award winning books

A Swashbuckling Journey!

When two prolific award winning authors get together for some fun, watch out!  Anna Belfrage (author of the Graham Saga Books) talks to Helen Hollick (author of the Sea Witch pirate stories)- Anna shares Helen's great adventure- Pirates? Why write about pirates? I guess the simple answer is: because when I wrote the first of my pirate-based Voyages, Sea Witch, no one else, as far as I could discover, had done so. Read on. I adored the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, (not the others in the Disney franchise: they ranged from OK-ish to terrible). I was enchanted by it, and not entirely because of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, (although that helped!) The movie was fun. None of it was meant to be taken seriously and nearly every scene had a laugh attached to it. Laughter is good for us, therefore darn good adventures, be they pirates, Star Wars sci-fi, Game of Thrones fantasy or whatever-floats-your-boat are good as well, be they movies or novels. They are also escapism from the daily grind, something we all need and enjoy. The problem with really enjoying something is that you are then left wanting more. For me I wanted to read…

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Enjoying Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup “In the Comfort of Shadows”

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes In the Comfort of Shadows Laurel Bragstad’s novel, In the Comfort of Shadows, opens with a dream—or is it a memory? Main character Ann Olsen wasn’t sure, but she was sure that “adoption” was a bad word and not to be mentioned at home, unless she wanted to get everyone mad at her. Her daddy told her, “It’s a bad word, Annie. Aunt Inga shouldn’t say it, and I never want to hear you say it again.” In her search for her biological parents, Ann does more than pronounce the word.  She risks throwing away a childhood based on lies to find the truth.  “I wanted to know the rest of the story, that’s all. I just never dreamed it would end like this.” The author digs into her own recollections. At a similar age to her character’s separation from her biological mother, Laurel’s mother dies and as an adult, Laurel searches her own and older relatives’ memories to find more about her. Laurel told me, “As a child I used to make up stories in my head about who my mother was as a person,…

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Misadventures in self-publishing

  SL Dwyer Author of award winning Dirt and The Fantasmagorical Forest trilogy   You’ve completed your book. Written the final word. Take a deep breath, do a jig and pop the cork on some bubbly. Give yourself a big pat on the back. You have just accomplished what so many have said they wished they could do. Congratulations. Great, next you distribute your manuscript to every family member who enjoys reading, along with friends and members of your writing group. You’ve made the suggested revisions and investigated every source available to upload and publish your eBook. Your finger hesitates and finally pushes the “upload” button and your book becomes one of thousands waiting for readers. You’ve done it all, right? Wrong. If you have not done the last two steps your book will languish on the pages of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all the other sites where it sits for sale. You scratch your head and wonder what the problem may be. Most likely it is one of those last two steps. Below, I’ll list those steps and add some information that may help. Of course you story and how it is written is the number one factor…

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CAN GREAT WRITING BE TAUGHT?

The simple answer is no. Does that mean writing courses are a waste of time? Or that getting an MA or a PhD in creative writing is a fool’s errand? Of course not. Classes can teach good writers to become better, but classes will not turn a good writer into a Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway. Great writing requires a certain native ability, which is rare. However, that does not mean aspiring indie authors should give up. While truly great writers are few, there is ample room in the world for really good writing, the pursuit of which should be the goal of every self-published author. How then does a new writer judge the value of a writing course?  Well, to begin with they need to understand what their objective is. If it is to become fluent with the basics of style, syntax and word usage and, thereby, feel more comfortable integrating these into a clear and cohesive story, then do it. Or, if it is to enjoy the sense of camaraderie of classmates and gain the constructive criticism of a good teacher, then proceed. But if it is to short circuit the hard…

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In Praise of indieBRAG – S. R. Zales

  Hello indieBRAG, In 2013 I was awarded a Gold Medallion by Indie B.R.A.G. for my Juvenile Book "Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries". First off I cannot thank your group enough for the honor.  I did receive some Medallions and used them on the books I sold. I wanted to let you know that they were a great asset in selling by book. The book has continued to sell in the hundreds and I believe you were instrumental in making that happen. I have a number of venues coming up in the next several weeks and months where I will be selling even more books. The problem is that I have used all, yes all, the Gold Medallions and am desperately asking to purchase from you 200 more. Is that possible? It would be a marvelous if you could send them as soon as you can. Thank you  in advance. Keep up the tremendous work you all have been doing. S.R. Zales Jenny and the Hummingbird Faeries Find this award winning book HERE Author S. R. Zales https://www.srzales.com/

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A great recipe from Susan & author Catana Tully!

