My Books

Seen by Heather Sutherlin

The first book in my new series, SEEN, will be available tomorrow on e-readers everywhere. The fabulous cover was illustrated by local artist extraordinaire, Kate Gardner, and cover design was completed by my sister, Shannon Iverson. Here’s a little sneak peek you:

Rory has no idea what’s going on in the woods behind her house, but it’s driving her crazy. On the last day of her senior year she finds herself caught up once again in the curious happenings of the forest and walks away without any of the answers she was hoping to find. To make matters worse, she is sent to visit a sick neighbor and instead finds the hottest guy she’s ever seen. When she discovers his brother’s incredible secret she falls further into her own chaos and into a fate she never could have imagined.

Jaron is just counting the days until the summer is over and he can get back to his real life. Stuck with his little brother on a tiny farm in rural Oklahoma is not exactly his idea of fun. But when Rory shows up on his doorstep with an armload of pie, he knows his summer has just taken a sharp turn into new territory. He never expected the adventure they would discover next or the quest that would change their lives forever.


Free book giveaway, Friday, Indie Authors, Sarah Treu, writing advice

>Free Book Friday

>This week I was delighted to share with all of you one of my youngest daughter’s favorite books, Investigator Anne.  Today we have the pleasure of hearing from the author and illustrator, Sarah Treu.   

Hi everyone!

I’m so glad I have the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you about writing. I am an author and illustrator of children’s books. I do all of the writing and create all of the pictures for my books. I have written and illustrated a variety of books, from preschool picture books to the early level chapter book series that my husband and I are currently working on. The series, “Investigator Anne,” is about a young girl who solves mysteries around her town. She enlists the help of her siblings and friends who are known as the Gumshoe Crew. In each mystery, the crew makes discoveries about the world around them and learns scientific principles. With a little creativity and team work, they solve exciting mysteries in their own neighborhood.

My husband, Mark, and I both love to write. We write for fun and draw our inspiration
from the experiences we have in our own world. We have five amazing young kids and
they provide us with a lot of inspiration and ideas. They even give us feedback from time
to time. Feedback from kids is important when you are writing for children!

My husband and I started daydreaming about this series a few years ago when our oldest daughter, Anne, became very interested in science, learning and discovery. She was always the one we would ask to help when a ballet slipper needed to be found, or when someone wanted to know what kind of animal prints were in the backyard.

Mark and I love to travel and take family road trips. Many times we will brainstorm story ideas while we drive, and I’ll jot down notes. Later we’ll organize the plot development and begin the first draft of writing. I usually do that. Once the first draft is written, Mark will go through it and write, rewrite, and refine. One of the most important things to know about writing is this simple rule: There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting. So we rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite. Once the
story is at a good finishing point, I create the illustrations and format the book. We’ll
then send it to an editor for a final look. Once the book is complete, we self-publish it
through our publishing name, Angel Street Kids Books. You can find all of our books on
Barnes&Noble.com.

Investigator Anne continues to be in the Barnes & Noble top 10 for its age category. I’m
honored to have it be featured right next to the Magic Tree house and the Flat Stanley
books. I am so thrilled when kids write to me to say how much they have enjoyed my
books. I hope you enjoy them too!

Writing and illustrating a book is a big project, but the key is to just do it. Sometimes the
hardest part is just getting started because maybe you’re not sure exactly where to begin.
My recommendation is to just start writing down all of your ideas and then organize
them. Write some more, then write and rewrite. It will come together, just keep going.

Another thing I’ve found is that writing doesn’t just happen at the computer. I write from
what I observe in the world around me. I write in my head and I draw in my head too.
I begin to see things as stories and pictures and pages in a book inside my head before
they are ever in a real book. The ideas form in my head while I’m watching my kids at
the park, when I’m on a bike ride, or when I’m doing anything else. Keep writing even
when you don’t have a pencil, and then when you do get a hold of a pencil write down
everything! My own daughter loves to write in her head too. Once when I told her to
practice the piano, she replied in third person: “Okay, she said sighing.” LOL! Now
that’s a girl who’s always writing a story.

Writing is fun! If it gets stressful, take a break and go for a run or go dig in the sandbox
for a while. But whatever you do, don’t give up, go back to your writing again. You will
feel great satisfaction by completing a writing piece and making it the very best that you
can. Happy writing!

Your friend,
Sarah Treu

***Want to win Sarah’s books for FREE?  Just leave a comment below.  The winner will be announced on Monday and will recieve a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  If you are coming to us from Facebook, you will have to leave the Facebook app and come back to us from your browser in order to post a comment.  Be a good friend and share this with your book-loving pals.***

book reviews, elementary, Free book giveaway, Indie Authors, Sarah Treu, you gotta read

>Gotta Read: Investigator Anne

>
So far on You’ve Gotta Read Wednesdays, we’ve covered books for middle grade and teens.  Today I am excited to share with you a fabulous book for elementary readers. Investigator Anne: Case #1 Timeless Treasure Lost 
  
This book is one my youngest daughter loved!  It’s about a little girl, Anne, who loves mysteries.  She reads all the mystery books she can find.  When her mother’s birthday gift goes missing, Anne comes to the rescue!  Readers will love following the clues with Anne as she searches for the gift and the answer to the mystery.  Anne shows us that we don’t have to be famous detectives to be helpful.  We can use our sleuthing skills to solve mysteries here in the real world.



My Thoughts
The Investigator Anne series is fabulous because the author incorporates science and deductive reasoning into the story as Anne and her friends try to solve the mystery. As a teacher and a parent, this is special because it demonstrates to the young reader how the things they are learning can be used in real life to fix tough situations.  It also encourages kids to be helpful, something many children naturally desire.


My daughter, Evie, turns 8 this week. She loves detectives and secret agents (honestly, I think she just likes an excuse to sneak around!) This book had her begging for more. “One more chapter, mom, please!” How can you argue with that? As soon as we finished the book, Evie raced upstairs to get a pink cape like Anne. She came back with an old camera box, one with a long strap and a shiny metal clasp on the front. “Look, mom, it’s a clue kit, just like Anne!” Inside she had a magnifying glass, a notebook and a pencil. She couldn’t wait to help us solve a few mysteries – just like Anne. That is the mark of a good book! When the reader puts it down and immediately wants to put what they’ve learned into practice somehow, you know you’ve found something special.


Where to Get It

Investigator Anne – Case #1 Timeless Treasure Lost [NOOK Book]

Investigator Anne – Case #2 Sneaky Sneakers [NOOK Book]


More to Come
On Friday, we will have a very special visit from the author herself, Sarah Treu. Please come back to hear how she put together the series and what it is like to be a writer/illustrator. Be a good friend and share this with your book-loving pals. It’s easy to share with the buttons below.


Want a free copy of Investigator Anne? Leave a comment below. One lucky reader will recieve a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble. That’s enough to buy most of Sarah Treu’s books for Nook! (May I suggest Counting Bugs? Adorable!)

fantasy, Free book giveaway, Friday, Indie Authors, Keith Robinson

>Free Book Friday (the Thirteenth)

>It’s Friday the 13th, people!  I’m not very superstitious, but when I saw that we had a Friday the 13th coming up, I set out to find a good book to share with all of you who love the creepier tales.  Unfortunately, I don’t read a lot of creepy tales these days.  I’ve outgrown them, I suppose.  So, when I mentioned this dilemma to my daughter, she pointed out the book I had been telling her about recently, Island of Fog.  “It sounds pretty creepy, Mom.”  Well, I wouldn’t have put it that way, but there are certainly a lot of secrets hiding on the Island of Fog.  So, grab a copy and dig in.  Or, better yet, leave a comment and win a free copy of this exciting book!  We’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Today I have the honor of introducing you to the fabulous author, Keith Robinson.  He’s working diligently on the second half of this series and has made quite an impression on fans, even catching the attention of the fabulous Piers Anthony.  Today he shares with us the process of building his series from the ground up.  So, take a peek into how it all began with Keith Robinson.

I moved to the USA from England in 2001 and started writing ISLAND OF FOG the following year.  It was a long process writing bits here and there, honing my skills, and also switching from British English to US English (which I felt was necessary if I ever planned to submit a manuscript to a US publisher.)  In 2008 I made a concerted effort to finish the novel, then sent it to a professional editor.  This was the first time anyone other than myself had read it, so I was nervous. But she loved it.
I had one copy printed by CreateSpace just because I wanted to see what it “felt” like, but once I held it in my grubby hands, I decided to go ahead with self-publishing. This was in April 2009. Somehow I ended up being “discovered” by the local library (by word of mouth) and from there I did book talks, signings, interviews, and so on, all in the local area. My books are in three public libraries, several middle schools, and on the shelves at the local Barnes & Noble (next to J. K. Rowling!). Meanwhile, bestselling fantasy author Piers Anthony favorably reviewed ISLAND OF FOG in his July 2009 newsletter, and because of that I was contacted by an agent who wanted to represent the book as a potential TV/movie property.
The book started out as a single novel, but even before I finished writing it, I’d decided to make it into a trilogy. So the second book, LABYRINTH OF FIRE, came along in November 2009. This was a six-month turnaround from start to finish, a vast improvement over six years! Clearly I had figured out what I was doing. The third book, MOUNTAIN OF WHISPERS, rounded off the trilogy in August 2010.
But as I was finishing that third book, I decided I wanted to continue the story further. Even though the trilogy had ended, I saw no reason not to start another 3-book arc. LAKE OF SPIRITS continues the story but also starts a new arcing subplot. Naturally the series is now intended to be six books (possibly more); I’m currently writing the fifth, ROADS OF MADNESS, and will start on the sixth later in the year. There seems to be an endless number of angles I can explore in this series; my only dilemma is which I should choose.
Writing a series has many benefits. The characters are established in the first book, and the rest of the series is spent expanding on their personalities. It’s a cliche, but when you write/read other books in a series, there’s a sense of “putting on a comfortable sweater.” You can be with old friends again and join them on a new adventure. And from a purely business point of view, once you sell readers on that first book, they’re going to want to get the rest in the series. It’s a no-brainer in terms of “cashing in.”
I often use a single point of view in my writing. The entire FOG series is seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Hal Franklin. I’ve been very careful to ensure that every word of narrative is from his POV and doesn’t temporarily jump into someone else’s head. This approach works well for me, and I think it draws readers deeper into the story. For one thing, they’re not continually jumping from character to character where one subplot might, unfortunately, be less interesting than another. Also, it helps convey a greater sense of mystery; when you read a chapter about a villain plotting his Great Scheme early in the book, the reader is then more knowledgeable than the main protagonist, and it can be frustrating waiting for him to catch up. Being firmly inside the main character’s head throughout means we know only what he knows, thus heightening the mystery.
But this approach does present limitations. Occasionally a scene will take place that I would love to describe but can’t because the main character is not there. He can’t be everywhere all the time, and it would seem forced if he was. So, sadly, once in a while that scene happens “off-camera,” which itself can be a challenge. Careful plotting is needed in these instances.
Then again, careful plotting is ALWAYS needed, so nothing new there. I wrote my first book organically and ended up rewriting or deleting entire chapters when I realized I was going in the wrong direction. Writing a chapter summary beforehand means I go through that same plotting/thinking process early and can therefore avoid writing chapters I don’t need!

Want to win a free copy of Island of Fog?  Leave a comment below and you are entered to win!  The winner will be announced Monday.  *** If you are visiting us from Facebook, you need to leave Facebook and come back to us through your browser in order to leave a comment. ***

book reviews, fantasy, Free book giveaway, Indie Authors, Keith Robinson, you gotta read

>Gotta Read: Island of Fog

> Allow me to pretend that I posted this yesterday.  I haven’t been feeling well and as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk, which has put me behind schedule a bit. However, I just couldn’t wait to tell you about the Island of Fog.

I recently read the book, Island of Fog by Keith Robinson.  What a thrilling adventure!  It tells about a group of families who have moved to a mysterious island, covered constantly by fog.  Each family is raising a child on this tiny island and the children grow up wondering about life beyond the fog.  What is happening on the mainland?  Will they ever return to find out?  What caused their parents to move them all here and why won’t they talk about it?  

Hal Franklin is twelve years old, like the other kids on the island, and he is tired of all the mystery, of all the secrets, and especially of all the fog.  When Hal’s friend Robbie discovers a cave where all the fog seems to be coming from, they decide to cover it up with branches.  If they can stop the fog, then maybe they might be able to see the mainland, or at the very least, the sun.  This starts a dangerous chain of events that include wild and terrifying monsters, hidden secrets, and sudden transformations that leave the children struggling to understand what it’s all about.  When a visitor arrives at the island one day and takes over the school house, the children don’t know whether to trust her or fear her.  She may hold the key to understanding what is really happening on the Island of Fog or … she may be the one who destroys them all.

My Thoughts:
This book kept me turning pages furiously into the night.  Excitement, mystery, secret powers and bizarre monsters.  It has everything!  I would recommend this book to readers over fourth grade and I just know my kids are going to eat it up.  Personally, I don’t know many adults who wouldn’t enjoy this book, too.  The ending is a complete surprise (Kudos, Mr. Robinson, on that excellent turn of events, by the way) and I was happy to discover that this was only the first book in an extensive series.  Happy news for fans like me who can’t get enough.  

Where to Get It:
You can find Island of Fog at Amazon.com, or Barnes and Noble.  I downloaded my copy from BN.com as an ebook and read it on my ipad with the Nook app.  You can also find all of Mr. Robinson’s books at his fabulous website, unearthlytales.com



More to Come:
Come back tomorrow to hear from the author himself.  He’s offering a free copy of his book to one lucky reader.  Just leave a comment below and you are entered to win!  The winner will be declared on Monday. *** If you are visiting us from Facebook, you need to leave Facebook and come back through your browser in order to leave a comment. ***


Gotta Read,
Heather

fantasy, free book, Friday, Indie Authors, Jessie Sanders, world building

>Friendly Free Book Friday

>
Happy Friday, Friends!  This week we have a special guest among us.  On Wednesday I shared with you one of my new favorite books, Into the Flames.  Today we are delighted to welcome the author, Jessie Sanders, as our guest.  In addition to writing, Jessie is an editor who shares her special skills with new authors to help them improve their fabulous work before it meets the world.

Today she shares her thoughts on how to build a better fantasy world.  Thanks, Jessie!

You might have heard it said that your story is like an iceberg. Well, it’s true. The tiny

tip that you see at the top is the story that your readers get to read in book form. The rest,
hidden under the surface, is everything that you, the author, know about your world and
your characters. Without the bottom of your iceberg, the tip of it will just float away,
baseless. Scary, right?

The core of every fantasy novel is a well-established fantasy world. Remember the
detailed inner workings of JK Rowling’s Ministry of Magic? How about all they ways
that Meyers’s vampires differ from the original legend? Both these authors took the time
to develop their worlds in such a way that you could step into it and really live it.

There is a very simple question that you need to ask yourself every time you begin
working on creating a world: What makes my world special? Even if you have a lot of
similarities to other fantasy novels (and it’s something that will be inevitable), you need
to have your own special take for your story and build from that. After you’ve deduced
what is special about your world, you can build it up into something that everyone will
want to enter with you.

If your story is set in a completely different universe, then Patricia Wrede, author
of Dealing with Dragons, has created a great checklist to get you thinking about
everything you will need to know about your world. The questions include things like
your country’s climate and geography, the rules of your magic system, and the type of
currency your characters will use.

The rules of your magic system are important whether you’re in a galaxy far, far, away
or just under some subway tunnels in London (that’s a reference to Neil Gaiman’s
Neverwhere, in case you want to check it out). High fantasy author Brandon Sanderson
has some great rules to consider when working through your magic system: Sandersons-First-Law. In my novel, Into the Flames, one of the characters mentions the rules that govern their superpowers. Rahab, the main character, expresses disbelief that there is such a thing. But even though Rahab doesn’t know it, I’ve been running her and her friends’ lives by a set of rules that
governs what they can and can’t do. In the end, the restrictions to their superpowers raise
the stakes and make the ending more exciting.

Even if your characters use magic sparingly or never at all, you still need to know what
would happen if your bad guy suddenly decides to use your version of the cruciatus curse
to torture your hero. Take your main character through a typical day in his life. What
types of magic might he encounter, and what would happen if something went totally
awry? Why is that what happens? In every scenario, what could possibly go wrong?
Figuring out alternate paths for your story to take ultimately makes the path you choose
much stronger.

Remember whenever you’re creating a new world that it’s great to let others’ works
inspire you, but you should never mimic anyone else’s ideas. If you love the idea of a
magical train that has a secret train station, then put one in your story! But make sure to
make it your own. This world already has a Platform 9 ¾, and we don’t need another. But
we do need whatever your imagination can bring us! Take the time before you delve into your
plot to sit down and really hash out what your world will look like and how it will work.
Your readers will thank you, and it’s actually a lot of fun!

* * * * * * *

Did you think I forgot the free book for Friday?  Well, to celebrate the release of Jessie Sanders’ first book, her publisher, Consortium Books, is offering one special reader a free copy of Into the Flames.  Leave a comment below for a chance to win.  Then, on Monday, we’ll announce the lucky reader that gets to take home Into the Flames.

Gotta Write,
Heather

book reviews, Indie Authors, Jessie Sanders, you gotta read

>You Gotta Read: Into the Flames

>

Into the Flames by Jessie Sanders is the beginning of what may be my new favorite series.  In this book we are introduced to Rahab, a transfer student at Grover Cleveland Academy, a boarding school in Boston.  Quiet and shy, she takes a while to make friends, fearing a repeat of the painful events that sent her running from her last school.  When two of the school “freaks” befriend her, she wonders if she should trust them, or if she should avoid them and try harder to be “normal” this time.  But soon she discovers that she might have more in common with them than she thought.  Can she be a true friend and stand up for them against the bully that torments them?  Will Rahab face her fears when her friends need her most?

It took me awhile to relate to the main character since she is so guarded with herself, but her friendship with Scout and Hawkins draws you in, revealing more of Rahab, and soon you are cheering for these three. I couldn’t put it down!



I am recommending this book “T for teens.”  I didn’t see anything in it that my preteen wouldn’t enjoy or even be harmed by, but it is clearly written for a slightly older audience.  I just think she’ll enjoy it more when she’s a little older and can relate to the characters better.  I finished it with a rush, desperately wishing there was another book to follow it because Sanders really does an incredible job of making you care about her characters.  I have so much more I want to say about it, but doing so would spoil the surprise.  So, go now and grab a copy for yourself.  I downloaded mine for the Kindle app, but you can also find it at B&N’s site and even order a paperback on Amazon.  Come back and let us know how you liked it.  

Don’t forget to come back on Friday for a special treat – I have the author, Jessie Sanders, sharing her thoughts on 
fantasy world building for teens/young adults.  You won’t want to miss it!