Thursday, August 15, 2019

Outcast by Rick Haynes

A fantasy tale of love, betrayal, and giants

The freedom of youth quickly disappears as a maelstrom of evil erupts. Torn between blind loyalty to his evil master and freedom, Sigbjorn chooses to escape from the clutches of Lord Uddi. With his two sword shields following, Sigbjorn leads them to Humli, a small peaceful town in the hills. Their hopes of finding a place to call home are soon dashed as a shadow grows in the east. With the vile Guths threatening to align themselves with the mysterious giants, only a tidal wave of hero’s blood can prevent the carnage.                                  

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Creativity - Your Way

Creativity - Your Way

There's the old saying that everyone has a book in them, waiting to be written. While I'm not sure that's true - not everyone wants to be a writer, after all - I think everyone has the ability to be creative. I would even go so far as to say creativity is part of who we are as human beings.

Creativity comes in many forms. Some of us are sculptors, painters, writers, poets, or song writers. There's scrapbooking, photography, crafting, woodworking ... the list goes on and on. Being creative is a way to let your mind run free. It's both relaxing and invigorating. And, even if you don't see yourself in any of the aforementioned creative categories I listed, I'm willing to bet you're still a creative person. Some people use creativty in their jobs - landscapers, architects, engineers, for example. And, then there's some common hobbies such as gardening, sewing, and knitting that require creativity.

If you've always wanted to try your hand at writing, painting, or some other artistic pursuit, what's stopping you? Don't worry about whether or not you'll be any good at it. The whole point of trying something new is to see if you like it. If you enjoy it, that's all that matters, Don't let anyone discourage you from being creative or expressing yourself.

Be creative - YOUR WAY!


To read more of Tricia Drammeh's post, please visit her blog:

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cursed Bloodline by Erika M Szabo

Romantic historical suspense 

by Erika M Szabo

I recently changed the cover because readers suggested that the story is a bit darker than the cover indicates it. Judge it for yourself. Scroll through the book presentation below, read excerpts from the book and find links.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Hometown Memories Part 3.

 Falls and Creeks 

Terry F Conrow
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  From my viewpoint nothing is more majestic than the creations of Nature.  Whether a small cascade found along a hidden creek, or a well known falls like Chitenango Falls and Montour Falls, my connection is the same. 
Montour Falls by Terry F. Conrow

Chitenango Falls by Terry F. Conrow

New York is home to many beautiful falls, most of which I actually had no idea existed.  Even these ones in my own hometown I had no knowledge of until I began this blog series.
Peggy Fly

Amanda Castilla
Jan Dainard
But, seeing them in these photos, I am still refreshed.

My attraction to water has been with me my entire life.  What is odd is that when I lived along the gulf coast in both Florida and Louisiana, my reaction was not the same.  I found going to the shore relaxing but not refreshing.  The music of the waves, watching the tide playing tag with the shore, was pleasant.  However I my soul did not seem to revitalize, my worries did not fade.  I am not certain if it was the water itself smelling like fish and leaving my skin feeling sticky and dirty or just the fact that the water was the temperature of a bath.  It just was not the same.

As a final show of beauty, I am sharing other falls from my home state.  I hope they refresh you as they do me.

Glendora Falls by Terry F. Conrow

Ithaca Taughannock Park by Heather Ratigan

Corbetts Glenn by Rogina Davis

Falls in Dansville taken by Austin Passamonte

Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca  by Heather Ratigan

Honeoye Falls by Jan Dainard

Austin Passamonte

Wolcott Falls by Terry F. Conrow

Aunt Sarah's Falls by Terry F. Conrow
Akron Falls by Terry F. Conrow

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Re-blogged by Erika M Szabo: The Warning Signs of Vanity Publishers

Wolves in sheep's clothing

I wrote this article on my website in February and I hope author and especially aspiring authors will benefit from reading about the warning signs.

"Vanity publishers contact me, and I assume they contact as many authors they can find, from time to time either on my website or on the phone (which supposedly hidden on social sites, but I guess made accessible to those who pay for the list)

​They hire great salespeople, I have to give them that!

I had a message and a pleasant female voice stated that she read my book, loved it and would like to offer a publishing contract. Not knowing where she was calling from I called her back.
"Which book did you like?" I asked.
I heard papers shuffling and keyboard clicking and then she said, "The Ancestors' Secrets trilogy."
"What did you like about the series?"
"Uhm… I really like the story and I'd like to publish it for you. It has great potentials and you will make a large profit after we publish and market your book."

It was obvious she knew nothing about my books and was trying to find a naïve and willing pigeon to make a large profit.

Lately, since self-published or first time publishing authors are more aware of the pitfalls of vanity publishers, they often pose as a traditional publisher.

When asked, they vehemently deny that they are vanity publishers.
"We don’t accept everyone who submits their manuscript." They'd say.
Yeah, right! They're hounding authors all over the net."


Saturday, August 3, 2019

August Book Fair

Online Book Fair from August 3rd to August 17th

Authors and Readers of all genres are welcome to our Book Fair Event August 3rd to August 17th.

Please add your book links to the appropriate (or closest) genre posts any time during the event with short taglines.

Pop in any time during the event to browse, buy books, and enjoy.

Hope we'll see you there!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Got That Special Formula for Writing Magic?

Beg, borrow, steal, or create your own?

Any way you look at it, it’s a tough decision if your use magic in your writing. As writers, we do our research searching for that perfect incantation, spell or ritual to use in our story, but one size does not fit all. With that we need to think which is the best kind of magic for our characters, and is this a good fit?

Magic is unique to the creator and usually is specifically designed to work for that person with which their intention has been set for such purpose. So why not make it unique to your character?Now grant you, ancient spells have been published, along with numerous books on spells from healing simple ailments to love spells. Many of these are hundreds of years old and still being used by many. New spell books have emerged with the ever-growing Wiccan popularity.

As writers, we are indeed creators of our own fictional world and so many are opting to use a hybrid form of traditional magic or create their own. You hold the power, so why not come up with your own form?

I have a few friends who are Wiccan and traditional Witches and have been told to be careful when altering or borrowing a spell for a story. The best practices are to write it in the fictional sense— or if you do borrow a real spell, change the wording so that you are not intentionally practicing real magic if you have not had a background in this area. 

Let’s face it—magic is magic and can be unpredictable. I can tell you that I learned this the hard way—I will save that for another post. (You’ve been warned).

As for my writing, I have incorporated goddess magic, high Egyptian and Greek priestess magic, Italian Strega magic and a bit of old witchcraft. 

I have borrowed from old texts, various forms of research and modified old ones. I’ve found that the best forms of magic and spells are the ones I create. I thought it would be difficult at first, but it actually has turned out to be fun! Just imagine the possibilities!

So get that pen or athame ready and have fun with it, but make sure to practice safe magic.

Here is a link to 8 rules for safe spell casting~

Check out Lorraine's magical stories on AMAZON
Book 1 & 2 are available and book 3 of the trilogy is coming soon

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Making them special


When something is a gift, you make it special.  Just a little something that sets it apart from the others.  Such is the case with this box set.  It is my gift to my daughtr, my angel in heaven.  So, these four books needed to be different from any others I publish.  With that in mind, I decided the layout of these books would be what made them unique.

The first feature I used in the books is categories.  As I mentioned before, Jasmine had sorted my poems so I decided to use her idea. I felt that by doing so it made her a part of the process which she always wanted me to do. So, the five categories became the first step in making my gift to her disinct.

In the layout of these four books, there is actually a poem before the table of contents.  An introduction to what you will find within the pages.  Readers of the e-versions may miss these poems as the books usually open at the first poem.  I don't remember why I did this, it seemed important at the time. 

The final criteria which separates these four books from my others is they are all dedicated to Jasmine.  The dedications themselves are also unique.  Each contains a poem as part of it. These I would like to share with you now.

 For Voices In My Head, the poem is Jasmine's epitaph, the hardest poem I ever had to write.

Our beautiful flower
Just beginning to bloom,
Loved and cherished,
Picked by God too soon

They Won't Shut Up was my second book and was published on her birthday. I made this a little more special by including a section of poems at the end written by her.

I miss you so much
Every day of the year
Feel your sweet hugs
Though you are not here

I give you this book
As my gift to you
The love in my heart
Will bring it to you

QUIET! Please? took many years to come out.  It should have been the third book, but actually came out after 3 others.  Somehow I just could not find the right cover to make it real.

Your belief in me
Made this dream real
A gift of love
For others to feel
Such is the magic
You poured on me
Opening my soul
For all to see

Silence was an unexpected surprise.  QUIET! Please? was supposed to be my final book but I guess Jasmine had other ideas.  Her spirit is always leading me where she thinks I should go.

Feed someone's dream
Help make it real
Encourage them
To think and feel
Use your words softly
Build confidences
Create playgrounds
Instead of fences
Dreams and visions
Need helping hands
To get us past
Our ruined plans

Poetry is in my blood, it is such a big part of me. Jasmine's Wish is my only book not found on Amazon.  It is available on Smashwords for kindle and on D2D  for all other formats.

Find Cindy on her:


Portfilio Links

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Catch 22

It used to be so easy!

Publishing and selling books was a breeze back then, when I published my first book.
I didn't have to worry about marketing because the books sold themselves.

I published a book on the two selling sites that were available and the sales started popping up on my dashboard.
I posted the new release on social sites and on my website, and readers clicked to buy the book and if they liked it, shared the link with their friends.

Now the market is saturated and it's a no-win battle for authors to show their books to readers and sell a few copies.

What happened?

  • First of all, a lot of competitors happened. Everyone and their aunt started writing and publishing. Some of the books were great, but the majority... well, isn't. It's because the selling sites didn't check quality, only proper formatting and grammar. 
  • A lot of new selling sites formed and it was great at the beginning because it gave the authors and readers more choices.
  • But in a short time, so many books were published that aggressive marketing became a necessity. 
  • Then, the pirate sites started popping up. Ruthless people stole eBooks, stripped off the protection and converted the books to PDF to offer it free on their website. Some of them thought books should be free, others used the free downloads as baits to increase their website traffic.
  • Then the "book stuffers" came into light. They published "books" that were only a few chapters and filled hundreds of pages with repetitive garbage. They added a link at the beginning with a bait or promise that led the reader to the end of the book. The selling site algorithm then picked it up as hundreds of pages read and paid the cheaters for the pages read. Some of these so called "authors" had the nerve to boast about making thousands of dollars a month by cheating.
  • On social sites my book posts used to be shared by a lot of people and had hundreds of comments, but people burned out by the book advertisements and are tired of seeing book promo posts. When they see posts shared by their friends, they block the author pages.
  • Reader groups used to be great as well. Readers were happy to interact with authors and clicked on book links to buy the books. Now, mostly authors are tooting their own horns in groups and the posts rarely viewed and commented by readers.
  • Today there are thousands of book promo and marketing sites offering services for various prices. Some work, most doesn't because readers got used to getting books for free. Either from pirate sites or from authors competing with each other and giving their books away for free.
  • Marketing? It's harder than ever. A few years back when I did 99 cents promo days quarterly for my books, I had hundreds of sales. Now I have to pay and because authors who can afford high priced marketing keep raising the bids to be seen, those of us with limited budget stay behind. 

I touched only a few obstacles in the lives of authors today. It's not easy to bring the books to the attention of readers. Small publishers are struggling along with self-published authors because you know, the big fish eats the small ones.
~Erika M Szabo

Click on the link to visit my website and read about my books.
I write speculative alternate history fiction, romantic urban fantasy, historical suspense novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 2-14 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. I also like to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Hometown Memories Part 2

The Seasons at Letchworth

Marti Hurlburt
Carol Groat
Jonathan Lee
Letchworth is a gorgeous park no matter what time of year it is.  In the spring, the water rushing from the thaw has the  tributaries displaying their seasonal waterfalls while the major ones are in their full glory. 

Jonathan Lee
Lori Naqpier
Sandy Sucher
Eli De'Enn
In the fall, nature outdoes herself.  The colors add so much to the experience of visiting the park.  It was my favorite time to go.  The colors seemed to make the entire area glow.  It felt more magical.  Each stop a new palette of color to stimulate your brain while the sounds from the rushing water cleansed your soul.

