Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Books of 2015 by Jacqueline Seewald

As 2015 quickly draws to a close, let’s take a bit of time to recall some of the best books of 2015. However, I’m requesting that readers and writers comment on the best Indy books published this past year, books that were likely overlooked because they weren’t out with the Big Five publishers but rather small publishers or even self-published. Let us share together and give these books some recognition before the year ends.

Here are a few of the Indy authors I read this year, whose writing I liked and reviewed: Nancy Cohen, Susan Coryell, Allan Emerson, Patricia Gligor, Karen King and Nancy Means Wright. Each of these authors is with a small publisher. On the self-publishing side, I recently read and reviewed Larry Spinrad’s first novel, a political thriller.

Two of my own novels were published this year as well:
DARK MOON RISING from Luminosity, a gothic romantic mystery thriller for adult readers in all ebook formats and print.

STACY’S SONG from Clean Reads Press, a YA romance/coming-of-age novel follows THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, also a YA novel published by Clean Reads.

So what books do you like? It doesn’t matter whether or not they received just a few reviews, little recognition, promotion or publicity. A lot of talented writers remain virtually unknown. Help fellow readers discover them. Authors are welcome to mention their own books.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Perfect Presents for the Holidays by Jacqueline Seewald

 The holidays are a great time to gift friends, family or yourself with books to read. With people going on vacation, many individuals enjoy relaxing with a good book. And there certainly are a lot of them being published! You can find books to suit every age and taste whether fiction or nonfiction.

I’m going to recommend my own most recent book to readers and hope you’ll forgive the commercial message. STACY’S SONG from Clean Reads Press is a perfect YA coming-of–age/romance for the holidays. The novel has positive family values and ends at Christmas on an inspiring, uplifting note. Friends, mothers, aunts, grandmothers should consider gifting this novel to teenage girls. Available in ALL ebook formats.

Check out the great reviews on Amazon!

Okay, now here’s your opportunity to share the books you think will make for good holiday reading. Feel free to mention books you’ve recently published if you’re an author, books you have on your wish list or recently read and enjoyed as a reader. Comments/suggestions are welcome here to share.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Interview With Author Karen King by Jacqueline Seewald

Karen King is my guest today. She’s a well-published author. Karen has had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published by mainstream publishers such as Walker, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Macmillan. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books, non-fiction and YA.

Karen, how did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
It depends whether I'm writing to a commission or not. If I'm commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission I work out the basic outline of my story then write 'by the seat of my pants.'

Are you most productive in the morning or evening?
Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing straight away. I'm full of ideas in the morning.

Karen, I both read and reviewed your new Middle Grades novel WITCH ANGEL, and I enjoyed the book very much. Can you tell readers more about it?

 Tag Line:
Should Aluna betray her father to save the world?

Aluna’s father is the Master Wizard of the Katalan. On her thirteenth birthday she is initiated into the coven and swears allegiance to her clan. Then she has a vision about the mother she has never known and a gold sceptre with an eagle’s head handle.

She discovers that the mysterious new girl, Raffie, who appeared out of nowhere is looking for the same sceptre. Aluna hopes the sceptre will lead her to her mother so swears an oath of friendship with Raffie, pledging to find it together only to discover that Raffie is Angleyt. They are sworn enemies.

Aluna’s father is looking for the sceptre too, as are the evil Bygnorim.  Will Aluna really betray her father? What dreadful secret is he hiding about her mother? Aluna and Raffie face terrible danger in their quest. Are their combined powers strong enough or will Darke Magyck win?

Outside, the moon shone brightly in an almost starless sky. The incense was already burning, and a cauldron of herbs was bubbling away near the altar. Aluna could smell the bitter aroma of the mudreef. The circle hadn’t been drawn yet, her father wouldn’t do that until the coven were all standing together. Witches, dressed in black, and wizards with their brightly coloured gowns of purple, red, and blue were already gathering for the ceremony. Sometimes, two or more would be initiated at the same time, but tonight there was only Aluna. The daughter of the Master Wizard had to have her own ceremony.

Aluna recited the oath and spells under her breath as everyone gathered together and held hands, forming a circle around her. Mirassa, the head witch, dipped a goblet in the bubbling liquid, leaving it on the altar stone to cool.
Aluna’s father picked up the white chalk and drew a circle around them all before stepping inside and closing it. 
“A circle around us to bind us together,
Let no one break it or be banished forever.” 
They all repeated the oath. Her father said a loyalty spell over the goblet, took a sip of the herbal drink and passed it to Aluna. She braced herself for the sour taste of the mudreef and swallowed quickly. Her throat burned and she wished she’d been able to find the sweeter tasting fissleshoot.  
The goblet was passed around the rest of the group so they could all take a sip. The ritual bound them all together. If anyone left or betrayed the coven, then no Katalan would ever speak to them again. When you joined, you joined for life.
Aluna’s father called her forward to test her on her spells. First, the three most important spells: the protection, the prevention, and the returning spell—spells to protect you from harm, to stop bad magic, and to help you get back home. Other spells followed: the lost and found spell, the vanishing spell, and the shrinking spell. Aluna remembered them all. Although her father’s face was solemn, she knew from the look in his eyes that she had pleased him. 
Now, it was time for the oath. The coven fell silent as Aluna’s father held out his left hand. Aluna linked the little finger on her left hand with his as she repeated the oath:  
“Earth, water, air, and fire,
This oath I solemnly swear,
Joining this coven is my desire
I never will its secrets share.” 
Mirassa stepped forward, holding a red cushion. Nestled on the cushion was a clear crystal sphere on a silver chain–the symbol of the Katalan coven. All the crystals were clear to begin with then changed colour according to the aura of the witch. What colour would Aluna’s become?
Her father lifted the pendant off the chain and put it around her neck, reciting the ancient blessing. As the sphere touched her skin, Aluna felt her body tingle. Was her special power coming to her already? 
The crystal started to glow, changing colour. Aluna watched as it went through a rainbow of colours before settling into a silvery blue.
There was a gasp from the coven. Aluna looked over at her father and saw that he was staring at her, his eyes narrowed. What was wrong?
 “It’s blue,” said Milav, one of the older witches. “We haven’t had a blue crystal for many years.”
“Not since Kristen,” someone else whispered.
Kristen. That was her mother’s name. Aluna shot a look at her father’s rigid face and steely eyes. He was angry, she realised, her stomach tightening. Was it because she had the same colour crystal as her mother? Maybe she had the same power as well.
 Although she had no idea what her mother’s power was. Or anything about her mother at all. Neither her father or Sariah would talk about her. The power could manifest almost immediately, though it often took several days. 
Oh, I hope I get it soon!

Twitter: @karen_king

Thank you for hosting me!
Your comments for Karen are welcome here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Reading Romance: Making the Right Selections by Jacqueline Seewald

Although I’m a writer, I’m also a reader. In fact, I was a reader long before I became a writer. Reading inspired me to write. I would rather read fiction than nonfiction, although I do read both. I also enjoy reading and writing poetry. I love theatre and read and write plays and screenplays. My tastes are eclectic. But this blog isn’t about me, it’s about you the reader. So let’s get to it!

I’m discussing romance fiction. I admit it’s my secret love as a reader. I’m assuming you too like to read romance. Today more romance novels are being published than ever before. It’s a virtual deluge! At one time, if you were a fan of romance fiction, you borrowed hardcover or paperback books from the library. But libraries are feeling the pinch due to a poor economy and not buying as many titles as before. One solution is to go to a bookstore and buy paperbacks. But brick and mortar bookstores are going out of business. Part of this is due to online bookstores such as Amazon, now a giant in the industry. Digital books sold there and on other sites offer free and sale books constantly.

The big six of publishing have publicized and provided us with some outstanding romance writers such as Jane Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, Mary Balogh, Robin Carr, Carla Neggers etc. Truthfully, it’s a long, long list including branded, certified writers that almost always provide good reads.

Currently, I am finding good reads among independent publishers. These are small presses that are particular about the books they accept. They provide professional editing and cover art. Their prices for digital and paperbacks are kept low in order to attract readers. The big problem is that the writers get virtually no promotion or publicity so that you the reader don’t get to know who they are or if their novels are a good fit for you. Self-published authors are in a similar predicament. Many of them write quality fiction, but finding a readership proves difficult.

With this in mind, I’m inviting writers to post in the comments to this blog. Tell readers a little about your current romance novel. Give us a brief blurb and a buy or site reference.
Readers, please discuss the type of romances you like to read.

