Genre: Mixed Fantasy, SciFi, Speculative with stories by Bokerah Brumley, Karl Gallagher, Carlton Herzog, G. Scott Huggins, C.S. Johnson, P.A. Piatt, J.F. Posthumus, James Pyles, Denton Salle, Ben Wheeler, Josh Young, Richard Paolinelli, Arlan Andrews Sr., J.M. Anjewierden, Dana Bell, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Karina L. Fabian, Rob Fabian, A.M. Freeman, Julie Frost
Saturn. The Ringed Planet. Harbinger of ideas and wonder. The planet that gave birth to the modern era of science envisioning the myriad of multi-colored rings circling the planet, one of the reasons for the invention of the telescope and the second largest in our solar system. These are the stories of Saturn, the great Titan. Tales of time, age and endings.
As usual with anthologies, some of these stories are better than others. I was surprised to find that not all of them have anything to do with Saturn. It was disappointing to discover that most of them have obviously not been professionally edited, and others contain completely unnecessary profanity that did nothing to add to the story or to character development. There are a few winners in here, but a lot of the stories just didn’t grab me. Overall, this anthology earns three stars from me.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
Swag pack, editor-signed signed paperback, and $25 Amazon gift card!
I want to recommend a helpful resource for authors! Read to the bottom for my review of K.M. Weiland’s new book. First, here’s the cover and her Amazon description:
Theme Is What Your Story Is Really About
Theme—the mysterious cousin of plot and character. Too often viewed as abstract rather than actionable, theme is frequently misunderstood and left to chance. Some writers even insist theme should not be purposefully implemented. This is unfortunate, because in many ways theme is story. Theme is the heart, the meaning, the point. Nothing that important should be overlooked.
Powerful themes are never incidental. They emerge from the conjunction of strong plots and resonant character arcs. This means you can learn to plan and implement theme. In doing so, you will deepen your ability to write not only stories that entertain, but also stories that stay with readers long after the end.
Writing Your Story’s Theme will teach you:
How to create theme from plot and character.
Why every supporting character and subplot should enhance the theme.
How to prevent theme from seeming preachy or “on the nose.”
What to consider in identifying the best theme for any given story.
And much more!
Conscious mastery of theme will elevate every story you write and allow you to craft fiction of depth and meaning.
Take Control of Your Story Via a Powerful Implementation of Theme
This is a useful resource for any author wanting to strengthen their novel’s theme. I’ve never read anything so in-depth on the subject! But don’t try to read this book when you’re tired or at less than peak mental alertness – it’s so deep and rich that takes a lot of brainpower to fully absorb the details. There are so many useful concepts here that I found myself highlighting dozens of separate passages, which I’ll have to look back over when I’m plotting out my next book. Thank you, K.M. Weiland, for another excellent writing resource!
Click here to buy Writing Your Story’s Theme from Amazon.
Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?
Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them today so they can tell you a bit about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!
Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?
It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.
Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?
Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.
I found this to be a really useful resource. I anticipate using it for every book I write from now on, to make sure I pick the right occupation for each character and describe the details of their job well. I definitely recommend the Occupation Thesaurus – it would be a great addition to any author’s toolbelt. It might even be useful for someone researching a new possible career for themselves!
By day Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night he is the shadowy leader of a growing revolution.
When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose—fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King’s Trial, where he hopes to win the help of his kin.
His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn’t return with help in time, the people he’s loved and secretly served will be gone.
Annie’s Thoughts: I just finished reading The King’s Trial this morning. I wholeheartedly recommend this clean fantasy adventure! All the main characters went through their own journeys (literal or metaphorical) of growth, and I like that I would not have predicted where some of those would lead. There was an element of romance, but it wasn’t entirely predictable either (predictability is what bothers me about most romance novels). A twist near the end caught me by surprise, which was also fun. But my favorite thing about The King’s Trial was the part of the story where Yosyph must travel through a maze of rock formations using a series of clever riddles/clues to tell him where to go. In one scene, he had to sing a particular song, walking at a pace where his feet kept rhythm with the tune, and then turn each time the word “left” or “right” came up in the song lyrics. I thought that was quite clever! Though the main conflict does get resolved and there’s no cliffhanger, a few loose ends in the story make me look forward to the sequel. If you enjoy fantasy or adventure stories, why not download your copy of The King’s Trial now?
Short and long excerpts from The King’s Trial
Nightmares usually end with the coming of day, but this one bled into the morning hours. Sunlight filtered through a vine-smothered window. – Yosyph
I slid from the horse’s back. “Glue for you.” I half-hoped he would wander off while I was in the Thirsty Stallion. I’d rather walk than get back on him. I pushed my way into the inn. Ugh. And I thought the clothes I’d taken smelled bad. Vomit, sweat, ale, beer, and all the other smells of the barracks were packed into one room. I thought the soldiers were gross, but this—no wonder Mother called the people dirty, miserable animals. – Halavant
We stepped off the hill’s crest and climbed down into the first reaches of the desert. The dry morning air burned with each breath. By the time we’d reached the bottom, it seemed we’d entered an oven. A hot wind whipped up to meet us, casting gritty sand in our eyes and mouths. The desert had swallowed us whole, and the other world of grass and trees no longer existed. – Yosyph
I learned something over the four days of travel: Galliard was wrongly named. He wasn’t Galliard the Wanderer but Galliard the Obstinate. I’d never had to endure a more mulish man, and there were plenty of them that sat in council with my mother. When I became king, I’d place him as the lead donkey in our luggage train, and he could put his talents to use.– Halavant
The wind crashed against me on both sides of the bridge, like waves breaking on sea cliffs, pouring over me with such force it ripped away my breath. – Yosyph
The middle of the night was toe-stubbing dark. I bit my lip to stop crying out as my little toe bent sideways around the leg of a chair. – Halavant
Longer Excerpt 1: Yosyph
I turned around to see the prince stomping down a garden path, whacking at bushes with a stick. Sun reflected off his white ringlets. Was he bleaching his hair now, or wearing a wig? He used to have wheat-yellow hair. His skin showed he spent hours outside each day, somehow turning it gold instead of ruddy or brown. His face had the round softness of luxury. It was little wonder the women compared him to a god.
“Prince Halavant,” the steward called out, “Hadron, the vintner, has sent a special gift of wine for your bride.”
He turned toward us, his brows furrowed and lips tight. “It won’t do any good. It would have been perfect for our picnic, but she’d rather go riding without me. I imagine she’s climbing our oak or skipping stones on our pond, without me!”
He was an angry, spoiled godling, not yet full grown. But at least he told me where to find her.
I turned to leave as he continued his rant.
“I’d like to thrash someone. But everyone even the least bit capable is on duty. Not one can spar. Nothing is going right today.” He turned. “You, what is your name and service?”
Why did he, of all people, notice me? I motioned to my throat.
“He is mute, sire,” the steward explained. “The son of the vintner.”
The prince studied me closer, then nodded, “You stand with the ease of a swordsman.”
I dropped to a slouch.
“Though too tall and lean to be much of a match. Still, I see no better options. You may have the privilege of sparing with your prince and future king.”
I slouched to the sparring yard. Perhaps he would rethink fighting me if I looked incapable.
The prince grumbled, “Pointless, worthless day. Left to spar with a mute commoner. Could it get any worse?”
I could think of a hundred ways.
He grabbed one of the dull metal practice swords and tossed another toward me. I leaped to the side, letting it clatter to the ground. I fumbled as I picked it up.
“He has no more skill than a practice dummy. I could take off his head.”
I rethought my strategy. He stood shorter than me, but heavier built and held himself with the balance of a dancer. I shifted my weight to my toes and gripped the sword, point down. Defend myself or not? Run? Wait. Watch. Three long breaths.
He sneered, then lunged, driving his sword toward my chest.
I threw myself to the side, barely keeping to my feet. The prince’s sword slid by my arm as he stumbled past.
I turned to face him. He roared and swung his sword downward. Metal screamed as I tried to deflect the blow. It was like trying to stop a falling cask with a metal rod. I pushed myself off the weight of the swords and spun aside with a slight stumble. It was getting harder to pretend clumsiness while avoiding blows.
He was like a bear. If I wasn’t careful, he’d break my arm or crack my skull. I ducked to avoid the latter.
“Stop dodging and fight, coward!” He whirled around with another crushing swing.
I didn’t like taking orders from him, but fighting instead of dodging seemed sound advice if I didn’t want to be crippled. So much for my half-wit mask. I leaned away from his swing while flicking my sword under his blow, striking him lightly across the ribs.
His Royal Rageness drew back and blinked. Had I injured his pride? I could end up in prison for scratching his pampered flesh. I tensed my legs, ready to dash through the open porter’s gate.
“Unexpected.” He adjusted his sword grip from a fist to a fencer’s hold. He rose to his toes. A hint of a smile creased his green eyes.
Longer Excerpt 2: Yosyph
At the water’s edge, a young woman stood beside a white horse. She flipped a stone into the pond and it skipped twelve times. If the prince liked novelty, she fit it. Hair the color of an autumn maple trailed down her back in tight curls. Paprika freckles dusted her cream skin. She burned brightly in a land of brown and flaxen tresses.
“She says I’m not fit to be a queen.” Katrin flung another stone. It skipped once, hit a lily pad, and sank. “Too ungainly, too brash, too forward. She’s nothing of grace herself, all dominance and force.”
I stepped from the trees.
She continued to rant. “I shall not be frightened away by her threats. I shall not! She tells me she shall make my life miserable if I don’t refuse to marry her son! Oh, how could she be Mother’s best friend and such a beast to me?”
I stepped closer. Still, she didn’t see me. Sometimes, not being noticed was bothersome. I cleared my throat. She whirled, a thin dagger appearing in her hand. Good, so she wasn’t oblivious to the danger.
Longer Excerpt 3: Yosyph
Katrin bent over the map, the end of her turban trailing down beside her face. “The map won’t change, no matter how much you glare at it.”
She was right.
I rolled up the map, slipped it inside a waterproof pouch, and tucked it back inside my robe. The recently purchased desert robes hung loosely from my shoulders to my feet. I considered taking them off and wearing my regular clothing, something easier to mount with. Yet the map had warned to wear desert robes to keep the body from losing too much water. How that worked was beyond me. They seemed to add to the heat of the day. I hooked one foot in the stirrup and swung my other leg over Flax’s back. My leg tangled in the robe and stopped halfway, leaving me sprawled across the saddle.
“You’ve never ridden in robes before?” Katrin’s eyes crinkled with amusement.
I shook my head as I slid to the ground. The robes fell back straight around me, as if they hadn’t had the perverse amusement of stopping me mid-mount.
Katrin looked at me as if waiting for my full attention. She stepped into the stirrup and in one fluid motion, flew into her saddle, her robes flowing out and settling around her. She nodded. “The robes are not all that different from my riding dress.”
“Which I’ve never had the pleasure of wearing,” I muttered.
Her eyes danced with laughter. “So you do have a sense of humor.” She watched as I semi-successfully mounted Flax. “Does that mean we are going?”
About the Author
As a youth, I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
Ever since I climbed up to the rafters of our barn at age four, I’ve lived high adventure: scuba diving, mud football with my brothers, rappelling, and even riding a retired racehorse at full gallop—bareback. I love the thrill and joy.
Stories give me a similar thrill and joy. I love living through the eyes and heart of a hero who faces his internal demons and the heroine who fights her way free instead of waiting to be saved. I read fiction and true-story adventure. I write both, though I’m starting with publishing the fiction—fact will come later.
I create high fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and poetry. I live a joyful adventure with my husband and six children. I am a Christian and I love my Savior.
– M. L. Farb
10 Fun, Random Facts about the Author
1.As a child, I couldn’t walk across a room. I danced, spun, skipped, ran, or otherwise moved, but I couldn’t just walk.
2.I took calculus at a community college at age 14. I planned to go to MIT and become an astronaut. Plans changed—in wonderful ways.
3.I love reading to my children. We’ve enjoyed books from Dr. Seuss to Les Misérables. Maniac Magee is one of our favorites.
4.I lived in St Petersburg, Russia for half-a-year teaching English to kindergartners. I learned to wash my clothes in a bathtub, filter and boil my drinking water, and love my sweet, crayon-eating, kids.
5.I have slight dyslexia. ‘b’ and ‘p’ sometimes flip flop on me. But it also means I can read a book upside-down.
6.I love climbing, rappelling, and horseback riding. But I hate roller coasters and bungee jumping.
7.I’ve journaled almost every day since I turned seventeen. I capture conversations, descriptions, happenings, and quotes. I explore ideas. Through the years I’ve written well over a million words. It prepared me to become an author.
8.Plumbing Repair is my nemesis. I’m grateful I don’t have to battle it very often. In the end, I always win, but I feel like I’ve fought an arch-villain who pulled every dirty trick in the book, including Chinese water torture in claustrophobic conditions.
9.I live with a vivid imagination. I dream in 3-D, technicolor, and occasionally with my eyes open. This is a bane when it comes to nightmares. I will not watch horror movies.
10.The King’s Trial started as a bedtime tale I told my little sisters twenty years ago. Don’t worry. I wrote the second book, The King’s Shadow, in six months, and it will come out this autumn.
Plus an extra: I have an accent. People often ask me where I’m from. Maybe it’s my reader accent. I’ve read out loud enough different books in character, that perhaps it stuck.
If there’s one universal truth about writers, it’s that we like to share. When we hear great writing advice, we share. If we read a book we like, we share. And, when we come across a resource that has really helped us, yes that’s right…we share! So today I’m sharing some news: authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have released a second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression! You may have heard of this book, or even own a copy, but it’s quite possible that you didn’t realize it had a second edition. Up until a month ago, I didn’t either! It was all kept a secret by the authors who were determined to “show, not tell” their next new book through a mystery reveal. I
This second edition is more than a new cover. It’s been been enhanced and expanded to include 55 new entries and double the teaching material. Now we can go even deeper when showing our characters’ emotions! Anyway, if you want to look into it further, you can read some of the reviews onGoodreadsor find more informationhere. Also, one more thing I want to share…a MEGA-OPPORTUNITY to win something amazing!
To celebrate the new book & its dedicated readers, Angela and Becca have an unbelievable giveaway on right now: one person will win a free writing retreat, conference, workshop, or professional membership to a writing organization, winner’s choice (up to $500 US, with some other conditions which are listed on the WHW site). What conference would you attend if the fee was already paid for…or would you choose a retreat?Something else?Decisions, decisions! This giveaway ends on February 26th, so hurry over and enter!
I have a secret to spill!
For the last month, I’ve been part of a Street Team for Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers, who are launching their new writing book on February 19th. Because they are known for showing, not telling, they decided it would be fun to keep the thesaurus book’s topic a secret until the book cover reveal…WHICH IS TODAY!
It’s been hard keeping quiet about this, so I am thrilled I can finally announce that The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition is coming! Many of you writers know (and possibly use) the original Emotion Thesaurus. It released in 2012 and became a must-have resource for many because it contained lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 emotions, making the difficult task of showing character emotion on the page much easier. Many people have asked Angela and Becca to add more emotions over the years that they decided to create a second edition. It contains 55 NEW entries, bringing the total to 130 emotions. This book is almost DOUBLE IN SIZE and there’s a lot more new content, so I recommend checking it out. And you can. Right now.
One last thing…Angela & Becca have a special gift for writersHERE. If you like free education, stop by and check it out. (It’s only available for a limited time!)
by Alana Terry
When Kennedy Stern’s childhood pastor asks her to volunteer at his new pregnancy center, she carves time out of her rigorous college schedule to promote the cause of the unborn.
After receiving a disturbing call from someone far too young to carry a child in the first place, Kennedy can no longer blindly hide behind the pro-life platitudes she grew up believing. She resolves to locate the unknown girl but winds up entrenched in a mystery that grows more convoluted as it unfolds.
Soon, Kennedy finds herself a pawn in a deadly game of intrigue, at the mercy of those who consider a few innocent lives a small ransom to pay in exchange for personal and political victory.
Alana Terry has won awards from Women of Faith, the Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Unplanned was a finalist in the Deep River Books writing contest.
Annie’s review: I really enjoyed this book. It’s a gripping story, quite fast paced in places. Fans of the author’s international suspense novels (Beloved Daughter, Slave Again, and Torn Asunder) will enjoy getting to know Kennedy Stern, a minor character only referred to briefly elsewhere in the series. But this book is a whole separate story, so it’s not necessary to have read the others in order to understand and enjoy this one. Unlike Alana Terry’s other books, Unplanned takes place entirely in the United States, instead of North Korea and China. It starts readers off in the frazzled schedule of a new college student trying to juggle classes, church, friendships, and ministry activities, along with adjusting to life in a country she hasn’t lived in since she was little. Then the ministry she reluctantly volunteered for opens a door to a huge problem that eats into even more of her time, and before she knows it, things spiral out of control. Danger to herself and others plunges Kennedy into a crisis of faith as she struggles desperately to save three lives, including her own, and to get to the bottom of a mystery that may involve a prominent politician. If you enjoy mystery and suspense, read Unplanned! It’s an exciting story that deals well with a controversial subject. The author doesn’t shy away from tricky issues, like where God is when things go wrong and prayers seem to go unanswered. (She certainly doesn’t give pat answers to them, either.) Not to give any spoilers, but this is not a story where all the problems are nicely taken care of by the end, everything is wrapped up, and everybody can go back to happy little lives. Nothing that deals with issues this real and serious can end that neatly. But the ending is as satisfying as it could realistically get, and there are just enough unanswered questions to let us know the author is planning a sequel. And I can’t wait to read it!
BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS
IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED.
Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.
But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?
For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.
I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And wow, I loved it! Of course, I love all of Anne Elisabeth Stengl‘s books, so I expected nothing less.
One of my favorite aspects of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series that although the setting is an imaginary world (or set of worlds, actually), it’s obviously inspired by real cultures and geographical locations in our world. The empire in which most of Golden Daughter takes place is based on a mix of East Asian cultures, which I especially appreciated, considering that I live in East Asia myself.
The characters here are vividly portrayed, and I couldn’t help but care about their struggles and triumphs. It was nice to see a few old friends from Stengl‘s other books, but we mostly meet new characters in Golden Daughter. The author threw out a few intriguing tidbits that help connect the dots between events in various other books in the series, some of which take place thousands of years apart. Now I want to go back and re-read certain scenes in certain of her other books that I know will make more sense now.
If you enjoy fantasy at all, I highly recommend the Tales of Goldstone Wood. If you’ve read any of the other books in the series, you’ll definitely want to read Golden Daughter. If you haven’t, Golden Daughter can stand on its own – but after you read it, you may find yourself eager to get your hands on the rest!
Today I’m happy to host a writer friend of mine, Brad Francis, on my blog. I recently read his new book The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living, and it made an impact on my life in a way few books ever have. Here’s Brad to talk a little more about the story and what inspired it, then I’ll be back on with my review of the book at the end.
First of all, I want to thank you, Annie, for giving me the opportunity to come to your blog and talk about my new book. The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living is the longest book I’ve ever written, and in many ways the most challenging, but I’m very pleased with the final product and am glad to put it out into the world.
It all begins with a drunk demon. His name is Melchior and the reason he’s been drinking is that he’s so bored with his day-to-day life. He’s assigned to an entire church full of Christians. They’re active in church activity—attending services and programs, classes and studies—but their impact on their community is nonexistent…which means that Melchior has nothing to do, so he’s bored out of his mind. He ends up visiting the pastor of the church to tell him exactly what he’s doing wrong and inadvertently starts a revival in the process. What happens as the result of that visit comprises the bulk of the book.
Why did I write it? You can probably guess based on the description. I’m concerned about the state of the Church, both in the United States where I live and around the world. Nominalism seems to run rampant anywhere that has a legacy of Christianity. We hear wonderful reports of the way faith is spreading in the Muslim world and in places of intense persecution. I’m certainly not trying to suggest that there is no one passionately following Christ in the US, but the statistics show that: regular churchgoers live nearly identical lives to the rest of the world, rarely (if ever) share their faith, and do not make disciples. That’s what the research indicates. Does anecdotal evidence paint a different picture?
And, I assure you, I am not observing all this from some sort of high horse, scoffing down at good-hearted believers who have gotten off track. A great deal of the temptations and distractions in this book come directly from my personal experiences. I feel the pull of the world. I wish I didn’t. I wish I always lived a life in line with what I know to be true. I wish my life looked more like the godly men and women whom the Holy Spirit develops throughout the course of this book. Maybe that’s one of the differences between fiction and real life. I know that God is working in me, but, alas, the progress is slower than it is for my characters. Of course, maybe they’re much quicker to surrender to His will than I am.
These are some of the issues I was working through personally while writing this book. I’m blessed and excited to see that God has already started to use this novel in the lives of some of its readers, and I hope and pray that He uses this story for His glory.
That, after all, is what it’s all about.
Brad Francis is the author of the Christian fantasy series The Magi Chronicles and the best-selling short story The Book of the Harvest. He is also a published playwright and his short scripts are performed in churches around the United States. Brad lives in Radcliff, Kentucky, with his wife, Shannon, and two daughters, Madison and Sage. He writes to glorify God.
Annie’s Review of The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living
* * * *
Though I expected to enjoy this book (and I certainly wasn’t disappointed), I didn’t anticipate being changed by it.
Brad Francis’s writing style reminds me of a Christian version of Douglas Adams. As I read, I often caught myself laughing out loud at his ridiculous descriptions, witty word usage, or dryly humorous commentary by “the Narrator.” But then I would find myself gulping guiltily as some unapologetically direct, pulling-no-punches remark struck home. Prepare to be both entertained and convicted (and perhaps occasionally moved to tears) in your journey through these pages – not an easy combination to pull off, but Brad Francis does it and does it well!
As much as I enjoyed the read, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living to all readers. If it had a rating, I think it would be at least PG-13 for drug use, profanity, sex, and violence. (The profanity is almost all blanked out except for the first letter, but it’s obvious what words the characters are saying.) However, very few instances of these are gratuitous, at least in my opinion. Brad Francis certainly doesn’t condone such activities or treat them lightly. The first few chapters, especially, deal with what certain people’s lives are like before they give them over to the Lord’s control, and the author paints a realistic picture of the vices they are involved in. Most of that tapers off early on in the story, however, as the characters begin to change. Still, some of the content near the beginning (and a little that keeps showing up here and there through the rest of the book) could be offensive to some readers, so if you’re sensitive about such things, brace yourself.
Having said that, I really think that reading The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living would be a worthwhile experience for most Christian adults, especially pastors and those involved in ministry. Not an entirely pleasant experience at times, perhaps, but valuable. It forced me to take a closer look at the practical side of how I live out my relationship with the Lord, and it reminded me that being religious doesn’t equal following Christ. A few nonfiction books I’ve read have had similar (though for the most part less powerful) impacts on my spiritual life, but I don’t recall ever reading a novel that’s managed it anywhere near this effectively. I’m grateful for the ways God has used this book to reshape my outlook and renew my sense of purpose in living for Him.
The only reason I didn’t give The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living five stars is because, from a storytelling point of view, I felt that it sagged a bit in the middle. The beginning sucked me in right away, and for the first third or so of the story, I could hardly put the book down. The last third was equally gripping, holding my attention right up to the end. But the pace slowed in the middle with what – at least to me – seemed more information than necessary about the characters’ activities and processes of spiritual growth. While everything that took place would certainly have been crucial to the characters’ own lives if they were real people, I felt that some chapters were a tad heavy on details and events that didn’t really add to the story for readers.
Overall, reading The Savvy Demon’s Guide to Godly Living was a moving experience that impacted me far beyond what I had expected. I think it would be almost impossible for anyone who is (or wants to be) serious about their faith not to be changed after reading it. Though I seldom reread books, this is one I will probably pick up again sometime, at the very least so I can look back over all the sections I highlighted and ask myself whether I’m living them out the way God nudged me to at the time. Praise the Lord for the way He can use even a work of fiction to work in us and bring us closer to Himself!
This week I had the opportunity to read and review an eBook by author Staci Stallings, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting on a Christian Writers’ forum on Facebook. Her bookKeys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is a resource I was excited to get my hands on, and now I’m eager to start implementing her advice. Below her picture and brief biography is the review I wrote for the book on Amazon (I gave it four stars).
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.
Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is a great little book for writers, especially (but not only) new indie writers who are looking for ways to actually make money on the books they’ve worked so hard to publish.The chapters are short and easy to get through quickly, but they’re packed with useful information, much of which you could sit down and apply right away.
As I read, I kept highlighting details that I want to be able to refer back to and make sure I’m doing right.It wasn’t so much that the information consisted of totally new concepts (although some of it was new to me).Much of it is common sense, at least in retrospect. It was more just that everything Stallings said clicked into place in a way that made me understand what I probably should have known all along.I kept thinking, “Yes – that’s me!She’s describing my mistakes exactly!”🙂And thanks to her, now I know how to start fixing them.
Stallings not only explains what to do, she hands out many of the tools necessary to do it.For example, one useful feature in the book is a list of dozens of sites where authors can get their books reviewed online (which I can hardly wait to start looking into)!That alone would probably make it worth the purchase price.
“If content is king, then skills are queen,” Stallings says.I feel like the royal couple is now ready to at least begin their joint reign in my writing and marketing!
I didn’t give the book five stars because I did find a few typos, and now and then I thought things could have been phrased/presented a little more clearly (hey, I’m a teacher, I can’t help but notice these things!). Occasionally the author sounded uncertain about her own information, saying things like, “I believe there is a way to…” In the section about packaging your content, I would have liked a bit more info about specific sites and what to do with them.For example, it mentioned “alternative sites like Squidoo and Redditt” and “YouTube, etc.” but didn’t really say how writers can make use of them.I know this book is intended as a brief overview of book marketing and can’t talk about everything, but I would have liked just a little more.
Overall, Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy is well written and a very useful resource.I love that it not only gives information and advice but also directs readers to helpful sites and other resources.I whole-heartedly recommend this book as a worthwhile investment for writers.