Joe Pecoraro
Carol Groat

Jeanne Mcnamara
Sandy Sucher

Fall in all its glory just sings of cosy fires and hot spicy apple cider.  It makes me think of friends.

Carol Groat

Claire Harrington

 Winter offers its own special touch to the scenery here.  Even in its icy grip, the power of the falls is evident.

John Wilber
Jonathan Lee

Katie Houseknecht

 Colleen Przybysz

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures which bring my memories of this beautiful place to mind.   

Find Cindy on her:

Portfilio Links

365 narration by Karina Kantas

Friday, July 26, 2019

The ToiBox of Serials 1.2: Heart of the Golden Stag

Over on my personal blog, The ToiBox of Words, I’ve experimented with short fiction quite a bit. I’ve entered many blog writing contests and sometimes, just played around with it. In most cases, I’ve found myself expanding the stories I started on my blog and turning them into something more. All the stories in this series will be a product of what I started on my blog and then later added to in private. I will be sharing these stories in parts and encourage readers to leave positive or critical feedback (rude comments will be deleted). Perhaps, one day I’ll publish another personal anthology with these. Enjoy.

Side note: This story has never actually appeared on the ToiBox blog but was derived from a contest I entered and did not win. Still, the submission process was a good learning experience for me. This story is a retelling/reimagining with a twist. 

Heart of the Golden Stag, part 2
Read part 1 here.
The giggles and snaps of children playing in the alley below jolted Jamie’s body forward as dream and reality collided. Jamie rushed to the window, heart pounding and sweat dripping from her bushy unkempt brow. Below, little boys kicked a can back and forth between them as Jamie fought back tears. What a sad and stupid girl I can be sometimes. Shrugging her shoulders, she reached into the worn pockets of her men’s trousers to pull out a coin.
Tossing it down to the boys below, she called out in a gruff, “Bread and tea, young ones.”
The smaller of the two boys caught the coin, as usual, and then pulled the other along before replying, “Right away, Mr. Jaime. Be up soon.”
With the boys off to fetch her breakfast, Jamie quickly attended to her daily costuming. First, a few snips of hair along her forehead and at the nape of her neck. Then, a quick wash followed by fresh linen wraps to bind her breasts.
After chatting with the boys over tea, Jamie went to polishing her shoes with the intention of mulling over the day’s objectives. She’d lined up three marks the day before and was due for a good payday, yet her mind kept drifting back to her childhood. With her seventeenth birthday approaching, Jamie was plagued by nightmares and daydreams of the day she left home to become a boy.
She and her twin brother were turning twelve. Her older sister was a weeping doll, all dressed and made-up, in the corner sobbing through handkerchiefs as her stern and wrinkled betrothed pressed his hands upon her shoulder in mock-sympathy. Jamie watched the spectacle with dread, knowing that would be her fate upon her fifteenth birthday while her brother sniggered. He’d be heading off to the academy soon, to be educated and learn a trade.
Face warmed by the flickering candles, Jaime kept her eyes closed even after her brother blew out the flames as smoke wrapped around her head. She couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes and say goodbye to her childhood. From here on, her days would be filled with learning all the ways a wife should keep a husband happy. If that was love, Jamie wanted no part of it, yet she hoped there was more to it. She hoped to find an unconventional man not bound by Northern traditions.
With the snap of her father’s fingers, Jamie popped her eyes open to see him holding tightly onto the belt resting around his waist. Knowing he wouldn’t dare punish her in front of company, and on her birthday no less, Jamie seized the moment and ran into the woods, calling for a game of hide-and-seek. Only, she never hid.
Jamie grabbed the bundle she’d concealed days before and continued to run. She kept running until there was no chance of being able to turn back. 
To be continued...
Heart of the Golden Stag 2018 Copyright © Toinette J. Thomas 

Find out more about me, my work, and my inspiration at the following links:

Amazon | Goodreads The ToiBox of Words | YouTube | See a list of my other posts here.