Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Paying it forward

cj Sez: The following two reviews of books I’ve read (from my TBR pile) is my way of paying-it-forward, trying to help fellow authors reach new audiences.

Love, Stock & Barrel, by Crystal L. Barnes

Love, Stock & Barrel, launched in 2016, is the second novel in Crystal Barnes’s Marriage & Mayhem Series. Protagonist Dinah Lexington runs away from an arranged marriage to a genuine creep and heads to Texas in search of a possible relative described in her dead mother’s diary. She’s not welcomed with open arms and is forced to defend herself against suspicions that she is not who she claims to be.

Dinah is attracted to a gentle church-going hero, but her heart is too recently bruised to let herself be drawn into a new romance. The novel is a fast-paced page-turner, complete with a strong, sassy protagonist, a hunky and genuinely likeable hero, and the requisite baddies you’ve come to expect in a historical Western. There is a good balance between wonderful, conversational dialogue and informative narrative.

Love, Stock & Barrel is a well-written, historical, romantic suspense with a surprise twist and a perfect happily ever after ending.

The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn, by Frank Kelso

The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn, launched in 2017, is part one of a coming of age story.  I take that back: Nigel Blackthorn doesn’t just “come of age;” he is dragged kicking and screaming (and some whining) through his teenaged years in an alien environment. What a fantastic period of learning and growing the thirteen-year-old experiences.

Orphaned in Texas by a marauding band of Comanche, Nigel, a naïve, fresh-from-England, mama’s boy begins his apprenticeship in survival under the tutelage of Pascal, a defrocked Jesuit priest turned muleskinner. Nigel, renamed Black Wolf, continues his education in the camp of a band of Cheyenne, “The People.”

Author Frank Kelso weaves such exacting historical details and dialogues into his story that the reader cannot help but be drawn into the daily lives of the inhabitants of old Texas in the mid-1850s.  A worthwhile, historical fiction read.


It’s not out yet, but I’m looking forward to Trouble in Paradise, the latest novel in the Familiar Legacy series.

Written by Rebecca Barrett, the book launches on May 7 and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.


What have you read and reviewed lately?

That’s it for this week’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Banned books and a book review

cj Sez: I came across a couple of blog posts the other day about some of the books that, over the years, have been banned in schools and sometimes in libraries. 
So I did some checking. The list is sadly surprising

According to the American Library Association, books on the Top Ten list are geared toward children, teens or young adult audiences. Parents initiate the majority of the challenges. ALA’s position is that “parents have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Among those banned have been:

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (Reason: Profanity and racial slurs, alcohol, poverty, bullying, violence, and sexuality.)

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Reason: Perceived racial insensitivity, stereotypes and offensive characterization, especially of the runaway slave.) 

“Lord of the Flies,” (Reason: Several challenges including:  "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.")

The Harry Potter Series (Reason: Includes topics that desensitize children to very real evils in the world, increasing violence as the books progress.)

As a way to make the public aware of the censorship, the Association promotes Banned Books Week, which takes place in September.
"Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular."
In 2017, the following books were among the most frequently attacked or banned (all have been banned more than once):

“Thirteen Reasons Why” (Reason: Suicide)
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (Reasons: Profanity, sexually explicit)
“Drama” (Reason: LGBT content)
“The Kite Runner” (Reasons: Sexual violence, religious themes, “May lead to terrorism”)
“George” (Reason: LGBT content)
“Sex is a Funny Word” (Reason: Sex education)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (Reasons: Violence, racial slurs)
“The Hate U Give” (Reasons: Drug use, profanity, “Pervasively vulgar”)
“And Tango Makes Three” (Reason: LGBT content)
“I Am Jazz” (Reason: Gender identity)
My BOOK REVIEW on a new book (It could attract a ban):

THE HUNGER, by Alma Katsu, is a tour de force on human behavior. The Donner pioneers, seeking new lives, riches, and adventures on the far coasts of a new America, are driven to mad desperation by an unimaginable terror. Author Alma Katsu adds a supernatural evil to the tragic real-life story of the Donner Party and imbues their sacrifices with even more horror. Stephen King’s review says it all:  “Deeply, deeply disturbing, hard to put down, not recommended reading after dark.”
Speaking of reviews, how about authors’ reactions to those less than complimentary? Here are three quotes from a Career Authors blog post you are sure to want to read:

Geez, I’m not an English teacher
This complaint makes our heads feel like they might explode. How can you expect good results if you don’t know the tools of the trade? To us, attempting to write a book without knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar is akin to someone walking into a surgical unit for the first time, picking up a scalpel and making a mess of the patient, then saying, “Hey, I didn’t graduate from med school–how could you expect me to know how to use that thing?”

I didn’t realize my book would be judged on punctuation, spelling and grammar.
Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar are essential to conveying your ideas in the manner you intended. (Famous example: “I just ate, Grandma” or “I just ate Grandma.”) If you haven’t mastered them, then you aren’t ready to write a book.

It’s clear the reviewer didn’t read the whole book
No matter the complaint, authors want to believe that the reviewer didn’t read their whole book. It’s an understandable reaction, as no one wants to hear negative feedback, and it’s far easier to leap to the conclusion that the reviewer didn’t really read the book than to admit to yourself that they did read it and failed to love your baby as much as you do.

cj Sez: I’m with the authors of this piece on the complaint about poor spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and I don’t think any of us are referring to the occasional gremlins that creep into a manuscript.

There is a lot more to read about here:

Okay, that’s it for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


5-Star Review for THE POSSE
Eight different stories by different authors. Each story was unique in its style and the characters in it. I enjoyed each of them. Though I'm a fan of historical romance, and I like the westerns, this introduced me to some new authors that I hadn't read before. If you enjoy the wild west and are a fan of classic western novels, you'll enjoy these eight tales in The Posse. I'll be looking up some of the authors for other books.
Free on Kindle Unlimited at the time of this post. Get it here: 

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Simon&Schuster Author Page =

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tax day is not April 15, and a field of dreams

cj Sez: Tuesday, April 17, 2018, is the deadline for filing your 2017 federal tax return. 

   It’s also the last day to make a contribution to an individual retirement account (IRA) for it to count against 2017 income, the last day to file a tax extension, and the day quarterly estimated tax payments are due for those who make them.

   So why is tax day not on April 15 this year?

   It’s because of a combination of the 15th falling on a Sunday and a holiday unique to Washington, D.C., falling on Monday the 16th.

   The nation's capital celebrates Emancipation Day to mark the date that President Abraham Lincoln freed slaves there in 1862. Yes, it's a holiday only for D.C., but it affects when taxes are due, so tax payers get a two-day extension this year.

Next year’s tax day will be on the standard date of April 15.
   I have a conundrum. Now that Crimson Romance is closed, do I self-publish or join the hunt again for an agent or another traditional publisher?  

   There are advantages and disadvantages to either choice, of course. The first things I noted in my research are:

~ Self-publishing allows the writer to keep everything s/he nets from the sale of the stories/novels. I say “nets” because, unless the sale is on Amazon or through an indie book store which collects the taxes, the author is responsible for that.  However,
It also means authors must contract and finance everything: editing (please do not try to publish without this step), cover design, layout, production, marketing, publicity, distribution, storage, marketing, and maybe selling out of the trunk of their vehicle because libraries and book stores may not agree to carry the books.
Unless there are beau coup sales, the author has trouble recouping launch and marketing expenditures.

~ The traditional approach means the writer is only responsible for writing the story plus some of the marketing and promoting. However,
S/he also earns a smaller (sometimes a lot smaller) portion of the sales revenue.
Don’t count on a pre-publishing cash advance, because they are disappearing like ice cubes in a cup of hot tea.

~ Self-publishing allows the author to publish when s/he feels the story is ready and often that is much sooner than a publisher could schedule.

   Oh yeah, the thought that sales dollars flow directly to me is enticing. That said, the up-front costs might be a barrier for me. On the one hand, I'll have to see where guesstimates of fees lead me. On the other hand, all of that is really chaff.

   As a writer/author, however I'm able to publish or not, success is really all about writing a good story that readers want to read. (Sounds like a motto to me.) 

   Sounds also like my field of dreams: If I write it, they will come.

   All you self-publishers out there…how do you do it? What’s your biggest worry? What’s your greatest expense? What’s your biggest headache with Amazon? How much time do you 
dedicate to track/promote your book(s)?

   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Which reminds me, since I’m still learning to speak Southern, I found the following from linguist Michael Montgomery:  Montgomery claims that “y’all” goes back to the Scots-Irish phrase “ye aw,” and he offers as evidence a letter written in 1737 by an Irish immigrant in New York to a friend back home: “Now I beg of ye aw to come over here.” Montgomery’s hypothesis is that "ye aw” was Americanized into “y’all,” which is indeed a contraction of “you all” but would not have come into being without the influence of the Scots-Irish phrase.

My version is simply what my oldest granddaughter said when she was about six. She has a Southern mama who says “y’all,” and a Northern daddy who says “you guys.” One day, exasperated while trying to get their attention, she blurted out, “Hey, you-all guys!” I figure if it’s good enough for her, it’s perfect for me.

A 5-star review of DEADLY STAR from “Avid Reader.”
Scientist Dr. Mirabel Campbell finds her life in danger as well as several friends when her hobby of star gazing has her stumbling across something no one was supposed to see. A top-secret nanosatellite. When her ex-husband Sully shows up at the most opportune time to save her life she also has to deal with long-buried emotions. And it turns out Sully isn't who she thought he was. But Mirabel is extremely intelligent and it doesn't take long for her to see that 1+1=her! And her discovery along with her scientific specialty makes her the target of a mysterious psychopath who sends an assassin to silence her. Sully & Mirabel obviously have unfinished business but secrets drove them apart once, will they again? When I first read the premise of this book I almost didn't read it but the review ratings changed my mind and I'm so glad they did. Kept me on the edge of my seat. This action packed drama filled book has a high rating for a reason. IT WAS GREAT!
Buy it now at  
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Sunday, April 8, 2018

A bit about Isaac Asimov

cj Sez: I got to reading about science fiction and came across the preeminent author in the genre, Isaac Azimov. 

When I discovered the anniversary of his death was April 6, the proximity to the date of this post sent me down a rabbit hole of research on his life and writings.

There is a wealth of information out there (two sites are referenced at the bottom of the post). Here are some of the comments about his books and life:

This prolific writer, whose writings included violence, is attributed with this quote:
 “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
Isaac Asimov's first published book-length work was Pebble in the Sky in 1950, but he didn’t start writing full time until after publication (in 1960) of The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science earned him a decent income.

Asimov was claustrophobic and preferred to write in small, windowless rooms. He routinely sat at his typewriter from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and churned out as many as ten books a year. During his lifetime, he published 40 novels, 382 short stories, and more than 280 non-fiction books.

“If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”

Nightfall was originally a short story written in 1941. Twenty-three years later, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

I, Robot, published in 1950, is a collection of nine previously published short stories that are woven together as a 21st-century interview with a fictional robopsychologist. The collection was followed by four full novels.

Asimov coined the term “robotics.”

Although he wrote books that featured space flight, he flew only twice in his lifetime and that was while in the military.

The noted American author and biochemist was born Isaac Yudovich Ozimov sometime between October 4, 1919, and January 2, 1920, in Russia. Since there were no accurate records of his birth, he chose January 2 as his birthday.

He became a U.S. citizen when he was eight, began to write short stories at age eleven, and became a paid contributor to science fiction magazines before he was twenty.

His father did not approve of him reading pulp science fiction, so Isaac pointed to the word “science” in the titles and said it was educational material.

Isaac Asimov died on April 6, 1992, after having contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during the triple bypass operation he had in 1983.

That’s it for this post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets lost for hours down a research rabbit hole. Where did your last research rabbit hole take you? Care to share on this blog? Let’s discuss that.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

I’ll leave you with one of the 5-star reviews of Choosing Carter:
This was a great read. Being part of Crimson Romance, I was expecting a standard romance. I was pleasantly surprised with the suspenseful action that I found instead. The book has a romantic element to it, but it is truly a suspense novel. You follow these characters through the Colorado wilderness trying to stop terrorists. The characters are fun, and this novel is a real page turner. We get into Byrn's head well, but I wish a little more time was spent on Carter, his chapters were always short. A very fun read, and full of suspense with great chapter endings that had you on the edge of your seat. I would recommend to any fans of suspense.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter and Passover

May this Easter day bring peace and happiness 
into your life,

knowing that even when we feel like giving up, 
there is hope.

Wishing you the Gift of Faith
The Blessing of Hope
And a Life filled with Joy

Have a blessed and happy Easter Day

And for those celebrating Passover…
חג פסח


May your life be blessed 
with peace, prosperity, and joy.