Monday, April 15, 2019

Questions to Answer When Building a Character

I attended a writing conference last weekend sponsored by the Tri-Valley Writers Club, a branch of the California Writers Club. One of the sessions I attended was a very interesting class taught by brilliant Bay Area author and teacher David Corbett. The session focused on building complex characters to drive your plot development. Here is one thing I took away from his presentation that I will be keeping in mind as I move forward with my own work.

Questions to answer when building a character

1) What is her moment of greatest pride? Did anyone witness it?
2) What is her moment of greatest shame?
3) What is her moment of greatest courage?
4) What is her moment of greatest fear?
5) What is her moment of greatest sorrow?
6) What is her moment of greatest joy?
7) What is the moment of greatest harm caused to another human being?

Will the answers to all of these things be explicitly revealed in the book? Probably not. But will they drive how your character behaves? Most definitely. For more information about David's thoughts on character, check out his book, The Art of Character.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Hexborn Takes Silver In the 2018 Wishing Shelf Book Awards

I was so pleased to find out today that Hexborn has received a silver medal in the Books for Teenagers category of the Wishing Shelf Book Awards out of the United Kingdom. I was a finalist a few years ago for She Dies at the End, but this is the first time I've won, so I'm terribly excited.

I'm especially pleased because the judging of this competition is done by panels of actual students in U.K. schools (for the children's and YA categories), and the organizer provides feedback from the reading groups for all the folks who enter. It's one of the few above-board contests, not a cash-grab preying on desperate indie authors. I can't wait to receive my feedback in a few weeks so I can share it with you.

The indie author thing is a rough gig, and it is nice to get a little validation from strangers. :-)

If you haven't yet had the chance to read Hexborn, it's currently free on Kindle Unlimited!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Welcome to the "PREY FOR THE DEAD" Blog Tour! @SusanneLeist @4WillsPub #RRBC

I'm so pleased today to be hosting fellow Rave Reviews Book Club author Susanne Leist. Take it away, Susanne!


Welcome to my blog tour for PREY FOR THE DEAD, the second book in THE DEAD GAME Series.

I have always loved to read. Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean, Robert Ludlum, and other authors filled my imagination with intrigue and mystery. When I wasn't reading late into the night, the TV shows--Murder She Wrote and Columbo--entertained me with tales of murder and suspense.

Over the years, my taste in books and shows expanded to encompass fantasy and the supernatural. I wanted to read a book with romance, mystery, and fantasy. A combination I couldn't find at the library or bookstores. I decided I would write it.

After a career and an M.B.A. in finance, I wrote my book. The Dead Game is the first book in The Dead Game series. It brings fantasy and the surreal to the classic murder mystery with dead bodies, suspects, and clues. It offers vampires, vampire derivatives, and a touch of romance to give spice to the mix. Once you read The Dead Game, you will never look at a dead body the same way.

In Book Two, Prey for The Dead, the suspense continues as The Dead use an exclusive club in Disney World and infiltrate the rich and famous. The Dead grow in power, and not even the sun or the swamps of Florida can weaken them. Linda--my main character--and her friends join forces with human vampires or hybrids to defeat the evil forces threatening to control their town.

Visit me on my website, 


Book trailer:









To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author's tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you'd like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.
Lastly, Susanne is a member of the best book club ever - RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you're looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We'd love to have you!

Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wednesday Work-In-Progress: Heavy Is the Head

I'm at work on the third installment of the Hexborn series. If you haven't yet read Unclean, you may want to avert your eyes. Also, what are you waiting for?! For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy this very rough draft of a scene from the as yet untitled book 3. Happy reading!


“And how does this morning find her grace?” Silas asked with a wink.

“Cranky,” Shiloh complained. “Can we go back to sleeping in tents?”

Shiloh sat at the desk in her newly refurbished study at Greenhill Palace. Grateful as she was to be under a roof and between solid walls after months of war, adjusting to her new life as the queen of Bryn was proving even more difficult than she had feared. It was but a few days after her coronation, and it was time to settle into a proper routine after all of the excitement. And yet, that routine already chafed.

“Is it really as bad as all that?” Silas replied, lips twitching. Standing, mostly free from his wheelchair these days, he towered over his diminutive wife and sovereign. “I’m still rather enjoying having a real bed myself.”

“You don’t get woken up by five ladies in waiting who then proceed to take at least an hour to get you dressed,” she groused. “I still don’t see why Jane can’t help me.”

“It is an honor to dress the queen,” Silas explained, “and to delegate that task to a common maid would insult the families of the highest-ranking ladies in waiting.”

