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Paying It Forward to Jan Sikes, RRBC Author

Today is the day I support fellow author Jan Sikes through the Pay It Forward initiative of the Rave Reviews Book Club. Each member is given the opportunity to “pay it forward” by supporting a fellow member and not promoting herself or himself that day.  If you are an author in search of a supportive home, then head over to the RRBC website and tell us that Jan sent you.

Jan’s creative approach to writing combines narrative and music, as she explains below. She is not only multi-talented, but she is also “multi-published” as well. You can check out her books and CDs below. Join the fun and support Jan on social media. Her links are listed below. Now here is Jan in her own words.


I am an Award Winning Author, screenwriter, songwriter and most of all an individual. I tell true stories in a creative and entertaining way. I love sharing what other authors are doing and any information I feel is useful to other authors. I also enjoy playing guitar and writing music. With each book I publish, I also release a music CD of original music that matches the time period of the book. This is something unique and I haven’t met many other authors who do this, but for me they go hand in hand. My stories all evolve and revolve around the music.


Click on the photos above for summaries of each book.

Jan’s links:


Rave Reviews Book Club’s Spotlight Author Jan Hawke

As the first Spotlight Author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I always take great pleasure in hosting a Spotlight Author. Rave Reviews Book Club, founded by Nonnie Jules, is an online club for authors and readers that promotes the work of its author members. The club is highly supportive to both seasoned writers and beginning writers. Be sure to visit the RRBC website and check out its features. If you decide to join, say that Jan Hawke sent you because today is her day to stand in the spotlight and to shine! See the text below for links to Jan on social media. Now here is Jan in her own words.

jan hawke bio pic my download

My debut novel, Milele Safari, ends where my own African journey began, in Kenya, the first country I ever visited on that continent. We went in September, hoping to see the Great Migration only to find the wildebeests had moved on a few weeks before we got to the Maasai Mara, although we did glimpse the last remnants over the Mara River in Tanzania. I fell in love almost immediately, after we arrived at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, and our first wildlife encounter was at the hotel pool, with eagles floating high above us and all the trappings of Kenya’s colonial past around us (the Hotel was used as a set in Out of Africa, where Karen Blixen asks the Governor, Sir Joseph Byrne, for help when her coffee farm goes bust). Things I didn’t put in the book… Elephants creeping silently out of the night to a water hole in Tsavo East as we were Milky Way watching over a duty free gin and tonic, from the balcony of our room. Wonderful Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe and my spectacular solo ‘spot’ of a leopard (in a place where our otherwise splendid game guide wasn’t expecting to see one) in Samburu. Baboons galore and a black rhino at Treetops water hole, and the luscious afternoon tea ceremony at the nearby Outspan Hotel where Lord Baden-Powell (who founded the Boy Scout movement) lived out his last years. An advanced dissection lesson on a wildebeest, courtesy of a couple of lionesses, followed by two young male cheetahs out for a walk in the shade on the Maasai Mara one hot afternoon. Still on the Mara, one abortive and one successful balloon inflation near the Siria escarpment at dawn on the day our safari ended, followed by an unforgettably turbulent flight back to Nairobi in an elderly Dakota, much to the chagrin of the other people in our tour group, who had travelled all day, long and dustily overland, only to find us contentedly sipping long cool drinks at the Norfolk at four in the afternoon… Things that did make it… Samburu was also the place where we saw the leopardess and two cubs who kick-started Milele Safari as a project in the Watching chapter. She had an interesting history in that she’d been raised by world famous conservationist, Joy Adamson, of Born Free fame, and then set free in Samburu. The cubs we saw her with were likely her last litter as she was over ten years old by then. Dennis, our European Kenyan tour leader, was also responsible for several of Harry Burton’s non-Kariba anecdotes, including the buffalo hunt and also the tale of the Dik-Dik and the Rhino that I took several liberties with in Onwards and Upwards… I’ve been to Kenya twice more since that first memorable time and it will always be dear to me, especially in these latter days when it is still struggling on with the fight against big time commercial poaching, which, alas, appears to be a losing one at times, especially as the Middle Eastern and Asian ivory markets inflate the demand. Organisations like CITES ( ensure that the work of conservation enforcement continues, but with a constantly struggling economic climate, endemic poverty and neighbouring states at war, or battling with famine and drought, Kenya’s tourist industry and the crucial influx of international currency is increasingly under pressure to deliver on its reputation as the top safari destination on the planet, and to maintain the infrastructure of its national parks.

