My Newest Book!

It’s out! Bad Blood of Rosewood, my newest book. I’m doing the happy dance!!

badbloodThe Rosewood series is now complete… or is it? Never say never, right? I may write more about the Thorns and Gloria Larson in the small town of Rosewood. I have quite a cast of characters just hanging out, waiting for me to put them in motion. Ronnie, Doug, Hank, Betty, Josie, Tanya and Debbie. Don’t forget Officer Connors and all the guys at the Old Man Table at the Last Stop Diner. And you know how it is. Small towns have characters around every corner. I’m guessing at some point in the future something mysterious is bound to happen.

Until then, I have written six books for you to read. You can find all of my books on my book table here on this website, or on Amazon.

And if you haven’t read the entire series yet, Please start with Thorns of Rosewood, then read Flames of Rosewood, and finally, Bad Blood of Rosewood

Just a note. I sell exclusively on Amazon for Kindle e-readers and print books. If you own a Nook or other reading device, this may irritate you! I understand. But, over the years since I’ve started selling books, I’ve found by being a Kindle Select author, I sell exponentially more books via Amazon than I do any other channel. To be a Select author on Amazon, I must enter a contract agreeing to only sell through Amazon. Now, of course, I’d like all readers to enjoy my books on their Nooks or Kindles, but earning a living is important, too. (Certainly, my husband thinks so!) So, until I become rich and famous, I’m going to use this tool available to me as an Indie Author so I can get my product out to as many readers all over the world as possible.

Having said that, there are apps you can download for your computers or Androids to read Kindle books. Here is the download, and it’s free. Kindle App

All of the highlighted words, as well as the picture of my book, will take you directly to Amazon to purchase the books, or download the App.

Please share this blog post on your social media, or forward it to your reading friends!

An Interview With Charissa Stastny

cover-between-hope-and-the-highwayAuthor Charissa Stastny has a new book. I’ve read it and can tell you that even though I’m not a romance reader, this one entertained the likes of even this cynic. Between Hope & the Highway is a delightful read with great, unique characters. I’m a fan of Charissa’s writing and Between Hope & the Highway did not disappoint. Today I’m asking her a few questions so you can get to know this joyful and fun-loving author.

Charissa, how did you get started as an author?

C: I’d always wanted to write a book, but never seemed to have time between being a mother, a caregiver, and then a preschool and art teacher. As my children matured, I suddenly found myself spending lots of time waiting for them at sports practices. That’s when I started bringing notebooks and hashing out a story (which ended up being my Bending Willow Trilogy). That hooked me on the writing process…and now I don’t want to stop.

Most writers are readers. What are some of your favorite books?

C: I love The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, any of the Harry Potter books, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and anything by C.S. Lewis. Contemporary romance authors I can’t get enough of are Jennifer Peel, Taylor Dean, and Amy Harmon. I can reread their stories and not tire of them.

What suggestions would you give a potential author to help them become a better writer?

C: There are so many great writing books out there. Read as many of them as you can, and apply new techniques as you learn them. Go to a writing conference each year if you can, and learn how to plot. I’ve done the pantser method for my first three books, and it’s fun…but very inefficient. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has been the most helpful writing book I’ve found for me.

Who is your favorite author and why?

C: Probably C.S. Lewis. His words are amazing; his thoughts so clear and inspiring. Everything he wrote deserves a place on my shelf and his quotes on my fridge.

author-photoAny special talents?

C: I’m not super good at any one thing, but am proficient at lots of stuff. I’ve tried my hand at painting, crafting, photography, piano, organ, teaching, crocheting, gardening, scrapbooking, basketball, mountain biking, triathlon, and now writing.

If you could have lunch with any character from a book (other than your own), who would it be, where would you eat, and what would you discuss?

C: I would dine with Dumbledore from Harry Potter. We’d eat sushi at Sakana’s (my favorite eating joint) and talk about anything he liked. Seriously, I can’t even think of a good enough question to ask the most powerful wizard ever. If he wanted to discuss Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans…then so be it.

Tell us a little about your family.

