Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

October 7, 2020

You know how I promised you all more stories in my Circle of Nine series? I’m finally constructing the outlines! I’ve been pulling research books off my shelf and realized I’d compiled a wonderful library of Celtic mythology and witchy guides to help me craft the perfect details to make my stories come alive. And, what better time to do this than in the witchiest month of the year?

So welcome to Part One of Books that Help Me Write My Books.

Halloween is approaching . . . but in my books that holiday is Samhain, pronounced SAH-win or SOW-win. Beginning at sunset on October 31 and ending at sunset on November 1, this is the pagan new year holiday. It is the cross-quarter day between the fall equinox (Mabon) and the winter solstice (Yule) and divides the year... Continue Reading

September 30, 2020

Wisconsin Writers Association 2020 Fall Conference

Everyone Wants Barnes & Noble to Survive. Can It?

Traditional Publishing Enjoys Its Best Sales in a Decade—Despite Supply Chain Problems


Wisconsin Writers Association 2020 Fall Conference – October 3 – Still time to register!

The Wisconsin Writers Association Fall Conference is this Saturday, October 3. This is a steal at $30 for those who are already members of WWA and $50 for non-members. There is still to register HERE. The lineup includes: Dasha Kelly Hamilton, MKE Poet Laureate; Erin Celello, author, Miracle Beach and Learning to Stay; Ann Garvin, author, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not... Continue Reading

September 22, 2020

November is a special month for writers. It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and its goal is to get as many words written for a new novel as possible. It’s a fantastic thirty-day challenge that is exhilarating and draining at the same time. In honor of the event, I’m offering tips about tackling the “messy middle” for both the September and October blog posts.

According to Larry Brooks, genre fiction has a specific structure that includes the set-up, response, attack, and resolution. Each block is set up as a rough quartile. So, the messy middle is fifty percent of the book, and it includes the protagonist’s... Continue Reading

September 15, 2020

There’s a long tradition of celebrating some of our favorite works of literature with collections of recipes that are directly referenced in books or inspired by them.

After all, C.S. Lewis once said, "Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably."

Eat, Read & Dream Cookbook from IndieBRAG

I have always been a fan of literary cookbooks, so when my book series was offered the opportunity to be part of one, I was quite excited. The indieBRAG Eat, Read, and Dream Cookbook highlights recipes from books that have earned the B.R.A.G. Medallion. (B.R.A.G. stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group.) It was the brainchild of... Continue Reading

September 10, 2020

I was extremely saddened to get the email this week announcing that not only will my favorite writing conference (The University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute) be discontinued—the entire University of Wisconsin Continuing Studies writing program is also suffering the same fate. Laurie Scheer writes, “The UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies (DCS) writing program is being discontinued as part of broad changes to DCS in response to financial downturn resulting from the pandemic.” It is just such a blow to lose this wonderful conference and so many courses that helped us all be better writers and offered the chance to network with other creative people. This truly was (by many accounts) the best writing conference in the Midwest.

It was the first writing... Continue Reading

September 2, 2020

My four favorite books from the past two months include an incredibly fun picture book, an impactful young adult novel, a long-awaited young adult novel, and a kick-back beachy read. 



Readers of all ages will enjoy this incredibly fun and adorable story about a young kangaroo who must learn how to quickly find and jump back into his mom’s pouch. This is a great romp through all things Australian from the different animals who try to help the young Joey to specific vocabulary from ‘down under,’ including the definition of bobby-dazzler. The facts at the back of the book will be a hit with all kids but particularly those who like to dive into the details.

... Continue Reading

August 25, 2020

This is my 250th Blog Post!

Can Writers Authentically Write About Cultures Other Than Their Own Cultures?

Are Editors Responding to Submissions During Coronavirus?


It’s my 250th Blogiversary! Help me celebrate . . . do you want to win a great book?

I began blogging the year my first book was published . . . that was 2014. I started out sporadically at first and then began blogging twice per month, finally making the leap to (nearly) weekly blogging in 2017.  And then in 2018, I added the popular Writers’ Forum collection of monthly articles about writing craft, industry news, and book marketing.

To help me celebrate my 250th post – I want to give away some ebooks!!

1. For a chance to win, I’m asking... Continue Reading

August 20, 2020

I had been looking forward to reading Liza Wiemer’s The Assignment as soon as I heard a description. Based on a true story, Wiemer’s novel follows two teens who refuse to do an antisemitic assignment given in history class—one in which they’re expected to argue FOR the Nazi Final Solution and the murder of millions of Jewish people. Wiemer deftly handles this tough topic, creating two main characters, Cade and Logan, who are both fun and funny, witty and endearing, and just regular teens with regular teen problems on top of the huge challenge at the center of the novel. You’ll sink into the story as if you’re eavesdropping on their conversations. Wiemer’s dialogue writing is just that good! Standing up for the right thing should be easy, but somehow it never is—and the finely crafted... Continue Reading

August 15, 2020

I like a good story and I’m not picky if I read it, listen to it, or watch it on the big or small screen. While the big screen is a little difficult during a pandemic, the small screen certainly hasn’t been. I’ve admitted my TV addiction in a previous post, and if it’s even possible, I’ve been watching even more television since the pandemic hit in mid-March. 

I began with a complete rewatch of all seven seasons of True Blood based on the novels by Charlaine Harris. (In my defense, I did read the novels first.) But I really should have quit watching after season 4 or 5—seriously! Here’s the quick one-line description: “In a time when vampires... Continue Reading

August 7, 2020

Good query letter writing seems like a mysterious process, but its necessity to landing an agent or editor makes for a pressure-filled, intimidating task.

But it needn't be! 

In truth, writing a query letter is rather formulaic. I’ve split the process into ten manageable steps, so you can create a letter that will stand out from all the others flooding agents' and editors' email inboxes on a daily basis. 


Has it been edited? Multiple times? Have you used beta readers to give you feedback? (No, your cousins and aunt and grandma do not count—unless they are no-nonsense readers who aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings.) Are you sure it’s as good as it can be? Ignoring the self-doubt that we as writers seem to... Continue Reading