6 Dates to Disaster

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6 Dates to Disaster by Cynthia T Toney is a thought-provoking book for high school students. Wendy is coasting through the last weeks of school eager for her family trip to Alaska to see Mrs. V and Sam. Unfortunately, financial struggles threaten that dream. Wendy is determined to figure out a way to get to Alaska. When a job opportunity from a classmate looks like the ideal way, Wendy is forced to consider whether or not it’s too good to be true. There’s also a fun mystery involving a jewelry box, and Wendy’s former best friend has a new boyfriend who is bad news.

Pros: See my comment below about one of the main plot points related to a scandal that arises as a result from Wendy’s tutoring job. The ensuing ethical dilemma was thought-provoking. Cynthia creates strong and fun characters. Her stories are humorous and realistic but are clean and morally uplifting. Wendy’s stepdad looses his job threatening her summer plans. Consequently Wendy pitches in to earn money for her Alaska trip to see Mrs. V. David and Wendy handle coupledom without being too physical or dramatic. Wendy is a big-hearted girl, especially when it comes to her stepsister Alice and her former best friend Jen.

Cons: Not too many. There are a few ethical things that come up. The aforementioned plot point of Wendy’s tutoring job. Also, Jen gets involved with an older boy who is a bad influence. There’s alcohol involved, which is handled very well. It’s clear that underage drinking shouldn’t be condoned and that drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. David and Wendy kiss and physical temptation (at a very PG level) comes up. The two “put on the brakes” fast so the story doesn’t go far with this.

Rating: 5 Stars. I bought a copy of this book and will buy other copies for teens. It’s definitely a book for high school kids, possibly seventh or eighth graders. There’s nothing really inappropriate in the subject matter. However, it’s is a bit too mature for kids any younger than this.

Personal Opinion: I’m a big fan of the Bird Face series and 6 Dates doesn’t disappoint. Wendy is as funny and plucky as ever. Alice is sweet. David, Gail, etc. round out a strong supporting cast. Without spoiling anything, we’re reunited with several characters from 8 Notes to a Nobody (Book 1).

Discussion points for parents & teachers:

  1. Job Loss
  2. Family
  3. Dating/Relationships
  4. Academic Dishonesty
  5. Underage Drinking/Drinking and Driving
  6. Integrity
  7. Priorities

Most of all, Wendy’s dilemma about her tutoring job challenged me. She is concerned that she’s doing too much for the students she’s tutoring.  As an adult, I didn’t see anything wrong with what Wendy did. However, I had to step back and put myself in the shoes of a high school student. While adult writers might hire an editor or someone in another profession might have a peer or senior colleague review their work and mark it up with corrections and suggestions, that isn’t really the role of a tutor. They’re just supposed to help a student understand concepts not heavily correct or even rewrite assignments.

Cynthia T. Toney

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.comFacebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

 Instagram:  @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest:  Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

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Author Angela Moody: You’re never too old

BetterLateThanNeverWritten.memeWhen I meet another mature author like myself with a debut YA novel, I want to break out the tiara and present her with a bouquet of roses. Or whatever a male author would like, I want to do that.

Today I interview Angela Moody, author of No Safe Haven. I remember when her manuscript was up for critique on the main Scribes loop of ACFW a few years ago, and I am tickled that she remembered me. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

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Angela, welcome to The Scriblerians blog!

Thank you, Cynthia. It’s a pleasure to be here.

We don’t often interview authors of historical YA fiction. When and how did you decide to write it? 

I’ve always loved historical fiction. Even as a young reader if it had to do with history, I was reading it. There are always those who say that writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc., were not historical writers because they wrote in their contemporary time, but they were historical to me, and I loved all of those writers. As I got older, I read John Jakes, Anya Seton and countless other historical writers, including historical romance writers.

Did you always want to write about the Civil War? 

This may sound geeky, but yes. I remember in eighth grade writing a story for our social studies class and setting it in the Civil War period. The assignment was that we had two pieces of historical items that we had to research and find out what they were, and then write something about them. Everyone else did you standard essay, but I wrote a story. I remember my two items were a butter mold and a spittoon (which I originally thought was a chamber pot!) My story was about a young woman whose husband was off fighting for the Union Army and how much she missed him. She would often clean the spittoon that his father had given him as a wedding gift. Something like that. I do remember getting a good grade for the assignment because my teacher loved the story and its strong emotional content.

