In My Inbox

I’m currently working on a few changes in preparation for a new marketing campaign aimed at teachers and classrooms. I’ve had rather poor success at reaching kids directly in the past, but I’m hoping this will bring about a little more interaction. On that optimistic note, I’m beginning an irregular feature called “In My Inbox” where I highlight recent correspondence. With any luck, future IMI posts will highlight kids. In the meantime, I’d love to share a recent review from an Amazon reader.

“I literally cried during and after this book. It is so beautiful & touching. It’s absolutely amazing. Not only did it touch my heart, it also widened my horizons. I would give it many, many more stars if that were possible. Absolutely perfect. I couldn’t think of any way to make it better.”

Thanks “Boooooooo!!!” for your take on The Candle Star. You made my day. :)

New ‘do

I’ve been updating! Yes, when I should have been writing yesterday, I was creating a new blog header and background. I considered changing the name, too, but Bookworm Blather has been around a long time now and I still sort of like the whimsical sound of it. So the name stayed. I might impliment a few more small changes in the next several weeks to make my online hangout a little more kid friendly. I’d like to court some teachers directly over Twitter and interact with more classrooms. I plan to hand out this address.

Song newOne of my books also received a facelift this week. Last spring, I replaced my original (and terrible!) Song of the Mountain cover with a new one of my own design. I loved it! I still love it. It captures Li Min and the mountain setting perfectly. However, browsers on Amazon didn’t seem to agree with me, as “sales” of the free book equaled only one tenth of those by my free historical fiction title, The Candle Star. Part of this is genre-related. Historical fiction is pretty popular. But fantasy shouldn’t lag that far behind. Sigh. Who’s drawn to the image of an old man?

So…you guessed it. I hired it done.

I wasn’t crazy about this new image at first. I still don’t think it captures the spirit of the book as well as the old one. But it’s exciting, and it’s grown on me. With some tweaking, we ended up with a cover that should gather more attention from customers browsing the fantasy category–especially kids. A few days is too small of a sampling to draw sure conclusions, but since swapping it out, daily downloads have increased. So, yay for increased exposure! Maybe more people will go on to purchase Fire on the Mountain, which will be re-covered soon to match.

SongOfTheMountain_cover_v3new

Yes…sigh…I am one of those people who’s always moving furniture around, too.  How’d you guess?

New cover image by D. Robert Pease of Walkingstick Books.

 

Since

What Dreams May Come, by Beth Honeycutt

what dreams may comeI read and reviewed What Dreams May Come at the request of the author, whom I had met online through the Clean Indie Reads group this past spring. I really enjoyed it! As an afterthought, I realized it would also be totally appropriate to feature here on Bookworm Blather.

I was a little hesitant to pick this one up. My regular readers have probably already figured out that I rarely read romance. Usually they’re too heavy on the smexy or they contain so much sappy mush that I’m gagging by the end—if I make it that far. This one is delightful sweet. And the paranormal adds a nice bit of creativity.

But I was especially appreciative of the prose. It’s smooth, readable, and just a little snarky. Ms. Honeycut has a style that is quite literary in nature, with lots of great word pictures and comparisons. I really enjoyed that. And the voice stays upbeat, even when the heroine is struggling with some heavy issues. There were times I wanted to shake the lead character and tell her to buck up, or I’d roll my eyes a bit at one of the more gushy scenes, but I kept on because I just plain liked the story. Kudos to a very fine writing style.

The editing is excellent, and the language and content are clean and innocent…so that I passed this one along to my teen daughter. A sweet and delightful YA paranormal. Ages 13+

Fall Clean Indie Reads Sale

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I am part of the Clean Indie Reads group (we have flinch-free fiction in all ages and genres), and our fall sale is becoming an annual event. If you don’t like a lot of gratuitous sex, violence, and language in your books, you won’t find it here.

We’ve got middle grade and YA books!

I’ve discovered some great titles among these authors! Hop over there and check it out!

The sale runs from Oct. 5 – 11.

 

Trusted: Dragons’ Trust Book 1, by Krista Wayment

trusted

Another dragon book. That was my rather reluctant thought when I picked this one up. There are a lot of dragon books out there, more than I realized when I wrote my own. But I’d been told this one was good…

I liked it more than Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the dragonesque Newbery honor book I reviewed a few weeks ago.

Okay, I have to admit Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is arguably better literature, in that it makes better use of literary devices—word pictures, sensory details, a circular package where the story’s head comes around to bite its tail, if you know what I mean. But if I compare that gut feeling of contentment that settles over me after I close the back cover, Trusted wins, hands down. I just liked the plot and characters better.

