Friday, June 29, 2012


Mark your calendars for August, 2012. Why? Because great things are happening. C. Lee McKenzie's MG/Tween book, Alligators Overhead, will be released.

One look at the cover and you know you have to read the book. Lucky me, I have a pdf arc. Tell you more in August.

Have a nice weekend. Happy Reading.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Quote for the Week: Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears. John Lennon

Today I'm delighted to share a book with you from fellow MuseItUp Author Marva Dasef. Enjoy.

  • Print Length: 134 pages
  • Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing (October 10, 2011)
  • ASIN: B005URFJ0Y

  • BAD SPELLING (Review)

    By Marva Dasef


    What if you’re a Wiccan and are supposed to be able to cast spells, but everything you try somehow ends up as a catastrophe? Can you do something to make your magic work the way it’s supposed to? Or are you doomed to be a failure?

    In Author Marva Dasef’s middle grade novel, BAD SPELLING, Katrina’s (Kat’s) father, Boris, died before she was born, yet her aunt Thordis talks to him. When Kat learns that a shaman cast a spell on her father and that spell is what affects Kat’s magic, turning it into a disaster, as well as possibly spreading from Kat to the whole village of Galdorheim and destroying it, she decides to find the shaman and stop him, before it‘s too late. Along with her part vampire half-brother, Rune, she sets off to Siberia, where her father’s family lives, hoping to find the answers. The teens meet a lot of interesting characters along the way, some friendly, some scary. But they let nothing stop them in their quest. Kat is a spunky heroine. Rune has a delightful sense of humor.

    I really like the relationship between the siblings. They tease each other, the way brothers and sisters do. Yet they also care for one another and will protect the other when danger threatens. Marva Dasef has written a story of adventure, excitement, and suspense that should appeal to middle grade readers as they follow along with the teens on a journey they’ll not soon forget. BAD SPELLING would make a nice addition to school classrooms and libraries as well as to your personal library. There are two more books available in the series The Witches of Galdorheim: MIDNIGHT OIL and SCOTCH BROOM. Oh, do you wonder what the catchy title, BAD SPELLING, means? Being a former teacher, kids that can’t spell was my first thought. What do you think?

    Ebook courtesy of the author.


    Happy Reading.

    Friday, June 22, 2012


    I just finished the ARC of another great debut novel. The blurb from Good Reads says:

    On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

    Miranda, a misfit girl from the island’s most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can’t dodge is each other.

    Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance

    So this story gives us a bit of history, along with adventure, romance, and mysteries.

    Reading level:
    Ages 13 and up
    Paperback: 416 pages

    Publisher: Strange Chemistry (September 4, 2012)

    Language: English

    ISBN-10: 1908844078

    ISBN-13: 978-1908844071

    Don't you just love the cover.

    My Review:

    BLACKWOOD Review

    By Gwenda Bond

    Start with a touch of history that occurred over 400 years ago, add the mystery of more than 100 people who have vanished now without a trace, mix in characters with special abilities, or curses, stir and you have a story sure to keep you searching for the answers to the weird happenings on Roanoke Island, along with the main characters.

    Author Gwenda Bond’s debut novel, BLACKWOOD, takes the story of the disappearance of the settlers of Roanoke Island and weaves a story around a present day mystery, disturbingly similar to what happened in the 1500s. One hundred people are missing, Miranda Blackwood’s father one of them. Other strange things are happening, as well. Miranda sees a ghost ship. Legend says that the Blackwood name is linked to the fate of the island. What’s more, the strawberry colored snake birthmark that was on her father’s face, now is on Miranda’s.

    Phillips Rawling, bad boy whose parents sent him to Jackson, a semi-reform school, unexpectedly arrives back in town. The voices in his head come back with him. Miranda and Phillips make an unlikely team, but someone has to discover the fate of her father and the other people before it’s too late. As Miranda and Phillips investigate they learn that no one is who he or she claims to be and forces they never imagined have plans for them.

    Told from alternating points of view, BLACKWOOD will have you guessing at the outcome until the end. You may think you know how the story turns out. You may also be surprised. If your history about Roanoke Island is sketchy, the way mine was, you’ll likely find yourself researching the events that occurred ages ago. Ms. Bond leaves us with a cliffhanger. There will be another book; I hope it’s soon.

    ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Strange Chemistry


    Monday, June 18, 2012


    Quote for the week:  Happiness often sneaks in a door you didn't know you left open. John Barrymore

    I'm excited to interview my dear friend, Author Wanda Snow Porter. (From her site) I grew up on a small farm roaming the hills and riding horses along the California Coast, attended school in a nearby town, then married and stayed in this friendly community to raise a family.

    I have two horses, Luis and Mick, and a cat named Smoocher. My love of animals, my experience as a horse trainer, and my passion for art and history led me to write stories for young people.

    When I'm not writing, it's fun to photograph birds in my yard or help roundup cattle, watch cowboys rope and brand calves, and then have a barbecue.

    Welcome, Wanda. Thanks for answering my questions.


    I had to share this photo of Wanda and her cat that looks so much like my Tiger.

    Bev: According to your biography, you lead a very interesting life. Besides training horses and writing books, you also are a docent at the Dana Adobe. Tell us what the Dana Adobe is and about your work there.

    Wanda: Dana Adobe was the home of Captain William G. Dana and his wife Maria Josefa Carrillo de Dana. The old adobe was built on Rancho Nipomo, a thirty-eight- thousand acre rancho granted to Captain Dana by Mexico in 1837. Dana docents do lots of things, but mainly we give house tours, and help school children experience what life was like on the rancho over 150 years ago. Besides learning about the people who lived there, the kids who visit the adobe make tortillas and adobe bricks, dance Mexican dances, learn about roping and branding cattle, and many other interesting things.

    Bev: You asked me about my favorite horse, so do you have a favorite horse?

    Wanda: I’ve ridden and trained horses most of my life. Some were fancy show horses, others ranch horses. Each had a unique personality and some quality I really loved. The two horses I ride now are completely different. My retired dressage horse, Luis, is dependable, but somewhat lazy. My younger horse, Mick, has a more flighty nature, but is a good cow horse. I love them both. We’ve gone on many adventures together.

    Bev: What’s the story behind your historical children’s book Spurs for Jose?

    Wanda: As a Dana docent, I enjoy talking about the vaqueros who lived and worked on the rancho. Captain Dana was lucky to have the help of Native Americans who made adobe bricks, candles and soap, wove blankets, herded the sheep, and roped and branded the cattle. Without them, Dana couldn’t have built a house or managed his rancho, nor would there have been a hide and tallow trade in California. In most of the books I’ve read, these hard working people are nameless, and usually referred to as Indians or vaqueros. This inspired me to write a poem and give the vaqueros names. When I began to write the poem, the name José Rodriquez entered my mind. I felt like he was telling me his story, and instead of a poem, I wrote a historical novel, Spurs for José.

    Bev: Describe your writing day. When did you start writing? What was your motivation? Morning or evening person? Do you outline or let the story flow?

    Wanda: When writing a story, I don’t outline. My stories develop in layers. I start with an idea, knowing where I want to go with the plot, write the first draft, getting to know the characters better, and then go back and fill in details. I love doing a job that requires me to read. However, I never planned to be a writer. When teaching horseback riding, I started to write a list of safety rules for my young students, but instead, decided a story would be more fun and make it more likely they’d remember to be cautious around horses. That short story ended up in an anthology titled, Along the Way: Our Unique Relationship With Horses. Published for the benefit of young dressage riders, my payment was one copy of the book. When it arrived in the mail, I opened the package, and my story was included with one written by the famous author, Jane Smiley, and the dressage expert, Charles De Kunffy. What a thrill. I was hooked on writing.

    Bev: Where did you get the idea for your forthcoming book Remedy? (Great cover by the way.)

    Wanda: I fell in love with donkeys when writing and illustrating three picture books about the burros who lived at Dana Adobe. They were such humble, loveable animals, and smart, too. Remedy started out as a short story with a different title, written for one of my riding students who owned a donkey, about a desert burro captured by the Bureau of Land Management and put up for adoption. Then sometime later, Tim McGrew’s character sprung into my mind, and that short story grew into a novel about a boy and a wild burro who have difficulty adjusting to their new home. I’m not sure when Whimsical Publications will be releasing Remedy, but it will be sometime this year.

    Bev: Anything you’d like to add for your readers?

    Wanda: I hope they enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

    Bev: Where can we learn more about you and your work?

    Wanda: At Whimsical Publications:

    My Website:

    Dana Adobe:

    About the Books:

    Book Blurb for Spurs for José: José Rodriquez’s papa says he must help tame Rancho Grande’s wild colts. He knew this day would come, for on the Alta California rancho, being a vaquero and training horses was his family’s tradition. Vaqueros’ horsemanship and roping skills were legendary and their lives full of danger. Many vaqueros had been killed or crippled while riding the mustangs. Did he have enough courage to ride the wild ones and measure up to his papa’s expectations?

    Book Blurb for Remedy: Everything in thirteen-year-old Tim McGrew’s life stinks. It was bad enough his dad left, but even worse, he must move to his grandparent’s remote ranch on Nowhere Mountain, leave his friends and school behind, and give up playing baseball. He loves his whacky grandma and enjoyed summer visits at the ranch backpacking and horseback riding with his grandpa. But now Grandpa is dead. And Tim and his dog, Tiny, are the only males in a house full of women. To top off his problems, Grandma adopts a wild burro from the Bureau of Land Management and expects him to train it. Tim hopes it’s true that Grandpa’s ghostly vibes still linger around the ranch, because he needs help taming the long-eared donkey with a noisy bray, and even more important, needs advice on how to get his parents back together.

    Thanks again for visiting with us today, Wanda.

    I highly recommend Spurs for Jose (which I reviewed awhile back) and look forward to reading Remedy when it comes out.

    Happy reading.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012

    MySpace Comments and Happy Fathers Day Comments



    September 1901 - September 1964


    Friday, June 15, 2012


    Today, I am delighted to introduce you to Author Mar Preston and her latest book, RIP-OFF.  Here's Mar, in her own words:

    I grew up in northern Ontario and love its lakes and forests. But I lived in Santa Monica for decades watching big money, land development, and politics clash.

    Getting a good murder mystery novel out of what goes on behind the scenes in grassroots politics, glitzy businesses, and developer skullduggery makes all those dreary Santa Monica city council meetings worthwhile.

    I live now in a village in the California mountains not that far from the edge of the Los Angeles sprawl. There's too much to do here: I'm writing crime fiction seriously, but I can't get away from the SPCA, local environmental politics, and the writing community.

    Life is good.

    Mar has some interesting things to tell us about her writing.



    People ask why you write one kind of book and not another. Why whodunit murder mysteries in my case? Why not literary family fiction?

    I worked decades as an academic researcher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. We surveyed three and then four-generation families concentrating on the relationships between the generations. So many stories in those survey booklets. Comments written in the margins and then continued on lined sheets torn from notebooks. Comments that would break your heart, or make your spirit soar that there was such hope, such giving and love still left in the world.

    But that wasn’t the way my psyche directed the keyboard when I began to write. I wanted the drama of someone dying and as far as I know that never happened in our study families. My life is probably like most of yours, pretty normal for the most part. No walk on the wild side, maybe a skitter or two over to the edge when I was young and foolish.

    Murder is pretty much the ultimate drama. Everything stops with murder and nothing is the same ever again. Not that homicide is the ultimate cruelty one person can do to another.

    People do barbarous, stupid things. Somebody dies over a perceived insult, over five dollars, over a bad grade. Inexplicable stupid reasons. But in a murder mystery it has to come out right. Method, motivation, and opportunity must be clear.

    Can you ever really know why somebody dies violently in the everyday world? In fiction the villain killed the victim because of love, hate, revenge, money, or glory. But we all know it’s more complicated than that. Sometime it feels to me as though it’s a big sloppy world with everyone biting everyone else and nothing really makes sense. Fortunately I don’t feel that way all the time.

    That’s why I so enjoyed writing Rip-Off, my second mystery involving Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department and his activist girlfriend Ginger. I enjoy living in their heads, knowing what happened and telling the why. I'm fascinated by the way organized crime can look so pretty on the surface.

    And I really, really enjoyed making all the stories come out right so that the villain(s) were truly, righteously punished.


    Let's talk about Mar's books now.

    Blurb for RIP-OFF

    High-tech burglary and murder are bad for business in the upscale, tourist-destination beach city of Santa Monica with its leftist politics, rich homeowners, and huge homeless population. Bad for Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department.
    A deadbeat burglar has been found in the upscale Santa Monica beach condo of a playboy studio exec. The dead body must link up with a string of high-tech burglaries, and the Chechens Mason keeps meeting must link up with each other somehow, but how?
    The investigation leads him down mean streets into the dark world of embezzlement and an explosion that almost kills him. The stakes rise as the investigation send Mason to the Hollywood Russian community where he is warned off by the FBI and Homeland Security. A bungled take down results in two murders of key informants. Fingers are pointed. Mason is outranked and the Department blamed.
    While Mason brings an international whodunit to an end, restoring his own and the Department’s reputation, he finds his relationship with his community activist girlfriend teetering on the edge.

    Second Book: RIP-OFF

    Release date: June 15, 2012

    Here’s the Kindle version below:

    See for further information. Rip-Off will be available in paperback, ebook, and .pdf

    First book: NO DICE

    Kindle version:

    Wow! These look like good books to read while lounging at the beach on a balmy afternoon or sitting under the air conditioner when the temps reach a hundred degrees.

    Thanks for visiting with us today, Mar.

    Happy Reading.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    Guest for Breakfast

    Look who stopped by for breakfast this morning.

    The corn was pretty well picked over by the deer during the night. So she went away.

    A few days ago, this lovely bird posed for me.

    Isn't Mother Nature kind to us?

    Monday, June 11, 2012


    Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Author Jack Whitsel on his virtual book tour for his forthcoming novel SHADOWS OF KINGS.

    Jack Whitsel is a native Californian, but has made Oregon his home since 1982. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Finance from Portland State University, but studies medieval history in his spare time. His favorite genres are fantasy and historical fiction with a medieval emphasis. Shadows of Kings, the first novel of the Dragon Rising Series is the love child born of these two passions.

    “I love the elements of fantasy when mixed with the gritty aspects of a medieval society,” states the author.


    Steel and sorcery clash as the Harhn incursion sweeps through the Hugue. Mankind faces its greatest peril without the Order Knights of legend to defend them. Crusading deep in the frontier, the Order is unaware of the savage beasts threatening their homeland as the Hugue realms muster their armies for war.

    Between a cunning Harhn sorcerer, and an alliance forged with the decadent Darkfey, the horde threatens to extinguish the domains of men. Only Lord Baudouin and Lady Lucia, a Dragon Maiden from the Order, stand in the enemy’s path. One must find the strength to unify the realms. The other must discover the strength within her, while coming to terms with the agendas of her Order. But only together will there be any hope to repel the onslaught, and preserve the future for a mysterious girl they do not know.

    Chapter excerpt:

    Purchase info:

    Title: Shadows of Kings
    Author: Jack Whitsel
    Author web site:
    Publisher: Twilight Times Books
    Genre: Fantasy
    Print ISBN: 978-1-60619-223-8
    Format: trade paperback
    Distributors: Brodart, Follett, Ingram

    eBook ISBN: 978-1-60619-222-1
    Format: ebook in pdf, ePub, Kindle, Mobi, PRC, etc.

    Distributors: Amazon Kindle; Apple iBookstore; Nook; eReader; Fictionwise; Kobo Books; OmniLit; Sony eBookstore, etc.

    Release date: June 15, 2012
    Price: $17.95 trade; $6.50 ebook
    Size: 5.5 x 8.5
    Pages: 270

    (Don't you just love the cover?)

    The Review:

    Do you enjoy knights with flashing swords and fair maidens with a touch of sorcery? Are stories containing battle scenes aided by magic your favorite reads? If you answered yes to the above, you’ll want to read Jack Whitsel’s debut novel, SHADOWS OF KINGS, where he gives you both and much more, such as good guys and bad guys, along with a surprise now and then, as well.

    Written from different point of view characters. SHADOWS OF KINGS takes the reader on a journey right along with the knights and lowborns as they fight for survival against the beasts waging war on the domains of Man. Let me warn you now, the battle scenes are bloody and very descriptive and not for the squeamish. The language too might make you blush. It did me, but then I‘m used to reading novels for children and young adults. There also are a lot of characters to keep up with, and I sometimes was confused. The author develops the major characters so well, however, that you care about them and want them to succeed in their quests. When one of them is wounded or dies in battle, you’ll mourn for them and wish they had survived. I really liked Lucia, who, even with her sorcery, was also vulnerable, letting me feel her pain and her emotions, making her more real to me. But as in all good stories, even science fiction and fantasy, good people and people we care about die. We morn them and then move on.

    The addition of magic and spells makes the author’s story more than simply an adventure tale like so many others. They add mystery and fantasy along with suspense. SHADOWS OF KINGS is a nice debut novel. The good news is the book is the first in a series, so you can look forward to more from Author Jack Whitsel.


    Happy Reading.

    Friday, June 8, 2012


    I'm curious. How many of you work on more than one story at a time? If you do, how do you manage to keep the characters and plot lines straight? Or is it a problem?

    At the moment, I'm revising two manuscripts. One is a YA Contemporary, the other is a MG/Tween contemporary. Since they're for different ages, the characters have different issues to deal with. Finding the time to work on each one is a challenge, however. I do better if I stay with one each day rather than try to revise both the same day. So three days a week I usually work on one. The other three days I work on the other. It only takes a few minutes to reread the previous pages and catch up with the characters and their stories. Then it's revise, revise, revise. This is where I read the comments from my crit partners, too. They're so good and helpful.

    What works best for you?

    Have a nice weekend. Happy reading.

    Monday, June 4, 2012


    Quote for the week:  Promise me you'll always remember you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. A. A. Milne

    Recently I was honored  by Brooke Ryter who kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you, Brooke. Visit her blog and see what she's up to.

    According to the rules, I must list 15 blogs worth discovering and reveal 7 things about myself.    Well, I'm going to have to pass on naming the worthwhile blogs. My schedule overfloweth with stuff to do, like edits and reviews and promo and all the good stuff that comes with being a writer. But all of my dear friends and followers have great blogs so each of you are nominated and if you so desire, pick up the award and display it on  your blog. Let us know if you do.
    Now, for things about myself, which you probably already know.
    1. I'm a mom of three living sons, six grandchildren, two step grandchildren, and three great grandkids. Also two cats and deer and birds that I feed.
    2. My favorite book and movie is Gone With The Wind.
    3. I like to listen to the old records by Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, and The Platters. (Yes, I have a record player. These aren't CDs.)
    4. Playing the piano is my way to relax.
    5. I save things, like the 1889 silver dollar my grandparents gave me when I was very young.
    6. I have claustrophobia and hate closets, submarines, and elevators.
    7. Long walks among the mesquite and elm trees make me thankful for God's beautiful world.
    And there you have my life.
    Thank you again, Brooke.
    Have a lovely week, everyone.
    Happy reading.   

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Do you enjoy challenges? Do you like a good puzzle, one that really exercises your brain to come up with the solution? If you answered yes to the above, I have a great book for you.

  • Print Length: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Grabarchuk Puzzles; 1 edition (April 12, 2012)
  •  Amazon

  • 103 PUZZLE QUIZZES, by the Grabarchuk Family, is the 4th volume of the Top Rated Puzzlebook: Puzzle Quizzes Series. The puzzles are original creations by the Grabarchuk Family and exclusively for Kindle and Kindle apps, like my iPad. To be honest with you, I’m not much of a puzzle solving person. When I can’t figure out the answer, I get frustrated too easily. It’s been years since I attempted a puzzle, but I like to read a variety of books, so I decided to give this one a chance. And surprise, surprise, I did better with the puzzles than I thought I would. Oh, a lot of them were too tough for me. But the book starts out with simple puzzles and progresses to harder and harder. The neat thing about it is the book is interactive. You choose your answer by clicking on a button and it tells you whether you’re right or wrong. When I was wrong I tried again and then studied the correct answer to see what I had done wrong. The toughest puzzles for me were the Hidden Pictures. I’m going to blame it on my glasses. They are my challenge now, to see how many I can solve the first time.

    With the long, hot summer days ahead, 103 PUZZLE QUIZZES would be perfect to keep you entertained while sitting under the air conditioner, drinking your iced tea or whatever, and developing your thinking skills. If I can do it, you can. So what are you waiting for? Start puzzling. Have fun.

    EBook courtesy of the authors


    Have a nice weekend.