My Weekend Journey

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Ooops, sorry. Not resolutions. GOALS. What I meant to ask is: Are you making progress with your 2023 goals? I hope things are going well for you. I’m keeping busy. I even did something bookish this weekend.

The Joy of Indie Bookstores

When is the last time you’ve visited a brick-and-mortar bookstore? And I’m not talking about one of the big chain stores, like Barnes and Noble. I mean an independently owned and operated bookstore, where the décor is unique to the location, they offer you free coffee or tea, and there might be beanbag chairs in the reading nook around the corner.

A few days ago, fellow indie author Huckleberry Rahr and yours truly embarked on a journey to just such a bookish establishment in Sheboygan, WI—a city notorious for being the Bratwurst Capital of the World as well as the Malibu of the Midwest. But we were not there to stuff our faces with sausage or go wind-surfing on the treacherous waters of Lake Michigan in the dark depths of winter. Our mission, as authors experienced in such things, was to lead a workshop on planning a book and overcoming writer’s block.

The venue was WordHaven BookHouse, owned by Kelly D. Holstine, MAE. You can learn more here on the website. I knew I liked the bookstore from the moment I walked in, when a cute, little wiener dog ambled over to greet me. Another dog lounged on a nearby couch.

My comment to Huckle: “This place is my new favorite place. It has puppies.”

Her response: “Uh, oh. Now you won’t want to leave.”

I took a deep breath, relishing the scent of new books and the experience of being in a real bookstore for the first time in ages. The walls are painted a royal purple where local artists’ work is prominently displayed. The main area has an open, airy ambience. Bookshelves are neatly lined up perpendicular to the walls with books attractively arranged on the shelves.

Kelly and the other staff were friendly and I immediately felt welcomed. She led us on a tour of the building, showing us where all the different genres are housed, the children’s section, and the cozy sharing circle downstairs. We decided to have our workshop upstairs and set up camp at a humungous, polished wooden table right smack in the middle of everything. It was also right next to the refreshments, of which there was an impressive selection. There were even cookies. Alas, I did not partake. Huckle and I enjoyed some tea—I had Earl Grey and she drank chamomile—while we set up for the class. Once done, we sat in comfy chairs and browsed the merchandise. Patrons wandered in; Kelly seemed to know most of them.

So, yes; I would highly recommend the WordHaven BookHouse if you happen to be in the Sheboygan area and are looking for an indie bookstore, or just want to hang out at a cool venue.

Although turn-out for our workshop was small, it was 100%. I count that as a victory! Introvert though I am, it was fun meeting new people passionate about writing. They seemed to enjoy the workshop and had fun with the writing exercise. Each person wrote down three words, threw them all in a hat, and then drew out a new set of three words. The task was to use those words to write a paragraph. Everyone came up with an excellent piece of micro-fiction or the beginning of a longer story. This is a good way to jump-start your creativity when experiencing writer’s block.

Hopefully, the students took away some little knowledge-nugget of value. I know Huckle and I did. Which is good, because we intend to do this again.

And in the famous words of Forrest Gump: that’s all I have to say about that.

New Series Starters!

Looking to begin a brand-new fantasy adventure or three? Well, look no further. Each of the titles in this promotion are available on Amazon. You can read them for free in Kindle Unlimited. There are no newsletter sign-ups, so far as I know. For the first time–but not the last–I’m participating in an actual sales promotion. Wyldling Snare is in good company with these books. So, go ahead, and check these out. Fill up your Kindle library. Find your new favorite series. Maybe buy a new e-book. But you don’t even have to purchase anything; you’re helping me out simply by clicking on the link and browsing the selection.  But act fast… this promo ends January 30th.

Featured Freebies

…and here are the free fantasy books. Sign up for the author’s newsletter and get a new e-book to read. This is a great way to discover new authors and series without spending a penny. This one is for High Fantasy, where the story takes place on a world other than Earth.

If you’re searching for “clean” fantasy, I also have the honor of participating in this promotion. I guarantee there are some good reads in here:

More Free Books!

Get these books before they’re gone! Time is running out. Tick tock…

Ends February 15, 2023

Ends January 26, 2023

Ends January 31, 2023

One of These Things is NOT Like the Others…

It’ll be a few months before Wyldling Trials is out, so in the meantime, here are some recommendations. I’ve read these books, each the first installment of fantasy series that both young people and adults will enjoy.

The Twin Stars (The Coseema Saga #1) by Bridgette Portman

This is a YA space fantasy I read and enjoyed over the summer. The MC travels to a world of her own creation through a portal. It reminded me of Inkheart.

Olive Joshi is an imaginative sixteen-year-old with OCD. She checks and double-checks that the stove burners are off, avoids driving for fear of causing an accident, and constantly worries about hurting the people she loves. Olive finds refuge from her anxiety in writing stories about Coseema, a magical princess on the distant planet Lyria. Coseema is fearless, confident, powerful, and perfect — everything Olive thinks she’ll never be.

When she falls through a portal into her own abandoned story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the planet, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema has gone into hiding. Bringing back her heroine might be Olive’s only hope of saving Lyria and finding her way home. But when her attempt to summon Coseema goes horribly wrong, it’s Olive who must flee for her life. Together with her friends — a bold and powerful poet, a handsome but cursed musician, a renegade soldier with a troubled past, and an adventurous girl from the desert — Olive must face her deepest fears to escape Burnash’s tyranny. With the fate of a star system on the line, can Olive find the hero in herself?

The Twin Stars is an engrossing new portal fantasy in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, the Neverending Story, and the Chronicles of Narnia, with a dash of Star Wars and a sprinkling of Dune. Fans of space fantasy, coming-of-age adventures, unexpected twists and turns, and novels about mental health and self-confidence will love this unique tale about facing what frightens us most.

Astray (Ariboslia Trilogy #1) by JF Rogers

An excellent YA portal fantasy. I’ve read the entire series more than once.

 A mysterious amulet leads Fallon to everything she’s ever wanted…and possibly her death.
Astray is the first book in the Ariboslia Christian fantasy series. If you enjoy visiting alternate worlds that feature fast-paced adventure, supernatural creatures, compelling characters, and exciting plot twists, come to Ariboslia. You’ll love this first installment in J. F. Rogers’ page-turning series.

Bell Mountain (Bell Mountain #1) by Lee Duigon

This is a fun book portraying both adventure and good values. Currently, there are 13 books in this series, but they’re quick reads meant for middle grade and young adults. While not strictly indie, the publisher is a pretty small press.

The world is going to end … as soon as Jack and Ellayne ring the bell on top of Bell Mountain. No one has ever climbed the mountain, and no one has ever seen the bell. But the children have a divine calling to carry out the mission, and it sweeps them into high adventure.

And just in case you haven’t picked it up yet, Wyldling Snare is available in both e-book and paperback as well as on Kindle Unlimited.

And yes, there are dragons in this book. In case you were wondering.

Last but not least, the obligatory cat photo. Sort of.

Mildred thinks you should go read some books now! Obey the spooky cat statue…

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