Thursday, July 26, 2018

July New Book Publications

Let's give it up for our LDSBR members who published in the month of July. Go check out their books ;)

Denise LaPerle Roundy


Judy Corry


                          Laura Giesler Pattillo

A few of our LDSBR members were included in the same anthology:

Awakening Avery (A Second Chance Romance Book 3) by [Lewis, Laurie]

Laurie Lewis 



                                                                      Bree Livingston

Her Stranded Billionaire Mix-Up: A Clean Billionaire Romance Book Five by [Livingston, Bree]

Christopher di Armani

Awaken Your Author Mindset: Finish Writing Your Book Fast (Author Success Foundations 1) by [di Armani, Christopher]

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How to Launch a Book

I don't know if you've heard about the Writing Gals, but they're kind of awesome, and they are all members of the LDS Beta Readers group.

They are four girls, staying up late, talking about writing. They have amazing tips for writing, marketing, and publishing.

In their 4th episode of their podcast that we are re-sharing today, here are some of the topics they hit on:

-The idea of the slow release launch to create a healthy spike of sales on Amazon
-Should you do a preorder?
-Magnet/Newsletters and how to get subscribers
-Review teams (scream teams)
-What you shouldn't waste your time on during a launch
-Series vs stand-alone books
-30/60/90 sales spike
-AMS Ads/FB Ads

Let's support our Writing Gals! They are such an asset in the writing community and we love them!

Amy's books:
Judy's books:
Michelle's books:
Victorine's books:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

June New Book Publications

We are so proud of all of our published authors. It's hard to put your work out there for others to scrutinize it. 

Here are some of the books that have been published in June from LDS Beta Reader members:  


                                                                                                                    Pamela Kelley



                                                                                Amy Meyer 

Collin (Maggie Aldrich)

                                      Megan Rose Flores

Jessica Rasmussen Randall 
       (Kate Ashgrove)



                                  C. Michelle Jefferies


Sally Britton Treanor

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Author Spotlights

We are happy to spotlight one of our LDS Beta Reader members this month: 
Shaunna Gonzalez

Why do you write?
I write because it gives me something to do. I'm an MS sufferer and so I'm limited in my abilities, but writing is something I can do and I do it wholeheartedly.

What is your experience in the publishing world?
I published with a small publishing house, they did nothing for me so that is when I decided to go with the indy publishing world. It doesn't do much but it does a bit every month so I guess it is a win. I would like to make it big and learned last night that I need a big blogger to come on board, know of any one?

What advice do you have for young writers?
Write something every day. It may turn into a great novel or it may not, but at least you are learning to discipline yourself.

What regrets do you have in your writing career if any?
I regret not starting sooner. With seven novels under my belt and the steep learning curve, I do regret not starting sooner.

What goals and dreams do you still have in the writing field?
My goals and dreams--to one day be recognized as a wonderful author not just of contemporary romance but of the mystery series.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Idaho on a not so small of a farm. Oh, we thought it was small back then but as I have matured, I realize the land my father owned was no small feat. The farm has since been cut up and sold off as my father died when I was young. Now the only holdings in the valley are my brothers and there is a lot of ground that he owns that I didn't even know about when I was young. The barn that my father moved onto the farm was once a saloon and from it grew my first time-travel book.

What genre do you write and why?
I started writing time-travel because it was the one genre my husband had an interest in, but it has morphed into crime drama. I write what I know and as a sufferer of MS, my feelings are somewhat stunted, but I love to write and crime seems to fill that void.

Author Bio

Shaunna Gonzales currently resides with her family in the greater Seattle area. Married over thirty years, her role as wife and mother of four continue to be her priorities.

A storyteller in her youth, she endevored to extend her love of stories to the written word and in 2005 began to write her first novel. Though that manuscript will remain buried, she has continued to learn.
Once told by her doctors that she would never leave her wheelchair -- due to her Multiple sclerosis. It has been tucked in a closet while she continues on. (In other words muddles on.)

Shaunna has worked as a professional reviewer for InD'Tales eMagazine for three years. In 2012 she also served as the vice president of Moonwriters, the on-line chapter of American Night Writers Association (ANWA) She prefers to write romantic fiction and has ventured into the romantic suspense and time-travel genres. Her debut novel, Dark Day s of Promise was released by Desert Breeze Publishing in 2012, re-released in 2015.

Check out her book releases.

Newest Release

You can connect with Shauna by emailing her at or visiting her writing blog. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

How to Write the First Best Chapter

Bringing back one of our old ones, but good ones:  How to Write the First Best Chapter

This class is prerecorded. You may still ask questions in the comments and your peers will do their best to answer. If you don't receive an answer to your question, you may also contact Nikki—she's a wonderful person who would love to answer your question when she has time :)

About this class:
When your reader scopes your first chapter, imagine it like he’s trying to get a date. Does he pick the cute girl studying in the corner, or the gal who announces she’s new in town, has tickets to a hockey game, and is dying to try the local food rave? You know the answer. He goes for the girl who’s ready to live a new story, and yes, he goes for a first chapter that promises the same.

Is it depressing to invent all that coolness and figure out how to show it off in the first 12-20 pages AND set up a story arc, theme, and inner conflict at the same time?

Heck, no! I love first chapters!

First chapters are so full of promise that sometimes readers cheat on their existing books just to ride the first-chapter wave all over again with a new one. (Not me. I break-up first.)

If you like this topic and want more, check out all the free webinars called Fifty First Chapters: Make Yours Stand Out.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Writers: About Those Rules (Grammar, Word Choice, Style)

by Joel Rees

(This is about writing, not religion -- unless your religion is your writing.)

In the New Testament, we often see Jesus calling the Scribes and Pharisees, and hypocrits in general, to repentance. Among their sins, He names the tendency to focus too much on the letter of the law and not enough on the spirit thereof.

In particular, He chastises them for making it harder for others to get into the kingdom of heaven. (See Luke 11, starting around verse 39, but especially 52; also Matthew 23, especially verses 13 and 15.)

But I don't recall much recorded in which He chastised people for bad grammar or bad word choice or unfashionable language style.

In LDS scripture, we see a note that Adam had a perfect language.

No, wait. It says, "pure and undefiled".

Now, that fact was important for us, but the language itself seems not to have been as important. We don't have his language, so we can only speculate as to its nature, particularly, in what way it was pure and undefiled.

Does that mean he used perfect grammar? Or does it mean something else?

Where did the grammar rules for any language currently in use come from? Who wrote our dictionaries and our manuals of style?

We might suspect it, but linguists will tell us it is true. The grammar, dictionaries, Thesaurses, style manuals, all of the tools we have for analyzing what we have written come from our own hands. The language itself predates them.


I am not arguing that skill with language is bad. It helps to be able to be precise when we speak or write. Precision is not evil, unless it is used for evil.

And I admit it, by the way. I am not nearly as precise in my Japanese as I am in my English. Up until just a few days ago, I have been unwilling to attempt to write fiction in Japanese.

I will try to help fellow writers with grammar, word choice, style, structure, and other tools of technique. But I often feel at conflict with myself in the attempt.

Here's why.

Even though linguists call the rules things like "rules of production", those rules are not used in producing speech or rhetoric. They are used in producing analyzable strings of the sorts of symbols that linguists use to analyze.

The best use of grammars and dictionaries is as aids in understanding what we've written.

And manuals of style are artifacts of fashion. They are in constant flux.

If you need a technical report, sure. Use that manual of style. Lots of other reports-kinds of writing work best when they follow some manual of style.

When writing fiction for a closed genre, there are manuals of style. (But they still exist in a state of flux.)


Closed means closed. Here's another hint from linguists. Meaning is not found in reproducing what has been done before as much as it is found when creating something new.

That means that your style as a writer exists in the tension between your efforts to follow the rules and your occasions to break them.

I have tried to help several authors whose grammar and word choice are less than standard. I think of four specific cases where my help seems not to have helped.

I myself was waylaid by a structure Pharisee in a writers group where I participated briefly last year --

My first novel did not need a hook in the first chapter. It was not intended to be a bestseller. An ordinary sort of hook will get in the way of that story. Yet, I let that (well-intentioned, I think) more experienced writer induce me to get a lot of practice writing myself in circles, trying to get that hook into place.

Practice is practice, and is not completely useless, but I needed to be working on other things by now, and that novel is not yet finished. The delay is in no small part caused by my spending too much time focusing on the wrong things. I was trying to put a hook in when I needed to be fixing the metastructure.

And this is where several of my friends are now stuck. They are focused on hooks, grammar, word choice, style, flow, and other such things when they need to be focusing on other things. Or, perhaps, taking a break and reading, or writing something else, or getting out into the real world, so they can come back and look with fresh eyes.

Some of them need to do what I ultimately did -- throw several months of edits in the junk pile and go back to a previous version from before they started listening to the wrong advice. One, in particular, may need to throw multiple months of edits in that junk pile and just publish the novel.

With its warts.

And I'm not actually convinced that my efforts on my first novel to avoid misleading people by my references to the Church I belong to are completely necessary. I may still be doing too much re-write instead of just clearing a bunch of unnecessary linkage from my first novel, where it sits in one of my blogs.

With its warts and non-standard features and love handles and such.

I was raised on books that didn't make the best-seller list. I don't remember some of their names. The grammar was wrong in many, although it tended to be consistent.

I say, wrong. I should say, non-standard, because there is no wrong grammar without context, and a novel is its own context.

So, what am I saying?

Writers, do not fear Microsoft's grammar checker.

Turn off the spelling checker, too. Only run the spelling checker once a day or so, and don't believe everything it tells you.

Keep the mechanical grammar checker turned off.

Emphasize that. You do not want your grammar sounding like it was written by a cookie-cutter.

Are you in a panic? Settle down. Microsoft is a company that claims to sell 80-20 solutions. Even if those claims were accurate, that's twenty percent wrong. But it's more like 20-80 and a lot of bluster. These guys are salescrew. What they sell is confidence.

You know, the Music Man, but with no heart.

What you need is confidence, not grammar checkers. Sure, your first novel may not be the best. You can polish it a bit, but there comes a point where you improve more by leaving it behind and writing the next one.

Why? Because the next one allows you to build new skills, and some of those are the skills you need to get that first one polished right.

(Don't be afraid to come back in six months or six decades and see what you can do with the ones you left behind. Arthur C. Clarke did that with Against the Fall of Night and produced The City and the Stars. I personally prefer the former, but both are good SF novels, and he thought the latter told the story better according to his older self's point of view.)

So you don't have the confidence? What instead?

If you can find a group of readers (beta readers is a well-used term right now, critique group is another) who can help you in useful ways without encouraging you to chase your tail, such a group can be useful. If they don't help you with the confidence after a little while, thank them and find new people to help.

Prayer helps, if you know God. If you don't know God or don't believe, meditation and listening to your heart is another way to describe it.

It's not wrong to learn the rules, but you must write new stuff to learn the rules better than you know them now. (This rant is too long, or I'd explain that. But it's another mathematical principle.)

The reason you write is to communicate something meaningful to people. Rules can only help about twenty percent of the way. The rest is the work you put into getting the message into the media.

Taken from Joel's blog

I was always that guy that never quite fit in, and no one could understand why. Studying was easy. Figuring out what teachers wanted was no problem. Figuring out what managers and customers want is still something I have a hard time with.

Took early entry calculus at Odessa College for fun. Worked at Texas Instruments fixing calculators before my mission. Got lost in computer programming at Odessa College after my mission. Tried to escape from information science at BYU, but I locked horns with physics and biology professors and ended up back in computer science.

Dropped out of school to trying to fix all the problems in the computer industry in the mid-1980s.

Met my wife when I was helping my aunt with Personal Ancestral File on MS Windows 3. My wife motivated me to finish my bachelors, and then we moved to Japan, figuring I could teach English for a couple of years. Worked in computers for ten years before switching to be a glorified teaching assistant for another ten or so years. Found out too late I was too old to be certified as a real teacher in Japan.

Now it’s write or die. Too old to do anything else.

Economics 101, a Novel

Economics starts with two good people on a desert island.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cutting the Dead Weight

by Kasey Q. Tross

In my quest for writing mastery (ha), I have been reading a book called Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway. What I found enlightening about this book was that she illustrated each point of narrative craft (like point-of-view, metaphor, theme, etc.) with short stories.

I have never been too familiar with the short story form—well, not since high school, anyway—and so this was good for me. I like how it gave me a good microcosm of what a book should be, and while it seems counterintuitive, seeing what went into those short stories made writing a novel seem easy. Why, you ask? Because, as I learned as I read these watertight little story ships, like any load in a seafaring vessel, every word must be efficient and pull its own weight or it gets tossed overboard.

After I'd spent an afternoon reading short stories, I'd go back to my novel and suddenly see all of these words lazily taking up space while doing no work and adding no value to my story. At one point I turned to my husband (the non-reader) and said, "My book sure does have a lot of superfluous language."

He said, "What?"

I said, "My book has a lot of extra words."

He said, "Oh."

Here are a few examples for you:

1. My book starts with the character in a dream (I KNOW it's cliche, but there is an exception to every rule and I swear this one works! At least until I think of something better...) in which she is with her beloved horse, Mosby. When she wakes up, she realizes she's living a nightmare: Mosby is gone, and not only gone, but being put up for auction where she's pretty sure he's going to get bought by a meat market man and slaughtered. Horrifying, right? Anyway, originally I had written something like, "Then I remembered: the divorce. The move to Stonemill, to this ramshackle old house left to mom by her hermit uncle that had died. And Mosby- Mosby was gone."

Well, I went back over that paragraph- I knew when I'd written it that it wasn't as tight as I wanted it to be- and I immediately noticed the stowaways: everything before "Mosby..." I knew that cutting that out would get to the heart of the matter- but wait! That's important info for the reader to have! They need context! What if they didn't know? Well, another important thing I've learned is that sometimes it's good for the reader to not know everything right away. All they really needed to know was that Mosby was gone, and that it is heartbreaking for my main character, and as I glanced over the rest of my first chapter, I realized that most of the rest of that information was either not essential enough to know right away (and could come out later) or could be inferred from other details.

2. One of those other details I added in to emphasize the fact that they had literally JUST moved into this house was the sentence, "I grabbed my phone from off the moving box that was serving as a nightstand next to my bed."

Can you catch the stowaway?

Here's a hint: Do people typically have nightstands- or items serving as nightstands- anywhere other than next to their beds? 

Yep, that pointless preposition walked the plank. Arrr.

3. Was, was, was. What is my obsession with this word? A word of caution: if you're seeing the word "was" popping up a lot in your work, you have fallen victim to the passive voice.* This is like punching a hole in your ship, because every "was" sucks the life out of your story and dragging it down to the fathomless deep!

Here's an example I found: "the grass was waving"

Why? Why not, "the grass waved" or, "the waving grass [insert something it did here]."

Anytime you can give the noun in your sentence something to actively DO rather than just experience, it literally- well, maybe not literally, but literaturely (yes I just made that up)- brings it to life.

"The paint was peeling off the house in long strips."

"The paint peeled off the house in long strips."

"The long strips of peeling paint littered the grass in front of the house like confetti."

Use the find function in your word processing program and plug all those "was" leaks!

Finally, here's an easy, hopefully no-brainer one for you:

"I ambled slowly down the driveway."

*eyeroll at my own ineptness as a writer*  *bangs head on computer keyboard*

Seriously, Kasey, have you ever seen anyone amble quickly down a driveway??

But this actually brings up two points: first, obviously don't use an adverb on a verb that already implies what the adverb says. People can't amble quickly, sprint slowly, or scream softly. Just sayin'.

Next, if you're saying things like, "I walked slowly," then zero in on that adverb and look at the verb preceding it. Chances are you included the adverb because the verb wasn't strong enough to speak for itself. Don't give verbs adverb babysitters! Make them grow up! Give them responsibility! If your character walked slowly, then think of a verb for walked slowly: "ambled," "strolled," "dragged my feet," etc. Just axe the adverbs already! Toss the scurvy scallywags to the fishes! Yo-ho-ho and a bottle o' rum!

So take a look at your writing and smoke out the stowaways, the stuff that isn't pulling its weight in your story:

1. Unnecessary details that can be left as mysteries for the reader or are inferred by other details (readers like this- it makes them feel smart).
2. Prepositions and other useless descriptors that are already implied.
3. Passive voice (WAS).
4. Babysitting adverbs.

Then give 'em the ol' heave-ho! Hang 'em by the yardarms!

Okay, I'm done with the pirate ship analogy now, me hearties (seriously, that was the last one, promise).

*Yes, I know I wrote that sentence in the passive voice. Did I mention I also learned about dramatic irony? ;-)

Kasey Q. Tross works as a freelance writer and a stay-at-home mom of four, and is happy that the two jobs play well together. She enjoys eating far too much chocolate and running 5k's and 10k's to hide the evidence of said chocolate consumption. She has been published in the Friend Magazine, Reaching New Heights magazine, and some anthologies here and there. She hopes to someday have one of her several novels-in-progress finished and published.