A writer inspired by nature and human nature


Early last winter, I discovered that one of my author friends regularly metamorphoses into “Blossom the Butterfly” to share her love of reading with pre-school and elementary school children. I asked Pamela to share her story. Opportunities abound for all of us! ~ Bette A. Stevens

CHILDHOOD LITERACY: Sharing the love of reading

Guest post by author Pamela Beckford

IMG_2405How did I get so involved in childhood literacy? I’ve asked myself that question dozens of times. I’m not a teacher, nor did I ever have any aspirations of being a teacher. I’m not a librarian, nor did I ever have any desire to be a librarian. But I am an avid reader myself and I have seen how much reading means to me personally.

I have the world’s best job as CEO of a local United Way. We have a goal of making sure that 90% of all children in our county are ready for kindergarten by 2020. I really didn’t think that was an unattainable goal. In fact, I thought we were probably pretty close to that number already. But, as it turns out, we have our work cut out for us.

One of the reasons is that parents can’t keep up with the changes in our education system. I don’t know how many times I have heard parents say “but that isn’t the way it was when I was in school.” And keep in mind, that these are the youngest parents too. Kindergarten is not what it was even five years ago, let alone what it was like 20 years ago.

I have read study after study about early literacy. They all show the value of reading to children as early as birth (some say before birth). Children need to see parents reading; they need to feel a connection with their parents and their voice. Picture books are one of my favorite genre. I love the rich cadence of many of the books, as well as the beautiful illustrations. There is no doubt in my mind of the importance of talking to and reading to your children.

As part of our Early Childhood Initiative, we developed a new website to serve as a resource for parents. I know that life happens. We get busy with the day-to-day things, work, maintaining a house, etc. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to spend a few minutes reading to your child and why it is important. We always think we can do that tomorrow, but tomorrow never seems to come. The website (90by20.com or childrenreadytolearn.com) is a work in progress and will be continually updated and changed.

PAMELA Blossom & the kidsOne of the other important things we have done is create a reading mascot—her name is Blossom the Book Butterfly. Blossom (me) reads for children every chance she gets; she participates in activities in the schools and child care program; she even had a book written about her that will be distributed to all the new mothers in the county. But Blossom isn’t the only one who reads to children—ALL adults should find a way of volunteering their time with their children/grandchildren/schools/preschools, etc. It only takes a few minutes to read a book to a child and yet its impact is life long.

One of the things I am most excited about though is having Blossom read Indie-authored children books on YouTube videos. This has been a project that has taken much more time than I thought it would but I think it will be a great resource for children and parents. Plus it will promote books from indie authors. I haven’t pursued traditionally published books for this because of the difficulty of getting the video rights, but indie authors have been eager to have their books showcased. Watch for the section on the website in the next couple of months—and if you are a children’s author and would like to allow me to use your books, please contact me.

There are so many other aspects of what we are doing to encourage early literacy—you can see most of them if you look through the website.

I fear I may have gone on too long but this is one of my favorite subjects and I could talk about it all day. Thank you for the opportunity to share our efforts in early childhood literacy.

FIND OUT MORE

VISIT PAMELA BECKFORD

(BETTE’S BLOG)


Bette A. Stevens:

One brush stroke at a time! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Originally posted on Sacred Touches:

You don’t just have a story –
you’re the story in the making,
and you never know what the
next chapter is going to be.
That’s what makes it exciting.
~Dan Millman

DSC_0011

Life is like a book and
we’re the writers of our own stories,
the makers of our own destiny.
And each day is a new chapter,
a new challenge,
a new path,
a new journey.
~Unknown

Your word, Lord, is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. ~Psalm 119:105  ✝

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Conquering that Marketing Monster

Guest post by Lois W. Stern

marketing.monster2Writing our books is the fun part, as it challenges our creativity, satisfying a need for self-expression. But marketing our books . . . that’s a whole different story. I call it the marketing monster! Many internet sites are out there to help us slay that dragon, but I’d like to share three little gems that you might have overlooked.

Hold on for a second. Before we begin, I want you to build yourself a promotional template. It will take a little time, and you won’t need all of these items for each venue, but trust me, in the long run, it will be a real time saver.