It did take a little while for this one to grow on me. Fourteen-year-old Renick finds himself stranded in a huge, unfriendly wilderness with two other passengers who survived the flyer wreck—twelve-year-old Lainey, who aside from some chatterbox moments that don’t really remain consistent, usually seems older, and Thane, the sometimes stand-offish son of a nobleman. Together the three children discover a baby dragon and must avoid the dragon hunters, who come off quite stereotypically. (Think Disney’s evil dogcatcher type.) Also, I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish which of the three kids was talking when they were in a group. However, once the kids make it to the dragon city high in the mountains, I was completely hooked. The action and characterization just kept getting better and better. I came away really liking Renick, in particular.

This is a story of nobility, honor, trust (which you can probably discern from the title), and attempts at reconciliation between two ancient enemy races—dragons and humans. It’s one of those hopeful, feel good tales that leave you smiling at the end. But it’s also a survival story that will fill that craving for adventure. Two thumbs up! Appropriate for listeners as young as 7 or 8, but recommended for readers at a fourth or fifth grade level.

Grab a copy of Trusted for just 2.99.

Ragesong: Awakening, by J. R. Simmons

ragesong awakening

I love surprises. I especially love good surprises. And I really, really like it when that good surprise turns out to be only the first of several. That’s the case for Awakening. I loved the book, and it’s the first of a series. Book two, Uprising, just released in June. I’m getting it.

Since I’ve already spent too many hours reading this week and not enough time working on my own book, I’m going to paste in part of the Amazon blurb:

Jake starts his first day of junior high completely oblivious to the fact that he has been chosen for something incredible. That same afternoon, he learns that he has been marked as one with the power to save an entire kingdom. Through the course of his journey, Jake discovers that his advanced musical abilities are peculiarly connected to a mysterious power known as Ragesong. Joined by a shy, young girl with similar musical talents and two Changelings that hold a fierce loyalty to their homeland and king, Jake must learn to harness this ability in order to survive the dangers of a hostile new world.

This was a wild ride! I know there are many alternate world fantasy adventures on the market, but this one has an edge. Sometimes I make an allowance for a trace of clunkiness in the prose if the story is compelling, but this one had prose as sharp as a knife edge and a plot to go with it. And the dialogue? Spunky, quirky, light, and exactly right. That touch of lightness is necessary. It balances out a series of events that could be overwhelming to readers under ten. That’s because Jake is called on to battle, not monsters, but an army of men. There is killing involved, and some of it’s done by a junior higher. That is my one and only qualm. On the other hand, this world is ruled by the most evil of villains, and it is kill or be killed. It’s a battle for re-conquest. The violence is not gratuitous, it’s often video game-like, but it’s there.

This book will hold special appeal for gamers as the main character is an avid gamer himself and often references them in the text. I am not a gamer. I am a mom who is tired of monitoring video games, tired of redirecting children to alternate activities, and who often wishes they’d never been invented. However, if this book can hook a few of those kids and turn them into readers even for a while, I’ll gladly suspend my own disinterest and shout out that particular attribute. But regardless of whether the reader games or not, this is a finely told story with a superb dialogue and a twist of imagination. Recommended for ages 10+

Find it on Amazon:

Ragesong: Awakening
Ragesong: Uprising

Lost in the Bayou, by Cornell DeVille

lost in the bayou

I love this cover. It sucked me in immediately. I’ve always liked survival stories, and this one looked intriguing. Whoa! It got intense in a hurry.

Andy and Robin are orphans, or so everyone “official” is telling them, even though the bodies of their parents have not been found. It’s a new role for them and they don’t like it. Not at all. Especially now that Uncle Conrad has come. Robin has no doubt, Conrad wants them dead, and he’s crazy enough to do it. With the children out of his way, Conrad would inherit their fortune.

So the kids take off into the swamp.

This one is fast-paced all the way through. The danger is immediate, and the setting is absolutely fabulous. Check this out:

To my left, the moon is breaking through the gray clouds now and frosting the landscape with a pale silver glow. It lights our way somewhat, but it makes the moss-covered limbs of the trees look like grotesque arms in ragged sleeves, beckoning as our shadows dance along beside us.

Now add to the foggy swamp alligators, the legend of an asylum escapee, and the mystery of the missing parents, and you have a real page-turner.

I do have a couple cautions: There are a few minor language incidences and some omg’s. And Uncle Conrads’ threats are pretty disturbing. He’s a real wacko who makes a game out of killing the children. It might be pretty freaky for younger readers, although I wouldn’t hesitate to hand it off to an eleven-year-old. There’s danger and some intense moments, but the outcome is quite mild. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I highly recommended it for adventure-loving boys.