C: My husband and I are high school sweethearts and married after his mission. We have four children—3 daughters (one married who is an interior designer/architect, one who served a mission in S. Korea and is now in school for dental hygiene, and one who’s leaving on a mission to Armenia/Georgia and speaking Georgian for the next year and a half before studying to become a P.A.) and one incredible son in high school. We love being together and our favorite activities include biking, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland.

What got you started on your writing journey?

C: I’ve dabbled with writing since I was a kid. I loved reading clean romance as a teen and wrote many cheesy scenes between handsome cowboys and milkmaids in my journal. The world will NEVER see these! They are cheesier than a Walmart tuxedo.

Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?

C: After my husband read my first book, he commented, “It would have been better with a zombie in it.” Since then, the Search and Find feature on Word has become my best friend. I always use it before I send out drafts to readers, because unfortunately, my husband is skilled at sneaking zombies into files. There is nothing worse than when the masculine hunk in my story tells the girl of his dreams that ‘he wants to eat her brains.’ Ugh!

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

C: Quite a lot. There is always one character I identify with—usually the shy, awkward one with a good heart who doesn’t know how to accessorize. My cool characters are my dreams of how I wish I could be. It’s fun as a writer to live vicariously through our characters.

Do you have a favorite character?

C: I love Suvi and wish I could meet her in real life. Austan’s pretty cool too (he’s a hoot to write), but I don’t know if I’d be brave or confident enough to meet him in person. I wouldn’t be able to come up with witty comebacks fast enough. Bentley is the cutest character I write (he’s 13) and I love him to pieces.

What does your family think about your writing?

C: They think I’m crazy to sit and play with imaginary characters all day. And I am! My 2nd daughter laughed hysterically when she read my early draft of Eyes of Light. She highlighted sections and wrote: “Cheesy! Please Mom, don’t ever publish this. I will be embarrassed for you!” My husband also gave me advice: “Before you publish, you might want to do a search for the word ZOMBIE.” Their tips saved me. Also, my oldest daughter designs my covers and keeps me looking presentable.

If you were stranded on a deserted tropical island with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?

C: Since I can’t build a fire or catch fish, I’d need someone who could be responsible and take care of me. In my mind, that would be James Hinton (from the Bending Willow Trilogy). I imagine he was a Boy Scout when he was young, so he’s very handy, self-reliant, kind, creative, and honorable. I’d feel safe with him.

What kind of trials do your main characters in your newest book have to endure?

C: Liz’s hen-pecking mother has always belittled her because her dreams didn’t align with hers. This has caused internal strife with regards to her self-esteem that she has to overcome (once she realizes it’s there). Liz has also just lost her fiancé in a terrible automobile accident. That’s why she leaves home to escape painful memories. Rawson and Bentley Law are dealing with survivor’s guilt from an accident they were involved in five years ago as well. They each have secrets that have the power to destroy their present happiness.

Why should we read your books?

C: Two reasons: 1) there is a powerful message of forgiveness and redemption woven into the pages that will make you appreciate life more fully, and 2) the characters are witty, vulnerable, charming, and just plain awesome! If you’re like me, you will fall in love with them.

What is one silly fact about you?

C: I can do a ‘mean’ monkey imitation. When I did this at Biblical zoo in Jerusalem, the monkeys spit at me though. I don’t know what that means.

If you could have plastic surgery, what would you change?

C: Nothing. I think wrinkles are earned and are a sign of wisdom. I’ve worked and lived too hard to let some doctor take that away from me.

Now that you know her a little better, I hope you’ll follow her on her website: http://www.charissastastny.com/

I also hope you’ll buy her book, Between Hope & the Highway. You can find all of Charissa’s books at:

https://www.amazon.com/Charissa-Stastny/e/B00847JD1I/

 

Reviews—The Good and Bad

When readers review my books on Amazon, I’m a happy author. Having numerous reviews allow me the ability to promote my book in certain places, such as BookBub. But what other leg-up do reviews give a book? Well, I’m on the fence about that.

till-on-the-fence-about-it...

Honestly, when I buy a book, whether it be an ebook or print, it’s because the cover rocks, and the blurb is intriguing. Then I read the first page. Good writing is always evident within the first few paragraphs. I’m currently reading Alex Kava’s, Stranded. This is an excellent example of knocking you off your chair good stuff right from the get-go.

Regardless of my perch on the fence regarding benefits of review, I have a real love/hate relationship with looking at the reviews on my books. Particularly, Thorns of Rosewood, book 1 in the Rosewood Series. When I see I have a new review, I’m excited. Then my stomach knots up, because sometimes, reviews are a mirror reflecting the moles and messy hair of my book.

I ran a Bookbub ad a couple of months ago with nice results in sales, but even nicer results in reviews. I believe I started with around forty reviews on that book. I now have 247 reviews, 228 of which Amazon deems positive, and 168 of which are 5-Star. Hey. I like those numbers. And I comment on every single review. Most often I just say, “thanks for reading,” but I do feel if they took the time to review my book, I should take the time to acknowledge it.

What about bad reviews, you may wonder. Oh… I’ve got them. Six of them. Three two stars and three one stars, so far. My very favorite bad review is the one titled, “?” The review is, “I never ordered or received this book!” I read it now and then because it makes me chuckle.

So how do you pick a book? Do you review books? Do you like cookies? (just checking to see if you were paying attention with the cookie question.)

Have a good weekend.

BOOKBUB PROMOTION RESULTS

how-to-get-amazon-reviews

Thorns of Rosewood Amazon Review

If you click the link above, it takes you to the Amazon page where a reader gives me a 5-star review and says this about my book, Thorns of Rosewood:

“This woman can write!! And tell a great story too. I wish I could give it more stars. The characters all come across as very real people with their own joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies. Great reading.”

The person who left the review, I only know as, Kindle Customer. It could be a guy or a gal, an older person or a younger person, someone from the little Nebraska town next to mine, or someone from across the world. I don’t know, and I probably never will. It’s exciting to get reviews from complete strangers. Especially positive ones. So far, since the ad for my book, Thorns of Rosewood, ran last week on BookBub, I’ve received eighteen new reviews, and all but one were four and five stars.

To everyone who picked up Thorns of Rosewood free (59,978 of you!), I say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! To those who after the free day was over, bought the book (216 of you!) I say THANK YOU EVEN MORE!! To the 594 people who bought Book 2 in the Rosewood series, Flames of Rosewood, I am ever so grateful!! And my reader stats show that 97,224 pages of Thorns have been read since the promotion. Wow.

To all the writers out there who are thinking about buying a BookBub ad, I’d encourage you to keep trying until they accept you. I’ve earned three times what I paid for it. But, oh, for the new readers—that is the true benefit! What a joy. My thoughts are running through their minds as they read. That’s quite a connection, now, isn’t it?!

Oh, and just for the fun of it, here is a screen shot of my ranking on Amazon during the promotion. For a little moment in time, I was number 1!

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Tell Me About Your Book

I hear this all the time:

“Tell me about your book!!”

  • First of all, I’m a writer because I’m not really very good at summing things up quickly. I need about 50,000 words to make a point.
  • Secondly, I’m writer because I don’t really like to talk.
  • Although I have ideas to express, the notion of people looking at me while I express them, makes me panic.
  • But there’s another really good reason it’s difficult for a writer to give a short description about their books. It’s because an author’s book is like their baby.
  • If someone were to ask a parent to sum up everything about their child in a few minutes, the parent would probably have a hard time encapsulating the entire personality and character of their son or daughter.
  • The kind of things a parent or author might say if they were pressed are, “They’re nice! They have a big heart! They’re smart!”
  • But unlike parents of actual children, Authors want you to buy their babies.

So this idea of a book being an author’s baby will help me explain the writing process, which is another question I often hear: “How do you write a book?”

First comes the gestation period which all happens in our minds:

  • The author comes up with the idea for a book.
  • We think about who the characters will be.
  • We come up with the issue the characters will need to solve.
  • We decide where the story will take place.
  • Then, just like giving birth to a baby, we birth our books.
  • The difference is the delivery process is the actual writing the book.
  • When we finish the book, it’s like the first time we hold our new baby. We love it, and stare at it, and think it’s wonderful and amazing, and a miracle.
  • But we don’t really see our baby like other people see it. We love our baby no matter what.
  • But a relative might come over to see the baby and leave thinking, “That’s a funny looking baby!” or “Man, that baby is fussy!” or “I can’t believe they let that baby have a pacifier.”
  • So although you love that baby like only a parent can, you have to step back and raise it properly.
  • It’s the same with a book. We have to see our story through the eyes of many readers to make sure it makes sense.
  • We need to answer questions like, does it flow, is it believable, is it well written and properly formatted, is the cover the best it can be?
  • I’ve learned it takes teamwork to make a great book.
  • Critique groups, and beta readers, editors, and cover designers.
  • When the book can pass all of these stages, just like a young adult passes all of their classes in high school, then the book can then go to college — the editor, then on to the real world — the reading public.

 One important thing I’ve learned is, The time to publish a book is not when it’s done, but when it’s GOOD! I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.

I’m still working on making the next book in the Rosewood series good enough to join the real world. Thanks for your patience.

The Bending Willow Trilogy—Charissa Stastny

1367813145I’m so tickled to tell you about a friend of mine. A friend I’ve never met, but one I have a lot of respect for just from following her blog and reading her books. She has such a good heart. We meet so few people like that and when you meet one, it’s important to keep that kind of positivity in your life. This world needs all the good examples we can get!

I picked some questions for Charissa that tell about her Bending Willow Trilogy, but even more importantly, questions that share the essence of  Charissa —a person with a beautiful soul. Her books are exciting, heart warming and well written, but when you read about her, you’ll see her goodness and that is what shines through in her writing.

Read her books. You’ll thank me.

And now, I’m honored to give you a glimpse into the author, Charrissa Stastny. She loves her family and they love her. She loves life and God and writing and she’s fun, too. Read about her and see if you don’t agree!

  1. If you could revisit one day in your life, which would it be? In 2009, I spent a week with my grandma taking care of her. I would revisit any of those days and just drink in her smile and laughter.
  2.  Tell us a little about your family. My husband and I are high school sweethearts and married after his mission. We have four children—3 daughters (one married, one serving a mission in Korea, and one still in high school) and one son (in high school). We love being together and our favorite activities include biking, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland.
  3. Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader? After my husband read my first book, he commented, “It would have been better with a zombie in it.” Since then, the Search and Find feature on Word has become my best friend. I always use it before I send out drafts to readers because, unfortunately, my husband is skilled at sneaking zombies into files. There is nothing worse than when the masculine hunk in my story tells the girl of his dreams that ‘he wants to eat her brains.’ Ugh!
  4.  How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing? Quite a lot. There is always one character I identify with—usually the shy, awkward one with a good heart who doesn’t know how to accessorize. My cool characters are my dreams of how I wish I could be. It’s fun as a writer to live vicariously through our characters.
  5.  Where did you get your inspiration for this book? My muse started with a door-to-door salesperson. An Israeli girl named Suvi with a nose ring and a vivacious personality knocked, charmed me into buying one of her oil paintings, and then talked to my daughters and me for an hour. After she left, a story started to form around her in my mind. As I wrote my imagined story for Suvi, I wanted to help my own daughters be aware of hidden secrets people carry so that they would be more merciful in their judgment of others. We never know what awful circumstances and experiences have led someone to act in certain ways.My little brother was my inspiration for my James character. He served a mission in Guatemala and I used his letters he wrote home to cast Elder Hinton. I tease my brother that James Hinton is him…only cool!
  6. Did you put real experiences in this book? In Eyes of Light, the missionary scenes are almost all taken from real-life experiences my brother had while serving in Guatemala. I found his letters captivating and used them to form my character James. In Secret Keepers, there are several scenes—like the Garden tomb and Wailing Wall—I described from being in Israel as a college student. I also stayed on a kibbutz in the Galilee and based Suvi’s experiences there on mine.
  7. What is one silly fact about you? I can do a ‘mean’ monkey imitation, actions and all. When I did this at Biblical zoo in Jerusalem, the monkeys spit at me though. I don’t know what that means.
  8.  If you could have plastic surgery, what would you change? Nothing. I think wrinkles are earned and are a sign of wisdom. I’ve worked and lived too hard to let some doctor take that away from me.

Blog Tour Giveaway (ends March 1st)

  • Comment on post & sign up for newsletter at http://www.CharissaStastny.com to enter drawing
  • 13 lucky winners (1 each-$20, $15, $10 Amazon Gift cards; 10 eBook winners)

A Gift of Reading

Many of my friends who are writers achieved a goal this month. They participated and won something called Nanowrimo—an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. And it’s grown to be a world-wide event. The winners claim the prize of having written a first draft of a new novel in one month. Technically, 50,000 words. The spirit of competition drives the writers, and the prize is twofold: a pat on the back you give yourself at the end because, by golly, it’s a big deal to write 50,000 words of anything! The other prize is the actual novel. I participated back in 2010.  The novel I wrote happened to be the first book I published, Casting Stones. It’s still selling and I have to say, it’s a book I couldn’t stop thinking about when I wrote it, a book I hated while I was editing it, and a book I have come to love like a first-born child. I read it every year, and every year I like it more.

My writing has grown and maybe even improved since then (5 more books under my belt to date.) But, as far as stories go, I would have to say Casting Stones is still a favorite of mine. The characters are very real to me, and I am proud of the book. So, thank you, Nanowrimo! You showed me I could write a book.

A few thoughts about this novel. It’s a tale about a woman who needs a husband. A woman so broken she doesn’t know how to love, only how to judge. The man she desires could be any man. Strong, yet with weaknesses. Life deals him the hardest of blows and the woman brings him salvation, but it’s a binding , suffocating weight. He isn’t saved, as much as imprisoned. The man’s hard times seem never-ending, but he finds a true savior in an old friend. Sacrifices are made, to be sure, and hands are dirtied, but in the end, the man finds joy and love and peace. Was it worth it? Was it justified? These are all questions I put to the reader as I tell the tale of James Raven and Esther Barton. Set in Nebraska and Missouri, this story’s timeline runs from the ’20s through the ’50s. It’s an emotional experience meant to make the reader think and rethink. It may make the reader cry. It may make the reader angry at moments. But there is a message, and maybe it’s different for every reader.

Casting Stones was originally written as three different books—Prelude, Casting Stones, & Conclusions.  A year later I decided to combine all three parts into one book. I called it the Unabridged version. Now the book is only available with all three parts, and the name is simply, Casting Stones. This book is available in print and as an ebook.

If you’ve read this book, I thank you. If you purchased this book, I thank you even more! (editors aren’t cheap!) If you’ve helped me promote it, or given it as a gift, you are a treasure to me! But if you haven’t read it, or haven’t gifted it, I hope you’ll consider giving it to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking literary fiction. It is time to buy gifts, you know. Christmas is literally weeks away. This small artist would certainly appreciate your support during the 2014 holiday season. I noticed Amazon is offering 30% off on online orders. The book is $12, $10.69 for Prime members, and now with an additional 30% off, you save even more.

Win a free print copy of Casting Stones—my gift of reading to you—just add your email address to your comment at the bottom of this post on my blog, or email me directly at ginabarlean@gmail.com. One winner will be chosen. I will mail the book to the winner.

 

 

It’s a NEW BOOK!

My friend and talented author C. Hope Clark was kind enough to give me an editorial review for the back cover of my new book, Moments of Clarity.

“Gina’s homespun words of life lessons and nostalgia fill me with a cookies-and-milk warmth and make me crave smothering hugs. “Filling the Void” in particular made me wish that memory was my own. This author can make you so happy to be breathing and smiling. She’s found her niche.”

Hope Clark, award-winning author of The Caroline Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries. www.chopeclark.com

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Here’s the Proof. The book, Moments of Clarity is born and is now available as a print or digital copy from Amazon. Soon, the eBook will also be available on iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked on selecting the right stories from this blog to put together as an anthology. I’m thrilled with how it looks and reads, and I think you’ll like it, too.

These stories are close to my heart—about my family and my childhood. I think this book is uplifting and humorous.  I believe you’ll see some of your own life in these essays, and reading this book will bring a smile to your face.

I hope those of you who visit my blog will share this news with other readers. I’d also like to give away some free digital copies to the first several people who put their email along with a comment in the comment section of this post.

The way I will give away a digital copy is to give a coupon for the book to Smashwords. There, you will buy the book and download it in whatever format works for you, Nook, Kindle, PDF, etc. I will send the coupon code to your email address.

When my print order comes in I will give away a few print copies, as well.

Happy reading, and thank you for following Moments of Clarity!