As I got older, I wanted to write a story about the Civil War set in the North, specifically Vermont, because I’m a Vermonter and all the stories I read seemed to center on the war as it affected the South. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately), only one incident of the war reached Vermont, and that was the great St. Albans Raid. No battle was fought here though, so I never could think of a story compelling enough to set here in my native State.

How did you come to write a story based on a real girl in her teens during the Civil War? 

My daughter went to Gettysburg College for her undergrad years. After her first year was over, my husband and I decided to travel to Gettysburg a week early, while she was taking her exams. We would be tourists for a week and then bring her home. As we were coming back from the battlefield one afternoon, I happened to see a museum that had a line waiting at the door. On impulse, we decided to stop and actually found a parking spot right in front of the building! If you’ve ever been to Gettysburg, you’ll know that’s next to impossible. We got in the back of the line, thinking we could just wander through, but the man at the head of the line told us it was a paid tour and if we wanted to pay at the end, we were welcome to join the tour. We agreed and went through the Shriver House Museum. The Shriver House is located two doors down from Tillie’s home. The owners restored it back to its 1863 appearance to tell the story of the plight of the townsfolk. That was a revelation for me. Throughout the tour, I bombarded the man with questions, which he patiently answered. My brain was whirling with ideas about how to turn this into a story, and my husband leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “I smell a novel.” At the end of the tour, as I was paying him, he led me to a bookshelf and started pulling books off the shelf, saying I might be interested in reading them. As an afterthought, he tossed one more book on the pile, a slim little thing that turned out to be Tillie Pierce’s memoir of her experiences. When I read the book, she just jumped off the pages at me and I knew I had to write it.

How did you write the story to appeal to both northerners and southerners even though the girl and her family were Yankees? 

Research, research, research. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War, mostly first person experiences. They aren’t hard to find. A great many soldiers kept diaries, as did a number of civilians. They seemed to have a sense that they were living a period of important historical impact and wanted to record everything they could. What stood out to me the most was that they were all just people who had the same dreams and desires we do. They wanted to go home, back to their wives and children, to live their lives as best they could, but knew they needed to do this terrible work first.

Interestingly, I found myself very disappointed with the abolitionists. We all think they wanted to end slavery and elevate the blacks from their social position. I do believe that we northerners have elevated the abolitionist almost to sainthood, so I was disappointed to realize that while they wanted abolition, they never thought past the end of slavery and what that meant, for the former slaves, or themselves. Really, in their minds, they felt that blacks should still be servants, but they should be paid servants. Even William Lloyd Garrison wanted to free them and send them back to Africa. As far as race relations goes, I wondered how much progress we’ve made, which helped bring those people down to the human level for me.

How did you feel about writing your first novel at a mature age?

I feel great about it. I don’t regret the time spent not writing. During that time, I married and raised a family. I did what was on my plate to do. I did write a novel back in the early 1990s that, Lord willing, will never see the light of day! That novel, however, taught me that I could write one. But, I’m a firm believer in the Lord working things out in His own timing to glorify Himself, not us. He needed me to go through things and to come to faith before He would open the door to writing my first published novel. I’m just humbled and honored He found me worthy.

What advice can you give authors who did not start writing straight out of school but may have been homemakers or had a completely different career for decades? 

I would say if you want to write, if it’s your passion, then do it. Don’t let your age stop you. You’re never too old until you’re dead, as my father likes to say. I have always wanted to write, even as a kid. I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I can follow my passion. If that’s where you are, then I say, “Go for it.”

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Angela Moody lives in Vermont with her husband, Jim, her daughter, Alison and their two cats. Their son, Stephen and his wife, Amanda live nearby.

Angela has been writing short stories and novels from an early age, always in the historic fiction genre where she feels she shines.

One of her passions is crochet. From the time she learned the craft, she was “hooked”. She loves reading, writing stories and spending time with her family. One of the items on her bucket list is to visit every civil war battlefield site at the time of year each battle took place.