“I think they resent it anyway, dressing the likes of me,” she replied, her voice conveying more hurt than she had realized she felt. “They always look like they’re smelling spoiled milk. Save Penny, obviously.”

Silas clenched his jaw. “Is that so? Perhaps someone ought to have a word with them.”

Shiloh smiled. “Going to drag them to the top of the High Tower, are you? I thought you were worried about angering their families.”

Silas snorted. “No, I thought, perhaps, we should have Queen Penn take the ladies in hand. Handling them would be an appropriate and helpful task for her. I know you have no interest in spending your time and energy on wrangling them.”

“Sounds like a reasonable plan,” Shiloh agreed. “I have thought of something for them to do with their time. Do you suppose they would enjoy planning for the decoration of the Dark Tower, now that the glass windows are going in?”

Silas smiled. “Yes, I think they would find that properly diverting. We’ll give them a budget. I’ll set it low, as they will inevitable ignore it.”

“Splendid. What’s next on your list?”

“Correspondence. The Emperor of Vree invites you to visit his capital. I assume you want to graciously decline?”

Shiloh cocked her head to one side. “This would be in the summer?”

“I assume so. Journeying north in winter does not strike me as an enjoyable outing, and we have not been long at home. You want to go, your grace?”

“Silas, we’re alone. Can you please cease with the ‘your grace’ nonsense?”

“Forgive me, little bird. You wish to visit Vree?” he asked, bowing an apology in his chair.

“Well, it is supposed to be beautiful, is it not?”

“Oh, yes,” Silas replied. “The capital, Duvale, is remarkable. A city in the trees, shrouded in mist.” He eyed her closely. “What else are you thinking, little bird? I suspect this is not simply a sudden yearning to play tourist.”

“I am thinking than an alliance might be prudent, given Gerne’s perpetual troublesomeness. Perhaps Estany would also be interested in such an arrangement.”

Silas grinned. “Perhaps Queen Shiloh wishes to fire a shot across Fenroh’s bow?”

A smile snuck across Shiloh’s face. “Maybe a little.” Her hatred for the man who had taken over the church had not diminished in the months since their last encounter.

“Why don’t I have both ambassadors pay us a visit later this week? We can discuss it over tea, like civilized people.”

“Perfect. What else to report?”

“Our men are shipping Westan down here, and I’ll start in on him. It’s possible he managed to communicate with the boy while we were at Castle Redwood. His trial is to begin in a month, so he needs to be here anyway.”

“Splendid,” Shiloh replied. She looked as though she’d bitten a lemon.

“Better to get it over with. Your first execution. Such a special moment in the life of a monarch,” Silas joked.

“It isn’t funny,” Shiloh shot back.

“It’s a little funny. And at least we know he has it coming.”

Shiloh could not argue there. Westan, once king via his marriage, had tried to burn down the City before he fled in the face of Shiloh’s troops.

“Don’t wear yourself out on the likes of Westan,” she cautioned. Her brows drew together. “I don’t want you making yourself sick.”

“The day I can’t handle Westan without breaking a sweat is the day I hang up my wand,” Silas scoffed, brushing away her concern.

Shiloh reached out and took his hand. “Truly, Silas. It’s good to see you looking like your old self again. Please don’t risk your recovery.” It felt strange for her, to be the healthy one for once.

Silas softened in the face of her affection. “As you wish, little bird.”

“And this priest who attacked us? What progress there? Was he put up to it by the same one who suggested to Zenn that he kill you?” Shiloh asked.

Silas heaved a sigh. “I suspect so, but I am not certain. He is a difficult nut to crack. He said that he was trying to kill me, not you. Claimed he was in the Citadel when you liberated it, but we don’t have any of Fenroh’s records to verify that. After that, he clammed up. Jonn told me I’d better give him some time before we hurt him again.”

“Hmm.” A bell rang off the hour, and Shiloh squared her shoulders. “I’d best get to my sitting room. The dressmaker is coming for the final fitting on my Solstice gown.” She gave him a longsuffering look.

“I noticed you didn’t ask about the preparations for the ball,” Silas teased. “The other queens I’ve served would have gone on about nothing else.”

Shiloh rolled her eyes. “Am I much like the other queens you’ve served? Besides, we just had the coronation. I’m all out of interest in parties.”

“How about gifts? Are you out of interest in gifts?” Silas asked with a mischievous smile.

Shiloh cocked her head to the side. “What are you up to, Silas Hatch?”

He grinned. “You’re just going to have to wait until Solstice to find out.”

Monday, March 18, 2019

Welcome to the "WORLD UNKNOWN" Blog Tour! @Jinlobify #4WillsPub #RRBC #RWIS

I'm so pleased to be able to host fellow Rave Reviews Book Club author Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko on her "World Unknown" Blog Tour. Take it away, Joy!


This is the ninth day of my ten days tour.

I don’t want to end this tour without tooting the horns for the Rave Reviews Book Club (#RRBC). It is an extraordinary place to be for an Indie author. Thank God for inspiring Nonnie Jules, the founder and brain behind the RRBC with the idea of starting this club and giving her the strength, the resilience, and the endurance to grow the club.

During my writing course, I was only taught how to get published by the orthodox publishers. Nothing prepared me for the number of rejections I received. Most of my envelops were not even opened, and I saw a wheel track on some of them as is if a bicycle ran over them.

I had stories I wanted to tell and wanted them to be read. It was quite liberating to finally find a way of getting my stories out there, and to be a member of a great book club that helps to push my work forward. Thank you, Nonnie!

The Rules of my Tour Game:

I will randomly choose a short snippet from a story in my book for you to read each day of my tour.

On the tenth day, I will have ten questions, which will require you to match the title of the stories from where the snippets were taken with the snippets.

Once again, I will choose only three winners from the correct matches. The winner with nine correct matches will be gifted with a $15 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from any of my books. The second with eight correct matches will be gifted with a $10 Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from my books. The third winner with seven correct matches will be with gifted a $5. Amazon gift card and an eBook copy of your choice from my books.

Now the catch! If you follow the tour and read the snippets, you may want to read the complete stories and leave a review of the book after the tour.

This tour is supported by another of my books; Pregnant Future. If you want to read that one too, that will be great. However, the focus will be on Vagaries of Life: And Girls’ Talk. Good reading!

Snippet 9:

“I wish I could say that Ibrahim has told the truth. That is who he is, always wanting people to do things for him, the man baby who never grew up. Sure, I went back to school, but on a scholarship. I can see that Ibrahim wants to take credit for that. It was I who dragged him back to school to at least finish his first degree, which he dropped out of. I had to make sure he stayed in school long enough to finish it. As strange as it may sound, it was I who interviewed for him to get his first job. He thought the job was too much below him, so I went to get it for myself. In the course of the interview, I mentioned his interest in the job. I spoke so well about him, he was given the job instead of me. The more I did for him, the more he demanded. He ended up pulling the Quran on me. He brought home a
young girl, young enough to be his daughter. Before I could ask him the meaning of it, he told me I needed help, and that she would be my help. I demanded to know what this young girl could possibly help me with.” Mercy shifted in her chair, clearly showing the judge the expression of disgust and incredulity on her face.
“Ibrahim began to lecture me on the teachings of the Quran, and how it states that men such as him, are permitted to have as many as four wives. Kuburat—that was her name—had supposedly accepted Ibrahim’s offer to be his second wife and was eager for the chance to be of help to me and to be my friend. I was shocked that he did not seem to think I had any say in the matter.” Mercy cleared her throat and took a sip of water from a glass.

About the Author: Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Joy has written and published extensively on national and international scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Her first short story I Come from Utopia was published in African Voices, Spring/ Summer, 2007, pg. 18. Since then, she has published numerous others in RAVE SOUP FOR THE WRITER'S SOUL Anthology, Vols. 1 & 2.

Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women was published in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Contest in 2012. She has also two books published in the Italian language. The First titled: Io Odio, Tu Odi, & Cinema E Africa Nera, are both by Edizione, Tindalo.

The Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies, is a journey into the mysteries of life and death of the Igbos of Nigeria was published in 2014

In Pregnant Future: No One Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring, her latest Novel, Justina is the story of every young woman who found herself alone in the world to fend for herself. It is the story of the pitfalls that await such a woman. It is the story of survival

Her latest book, A collection of Short Stories, titled: Vagaries of Life: And Girls’ Talk was published in December, 2018.

Pregnant Future – Blurb 

Justina was a fighter. And, although it seemed the world was against her and her future was destined for failure …she persevered in the face of it all.

The future that was being thrown in her face, was not the one she had dreams of …and if she wanted to get her feet on the right path, she was going to have to show the world her strength. But, does she?

Will she have the will to make it to the end, unscarred?

What would you do if you knew what the future had in store for you?

Would you run towards it with open arms, or would you run away and never look back?

Justina must make a choice …before life chooses for her.

Links to my Social Network

My Web Site






To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author's tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you'd like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  

Lastly, Joy is a member of the best book club ever - RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you're looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We'd love to have you!

Thanks for supporting this author and her work!  

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Five Keys To Castaway Cay

We just got back from our second cruise aboard the Disney Magic. As before, my favorite part was our day spent on Castaway Cay (pronounce key). I'm in better health this time around (yay!), so we tried more things. We got the package deal on snorkeling, tubes, and bike rental.  Here are a few thoughts on our island experience.

1) Snorkeling

Getting out there early definitely helps in terms of visibility, as there is less debris in the water from the other swimmers. The father out you swim, the more you will see. This was the highlight of the day and well worth the cost of the rental. I'd never tried it before, and I adored it.

If you're a beginner, plan to spend some time practicing putting your face in the water and breathing with the mask before you try to swim. It does feel really weird at first, and you might get a panicky feeling until you get used to it. Be warned: there is no instruction or supervision aside from the lifeguards. You're expected to pretty much figure it out for yourself, and to watch and help your kids.

This also goes for inflating the life vests. Nobody is going to show you how to do it. You have to push down on the valve into order to breath into the tube to inflate it. There aren't really any visible instructions on the valve.

2) Bicycling

Biking around the island was enjoyable. It doesn't take long, and you don't have to be some kind of Lance Armstrong. I bike a quarter mile per day total, to and from my child's school, and it was an easy ride for me. They are fixed gear bikes, and the path is smooth and level, quiet and peaceful. The lookout tower is a nice place to stop for a quick rest and some pictures. The bikes are in okay shape, but they are not exactly pristine, so I would look yours over before heading off for adventure.

3) Tubes

Our son had a ball playing in the water with the float. The husband and I were not as interested in the inner tubes, unsurprisingly. I think if the weather had been balmier it would have been more enticing. As it was, I wanted to stay warm on a beach chair, and dear husband wanted to snorkel some more.

4) Lunch

The outdoor buffet is always enjoyable. Ribs and the eponymous cookies are the highlight for me, along with the fresh fruit. And you can always make yourself a Coke float with the soft serve ice cream.

5) Returning to the ship

It's so nice to come back to ice water and chilled towels after the bright sunshine on the beach, but it is so sad to leave the island. We like to clean up and then watch the departure from either Deck 4 aft or Deck 10 aft outside Palo. It's a great opportunity for some final photos, and I get a kick out of the dock workers waving goodbye with their Mickey gloves. There aren't usually a lot of people out there, either, so you will have the deck mostly to yourself.

Disney Cruise Line is smart to schedule Castaway Cay on the last day for so many of its itineraries. It always leaves you wanting to book another cruise. Happy sailing!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Release Week for Unclean

The big day arrived yesterday, and Unclean (The Hexborn Chronicles Book 2) is finally live on Amazon Kindle! Check out the blurb and these early reviews!

Sometimes love comes after marriage. Sometimes peace requires a war.
Shiloh was born cursed, but she was raised to fight. And a fight is just what she and Silas have on their hands. The new queen is out for blood. Her allies in the church begin a purge as brutal as it is efficient. Soon, Silas sits locked in the Dark Tower, and Shiloh labors under the cruel eye of the most powerful priest in the realm . . . a man with evil ambitions of his own.

Not content to wait for help that might never come, Shiloh is determined to save herself, Silas, and the innocents who surround her. New friends help her to form a daring plan while Silas works desperately to wield influence at court from inside his prison cell. But even if Shiloh prevails, she has no idea what comes next.

Can Shiloh harness her magic in a new way to protect herself, her husband, and the people of Bryn? Can she face a future that is not the one she would have chosen? And will Silas still be by her side? 

Don't miss this sequel to the award-winning Hexborn!

Here is an Amazon Review from one of my ARC (Advance Review Copy) readers :

"Unclean" is a wonderful sequel to Hexborn, Manay's venture into fantasy adventure. Well placed for fans of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword or The Hero and the Crown, the book deviates from the Cromwell-Tudor theme to a unique plot line filled with suspense, double cross, and heroic deeds. (And while Elizabeth was always rumored to be a witch, Shiloh actually has magical powers.)

Manay spends sufficient time establishing her characters, including a truly horrid villain, yet manages to keep the plot and action moving so the reader does not lose interest. One of the strongest references I can give in support is the morning after receiving the advance copy, I spent the day yawning at work since I stayed up all night reading. And, I still wish the third book was already available.

Grab your copy on Kindle or in paperback and see what all the fuss is about!