New Release: Natalie and the Nerd, by @Amy_Sparling

Amy Sparling has a new book out today! You’ve seen my reviews of a few of her books, so you know I’ve enjoyed her work. This new book is another that I’m looking forward to add to my Summer Reading TBR.

And, Amy has something special going on during release week. From May 30th until June 5th she’s having an “Instagram Blitz”. It’s a newer concept, so you should get in on the fun before everyone starts doing it! If you take part, you can be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book. For some more info, click HERE. And for more info on the book itself, please continue down the page…

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Natalie’s school work is the last priority on her long list of things to worry about. Since her parent’s divorce, her mom’s boutique—their only source of income—is about to go under, and Natalie spent all summer and most of her senior year trying to save the little shop. Now that she’s in danger of failing high school, the assistant principal (who happens to be her evil step mother) is making Natalie join daily tutoring sessions with Jonah Garza, the school’s valedictorian.

Taking math lessons from the rich nerdy boy is the last thing Natalie wants to do, but Jonah needs these community service hours to get into Harvard, so he’s not going to give up on her. In addition to working at the boutique and studying with Jonah, Natalie’s lifelong crush just started paying attention to her. She’s being pulled in so many directions, she doesn’t think to question why the son of the biggest business mogul in town is suddenly trying to win her affections.

When her crush betrays her and the store goes into foreclosure, Natalie has to choose between fighting harder to keep her mom’s dream alive, or fighting to pass high school and start a future of her own.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon

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About the Author:

Amy Sparling is the author of The Summer Unplugged Series, Deadbeat & other awesome books for younger teens. She also writes books for older teens under the name Cheyanne Young.

Find out more:

#NewRelease: Lana’s Ex Prom Date, by @Amy_Sparling

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Lana Clarke just got asked out by one of the hottest guys in school. Toby Fitzgerald is undeniably gorgeous, but his charismatic personality makes Lana the envy of every girl at West Canyon High School. Senior prom is right around the corner, and although Lana had planned on a stag outing with her friends, Ashlyn and Bennet, Toby asks her to be his date in the most romantic way ever. Her friends are bummed, but support her anyway. After all, Toby Fitzgerald is the boyfriend everyone wants.

Lana’s life is now perfect—until Toby breaks up with her three days before prom.

But he’s a nice guy, and he still wants to take her to prom as a friend. After all, they’d already rented a limo and picked out Lana’s dress together. Her friends think she shouldn’t ditch them for a guy who ditched her, but when she discovers Toby’s secret, she’ll have to choose between lying to her friends, or lying to the whole school.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon

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About the Author:

Amy Sparling is the author of The Summer Unplugged Series, Deadbeat & other awesome books for younger teens. She also writes books for older teens under the name Cheyanne Young.

Find out more:

#Review: In Every Way, by @Amy_Sparling

in-every-wayTitle: In Every Way
Author: Amy Sparling
Rating: 5/5 stars

“It’s the start of summer and Josh Graham will be working at his parent’s surf shop. When his best friend Colby goes on vacation, Josh is stuck working with Bryce—and all of Bryce’s terrible ideas for summer. They make a list of what the “perfect girlfriend” would be like, and now they plan to find her. It shouldn’t be too hard, since Josh is one of the hottest, most popular guys in school. Right?

Bess Navarre would rather read a book than go outside. She’s chubby, dorky, and a self-proclaimed loser. But when her grandmother volunteers her to work at a boutique on the beach, Bess has to comply, no matter how humiliating it is. Bikinis and Bess do not go together, and now she feels even dorkier than ever.

When Bess and Josh’s paths collide, sparks fly. But it won’t be that easy. Bryce wants Josh to date a supermodel. And although Bess might just fit all of the things on Josh’s list, she won’t give herself a chance to figure it out. (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve never read Sparling’s work before now, and I’m glad I started with this book. The description is what grabbed me. It sounded like a quick, light beach read of a romance. With summer winding down, the setting is something that definitely caught my eye, but there was more to the story that kept me reading.

I haven’t read many books set in that in-between time after high school graduation and before college starts. It’s a strange summer in limbo and a lot happens in an adolescence’s life. I enjoyed that aspect of this story. Both Josh and Bess grow over the period of time this book takes place. They’re done being high schoolers, but not quite adults. There’s young love, but maturity between both at times. It’s a fresh take on romances for me.

Sparling also touches on bullying, popularity, and self esteem issues in the book. Both are very real for the age group of these characters to deal with. They make the characters who they are, while at the same time the book isn’t bogged down by drilling these into the reader’s head. It’s there, it’s important, but the characters slowly overcome issues and I enjoyed how the author did it. And even in the end, like in real life, things don’t go away magically. People, and the characters in this book, need time to work through things.

In Plain Sight is a book that deals with Josh and Bess’ friends and if it’s anything like In Every Way was, I know I’m going to enjoy it. This book was a great way to end my summer reading. Maybe I can start my fall with more from the author.

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You can grab this book from:

Amazon

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About the Author:

Amy Sparling is the author of The Summer Unplugged Series, Deadbeat & other awesome books for younger teens. She also writes books for older teens under the name Cheyanne Young.

Find out more:

Guest Post by @AuthorLHerman: The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

a guest post by Louise Herman

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Hello everyone, and I hope you are enjoying the week.

I have decided to take a week’s respite from writing the third book in my YA urban fantasy series, Split Blood, to catch up with author interview and guest post requests. I am looking forward to discussing my thoughts and opinions on the economics of self-publishing a bookas well as giving some advice on what aspects of self-publishing is essential to a budget and what I have experienced as a waste of time and money.

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Why did I decide to Self-Publish my books?

I would love to say it was a choice, however, after I sent a number of emails to literary agents and received no replies, I decided to close my eyes and jump straight into the self-publishing ocean.

It was nerve-racking at first because I had no idea about self-publishing but after a lot of research and learning from my mistakes along the way, I am enjoying the self-publishing journey.

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What are the common misconceptions of self-publishing?

I think the biggest misconception about self-publishing is anyone can publish a successful book in today’s technological world.

For example, you have a great idea for a story, you get so engrossed in writing it, you take the leap and self-publish it on the internet and then you sit back and wait for the big bucks to start rolling in, along with literary agents fighting to represent you, right?

Not quite!

The reality is only a handful of self-published authors break even (the total cost of publishing against the profits of the sales, after each website has taken its percentage) and if you do not have a regular presence on social media sites then you could find it difficult to be seen and network with influential people who can help potential readers find your books.

These people are bloggers and reviewers.

I have built up a good relationship with many bloggers and have added them to my list of ‘Go to People’ when I need to do author interviews (to discuss my past, present and future. This is not all about promoting my work. It is for potential readers to get to know the person behind the books), Guest Posts (topics related to writing that are important to me) and Spotlights (a full discussion about myself, my work and upcoming projects).

It’s also fun to communicate with these bloggers because it is a two way process. They advertise an author on their blog and social media sites, therefore, as an author, I also do the same (I will post the promotional item on my blog, which advertises their blog to my followers, and on my social media sites).

However, not all bloggers work the same way.

Some specialise purely in reviews but some are open to other forms of promotion.

I have found that trying to get reviews can be quite hard because many are overwhelmed with requests and often close their review request channels until they can catch up with the backlog.

While others will state they do not accept requests from self-published authors, with some going as far as to state that they have a problem with the quality of the self-published books they have previously read.

I used to find this slightly insulting but when you take into consideration that they are doing these reviews for free, they should be allowed to have an opinion on what types of books they want to review.

NOTE: Reviews are usually free and reviewers usually have full or part time jobs but review in their spare time. This means try to give at least three months’ notice to your reviewer. If you are asked to pay for a review, try somewhere else! Not only is it slightly frowned upon in the self-publishing industry but it’s just an unnecessary, extra cost to your ever rising budget!

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What are the advantages of self-publishing?

I like that I have the opportunity to learn about online publishing first hand and that I have the chance to communicate with a range of people with similar interests.

I learn something new every week to help enhance my writing and advertising skills and I really enjoy having full control over every aspect of publishing my books.

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What are the challenges of self-publishing?

Although I enjoy having full control over publishing my books, I do sometimes think that it would be nice to have a literary agent to help take on some of the advertising tasks because having full time job, restricts the time I can dedicate to writing and sometimes the advertising infringes on the writing time.

