Wednesday, December 6, 2023

IWSG December 2023


IWSG is a monthly blog hop. You can sign up or find the full list of participants at this site. This group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and runs with a full list of volunteers, including volunteers for each month. Thank you, C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's optional question is: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

My answer: I think online reviews are for both authors and readers. I think most online reviews read as subjective to a reader's experiences and values, and because of this, I rarely leave reviews for books I cannot give a nice review for at an online site. If I were to write an academic review, then I would handle the whole topic differently. Online review sites are not remotely academic.

I have given a handful of highly negative reviews, but it's rare and usually has to do with negative content in a book - for instance, the renewed popularity of Stephen Lawhead bothers me, because in his book Hood, his "hero" slapped his love interest and then justified it with an excuse that sounded like the gaslighting of a narcissist - it was truly sickening to see the justification of abuse in a book touted by Christian fantasy enthusiasts so I did leave some comments at online review sites to warn readers.

However, even this review could be seen as subjective and a reflection of my own values, as many reviews left online truly are. When I support a book or like a book, I review it and give it a kind review. If I don't like a book, I typically don't review it, or I don't do more than give it a few stars on Goodreads and move onward. Life is short, there are massive amounts of books in the universe, and I would normally rather spread cheer and kindness than tear a fellow author apart on an online forum.

If you really want to read my scathing academic reviews of literature, I have some old college essays I could pull off one of my shelves. I did not enjoy writing them, but I did what I needed to do get top grades in my classes.

The interesting aspect of negative reviews online is that they can actually help authors. Amazon would not share any of my books in the "customers also bought" section until I had 25 reviews on one of my books. For over a year, my first book languished with 24 reviews. I begged family members and friends for that 25th review. Instead, I received a negative one-star review from a stranger in the UK who couldn't be bothered to write a review without typos, but that one-star review brought me to 25 reviews, and suddenly, my book started selling more because it was featured in the "customers also bought" section. So, thank you, reader who hated my book, whoever you are. You made my year that year. :)

It's wild to know that books with both positive and negative reviews generally sell better than those with only positive reviews (there are studies about this, beyond my experience with it), but I still do not like to write negative reviews most of the time.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group community has been a blessing for more than a decade and I am glad to be a part of it. We come together to carol our delight and dismay on our writing each and every month, giving each other a bit of our journeys and a bit of courage. I am thankful for those who have reviewed my books, and now you know, if you need to give me a negative review, I may not love it, but I will be okay with it. Any review = more sales. :) 

Community News

In light of our giving community, I want to share the latest book of an author who has been highly encouraging, and who I met in our group.

CONDUCTION by Tara Tyler

Sci Fi Detective Thriller or Techno Thriller

Book 4 in Pop Travel series

Blurb: In 2085, cutting edge technology is the most valuable currency, and the black tech market offers high pay-offs for diamond-level code. Jared Nertz is an easy-going ex-juicer gone legit working for Pop Travel Technologies, and just when he finishes his long-awaited Conduction project--the process of storing data in the brain--someone immediately steals it and kills his mentor, framing him for the murder. Now it's up to his lawyer/wife Miki and their resourceful friends, Geri and Cooper to prove Jared's innocence by recovering the stolen tech before the criminal killer sells it. But that's only the beginning, as they discover a darker threat when they dig deeper into the case.

You can find it here: Conduction at Amazon

Congratulations, Tara!!!

News for me:

I'll be back for at least one more post this month to celebrate Tara's book, and another one to celebrate CJ Malicci's latest book. 

I will be taking part in the Indie Book Blitz over New Year's Weekend on December 30th with the Fantasy Panel for Middle Grade and YA authors. That will take place on Katherine D. Graham's Youtube Channel. 

I am back to building Resonance on Kindle Vella. Episodes 20-22 are live this week. The first three episodes are free, if you are curious. 

Also, I have books in two Book Funnel promos going on right now:

Friday, November 17, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving! And What's Next?


I love Thanksgiving for one main reason: I love the act of giving thanks.

That's it. The turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie are all extras. The family time is extra. The family games we play are extra.

I love the act of giving thanks. I love the challenge of it, and the joy of it - once I get going.

When I taught at a homeschool cooperative in the past, I gave out Thanksgiving Writing Prompts, challenging students to write out things they are thankful for with every letter of the alphabet, or every letter of their names.

So, this is my challenge and hope for each of us, that we can find things, ideas, people, and places to be thankful for this week. Name 20 books you're thankful for. Name 10 things you've written that you're thankful for. Name 10 objects in the room with you that you feel thankful for. Name 26 people you feel thankful for, and maybe coordinate their names/nicknames with the alphabet. :) These are just ideas. I find that thanksgiving challenges help me to break out of my mental sludge that forces my gaze toward the ground. Thanksgiving helps me lift my head up.

I hope that if you read this, you have hope, joy, peace, love, and thanksgiving in your life.

What's New/Next for Me?

I am working through all the notes I took at 20 Books Vegas and at Write in the Harbor. The amount of learning and the excellence of the teachers has given me a lot to consider as a writer. I'll be bringing out more in future weeks from those experiences.

I am starting a Vlog on Youtube. I thought about starting a podcast without video - that would be easier, not to show my face, but I decided to go full Vlog. After years of thinking of this and holding back due to fear of failure, I decided to just start.

Find my Youtube Channel here: The Truth About Storytelling. The first video is my rough start video. The second will air this coming Friday and be all about my long, learning journey to discovering the necessity of author branding and what I'm doing about it. My hope is that authors find these videos entertaining, informative, and maybe a little encouraging - if I can do this, you can. :)

Events the last days of November:

Winterfest at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington. I'll be there, selling and signing books. Please come by and say hello if you're there. :)

I'm part of a new Sword and Sorcery Book Funnel. So many books, so many authors, so many adventures! Check out your next new books!

For a limited time, I'll be a part of the BlackFriday/Cyber Monday SFF MegaSale only November 19th-28th! 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Belated IWSG Day, November 2023

Happy IWSG Day

 Yikes! I missed yesterday! 

Many thanks to all who keep everything running smoothly - especially Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those who co-hosted yesterday: PJ Colando, Jean Davis, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diedre Knight!

This month's question: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated?


Due to my participation in NaNoWriMo, teaching at Write in the Harbor 2023, and attending 20 Books Vegas, I completely spaced on my post yesterday.

And yes, I have participated in the past.

And now, I must go, write and prepare for the coming events. 

So, one day late, I wish you all a Happy IWSG day! I hope this month brings you much fruitful writing and much to give thanks for in your life!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Book Cover Reveal for Dark Blade: Forged!

 I'm excited to share my book cover for Dark Blade: Forged, Fantasy Adventure for New Adults+ forthcoming September 2024!

Many thanks to @miblart for the awesome cover!

An ancient blade buried deep within an abandoned tower of the Watch Guard calls for justice and someone to wield its power.

Dan Torren, Junior Lord of Septily, wants to break free from his father's political machinations and fight with honor for the Watch Guard, a multi-kingdom organization that Keeps Watch over all of the known world of Aramatir.

Unfortunately, Dan is saddled with training partners who hinder him: his country's prince in exile and another young man who would rather be a Shepherd. With recruits from many kingdoms, including beautiful swords women, pirates, and a griffin, the training is intense.

With human trafficking on the rise, the world of Aramatir cries out for justice. King Xandros, Sword Master Theran, and Shepherd Jordan hatch a plan to catch the culprits, but even they are not prepared for the treachery they will find.

Dan may want to become a simple swordsman, fighting among allies to protect his world, but supernatural events work to forge a path he can't resist as he battles his own inner darkness.

Pre-order Dark Blade: Forged for Kindle at Amazon or read the early book as a Kindle Vella serialization. Please note: the book will contain bonus content not in the serial format.

If you would like to help spread the word about Dark Blade: Forged, please feel free to use the picture above, the synopsis, and the pre-order link! Please tag me in any posts on IG, Facebook, or X. :) 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

IWSG October 4, 2023: Stardust, not Code Will Win Out


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Natalie Aguirre, Kim Lajevardi, Debs Carey, Gwen Gardner, Patricia Josephine, and Rebecca Douglass!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

October 4 question: The topic of AI writing has been heavily debated across the world. According to various sources, generative AI will assist writers, not replace them. What are your thoughts?

Will AI take over creative writing?

Why not? 
Honestly (looks both ways here), I decided to try ChatGPT just to see what it would spit out when I entered in various prompts. I've tried short stories, I've tried a blurb for one of my books, and I've asked it questions about philosophy, just to see what it would say. 

One thing I have noticed is that it tends to repeat specific phrases and words, possibly even worse than I do. It writes purple prose with a specific rhythm to the words. While I would say that it's possible for it to learn several styles of writing, it is only putting out one style of writing right now, no matter what you put into it. It also doesn't understand emotional emphasis. 

I do not think it will overcome human creativity. Even if it starts to go that direction, I believe we will see more restrictions put into place in all areas of the arts. I think it will end up being used as a tool and not as a replacement for good storytelling. 

That's my gut feeling, but it's also based on what I've seen. I have read completely AI driven stories by other authors on purpose, just to see what I thought and there is a noticeable difference between AI writing and human writing. 

Again, I will admit I tinkered with it, but for anything it produced, I spent hours revising so it sounded more like me, and less bot-boring.

I hope we can all start to see that difference. If there's no market for it, it will dry up. 
If restrictions are put into place, it will dry up more. 

So, this is what I'm telling myself and all my writing friends: 
Go, write, be creative, be funky, be weird, and explore your humanity. Your writing will shine because of it. We are God-breathed stardust, not merely code. 


I was invited to take part in the Creative Colloquy Crawl as one of the family-friendly authors for their MG and YA night, last night. Not many attended the reading, but those of us who did had a good time last night.

I am taking part in two different Bookfunnel promos for October:

 The SciFi and Fantasy MegaSale 

Spellbinding Stories - the Vella October Reads

Happy IWSG!