“Sisters” — A short romp through history


If you are looking for a short read, I highly recommend that you head over to Amazon quickly! Rachelle M.N. Shaw’s latest short story is free, and as my dad says (and he always does say it), nothing is better than free. To top it off, it’s a quality character-driven piece that focuses on the relationship of two sisters. I don’t want to say too much; however, those with siblings will likely relate to the challenges of growing up together and the morphing of the blood ties that always tie you to each other.

The free deal will be running through until tomorrow at midnight — so don’t turn into a pumpkin by passing up on this opportunity! And for those who use GoodReads (I don’t use it half as much as I should), you can reach the book via the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35219698-sisters.


Check Out ‘The Ballerina’s Gift’

"The Ballerina's Gift" by Rachelle M. N. Shaw cover

“The Ballerina’s Gift” by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

If you love paranormal fiction with a horror edge, be sure to get a copy of The Ballerina’s Gift by Rachelle M.N. Shaw, which was recently released electronically via Amazon. It is the second story in The Porcelain Souls series; however, readers can download the first short story in the series, The Eyes That Moved, for free (also available at Smashwords)! And let me say, if you have ever found porcelain dolls to be creepy, your skin is about to crawl. I don’t want to say too much  so  as not to spoil anything; however, Rachelle has crafted an exceedingly fun story with interesting characters while building in elements of horror, the paranormal, and suspense — and I’m not just saying that because I am her friend and editor.

The Ballerina’s Gift is novella length and has a larger cast of characters than its predecessor, though not to the point of being overwhelming. Marley — the lead — is relateable, particularly for those who remember teenage drama and nastiness, and likable. Another character that draws attention is Huili, who I can’t wait to see more of in the future.

The story itself follows Marley as she attempts to inch her way up the social ladder by hosting a party while her parentals are away. Throw in her long-time crush, her nemesis, a whirlwind of rumors, and the supposedly haunted Whitson house and things are bound to spiral out of control. More may be at stake than Marley’s reputation.

To learn more about the novella, The Porcelain Souls series, and Rachelle, visit her website at http://rachellemnshaw.com/porcelainsouls/.

In Need of a Fun Read? Give ‘The Wizard’s Gambit’ a Read

The Wizard's Gambit

The Wizard’s Gambit by Kylie Betzner

I may be a little biased — having had a window-of-sorts to see this novel grow into its finished product and being friends with the writer — but I think I can safely say many readers will find “The Wizard’s Gambit” to be a hilarious, enjoyable read, plus it has Littlehammer in it!

With feuding kingdoms — they’ve been, in some cases literally, carrying axes against each other for 1,001 years — terrorizing the land, Wizard White Beard comes up with a hare-brain idea to bring everyone together: a harmless scavenger hunt. But when war has become first nature, the friendly scavenger hunt quickly morphs into something that resembles The Hunger Games. During it, misfits are brought — sometimes kicking and screaming — under the mantel of Mongrel who genuinely wants heal the wounds between the kingdom and find the wizard’s hidden trinket to win the competition.

The characters that populate this novel, truly make it worth the read. There are many common fantasy races, including ogres, elves, and dwarves; however, there is also a diverse human cast that is not just limited to those of Western Europe origin. They each come to the table with their own goals and quirks.

The main cast will provide a favorite character for any reader. Whether it is simple Mongrel who is eventually forced to remove his rosy sunglasses; feisty and completely adorable Littlehammer; the ogre of few words and lover of birds, Grrargh; Tikaani who must face her fear, which threatens to overwhelm her; and so on, there will be someone to relate to. Personally, I adore Littlehammer: her practicality, accent, and right amount of distrust and cynicism (plus a slight violent streak) wormed its way into my heart. But I have to also give a shout out to Empress Eiko who is one badass senior citizen.

The Wizard’s Gambit pokes fun at several fantasy tropes in a loving manner, resembling in someways Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. Featuring clever dialogue, hilarious scenarios, and tight prose, it will keep you entertained.

So if you are a fan of the genre and are in need of a good laugh, this book is the one for you. The Wizard’s Gambit can be purchased on Amazon, in either digital format or print. It is also available at Barnes & Noble. Also be sure to visit Kylie’s blog.

Final thoughts on Evernote

evernote_ipad_wallpaperPreviously, I had given a brief overview of Evernote and what it offers at a time when I was just playing around with it, promising to delve more into my experiences after I got serious with the program. That day has come, and I just have to say: I’m in love. Evernote is not just a lifesaver, but a time saver, particularly when you work on multiple devices. Though I have not used the software for this purpose, I can also see it being incredibly useful for collaborative purposes — and while I would love to test it (I am interested in giving co-authorship a try), I don’t foresee the opportunity arising anytime soon, but I am interested in hearing others’ experiences on using Evernote for this purpose.

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The Quest for the Holy Something or Other

indexToday I’m sharing a dear friend’s recently published book — one of which I have had the privilege of being able to witness a small portion of its growth to its current state.

Available in both paperback and ebook via Amazon and other booksellers, “The Quest for the Holy Something or Other” is a humorous read that follows the antics of the ever-innocent/rose-tinted-glasses-wearing Pig and her reluctant knight, Sir Kay, as they hunt for the Holy Bread Box. If you enjoy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” you will love this comedic parody of King Arthur’s court as they fight themselves and the inevitable march of … change.

Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of this novel for me is the characters, which are all memorable and one-of-a-kind — a true feat in the expansive realm of Arthurian legend. My favorite is perhaps Kylie’s Lancelot, because what can I say, I’m a sucker for antagonists. Merlin is also a personal favorite of mine, and you just can’t bring yourself to not like Pig (if you don’t, it’s akin to kicking a puppy).

“Quest” is also a quick read, in the manner, that it encourages you to keep flipping pages in order to see what befalls our heroes next, or to see what other antics Lancelot and the rest of the FCC try to pull. The book various comedic scenes — some featuring the most delightful, absurd sequence of events — during which Kylie is truly displaying her sense of humor, and I know it had me chuckling out loud to myself on several occasions. It is definitely worth a read.

I’ve included the full summary below:

Enter the Realm of Camelot, home of famous legends: King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Merlin—but this isn’t their story. Meet Pig, a humble gong farmer who dreams of the glories of Camelot. Her dreams become reality–or so she thinks–when she becomes Sir Kay’s page. What starts off as a joke soon becomes the adventure of Pig’s life when Merlin sends the knights on a quest for the Holy Gift Box–er–Bread Basket–whatever it is! On their quest, they face many knight-worthy, and some not-so-knight-worthy, foes: an insane pond dweller, several greedy salespeople, and an overzealous cache seeker, all the while fighting against time, mostly each other, and the most infamous villain of all—change. The Quest for the Holy Something or Other is a fresh and funny take on a well-known legend, with engaging characters, some rather good jokes, and something that starts with S, but it isn’t important.

Bonus: The Cats Review …

When I brought Kylie’s book home, the cats displayed great deal of interest in it. They each had pretty unique thoughts on the book.

Tatiana, my calico, thought it smelled very interesting, worth a 1 or so sniff — impressive for an easily distracted cat.

Jazzlyn, the tiger-striped calico, concurred with Tatiana that it had a unique, pleasant smell.

Marinus, the grey and white tabby, thought after two licks that it tasted funky, albeit in a good way.

Ichabod, the leopard-spotted tabby, paid it no heed.


Hrmm… dis smell interesting. Iz eatz itz?

So purchase this book for a read that will have you in stitches, or purchase it for your cats — three out of four cats can’t be wrong! Either way, you will not regret having this book on your bookshelf.

App Review: Google Keep


Let Google Keep take care of your notes, photos and provide a method of creating lists and checking off tasks.

I was recently forced to get a new phone after my old phone decided it could no longer make or take calls. On the old phone, I used Astrid Tasks, but since it’s now defunct, I couldn’t download it onto my new one. While looking through the preloaded apps on my android phone, I came across Google Keep and decided to launch it. I was greeted by a series of example posted notes, including one that contained a checklist. I figured, oh why not.

So here I am testing it out and really enjoying it for what it is. It is very much Google’s version of Evernote; I’d call it Evernote lite. It’s good for jotting down quick notes, checklists, voice-recorded notes and photos. It lacks many of the perks of Evernote, which include utilizing a web clipper, creating different notebooks, organizing things via tags and so much more. But even so, it is a fine app for what it is.

I can see myself utilizing it at work to jot down quick writing ideas that pop into my head. I could also use it to scribble down to-do lists or my grocery list. It lacks a lot of the features that the Evernote Android app has, but for me that is a bit of a perk. It’s quicker to jot down the little things for Keep since there are less bonuses to wade through. However, Keep will not be replacing Evernote in my writing arsenal. Evernote will continue to be reserved for in-depth notes, research and book development — at least, the electronic variety since my old-fashioned notebooks usually get the bulk of my notes. Nothing beats the feeling of a pen and paper.


A screenshot of my Keep notes.

As I’ve mentioned, Keep is very lean, and its interface is very simple. You simply click one of four options: the note button, the checklist button, the voice recorder or the photo button (which in return gives you the option to take a photo or to pull one from the photos on your phone). From there you can give your note a title and then jump to the body. You also have the option to give notes different colors, giving users the change to color-coordinate them. As can be seen by screenshot, I just picked whatever colors I wanted to without really giving thought to coordination.

If you are interested in Keep for the purpose of creating checklists and to-do lists, there is a reminder feature that will keep you on track to succeed at whatever deadlines you give yourself. Of course, you don’t have to use the checklist note to use the reminder feature. You can set it on any type of note.

So what do you do if you need to clear up space in your notes? Well, you don’t have the option to create additional notebooks, so instead you have two choice: You can archive completed notes in case you need them in the future, or you can delete them, sending them to Davy Jones’ locker, as it were.

So is it worth the download? That really depends on you and if you have use for it. If you use Evernote, Keep is going to fall short. It just lacks too many useful features that Evernote has in abundance. However, if you need something more simple or quicker to work than Evernote, this app just might be for you — especially if you are just looking for a checklist for your grocery shopping needs.

Besides using the Android app (Keep is probably also on iTunes, but since I have no Apple products, I’m not certain if it is), Keep can be accessed using your Web browser and Google account, much like Google Docs, etc.


It’s here! My copy of the ‘2015 Writer’s Market’

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Was very happy to see it before falling promptly ill.

Last week I was excited to receive my copy of the “2015 Writer’s Market: Deluxe Edition,” though a bit peeved that after I ordered it — talking within a couple of days — they proceeded to drop the price by $9. But that’s just my luck: I have none. At least, this year I got my copy. Last year, you see, I had ordered one, but after a week or two, the vendor canceled the order, and I never got around to getting another one since at that time I figured just wait for 2015. So here it is!

I will admit that I have not had much time to go through it yet; I became pretty sick after receiving it, plus work has been beyond hectic since we are severely understaffed at the moment (let’s say, shit hit the fan really good). But I’ve taken the time to really thumb through it today, and eventually, as I use it more, I will post a full book review that includes my experiences using WritersMarket.com; hopefully answering the question: Is it worth purchasing the Deluxe Edition to get free access to this website? Continue reading