Friday, February 25, 2011

Where Love Once Lived Available in Austin History Center

 I told you how I donated two copies of Where Love Once Lived to the Austin History Center in the December 13, 2010 blog. See: for details.

I corresponded with Brenda Branch, Director of Libraries and Mike Miller, Austin History Center Manager, by email after that blog. I checked for a while after that to see if the book had been cataloged. I gave up after a few weeks. Then last week I thought about it again and checked once more.

One copy of Where Love Once Lived is now shown to be in the Austin History Center, for library use only. I don't know what happened to the other copy. Maybe it'll show up in the main library someday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Mother the Man- Eater by Tracy Krauss

 Here's something I've never done before.

I'm going to recommend you purchase a book I've not read. Not only that, it has a funny name, and I would like you to order it through TODAY!

Why this book?

First of all, I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't have confidence in the author. I plan to buy the book myself and review it at a later date. I met Tracy Krauss through the American Christian Fiction Writers association and I have communicated with her enough to know the book will be something I will enjoy reading. She's calls herself the author of ‘edgy inspirational’ fiction. I've learned to associate edgy with clean, but real world. Here's the blurb:

Loaded with humor, action, intrigue and romance, My Mother the Man-Eater is the exciting story of a woman whose search for meaning in life finds an unexpected outlet. Joleen Allen is on the hunt for a man. Unfortunately, every time the mother of five meets one, he falls for one of her daughters instead! At forty-four, Joleen has lived a tough life. She became a mother at 16, and her five daughters are now grown. Her ex-husband, Harold, is out of prison and back in the picture, looking for revenge. He'll stop at nothing - even murder - to ruin Joleen's reputation as well as her relationship with their daughters. My Mother the Man-Eater makes for some truly tempting and redemptive reading.

And here is Tracy's brief bio:

Tracy Krauss is a prolific author, playwright, director and artist. Originally from a small prairie town, she now resides in Tumbler Ridge, BC, known for its scenic mountain vistas and many waterfalls. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and currently teaches high school Art, Drama and English.

Why today?

There's two reasons to buy the book today. One is to help Tracy punch sales on a single day to push the book into the bestseller group. But, that doesn't help you.

Besides getting the opportunity to own and read the book, if you buy it today (February 24, 2011) you will receive a number of gifts. All you have to do to be eligible for the gifts is to order the book from using the link on this page and then go to: On that page is a place to type in your name, email, and Amazon purchase number.  Then you will be able to select from a list of electronic gifts.

I hope you'll join in the fun today.

DISCLAIMER: This Best Seller book launch has been coordinated with the help of the ‘John 3:16 Marketing Network’ and many other generous supporters. The free gifts are deliverable electronically over the internet or by email by individual authors and supporters. They are not in any way associated with, nor deliverable by,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

INTERVIEW: Shawna K. Williams, Author of Grace-Inspired Fiction

I met Shawna K. Williams through the American Christian Fiction Writers association, where she is an active participant in the online ACFW Book Club. She lives in Arkansas and says this about herself:

I'm a lot of things, so I'll list them according to importance; I'm a Christian, a wife, mother, friend. I'm also a teacher, writer, artist, rancher, and animal lover. These last few kind of jostle for my attention, and what's more important one day, isn't the next. I think that's true with everyone.

She is also involved in a non-profit ministry to help women get out of the sex trafficking industry. It is faith based, and their hope is to bring those they take in to Christ, but they also work to transition these women into a life far away from the industry, where they can get and hold a job, find and keep a home, and repair damaged relationships. She is helping to obtain donations of books and other items to help these women through this transition.

In All Things

What impressed me about Shawna is her writing. Shawna is the author of three books published by Desert Breeze, No Other, In All Things, and Orphaned Hearts, with a fourth book due out this year. I've read the first two and loved them both. Today, I'll be talking to her about In All Things.

Q: From talking to you about your book, No Other, I know you research the time period of your stories in great detail. In preparing for the sequel, In All Things, how did you learn so much about Hollywood stars during that time period? Do you have some inside knowledge of that time and place?

A: The setting and era were probably what seemed most daunting when I started this book. I've always had a fascination with Old Hollywood, and had already read a number of biographies about starlets of the day. I learned quite a bit about the internal struggles going on within the industry from these actresses own run-ins with the powers that be.

