Monday, November 26, 2012

Finding the Best Indie Books

PJ Sharon is author of several independently published, contemporary young adult novels. Her titles, Heaven is For Heroes, On Thin Ice and Savage Cinderella have garnered many contest wins. She is currently working on The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, a young adult dystopian trilogy. Waning Moon, Book One, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
Writing romantic fiction for the past seven years and following her destiny to write extraordinary stories of an average teenage life, PJ is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Connecticut Romance Writers of America and Young Adult Romance Writers of America. She is mother to two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA. Welcome to Book Blather, PJ.

With the book market bursting over the brim, and the deluge of Indie titles flooding the market, finding quality books has become an Everest sized challenge. But never fear, there is a way…several ways to find great Indie books.

1)   Amazon’s Top 100 list- You can be fairly certain that you will find something to suit your reading pleasure on the Top 100 lists of Amazon and the Best Books list on B&N. Since Indie Titles are now commonly competing with well-respected traditionally published books, you can find some fabulous new authors on these lists.

2)   The IndiePENdents website @
This is a group of authors who decided to review books and vet them through a stringent process to determine quality. To get an IndiePENdents seal of approval, three separate reviewers must approve the book, meeting standards for editing, formatting, plot, characterization, pacing, grammar and punctuation, and more. Any book that makes their list will likely be a great read. I’m proud to say that my first book, Heaven is for Heroes made that list in the spring.

3)   RT Book Reviews-The Romantic Times Book reviews now has an Indie section that crosses all genres. This is a great way to see what top reviewers are saying about the latest Indie up-and-comers. I’m very excited that my most recent release, Waning Moon, Book One in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy, will be featured in the February issue. I’m biting my nails wondering what they’ll say.

4)   “Also Boughts”-If you have a favorite book, one that you thought was awesome, go to their Amazon Book’s page and scroll down below the sales info to a section called “Customers who bought this book, also bought.” You’ll probably find that some of those titles will be Indie books, and you might just find a new favorite author.

5)   Indie Book Collective @
This is a place where Indie authors hang out. If you want to know about a good doctor, you ask a nurse. If you want to know about great authors, you ask writers who are readers. This is where you’ll get the inside scoop on what Indie books are awesome. They also have a Blog Talk radio segment where you can meet the author and lots of help if you have an inkling to try your hand at writing.

6)   Good Reads- You will find a plethora of fantastic books here, and plenty of feedback about what’s good and what’s not. Good Reads reviewers tend to be rabid readers who have no problem giving an opinion about what they like and what they don’t. It’s also a place to connect readers and authors, or get in on book discussions and forums. Speaking of forums—Kindle forums are a great spot to get book recommendations—or warnings—about what’s new and good on the market. You can connect with me on GoodReads here.

These are just a few ideas for finding the best Indie books. There are tons of review sites, but I suggest for reviews you take them with a grain of salt, and get several opinions on a book before making a decision. Just like with any form of entertainment, judgment is purely subjective. The good news with Indie books is that they will likely be much less expensive and often free, so you haven’t lost much, other than your time if you happen to get a stinker. My experience, though, has been overall very good with finding some fabulous Indie authors through these methods above. Happy hunting!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pulling Up Roots, Planting Seeds.

I think we can all agree that moving is one of life’s major stressors. Even a move across town can result in that something isn’t quite right feeling. Like you wake up the next morning and mutter, “Where the heck am I?” Now, imagine pulling up roots and moving hundreds of miles with a reluctant teenager and seriously pissed-off cat. However, what began as a nightmare for as author Elizabeth Sinclair eventually morphed into a brand new career. Elizabeth is the award winning, bestselling author of numerous romance novels and two acclaimed instructional books for writers. Her novels have been translated into seven languages and are sold in seventeen countries. She lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband and two dogs. Elizabeth is the mother of three children and “brags constantly” about her grandchildren. Welcome back to Book Blather, Elizabeth.

The Move and the Dream

In 1988 my husband came to me with a plan.  He wanted to relocate from upstate New York to Florida.  I was NOT happy about the plan.  It would mean leaving two of our children behind (both married) and all our friends and family and moving 1,500 miles away. Was he crazy? Move 1,500 miles away from all that I’d grown up with, all that was familiar to me?  Unacceptable.

If my husband is nothing else, he is clever.  He brought me to Florida on a week-long vacation.  I fell in love with the state and made the mistake of telling my husband so.  Before I knew it, I was packing up a ten room house, selling furniture that would not fit in our new house (a single wide, two bedroom temporary home), giving a month’s notice at work and climbing into our car which was pulling a trailer loaded with our belongings as well as those stuffed in the back of our small station wagon.

Our black and white cat, Herbie, road on top of the stuff in the back of the car and screeched like a banshee with fear throughout much of the ride.  That is when he wasn’t throwing up on something.  It seemed he wasn’t any happier with the move than I was.

Our arrival at our new home was less than impressive. I spent the next couple of weeks cramming our belongings into what my husband promised was a temporary home, a five room, single wide mobile home. The third week we were there, my husband returned to NY to bring the last of our belongings to Florida.  While he was gone, my seventeen-year-old son and I were attacked by a severe case of loneliness unlike anything either of us had never experienced before.  We had no friends, no one but each other, and it got so bad that on one occasion we sat and cried together. Once my husband came back, that loneliness eased.

Then a miracle happened. My son found a girlfriend, and he immediately loved Florida.  For me, it took a bit longer.  I missed the mountains and the cooler temps. Back then, I was very shy, not at all the type that went next door and introduced myself to a stranger. I decided I needed to get out and get a job. Meet people and stop feeling sorry for myself.

I took a job teaching Creative Writing for the local school’s adult education classes. At last, I had friends and the loneliness subsided completely.  But my new venture served to do much more than get rid of my loneliness.  When I had talked to my husband about getting a job, he told me we didn’t need the money and that he’d followed his dream to Florida and now this was my time to follow my dream of writing a book.  So I did just that.

I joined Romance Writers of America and began writing.  Five years later I sold my first romance to Silhouette Intimate Moments, JENNY’S CASTLE. I have to wonder if I’d dug in my heels and not come to the Sunshine State if I would have seen my dream of writing realized.  I like to think so.
I still miss the mountains, which may be one of the reasons I chose to write the Hawks Mountain series for Bell Bridge Books.  I could revisit the mountains via the printed page.

Currently, the third Hawks Mountain series book, FOREVER FALL, has just made it to the bookshelves and the e-book market.  Set in Carson, it takes the reader on a journey to prove to a teenager, with the help of a baby simulator, that being a mother at fifteen is not the best idea.  Single hero, Lucas Michaels, the school principal, and Amantha James, one of Carson’s single social workers, are picked by the Board of Education as stand-ins for the girl’s parents to conduct a secret experiment that will decide whether or not the baby simulators are effective and if they will be introduced into the school’s curriculum.  However, to do this, they must move in together with the teenager, which results in complications no one could have foretold and not just with the determined teenager.

Visit Elizabeth at:

You may purchase Elizabeth's books at the following links:
Hawks Mountain
Summer Rose  
Forever Fall

Monday, November 12, 2012

Amy's Travels, A Multicultural Story

If you’re like me, you occasionally find yourself in a situation where some essential piece of information is missing and you mutter, “Dang it, now what?” On the other hand, if you’re anything like this week’s guest, you don’t moan about it, you fix it. Such is the case with Kathryn Starke, elementary school literacy specialist, children’s author and the founder/CEO of Creative Minds Publications and Consulting, an advocate for quality literacy instruction for all children. A graduate of Longwood University in Virginia with degrees in elementary education, literacy and culture, Kathryn is a freelance writer and public speaker. Check her out in the following places:,, and Welcome to Book Blather, Kathryn.

         I have taught in public school systems for eleven years as a first, second, and third grade teacher as well as a literacy specialist at the elementary school level. Having spent a decade in Title I and inner city schools, I work with students each year from a variety of backgrounds and wide range of reading levels. The priority role in my position is to provide my students with engaging and educational children's literature that motivates them to read and learn. I was teaching first grade and planning a geography unit for my class when I realized there were no developmentally appropriate stories to teach the seven continents. Yes, I could find seven different nonfiction books, but they were strictly informational and much too advanced for six-year-olds. For my introductory lesson, I pulled down the world map in my classroom, gathered the children on the front rug, and told them the story of Amy's Travels.
         My friend Amy grew up on five continents since her father worked for the Embassy; her childhood memories provided a story and lesson that would stick with my students. Once I saw both the interest and intrigue my students expressed, I decided this book should be written and published for all children and teachers in my home state of Virginia. Thankfully, I connected with a publisher in Richmond that helped with the packaging and publishing of Amy's Travels while my illustrators used photographs and images from the real life Amy to add illustrations to match the text. I started Creative Minds Publications, a global educational company, to publish and market this social studies resource to schools around the Commonwealth and nation.
          Amy's Travels is a multicultural children's book that teaches the culture, diversity, and geography of our world through the eyes of a young girl. This book, the first children's picture book to teach all seven continents, has been released in its second edition this year and is a recommended title by the California State Board of Education. Complete with lesson plans and a comprehensive book guide, Amy's Travels is used today in homes and schools throughout the nation and on six continents.