No Safe Haven is her first Christian novel and she has plans for two other historical fiction novels as part of a three book set entitled “Young American Heroines.”

Angela is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can find her at:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaMoody

Twitter: @AngelaMoody

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/AngelaMoody

Blog: http://Grnmtnwrtr@wordpress.com

7 Sites where authors can list books FREE

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So your book is published, but you’re in charge of marketing it. It’s listed on the retail sites you or your publisher chose and on the reader review site Goodreads. Where else can you list it for readers and reviewers to find without spending your advance (if you received one) or your royalties before any are earned?

Here are some sites that allow you to list free at least one book, and some allow as many as you have published! Do check out their particulars thoroughly on your own, including any book-deal email subscriptions as well as requirements and rates for advertising on those. For some of these sites, it’s been a while since I listed my first—or first two—books. Their criteria or features may have changed.

Readers Gazette is for Kindle authors only and requires you wait to be accepted after you apply. Books must be at least 20,000 words and 80 pages. Novels, children’s books, books of poetry, and cookbooks are acceptable. No erotica. The great thing about Readers Gazette is that they Tweet my books’ listings regularly each week. Then other authors RT those tweets, and I RT theirs.

Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest allowed me to list both my books, and the first book was reviewed at no cost. When I did not pay for a review of the second book, that listing was eventually removed. Although the site lists some celebrities as award contest winners, I’ve read mixed opinions about the contest’s overall validity. The 2016 contest claims 650+ winners and finalists in 120+ categories. The contest is not free but boasts cash prizes and “chances” at other recognition. I’m going to keep my eye on Readers’ Favorite until I’m more sure about it.

YA Books Central describes itself as “one of the largest professional book recommendation sites targeted towards tween and teen readers.” List your books free, and then hope that one of the many teen reviewers on the site will want to read and review your book. If you would like to review a book, you must join the YABC Community to do so. I plan to email YABC and pitch one of my books for a review. An author can also request an ad kit containing advertising information and rates.

Clean Indie Reads does not take non-fiction except narrative non-fiction that reads like a novel and only takes clean novels for middle grades and up.  Take a look at their listing for my Bird Face series to see what’s included in a listing. The site states, “As long as your FB identity shows something to do with being an author (and it’s “clean”), expect to be approved within about 24 hours.” Information about submissions is there and on their group Facebook page, which also has cross-promotions info. Clean Indie Reads has members who are active Tweeters and RT other members’ tweets.

You can also get free listings on BookGorilla, UndergroundBookReviews, and Ripley’s Booklist, which offer reasonable prices for spots on their email lists and other advertising, last I looked. Ripley’s Booklist is rather new and specializes in Young Adult and New Adult, which I appreciate.

This is certainly not a complete list of all the sites where I’ve listed my books free, but these are sites that I will likely continue to use and may even be willing to spend money with.

Note: If you happen to be a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), look into adding your books to their Fiction Finder. Criteria for indie authors and for authors whose publishers are not on the recognized publishers list have recently changed.

If you’re an author, which are you favorite sites for listing your books? If you’re a reader, where besides the retail sites do you go to search for books and read reviews?

A Late-Blooming Author’s Column

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You may notice that each of the Scriblerians is developing a  distinct and focused column on this site, complete with a lovely meme expressing the theme of the column.

We decided it was time that each of us took a more focused approach to our posts, so we searched our past work for patterns that could point us in specific directions.

For those of you who don’t know me as well as the Scriblerians do, I thought I’d explain the meaning of my meme (and thus my column) before I start writing its theme-driven posts. Just so you’ll know what to expect.

“Better Late Than Never Written” refers to the fact that I got a very late start writing fiction. My age was, well, let’s just say middle-aged.

My first novel was published (the first time) in 2014, over a decade after it was begun. To my thinking at the time, that book took so long to write and get published that I might not have enough decades left to write a second one and get it published before … you know.

It seemed like every fiction writer I knew had started writing at a much younger age than I, and if not yet published, had at least two or three manuscripts completed. The published authors my age had several novels to their credit. How would I ever catch up?

The writing, and then finding the right publisher, made up only half the problem. There was so much to learn regarding the marketing of books. A lot of tools for book marketing are free or of little cost, but finding them and choosing the right ones are not easy.

So that’s what my column will be about. I plan to share with you some of the things I had to rush to discover, to learn, and to accumulate. About writing. About publishing. About marketing. Stuff I’ve compiled that I hope will save you time, especially if you got a late start in life like I did.

So please stay tuned. And remember, it’s better to have written late than never to have written at all. Wait—should that have been the title of my meme?

I Love to Wear Red, White, and Blue

AmericanFlagWaving   Whoever chose the colors red, white, and blue for the American flag—thank you! I can’t think of a more cheerful combination of tones for a flag.

But that’s not all.

I love to wear red, white, and blue. Together or separately, and not only on national holidays. It seems I’m not alone.

Red is a popular color in women’s clothing, and if a woman wants to attract a man’s attention, well, wear red.

I don’t know any woman who doesn’t have something red to wear at Christmas or for Valentine’s Day. Men wear red on those occasions, too.

Businesswomen and female public speakers sometimes have a red power suit. It commands attention. Men wear red ties.

Red signifies fun, passion, strength, vitality.

White always marks an occasion as joyful, an ensemble as special. White signifies purity but also looks cool and glamorous.

Brides in western cultures have worn it for centuries. Gowns for formal events often appear in white. White is used for christenings and other religious celebrations. And for sports like boating and tennis.

When asked for their favorite color, the majority of people mention blue. That’s especially true of men.

Look in a man’s closet. My husband always has more blue shirts than any other. When we shop, he gravitates toward the blue clothing (and sometimes green, which contains blue). He looks great in blue, and I always compliment him.

But blue looks good on everyone. Find your best blue by holding fabrics near your face. Which blue makes your skin look healthy and your eyes sparkle? Pale aqua, royal, or deep navy?

Do that with red tones. Do you like deep cherry, bright berry, or fire-engine red?

Now pair one of your favorites with white. You’ll have a winning combination.

What is your favorite combination of colors to wear?

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Wearing red! Cynthia

 

 

The X Author Files

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Image courtesy Morguefile free photos

I want to talk about fear. The fear new authors have after publishing that first book or two, when they run out of steam for a while and wonder, “How many more books are in me, and can I get them published?”

I know an author who has gone back to a day job after publishing one book of her own and collaborating on another. Her name will be forever in the ex-author files if she doesn’t return with another book, even though once you’re an author I don’t suppose that label can be removed.

But the big question is, who will remember authors like this? Especially if their books go out-of-print. New authors come onto the scene every day.

With only two published novels in the Bird Face series, I don’t want that to happen to me. I’m under contract with the same publisher for a third book in the series, but it’s taken longer to complete than I’d hoped. To say I procrastinated may be a bit strong. There have been unforeseen personal delays such as a 500-mile move, sickness, adjusting to my husband’s retirement, a death in the family, … but that’s life.

However, I asked my publisher for an extension with a deadline of May. I need tight deadlines; it’s how I operate best. Must be a throwback to my newspaper days.

It’s easy to convince myself that, because I need to write a blog post or online article or anything else, I don’t have time to write fiction that day. So I plan to eliminate as many distractions as possible to get the job done and avoid the X author files.

I’ll see you back here on The Scriblerians in June!

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Special Notice: Goodreads Giveaway

If you’ve wanted to read the second novel of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, now’s your chance! Author and Scriblerian Cynthia Toney is hosting a giveaway of a signed print copy on Goodreads.com. This giveaway is open to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

You don’t necessarily have to read the first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to understand the second. If you’d prefer to read the books in order, look for an announcement soon about how to acquire a free Kindle version of 8 Notes to a Nobody.

If you are not a member of Goodreads, here are some reasons to join–and these are only a few!

  • It doesn’t cost a thing.
  • It’s a great place to find out about books with topics or themes you’re interested in.
  • It’s a great place to meet authors, writers, and readers with similar interests.
  • You can keep track of books you’ve read and want to read.
  • You can rate or review books and see other members’ ratings and reviews.
  • You can recommend books to friends and receive recommendations.
  • You can be notified of giveaways for books on your to-read list.
  • You can search for giveaways and enter them.

So, what are you waiting for? Someone will win, and it could be you!

Goodreads Giveaway of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

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