Category Archives: Writing

Five qualities of a good novel as shown in the book Shane

By | Book Review, Writing | No Comments


I just finished reading the classic western Shane by Jack Schaefer, which was published in 1949 and made into a movie in 1953.  The novel set me to reflecting on what made it a best-seller that is still read in schools and has stayed popular for so many years.  As the St. George Daily Spectum wrote: “Shane is a work of literature first and a Western second.”  What qualities does it have that make it a work of literature?

Interestingly, the novel opens at a slow pace.  Today’s writers are taught to open with action or grab the reader’s attention in some way.  However, in this book the author takes his time introducing the characters and setting. The result is very effective.

Here is the opening paragraph: “He rode into our valley in the summer of ’89.  I was a kid then, barely topping the backboard of father’s old chuckwagon.  I was on the upper rail of our small corral, soaking in the late afternoon sun, when I saw him far down the road where it swung into the valley from the open plain beyond.” (p. 1)

For the next eight paragraphs, the boy continues to describe the horseman as he rides closer and closer, then finally into the farmstead where the boy observes him.

This slow pace allows the reader to see the stranger and enter into the world the boy, Bob, lives in.  It is told from the intimate first-person point of view.  We see the horseman, the small town, the river and the fork in the road as the rider draws closer and finally into view.  Bob tells us the stranger’s clothes are different from the local people.  He wears tall boots and a belt, both made of a soft black leather tooled in intricate design and a “finespun” linen shirt.

A child’s viewpoint is an interesting way to tell the story because Bob is a keen observer of life, yet he is young and doesn’t understand everything that’s going on.  We, as the reader, left to our own interpretation of people and events, have deeper insights into what is going on.

The plot is fairly straight-forward.  Bob and his parents live on a farm and a mysterious stranger rides onto their land and asks for a drink of water.  The father, Joe, soon recognizes that Shane is the kind of man whom nobody will push around and asks him to stay as a farmhand.

Shane hires on and is loyal to the family, so when a powerful rancher tries to drive out the local farmers, Shane is pulled into the deadly conflict.

The story focuses more on character development than action and the topics of courage, honor, love and heroes are explored.

The book is relatively short, yet it will draw you in from the beginning and keep you reading to the end, leaving you to ponder its depth and layers of meaning.

The reader never does find out about Shane’s background and what it is he’s trying to escape.  He finds serenity and inner peace on the farm, but this is broken by the tension in town between the farmers and the large rancher.

So what makes this a good novel?

  1. It has well-developed characters with heroic qualities that we care about.
  2. It has an interesting plot with high stakes, both in terms of how the outcome will affect the character’s lives and how it will force them to grow and change.
  3. It has great descriptions and metaphors. Here is the boy’s description of a stump. “It was big enough, I used to think, so that if it was smooth on top you could have served supper to a good-sized family.” (p. 18)
  4. The author, Jack Schaefer, shows the reader what’s going on instead of telling him, leaving the reader to interpret the situation.
  5. The story has good pacing that gradually builds to the climatic ending.

In conclusion, Shane is a great read for anyone who enjoys a good western.  For writers, it’s an interesting study in what makes a good novel.  As you read the book, look for the five qualities listed above and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What draws the reader into a story and keeps them there?
  2. What universal values and ideas make the story worth telling?

I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section.  What do you think makes a good novel?  What qualities do you look for in a book?

If you’ve read Shane, I’d also like to hear your thoughts on the characters and story.


share this:

Annoure and the Dragon Ships by Heidi Skarie

By | Writing | No Comments

Facebook profile photo 600x600Author Notes about Annoure and the Dragon Ships.

I’m excited to finally see Annoure and the Dragon Ships make its entrance into the world of literature. Annoure and Thorstein are finally getting a chance to share their story.

I carefully researched this period of history and did my best to make it accurate. Although the Norsemen had runes for writing on stone and labeling things, they didn’t have books that would have left a more detailed picture of their lives.

Much of what we know about them has comes from archeologist and the people who they invaded who didn’t portray them in a favorable light.

We do know the Norsemen’s longships were an important part of their culture. They were fast, sleek and shallow-drafted, which allowed them to travel up rivers and come into shallow water.

In writing the book I used some Norse words to make the story more authentic. Since the Norse language was before the time of dictionaries, the names given to words varies, as does the spelling of those words. I chose to take the most commonly used words and their spellings of the words such as “sonr” for son.

Even the word “Viking” is a more modern term to refer to the Norsemen. They didn’t call themselves Vikings. They said would say they were going “a-viking” when they planned a trading expedition or went on a raid.

The Viking Age began with an attack on the monastic settlement of Lindisfarne, an island off the northeast coast on England in Northumbria.

My story starts a year later when five dragon ships sailed up the River Thyne and attacked the St. Paul’s Church at Jarrow. They burned the two monasteries, killed or kidnapped the priest and monks, and fought the soldiers and villagers who tried to stop them. Their war leader was killed during the attack.

As the Norsemen left, a terrible storm arose and two of the dragon ships sank. The Norse warriors who survived the shipwrecks swam to shore and were then killed by the villagers and soldiers.

Historians disagree as to where the Norsemen who attacked Jarrow came from. For the purpose of my book I chose to have them come from what is now known as Norway.

While researching the book, I traveled to England and visited St. Paul’s Church. The church is still in use after over a thousand years. Beside it are the remains of the two monasteries that were destroyed in the Viking raid.

Nearby was an exhibit of a reconstructed medieval village complete with live animals. I was delighted to see what a village would have looked like back then with its thatched-roofed houses and twisted-branched fences.

Later I made a trip to Norway with my husband who is a one-hundred-percent Norwegian. I wanted to visit Rosendal where Thorstein’s family homestead was located on the west coast of Norway, an area famous for its fjords.

We flew into Stavanger where we rented a car and started our journey. We drove through a tunnel cut out of bedrock under a bay, traveled by car ferry, and drove on narrow mountain roads though some of the most beauty country in the world. Obviously the area has changed in over a thousand years yet the mountains, ocean, the nearby island (where Thorstein’s neighbors lived) and fjord are the same. Being there helped me write more realistically about the area.

I hope the story depict the Norsemen in way that shows their strengths and weaknesses and gives you a glimpse into their lives.

share this:

5 Reasons to Write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

By | Writing | 24 Comments


Writing in the science fiction (SF) and fantasy genres is fun and exciting. The following are five good reasons to write in these genres.

  1. You love to read science fiction and/or fantasy and enjoy the genre(s). In order to write a good story you need to be well-read in the story type you’re writing.
Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

I’ve been inspired by book series as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George Lucas’ Star Wars. When JK Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series came out, I read them as they were published. More recently I read Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy and Annn Agurre’s Sirantha Jax series.

  1. You like creating worlds. In SF and fantasy novels, you can build your


    own world. In fantasy you can create elaborate, imaginative worlds as Tolkien did. In SF you can create another galaxy where space travel is common as in Star Wars. You can explore life on a spaceship, a space station or a planet in another galaxy.

  2. You like inventing characters that are unique and unusual. They could be other-world aliens, peoples with unusual psychic powers, dragons, vampires, wizards, fairies, dwarfs, or talking animals.

In my Star Rider series, I invented a large planet that ate mammals (like a Venus flytrap), large butterflies that bite and forests with trees so large you can run from the branch of one tree to another, traveling like squirrels. I also had aliens with green skin and gills.

  1. You like exploring new ideas, customs, religions, politics and philosophies. You can
    Hunger Games

    Hunger Games

    write about how these different things influence the people and their world. You can create utopian worlds or a dystopian world such as in Hunger Games. My Star Rider series takes place in another solar system in a time of interplanetary war. My characters fight for political and religious freedom.

  2. Another important reason to write in these genres is that
    Harry Potter

    Harry Potter

    science fiction and fantasy are popular. Avid fans attend science fiction conventions. Readers who like SF and fantasy series are often devoted to the authors and will continue to read their new books as they are released. Think of the popularity of Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.

So if you enjoy the genre of science fiction and/or fantasy, like world-building, love inventing unique characters, want to explore new ideas and want to ensure a dedicated readership for your works, try your hand at SF and/or fantasy (or try combining them when writing your next book or short story).


share this:

What is the difference between a short story and a novel?

By | Writing | 10 Comments

I write novels and have extensively studied the complexities of how to write one. I’m less familiar with the structure of short stories, so I did some research to figure how a short story is different from a novel.


The obvious difference between a novel and a short story is that short stories are short and novels are long. Short stories can be 1,000 to 20,000 words. More average is 3,000 to 5,000 words. A novel can be anywhere from 60,000 to over 120,000.


A short story has one main character and the story is told through that character’s point of view. Often it is told in first person or limited first person. A novel has a cast of characters and the story can be told from any of those characters’ viewpoints.


The main character of a short story has a need or fear that leads to a major change or climactic event in that person’s life. The protagonist comes to a single understanding or insight. A novel is much more complex with many transformational events that more than one characters can go through.


A short story usually takes place in a few hours or days in few settings. A novel can take place over a short period of time or it may cover years or generations in many different settings, countries and even planets.


A short story has one theme, whereas a novel can explore different themes and has more breadth and scope.


Each story form has different challenges. The short story gives the author a chance to explore one idea with one character. It must be written so that it is tight and a lot conveyed in an economy of words. The first draft may be written in one setting and rewritten and edited in a short period of time. However, the limitation on the number of words in itself can be a challenge. How do you make a reader care about the character in so few pages? How do you make an emotional impact?


The novelist has time to explore characters, different settings, subplots and sweeping events. The commitment to write a novel is much larger and it may take years to research, write, rewrite and edit.


While researching the difference between short stories and novels I came across a YouTube of TC Boyle reading The Lie from his anthology Wild Child. The story is delightful to listen to and quite engaging. I found myself thinking—no don’t say that! I can’t believe you just said that. What were you thinking?

The Lie illustrates all the qualities of a good short story discussed above. It’s well worth listening to.


The YouTube here:


I’d enjoy hearing your impressions of The Lie. Did you find yourself identifying with the main character? Did you laugh? Have you ever told a lie that led you to more lies?


If you’d like a copy of my short story Star Rider Emerges, click over to my website and sign up for my newsletter.

share this:

Guided in Dreams

By | Book Review, Uncategorized, Writing | 62 Comments

018021Recently I was drawn to read Paulji A Memoir by Patti Simpson. I had read it in 1985 when it was first published, but felt the urge to read it again.   I’m glad I did because in the thirty years since then my consciousness and experiences have changed me and how I relate to the book.

In the beginning of the book Patti describes her life as unremarkable. She was happily married, the mother of four, and a regular churchgoer.

One night while Patti seemed to be asleep the words of a book run through her head as if she were a tape recorder. “It had been a most exciting and well-written mystery story, and as it unfolded, word by word, it left me fascinated. I didn’t know where this mystery story was coming from: in a sense, it seemed to be from me. In the morning I couldn’t remember a word of it, but I had. . . a knowingness . . . that someday I would write a book.” p. 10. Paulji A Memoir might have been the book she knew she would write someday.

The experience Patti describes in this passage struck me as very similar to an experience I had in which I had a series of six dreams that was like watching a movie. Only, unlike Patti, I remembered the dreams and recorded them. I ended up with ninety pages in my dream journal. Like Patti at the time I wasn’t an author, but the series of dreams inspired me to write the story I saw in the dream and led to writing Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge.

In Paulji a Memoir, Patti had another nocturnal experience several years later in 1968. This time she went to bed but instead of falling asleep, she remained in full awareness. In the morning she felt fully refreshed. She was aware that what she’d heard in this state was crystal clear, but she couldn’t remember what she’d learned when she awoke. This went on for many nights. Patti knew she was hearing the explanation of life, of existence and the truth of being.