Mostly, I just researched the snot out of this thing. The last thing I wanted was to sound like a girl, born in 1970 and living in Arkansas, writing about 1950s Hollywood. It makes me really happy that you wondered if I had an inside source. I was able to find someone who worked as a makeup artist in the industry, and someone who worked as a costumer. Those ladies were helpful for clarifying several finer points. Other than that though, I just read everything I could get my hands on about the industry. I've got quite a collection of books about Hollywood history, agents and managers, on set etiquette, the technical side of movie making, you name it. One of the most fascinating books is called The Star Machine. It's about the factory like process Old Hollywood used to create its stars. Everything was manufactured! I used this as a basis for Meri's journey into stardom.

Any hints for a busy writer?

Q: I see you marketing your other books through various ways and helping other writers so much, it makes me wonder how you find time to write. Any hints for a busy writer?
A: Don't sleep. I'm at home during the day, so that is a benefit for me. I try to use my spare time in the daylight hours to take care of the business angle. It's getting harder, though. I'm kind of struggling with a case of burn out at the moment, but still trying to hang in there.

I write at night after everyone has gone to bed.

Q: I try not to read book reviews for a book I plan to review myself so I haven't read the ones for In All Things. However, I heard you voice concern about your first negative review. Tell us how that made you feel at the time and how you feel now that you've had time to think about it.

A: I knew that sooner or later I'd get one because that's just part of the biz. I had wondered how I would react. In all honesty, I'm okay. Sure, I wish the person would have loved the book. There's a lot packed into it, and my hope has always been that readers will understand my intent and find something of value to take away. It's not an easy read though, and therefore it's not going to appeal to everyone. The reviewer who gave it a negative rating is also an author. From the books she's written, it's clear that she and I have very different preferences and are also writing to different audiences, so it makes sense that this story wouldn't appeal to her.

Q: There's not a nice way to say this, but I noticed your first book, No Other, was cluttered with problems that should have been caught by a good editor while In All Things had none that I noticed. What happened between the first and second book?

A: Ah...yes. When No Other came out Desert Breeze had just turned a year old. They were growing rapidly but the editing staff was still very tiny. Problems were creeping up in a number of books, but it has been addressed. There are now six editors on staff and they're able to take more time with each book. Also, an author approval round has been added. I love the company, and when they realized the quality was suffering they were quick to fix the problem. I do hope to go back and correct some of the typos in No Other at some point.


Q: I read where you've signed a contract for a sequel to In All Things. Can you tell us about it? Have you written it already? Will it follow In All Things in time? When will it be available?

A: I signed a contract for The Good Fight, which will release in November 2011. I like to think of it as a spin-off from No Other and In All Things. Both of those books were mainly about Jakob and Meri. The Good Fight will focus on Roger, a character from No Other, who also had a small role in In All Things. The story takes place a few months after In All Things, right after Ralph is sent to prison. Roger is the DA, and he's faced with bringing Meri's dad to justice when he realizes that he's helping Galveston's mob family, the Maceo brothers (real mob family), relocate their gambling establishments to Port Delamar. There's a romance, of course, with Pennye, the sister of the kid Roger just prosecuted for murder. Oops!

So, we a have a new book to look forward to, and it sounds great. Thank you, Shawna, for sharing with us today. For more information about Shawna K Williams and her books, check her blog:

Where Can You Buy a Book?

Click the Amazon ad for the Kindle edition. Shawna's books are available in all eBook formats. Click Desert Breeze for the others.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Scapegoat By Daphne du Maurier

This is the story of what happens when two men who happen to look and sound alike trade places. One is unhappy with his life primarily due to loneliness and is seriously considering joining a monastery. The other is unhappy because he is smothered from caring for others. The situations of the men made the lonely one depressed while causing the other to be bitter and to strike back at those he loved.

British writer Daphne du Maurier, who lived from 1907 to 1989, wrote novels, short stories, plays, biographies, as well as non-fiction books and articles. Scapegoat was published in 1957, and not one I would have read if it hadn't been a selection made by the book club I belong to. Not because it didn't sound interesting, but because there are many newer books I haven't read. However, I'm glad I read it. In fact, I think I'll read some of her other books. Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel, to name a couple.

The premise seems improbable at first glance, but not so far out that it bothered me while reading the book. Many times I've spotted a face in the crowd, especially while traveling, of someone I recognize only to find it is a stranger. On at least two occasions the resemblance was so strong I considered asking the person to let me take a photo to show their so-called twin. I didn't, but only due to my shyness.

Scapegoat is well crafted and I fear I can't tell you much about it without spoiling it for you. As I read, I thought of many enjoyable paths the story could take and I cheerfully waited to see which one the author decided on.

John, a 38-year-old Englishman, is a historian who studies in France and teaches in England. He is fluent in the language and customs. His parents have died and he has no family. He is depressed and lonely, and so unhappy with his life in general, he is considering dropping out. The story begins in Le Mans, and John has his map marked to show how to get to a nearby monastery.

While walking on the street, he is mistaken for someone else. Soon he runs into Jean de Gué and learns they look and sound alike. They drink and talk about their lives. Before the evening is up, they end up in an inn where Jean gets John drunk and takes off with his clothes, car and identity. John is awaken the next day by Jean's chauffer who is there to take him home.

At first John thinks it is a joke. Then he gets mad. Finally, he decides Jean did it for him, John, so that he could experience a better life. John isn't sure what to do, but he goes with the chauffer to Jean's home where he learns Jean had lived with his wife, Françoise, his brother, Paul, Paul's wife, René, his sister, Blanche, his mother, and his daughter, Marie-Noel. No one notices John is not Jean. At one point John tells some of the family who he is, but they ignore him. Only the dogs know the truth.

After dark, John decides to leave, but goes back to keep Jean's daughter from jumping out window. With time, John realizes Jean is more of a failure than he is. The next day he decides to stay because it is amusing. Later, he feels shame after getting to know the people in Jean's life. Although John knows nothing about the business Jean managed, and little about the family members John makes several changes that affect the lives of the family members in a positive way.

There are more ups and downs in this fast-paced story, but that's all I want to say so that you'll enjoy this book as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Events for Authors

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a fundraiser called Booked for Lunch which was sponsored by the Assistance League of Georgetown Area. The 250 or so attendees paid $20 for a box lunch and an opportunity to hear the authors speak. There were three other local authors there who I knew from the San Gabriel Writers' League. We were given tables at one end of the hall to exhibit and sell books. The doors opened at 11:30 so there was time for the attendees to view the books before lunch began.

After lunch, the authors spoke for 15-20 minutes each. After the first two did their presentation, there was a break which meant another opportunity to talk to the authors and purchase books. Finally, after all had talked, there was time to sell books once again.

I sold a few books before lunch, but most of my sales were after I told them about the book. Several people bought more than one because they knew someone who would like to have it. I didn't presume they wanted it autographed, but most asked me to sign the book. One came back with a book purchased earlier and got me to sign it.

The other authors had multiple books for sale. I only had one. One of the others sold out and took orders for more books than I sold altogether. The book in demand was A War of Her Own, by Sylvia Dickey Smith, a novel about a woman in World War II. This author also took credit cards while I could only take cash and checks.

In addition to the poster I have of the book cover, Celeste suggested I take the framed awards the book has won. I think this helped. I also handed out bookmarks. I made a special sign showing the price of the book and the sales tax. The resulting price was $10 to make it easier to make change.

One person said she would love to read the book, but she prefers Kindle books. I told her it was available on Kindle and for only $5.99. I gave her a bookmark to remind her of the book's name, and she asked me to autograph it. The next day, Kindle reported a sale. For future events, I should include a sign or poster announcing the book is available on Kindle and iPad as well as other eBooks.

I wasn't sure about what to say when it came my turn to speak. Of course I had planned for it for weeks, so I don't mean I was not prepared. At other events, I vary my presentation to match the audience. This time I decided to talk about why I wrote Where Love Once Lived and how I studied novel writing to make it happen. I then read to passages from the book. I read the beginning of the book up to the point where Karen leaves the classroom to go to the book mobile, and the section from Brian's viewpoint where he and Liz leave the school. I thought this audience might enjoy meeting Liz, but the comments I got later indicate they also liked what I said about writing.