Template Items:

  • Book title:
  • Author:
  • Genre:
  • Book formats (paperback, hardcover, Kindle, other e-reader formats):
  • ISBN #:
  • Author bio:
  • Book teaser or elevator pitch:
  • URL links to any places where your book has a presence:
  • your website or blog
  • amazon.com, Barnesannobles.com
  • Your social media pages (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon Central page
  • Images:          your headshot            book cover(s)
  • Several compelling reviews of your book”
  • An enticing excerpt:

Here are three ideas I have discovered that I can recommend for free or low-budget book promotion.

newbookreview_banner_full

Submit your book and some of its best reviews to Carolyn Howard-Johnson* for a free posting on her website and you will get some great cross promotion opportunities.

Follow these guidelines.
(or copy and paste: http://www.thenewbookreview.blogspot.com into your browser.)

Watch this brief video to meet Carolyn and learn about her fabulous writing and book marketing credentials.
(or copy and paste: http://www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com into your browser.)

* Carolyn’s site has been named to Online University’s 101 Best Blogs for Readers.

1000 Words Plus

 

 

 

Recommended through Dan Poynter, One Thousand Words Plus is a fabulous new site where you can actually create a separate web page for each of your published books. You are given the opportunity to:

  • Display a synopsis/description of each of your books
  • Display chosen samples of text from anywhere within your books
  • Direct potential readers to your preferred online retail outlet for your book
  • Direct potential readers to your other relevant URLs

(i.e. publisher’s website, author’s website, blog and social media pages, etc.)

  • Post book cover images and more.

The publishers have agreed to offer a 50% discount for readers of this blog who sign up by the end of this calendar year. By using Code LWS2015, you will be charged only $24.95 for the lifetime exposure for each of your books (normally $49.95). Note: Since there are no annual renewal fees, this is quite a bargain.

To get familiar with their format, go to:

http://www.onethousandwordsplus.com/

Then click on the words: Im an author, I want to learn more to promote your book.

Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing, sent to me by Linda Maria Frank, host of The Writers Dream LTV Show, is both free and a clever original. It is set up more or less like a blog tour, to help market yourself while helping your fellow authors. The basic idea is to respond to ten questions about your published or about-to-be-published book, while submitting your headshot and book cover images. Follow these directions carefully and click here to see how I set up my page.

Note: I will limit my blog tour to the first ten people who respond. It’s free but I will only have space to include the first ten authors who follow every step of the directions, so read carefully.

Please use the comment area below to share one great marketing tip or lesser known website you have discovered to help conquer that marketing monster.

About the author

lois_charli3_lite_blue

Author Lois Stern

My first two books focused on physical beauty: Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery (with sound advice and personal emotional undercurrents to cosmetic surgery) and Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour (with chapters written by eleven nationally renowned experts and outstanding practitioners, detailing many of the most current minimally invasive beauty procedures).

Then my writing career took a seemingly sharp turn as I began to focus on inspiring stories, stories to touch the heart and soul. But in truth this was not a new interest for me as I always had a special appreciation for feel-good stories that reach the inner spirit, inspire, motivate, make us question. I started to develop this idea further as I initiated a Tales2Inspire ‘Authors Helping Authors’ project/contest, and with contributing stories from other talented writers, have begun a series of inspiring story anthologies. I have now published the first four of these little jewel books: the Emerald, Topaz, Sapphire and Ruby collections, with more on the way. Each book is enhanced by the inclusion of original photos and drawings.

 

If you think you might be interested in participating in Tales2Inspire™, do visit my website and click on the word CONTEST for details. Winning authors receive an incredible number of platform building opportunities. And isn’t that what all talented authors are seeking? DISCOVERY!

Thanks so much for sharing these great marketing tips with us, Lois.

And, writers, don’t forget to tell us about your favorite marketing tips in the comments section below.

HAPPY WRITING & BOOK MARKETING, ALL!

Bette A. Stevens

Bette’s Blog


THE WONDER OF IT ALL bas 2015

Blossoms are singing here at The Farmstead in Central Maine. Yes, the wonders abound. Wishing you all a week filled with wonders too! ~ Bette A. Stevens

P.S. Happy reading, my friends!

Bette’s Blog


Moose Point & Poem 2015 basClick on the photo to enlarge

An Author’s Day Away

How does this Central Maine writer like to kickback and relax? A day trip to the coast is most welcome every now and then. And, it’s bound to be inspiring.

The forecast was perfect—60s and sunny with a coastal spring breeze. We packed the car (jackets/coffee/snacks) and headed south along The Moosehead Trail (Route 7 from Newport to Belfast), then east over Head of Tide Road to meet Route 1, where we drove north to Searsport to enjoy one of our favorite spots—Moose Point State Park. This coastal gem is the perfect spot to savor an afternoon picnic, revel in the views of Penobscot Bay, climb its rock-bound shore and trek the trails through an awe spruce forest. Ah, the magic of Maine!

Thanks for hopping on board, friends. What’s your favorite spot to enjoy on a day away?

~ Bette A. Stevens

Back to Bette’s Blog


The “Rave Reviews Book Club SPOTLIGHT” is a great place to meet new authors and discover great new books. Today, the SPOTLIGHT is shining on Tim Hemlin, author of “The Wastelanders.” ~ Bette A. Stevens, 4writersandreaders.

The New

wastelander-cover-1 2We thrive when the creative spirit pulses through our mind, body and soul and the new suddenly springs to life. And I fully admit that’s me. I love writing first drafts. If I had my way I’d only write first drafts for the rest of my life and they’d magically edit and revise themselves. When I first wrote The Wastelanders it took on a life of its own, surprising me at many turns. The Poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.” This is what I thought of when slowly I developed my little Time Witch in The Wastelanders. Si-Ting has prescient powers and discovers she can “bend time.” Think of the cat in the Matrix. Neo sees it then sees it again and comments he’s had a déjà vu. Instead it’s a glitch. Time has changed. Si-Ting can make changes, though they must be immediate and she is limited to the shadow of the present. It makes her strong, yet it also makes her vulnerable, open to danger. It is a powerful tool for good. Or evil, should this knowledge fall into the wrong hands. I’d not originally planned this for Si-Ting. But I allowed her to grow as the story unfolded, and she showed me the power she had. That’s what the new does for me. This is why I find the new delightful.

Author Bio:

TimHemlinAuthorTim Hemlin is a marathoner, teacher, and has his master’s degree in counseling, but his passion for the environment  sparked him to write The Wastelanders, a dystopian-clifi published in both e-book and paperback by Reputation Books. He is represented by Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.  Hemlin has also published a Wastelanders short story called ‘Black Silence’ as a bridge between the first book and its sequel. He is currently in the notes and brainstorming stage for the Wastelanders sequel Recently the Muse has kindly allowed TIm to tap into that creative magic and pen a young adult urban fantasy. If all goes well with the edits and revision, the final draft should be completed by early summer.  Finally, in the late 90s Ballantine published the Neil Marshall series of culinary mysteries set in Houston, Texas. These include If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage (nominated for a Shamus Award), People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas (the one I most enjoyed writing), and Dead Man’s Broth. He has recently gotten the reversion rights and is planning on reissuing them under an elite publishing house out of New Orleans.

Hemingway liked running with the bulls. Tim enjoys running with dragons (that’s what he calls his grandkids).

Where to find author Tim Hemlin?

“The Wastelanders” by Tim Hemlin

Comments to Tim’s post are most welcomed and appreciated. Happy writing and reading, friends! ~ Bette A. Stevens, 4writersandreaders. (Member of Rave Reviews Book Club)


Sunbeam composing HAIKU bas 2015

Spring Magic?

I was fortunate to capture spring’s magical beams composing melodies on our daffodils along the walkway to the Farmstead late last week. Naturally, I got inspired. Grabbed the Cannon, downloaded several images to my laptop and played around with photo editor. I’m a writer inspired by nature who loves to capture the moments and to create new images too. What’s inspiring you?

~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator


Sharon K. Connell is the author of Christian/romance/drama fiction and it’s a pleasure to have her with us today at 4writersandreaders.

What readers are saying

SHARON K Connell BOOKS cropped

Christian/romance (fiction) novels by Sharon K. Connell

A Very Present Help by Sharon K. Connell

This book is artfully written and creatively weaves the plot from beginning to end. It is a great reminder that God is still involved in our lives. This is a must read and leaves the reader filled with hope! ~ Jennifer

It’s wonderful to have you with us today, Sharon. I can’t wait to find out more about you and your books. First of all, tell us a little about yourself.

Meet Author Sharon K. Connell

Meet Author Sharon K. Connell

I was born in Wisconsin, grew up and went to school through College in Illinois.  In 1988, I moved to Florida and graduated from Bible School in 1995.  For most of my adult life, I have worked full-time in the clerical field.  In December 2012, I decided to retire, and in March of 2013 moved to Houston, Texas.  Since then I have been enjoying every minute of retirement from the clerical/business world and I have been writing full-time.