On the twenty-first day Patti awoke knowing there was a book she needed to find. She went to a corner market and as she looked at a rack her hand shot out and she grabbed a book. It was In My Soul I am Free about Paul Twitchell written by Brad Steiger. This book turned out to be the beginning of an amazing spiritual journey she had as a student of Paul Twitchell that continued over the next three years until his passing in 1971. Patti grew to be a dedicated student and worked closely with Paul Twitchell, helping him bring the works of Eckankar to the world. During this time she came to know the private side of Paul Twitchell and his wife Gail.

The book is a wonderful story of Patti’s memories of this remarkable spiritual leader. The stories she tells are inspiring, humorous at times and uplifting. It’s well worth the read.

One of the stories was that a couple of years after Patti was taught on the inner for twenty-one nights, Paul Twitchell wrote and published the first chapter of the Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad. When Patti read it, she recognized it as the words of wisdom she’d heard during those nights.

I read the Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad in 1971 and for me it was the same experience of recognizing the truth that Patti had, though I read it in the outer form.

How many of us are guided inwardly in some way? We might have an amazing dream, be directed to buy a book, call a phone number, or have a lucid dream. Others of us might be given a book by a friend or be inwardly nudged to go to an event.

The more I hear people’s stories, the more I realize we are all guided in our search for truth.

Have you had a remarkable experience on your journey to find the greater meaning of life? If so write your experience in the comment section of this blog post. I always love hearing about people’s experiences.



share this:

Writing Red Willow’s Quest led to unexpected revelations

By | Writing | 12 Comments


Every novel has a story behind it—a reason the author felt drawn to write it.  When I started writing Red Willow’s Quest I decided to write a fantasy story of a young woman on a spiritual quest.  I began writing the story as fantasy because it was close to the genre I’d used for my other novels.

However, after writing several chapters, I realized the story resembled a culture very similar to the Plains Indians.  I debated with myself about starting over and writing the book as a Native American story.  While I pondered this, I started reading a manuscript.  It seemed as if the universe was speaking to me, for this story was about a woman who remembered her past life as a Native American woman.  I wondered if my story was based on my past life as a Plains Indian.

 I had to take my daughter to her flute lesson, so I put aside the manuscript and went outside. There in the yard I found a hawk feather standing straight up in perfect condition.  On each of the next two days I found another hawk feather in the yard.  For me finding three hawk feathers was a significant spiritual sign that I should start over and write the story as my past-life recall of being a Native American maiden.

Drawing of three hawk feathers
Drawing of three hawk feathers

 Later, I heard a talk by a spiritual leader who said to some Native Americans the cry of a hawk meant clear spiritual vision and flying above the mundane world. This was further confirmation that I was on the right track.

Once I’d made the decision to write about my own past life, memories of that life started coming through especially as I began researching the Plains Indians. All the research I did opened the door to this past life and my memories began to flood through that revealed much about that lifetime. However, I didn’t know the exact time period or place where that life happened, nor did I know what tribe I’d been part of.

I knew that the story took place in the mountains, so I started out by figuring out what mountains range I lived in. Through my readings and looking at photographs, I soon realized that I had lived in the Rocky Mountains. I had always felt a deep affinity and love for the Rockies that I now realized came from that life. As a child my family spent many vacations camping and hiking in Glacier National Park.  Later as a young adult I backpacked in the Rockies. On these trips I always felt at home.

 My research also revealed that I was a Shoshoni Indian. Their culture, clothing and food matched what I remembered from that life. The Shoshonis: Sentinels of the Rockies clarified that this was where some of the tribes lived.

 The time period where that life took place turned out to be fairly easy to establish because Red Willow and her companion go to a fort on the mouth of the Big Horn River. Research revealed that in 1807 John Colter and Manuel Lisa built a trading post called Fort Raymond in that location. The fort was only in existence for one year. John Colter was one of the men who was a part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase. He built the fort after the expedition was completed.

A draft of a map of Red Willow's journey

A draft of a map of Red Willow’s journey

More pieces of the puzzle of that lifetime fell into place as I continued researching, such as figuring out which people attacked Red Willow’s village. When I traveled out west, I also found out that a name I thought I’d made up for a tribe was the real name. I’ll talk about these discoveries in the next post.

Here is a review of the book by June Rouse that was published in The Monthly Aspectarian:

If  you’re looking for a yarn that keeps you guessing, Red Willow’s Quest, a story of an Indian maiden who was anything but tractable, provides adventure, romance and food for thought in striking settings throughout the early West. . . . As a mark of a fine craftsman, Heidi Skarie’s telling of the story keeps readers engaged. . . . Red Willow’s Quest not only is a good story but a primer in learning to follow your dreams and listen to your heart.

 If you’re interested in buying the book, Click here to link to Amazon.


share this:

What Makes a Good Book Cover?

By | Writing | 13 Comments

3D book RENDEROne of the most important things an indie author can do is to design an attractive book cover. A reader often decides if he or she is interested in buying a book within a few seconds. The first thing that attracts their attention is the cover. The next thing is the title and then the back cover copy if it is a paperback book. If it’s an eBook, the reader will look at the book description on the site selling it.

Now days the cover must look nice for a paperback book, and it must also translate well as a small photo, both in color and black-and-white for its digital release.  If it has too much going on in the picture or too many words, it will not show well in the small photo shown on sites like Amazon.

Some authors design their own book covers using sites such as Createspace, which has design tools for making your own cover. Unfortunately, sometimes when an author makes his or her own cover, it doesn’t look professional.

The cover needs to let the reader know what kind of book it is and be artistically appealing.

For my book Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge, I searched online to find book cover designers. Then I looked at each designer’s covers until I found one that I liked. I decided to go with one of the designers on Deranged Doctor Design.  Their prices are reasonable and you don’t pay them until “you love” the cover they design for you.  You start by giving them a description of the characters and book.

Here is the first cover draft they made for my book.   I liked the photo of the woman STAR RAIDER Draft01 (3)looking directly at the reader.  Studies have shown that people spend more time looking at faces than objects.  I also thought the blue color was nice. But also I found obvious problems with this draft.

First of all, the title was incorrect: The book is Star Rider not Star Raider.  Another problem was it looked like a romance rather than a science fiction book.  A third problem was the author’s name was hard to read and I didn’t like the color pink for the title.

I went to Amazon and looked through book covers and sent several to Deranged Doctor Design to show examples of science fiction covers I liked. I told them the cover needed a spaceship and an outer space scene.

STAR RIDER DraftPr02 (2)They worked on it and sent me draft two.  They added the spaceship, changed the color of the title from pink to red.  I liked the changes, but still wasn’t sure if the color of the title was right. I also wanted the hero to have longer hair and I didn’t want him to be wearing a white undershirt.

As part of my process, I showed the cover to some friends and family to get their opinion.  One of the things my brother noticed was that putting “Star Rider Series” on the cover repeated the words Star Rider.  I decided it would be better to delete that it was part of a series. The men also didn’t like the pink title cover even when it was darker.

Here is draft three. The designer made an attemptSTAR RIDER Draft3- shirt,hair,subtitle changed (2) to do what I asked and made the man’s shirt black and his hair longer.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like how his hair looked and thought the title was too dark. I also had viewers comment that the woman’s four fingers on the back of his neck looked strange. Overall, however, the cover was getting much closer to what I wanted.

For draft four they changed the man’s hair back to how it was originally, took out the woman’s fingers, changed the title to a variegated lighter blue.  The author’s name was also variegated.  I accepted this copy.

B0Zo5aqIUAEXMeD Later however, I noticed that the title seemed distorted when it was shrunk to a smaller size.  I also checked how it looked in black-and-white as many readers would see it on digital readers. It looked distorted that way as well. To accommodate this anomaly, the designer changed the variegated letters for the final version when they created the back cover.

In conclusion, be sure to ask other people’s opinion of the cover.  Does it grab their attention and entice them in?  Look at the image both large and small to see if it looks good both ways.  Find a designer you can afford and who is willing to make the changes you want.  Look at other covers they’ve designed.  Look at covers in your genre, both online and in bookstores.  Creating a good cover is a key element in marketing your book.

Here is the final version of the front and back cover. Deranged Doctor Design did a great job of designing an appealing cover that catches the eye.


share this:

Lessons Learned While Knitting a Pair of Socks

By | Uncategorized, Writing | 3 Comments
Heidi shoe showing.

Heidi shoe showing.

Today I am at my  husband, Jim, and my cabin in Detroit Lakes.  It’s March, so winter is on the way out, but up here in the North Country there is still a thick covering of snow, so we had to buy snowshoes and hike in a quarter of a mile to get to the cabin.  It took several trips back and forth to bring in our food and clothes. Jim built a fire to heat the cabin.  I took off my wet shoes and socks and put on a new, dry pair of wool socks.

Jim in his snowshoes

Jim in his snowshoes

As I sat in a chair reading, I looked down at my socks and thought of the story behind their creation.  I knitted them several years ago.  The cuffs were a complicated lace pattern, and I started knitting the socks as I sat on a train on the way from where I live in Minneapolis to Milwaukee, about a seven-hour trip.

Here is the cabin.

Here is the cabin.

I started on the first sock and knitted for several inches, then saw that the pattern didn’t look right.  I ripped it out and started over. Again, it didn’t turn out right.  This went on and on for many hours.  It was an unfamiliar pattern, and each row was different.  Moreover, I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to look, and to complicate the situation the yarn was variegated, which made it hard to tell if the pattern was right or not until you knitted many rows.

I wasn’t particularly upset by having to rip out my knitting  One thing you learn as a knitter is that sometimes you are going to make mistakes.  Knitting is forgiving in that you can usually rip something out quite easily.  I saw the pattern as a challenge like a puzzle I was trying to solve.  I’m a good knitter and had learned to knit many years ago from my grandmother, so I wasn’t expecting to have this kind of difficulty.  I had anticipated having at least one if not both socks done by the time I got to Milwaukee.  Instead, I had nothing to show for my time.

As I was knitting, a man came up to me and said, “I’ve never seen someone with so much patience.  You’ve been working for hours and keep starting over without getting upset.”  I found his remark interesting in that it showed me that even when we think no one notices us, in fact, other people might be observing us.  What kind of example are we to others?  Are we demonstrating love, tolerance or perhaps the opposite?


My son-in-law Nick was telling me just yesterday that he was impressed by how good Jim was with our grandson Asher.  Nick said he was learning to be a better father just watching him. Again, this was happening while my husband was being an example without realizing it.

But back to my sock story. When I arrived in Milwaukee, still without figuring out the pattern, I went to the yarn shop with my sister.  I bought knitting markers, and I drew a diagram of the pattern.  With the markers and the diagram, I was able to do the pattern and successfully make the lace pattern socks.

When I finished, my sister said, “You should keep those socks for yourself instead of giving them away.  No one else will ever appreciate the work you put into them.”  She was right.  Whenever I wear the socks, I remember the lessons I learned while knitting them.  One is that with persistence, patience, a little creativity, and a willingness to try things a different way; we can accomplish our goals even when at first they seem almost impossible.  Sometimes we have to rip out and keep trying over and over again, but eventually we’ll figure it out.

What I learned from knitting those socks applies to other areas of my life like my writing.  I’m working on the third book in my Star Rider science fiction series.  I’ve been writing for years and even teach writing, and yet sometimes I have to write a scene over and over again trying to make it flow smoothly.  Sometimes I struggle to make the characters come alive and to have their dialogue sound real.  While doing all that I also have to make sure the scene has tension, excitement and a good beginning, middle and end.

I’ve found that most things that are worthwhile in life take hard work, perseverance and patience.  Have you ever had an experience like mine where you had to work on something over and over again before you finally got it right?  I’d love to hear from you.

share this:

My Journey Making an eBook

By | Writing | 4 Comments
Red Willow's Quest

Red Willow’s Quest

As much as I love the feel of a book, the future of the publishing industry seems to be moving more toward eBooks, so I decided to put my toe in the water and convert my novel Red Willow’s Quest into an eBook.

The first thing I did was to have it professionally edited to make the writing even stronger.   A well-edited eBook is as important as a well-edited print book.

