I wanted to know how it sounds and how the victim would react. OMG, would you believe there are all kinds of YouTube videos showing people getting Tazed? Incredible! That helps me so much when I'm writing, to get the description accurate, because I'm sure the heck not going to go out and get Tazed myself.

Author Naomi Bellina interviewed by Jo Linsdell at Don't Say NoWhere can people find out more about you and your writing?
I'm all over the place, at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the new kid in town, Tsu. But really, the best place is my website. I do a blog post about once a week and I keep my front page updated with what's going on.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
If you like a great "opposites attract" story, this is the book for you. I had a fabulous time building the romance between fun-loving Amber and straight-laced Jaeger. It was a real challenge for me to make their relationship believable and I think I did a pretty good job. *pats self on back*  I hate to read stories where the hero and heroine fall in love, for no apparent reason, because they have absolutely nothing in common and can't stand each other.

Who designed the cover?
My awesome publisher, Heart's Desire Press did. I was so excited when the boss lady let help pick what photo I wanted to use. Since I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, having that opportunity was perfect. She came up with a design and I gave her input and voila! The great cover you see was born.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
How much fun it was to step back in time a little. (I won't say how far back in time!) I thought it might be hard to remember how I felt in my early twenties, but it all came back to me. And oddly enough, some of the crapola from that time is still around. I realize a lot of conflicts go on throughout our lives. We always yearn for love and some of us are still pursuing our dreams.

Who inspires you? 
Don't laugh. Xena, Warrior Princess. One year I binge watched all the seasons, which gave me the balls to open my own business. Strong women who go after what they want without trampling others along the way, that's who inspires me.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I say, both are good. Whatever works for each author. I'm not at a place in life to take on the extra duties of self-publishing at this point in time and since I've found publishers I like, I'm going to stick with that route for now. I've talked to other writers who are immensely happy they went down the self-pub path. Sadly, there is a lot of crap out there giving self-publishing a bad name, and our poor readers have to wade through it. It's going to be interesting to see what the upcoming years bring for the industry, that's for sure.

Author Naomi Bellina interview by Jo Linsdellat
Naomi Bellina

What are you currently reading? 
The pile of books beside my bed is about to topple over and scare the cat. Actually, most fiction books I now read on my tablet. I'm still working my way through a Christmas box set and finding new authors to love.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? 
I'd like to say lounging on the couch, petting my cat and drinking wine, but sadly, that's not true. I have a day job but it's not evil and gives me flexibility with my schedule. I try to cook at least four healthy meals a week to keep us in good shape, which takes a lot of time. I'd also like to say I clean a lot, but don't want to get struck with lightning for telling lies.

Thank you so much for having me here today. I hope you enjoy Don't Say No.


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How I Felt Publishing My First Picture Book

Until this Spring I had no idea I would be writing a children’s picture book. My wife and I had recently moved to North Carolina and since I was mostly retired many of my days were filled with projects. One day I stopped and reflected on what was taking place… I was actually writing a story!

Richard McEwan, bookIt has been a joy to write the book and I was fortunate that Halo Publishing International accepted my first manuscript I had ever submitted to any publisher. The title turned out to be easy because the story revolves around our two dogs. The writing of the story was over a number of weeks as thoughts came to me and, other than writer’s block, it flowed pretty well.

I believe the book came together for a number of reasons:

(1) Our grandchildren: we moved to North Carolina to be near two of our three children and our grandchildren whose ages are 4 and under. Their love of books is more than evident whether being read to or pulling a book off the shelf to thumb through it by themselves, studying the illustrations or photography and relating the story.

(2) Our dogs: my wife and I have a great love for dogs in general and, specifically, for own. They are an integral part of our lives. Their antics lead to writing about them. Plus they are both foster dogs.

(3) Fostering dogs: my wife for years would pick up a stray dog and either find its owner or a new home. With this passion we became involved with the Animal Welfare League where we lived in Virginia. Over a five-year period we fostered about 50 dogs at our home until each was adopted. The dogs came to us via many sources including AWL, County Pound, and, of course, strays picked up by my wife!

(4) Children learning: picture books are a great vehicle to convey a message even before a child can read. As with this story, it is so important to instill in children at a young age the importance of caring for pets…I believe it is the first step in caring for others.

Since this is my first book I had not given much thought to the tense it should be written in…present. I had originally written it in the past tense thus relating a story that had already occurred rather than letting the story unfold thus holding a child’s attention.

I have nothing but praise for my editor for she saw the potential in my manuscript but knew it needed work. At first, I thought she had wounded my “child” or maybe, more honestly, wounded me. I then realized her input made the story a better read. I believe the level of trust an author has in an editor is the most important element in the author/editor relationship followed closely by the author’s willingness to be open to the editor’s input. If an author is willing to take a leap of faith at the beginning of the relationship, it will only get stronger over time.
The best advice I can give is, “Don’t give up!” Don’t put your partially written book back in the drawer or in that file folder you have had for years. Make a commitment to yourself that this is important and set aside the time. Having a book in your hands is like having a piece of art in your hands…you are holding, touching something that you as an author created. It gives you a tangible, personal connection to the reader.

Think about the feeling of accomplishment you will have when you have your book in your hands for the first time or see your book on the shelf of your local book store or on Amazon. It’s powerful and rewarding!

Richard McEwan

Richard McEwan lives with his wife, Christie, and their two dogs, Buddy and River, one cat named Oyster and many photos of foster dogs. The two fostered about 50 dogs during a span of 5 years volunteering with the Animal Welfare League in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Together, McEwan and his wife, have three children and four grandchildren.
Visit his website at and follow him on Facebook
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Excerpt: Haunting of LaBelle: Back to Hell by J. Thayer McKinney

Title: Haunting of LaBelle: Back to Hell
Author: J. Thayer McKinney
ISBN: 13:9780692220115

Purchasing link:

Author bio:
J. Thayer McKinney lives with her husband in a log home in the mountains of easternWest Virginia. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She is the owner of Cedar Loft Productions, a small publishing company along with being a writer and a paranormal researcher.

She loosely bases some of her fiction books on her paranormal research. So far, she has not encountered many malevolent spirits but before she does research she grounds herself for protection.  “You can never be too careful with the unknown!”  She says. She is an ordained minister and holds a PhD in Metaphysical Parapsychology. She has also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an Associate’s degree in Electronics.

Prior to retiring from the corporate world, she had a very successful and rewarding technical career. She managed the IT department at a healthcare facility and prior to that position she was an industrial controls technician and a telecommunications technician for a power company. When she isn’t writing or working at her publishing company, she enjoys traveling, ghost hunting or sitting on the front porch listening to the sounds of nature.

Haunting of LaBelle: Back to Hell
By J. Thayer McKinney

Debra Baxter was sitting at her desk at Baxter Properties. She had a concerned look on her face as she spoke with her client. Cory Jenkins was sitting in the chair across from herand was visibly upset. His property, LaBelle Mansion, had been listed with the real estate company for five years with no sale and essentially no interest in a sale. It was a primepiece of real estate but seemed to have no sales value. She had never had a listing that didn’tat least attract a few potential buyers.
Debra had owned Baxter Properties for ten years and was accustomed to dealing with unhappy clients but Cory was a high priority and she worried about losing him as a client. A sale of this property would bring in quite a hefty commission for the company and the listingagent.
“Are you promoting my property or just sitting on it?” he demanded.
“We’ve been advertising it in the property books, online and in the newspapers from dayone,” Debra assured him. “There’s an open house there this weekend and we’ve aggressively advertised that. It seems no one is interested and I’m not sure why. The price is certainly competitive if not low for the type of property.”
“My wife is adamant about selling and the sooner the better. She wants shed of this property no matter what. It’s been five years now and we need to either sell it or give itaway!”
He remembered back to that day when he found his mother-in-law in the carriage house. Things hadn’t been the same since and he was sure it was because of some- thing that existed on the property.
Five years ago, his mother-in-law, JoAnne  was a happy go-lucky artist who didn’t actnear her seventy years. JoAnne came to visit Cory and his wife, Jill, for a few weeks and decided to set up a small art studio in the carriage house while she was there. She spent hours painting getting ready for a show at the Castle Art Gallery in northern Virginia. Theshow was featuring her work all during October and she was excited because it meant shewas finally being recognized as an artist.
One afternoon, Cory and Jill had business in town so JoAnne took the opportunity to paint without interruptions. She took a pitcher of iced tea and some cookies out to thecarriage house, turned on her favorite music and proceeded to paint. Sometime in thelate afternoon, she thought she heard muffled laughter so she went to the door thinking Jill and Cory had returned and were stopping by to check on her. When she looked out, she didn’t see any- thing except what appeared to be shadows swirling around. My goodness, my eyes are playing tricks on me, maybe I should stop for a while and have some tea, she thought with a smile. She poured a glass of tea and settled into her chair to admire the work she had done so far.
As she sat sipping her tea, the laughter grew louder and she saw the shadows fly though the wall. They swirled around the room, slowly at first and then faster and faster as they turned darker and darker. The laughter was soon almost unbearably loud and JoAnne dropped her glass of tea and put her hands to her ears to try to stop the noise. To her surprise, she was unable to get up from the chair. Frantically she looked around the room but all she could see were the shadows swirling. Soon the shadows stopped swirling and seemed to be standing beside her canvas. She couldn’t make out features, just dark images.She looked at her canvas and where her painting should have been were three grotesque faces that seemed to be in agony. One appeared to have no hair and the other two seemed to have long dark hair and beards. One of the faces with a beard had a triangle shaped scar on its cheek. Soon the look of agony on the faces was replaced by evil grins and the eyes seemed to penetrate into JoAnne’s brain. She closed her eyes tightly to blot out the horrifying images.
Once again the shadows started swirling around the room and the laughter began again, getting louder and louder. JoAnne tried to scream but no sound would come from her throat. She just sat there with her hands over her ears and her eyes clamped tightly shut.She sat for what seemed like hours and finally she seemed to pass out.
When she came to, her hands were still over her ears but the shadows and the laughter were gone. She looked out the small window and saw that it was dark outside. The room was dark with only the light of the moon to illuminate it. She saw car lights coming up the drive but was unable to move. The car pulled up to the carriage house and she heard the doors close as both Cory and Jill got out. Please come help me, she whispered but the words wouldn’t come out. She felt so helpless and was so frightened.

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