Today, I spend my time doing many things, which I never had the time to do before retiring.  This includes at least one or two hours daily writing stories about people who discover (as I have) that God will only allow those things into your life that will help you grow and/or increase your faith.

At the age of twelve years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.  There has not been a day that has gone by where I have been disappointed in that decision.  Many trials have crossed my path, most of which I brought on myself.  Nonetheless, God has been with me every step of the way.  I have never once felt that He deserted me or does not love me. 

 How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?  

The genre in which I write is Christian/Romance/Drama.  I could possibly add Mystery to the end of that list with the publishing of my fourth novel sometime this year.

While still working full-time, I began my first book around the year 2000—A Very Present Help.

In my stories, I try to bring out some promises in the Bible.  Humor always is added for entertainment, along with a good love story.  Then there is the villain who adds drama and sometimes mystery to the lives of my hero and heroine.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book? 

My latest book published in December of 2014—There Abideth Hope deals with the life of a former Navy nurse, Lieutenant JG Lynne Temple and the man she meets in Florida, a youth pastor by the name of Nick Livingston.  They run into a treacherous villain who recognizes Miss Temple from a murder trial during her college days, one in which she was the prime witness.  While the couple is trying to get to know each other, they wind up dealing with kidnaped teens from a local Rave gone bad, drugs and human trafficking, not to mention attempted murder.  The story goes from Chicago, Illinois to the war in Afghanistan to Pensacola, Florida.

What prompted you to write your novels, Sharon?

This is an easy one to answer.  My dear friend, Alan J. O’Reilly, author of Sound of Battle and Desired Haven, talked me into it.  I call him my adopted brother.  We have known each other since shortly after 1990.  Through the years, we have corresponded, although never met.  When I would relay a story about something that had happened, he would always tell me, “You need to write a story about that.”  After Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola, Florida and I went through it all alone, I told him every detail.  Again, he told me that I should write about it.  This time I took him seriously.  However, I did not write about the hurricane.  A story about a girl being lonely came to mind and I was off and running.  That story actually became my second book, Paths of Righteousness, but stemmed the writing of the first, A Very Present Help.

Do you have a favorite line from one of your books? 

“You came within a gnat’s eyebrow of going for a swim with those dolphins, and you’re worried about your heel?” from There Abideth Hope.
(The heel is a high heel and the line is spoken by the hero to the heroine, after she almost fell into the water trying to get a better look at her first live Florida dolphins).  

Who is your favorite character and why? 

I guess my favorite character from my books is Kathryn Kendall from Paths of Righteousness.  She is the heroine I first thought up and started writing about.  She is honest, faithful, gentle, beautiful, and sensitive; yet with an air of pride that gets the better of her at times.

What was the hardest part about writing your books?

Keeping all the events in the lives of my characters in order and consistent.

Do you do anything besides write?  

Yes, besides all my normal house duties, I paint, sketch, blog, take pictures of nature, am a spectator at RC racetracks, I am an active birder (amateur), exercise (mostly by walking the Houston Bayous viewing the many birds that live there) and do some moon and star gazing.

How can readers get copies of your books? 

My books are sold on Amazon and Kindle.  If you look up my Author Page on Amazon, you will find all three novels.

What’s next for author Sharon K. Connell?   

Currently, I am working on my fourth novel—His Perfect Love— about a young woman who has lived a self-centered life, to the point that her family has all but given up on her.  God starts dealing with her by allowing things from her past to catch up with her causing fear and doubt.  She bounces from Illinois to Minnesota, back to Illinois and winds up in Houston, Texas.  You will have to read the book to find out the rest.

After I finish this story and it is ready for all of you readers, I will be begin my next book about a young woman trying to keep her family’s farm in Nebraska from winding up in the wrong hands after her parents pass away.

Where to find author Sharon K. Connell

Sharon also has a Group she’s created on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersandauthorsforum/

Video Trailers for each book

Sharon, it has been wonderful having you with us today. I’ve already checked out your books and videos. I’ve purchased and downloaded “A Very Present Help” to my kindle and can’t wait to read it. I’m a fan of Christian fiction and your books all sound great. Happy writing!

Dear Readers,

Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. Sharon and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to join the conversation (comments below) and be sure to take a look inside Sharon’s great books on Amazon. I think you’ll want to grab a novel or two.

