Friday, October 28, 2016


Partway into my Scribble interview for WVIK I mentioned how much I liked my villains. In fact, I liked them so much I hated to part with any of them. Don Wooten and Roald Tweet took the opportunity to digress into a discussion of famous literary bad guys and mentioned how one noted author, I can’t recall who, only had one instance where he wrote about a completely nice person. Wooten asked, “Why is that?” I chimed in with my answer, “Conflict.”

Conflict is essential for a good story to develop, a point that was echoed by a slide in Gary Metivier’s presentation at the recent Children’s Literature Festival. I took a photo and saw that the slide originally came from The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein.

According to Klein’s Five C’s of Plotting, you start with creating a likable CHARACTER that makes the reader care about what happens to him/her.

Next comes the CONFLICT. Klein mentions conflict with stakes.

I think that having stakes must mean an element of risk is introduced because the next step involves the character making CHOICES.

Having choices naturally leads to the CONSEQUENCES of making those choices, those decisions.

Consequences have to build to the CLIMAX of the action and the denouement. Ultimately followed by the satisfying ending.

I must remember these five points the next time I have to make a presentation.

That and how Sarah Prineas patiently went through her main characters basic descriptions and motivations.

So, I had a very educational week between Wooten & Tweet on Monday, the Children’s Literature Festival on Tuesday, and another visit to Misty Urban’s Writer’s on the Avenue lecture series on Thursday. 

It was almost like living my own “Thriller.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ten Steps to Review on Amazon

1. Log onto as you normally would. (Note: Amazon doesn’t allow anonymous reviews.)
2. Do a search for the book title. In my case it would be “Clouds Over Bishop Hill.”
You will get my one book. Click on the title or the cover image.
(For other authors there may be a list of books, or books with similar titles. In that case find and click on the book you want.)

3. That click gets you to the full description of the book, the prices, and all pertinent information.

4. Under the author’s name, notice the yellow stars and “customer reviews.”
Click on “customer reviews,” it will get you to a list of the latest reviews faster.

5. Scroll down through the reviews until you get to a rectangular button labeled: Write a customer review. Click this button. (If you’ve gotten this far without logging onto Amazon, you will have to create an Amazon account to go further. Amazon does not allow anonymous reviews.)

6. You will now have four buttons to choose from: Poor, Okay, Good, Great. Click one.

7. More buttons will ask: Is there violence?, Is there sexual content?, and How is the story narrated? Choose and click.

8. Below those questions you will find a bar of non-shaded stars.
Choose the number of stars you want to highlight.

9. FINALLY, you are down to the TEXT BOX for entering your reviewer comments. Type in whatever you want. (You should be able to copy and paste from a Word document as well.) Below the review box look for a box for a title. It will be much smaller. If you don't use it, Amazon will use the first sentence of your review.

10. The last button to click is … SUBMIT.  

I have to say I never thought the process was this complicated until someone asked me how it was done. I hope these steps are useful. I can add screen photos if needed. I imagine the Goodreads process is similar; I will tackle that at another time because I want this posted.

If for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to post to Amazon or Goodreads, go to my Facebook Author page and leave your review or message. I want to hear from my readers.

Facebook link:

Monday, October 17, 2016

Named characters for Clouds Over Bishop Hill

Listed in order of importance.

Olof Krans (1838-1916): folk artist well known for his portraits of original Colonists

Pearl Essie Anderson: 103-year-old retired teacher

Shelley Anderson: Knox grad with a degree in museum studies

Michael J. Anderson: Galva grad recently returned from Iraq

Christina Colberg: Shelley’s adoptive mother & aunt by marriage

Roy Landers IV: Shelley’s uncle & adoptive father, outsider artist

David Ekollon: director of Nikkerbo Museum & Conference Center

Curt Hemcourt V: owner of Nikkerbo Museum & Conference Center

Gordon Anderson: artist, craftsman, and Herb’s cousin

Thomas T. Gubben: lawyer & CFO, chief financial officer, for Hemcourt

Herb Anderson: successful woodworker found dead at Varnishtree

Talli Walters: owner of The Lutfisk Café

Marcella Rice: former friend of Christina, works at The Lutfisk Café

Lars Trollenberg: Swedish summer worker at Nikkerbo

Amy Anderson: Michael’s mother, Pearl’s caretaker

Dana Johnson: Henry County deputy

Alan & James: brothers and computer experts

Ulla Olson: teenage neighbor to Shelley

Gunnar Olson: Ulla’s father

Nate: Ulla’s Wethersfield boyfriend

Winston Maskin: former mayor & armed defender of Bishop Hill

Les Patrick: Galva lawyer

Sheriff Henry

Karl Hemson: charismatic leader of the Bishop Hill colony

John Anderson: Shelley’s twin brother

Nora Landers Anderson: Shelley & John’s missing mother

Sadie & Flicka: dogs

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On Going to Market

Having the product:
It is good to wait until you know when the books will arrive before scheduling events. It makes for a tighter working window, but it’s a better fit for us folks who let deadlines slip by all too often.

Still, I made lists, lots of lists, and had a general plan of action.

Display aids:
I put together a really great one for myself, a photo of the book cover in a nice acrylic angled holder. I didn’t think about the retailers who would have my books. They would want something. Ooops. I had to scrabble. But I found some smaller holders, on sale even, and used my printer to save the day.

The genesis speech:
Readers will want to know what your inspiration was, how you did it, something about the steps you took along the way to a finished novel.

Work on the genesis speech … before you need it. You can fine tune it later.

Record keeping supplies:
Receipt and invoice pads are a good way to start, add the tally sheets later. Use something you’re comfortable with because you’ll need an accurate accounting to track your progress and for those end-of-the-year tax forms.

Do be sure to record where sales are made, city and state. Your accountant will thank you later.

Invest in your signature:
Find a good pen with quick drying ink. I went with Pentel EnerGel on the recommendation of Mary Howard, the 2016 Great River Writer’s Retreat winner.

I did something a little different with my first batch of 250 bookmarks. I used an example from C. Hope Clark. She created a postcard that featured her four book covers and a polite plea for reviews. I’ve seen similar messages on Facebook, also polite and encouraging, but still dropping hints about how important reviews are for authors. Time will tell if my bookmarks will have any impact.