Reading, wRiting, and Roaming with Author Valerie Biel

May 24, 2022

Writers, Stop Using Social Media (Like That)

Disaster Proofing Your Author Business

Predatory Publishing Practices

Tricky Contract Clauses


Writers, Stop Using Social Media (Like That) – Allison Williams

Williams writes (for Jane Friedman’s blog) an astute article about how social media is not platform . . . so when publishing industry pro advice is telling you to ‘build a platform,’ don’t automatically assume that obtaining tons of followers on social media is the answer to driving book sales. It is not . . . this has been proven again and again. But it can be a tool to ‘amplify your message.’ But first you must figure out what your message really is. Read this article. Bookmark this article. Follow this... Continue Reading

May 16, 2022

Welcome to May, writers!

I hope by the time this blog post is published, Wisconsin weather has turned from winter to spring and welcomed warmer temperatures, flowers, and blue (not gray!) skies. I offered tips about acquiring a literary agent for the March and April blog posts. For May, I begin a series about social media for authors.

Social media can be overwhelming. There are many platforms and much to learn. Book promotion is a distracting but necessary part of becoming a published author. This month, I’... Continue Reading

May 10, 2022

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post highlighting my most recent favorite books. This list goes back to the beginning of the year, and out of the 40+ books I’ve read so far this year I'm sharing my Top Nine. These include middle grade mystery, young adult suspense, cozy mysteries, biblical fiction, coming-of-age historical fiction, and contemporary suspense/thriller. 

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Verity by Colleen Hoover is crazy great (I'm still thinking about this book!) It is a bit of a departure from her typical genre and is suspense through and through. I couldn’t agree more with another reviewer who says, "Rebecca meets Gone Girl in this shocking, unpredictable thriller with a twist that will leave you reeling." In part, I love this book because it’s about... Continue Reading

May 2, 2022

Welcome to the May 2022 Author Series where published author Laurie Buchanan shares the advice she'd go back and tell her pre-published self--which is a great help to other writers. But this is also a great day for mystery / suspense readers because the second book in Laurie's Sean McPherson series, Iconoclast, releases today. These are fast-paced thrillers set in the Pacific Northwest, featuring a trifecta of malice and the pursuit and cost of justice. You'll want to read to the bottom of the post for my review and book purchasing information!

There are a lot of things I wish I’d known before writing my first book:

For starters, I like writing nonfiction, but I love writing fiction. Had I known that from the get-go, my first book may well have been entirely... Continue Reading

April 25, 2022

How to Use Amazon Ads as a Traditionally Published Author

There’s No Need to Change Amazon’s Kindle eBook Return Policy

19 Memoirs Every Aspiring Memoir Author Should Read

From Publishers’ Weekly: Books Stranded on Ships & Maryland’s Library eBook Law is Dead


How to Use Amazon Ads as a Traditionally Published Author

Last month Amazon made their advertising console available to authors via Amazon Author Central. Previously, you needed a KDP account or a vendor or seller account with Amazon in order to advertise, so most traditionally published authors couldn’t utilize this advertising platform. But now you can access this console through the Books/Marketing tab on your Author Central main page. The... Continue Reading

April 18, 2022

Hello writers!

This month, I continue the conversation about acquiring a literary agent. If traditional publishing is the preferred route, an agent usually is part of the mix.

In March, I talked about writing a logline, a hook, and attending conferences as a method to the madness of querying agents. For April, I want to drill down to one topic: Listening.

Listening is a vital part of surviving in a new environment. Picture yourself on a tennis court learning the game. Or on a soccer field practicing kicks. Or in an art studio working on brush strokes. When you were learning a new skill, did you... Continue Reading

April 11, 2022

Welcome to the April 2022 Author Series where a published author Tracey Phillips answers the questions:

What do you wish you had known before you published your first book? And, what would you go back and tell your pre-published self?  

These are great questions, Valerie. Thanks so much for bringing me on board. These days, the publishing market has more opportunities than ever. The chance for others to see your work and to have your books in bookstores next to the likes of Gillian Flynn, Robert Dugoni or Hank Phillippi Ryan are better than ever.

If you do the work.

When I first started writing, I—like many new authors—felt I’d written the next New York Times Bestseller. What I didn’t know was, this industry is subjective, and... Continue Reading

March 30, 2022

Waterstones to Acquire Blackwell’s

Why Did Draft2Digital Acquire Smashwords

If You Can’t Stand the Sight of Your Own Blood, Don’t Step into the Ring

Tired of Murder and Mayhem? Snuggle up with a cozy mystery.

Is Goodreads a Good Thing?


Waterstone’s to Acquire Blackwell’s

This might not matter much if you’re not concerned with the UK book market, but Waterstones has acquired Blackwell’s (not so very long after they acquired Foyles.)

Why Did Draft2Digital Acquire Smashwords

Great podcast discussion on... Continue Reading

March 21, 2022


Welcome to spring, writers!

This past weekend we had both snow and sixty-degree weather in Wisconsin. But that’s life in the Dairy State; post-winter weather is a Shakespearean tragedy. My home state’s spring is a melodrama, like combining Hamlet’s equivocation with Lear’s temper. Its nutty weather is one of the reasons why I place my cozy mysteries here. Nothing like storms, wind, and subzero cold—all within forty-eight hours—to boost conflict.

I have an exciting announcement: After two years of writing and revising a manuscript and pitching my cozy mystery series, I am represented by Julie Gwinn and The... Continue Reading

March 14, 2022

When Valerie asked me to write a blog post and the topic of “balancing writing time and promotion” was on the list, I jumped on this topic. I was living the blog post with the launch of my eighth book. I could speak to the realities of the book launch whirlwind while refreshing my computer to check reviews and recommendations. You laugh, but it’s true.

Launching a book successfully is important. I’ve learned over the years that if you put the time and energy into your book launch, it will save you time later. No author wants to hear from their agent or publisher to round up more reviews months after their book has launched. This conversation does happen. I will say honestly that during the two-week span before my launch and the one-week span after my launch, I wasn’t gaining... Continue Reading