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Split at the Root Tully, Catana. Split at the Root Catana Tully, in her memoir, Split At the Root, takes her readers on an intense journey into identity, motherhood and what labels mean. At times despondent, at time joyful, the author pulls herself apart until she finds her core. Who we are is intrinsically connected to our family, our community, our race, gender and religion—among many the many categories we create to define identity.  Catana Tully wonders aloud why we need to check off the boxes about who and what we are. She checks other.  She told me, “The thing is, when you have a nationality that identifies you culturally, it is a shock to have to define what you are according to other people’s perception. It feels demeaning and disrespectful. One day we’ll all be ‘Other’ but that’s a long, long time away from now.” Yet Catana is driven to find the essential questions about her mother, family and culture. Where does she feel comfortable and at home?  It has taken many years and now, in her 70’s, she feels comfortable asking these questions. Catana’s story…

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In Praise of indieBRAG – Christopher Holt

Gate Keepers  For more than a century the only “gate keepers” for writers have been literary agents and publishers. This arrangement worked reasonably well until new technologies  made it possible for hundreds of thousands of new authors to present their work direct to the public without recourse to gate keepers at all.  At present the market suffers from an over-abundance of fiction, much it of it, let’s be honest, pretty mediocre. Publishers are wary of taking on new writers. Most play safe, concentrating on a pool of proven commercial authors. This is understandable. The industry sails in stormy seas. A few years ago Geri Clouston had the foresight and boldness to introduce Indie- B.R.A.G.  as a third gate-keeper, one willing to seriously evaluate every book that was offered .The B.R.A.G. Medallion is now a vital and much needed addition to the world of books and writers. Indie BRAG is as generous as it is unique. As far as I can see, there is no other organisation in the world like it.  Geri and her team are tough. When they turned down my first book, I knew I had to raise my game. When, eventually, my latest novel was awarded a…

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In Praise of indieBRAG -Joe Perrone

“President Geri Clouston and all the wonderful people at B.R.A.G.Medallion are performing a vital service by recognizing and promoting previously unheralded independent authors.  I am proud to be a two-time B.R.A.G.Medallion honoree, and I urge everyone associated with independent publishing to celebrate and support this magnificent organization.” Joe Perrone Author of the Matt Davis Mystery Series Find these Award Winning Books HERE Author Joe Perrone Jr.  

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Civil War Mystery nourished with a Civil War favorite – Fried Apples!

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Time Expo Time Exposure by Lynne Kennedy In Time Exposure, Lynne Kennedy makes Civil War photography the lens of her novel. “Photography hugely impacted the way society viewed the war….I combine my love of history and science with my penchant for mysteries!” Lynne does a superb job—an intriguing mystery, wonderful characters and exciting history.  All make this a fabulous read. Lynne Kennedy's Time Exposure.     Buttery Fried Nutmeg Apples During the Civil War, favorite sweet side or dessert was Fried Apples. In the field, it was typically made in a cast iron pan over a fire and worked well with tart apples. A variety of sweeteners could be used from honey or brown sugar, more available than white at the time. The Gibbs Museum in Charleston, South Carolina mounted an exhibit of Civil War photographs, which I went to see a few years ago. The black and white photographs were clear and surprisingly modern. There was the heroic; there were also the photographs that were brutal, unnerving and full of war’s agony. There was the view of Robert E. Lee’s home, with Union soldiers on the porch, his property…

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In Praise of indieBRAG – Alison Morton

Self-publishing is expanding exponentially; it has long ceased to be a minority interest. But along with the glorious freedom of writing any genre, mixed genres or no genre and the ability to control every aspect of a book’s production comes responsibility to the readers. Some authors write books purely for their own pleasure and that’s great fun and personally very satisfying, but today self- or independent publishing is a serious option for commercial writers. However, not everybody is conscientious in producing a well-rounded, page turning book with impeccable production values. How is a reader able to distinguish the dross from the diamonds in today’s avalanche of self-published work? This is where the B.R.A.G. Medallion® comes in. When INCEPTIO, the first in my series of Roma Nova thrillers, was awarded a Medallion, I was delighted; my writing had passed one of the highest bars around. Rapidly becoming recognised in the world of self-publishing as an impeccable seal of excellence, its selection process is rigorous, rejecting 90% of applicants. If a book carries a B.R.A.G. Medallion® sticker, it will be a quality assured read, whatever its genre. I was proud to explain what the sticker meant and people were impressed. More importantly,…

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