I have also found that it takes a lot of work and effort to gain a strong following. I write Young Adult Urban Fantasy novels, which is a popular genre and I have found that it is extremely difficult to get new followers interested in looking at my new pieces of work if there are no reviews to give them an inclination of how the book has been received by other readers.

There will be potential readers and followers who will read the synopsis and give the books a try but there are some who use reviews to help them decide whether or not it is the kind of story they would enjoy reading.

It is the latter type of follower that bad reviews can affect your potential sales.

Some reviews that are lower than five stars can be disheartening to an author but if they offer constructive criticism (e.g. “there was too much fighting in it”) then it could be a case of what one person dislikes about the storyline, another reader maybe looking for this type of drama.

However, if they give you one star because they “just couldn’t read it because you should never write again”, it offers nothing to a potential reader about the story and many would not take this type of review seriously.

And lastly, I have given out copies of my eBooks for a review in the past, only to be disappointed to never receive one.

It is disheartening but all these things are part of the learning process and have helped me focus on what works and avoid what wastes time and money.

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What are the costs to publish your own book?

Here are the basics of what it cost me to self-publish my first book (The Orcus Games: Blood Moon):

  • Book cover artist –  This is difficult because it depends on the type of cover you want? You can get book cover images from a variety of stock photography sites and prices vary on each site. For a basic book cover with an image that does not need to be edited and text, I would estimate between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Proof-reader or Copy Editor –  Between £600 (~$850) and £1,000 (~$1418) (depending on word count, how many hours it takes them to work on the book and how much work the book needs).
  • eBook Conversation Costs  If you cannot convert your eBooks yourselves then it might be worth getting a professional to do this for you. I convert my books myself but I have received quotes in the past for this type of work and the prices were between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Distribution costs –  (for reviewers who only accept hard copies): I have heard that some websites do give a small discount to authors who buy their own books but I am yet to find these sites. Therefore you would be paying the same price as a customer to purchase your paperback books to send to reviewers. Many authors buy in bulk for this purpose and can spend between £599 (~$849) and £1099 (~$1558) for an order of 100 books.
  • URL for website Having your own website is essential for an author and you can buy domain names from nearly anywhere on the internet at the moment.

I have a website through Fat Cow and bought my URL through them as soon as I set it up.

It cost me approximately £8.99 (~$12.75) to buy the domain name + £60 (~$85) for the year (with added extras).

However, different extensions can either increase or decrease the cost (e.g. com, co.uk, org. Etc.)

  • Publishing sites percentages
    • Amazon – There are two royalty options. (correct as of January 2016)
      • Option 1: Keep 70% of the royalties. However this option is only available to books sold in a specific territory of countries set out by Amazon Kindle. Any books sold outside of these regions will give you a 35% royalty.
      • Option 2: Keep 35% of the royalties. This is the standard royalty rate.
    • Smashwords – (correct as of January 2016)
      • “Smashwords authors and publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works. Net proceeds to author = (sales price minus PayPal payment processing fees)*.85 for sales at Smashwords.com, our retail operation. Authors receive 70.5% for affiliate sales. Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and smaller retailers.  Sales originated by retailers earn authors/publishers 60% of the list price.”
    • Lulu – (correct as of January 2016)
      • Lulu prides itself on working on a 90/10 royalty split, therefore if you have published your book after 6th September 2011 and it is priced at $1.24 or higher then you can qualify for a 90% royalty revenue.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to self-publish their first book?

There might be something I have missed out because every week I am learning something new about the self-publishing world but so far I have eight tips that would help a new author get started:

  • Test it out on free sites like Wattpad first to see if there is an audience for it and find Beta readers in these groups to help highlight elements that may need extra attention (e.g. such as continuity issues, plot holes, creating believable characters or scenes, etc.)
  • Build up a following and make amendments based on the feedback
  • Get a professional book cover artist (unless you are good with graphics software or you are a good artist)
  • Get your work proofread or copy edited
  • Publish on the main publishing sites
  • Build up a group of regular reviewers
  • Be active on social media (not just to talk about the book but share your interests and get involved in group discussions)
  • Remember success doesn’t happen overnight (it could take years), so continue with your passion and never give up!

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About the author

Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com

Find out more:

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Novels in Verse

I can’t remember if I’ve brought this to the blog in the past or not, so I’m going to assume it was just on Facebook and/or Twitter. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about VERSE NOVELS!

What’s a verse novel? Maybe you know them as “novels in verse”. There are a few terms to use, but they all boil down to one obvious thing: They are novels written in verse (poetry) instead of prose (what everything else is written in).

Why do I enjoy them so much? That should be somewhat obvious. I’m a poet. I enjoy poetry. And you also know I enjoy novels in general. Once I discovered the magic of joining the two forms, I was hooked.

I first read a verse novel back in grade school. It was Karen Hesse’s OUT OF THE DUST. I remember talking about the fact that it’s written in blank verse, but that fact dissolved in my memory shortly after. I remember enjoying the story, but that was all. That is, until I rediscovered the form a few years back in Sonya Sones’ writing. I found out about her book WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW. I read it. Enjoyed it. Got hooked. I’ve since read all of her books (except one, because I don’t want to be without more of Sones to read) and from there, branches out into other authors work.

I have to admit that I’ve stuck mostly to Young Adult verse novels. It’s not completely by choice, though, partly it is. There seems to be a larger amount of verse novels for YA readers out there, compared to those for “adult” readers. I also think it’s a marketing thing because I’ve discovered a few adult titles are marketed as being poetry, but lacking take about the story aspect. Probably a few reasons for this, but I won’t speculate here. But back to my mention of YA novels. I think most of my recent YA reading has actually been done with verse novels. YA is already a pretty accessible type of book for anyone to get into, but adding in the verse form makes it even more so. And not in a bad way. I think it makes them “easier” to read while opening the story up to having a deeper message, emotional response, etc. Verse forces the author to be limited in word choice (in most cases), and I feel this makes every word used count that much more. The books may be fast reads, but I feel that I’ve gotten more out of them at times than prose novels because of the lack of words and focus on what really needs to be said.

On a less critical, and more fun note, I also like when authors play with the visual form in their verse novels. One author who does this in many different ways in all her novels is Ellen Hopkins. Her text isn’t restricted to the left side of the page. It’ll jump to the right, middle, and everywhere in between. The text placement lends to the reading of the lines and what’s being conveyed. Some of the connection between text and text placement can go over my head, even, but I don’t think her books would be as powerful if they were all left-aligned. That works for other authors, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. But at times, poetry needs to push itself across a page, be different, and stand out.

I hope I’m not alone in my love of verse novels. I do know a few of my readers have experience with them. Maybe some of you haven’t explored that part of the book world yet. I’m here to help. I’d like to close this post out with a list of verse novels I’ve enjoyed. Some of them are as recent as this week…and I’m planning on grabbing a few more from the library soon. They’re addicting!

Another HUGE Sale on @thesmboyce’s #EpicFantasy series, The Grimoire Saga

Back in August, S.M. Boyce held her The Grimoire Saga Epic Deals Week. This week, she’s decided to give readers some EPIC deals again!

Just like the deals a few weeks ago, Lichgates is FREE for a limited time. However, if you want all 4 books for one low price, you can’t go wrong with the Grimoire Saga Complete Box Set which is only $2.99 today and tomorrow. (Trust me, that’s a STEAL of a deal…oops, that wasn’t too lame, right? But really it’s more than reasonable for such a great series.) The box set includes Lichgates, Treason, Heritage and Illusion. Just remember, though, after the first two days, that price will increase daily. The best time to take advantage of the box set sale is TODAY and TOMORROW. But if you end up missing it, each sale price is still a great deal, if you ask me.

Here’s a little about Lichgates and the series as a hole if you haven’t read my ravings about the books 😉

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LichgatesKara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict – a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.

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Grimoire CompleteExperience the haunting world of Ourea from the beginning as Kara Magari uncovers a secret door in the middle of the forest—a portal that transports her to Ourea, the hidden world full of terrifying things. This epic series challenges traditional notions of good and evil, pits monsters against each other, unravels the secrets of magic, and showcases the power buried within us all.

From betrayal to seduction, romance to murder—the Grimoire Saga has it all.

This set includes:
Lichgates: Grimoire Saga #1
Treason: Grimoire Saga #2
Heritage: Grimoire Saga #3
Illusion: Grimoire Saga #4

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Need to see the dates for the sales again? Check out the graphic below. Remember today and tomorrow are the BEST days to take advantage of!

Grab Lichgates now!

Grab the Grimoire Saga Complete Box Set now!

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Don’t have a Kindle?

No problem! You can still participate in the Grimoire Saga Epic Deals Week and read these books on your favorite device. I know many people are starting to read on phones and tablets, so keep this in mind. I seem to be one of a dying breed still reading on an e-ink Kindle 😉

Kindle books (and any Mobi file) can be read with the Kindle App available on most devices. For more info, visit Amazon’s App Page.

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About the Author:

Boyce 300International Amazon Bestseller. Fantasy Author. Twitter addict. Book Blogger. Geek. Sarcastic. Gooey. Odd. Author of the action-packed Grimoire Saga.

S.M. Boyce is a novelist who loves ghosts, magic, and spooky things. She prefers loose-leaf tea, reads far too many books, and is always cold. She’s married to her soul mate and couldn’t be happier. Her B.A. in Creative Writing qualifies her to serve you french fries.

Boyce likes to update her blog a few times each week so that you have something to wake you up in the morning.

Connect with the Author:

Website | Facebook | Twitter| Google+ | Pinterest | Youtube

Goodreads Page | Amazon Page

#Review: Travel Glasses, by @ChessDesalls

Travel GlassesTitle: Travel Glasses (The Call to Search Everywhen #1)
Author: Chess Desalls
Rating: 3/5 stars

“Calla Winston’s mobile devices sit in a corner of her room, covered in dust. Weeks ago, she shared photos and laughs with her best online friend. Now, after having felt the sting of betrayal, she prefers being hidden and friendless. She equates privacy with security and technology with pain.

Then she meets Valcas, an otherworldly time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. When an ethereal being knocks Calla to the ground near her family’s lakeside cottage, Valcas uses the Travel Glasses to help her escape. He offers his further protection in exchange for a promise. Intrigued by Valcas and the possibility of time travel, Calla accepts. That is until she learns that his search for her was no mere coincidence.

Calla sets off on her own, taking the Travel Glasses with her. Torn between searching for her estranged father and reuniting with the rest of her family, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas’ past and motivations. The Travel Glasses take Calla’s mistrust of technology to all new levels. But without them, she’ll never make it back home. With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

The Call to Search Everywhen is a serial series of novel-length installments. Travel Glasses is YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. It’s a thought-provoking narrative about trust, relationships, reality and illusion.” (description from Goodreads)

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Overall, I enjoyed what I read in Chess Desalls first The Call to Search Everywhen novel, Travel Glasses. It wasn’t the easiest book to follow, but it shows potential for future books, and that’s a good indicator for the start of a series.

As with all books dealing with time travel, it’s not always easy to keep the story straight, whether you’re the writer or the reader. In this case, I think it the traveling aspect of the story was a bit confusing. At the same time, the main character was just as confused as the reader. This may or may not have aided in being a little forgiving on how much the story jumped around without trying to build a world around the “where” and “when” was taking place. I’m hoping that with the second book, things will be a little easier to follow and to enjoy because the characters have revealed more toward the latter end of this book.

The characters in this book also suffered a bit. While I was able to sympathize with many of them, and grew to like some, there were times when they felt a bit flat. And if not flat, they felt breezed over at times. I would have liked a little more attention given to them to help ground me in the story that was all over the place (literally, since there’s a lot of traveling taking place). Still, by the end, I think I got a better understanding of the main characters and also a clear direction to where the series will go. It just took longer that expected to get to that attitude toward the book.

As I stated before, I did enjoy this book. I feel that I could end up enjoying book two, Insight Kindling, much more and in turn reading further into the series as they’re released.

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Want a copy of this book? You can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks

If you’ve already read this one and want to jump into book two, you can grab a copy from:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

Hi!  I recently authored the first installment of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. The second book, Insight Kindling, is up next!

I’m a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly young adult fiction.  But there’s nothing quite like a good fairy tale or fable.

Over the years, I’ve held various occupational roles, each requiring different styles of writing.  Creative writing is my favorite.  :o)  When I’m not writing I enjoy traveling, reading and trying to stay in tune on my flute.

Find out more: