Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview with Monique Bucheger, Author

Today I'm joined by Monique Bucheger, author of the Ginnie West series. Monique's a fun person and a great author, so I'm more than happy to help spread the word about her middle-grade books. They're unique because they deal with real family issues in an age-appropriate way, giving readers tools for when things might get tough in their own lives. And yes, there are horses in them.

TRISTI: What's the craziest thing you ever did as a teenager? Probably strolling through cemeteries to find unusual names. As I recall, my car had a bad habit of dying there in the middle of the night as well. One time a deputy sheriff actually stopped by to see “what the problem was.” Thank goodness he was also one of my 4-H leaders. Did you know that being in a graveyard after dark is illegal? Who knew? I sure didn’t. But if you’re  going to break the law—I guess that is a harmless way to do so.

TRISTI: What are you favorite writing snacks? Normally I don’t snack as I write—unless you count drinking ice water or Dr. Pepper. But for you, I decided to try something new—s’mores with peppermint marshmallows. YUM! They went well with a cup of peppermint hot cocoa. On a side note—I have found an easy way to make s’mores: line a cookie pan with graham crackers, add chocolate bars and marshmallows. Then place in the oven under the broiler for 2 minutes or so. Voila! Instant s’mores without smoke in your eyes!

TRISTI: What's your favorite Christmas tradition? I like adopting a family I know needs a little extra support, having my kids help me pick out and wrap gifts, then sneak over and deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve. My kids love doing a “ring and run,” then hiding where they can see the faces of the families discovering a bag of unexpected gifts. 

TRISTI: How did you get the idea for your series? It kind of emerged over the years as I wrote each book. Now that I have 4 books written and have started the 5th book, I have a clearer picture of what I want to do with my series and where I want it to head. Originally I had planned to write 7 books over a 6 year span in my characters’ lives. I have written 4 books in the space of 6 weeks of their lives. The story has dictated the time frame more than I thought it would when I began.

TRISTI: If you could meet any former president of the United States, who would it be, dead or alive? I would like to meet Abraham Lincoln for a number of reasons. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, is a direct cousin of mine, so he is family. I’ve always had an affinity for the Civil War era and wonder how it would be to live in pioneer times with simpler technologies. I have a deep admiration for the early settlers and peoples who built this great nation that we live in. I especially admire that people took greater pride in keeping their word, and that a handshake and a promise was all that was needed for great and wondrous things to happen. Abraham Lincoln was a good man who made decisions unpopular at the time because he felt it was the right thing to do. Decades later, he is still held in high esteem. 

TRISTI: Are you a morning person or a night person? I’m actually both. Afternoons are what I have a hard time with. I would love to nap them away so I could be more productive, but having 12 kids makes that a little difficult. :)

TRISTI: Do you see yourself writing in other genres? Why yes I do, thanks for asking. I have two other series: a family drama and a middle-grade fantasy series.

 You can learn more about Monique's books - and order them - by clicking here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pre-Black Friday Sale!!

Hey, all!

To show my gratitude for all my fans at this awesome time of year, I'm throwing a book sale in your honor. Below is a list of books and their outrageous sale prices. This sale will last until Monday night at midnight only, so best be quick about it! ($3.50 shipping unless multiple books are purchased at once. Obviously, there's no shipping charge for e-books.) Click the links to read the descriptions, then go to the bottom of the post for ordering information.

Strength to Endure (LDS WWII historical fiction) was $14.99 - on sale for $11.00 (e-book - $1.99)

Season of Sacrifice (LDS historical fiction about the Hole in the Rock) was $16.95 - on sale for $13.00 (e-book - $1.99)

Secret Sisters (LDS cozy mystery) was $9.99 - on sale for $7.00 (e-book - $1.99)

Be Mine (by my pen name, suspense) was $14.99 - on sale for $11.00 (e-book - $1.99)

Bless Your Heart (low-sodium cookbook of delicious recipes) was $9.99 - on sale for $6.00 (e-book $1.99)

All my writing instruction books are on sale too! You can choose Dialogue Dynamics, Creating Characters, Point of View Primer, Punctuation Principlesor Journey through Genre for just $4.50 each, or .99 for the e-books.

And, as a special surprise for anyone who is interested ... you can also pre-order my new release of Nothing to Regret, coming out January 1st. This was my first novel ever published, and I'm now re-editing it and getting it ready to come back out into the world. (LDS WWII historical fiction) will be $14.99 - on sale for $10.00, special pre-order price. (e-book $1.99)

To order, just pop me a note at and tell me what you'd like and where you'd like it shipped. I can accept PayPal or check - books will be shipped as soon as payment is received. Books will go straight out from the printer, so no wrapping or personalization is included. If you order several books to come to the same address, your shipping price will be reduced. I will ship books straight to people on your gift list, but standard shipping rates would apply. Additionally, for those of you who live in Utah, sales tax applies.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Attention, Book Reviewers ... This One's for You

Today I'm going to address an issue that seems to be taking over the Internet and causing some real outward ripples. I'm talking about bad book reviews.

Now, I don't mean reviews that say things like, "This book wasn't for me" or "I didn't enjoy it" or "I never felt connected to the characters." Reviewers don't have to like everything they read - if they did, what would be the point of having reviews? If every author everywhere got nothing but five stars all the time, the buyer wouldn't have any basis to go from, and we might as well do away with reviews altogether.

I'm talking about the book reviews that slam and hurt and demean. I've seen reviewers say that authors should give up, that they never should have even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, in today's world), and any number of other hurtful things - including "This author is too stupid to live."

Let's pause for just a second and think about this.

There's a lot of power that comes from being a media reviewer. I know, because I am one. I wrote book reviews for years for and for about six months for Meridian Magazine. I'm a reviewer for the Association for Mormon Letters, and I post reviews here on my blog. With a little time spent tapping on my computer, I can tell the entire world (well, portions of it) what I think, and it's a pretty heady feeling. Power! Power at my fingertips! But with that power comes responsibility. The thing I must keep in mind at all times is the fact that there is a person at the other end of that review, a person who has put their heart and soul into that creation, whether or not I personally care for it.

When we live in a world of computer screens, when we don't interact with others face-to-face as often as we used to in our culture, we forget that this world is still very personal. We can't lose sight of that fact.

So think for a second about that author. Let's say that the book really did stink (from your perspective, because this is such a subjective area). Does that author need to be personally attacked, or does that author need encouragement? If you met that author in person, chances are, you'd want to encourage them to learn and grow and keep trying. Sadly, the anonymity of the computer tends to make some people lose that compassionate edge.

I'm not saying that all the reviews I've left have been warm and cuddly. I have pointed out things that the authors could improve upon, but that's because I've wanted those authors to learn and grow. There's a huge, huge difference between constructive criticism and hurtful, demeaning comments. If you've read a book that didn't click for you, maybe you could make a suggestion as to how it could have been improved. And I'm not talking about one I read today that used "WTF?" and "Oh, hell no" in lieu of suggestions. (How is that even helpful?)

The thing I wish all reviewers understood is this: It takes a huge amount of courage for an author to publish. They've taken their inner guts and stuck them on display for everyone to see. They're not just telling a story - they're showing the journey they've taken. And then they stand back with their eyes half closed, peeking out around them, to see not only if their story is accepted, but if they are accepted. And that scathing review, the one that calls them stupid or what-have-you, hurts more than just the criticism of a story or a character. A personal attack does not make for a better book, no matter what the reviewer might have intended by it. "It has to hurt to heal" does not apply here.

Let me be absolutely clear on something - I'm not saying that you can't leave a less-than-positive review. I'm not saying that you have to be glowing and sparkly and dance around leaving five stars wherever you go. As I stated at the start, what good would that do? Not only that, but we've got this amazing thing called freedom of speech, and we should get to use it. In fact, I'm using it right now.

What I am saying is this - compassion instead of raking. Education instead of mocking. Encouragement instead of demeaning. Support instead of backbiting. If you really want your review to make a difference, if you really want to use your reviewer power in the best possible way, if you really want to help the author, seek ways to be that moment of uplift, to be that voice saying, "You can do it. Try again." And if you're one of those reviewers who loves to run around spewing hatred and vitriol, all I have to say is, I think you need a warm hug.

Update: Be sure to read the comments - there are some great points in there about responding to reviewers. Courtesy goes both ways.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Christmas Tree Keeper by Tamara Passey

Though Angela Donovan is out of work and needs money for rent, she yearns for her eight-year-old daughter to have a carefree holiday. The last thing she wants is the pressure of her daughter expecting a miracle. But when they pick out a Christmas tree at a cozy Massachusetts tree farm that’s exactly what happens when they learn the trees might be miracle trees.

Mark Shafer is soon to be the new keeper of the Christmas trees when he inherits the family farm. He’d like to run it with a family of his own, but his girlfriend wants nothing to do with farm life. He makes plans to sell so he can propose to his girlfriend and pursue a career in music. Then he meets an unforgettable customer and her daughter, and an anonymous gift compels them to learn the truth about the trees.

With a buyer willing to pay top dollar for the land, Mark has the fate of the trees is in his hand. Will he be able to see what and who is most important? And will Angela the give the miracle of love a chance?

The ebook is available for pre-order on here, with the print version to follow shortly.
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