Guest Post

How to Read a Boring Book for College: Get Pleasure from This

Good Morning, today's guest post is brought to you by Monica Morgan! Happy Reading!

Without any exaggeration, college gives young people a chance to get in touch with the worldwide literature and become well-educated thanks to it. Sure, some of these novels have changed your personality greatly. However, sometimes students receive an extremely boring book and are afraid that they cannot read it without falling asleep. As a result, a teenager gets a bad grade at the college or simply spends hours on reading this boring thing and cannot memorize anything from it. Of course, it is a pity anyway. Are there any ways of dealing with this problem? The majority of students will answer that the only solution is ignoring such assignments and saving their time from boring reading. Do not forget that such a behavior leads only to negative grades, a bad reputation or even dropping out. Hence, it is much more important to be able to cope with boring books quickly and effectively.

Know Your Goals

As a rule, young people read boring books because they must do it for classes or some other purposes. Anyway, they simply have no choice as this task is obligatory for them. Hence, you should know the main reason why you have to read this. Maybe, it is a good mark or teacher’s appreciation. Sometimes young people read these boring papers because they set a goal to improve themselves and get some essential knowledge. It is a perfect target, and you have to keep this in mind while reading. In this way, you will not give up too quickly and complete your task even if it is truly boring.

Set Small Targets

It is important to have not only a great target which makes you read boring materials but also set some small aims every day. It will help you not to forget about the main reason why you have to work on this assignment. For example, you can establish a minimal number of words you have to read per day. It will help you to avoid too long gaps in the process of reading which usually cause forgetting of the main points of the texts. Moreover, you will be able to prevent the time pressure and deal with a task effectively. It usually happens that students postpone their reading or do this irregularly. As a result, they have to cope with this assignment during a few last days before a class. Having a plan makes you free from suffering from approaching deadlines because you know how much time you need for finishing this book.

Get Rid of Distractions

The best way of coping with boring reading is getting rid of distractions. It often happens that students work near a turned on TV or laptop. They can even listen to music or talk on their phone while reading. Sure, you may deal with an assignment quickly, but the results of your work will have a poor quality. You will probably forget everything you have read. It leads to an impossibility to take part in class discussions and talk about the main points of this book. Hence, your task is to find a quiet and comfortable place for reading with all items you need for it. Do not forget to ask your family and friends not to disturb you. It will help you to concentrate; and do not lose your focus during the reading.

Develop a True Interest

Sure, the main problem can be in your attitude to a certain subject. It often happens that students hate some classes because of some personal reasons. As a result, they have no desire to read books on this subject and learn anything. The best solution to this problem is developing a true interest in this field. You should just open up new facts and statements about it. Even the most boring things may be amusing in case you have a correct approach to them. It is a good idea to watch some films about this subject or discover several fantastic facts which prove its usefulness. You should keep in mind that the problem sometimes exists only in your mind and it can be easy to get rid of it in real life.

Clear Your Mind

It is vital to clear up your mind from all the unnecessary thoughts and get rid of stressfulness and disturbance. If you are busy with something else except reading a book, you will probably not be able to focus your attention on the text, especially if it is not interesting for you. Moreover, you will simply read it without memorizing anything at all. As a result, it will be a completely useless process. How can you clear your mind? It is a pretty good idea to try yoga or meditation. The effectiveness of these methods is proven by thousands of students. In addition, it is important to have enough rest and never sacrifice your sleep in order to finish a book. It will simply make your productivity lower and you will forget everything in the morning. 

Highlight Important Points

The best thing you can do while reading boring books, especially if you have to memorize this material, is highlighting some significant points in the text. As a result, you will be able to use them later in the class and answer teacher’s questions quickly. You can also encounter some tasks related to this book at your exam. Hence, it will be easier to cope with them in case you have notes and can revise the material in several minutes. It is a pretty good idea to have a notebook with a list of books and their main ideas written down as well.

Retell Things You Read

Remember that it is important to be able to retell things which you have just read. It shows if you work was performed effectively and helps to accumulate information in your head. Moreover, you will not forget important points thanks to such simple option and will be prepared for class discussions of this book as well. Just ask your friend to listen to your retelling and try to do your best. In addition, it is possible to use notes you have made while reading. Keep in mind that it does not mean you should learn all paragraphs by heart. The main target is retelling information in your own words. Thus, you have to think it over and make some conclusions.

Reward Yourself

Do not forget about rewarding yourself after you reach some small goals. For example, you can eat a piece of chocolate when you finish your task. It will be a kind of motivation and encouragement for you. However, it is important to plan it as well. Do not turn these small rewards to the only purpose for reading. It will make you want to finish reading faster and you memorize nothing as a result. Hence, it is significant to see your goals clearly and understand that these rewards are not the major reason why you must complete some assignments.

All in all, it is a pity that many students have to cope with their reading assignments even if they are not interested in this material. Sure, they suffer from boredom and sometimes miss important things while completing these tasks. There is a great solution for this issue. Just follow these tips and hints and you will never find your home reading a kind of punishment again. Remember that you can get pleasure and benefits from it if you have such a desire.

Author Bio

Monica Morgan is a free-spirited woman having vast experience in article writing. She loves to travel Asian countries, writing reviews on each of them on her write my essay. She prefers using diverse writing styles to properly engage with a wide array of readers.

What Makes a Good Travel Writer?

Today's guest post was brought to you by Dave Tomlinson! 

For me, the most obvious requirement of a good travel writer is that they write about real-life, true experiences.  If people are reading fictional accounts of something that never happened written by someone who’s never been there it suddenly all becomes rather meaningless. My travel stories are completely true and related exactly as they happened; nothing has been contrived or exaggerated.

As the reader of a travel book, you want to feel that you’re taking the journey with the writer.  In your mind’s eye, you want to see the sights and people being described, hear the sounds and even sense the smells.  Words need to bring scenes and experiences vibrantly to life to leave the reader amused and amazed.  Dull travel writing does nothing to inspire anyone!   

Writing about travel destinations or experiences is different to a fictional novel.  A good travel writer will keep the story moving instead of losing the reader in superfluous detail.  All the tales in my recent book have been related and edited to 500 words.  This decision was made to keep readers engaged and captivated through each adventure and hopefully from cover to cover!

Good travel writing should be informative.  Aside from being entertaining, I want my readers to learn something about places they’ve never been.  So aside from relating my exploits, I also include many relevant or quirky facts and historical information in my writing.  This creates a more interesting and fulfilling reading experience while also leaving the reader more knowledgeable and enlightened.

Travel, in the true sense is not simply seeing things.  It is a unique cultural experience that includes people, places, food and so much more.  The best travel writing captures this diversity and offers it to the reader with energy and passion.  It’s entertaining and stirs wanderlust.  After reading a good travel story, you’ll probably sit back and think “wow, I’d love to go there and do that!” 

Check out Dave's new book recently released!

Dave Tomlinson


80 Stories, 25 Countries, 5 Continents, One Heck of a Ride!

Travel is an amazing experience and I’ve spent years of my life living out of my backpack. I’ve explored well-beaten tourist trails and to far corners beyond them. Each journey is an adventure and each adventure gives with a story to tell. So one day I decided that yes, I would write 80 of my best Travel Stories.

After leaving me speechless, travel then turned me into a storyteller!

Navigating the Sea of Self-Publishing

Good Morning! Today's guest post is brought to you by Janice Wood Wetzel

Janice Wetzel

Whether or not you initially went the route of searching for an agent or publisher, your decision to self-publish is not a second rate choice. Neither is it less time consuming, less expensive or less demanding. It may in fact turn out to be just the opposite. The tasks that publishers generally assume are now yours. It does, however, provide a freedom not common in the publishing world, and there is no longer a stigma associated with it. You will need to decide if you have the financial wherewithal and the time to devote to your project.

Of course, you could just type your manuscript, give it a once over, then go to your nearest photocopy store and put a spiral binder on it. Voila, a do-it-yourself inexpensive product. My advice though, if at all financially feasible, is to go the professional quality route. You will be glad you made the investment. This article is designed to provide a blueprint for your journey.

No manuscript should be published in any form without a professional editor. There are four different skills to be considered. Developmental consulting provides assistance in organizing and presenting your work cohesively; line editing is at the sentence and paragraph level; and copyediting corrects spelling, punctuation and grammar. Fact checking is equally essential. If you don’t know someone to refer you to a reputable person, find two or three possibilities online. Read reviews about their work, and plan to call and interview them. Aside from inquiring about some of the tasks summarized here, you’ll want to assess how compatible you are with their communication style.

Once you contract with an editor, be open to their suggestions. After all, you’re paying them to improve your book. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own decisions when you don’t agree with their recommendations.  It’s your voice and your book after all.

Your editor will help you to decide on the interior design of your book, including choice of font, typesetting and photographs, if any. You may want to go to a book store to observe how others have designed their books. When your editor provides about three versions, if you don’t have a laser printer, take them to a copy shop that does. It’s the only way you will be able to see exactly what the finished pages will look like. Online or at the bookstore, check out the pricing on comparable books, keeping in mind that famous authors may charge more.

Engage a professional proofreader. You and your editor are much too close to the work to catch errors. A new set of eyes will be invaluable.

You also should use a specialist to design your front and back book covers. Again, check out published books for ideas. I found a reasonable specialist online. They were located in the UK, but communicating on the computer wasn’t a problem.

Your editor can purchase your ISBN numbers. The acronym stands for the 10 -13 digit International Standard Book Number that identifies each edition of your book. A hard cover, soft cover trade version, and e-book format have different ISBN numbers. The ten numbers assigned to you make it possible to issue subsequent editions, so keep them in a safe place.

Be sure to vet web designers.  Fees and skills vary. Websites include your book cover, a précis, an excerpt, and testimonials and/or reviews, along with how to buy the book, with links to appropriate sites. I use Paypal and credit card options for my soft cover, with links to e-book versions. A distributer called Bookbaby arranges all e-book sales. (If I sell a large quantity of softcover books, I will give Amazon the business.)

It is customary to create a publisher name that is different than your own or your book’s title. Also, a domain name is essential to locating your website. In my case, I use with GoDaddy (a large domain name registrar). It’s important to have a different host for your website than your registrar in the event that one of them crashes at some point. I use Squarespace.

You may want to submit your book for review, but assess what it will be worth to you. Reviews are good for PR, but seldom influence sales. Kirkus is the most distinguished reviewer, but also the most expensive. San Francisco Book Review has a west coast and Manhattan branch. They will consider reviewing without charge if the book is new, but have a hefty fee otherwise. Booksellers World is reasonable and has a suitable turnaround. You can survey many choices online with helpful user reviews about their services.

If your book is a memoir, as is mine, or if it mentions living people by name or excerpts from other works, you may want to consider employing an attorney knowledgeable about libel laws. Did you know that you can be sued even if you say something positive about a person who doesn’t want to be mentioned?  I didn’t. Interestingly, if people are no longer living, their decedents can’t sue. Be careful not to plagiarize and to gain written permission for quotations and artistic work such as songs and poetry that are not in the public domain. Professional copyright owners generally have their own forms and require a reasonable fee and copy of your book.

Finally, you will want to consider marketing. I’ve sold through listservs to whom I’ve sent announcements. Arrange speaking engagements at local libraries, bookstores and book clubs. You can contract with social media marketing experts. They will reach out to sites like NetGalley, Goodreads, Shelf Media, and Reading to Distraction. Some sites have fees; others are gratis.  Professional marketing tells the IRS that your book is a business, not a hobby, an important distinction for writing off expenses. 

Is this information helpful, or a bit much? I want to demystify your self-publishing voyage, not drown you. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday allegedly said. 

About the Author

Janice Wood Wetzel is a professor emerita and former dean of social work who has served as a United Nations nongovernmental representative in New York since 1988. She is a well-published international educator and researcher who specializes in the human rights, mental health, and advancement of women from a global perspective. The mother of three and grandmother of four, Janicehas lived all over the United States. For the past 27 years, her home has been on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Her book, "Songs & Sorrows: One Lifetime—Many Lives" is available now.  Get in touch with the author at:

About the Book

Sorrows & Songs

In words as clear and sharp as cut crystal glass, the memoir "Sorrows & Songs:  One Lifetime – Many Lives" unflinchingly tells the story of a bright, beautiful, and promising young child who forged towards a fully realized life in spite of years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her parents and pervasive society-wide gender discrimination.  Through her account, Janice Wood Wetzel shares a range of experiences in the context of her life and times – a Depression-era childhood, World War II, a teen pregnancy and miscarriage, a 20-year marriage that produced three much loved children but ultimately ended in divorce in her late 30s, the numbing social conformity that informed the ‘50s and early ‘60s, a mental health crisis in the form of depression, a stint in a psychiatric hospital, the suicide of her father, and soon thereafter, the tragic death of her mother, and a bout with alcoholism. Finally, the mid-1960s brought hope in the form of second-wave feminism, which enlightened the world and consequently changed the author’s life.  One by one, through quiet acts of bravery, Janice Wood Wetzel broke through sexist obstacles and emerged as a civil rights pioneer, a recognized feminist and human rights researcher, strategist, and advocate, as well as a United Nations nongovernmental representative, and a highly regarded professor and Dean of Social Work. A successful life, yes. But at a price. From a painful crucible of dreams deferred and loves lost emerged both a life of many victories and a rewarding memoir.

Writing With Humor

Good Morning! Today's guest post is brought to you by Carl Schmidt

Carl Schmidt

I’ve been sitting at my word processor for nearly an hour, alternately squirming in my chair, rubbing the back of my neck and watching the clock, hoping that somehow, some way, the Great God of Mirth will sidle up and whisper to me the secret of writing with humor—so that I can reveal it to you. After all, that’s my topic.

I’m not really sure how to proceed, but I’m not flustered; I’m pacing myself. And what’s more, I lied about it being an hour; it’s only been ten minutes…so far.

The problem with writing about humor is that the reader is geared up to be amused. This, more or less, puts the writer on the spot. It won’t be good enough to Google the topic and paste up the seven secrets of comedy writing. I read them already, and they didn’t make me laugh. People don’t laugh while they're analyzing. To paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, “People just want to have fun.” And besides, if I cut and paste all seven, I’ll get nailed for plagiarism. So I won’t go there. My mission is to make you laugh.

Now… Fear of failure has always been a great motivator for me. So I’ll get myself going with a pep talk. Picture a manic, red-faced football coach at halftime with his team down by twenty-one points, and I’m the quarterback:

“OK, wise guy,” coach Ditka yells, looking me right in the eye. “You want to sell your book, right? Then you’d better get off your duff and find a way to be funny. Fake it if you have to, but I want to hear a chuckle in the third quarter. Otherwise, the reader will figure out that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, and what’s more, she’ll be pissed.”

Jesse Thorpe is the narrator/private detective of my mystery novel, "Dead Down East". Jesse has a cheeky sense of humor, which he allows to leak out now and again, not just because he likes to have fun, but also to maintain calm when things get perilous. The first really dicey moment for him occurs in the middle of chapter four, as he is trying to worm his way through an FBI roadblock. In the first draft, I had chosen that moment to insert a rather lengthy internal monologue, to expose the witty side of Jesse’s nature. I was having so much fun with it that by the time I was done, it was almost fifteen hundred words long. And while I liked the tension it created by suspending the dramatic moment in mid-air—for several pages—eventually I decided that it would be more effective as a prologue for the book. This way, on the very first page, the reader gets a preview of the inner workings of Jesse’s mind, a snapshot of his modus operandi and a quick peak at his girlfriend.

What follows are the first two paragraphs of that prologue. I hope it serves to demonstrate the use of humor in writing, and, most of all, I hope it tickles your funny bone.

Apologies and compliments are two remarkably effective devices for disarming adversaries in life and hecklers in bars. If you consider the socially adept people you know, you’ll see that they use these two conversational tools frequently and with ease. I remember the first time it fully dawned on me how valuable they could be.

Angele and I had been dating for a couple of weeks. Our next planned event was scheduled for Saturday night. So I was a bit surprised when she arrived unexpectedly at my place on Tuesday evening. I guess she decided that there was something that couldn’t wait until the weekend. The moment she walked through the front door, I began to suspect what that “something” was. She had a gleam in her eyes that seared me from the inside of my nimble imagination right down to my insteps. I surmised that she was either ovulating, or she had a sudden urge for a tour of the Thorpe habitat. I began to mentally review the floor plan of the house. “Now, where is my bedroom?” I thought. “I know it was here this morning.”

About the "Dead Down East":

Dead Down East

"Dead Down East", a fictional murder mystery, is both detective noir and smart screwball comedy rolled into one. Jesse Thorpe, a young private investigator operating out of Augusta, Maine, receives a mysterious phone call from a former client, Cynthia Dumais.  She begs to be rescued from an island south of Brunswick, within a mile of where William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, was assassinated the night before. She insists that her life is in danger, but is unwilling to provide any further information. Reluctantly, Jesse goes to fetch her.

Within a week, Jesse has three separate clients, each with his, or her, own desperate need to have the murder solved. He assembles a motley team of compadres, including rock band members, a tie-dye psychic and his rousing girlfriend, Angele Boucher, to help him with the case. While the FBI and the Maine State Police investigate political motives, Jesse looks for the woman—Cherchez la Femme—as the trail draws him through the lives, and DNA, of the governor’s former mistresses.

Fresh, witty and loaded with eccentric characters, this first novel in the Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series is both clever and stylish. It’s an old-school private eye tale with inventive twists and local charm. If you enjoy a well-crafted and zesty narrative, lively banter, or take pleasure in the company of Mainers, you’ll love "Dead Down East".

Get in touch with the author at:

How to Research Historical Fiction

Good Morning! Today's guest post is brought to you by Andrew Jones: 

Yellow Hair

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Marisa for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. "Yellow Hair" is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for "Yellow Hair", I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to "Yellow Hair". As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Marisa once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

-Andrew Joyce

About the Author

Andrew Joyce

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called "Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups" (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, "Yellow Hair". He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, "Mick Reilly".


Ten Most Delicious Desserts Inspired by Novels

Hello All! Today's guest post is brought to you by Andrea Lochen

 As an avid reader with a major sweet tooth, I love when authors include the recipes for the yummy desserts they’ve made me drool over throughout their book.  It’s a marriage of two of my favorite activities—reading and baking!  And if you’re a book club member, what better treat to bring to your meeting than a dessert straight out of the novel?  Here are ten of my favorite book-inspired desserts!

1) Southern Caramel Cake from "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett 

The Help

Who hasn’t wanted to try a bite of the scrumptious-sounding caramel cake that Minny makes in "The Help"?  (Maybe not so much her chocolate pie, however!)  Though Stockett didn’t include the recipe in the back of her book, this food blog has the The Junior League of Memphis Cookbook recipe that supposedly inspired her.


2) Coconut Cake from Amy E. Reichert’s "The Coincidence of Coconut Cake"

The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake

The titular coconut cake in Reichert’s "The Coincidence of Coconut Cake" earned its place on the cover of this heartwarming book. To the main character, Lou, baking her grandmother’s cake is the ultimate expression of love. In the book, those who get to eat it earned their slice, which certainly made me crave a piece all the more!


3) Crème Caramel Flan from Anita Hughes’ "Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story"

Island of the Sea

In Hughes’ newest novel set in Spain, she describes how Majorca's restaurants serve a mouthwatering variety of delicious fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and how many diners like to end the meal with a dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth while not being heavy or cloying.  This creme caramel flan recipe certainly does the trick!


4) Lemon Cream Cake from Juliette Fay’s "Shelter Me"

Shelter Me.jpg

Fay introduces the concept of “pology cake” in her first novel, "Shelter Me", as something you bake for someone you’ve wronged in the hopes of that person forgiving you.  Though according to Fay, it doesn’t need to be a particular kind of cake, her recipe for lemon cream cake in the back of the book and on her author website sounds fabulous!


5) Peanut butter bars from "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Though there are several delicious dishes described in Stradal’s debut novel about Midwestern foodie culture, it was the blue-prize winning peanut butter bars recipe from Lutheran church lady, Pat, that caught my eye.  I made this for my book club and these chocolate-frosted bars are just as decadent as they sound!


6) Thumbprint Cookies with Jam from Kelly Simmons’ "One More Day"

One More Day

Baking figures prominently in Kelly Simmons’ book because in "One More Day", the main character, Carrie Morgan, bakes with her grandmother, as she did when she was a little girl. However, it's not clear whether her grandmother is dead or alive!  These thumbprint jam cookies look like just the thing to bake when you’re in a nostalgic mood (or simply in the mood for something buttery and sweet)!

7) Mantecadas from Tina Ann Forkner’s "Ruby Among Us"

Ruby Among Us

In "Ruby Among Us" by Tina Ann Forkner, Kitty and her granddaughter Lucy spend a lot of time together talking over cookies and tea. Lucy even has a special tea cup that she drinks out of with her grandmother Kitty who is keeping a lot of secrets about Lucy’s past.  Below is a link to Kitty’s secret recipe for Lucy’s favorite cookie, Mantecadas.  Yum!


8) Nanaimo Bars from "Miracle Beach" by Erin Celello

Miracle Beach

Nanaimo Bars are served in the cafeterias of the ferry boats between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada.  In "Miracle Beach", when main characters Magda and Jack come to the Island, they fall in love with the sinfully sweet bars.  Author Erin Celello testifies that they’re amazing!


9) Damascus' Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake from "The River Witch" by Kimberly Brock

The River Witch

In "The River Witch", a family feast brings an estranged southern family together. When ten-year-old Damascus Trezevant’s summer ends with a bounty of pumpkins, she sets out to heal deep wounds with a sweet, old recipe for Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake and faith in the magic of a mother’s love.  You won’t be sorry you tried this recipe!


10) The Best Chocolate Cake Ever from "The Repeat Year" by Andrea Lochen

The Repeat Year

What dessert list is complete without a delectable chocolate cake?  In "The Repeat Year" main character Olive is named after her maternal grandmother who passed away the week before she was born.  In addition to her grandma’s name, Olive also inherited her recipe for the “best chocolate cake ever” which her mom bakes as a peace offering for their family in a time of major transition.

What are your favorite recipes inspired by novels?  Comment below! 

About the Author

Andrea Lochen is the author of two novels, "Imaginary Things" and "The Repeat Year".  She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her BA in English at the University of Wisconsin.  Since 2008, she has taught undergraduate writing at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.  When she isn’t teaching, reading, or baking, she is hard at work on her third novel.  To learn more about her, visit her website:






Adventures from the Caribbean’s Dark Side

Good Morning! Today's guest post comes from Chris Rogers!

What could be more romantic, I wondered, than sailing the Caribbean the way it was done a hundred years ago, before honking big ocean liners adulterated the experience into a noisy floating Vegas? I wasn’t yet a novelist, but I was aspiring and searching for a perfect setting, so I booked passage on a four-masted schooner that sailed from Saint Martin island. That trip changed my life perspective forever.

Growing up in Houston, I rarely communed with Nature. Cities, despite their efforts with public parks and other green spaces, tend to kick Nature to the curb. Not only are we insulated into air-conditioned buildings, when we do venture outdoors, Nature cowers. Constant traffic noise quashes Nature’s gentler sounds, while odors from diesel exhaust and unwashed dumpsters choke out more agreeable scents of magnolia or honeysuckle. Eventually, I realized taste had become my prevalent sensory pleasure, food and drink my go-to way to daily unwind.

That first day at sea I had no idea what to expect. We were told to be on deck at first bell to hoist the sails. There I was with my camera, hoping to catch some quick shots. But no.

“All hands on the sheets!” So I jumped in line and grabbed hold of a thick rope. “Pull!” And we pulled.

The sweet smell of ocean air was already filling this city dweller with a sense of freedom and adventure. “Pull!” It must have been the same for my neighbors up and down the line, because we were smiling at one another, caught up in the heady camaraderie of shared effort. “Pull!” Then the sails began to belly out in the wind with a soft but resilient popping sound—and a recollection from my youth came to me of bed sheets on a clothes line catching a breeze—and the ship slowly stirred beneath our feet.


Quietly, languidly gliding over the waves, we were at sail. Some people wrinkle their noses at the wail of bagpipes, but at that moment, on that ship, among the scent and sounds of the ocean, “Amazing Grace” drifted hauntingly on the air, and I felt my eyes smart with tears of astonishing contentment. Then all hell broke loose.

Pirates swarmed the deck. Actually, there were only two, but one had a huge sword, the other a huge pistol. Shots and curses rang out, all in fun, of course. Before long, except for the crew charged with keep us on course, we were all at breakfast in the dining hall. Even the “old salts,” passengers who’d sailed “barefoot” on previous cruises, were clearly enjoying the day. As for me, I’d found the setting for my romance novel.

In fact, I wrote three novels before realizing that romance was not my strong suit. Glowing rejections told me they contained too much mystery and suspense, not enough smooching. Considering that my favorite books had always been mystery, suspense, science fiction and dark fantasy, the news didn’t land as a complete surprise. My first published suspense novel shared nothing of that setting that had so captured my heart, nor did my second or my sixth.

When the notion of immortality caught hold of my imagination, it somehow linked with the pirate farce of my single tall-ship experience, and Captain Cord McKinsey was born. While I had no desire to write an entire novel set in 17th century piracy, I did want to dip into the flavor of that milieu, so I promptly cursed Captain McKinsey to spend eternity on his ship and brought them both into the present. What is a goodhearted pirate to do in the 21st century Caribbean but offer his vessel for island to island cruises?

Unfortunately, his cursed ship tends to attract passengers with paranormal problems that land solidly on McKinsey’s shoulders. With each cruise, adventures emerge from the dark side. He knows they will come but never knows precisely what dangers to expect until they’re upon him.

Pirates are intriguing to us, I think, because they’re the epitome of free spirits, yet they operate according to a true democratic structure. A ship’s captain can be voted out of office if he (or she) doesn’t measure up. Overall, however, the most intriguing part of the story for me is Cord McKinsey’s immortality. Most of us think living forever would be great, but would it?

About the Book:

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Captain Cord McKinsey, a pirate cursed in 1716 for doing a good deed, now operates his schooner, the Sarah Jane, as a cruise ship. Doomed to remain effectively ship-bound and within the Caribbean waters, Cord, 34, has often reinvented himself and his ship over these near 300 years.  

Though long despaired of ever breaking his curse, he becomes entwined in solving similar problems for passengers, problems that require extraordinary solutions. When his new Jamaican first mate, Ayanna, confesses she has been cursed by a Bokor, Cord agrees to help her locate a powerful shaman.

But the Bokor’s plan is more heinous and far-reaching than anyone suspects. The lovely Ayanna fails to mention that her mind and body are changing, taking form as a ravenous reptile. Even with the help of a psychic passenger, Cord may lose the people he cares for as well as his ship, the only square footage on land or sea where pain is not his constant companion.

Chris Rogers, best known for her novels of pure suspense, has previously confined any supernatural excursions to short stories featured in her Death Edge anthologies. In "Paradise Cursed", Rogers gives imagination full rein to explore life’s darker mysteries.

About the Author:

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Chris became a writer the easy way: She read voraciously and filled blank pages with drivel until her fingers cramped and her brain defected. Eventually, she learned to craft a decipherable sentence. Author of the Dixie Flannigan series, Bitch Factor, Rage Factor, Chill Factor and Slice of Life, Chris has published stories and essays in, among others, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Writer's Digest.

While continuing to explore the literary venue, Chris inevitably embraced the creative form of paint on canvas, which allows her narrative flair and graphic origins to unfold in unison. While creating new canvases, she also participates in the design of her book covers. Her paintings can be found in private and corporate collections.


Cover Power

Today's guest post is brought to you by Justin C. Trout, author of "Enaya: Solace of Time"

Enaya: Solace of Time

Most people judge a book by its cover even after being warned not to. I’ve done it. I’ve picked up a book and decided against it. Although there are great books with bad covers, it’s hard to look past something that you see. It’s almost like love at first sight. With that said, the cover has to be important. It’s the first thing that people see. It’s the first thing that attracts the people to it and chances are, people might like it depending on how your cover looks. The cover is very important and needs to be carefully thought out. I recommend going through Deranged Doctor Design if you are self­publishing. They did my cover and I was in love the first time I saw it. Not because it looked good, but because it revolved around my story. On the back cover you see the futuristic city and airships heading toward a castle between the letter M and E in the word TIME. That’s important because it is a pivotal point in the book. It’s that scene that they captured that will hook people in the novel. I also have seen book covers that have nothing to do with the actual book. If your book is about a chief who falls in love with a serial killer, then you don’t need a cover that shows a avalance swallowing a town filled with robots. I’ve not seen a cover that outrageous, but you get the point. The cover has to stick. You also pull in interested people. People might not read the genre you write, but your cover could get them interested. You can also tell what a book is about by it’s cover. I can look at a cover with a submarine on it and a torpedo and I can assume what the book is about. I could see a cover with a mouse sneaking cheese into a base board and I have an idea what the book might be about. People need to see the cover and immediately have an association to what the book could potentially be about. So the book cover process is important. Deranged Doctor Design sent me the cover and I approved it. That’s what made it great. They didn’t just assign the book a cover, I got to choose if it was what was necessary or not. I think author’s deserve this freedom as well, especially if you are paying the book cover business to do it.

About the Author:

Justin Trout

Justin C. Trout was born in Richlands, V.A. Justin spent a majority of his childhood writing stories. When he was in kindergarten, he shared his first “dinosaur” story with his classmates. With a passion to draw and share his stories, Justin began writing novels when he was only 12 years old. It was at this age that the Enaya series was born. He wrote a majority of the first drafts while he attended Lebanon High School. As he got older, Justin worked several odd jobs such as fast food, cashier, work study and retail. Justin decided to go back to college to obtain his degree where he could work in the mental health profession. It was in college when he decided to pursue publishing. Obtaining a master’s in education with specialization in counseling from Lindsey Wilson College, Justin is a children’s therapeutic day treatment counselor and an avid writer. He has also appeared in a number of short films and recently wrote and directed his first indie film, "Fade Out". "Enaya: Solace of Time" is book 1 in an 8 part series.

Author links:

Dealing with Bad Reviews

Today's guest post is brought to you by Sabrina Benulis


Every author dreads them, and every author gets at least one in their writing career. The good ones have the ability to give our creativity an enormous boost, and they bad ones can dry it up entirely. Either kind can elicit every emotion in the book: elation, surprise, anger, indignation. Sometimes they're fair, and sometimes they're frustratingly biased. That's right. I'm talking about reviews.

Bad reviews in particular will be my focus for today. No one needs tips and insight on managing good ones. If you get a good review for your work, by now you already know you'll be walking on clouds and feeling entitled to gifts and candy.

But the bad reviews? They're another animal. Some authors can't handle them at all. So here's some information on how to maintain a reasonable perspective throughout this potential minefield. You might be surprised what you learn.

1. Bad reviews - These are unfortunately the worst. And they do happen. I say they're the worst because out of all reviews, people actually pay attention to them most and they sometimes affect the sales of your book. A troll posting a nasty review (or series of reviews) has the ability to sink your little career ship like a stone if they're dedicated. There is very little authors can do about it. Honestly, this is partly the fault of themselves, who have admitted in recent years the fraud that goes on in their reviewing process. This ranges everywhere from other authors making fake profiles to sabotage other authors, to publishing companies hiring ghost profilers existing solely to give people fake bad reviews. You know--just because money talks.

So let's say you get a one star review of your work on What can you do? The best tactic is to encourage fans who enjoy your book to post their own thoughts and opinions about your novel to balance out the nastiness. You can do this by asking nicely, but it's much more fair to give them something fun in exchange, whether it's to mail a bookmark or allow them to enter a giveaway for your novels.

Eventually, the truth will win out. That awful review will become buried as it deserves in the pile of better reviews now sitting on top of it, and you will be freer to sleep easy at night. And with an unstained conscience to boot.

2. bullying - Another unfortunate reality, this problem exists solely because Goodreads is also a social media platform, and thus even people who haven't taken so much as a real glance at your book can give it a star rating. For every five decent users on, you will encounter someone who gets kicks out of making you cry.

The internet works as an anonymous screen for people, so you'll have to expect that there will be some who say the most awful things simply because they can. Some authors have had nightmarish scenarios with because they interact within its community too much, making them vulnerable. Like there is very little you can do about this insanity, except to understand  that many people who visit are aware it has a share of internet trolls, and they will ignore a very nasty review accordingly.

3. Whatever you do, DON'T RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. This never turns out well for you, the author. Novels are an art form like any other, and some people will not like your book because they just don't. You'll have to take this in stride and resist the temptation to shoot back to justify yourself. Authors who have done so--and there are many examples out there--make fools of themselves and come off as egotistical, narcissistic, and overbearing. Believe it or not, this is also the rule for a good review. Thanking every reviewer who has given you four or five stars makes you seem like a vulture perched on the reader's shoulder and breathing down their neck. It's understood that authors maintain a reasonable distance from both kind of reviews and manage them with dignity.

4. As I said, some people are picky with their art. But it can still be hard not to take some reviews personally. You, the author, have slaved for years over your novel and many people will not understand that or care. That's life. Especially the life of an artist with something to say. It's important to remember that some of the most avant-garde and imaginative authors of their time were torn to pieces over their novels--only to have them become classics of literature. What's good and what's bad is often in the eye of the beholder, subject to popular culture at the time, and even influenced by the peer pressure reviewers will feel to follow the general crowd in its opinion of your work.

5. Use social media wisely. If you're that author who likes to talk politics and religion, expect people to take shots at you because they just don't like you or your opinions. Also--and this applies especially to Twitter users--resist the urge to not only respond to a negative review, but also to passive-aggressively support subtweets attacking a reviewer for their possible negative opinions about you. That will make YOU a bully. And the whole 'eye for an eye' philosophy will follow your career into its grave.

6. NEVER STOP WRITING. Just don't. It's entirely in your power to write until your fingers fall off. For every success, you will encounter an eventual failure. For every failure, you will eventually meet with success. People tend to think that creating a book people love is often due to chance and amazing talent. It's not. It's due to persistence. The more you write, the more people will become exposed to the ideas in your head and the worlds and characters you're creating. And there are people out there who will love them. With a billion or so human beings walking around on this planet, that's an inevitable fact.

7. Focus on the positive. You have fans, even if it's just one. You live in a time where you can at the very least self-publish as many books as you please, into infinity. You have the technology of a computer or tablet, not a typewriter or feather pen. The world is actually your oyster. In terms of possibility for writers, there is no time thus far that has been better than now. Take advantage of it. Bombard people with your amazing novels. Smile when others enjoy them and take notice of your talent. And if someone tries to make you frown, remember that in the end, it's about you: your dreams, your future.

And no one can take either away.

About the Author

Sabrina Benulis lives in the Pocono mountains of PA with her husband, daughter, and a spoiled but sweet cockatiel. When she isn't writing or cooking up another story to tell, she's learning to be super Mom.  Her third book in The Books of Raziel series, Angelus, is released on February 9, 2016.

Most all Authors are Writers, but Not all Writers are Authors

Today's guest post is brought to you by J. Frank James

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I hope I have not confused you as a reader. My point is that to be writer you generally first have to create something to write. This is not true of say a journalist or a technical writer. As a journalist, the person simply writes about the news in a factual manner. It generally is free of opinions unless it is meant to be an editorial and in that case the writer is free to express an opinion. While such professionals are often referred to as authors, they are merely report events that have taken place and the purpose of the written piece is to inform the reader as opposed to entertain.

There are several types of authors.

On the other hand, there is the historical novelist who draws his or her books base from events as they occurred in the past. Then having completed an extensive amount of research creates a manuscript tracking the historical events with the author adding his or her twist on the facts. A good example of a writer specializing in this genre of style is James A. Michener and his books about the events taking place in the early west.

The next type of author would be someone who fancied themselves as a writer of poems. Robert Frost would be a good example.

Finally there is the author of fiction. I would liken this type of writer to a freestyle skier or hot air balloonist. They are free to go where they like and the only important thing is that they arrive safely at the end. A writer of fiction does not have to have always the need to make a point. I can be nonsensical. An example of this would be the novel by Ian Fleming entitled "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The book is absolute nonsense, but it is meant to be just fun. Furthermore, it came from a man who gave us James Bond.

I enjoy writing fiction for the simple reason it does not place any restrictions on where I can go with my characters and vice versa. By that I mean my characters are free to take over the book. I can tell you how many times I would reach a point and not know what to do next when all of a sudden several of the characters in the book start to flex their muscles and the next thing I know I am off on a tangent to a place I had not thought of going in the book. When this happens, don’t panic. You are in good hands.

Finally, don’t fear your sense of creativity. The Harry Potter novels are a good example of that. If you feel it, write about it. When you do you will feel better about it in the morning. 

About the Author:

J. Frank James

J. Frank James has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thrillers, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation. Jim's experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. He has also traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thrillers from his travels. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

J. Frank James writes crime thriller novels that are gripping and suspenseful. In 2013, he began publishing The Lou Malloy Crime Series, which is expected to span 20 books. The series follows Lou Malloy, a hardened criminal who did 15 years in prison for the theft of $15 million, and his partner Hilary Kelly, a private investigator. The titles include "The Run Begins", "Dead Money Run", "Only Two Cats", "Blue Cat in Paradise", "Rainbow Games", "Two Birds To Kill", "Last Flamingo", and "Finders, Keepers".  J. Frank James creates all of his own book covers. To learn more, go to  

Connect with J. Frank James on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.