News! News! Two Audiobooks!

Just a quick post with news. Summer gets so nuts, I don’t think I ever announced that my Song of the Mountain audiobook released a couple weeks ago. And today Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul released. So excited! Both narrators are absolutly fantastic!

Song is probably my favorite book to date, but Taylor had me laughing out loud as I proofed the audio on a road trip over the Fourth of July. My daughter (who was trying to sleep) kept grumbling, “Mom, quit laughing. You wrote it.” She’s obviously underwhelmed having an internationally famous author for a mother. :)

Song of the Mountain


Buy it links:
Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Click here to get a free copy of Song of the Mountain with a 30-day trial membership on Audible.

Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul

FlameOfFindul_Audiobook_coverBuy it links:

Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Click here to get a free copy of Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findulwith a 30-day trial membership on Audible.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kidd_t580This book isn’t exactly children’s literature, though it is appropriate for a young adult audience. I’m featuring it today because its subject is so incredibly intertwined with that of my latest book, Ella Wood. In fact, The Invention of Wings was recommended to me by two of my blog readers after I began sharing snipets of research this past spring in anticipation of Ella Wood‘s May release. I had dedicated an entire post to the Grimke sisters. I chose not to read Ms. Kidd’s book until Ella Wood was completed. A couple months have now passed, and I finished The Invention of Wings last night.

This is the slightly fictionalized story of Sarah Grimke and a fictional slave whose character was inspired by Sarah’s actual childhood maid. It’s a beautiful, engaging tale that breathes life, motiviation, and emotion into an important historical figure, making her eminently relateable. Ms. Kidd has a grace and beauty to her prose. You all know how I love word pictures. Her writing is chock full of them. And her characters live. The harsh backdrop of history provides the only villian needed. I guarentee you will become engrossed in Sarah’s struggle to change the institution of slavery and suffer along with Handful as she endures the cruelties inflicted on her. This is a story, not a history text. One that will capture you from beginning to end. One I highly recommend.

I must stay again, Sarah and Angelina Grimke were an amazing pair of ladies. Pioneers in the abolitionist and women’s movements. Ms. Kidd, in her author note at the end of the book, mentions how shocked she was to never have heard mention of them before, and she a resident of Charleston, the Grimke’s home town. I felt much the same way when I first discovered them. I’ve done so much reading and research about the Civil War, how had I not come across these names sooner? But I did, last year, and I had to work them in Ella Wood, even though it takes place a few decades after Sarah and Angelina stopped lecturing. They provided a historical justification for my character of Emily, both for her anti-slavery and female ambition leanings, and their literature proved an excellent resource for Emily’s growth.

I read two of the biographical sources Ms. Kidd listed in her bibliography during my research last winter. Being familiar with the Grimke’s life stories made reading this fictionalized account doubly fascinating. But you don’t have to have background knowledge to enjoy a beautifully rendered tale grounded in our country’s past. Pick it up for yourself!

I know Ms. Kidd is leagues above me in fan base and notoriety, but I tweeted her anyway. I also know how busy authors are, and how obnoxious other authors begging for help can be. But Sue, if you actually read my tweet and landed here, I assure you I’m not looking for a leg up. If you’re so inclined, I’d simply like to offer you a complimentary copy of Ella Wood with no strings attached. Just because we share a love of history as well as admiration for these two fabulous ladies. And because the two books compliment each other so beautifully.

Taylor Davis Serial Adventures

Yes, after announcing yesterday that I’ll be posting less frequently, I’m back already with big news to share! Taylor Davis is releasing as individual episodes!

Findul episode 1 Findul episode 2 Findul episode 3 Findul episode 4 Findul Episode 5 Findul Episode 6

Clash Episode 1 Clash Episode 2 Clash Episode 3 Clash Episode 4 Clash Episode 5 Clash Episode 6

My Taylor Davis series has been something of an enigma. When I poll kids familiar with my work, it’s almost unfailingly cited as their favorite of all my books, yet it is my worst selling series. My only explanation for the difference in sales is that my other books, particularly my historical fiction, are being picked up by adults who aren’t necessarily buying for kids. Of course, kids aren’t buying for themselves. So my everlasting question is, how do I get this book in front of parents? A tough one, since most parents purchase through schools, and traditional publishers still have a stranglehold on school markets. In other words, all school-related outlets are absolutely closed to indie authors.