The next step was to decide if I should design a new cover or use the original one.  Many people decide whether to buy an eBook based on the cover.  With eBooks it’s a challenge to create a cover that shows the title, author’s name and art work clearly when the image may only be an inch high on some sites.  The author also has to consider that the eBook illustration might be black-and-white, so it needs to look good in black-and-white as well as color.  I already had a cover design for my novel when it was originally printed, so I decided to use the same cover.

The third step was to convert the electronically word-processed book file into the proper eBook formats.  While it’s possible to do this yourself, it takes time to learn and it’s not expensive to hire someone.  Before giving your file to someone to format, be sure to read over the manuscript again to ensure that there are no errors.  It’s helpful to also have someone else proofread it because once it’s formatted it costs money to make any changes.

My grandson Asher reading Red Willow's Quest

My grandson Asher reading Red Willow’s Quest

A friend recommended the company I used to format my manuscript. He formatted in several different ways so that it can be read on different kinds of readers.  For example, Amazon needs a different format than an iPad.

After this was done, it was ready to post on Amazon.  I decided to do it using the Amazon Select program.  With this program, Amazon has exclusive rights to publish the eBook for 90 days.  During these 90 days, you can give the manuscript away for free on several different days.  This is a way to generate interest in the eBook, as word-of-mouth endorsements can be a very effective way to become virally known.

At this point in the process I was set to go, but still felt intimidated by the process of actually putting the file up on Amazon.  Fortunately my daughter helped me set up an account on Amazon and download the file.  It was fairly easy to do and I’m sure I can do it without help in the future.

 Now my book is available on Amazon both as print book and an eBook. 

If you like exciting, historical fiction novels, read Red Willow’s Quest. Here is the back cover blurb:

Action, romance and adventure set the tone for this uplifting story about a Shoshoni maiden, Red Willow, who sets out on a quest to become a medicine woman in the rugged Rocky Mountains.  She must face tribal opposition, wild animals, enemy warriors and dangerous white trappers.  Wind Chaser, a wolf-dog, is her only companion until Masheka, a Kootenai warrior, is guided to protect her.

Back cover

Back cover

The book garnered good reviews in Bloomsbury Review and Colorado Libraries Mpls. St. Paul MagazineI look forward to giving my novel new life as an eBook.

share this:

Success with Kickstarter, Do?U Adventures

By | Book Review, Writing | 4 Comments

image-4Last year Anna Skarie did a guest blog on Kickstarter.  She and her mother, Joy Dey, wrote Just Another Monday (SWAK Publishing), a children’s book, and used Kickstarter to get enough money to publish it.  I wanted to do a follow up on their ongoing adventure.  Anna and Joy made their goal on Kickstarter and published their book! They are now selling and promoting the book thought fairs, museums, libraries, bookstores and schools.  They made a large copy of the book so all the children could see it when they read it outloud.  In the older grades they talk about publishing.  Here is a picture of Anna with the large sized book.


The adventure begins.

The adventure begins.

Anna and Joy call their book a DoU (do-you) Adventure and have an entire series in production. On each page the child decides what to do and turns to that tab.  There are 70 different adventures the children can have.

The story starts with:

A dragon lands right beside you! Yikes! Do you. . .

Run like crazy


Hop on?

The child then decides what to do and turns to that tab.

Children reading the story with their father.

Children reading the story with their father.

Here are all the paths the adventure can take.

Here are all the paths the adventure can take.

Anna and Joy at the museum, Joy is on the far right

Anna and Joy at Pease Elemary School , Joy is on the far right

The book is mainly for children who are old enough to choose their own adventures, but my grandson Asher who is only 5 months enjoyed the bright colors and turning the pages.  The book is made with heavy cardboard so it is sturdy enough for babies.

Asher looking at the book

Asher picking his adventure.

Good book!

Good book!

What is on the boat page?

What is on the boat page?

If there is a child in your life who would like to have lots of adventures with a dragon you can order the book off Amazon.

Their website is

Future Events

Saturday, July 6th – Twin Ports Bridge Festival event and booth

Saturday, July 20th – Two Harbors Chalk-A-Lot

Saturday/Sunday, August 24th/25th – Austin Artworks Festival reading and booth

share this: