Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Cover Is Not The Book

                          For all Authors and Readers

From Mary Poppins Returns
Song she is singing at the Royal Doulton Music Hall

He said a cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
'Cause under the covers one discovers
That the king may be a crook
Chapter titles are like signs
And if you read between the lines
You'll find your first impression was mistook
For a cover is nice, but a cover is not the book

Remember this song. Don't judge a book by its cover! You might miss out on a great book! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Guest Blogger: R.B. Shifman

                                                  SPOILERS ahead for Book 1

Love’s Heavy Spell: Savage Spells Book 2 by [Shifman, R.B.]

Please tell us about your latest book.

SPOILERS ahead for Book 1, “Everyone Leaves This Place.” If you haven’t read Savage Spells Book 1, “Everyone Leaves This Place,” then you should STOP reading this interview and read that book. Book 1 has received favorable reviews, including from about a couple of dozen readers, an award-winning author, a professional review site, and Sue Naegle, the Chief Content Officer of Annapurna Pictures, a major motion picture/entertainment company.

For those who have already read Book 1, let me tell you some about Savage Spells Book 2, entitled ‘Love’s Heavy Spell.’ The book picks up where Book 1 left off, in fall 2019, with Evee and Mark both attending college at the University of Miami.

Evee, of course, has been freed from the evil witch’s body, and she takes a breath, expecting college life in Miami to simmer down. But then tragedy strikes close to home, and a bizarre coven calls on her to help fight for their cause. I don’t want to say more about this and spoil the fun.

Evee’s new calling puts a strain on her relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, and, even worse, thrusts her into a cat-and-mouse game with a narcissistic, billionaire witch.

In this mystical story of love and loss, Evee must figure out how to stop this wicked witch from corrupting a budding AI technology with dark magic, or she could become his next victim.

What can we expect from you in the future?

This book is the second in my Upper YA/NA series, Savage Spells, in which I plan to write at least one more novel. The series will at least be a trilogy, probably ending there. The series becomes darker and more deliciously devious and mystical with each novel. In Book 3, as in all third parts, there will be even more action and mysteries revealed, again expanding the mythology surrounding Evee Salazar and the ‘Witches’ of America.
Later this year, I’ll also be starting another series, probably a trilogy, for Upper MG/YA. It’s still tightly under wraps. The only thing I’ll say is that it’s SWEEEEET!

How do we find out about you and your books?

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing? What kind of research do you do?

I’ll answer this for Book 2. The book is alternately set in the Philadelphia, PA area (Philly and fictional Dairytown, which is inspired by Doylestown, PA) and the Miami area (Coral Gables, Little Havana, South Beach, etc.). A lot of it is inspired by real places. For instance, Miley Arculano’s apartment might look a bit look my first apartment when I moved to Philly thirty years ago. The University of Miami where Evee and Mark go to school is an alt-world college (e.g., Evee lives in Hetch Residence Hall, which, in real world, is Hecht Residence), but it is similar in some ways to the real thing. There are a bunch of places and people within the Miami portions of the book that are drawn from places I’ve been to and people I’ve met. But, it’s all fictional in the end.
Also, there are a couple of scenes in the book related to business, including how Marketing creates and tests concepts, which will be important in Book 3 (again, I don’t want to give away too much). I drew upon my decades in business to write these scenes.
My daughter attends college for Computer Science (CS), and I used what I know about her program to fill in some of the blanks regarding Evee’s knowledge and other characters’ knowledge of CS and programming.
The idea that one of the smartest kids in the world (Parker Twiddle, also a character in one of my short stories) comes from Dairytown sounds fantastic. But, recently, my real-life hometown of Doylestown, PA produced one of the smartest kids in the world when it comes to puzzle solving. And, as everybody knows, Evee Salazar is a phenomenal singer; correspondingly, there are so many young people with angelic singing voices in Doylestown, it makes me wonder if there is magic at work here (FYI, the pop singer, Alecia Moore, a.k.a., Pink is from Doylestown, too). I need to stress though, my characters—their appearance, behaviors, flaws, etc.—are FICTIONAL. But some very high-level traits, such as intelligence or singing ability, have been inspired by real-life people.
Growing up in South Florida/Miami, I had friends in the Cuban American community. Given this represents an important part of Evee’s heritage, I wanted to portray the Cuban American community, including Evee’s ties to this culture, accurately and positively in the novel. I drew upon my experiences in Miami. And I also called on a good friend of mine, Teresa Garcia, mostly to check my Spanish, which is sprinkled in some of the chapters. Teresa also helped me pin down certain details (e.g., what types of shoes would Evee’s Tio Roberto—Uncle Roberto—wear?), because little things count when you’re writing (People who don’t speak Spanish, rest assured, I wrote things in a way that you’ll be able to follow what’s going on and the meaning of what people are saying in the few instances where Spanish is used). If there are mistakes here, they are my fault, though.
I also researched where the wealthiest people in Coral Gables might live and what their houses (and yachts) might look like.
Regarding my life experience, last, but not least, I was inspired to write this book by my friendship with Dr. Paul Esposito, a fraternity brother from Miami who passed recently at the age of fifty in 2017. Paul was one of these people who was, simply, a shining light, always there to encourage others. And he came into my life early in my sophomore year of college when I was feeling lost, and he (and the people
who revolved around him like planets around a sun) changed the course of my college career and probably my life. He taught me a lot about the power of positive, bold thinking. I hadn’t kept up with Paul as much as I should have, maybe once every few months by phone. I always wondered if he felt as close as a friend to me as I did to him because he, as an extrovert, had so many good friends. And, because of this, I kept quiet at his funeral and didn’t testify about what kind of person he was and what he meant to me. I still feel like I should have said something then, and this book about love and loss is my way of telling him, or his spirit, how much his friendship means to me. The book is dedicated to Paul, and there are pieces of him in it throughout the story. People who knew him will spot “Espo” references, such as how Mark’s mother tells him to walk into a nightclub with a bit of swagger (Okay, now I’m saying too much).

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?

I wrote some stuff in my early teens, but I truly began writing with a passion when I hit my mid-thirties in 2002. At this time, I felt compelled to write a novel that harkened to the nostalgia of my childhood – “Riverwood: Remembrance,” which is part of my “Seams Along the Near World” series. I wrote four books in that urban fantasy series from 2002-2018. I’m proud of “Dark Water & the Maiden,” which I wrote last, from 2013-2018; this story is a prequel. This book, set mainly in 1973, is a highly emotionally resonant work, at least for me. I submitted ‘Dark Water,’ because it had all 5-star reviews on a free site, but it didn’t get picked up.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I mostly try to write in the early morning, for a few hours, at least several times a week. I sometimes need to adjust my schedule because of work.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

My family leaves me alone. Mostly.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

I work out. I walk because I have a bad knee and can’t run anymore. I listen to music. And, last but not least, I chill with my wife, Sheri, watching TV or hanging out around Doylestown.

Where do your ideas come from?

The ether. Seriously, sometimes it feels like my ideas come from another dimension.

Do you feel humor is important in books and why?

Yes. It keeps people engaged and makes characters likable. It releases tension if you’re dealing in dark or sad themes. A certain amount of humor keeps the ball rolling so to speak, moving that narrative forward.

Please tell us about yourself.

God is the most important, guiding force in my life. Without God I truly believe nothing else in my life would fall into place. Doesn’t mean God always makes things perfect for me, but because of God, my wife and I have a close, loving relationship, and I learn more every day about my purpose here on earth.

My family is important to me, including my wife, son (about to turn 21) and daughter (18). My daughter is transgender, and LGBTQ rights are important to me (they were important to me before I knew she was transgender).

I’m a writer by nature. I wrote an awful book when I was fourteen on a typewriter. I’ve worked as a market researcher, but a writer is what I am.

What are some of your favorite things to do?

If you want to know about my interests, outside of hanging with my wife—I like dancing to DJ Earworm when nobody is watching, reading all sorts of stuff (last year’s favorites were ‘We Are Okay’ by Nina LaCour and Chuck Wendig’s ‘Wanderers’), working out/walking (I was a wrestler in high school, and I coached for youth wrestling many years), and watching University of Miami Football. I do like a good streaming series. We just finished Season 2 of ‘Fleabag,’ which I really enjoyed, and we’re starting ‘The Outsider,’ which is great.

I’d like to travel abroad someday.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?

C.S. Lewis. Other than that, a wide array. I like the Fredrik Backman books. I love ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman. Nina LaCour is a new favorite. I’ve read and enjoyed Solstice author David W. Thompson and, recently, Maria DeVivo.

What do you think of critique groups in general?

I still don’t know much about them.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

If things proceed as I desire, writing full time. We’ll see. I do like market research contracting, but if I could make a full-time living by writing, I probably would.

How many books have you written? How many have been published?

My Seams series has four books. And there’s Savage Spells Book 2 that’s recently been published. So, I’ve written six, two of them published.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

Sometimes, but not for this one. I bought it, but I haven’t read it. It’s too fresh in my mind still.

Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

Evee Salazar from ‘Everyone Leaves This Place,’ is near and dear to my heart.
After this, Paul Branch from ‘Dark Water & the Maiden.’

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

When somebody says your book touched their heart. If you write from the heart, you tap into this universal need for connection and permanence, which I believe is Divine. ‘Love’s Heavy Spell,’ Savage Spells Book 2, even more so than Book 1, taps into some deep emotional territory. I hope it resonates with people, which is most rewarding.

Also, when you write something, and you know it’s super-hot (well crafted, sharp, highly readable, engaging, etc.). That’s a GREAT feeling because it only happens, for me, about 25-30% of the time.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

I honestly don’t know.

What is your greatest desire?

To see my wife and children thrive and to serve a higher purpose here on earth. I know that’s two things. I believe these two things are connected though.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Sixteen years. That’s how long it took me between writing my first novel and publishing. Also, keep your mind open to advice and learning new things to improve your writing. It helped me for sure.

A World Of Surprise

                             A World Of Surprise

Short stories that all have the element of surprise in them. Each stand a lone. 

                                                   A Surprise For Christmas (A World Of Surprise Book 1) by [Stevens, Lizzy]

Samantha wasn’t expecting what she got for Christmas this year. Her doorbell rang and there sitting on her porch was a baby in a basket. This changes her life for the good. But then something happens. The baby’s father comes for his child. How can Samantha convince him that she is the best thing for the child?

Eve's Ghostly Surprise (A World Of Surprise Book 2) by [Stevens, Lizzy, Miller, Steve]   
 A year had passed since Eve lost the love of her life, Dillon, in a car accident. Strange thing started to happen. The radio started playing one of Dillon’s favorite songs and nothing would make it stop. When she got out of the hot shower words would form on the fogged-up mirror. What was happening? Who was doing this? Could it really be Dillon trying to tell her something?

Short story ~ Quick read

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Release: Eve's Ghostly Surprise

                                                  Eve's Ghostly Surprise (A World Of Surprise Book 2) by [Stevens, Lizzy, Miller, Steve]

A year had passed since Eve lost the love of her life, Dillon, in a car accident. Strange thing started to happen. The radio started playing one of Dillon’s favorite songs and nothing would make it stop. When she got out of the hot shower words would form on the fogged-up mirror. What was happening? Who was doing this? Could it really be Dillon trying to tell her something?

Short story ~ Quick read

Guest Blogger: KC Sprayberry

 My guest blogger today is KC Sprayberry.  Check out her book "A Rainy Night In Georgia"

I read this book and really liked it!                                       

A Rainy Night in Georgia: Teens Interrupted 1 by [Sprayberry, K.C.]

It all begins as a normal day… a very ordinary day. Quarterback of the championship football team, Maverick Anderson has mixed feelings about college next fall. He’ll soon be starting at the bottom again and has to prove himself. First, though, he and his friends plan to spend the night enjoying a movie they’ve all wanted to see. Jo Tomas believes she’s the only person for Maverick. She blames him and his loser current girlfriend for everything that’s wrong in her life. Nobody but nobody disrespects her like he has. She agrees to see a movie she thinks is dumb but has heard Maverick will be there. Their lives intersect on a rainy Georgia night. Caught up in texting and driving, drinking and getting high, Jo’s angry about the problems in her life and takes her rage out on Maverick. The fallout from that night will change their futures in a way neither anticipated. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Guest Blogger R.B. Shifman


Eighteen-year-old Evee Salazar undergoes an out-of-body experience! She’s feeling the stress of senior year and butting heads with her mom. Worse, Evee secretly falls for Mark Perrino, the new guy in her friend group, even though she suspects he’s stalking her.To slow Evee's roll, her mom sends her to sit with Gramma Cynthia on Friday evenings at an assisted living residence. Sounds like an easy task, but Gramma, who’s descended from a long line of witches, decides to switch bodies with Evee on three separate evenings. Goaded by a mysterious friend, Gramma brews up this temporary body-switching remedy to increase her granddaughter’s gratitude. But it only leaves Evee fuming.Gramma’s body-switching plans lead to mayhem, but the madness doesn't end there. Evee discovers somebody else with malevolent intentions is casting spells behind the scenes. This shadowy figure has stolen Gramma’s dark-magic spell book. And if Evee can’t figure out who it is, they may destroy her life.

Check out this review!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Winter Romance - FREE 1/9/2020 & 1/10/2020

                        Free!  1/09/2020 - 1/10/2020

                               Winter Romance by [Stevens, Lizzy]

#75 in Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Short Stories

Jennifer Mahoney meets Jeffrey, the love of her life, the winter of her senior year in high school. Jeffrey, her best friend's cousin, is visiting for the holidays. He is in town for the winter break staying with his aunt and uncle. Jennifer spends every waking moment with him and falls in love fast. She thought it was a lasting love and that they would be together forever. However, timing is way off for Jennifer and Jeffrey. Life is getting in the way. He suddenly leaves without a word.

Ten years pass and Jennifer has to bury her best friend and become the mother to her child all at once. She runs into Jeffrey during this time and finds herself very angry with him. Her head and heart are flooded with emotions she thought she buried years ago.

How will she handle everything happening in her life? Is there any hope left for her and Jeffrey?

Follow Lizzy Stevens on Twitter @lizzystevens123

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Monday, December 30, 2019

Don't Bore Your Reader

There is a place in this world for all sizes of books. Don’t bore your reader with all kinds of filler pages to make your book appear to be larger than it is.

It is perfectly fine if your story is meant to be a short story. If your story has a lot of detail, action, suspense or drama it is fine for your book to be a larger novel. What is not fine is to fill your pages with nonsense to make it look like your short story is a novel.

Your character wants a glass of iced tea.

Don’t do:
Mindy got out of bed and walked toward the kitchen. She stopped in the hallway after spotting a small piece of paper on the floor. She bent down to pick up this less than an inch piece of paper that she assumed had fallen from the notebook she was carrying the night before. She tossed in in the trash as she walked to the kitchen for a glass of iced tea.  Mindy got a glass from the cabinet and walked over to the refrigerator. She put four ice cubes in the glass and then closed the freezer door. Then she opened the refrigerator and got the tea container and filled her glass.

See what I mean? None of that is needed. The reader doesn’t care that she saw a tiny piece of paper on the floor and why it was there and that she picked it up and then she threw it away. The reader doesn’t need a step by step play by of all of that. None of it is even relevant to the story. She was going to the kitchen to get a glass of tea.
Next issue; The reader doesn’t need to know exactly how many ice cubes she put in the glass. All this stuff is filler nonsense to make the book and story look longer. The reader is going to skip over this stuff.

What you should do:
Mindy lay there on her bed with her mouth dry. She got up and walked to the kitchen for a glass of sweet ice tea. She knew that was exactly what she needed in the hot Summer night.

So instead of all these lines of filler stuff that has no relevance to the story at all. You said the same thing in just a lot less lines.  In these three lines you gave detail. You told what she wanted. You told how she felt and nowhere in the story did we need all these lines of filler stuff to make the book longer.

                                   Winter Romance by [Stevens, Lizzy]

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Don’t write in clich├ęs

Helpful tips ~

It’s a bad habit to write in clich├ęs.  Here are some examples:

The character can’t seem to eat. Male or female. I’ve seen it done both ways. The character goes to take a bite and they miss and get a little food on their mouth and the love interest has to lean over and wipe the mouth. We all learned to eat when we were toddlers. LOL This isn’t romantic or sexy. It’s old and out dated.

Don’t have the woman running in the woods and fall down. Again, we all learned to walk and run a long time ago. Even being scared I think we can manage to run away from the danger. This is outdated. It doesn’t bring action in or suspense. It’s simply the same old same old and the reader gets bored.

Try to stay away from the age old things like this and be more original.

Lucinda's Story: Book One (Ravencrest 1)                   Ravencrest Book Two: Preparing For Battle

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Guest Blogger: James Moushon


James Moushon has News!

New December 2019 Release – Operation Raging Bull from James Moushon

The holiday season is in full swing. It’s time to sit back and relax and read a good short story about terrorist. What? The CIA works domestically. We all knew that.

I’m announcing another Jonathon Stone Short Story Release.
JUST RELEASED: Operation Raging Bull

NOW AVAILABLE at Amazon for $0.99:

The price is right. Enjoy the Mystery and Action of a Jonathon Stone Mystery by James Moushon. READ MORE -

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Karma Is A Bitch- FREE 12/20/19 - 12/24/19

FREE! 12/20/19 - 12/24/19

Karmas are immortals that kept the not so good people in line. They lived by the motto “Do bad things bad things will happen.” Tessa Waters was one of the best Karmas of the Karma realm. However, she wasn’t the fastest. She would watch over the realms, Earth, being her main realm. When she saw somebody not behaving she would send down a Karma punishment on that person. They were always funny and made the other Karmas laugh but she wasn’t fast enough. The head Karma thought it would help Tessa if instead of watching from a far she went down to Earth and passed out the punishments up close. Maybe that would make her faster. She could not return until she hit 100 Karmas. Tessa thought that would be no problem. Until the trickster of all tricksters, Loki, got in her way. How was she supposed to pass out Karmas if Loki was right in the way playing pranks on everyone? Now Tessa had to deal with the trouble makers and Loki. How was she supposed to hit her goal of 100 and make it back home?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Guest blogger: KC Sprayberry

Brad only wants to protect those flying from one place to another, to make up for not being able to protect his wife and daughter. They were on the first aircraft to strike the twin towers on 9/11. Cali seems to have it all—her most recent book gave her the celebrity status she once thought was so important but nothing can penetrate the grief she feels after losing her husband. Dex, the guy in high school that scored more than any other guy, seeks vengeance for all that’s gone wrong in his life.

Three individuals living life alone while the world whirls around them. Can they overcome their pasts and see a better future?


Memories of the past and present take Cali Hinton on a special journey of discovery. She needs to release the past and reconcile with the present.

Dex Marino sees a woman and remembers her as a teenager. He has plans to renew their relationship, even if she isn’t willing.

Brad Mason still grieves the loss of his wife and child on 9/11. After meeting Cali, he learns how to release the sadness.

The holidays often bring the saddest of memories. Can Cali stop a predator from her past and prove her worth to her family? Will Dex understand the girl he nearly destroyed can no longer be conquered? Will Brad discover the magic of this special woman?

Brad only wants to protect those flying from one place to another, to make up for not being able to protect his wife and daughter. They were on the first aircraft to strike the twin towers on 9/11. Cali seems to have it all—her most recent book gave her the celebrity status she once thought was so important but nothing can penetrate the grief she feels after losing her husband. Dex, the guy in high school that scored more than any other guy, seeks vengeance for all that’s gone wrong in his life.

Three individuals living life alone while the world whirls around them. Can they overcome their pasts and see a better future?

Print Book:


Brad Mason felt the gut punch of reality as he passed a store advertising the perfume his wife had loved. He inhaled the scent, a mixture of wildflowers and the ocean, and shivered from head to toe. More than eighteen long years had passed since two passenger jets had toppled New York City’s twin towers but he was unable to move past the grief and longing that beset him whenever important holidays came around.

Someday. I’ll be able to move past this one day.

About K.C. Sprayberry

“I have a secret… a very special secret. Perhaps you’ve heard this one before… from the time I was a child, I wanted to write stories for people to read. “ K.C. Sprayberry

Former California native, K.C. Sprayberry traveled the U.S. and Europe before finally settling in the mountains of Northwest Georgia. She’s been married to her soulmate for more than a quarter of a century and they enjoy spoiling their grandchildren along with many other activities.

Inspiration strikes at the weirdest times and drives her to grab notebook and pen to jot down her ideas. Those close to her swear nothing or no one is safe if she’s smiling gently in a corner and watching those in the same room interact. Her observations have often given her ideas for her next story, set not only in the South but wherever the characters demand they settle.

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