Happy Reading!

Bette A. Stevens


Bette A. Stevens:

I love making art and kids do too! ~ Bette A. Stevens, author/illustrator of AMAZING MATILDA, A Monarch’s Tale

Originally posted on :

butterfly1butterfly2

Happy drawing!

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I’m delighted to have Fia Essen here at 4writersandreaders today and can’t wait to find out more about the author and her latest book:

Meet author Fia Essen and find out about her lastest novel, ARIEL.

Meet author Fia Essen and find out about her lastest novel, ARIEL.

 

Nicholas Blomfield talks about Fia Essen’s latest novel

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fia’s work about Ariel and her struggle to find and develop herself.

Fia has a staggeringly strong descriptive style that I personally loved. It felt as though she had spent a great deal of time considering the characters, their lives, history and personal ups and downs. The vivid and life like descriptions of things gave the story a fantastic atmosphere helping to shape Ariel and her eventual triumph over life’s obstacles. I shall not spoil the plot or give too much away, I strongly advise reading it!

A truly wonderful piece of literature and well worth immersing yourself into Fia’s creative work. I have no doubt this is the start of a long and fruitful writing career – watch this space! Nicholas Blomfield

To begin our interview, tell us a little about yourself, Fia.

I was born in Sweden in 1983. My passport claims I’m still Swedish even though I left Sweden more than twenty-five years ago. I grew up in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. And I spent my teenage years living in a stable. Literally. Horses were my next door neighbors. When other girls my age were perfecting the art of applying makeup and discussing boys, I was either mucking out stalls or on horseback, having the time of my life. Now I live in Athens, Greece with Taxi Driver, my Yorkshire Terrier.

How about your family life?

There’s three of us—me and my parents. We’re a small group of nomads. I’m an only child and Taxi Driver is my only child.

 How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?  

I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I have an active imagination. But I didn’t get serious about writing until 2010. What I write now fits into the Contemporary Fiction genre.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book?

ARIEL by Fia Essen BOOK COVERAriel is about a half-English, half-American, lifelong expatriate who was born in Hong Kong and now lives in Singapore. At the age of thirty-four, Ariel is in debt and out of luck. She used to have a career, a penthouse, and a group of fun friends. Now she has a dead-end job, a rented hovel of a home, and a rising stack of unpaid bills to keep her company. Just when she is starting to fear she will never be able to get her life back on track, she is contacted by the mysterious Muse Agency. And, suddenly, she is forced to question everything she thought she knew about herself and those around her.

What prompted you to write Ariel?

Every writer has heard the phrase “write what you know” at some point. So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote what I knew. On a personal level, I know what it’s like to be stuck in a rut.

One reader called Ariel “self-help turned fiction”… That’s a genre you don’t see a lot of but it describes Ariel well. What most self-help books fail to mention is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to self-help. Every person on the planet is a unique individual. So I began picking bits and pieces of self-help that helped me, advice that suited my personality. And then I put that into Ariel, hoping readers of the story would find something that could help them in their own lives.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

“Think big, start small, and keep going.”

Who is your favorite character and why?

Ariel is my favorite character. The story is told from her point of view. So, as peculiar as it sounds, she and I became very close while I worked on the manuscript.

What was the hardest part about writing?

I love writing. Writing isn’t hard. The only hard part about being an author is gaining an audience. I’m working on it! I have a long road ahead of me but I’m committed to giving it my all. It’s all part of being an author.

Do you do anything besides write?

I’m the Company Administrator at Essen & Essen, which is a family owned company with interest and ownership in various companies and organizations. We specialize in activities related to business & personal growth, management consulting and interim management services.

How can our readers get a copy of ARIEL?

Ariel is available on Amazon, B&N, and from my publisher’s website.

What’s next for Fia Essen?  

More writing! Solstice Publishing will release Anna this summer. And I’m currently working on a story called Amanda, which will come out in time for Christmas. Ariel, Anna, Amanda… I have a thing for As.

GET SOCIAL with author Fia Essen:

Fia, thanks so much for joining us  today. ARIEL, the story of a young woman caught in a rut, has me tap-tap-tapping my kindle to turn the pages to find out just how she’s going to climb out!

Readers, thanks so much for joining us today. Fia and I would love to hear from you. You’re invited to chat with us (comments below). Be sure to take a look inside Ariel on Amazon and dive right into the pages of a great new book. ~ Bette A. Stevens

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