So releasing each individual episode is my newest idea to get Taylor in the hands of kids. Since the humor and action are so ideal for reluctant boy readers, I decided to make the length reluctant reader-friendly, as well.

Both Taylor Davis books were originally written in six 10,000-word episodes for Amazon’s new-at-the-time serial program. But Amazon wasn’t interested in children’s serials, so I ultimately released them as a two full-length novels. While the novels will remain available, I am releasing each individual episode as a separate book in a perfect size for youngsters who may be intimidated by the complete work. New bright covers have the same quirky kid-appeal as the text. And the price for each is absolutely as low as I can make it.

All six episodes of Taylor Davis: Flame of Findul are now available in digital and paperback. Taylor Davis: Clash of Kingdoms will be finished soon! Book one is currently in production as an audiobook, but each episode will also be released as a separate audiobook. Book two is pending.

You can find blurbs and links to the entire series here. Or grab Episode 1 now. It’s FREE!

Findul episode 1Taylor Davis: Flame of Findul, Episode 1

Kindle | Paperback | Nook

Keeping Safe the Stars, by Sheila O’Connor

KeepingSafe_FINAL.inddThis is a sweet, unhurried story that takes place in 1972. Pride Star, newly thirteen and the oldest of three siblings, lives with their grandfather, Old Finn. Except Old Finn left for the hospital and doesn’t come back. With just ten dollars in the cupboard, Pride tries her hardest to take care of her family. Old Finn taught them to be fiercely independent. To keep to themselves and never trust strangers. But as the days stretch longer and Old Finn is still away fighting encephalitis, she fears someone will call the county to take them away and put them in foster care.

This story is told against the backdrop of the Watergate scandal. Even as Nixon found himself encased in a web of lies, so does Pride. She’s only trying to do what’s best for her family, to keep them together and provided for. Eventually, she must acknowledge her deceit and seek help. But who to trust?

This one is rich with the cultural history of the 70’s (some of which I remember), that adds richness to the story and grounds it in reality. But the book never grabs me. The characters are okay. I do feel sympathy for Pride, and the other kids are likeable, but the story moves quite slowly. Especially the ending, that stretched about fifty pages beyond my attention span. O’Conner does provide some solid reasons for Old Finn’s reclusiveness—disagreement with Vietnam that attracts government attention as well as a desire to not call announce to the fact that an old man is raising and homeschooling three young children. He fears the county may take the children away and place them with someone younger. Someone female. His fears transfer to Pride, but sometimes I just rolled my head at her stubbornness. I guess this one just didn’t resonate with me.

I wouldn’t write it off, however. The writing is very lovely, and the story sound. It’s safe and low key—the kind of book my young nieces enjoy. But I prefer a bit more unpredictability and adventure. I’d rate it a solid three stars.

Find it on Amazon.

Ragesong: Uprising (Ragesong, 2), by J. R. Simmons

ragesong uprisingI read book one of this series last fall and loved it. (Read my review here.) Because I was also furiously pounding out Ella Wood, it took me some time to return to the series. With my project completed and the third Ragesong book just about ready to hit the virtual shelves, I picked up book two. It’s every bit as good as book one.

In book one, Jake and Samantha find themselves drawn to the world of Fermicia where they help free the fallen king Klyle. Then they are sent home to grow in their mastery of music, which inhances their mystical power of Ragesong in Fermicia, while Klyle begins a rebellion against the evil usurper, Brael. In book two, after the passage of three years they return. The rebellion, however, isn’t fairing too well. Jake and Sam must help Klyle unite the Southern lands.

This installment introduces a wonderful array of new characters and new cultures. The danger is weighty, giving the new mission a trememdous sense of urgency. Brael is a horrible, violent, bloodthirsty tyrant bent on subjugation and the destruction of all who oppose him. And like the first book, this one holds some heavy moments of violence and war. They aren’t unnecessarily graphic, but a lot of people die, and the kids are in on the killing. But the values the alliance fights for–freedom, life, goodness–gives their actions a nobility and purpose. Loyalty, honor, and friendship are held in high esteem. And the tiny romance budding between Jake and Sam adds a lightness to this troubled world.

As I said in my book one review, this is self-published work far ahead of the majority. I’d set it against anything the traditional publishing world put out. The prose is crisp, the story compelling, the dialogue spot on. Very impressive. I absolutely love discovering these standouts and being able to credit the fine work and professionalism to a self-published author. Highly recommended for ages 10+

A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

a long walk to waterThis is the remarkable story of Salva Dut, a survivor of the Sudanese Civil War that raged from 1983-2002. Salva spent years walking, avoiding the war, living in refuge camps—surviving. He was one of the lucky ones who eventually migrated to America. He then chose to return to drought-ridden Sudan and drill wells in poor villages. His vision has changed the lives of thousands.

I remember this war. I didn’t know much about it, but I heard it mentioned often when I was growing up. It opened my eyes to what these millions of Sudanese people went through because of a corrupt, intolerant government. It reads like a history, which it is. That war is over.

But this same oppression is still going on and in Sudan, in Iran, in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria. Power hungry Muslim militants and corrupt governments. They go hand-in-hand, it seems, all over Africa and the Middle East. It’s called jihad, the militant spread of Islam, and it’s devastating to civilians.

ISIS is crucifying adults and children, selling children into sex slavery, burning pilots alive. Boko Haram in Nigeria has killed more than 10,000 Christians in six years and abducted more than 1000 women. Christians beheaded in Egypt. Christians arrested, imprisoned, and murdered in Sudan. The war in Darfur. The war in Syria. Hundreds of thousands killed, millions displaced. Massacres, chemical weapons, rape, torture.

This isn’t the stuff of history. It’s happening every day. Right now. And it’s not going away.

You and I can’t control it, but we don’t have to wait and read a story about the atrocities a decade from now. There are charity groups currently in place ministering to the hurting and displaced. The Red Cross. Samaritan’s Purse. WorldHelp. And many more. Even Salva’s Water for South Sudan.

I encourage you to read Salva’s story. It’s heart-rending, but appropriate for 10+. Then be part of the solution. Get involved. We have.

The Kindle version is only $3.52.

The Mosque Hill Fortune, by Vivienne Mathews

mosque hillThis is the tale of two otters, both sea captains, both strong and self-assured, both masters of their own crew. Marshall, son of the famous (and missing) relic hunter, is the darling of the Secoran navy, master of weaponry, loyal, honest, and stalwart. McKinley the Marauder, infamous pirate, quick on his feet, adaptable, brash, and droll. No two “men” have ever been more a different…or more equally matched. For both are pursuing the same end—the fabled Mosque Hill Fortune. There Marshall hopes to seize the Scepter, the ancient symbol of Secoran power, before the evil Baron Von Ulrich usurps the throne. McKinley seeks only treasure, and hopes it will be enough to save the life of his young daughter.

This is a tremendously engaging epic adventure with swashbuckling pirates, naval battles, a treasure hunt, and a host of wonderful characters, both good and evil. Ms. Matthews’ mastery of language is a beautiful thing. Each word is weighted and well-chosen, each sentence efficient and skillfully constructed. Lovely. The characterization and world building are also outstanding. Because the characters are all animals, it’s reminiscent of a Disney movie, but it contains a violent element with blood, injuries, and death that Disney usually sugar coats. It also reminds me a bit of the Warrior series by Erin Hunter, as well as some of the adventure of Peter and the Starchachers, by Ridley Pierson and Dave Barry.

The story starts piecemeal, through the development of many character perspectives. They do merge into a complete, well-woven tale, but the initial approach would present some difficulties for my boys. Because of the violence, vocab, and degree of difficulty, I’d recommend this one for age 11.

Great news! This one is actually FREE! At least it was all during May. Grab a copy here!