Vacation Picture

My husband Pete’s photo of me, his brother Malcolm, and wife Janine, on a night drive in Zimbabwe. The Hannibal Lecter look is down to my severe dust allergy!

jan hawke Milele Safari

Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey, available on Amazon

 Follow Jan Hawke on Social Media


Twitter handle: @JanHawke



The Highs and Lows of Writing a Series: Lessons Learned by Helen Treharne


It is my pleasure to host Helen Treharne, fellow Rave Reviews Book Club member, published author, and lucky RRBC Spotlight Author, as she graces the websites of other fellow RRBC members during her blog tour. If you haven’t heard of RRBC or the club’s perks for Indie writers, check out the RRBC website. If you join, tell them Helen sent you. Better yet, plan to go to Amazon on February 14 to order your copy of Death in the Family. While you’re there, claim your free copy of Relative Strangers. Here is Helen in her own words.


Author Helen Treharne

Author Helen Treharne


There’s no way around it, writing a book is hard work; writing a series is perhaps even harder. You live with your characters for months, years in many cases.  Writing is not for the faint hearted. Within the confines of your creation lurk great risks. What if readers don’t get what you are trying to say? What if the story just doesn’t translate from your mind onto paper? What if they think your writing sucks? Perhaps people won’t root for your characters. When you write a series, this is essential. You want readers to warm to the ongoing plotlines and characters, even the villains. When the vampire genre is already pretty saturated, crafting stories and conjuring up people that feel fresh and interesting is stressful, I can tell you!

But along with the challenges of writing a series, there also come great rewards, not the least of which are the memories you forge along the way. It took two years to write Relative Strangers, the first book in the Sophie Morgan vampire series. I started it during a particularly busy time in my personal life and with lots happening outside the confines of my limited writing time.

My experience of writing Death in the Family was very different. I’ve forged great memories of the creative process. Improving my planning made a significant difference – as did finding a fantastic editor. This time around I also had the support of authors and readers I befriended following the release of Relative Strangers – that helped a lot! There are far too many to name, though I have acknowledged a few in the acknowledgements in the soon to be released sequel, Death in the Family.

I’ve learned some important lessons about writing a series along the way. Some of them about myself, others about my art. Here are just a few:

  1. Have an overall vision of where you want your characters to go. What’s the overall lesson or journey they will undertake through the course of the series.
  2. Keep proper notes of recurring elements and their features – characters, locations, appearance.
  3. Take time to plan at least an outline story before pen even touches paper.
  4. Choose cover designers who understand your vision and can commit to producing covers for each book in the series.
  5. Use some form of version control for your drafts. Scenes you delete now might be good to use in future books.
  6. Ask critical friends of other beta readers to take a look at a draft at an early stage. Try to use those who have read other books – to check for consistency. Also use those who haven’t, to ensure it makes sense to those who haven’t.
  7. Release books close together. You will have more success if people can move on to one book straight after the other. Sit on your hands if you have to, to prevent out hitting that ‘publish button on the first one.
  8. Read other series in your genre – get a feel for what readers expect, what sells and what won’t.
  9. Network with other authors and with creators of other series in particular. Writers are a friendly bunch and will happily share tips on marketing and craft, or just a hefty heap of motivation.
  10. Set yourselves some milestones. When will you finish each book? Will it be something that is wrapped up within 3/4/5 books, or will the books just keep going until you run out of steam? Once you’ve finished, how will you reward yourself (a nice meal out is always a good treat I think!)? Writing a series is a bit of a marathon, you’ll need to keep yourself motivated with little wins to enjoy along the way.

So, there you have it, my lessons so far.  I’m sure these will evolve over time.  Please let me know if there are any you would like to share. Please leave a comment on the blog or pop over to mine and say hi.

Helen Treharne Book Cover


Death in the Family will be available from Amazon 14th February – the perfect valentine gift for the vampire loving reader in your life! It is available for pre-order now. To celebrate the release, Relative Strangers will also be FREE to download from Amazon on 14th February.


Helen Treharne is the creator of the developing Sophie Morgan vampire series as well as short stories and other prose. Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing, she spends her daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity.  She also runs a very successful book blog, reviewing and promoting the work of other indie authors. She also can’t stop purchasing stationery. She can be found at her blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.


Rave Reviews Book Club’s “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Rochelle Carter!!


As the very first Spotlight author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, it always gives me great pleasure to host a new Spotlight author. The current Spotlight author Rochelle Carter shares her thoughts about the benefits of outlining, a technique I once taught and promoted as a teacher of English and still recommend to writers today. After you’ve absorbed the wisdom of Rochelle’s advice, show her a little love by supporting her on the social media she lists below. And don’t forget to check out her book on Amazon. Better yet, join the group that promotes established, new, or aspiring writers. Stop by the website of Rave Reviews Book Club and say that Rochelle sent you.

Spotlight Author Rochelle Carter

Spotlight Author Rochelle Carter

How I juggle writing with a screaming toddler

We’ve all got conflicting priorities to juggle; here’s why outlining your book should make you more efficient

Even as I type this blog, my 18 month old is screaming in my face from my lap. She’s tired and teething, and overall not happy with life right now. I’m still typing however, because I have a plan for my writing, and estimated word count I will hit and then I will be all hers again- if she’s not asleep. That’s because I live for outlining my work. Having an outline provides three major benefits:

  1. Helps you stay focused- even while multi-tasking, having an outline and a general premise for what you are trying to convey will allow you to drop off and pick up as needed.
  2. Allows you to develop your writing strategy– if you know the end goal for each section in your outline, you are less likely to go off on a tangent and wonder how you got there.
  3. Makes it easier to get help if necessary– for nonfiction books especially, outlining will allow you to work more effectively with editors. They will be able to see the overall arc of your book and provide directed input, rather than just going with the flow of your writing.

I know as authors we get told repeatedly to write an outline, and yet so many of us forego this simple tool for the sake of the long, treacherous, and blind journey to manuscript completion. After years of starting various books, I finally went back to basics and completed my first book- The Seven Step Guide to Authorpreneurship. I may not be selling millions, but I’ve certainly made the Amazon bestseller lists and won a couple of awards this year. I am a good student, so for my next book I have already started working on my outline… even while the kids run and scream!

Book Cover 12 16 2014

Follow Rochelle online! Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Website Amazon

Rave Reviews Spotlight Author Ronesa Aveela



As the very first Rave Reviews Spotlight Author, it is always a pleasure for me to host a new Spotlight Author. Today the spotlight is on Ronesa Aveela, author of  Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey. For all of you history lovers out there, now is your chance to learn a little more about a people who were contemporaries of the Ancient Greeks. And if you haven’t heard about the Rave Reviews Book Club, then mosy on over to the site to check out the club that supports, promotes, and propels members. Tell them that Ronesa sent you. Here she is in her own words.


The Thracians

We knew little about the Thracians when we started to work on “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey.” When people mention Thrace, the only heroes who readily come to mind are Hercules, Orpheus, and Spartacus – if even those. But Thrace has a vast history beyond its mythology or the conflict with Rome. We enthusiastically rolled up our sleeves and researched their culture, religion, and customs. Our efforts were reward with a delightful review: “I love that there is a little bit of historical elements in this book, namely the stuff set in ancient Thrace. A history buff myself, it isn’t often I get the chance to read things about Thrace that don’t involve Spartacus. Major props to the writer for creating this wonderful tale.”

Quite often now when we mention the book, people ask, “Where is Thrace?” or “Who were the Thracians? Is that a country?”

So, let’s start with the easy question: “Where is Thrace?” The Thracians lived in southeastern Europe along the Black Sea, in the region that is now modern-day Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.


“Who were the Thracians” poses a more difficult question. What we can tell you is that they have been around for a long time. Since the people themselves did not have a written language, everything that is known about them comes from other sources. The first historical reference to them was in Homer’s “Iliad,” where it was mentioned that they were allies to the Trojans. But evidence of them as a distinct people exists as far back as 1500 BC.

They were a warlike tribal nation, living in mountains and valleys. But they were also great artisans, finely crafting delicate golden objects and painting beautiful murals.

A polytheistic people, they worshiped the Sun and Moon, both. Bendis, called the Great Goddess, was one of their primary deities. Better known, however, is Dionysus, the god of wine, whom the Greeks incorporated into their religion. It is through the story of Orpheus (you remember him; he went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice) that the tale of this drunken god is probably best known. The story did not end well for Orpheus. The Maenads, followers of Dionysus, tore him apart. Yup, gruesome.

Even today, Bulgaria is known for its wine. Many myths and legends mention Thracian wine. Homer says the most popular wine, one with the best aroma and body, came from the Thracian city of Maroneia. Odysseus also used Thracian wine to put the Cyclops Polyphemus to sleep before he struck the beast in the eye with his spear.

When Christianity crept into the region, the Dionysian cult faded away. But even today the feast of Saint Trifon is celebrated, and the festivities trace back to the cult of Dionysus (for example, pouring wine and electing a king). But, that could be the topic of another entire blog.

“Mystical Emona” was highlighted on October 9 at Boston University during an event called “Bulgarian Voices: Love, Light and Rituals.” It is also available on Amazon US and UK. In addition, we are working on a non-fiction book that will describe many of these Bulgarian customs and others in more detail, as well as their Thracian origins. Look for it in December.



Book available on Amazon:



Book trailer:


Twitter: @RebeccaCarter_E

Rave Reviews Spotlight Author Traci Sanders


As the first Spotlight Author of the Rave Reviews Book Club, I warmly welcome the authors who enjoy their time in the spotlight. Today it is my pleasure to host Traci Sanders, an award-winning teacher and child advocate, who is also an accomplished author. You can visit with Traci on the Rave Reviews Book Club website. If you haven’t yet become a member of the club, which is open to both authors and readers, stop by to join and say Traci sent you. Here is Traci in her own words.

Traci Sanders

I doubt she even realizes it, but my mother has always been a huge inspiration for my writing. As a young girl, I watched her play the piano and write songs for church. Sometimes I would find her journal and read some of her songs and become inspired to write my own. I would also write poetry and short stories. Writing was my gift, and I realized this at an early age. As I got older, I began writing and singing songs in church. People told me I had an “anointing” from God, a power to heal with my words and my voice. That was a pretty powerful thing to hear at my age so I took it seriously.


cover Darkness 3D 


“When Darkness Breaks”

Local news anchor, Amber Woods, seemed to have it all – a thriving career, two beautiful children, and a doting husband named Drake. Life was perfect…until her world was turned upside down in one fateful night. While the incident causes Amber to renew her priorities; unable to deal with what happened, Drake begins sinking into a deep depression laced with infidelity and alcohol. Hoping a change of scenery will salvage her quickly deteriorating marriage, Amber agrees that a move to New York may be just what they need. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that you can’t outrun your problems and the past is not always left in the past. Can Amber save her marriage without losing herself along the way? What will she do when darkness breaks her will to keep trying?


About the Author


Traci Sanders

Traci Sanders


Author and mother of three, Traci Sanders has been composing poetry, songs, and children’s stories since the young age of ten. In 2003, she opened her home to young children in her community offering “beyond the basics” teachings. In 2008, she was recognized by the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency as Family Childcare Provider of the Year and was featured in two local newspapers. In 2010, she furthered her education by earning her Child Development Associates degree and was a recipient of the FIRST (First Incentive for Raising Standards among Teachers) Award presented by the Child Care Commissioner of her state. She continues to shape the young minds of the future through her home-based childcare program. Her daily interactions with these children provide constant inspiration for her writing and she plans to continue on this path until her story has reached “The End.”

Her first book was published in January 2013 titled Welcome to Poop Camp “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth about Potty Training.” She released her first children’s book about family child care in May 2013. To date, she has published five books including her first novella When Darkness Breaks.


Twitter –

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Website –

Book Release: Elemental Earth by Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent has just released her third novel. Her life, as she describes it here sounds fascinating despite her surgical injury. Here is a soul, who is not only courageous enough to live in solitude for years as a Buddhist monk/nun but is also brave enough to return to the world to forge a new life. Bravo, Harmony!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Book Release: Elemental Earth by Harmony KentJoin us for an exciting week, celebrating the Release of YA Fantasy Fiction Novel “ELEMENTAL EARTH” by Author Harmony Kent.

Let’s hear about it in her own words…

Harmony Kent

I just published my third Novel, and what a whirlwind ride it’s been! A couple of years ago, I couldn’t have seen myself writing at all. Which just goes to show, none of us know what’s around the corner. How did I end up here?

My life began (again) at forty. What a scary time that was. Nevertheless, so worth it. I would like to take you on my journey with me, so you can see how I got to where I am today.

I’ve always wanted to write, but didn’t always have the confidence or know how. I remember the first ‘long’ story I wrote; I was eleven. School had run a writing competition and I filled a whole…

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Do Not Fall in Love (No Te Enamores English Translation)

I was mesmerized by the beauty and strength of this poem Christa found and posted. I share it with you now. Christa challenges us to improve on her translation, but it is wonderful. Thank you, Christa.

Christa Wojciechowski

Nude woman with abstract tattoo cut-outs. No te enamores.

Do not fall in love with a woman who reads,

a woman who feels too much,

a woman who writes …

Do not fall in love with a




crazy woman.

Do not fall in love with a woman who thinks,

who knows what she knows and also knows how to fly;

a woman confident in herself.

Do not fall for a woman who laughs or cries while making love,

who knows how to convert her flesh into spirit;

much less one that loves poetry (these are the most dangerous),

or who would stay half an hour contemplating a painting

and who doesn’t know how to live without music.

Do not fall in love with a woman who is interested in politics

and who is rebellious and feels immense horror at injustice.

One who likes ball games and soccer

and does not like to…

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A Grammar Nazi’s Theme Song

I challenge you to find the spit infinitive! I wish I had this song for the classes I taught in the 1970s.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Finally, grammar Nazis have our their own theme song! In case you’ve missed it, here is the hilarious Word Crimes by the amazing Weird Al! Damn, I can’t remember the original song for the life of me, now…

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Tips for Indie Authors: All You Never Wanted to Know about the Dash and a Giveaway




In the thirty plus years that I’ve been editing the drafts of other writers, I’ve found the dash in its many forms to be the most misunderstood mark of punctuation. First of all, there is more than one type of dash. Second, each type is used for a different purpose. Third, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, the guide used by most trade publishing houses, no spaces appear before or after a dash with only one exception. Curious? As my contribution to the Rave Reviews Book Club’s mentoring program, from time to time in my blogs, I provide guidance on grammar and formatting. So, here it is: the mighty dash in its many uses.

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Dashes Come in Several Sizes


The hyphen is the first dash to which we are introduced in grade school. It is commonly used to create compound adjectives and compound nouns as in:

These quasi-judicial proceedings will accomplish nothing (compound adjective).

His self-control was remarkable (compound noun).

Hyphens are also used in right-justified text to indicate word division at the end of a line of text, to join a prefix to a root word, and to indicate an etymological part of a word. Here are examples:

Word Division: At the end of a page of justified type,  a savvy proof-

reader looks for bad word breaks.

Prefixes: John was the kind of guy who thought it un-American to hate hotdogs.

The tendency today is to eliminate hyphens between prefixes and root words, unless the root word is a proper noun, such as American.

Etymological parts: Hyphens are eliminated when prefixing in-, de-, re-,  or un- to a word.

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En Dash

An en dash represents the word “to” within figures or words and is used to show range. For example:

The years 2002–2010                          the Baltimore–Washington run

Pages 568–632                                    the New York–Trenton train


Avoid these common pitfalls:

(1) if the word “from” appears, an en dash cannot be used. For example:

The bus runs from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Not: from 7:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.

(2) An en dash cannot substitute for the word “and.” For example:

He built the company between 1976 and 1996, stepping aside finally for his daughter, who became the new CEO.  Not between 1976–1996.


Em Dash

An em dash is used to show a sudden break in thought within a sentence, an interruption in dialogue, or to highlight explanatory or digressive elements and defining or complementary elements, as in the following:

“Will he—did he promise to—return by sundown?” (break in thought)

“Well, I’m not sure. Do you think he might—” “Might what? The sergeant screamed. (interrupted dialogue)

The president—he had been annoyed by his previous visitor—strode angrily into the conference room. (explanatory element)

She admitted the influence of three writers—Renault, Bradley, and Erickson—on her writing when she accepted the prize. (defining/complementary element)

These are the basics for the em dash. There are exceptional uses and mechanical uses as well. As a writer, you need be concerned only with the uses outlined above.

Variations on the Em Dash

2-Em Dash

Use the 2-em dash to show the omission of part of a word, that is, to indicate missing letters, as in:

To protect their lives, the witnesses were referred to as Mr. L—— and Mr. M——.

Formatting tips: no space between the dash and the letter preceding it; normal spacing after the dash. In this example, there is no space between the dash and the L, but there is one space between the dash and the “a” of and. In addition, there is no space between the dash and M, and there is no space between the dash and the period, following the usual rule of no space between the last word in a sentence and a period.

3-Em Dash

Use a 3-em dash to show the omission of a whole word or to substitute for an author’s name in a bibliography, where works of the same author are cited, as in:

He left the safe house in ——— at 11:00 p.m. (omission of a whole word)


Mehl-Madrona, Lewis, M.D. Coyote Medicine. New York: Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1997.

———. Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process. Rochester, Vermont: Bear & Company, 2007. (substitution for Mehl-Madrona, Lewis, M.D.)

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to learn about dashes, would you like to show how resourceful you are? Then tell me how the en and em dashes came to be named. If you are the first person to tell me in a comment how the dashes were named, I will send you a $10 Amazon gift card.


Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway