Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Hello, my friends and fellow writers.  I’ve always found tips for the literary world to be beyond helpful, whether they be a better way to Show not Tell or a new website filled with prospective contacts.   The agency who represents me suggested I check out WattPad.  You are able to post a story and see how many people read it.  The readers can also “vote” on their favorites.    There is a space for comments, perfect for constructive criticism or praise.  So far, I’ve posted two short stories (Truck of Jim & Golden Man), an essay (I am Not a Boy), and two manuscripts (COGLING and VICTORIAN).   I look forward to becoming more involved in the WattPad community.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Goodbye to Yesterday

I received a copy of GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing via Handlebar.  It is the first novel (part one of six) in the Discovery series.  I was extra thrilled to receive this book because my mother is obsessed with the Amish lifestyle, so I will get to share this story with her.  In the past, we’ve both read others by Wanda E. Brunstetter in the Daughters of Lancaster County series.  This is another story that takes place in Lancaster County, in particular Bird-in-Hand, which is a vacation destination for my family.  We visit there every summer. 

GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY involves newlyweds Luke and Meredith.  Luke has lost his job, so the family lives off savings and what few pieces of furniture he manages to sell.  They struggle to get by, which causes tensions.  Meanwhile, Meredith hopes – and worries – that she’s pregnant.  Luke receives a phone call from his Uncle Amos in Indiana offering him to chance to learn the gravestone engraving business.  Even though Meredith doesn’t want Luke to go, he decides to journey by bus to Indiana to buy the business.  Look for book two to find out what happens next!

I recommend this to Amish fans.  The novel is fast-paced; I was able to read it in a little over an hour.  I would have preferred more descriptions, though, of the setting, characters, and Amish lifestyle.  

Legend of the Monk and the Merchant

I received a copy of THE LEGEND OF THE MONK AND THE MERCHANT: TWELVE KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL LIVING by Terry Felber Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  Overall, I found it an enjoyable and fast-paced read.  The book starts with a foreword about material possessions by Dave Ramsey.  It reminded me of my mother’s philosophy on goods:  only have what you need and use them for the betterment of the world.  You don’t need eights cars.  Stick with one, and whenever possible, use it to help someone who isn’t able to get a ride somewhere important.  Dave Ramsey also mentions that everyone in a business helps out, even those who just answer the phones.  My job is like that – making appointments, answering the telephone, and directing students to their advisers.  I am able to calm them, give them a pleasant experience, in a world that otherwise might not be friendly to him or her.  It helped me to appreciate my job more, and to believe in the role that had once seemed insignificant. 

Now, to the actual story – it reads like a child’s book, but with complex thoughts.  I loved the fact that it was religious and historical.  The storyline occurs during the Renaissance in Rome.  The characters travel through the world meeting people, spreading wisdom, and learning how they can better themselves and humanity.  

Monday, January 21, 2013


I received a copy of THE TAINTED COIN by Mel Starr from Monarch Books via Kregel.  It is the fifth installment of the Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, series.  I recently read the book before this one, UNHALLOWED GROUND, and found it delightful.  I haven’t had a chance to read the other novels in the series, but they are on my to-read list. 

I adore history, can’t get enough of it, so most of my bookshelf revolves around historical fiction.  This series is just that, with mystery thrown in.  Somehow, danger and lies follow Hugh de Singleton.  This time the mystery involves a man so severely beaten that he dies.  Before the burial, an ancient coin is found in his mouth.  The coin on the cover of the book reminds me of props from when I volunteered at Fort Stanwix.  Old coins have always fascinated me.  Who else touched them?  What story could the coin tell?  It was a treat to be able to learn more about coins through this fast-paced read. 
Mel Starr has a great knack for introducing readers to the middle ages – 1367 to be exact.   I love the glossary in the front.  It’s so much fun learning new things.  I also enjoyed reading about the foods eaten back then.  I had to look up “capon” when I came upon that delicacy. 

I recommend this series to fans of historical mysteries.  The characters and time period vibrate to life off the pages.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Candle Bible for Kids: Toddler Edition

I received a copy of the CANDLE BIBLE FOR KIDS: TODDLER EDITION.  Juliet David wrote it and Jo Parry illustrated the pages.  The square shape and soft cover are perfect for little hands; although I worry a toddler might tear the pages.  Overall, I was pleased with this book.  It will make an excellent gift.  The pictures are bright and colorful.  I can see them easily keeping a toddler’s attention.  

It is divided into two sections, stories from the Old Testament and stories from the New Testament.  I’ve seen a few of them, such as Jonah and the Whale, as plays, so it was fun to see an illustrated interpretation.  The stories are short and simple so that kids will comprehend.  (Some seemed a little too short.  I kept asking myself, “But what happens next?”  I’ll have to brush up on my Bible stories) They are the ideal tools for introducing toddlers to the Bible.  After he or she is interested in the characters, they can hear the real version. 

My only complaint is a slight disappointment in a few of the stories.  They left out key phrases, such as the Ten Commandments.  That seems so important to me.  In A Baby in a Basket, the author says, “He came down holding two stones with God’s laws written on them” (page 47).  A sentence could be inserted at the end, something like, “These were called the Ten Commandments.”  However, I do understand the stories are geared toward young readers and the adults can explain more about the Ten Commandments outside of the book.

Overall, I’m pleased with the CANDLE BIBLE FOR KIDS: TODDLER EDITION.  I definitely recommend it. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Utica Writers Club Short Story Contest

On March 1, 2013, the Utica Writers Club will begin accepting entries for the Milton and Harriet Shatraw Short Story Contest. Please send your stories and entry fees to:
Milton and Harriet Shatraw Short Story Contest
32 Sanger Avenue
New Hartford, NY 13413

Entries are due by MARCH 31, 2013

Entries will be sorted into 2 categories:
1.    Story Tellers (Writers 18 and older) – entry fee of $5 per story
2.    Student Tales (Writers 17 and under) – entry fee of $3 per story

Stories are restricted in length to 2500 words.

Awards will be:
 $100 for First place, Story Tellers and Student Tales
 $75 for Second place, Story Tellers and Student Tales
 $25 for Most Original Topic

1st and 2nd place prizewinners will also receive free membership to the club for the 2013-2014 season. All others who receive any kind of award receive 50% off their first year’s membership. There will be a minimum of 2 Honorable mention awards in each category. The winning stories will be collected into a contest booklet, a copy of which will be provided to all winners. Authors retain all rights to their work.

A reception open to the public will be held on June 5th in the Kirkland Public Library to celebrate the winners.

The Utica Writers Club is a non-profit organization that has been promoting good writing in the upstate community for more than 70 years. For more information about the Utica Writers Club, the Milton & Harriet Shattaw Short Story Contest, and possible sponsorships for the contest, please visit the website:

Email us at:

Or call us at:

(315) 827-4989