I’ll get this started by mentioning two of my own romances.
DARK MOON RISING, adult Gothic paranormal romance from Luminosity, is available in All e-book formats and now in print. Check out the Five Star reviews on Amazon:

YA romance STACY’S SONG has been released in a new rewritten re-edited digital edition by Clean Reads Press which published THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER. Both novels are selling at bargain prices.  
Excellent editorial reviews on Amazon:

Okay, now it’s your turn to communicate!

Friday, November 6, 2015

STACY’S SONG: Now Published in E-Book Formats!

 It’s my great pleasure to announce that STACY’S SONG has been released in a brand new digital edition by Clean Reads Press which previously published THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, a novel popular with readers.

A young adult romance, STACY’S SONG, is special in many ways. Stacy’s attraction to a musician forces her to make some hard choices. The implied message is a good one--be true to who you are.

                       Check out some of the reviews posted on Amazon:


Editorial Reviews:

"Young readers will embrace Stacy...STACY'S SONG is a well written story about those awkward teen years, when the ugly duckling turns into a swan, and the rocky roads that teenagers traverse. This is an enjoyable, fun read, and I recommend it for young adults."
Deborah C Jackson, Romance Reviews Today
"This is a fun and speedy read, with a lead character you can't help liking...You don't have to be a teen to get a hoot out of this. Recommended." 
Snapdragon, Long and Short Reviews
"This is a wonderful young adult novel! Full of honest emotion, problems, conflict and a cast of fascinating characters, STACY'S SONG is a heartwarming story of a girl growing up and learning how to make thoughtful decisions that will affect her life today and in the future."
Alice Duncan, multiple award-winning author

"This is an entertaining young adult tale starring a likable high school age girl who goes from being the outside freak to the in-crowd. Stacy is stupendous as she struggles with two boys; one is charming while the other is demanding. Who will she choose particularly since her dad has already selected who he wants kicked to the curb." 
Harriet Klausner, The Merry Genre Go Round Reviews
“Jacqueline Seewald expertly portrays the mindset of teenagers struggling for their place in the world and ultimate independence. Stacy is an endearing character, a young woman who loves her parents but wants the right to choose what to do with her life. Readers are drawn into Stacy's world as she struggles to make the right choices which will affect her future. This well-written coming-of-age novel is heartwarming and engaging and sure to be a popular addition to the young-adult genre.”   
Christy Tillery French, Midwest Book Review

Besides Amazon, STACY'S SONG IS available from:

I believe it’s the kind of novel that mothers will want to share with their daughters. Here is a brief excerpt from the beginning of the book:

Chapter One

When I was in junior high school, the boys used to call me “Giraffe.” I hated it, but they were right. I towered over them. On top of that, I had this skinny, long neck. Things got better when I became a sophomore in high school. It seemed as though most of the boys in my class finally caught up with me and I didn’t feel so gawky anymore. But I’m still taller and skinnier than any of my friends.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Curious History of Halloween

The paranormal aura and mystique surrounding Halloween connects to a series of beliefs, traditions and superstitions. What is the actual origin of Halloween?  It appears to date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  By Celts we refer to the people who lived approximately 2,000 years ago in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrating their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer harvest and the beginning of dark, cold winter, a time of year often associated with human death.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, believing that ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.  The Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During these celebrations, Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they put out earlier that evening. This symbolic lighting was done from the sacred bonfire to serve as a protection during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered a majority of Celtic territory. During the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800’s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. The pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.

Tales of the supernatural are ever popular during the Halloween season. Right now, publisher Clean Reads 
is offering THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, a paranormal novel, for just
99 cents through Halloween, October 31st, on Amazon Kindle.

You can check it out here:

Also available, DARK MOON RISING, Gothic romantic suspense from Luminosity, available in All e-book formats and print.

Are there any books that you would like to recommend as good Halloween reading choices?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Why Speculative Literature Continues to Draw Readers

In honor of Halloween month, it seems only fitting to write on the subject of speculative lit. Why do readers consistently want to read fantasy, science fiction and horror and their various paranormal subdivisions? Why does speculative fiction remain popular with all ages of readers?

When people talk about horror fiction, they might let out an involuntary shudder. However, horror fiction isn’t just about the gruesome. It’s not just about the supernatural, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, gremlins, etc. No, it’s really about what we fear, what we dread most. These things may be ordinary, like a pit bull off the leash running toward us, or extraordinary, like meeting a vampire in a neighborhood bar at midnight. We have fears that are both usual and the unusual.

Horror fiction will not be going away any time soon because it is human nature to feel fear as an emotion. Horror fiction helps us handle these feelings, helps us confront our terrors, those within us and those in the environment around us. I have read Dean Koontz and Stephen King, Anna Rice and many writers of occult mystery and romance fiction with interest.

My latest adult novel DARK MOON RISING is a Gothic romance that features female ghosts from different centuries who haunt male members of an aristocratic Southern family. The novel combines romance, mystery, suspense and paranormal horror.


There has always been a fascination with magical worlds. Many of the readers and writers of fantasy escape the negativity of the real world through fantasy worlds which are often more satisfying. Reality is readjusted. Lev Grossman in his excellent Time Magazine essay observed: “Fantasy holds out the possibility that there’s another way to live.” Certainly there are many fans of C.S. Lewis, T.H. White, J.RR. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin—just to name a few of the popular fantasy writers.

Much fantasy world has a sense of times past. THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, a fantasy romance published by Clean Reads is set in 1985 and has a Faustian theme.


THE BAD WIFE, 4th and final mystery novel in the Kim Reynolds series, also has a paranormal edge. Kim, an academic librarian, is a reluctant clairvoyant who has visions which cause her to both solve and prevent crime.


Fantasy as part of our poetry literature is not at all new. Remember ”Kubla Khan” a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge? How about his “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner “?  

Science fiction continues to have a strong appeal. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines this type of literature as: “dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.”

Fantasy deals with imagination, unreal worlds, and magical realms. Some of these bear similarities to past societies such as medieval times. Science fiction, on the other hand, looks to developments in science or imaginative notions of future worlds. However, all embrace aspects of the speculative or paranormal.

For one of my science fiction poems that can be read for free on the internet, you can go to Kansas University’s “Ad Astra” site:

Are there any authors of  horror, fantasy or science fiction that you particularly admire or enjoy reading? Ray Bradbury remains one of my favorites. Are you a fan of the Harry Potter series?  Have you read Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia E. Butler? What about fantasy/paranormal romances such as those written by Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle?  Are there new writers of horror, fantasy or sci-fi that excite your interest? Please share with us.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Announcement: Winner of Print Book Giveaway Plus New Giveaway

Last week, I announced the giveaway of a print copy of my novel
DARK MOON RISING, a Southern Gothic romance from Luminosity.

Each person who commented had their name written on a separate slip of paper and placed in a bowl. I had my husband draw out a name.

 The winner is:

Patricia Stoltey

She’s been informed and I will mail her a copy of the book this week.

For those who didn’t win, there is yet another drawing for this trade paperback. I’ve set up a giveaway with Goodreads. If you want to put in for it, here’s the web address:

DARK MOON RISING is also available in all e-book formats at a very reasonable price. It has received Five Star reviews on Amazon:

“This novel delves into the world of the paranormal with incredible suspense and romantic intrigue.” Patricia Gligor

“Dark Moon Rising is an intriguing story that combines supernatural mystery, suspense and romance in an exciting brew.” K.G. McCullough

“Seewald’s well-written novel keeps readers guessing to the very end.”
 Susan Coryell

“Dark Moon Rising is a gripping story that will have you turning pages until the surprising outcome.” Nancy J. Cohen

“…a suspenseful, bang-up denouement that will keep readers breathing hard even more than with the steamy sex scenes.”
Nancy Means Wright

It is also available through the publisher Luminosity:

B&N Online:


I want to thank everyone for their kind comments and the interest you've shown in my work. I very much appreciate it! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Print Book Giveaway: DARK MOON RISING by Jacqueline Seewald

DARK MOON RISING is a Southern Gothic romance from Luminosity, available in all e-book formats and now in print as well. It has received Five Star reviews on Amazon:

“This novel delves into the world of the paranormal with incredible suspense and romantic intrigue.” Patricia Gligor

“Dark Moon Rising is an intriguing story that combines supernatural mystery, suspense and romance in an exciting brew.” K.G. McCullough

“Seewald’s well-written novel keeps readers guessing to the very end.”
 Susan Coryell

“Dark Moon Rising is a gripping story that will have you turning pages until the surprising outcome.” Nancy J. Cohen

“…a suspenseful, bang-up denouement that will keep readers breathing hard even more than with the steamy sex scenes.”
Nancy Means Wright

It is also available through the publisher Luminosity:

B&N Online:


The historical Southern plantation house in the book is loosely based on one my husband’s aunt and uncle actually owned. It has an interesting history, part of which I incorporated into the novel.

Cassandra Lowry has a sixth sense. She dreams about a handsome man making love to her. He appears to need and want her. However, danger and evil surround him. Her dreams and visions are disturbingly real. When Cass drives south, her sensitivity warns her that something is not right. She swerves to miss a deer and her car ends up in a ditch. Chased by two country boys, she gets lost in the forest and spends a night exposed to the elements, only to be found the next day by her dream man.

Set in the modern South, this novel reaches back into a troubled family heritage. Two female ghosts, women from different centuries, haunt male members of the Hunt family. The heroine of this sensual gothic romance is young, just graduated from college, and alone in the world. Although in danger herself, Cass seeks to solve the mystery and end the curse that enshrouds the family, while at the same time finding the passionate love of her life.

The novel offers mystery, romantic suspense and elements of the supernatural. If you would like to win the giveaway, just leave a comment that includes an e-mail address where you can be contacted. I’m limiting the print giveaway to U.S. readers at this time. Also, I’m requesting no one under eighteen enter as there are mature themes in the novel.

The winner will be announced on this blog next Monday--only the winner will be contacted. I won’t trouble readers with newsletters or put you on a mailing list.

Friday, September 11, 2015

In Memoriam 9/11: Hometown Heroes

A number of residents of my New Jersey hometown worked in Manhattan and died in the attack on the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. One man who worked with elevators near the Twin Towers hurried to the disaster hoping he could help bring people to safety. He lost his own life in making this heroic rescue effort.

A neighbor who lived a few houses away from us described another act of courage and human concern. At the time that the first tower was attacked, our neighbor was with his supervisor, a man who was born and raised in our hometown. The two men saw what was happening from the vantage of an office window on the 102nd floor of the second tower. Our neighbor's boss immediately told him to get out of the building, that he would warn everyone else on the floor to leave immediately. My neighbor lived to tell the tale. His boss? Not so fortunate. He didn’t make it out.

The parents of these two courageous men who lost their lives trying to help others are also good, caring individuals. They continued to live in our town with heavy hearts. It is a terrible tragedy to suffer the loss of one’s child.
A memorial was erected at the civic center and a ceremony is held every year on September 11th. Ours may have been just an ordinary American town like so many others, and yet in its own way it is special because of the people who live there.

As a nation, we should neither forgive nor forget the murder of thousands of ordinary, innocent people on that fateful day when terrorists wreaked havoc on our country.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Eleven Tips for Writing Popular Teen Fiction by Jacqueline Seewald

Even before J. K. Rowling's tremendous success with her Harry Potter series, publishers were frantically searching for fantasy and horror fiction for children and teenagers that they hoped would top the bestseller list. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it does not insure success as a writer.

Tip One: You don’t need to copy current market trends.

Teens have varied tastes in fiction. Not every teen or juvenile book needs to feature werewolves, vampires, witches, goblins, etc. Witness the huge success of such realistic teen novels as THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Note that ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction could easily be read and understood by teens as well as adults since the novel is suited to both. Here we have a book which is historical in nature. Teens are as curious about the past as they are about the present and the future.

Books set in the "real" world do have appeal for teenagers. Teens are not necessarily trying to read books that provide a total escape from reality. Even fantasy books need to be believable, providing an element of reality through character development to which readers can relate. In the crossover novel THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY, the real world is seen through the eyes of a teenage boy while his mother experiences it through an alternate reality.

Dystopian novels are still popular at the current time.  But trends change rapidly. My advice, don't write for the market; write the story you need and want to write. We are all writers. We all have within us an important, wonderful story to share. Get in touch with your inner teen self.  Strive for authenticity.

Tip Two: Develop a unique voice.

This is one of the most important things in writing a successful young adult novel. This does not mean that you must write only from a first person point of view. However, teenage readers often respond well to a first person narrative. But  "voice" has to do with choice of vocabulary and style as well.

Tip Three: Character identification is significant.

It is important to create a central character that young readers can both sympathize and identify with. Whether writing realistic or fantasy fiction, if the reader can't care about or relate to the main character, then he or she won't believe or accept what follows.  A main character needs to be well-rounded, think and feel the way adolescents do.

Tip Four: Know teenagers.

If you are going to write about teens, you need to know them. Do some research. Besides raising two teenagers, I taught English and later Library Science. I taught at all levels: the university, high school, middle school and elementary. But most of my years were in the high school. I am accustomed to the way teenagers think, talk and behave. If you are not a teen yourself, talk to teenagers, read their magazines, watch their favorite TV programs, observe how they behave at malls, amusement parks, movie theaters etc.  Listen to them.

Tip Five: Recall your own teenage memories.

Dig deep into your psyche. How did you feel as a teenager? Were you confused about certain things? What made you happy? What troubled you? What are your most vivid memories of those times? Did you keep a diary or journal? If so, reread some of what you wrote.

My latest YA novel, THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, published by Clean Reads in all e-book formats and now in print as well, is the story of a girl who has identity issues. She is also faced with peer pressure and conflicting values. Most of us have gone through similar problems as adolescents.

Tip Six: Get input from your own children.

Ask your teenagers to read your writing and critique it. Consider collaborating with your children on the writing of your fiction. I wrote WHERE IS ROBERT?, a YA mystery novel, with help from both of my sons who were teenagers at the time. Both boys contributed to the scenes of high school wrestling, since they both engaged in the sport. I couldn't have written the book without them. My son, Andrew, co-authored THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage. He gave the teenage boy narrator an authentic “voice”.

Tip Seven: Make it dramatic.

Think like a cinematographer. Create vivid scenes. Dramatize your story. Don't just tell your story, show it. I'm certain you've heard that advice before! How to do this? Create meaningful, realistic dialogue for your characters. Each character should be an individual, talking in a certain distinct way to reflect a personal point of view, a unique way of thinking. Good dialogue leads to action and conflict between people with different viewpoints and goals.
Also, settings need to be described so that they seem real. In fact, there's nothing wrong with using real places for background setting. My five published YA’s are all set in Central New Jersey, an area very much like the one in which I lived and worked.

Tip Eight: Begin with an outline.

Outlines can be rough. They don’t need to be detailed. But you should have some idea about arranging the events of the plot line. This will be something to consult when writing your first draft with your key characters and scenes.

Tip Nine: When you develop your book, look for depth.

 Although books for teens are usually shorter than those for adults, that doesn't mean they require less creative thought. Respect your readers; give them quality.

Tip Ten: Provide an element of mystery.

Teens as well as younger children enjoy a mystery. Every good work of fiction should have a plot that keeps the reader turning the pages, wanting to discover what is going to happen next. It's important to set up some sort of a question that can't be easily or immediately answered, a secret of the human heart that must be delved into.

Tip Eleven: Develop key themes in your YA fiction.

Teen novels are generally about coming-of-age, of finding personal identity, making sense of the adult world, relating to it and fitting into it—or not.

THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is about a teenager growing up in 1985. She comes from a poor family and wants more out of life than her parents are able to provide. She also senses there are secrets that her mother is keeping, secrets that involve her. Danna is troubled and confused. She has artistic talent and would like to be a professional artist.  She has hopes, dreams and aspirations. She also feels that her parents are too strict. Enter into this a boy who pursues her but has a bad reputation. Danna is attracted to him in spite of the warnings she receives about Kevin’s bad character. THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is a coming-of-age novel. It’s a book about family values and a young girl maturing to the point where she realizes what really matters in life.

Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of the novel:

When my mother talked about Lori, she always got a funny look in her eye — not ha-ha funny but strange funny. When I was little, I never understood. As I got older, I wondered more about Lori, but I hardly ever asked because it just seemed to make my mother sad.
Lori was locked away in my mother's past life like the things in the old attic trunk. I wondered about them too. But Mom would always say when I asked her to open the trunk that the past was best forgotten. Yet, every now and then, I would say something or do something that made her sigh deeply and exclaim: "You remind me so much of Lori!"
Not long ago, I was sitting on the living room couch reading a novel I found on the bookshelf. My mother walked into the room and gasped.
"Something wrong?" I asked.
She stared at me for a moment and shook her head. "No, but for a moment, it seemed like I was looking at Lori. I remember when she read Rebecca. She loved to read old-fashioned romances."
"Mom, what happened to Lori?"
I'd been to one or two family gatherings but never remember anyone mentioning Lori, Mom's younger sister. She also had a brother named Craig who lived in Portland, but that was all the family she had as far as I knew. I’d only met my relatives from Oregon once.
"Danna, I'd rather not talk about her. It only brings back sad memories."
"Sure, except I didn't bring it up."
"Just don't you read too many of those foolish books and go around confusing them for real life. And don't think too much about boys. You’re still very young."
Now I was really confused. "What exactly did Lori do?"
My mother didn't answer. I could see it was hurting her to discuss her sister. Still, I couldn't help wondering. Mom had a sister who my parents never talked about. How totally weird was that?


THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, YA novel published by Clean Reads, is now available in print:

as well as all E-Book formats:

In conclusion, the success of J.K. Rowling’s books gave new hope and inspiration to those of us who write juvenile fiction. No longer could we gripe that children and young adults do not read. If nothing else, the reception the Potter books received proves that there is an audience for fiction among young people. Also, such books if well-written have a strong appeal for adult readers as well—think of THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT or the TWILIGHT series. About 65% of books for teens are purchased by adult readers. According to the Association of American Book Publishers, in 2014, revenue from Y.A. and children’s books rose by 21 per cent over the previous year, while adult fiction and nonfiction fell by 1.4 percent.

Your comments, suggestions and input welcome here!

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Writers Can Learn from Donald Trump by Jacqueline Seewald

How do writers become bestselling authors? Publicity seems to be one crucial element or factor. To get fans, writers have to become known in the first place. Donald Trump has said outrageous things thereby drawing attention to himself and it’s worked for him so far. Trump has observed that there is no such thing as bad publicity, only publicity--which draws attention to an individual and his or her work. In the case of writers, publicity traditionally would be accomplished through the efforts of a publisher who has a PR staff that solicits significant reviews and promotes an author through numerous channels. But nowadays, this is often not the case. Also, many writers are currently self-publishing their work. This too changes how publicity can be obtained.

Trump is an example of someone who breaks the rules. He promotes himself as a maverick in politics. Perhaps what Trump offers to writers is the idea that we need to free ourselves. We have to look for creative ways to promote and publicize our own work--just as writers shouldn’t feel it necessary to write to any pre-conceived formula. We need to express what is unique to ourselves in our own way. By writing  exceptional work that stands out from the herd, I believe we can get recognition and acclaim. It will be interesting to follow Trump’s Presidential bid. Much can be learned from his techniques.

As for me, I have books published that I hope to publicize to readers:

The digital release of DARK MOON RISING, my paranormal romantic mystery from Luminosity, occurred on July 24th. It has already received positive reviews: 


My well-reviewed YA novel THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER from Astraea/Clean Reads Press will soon be available in print as well as the current digital editions:

THE BAD WIFE, 4th in the Kim Reynolds mystery series, has collected  very good reviews as well and is available both in digital and print editions:

There have been great reviews from PW and BOOKLIST for DEATH LEGACY, romantic espionage mystery thriller now an ebook:

Publisher Novel Fox brought out the e-book version of DEATH LEGACY on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Google, and plans to publish an audio version very soon as well.

"This thriller keeps moving from its very first pages, while the palpable sexual tension between new cohorts Daniel and Michelle fortifies the story's intrigue with romance."

Getting back to the subject at hand, Donald Trump is a performer who makes outrageous and insulting comments. He shoots from the lip. But ultimately, it will be his actual ability to convince us that he can serve the country with good sense and integrity by which he will be judged. That is true of everyone including writers. The key to success is having something of quality to offer. Authors need to be unique and original, not merely imitative in their writing. Hopefully word-of-mouth will follow and help build a readership. However, promotion and publicity won’t hurt either.

What are your thoughts and opinions on this topic? Is there anything you recommend in particular in regard to promoting your own work that has worked well? Readers, what would like to see more of from writers?