Monday, March 28, 2016

About Book Reviews/Blog Tours and Their Results

This is NOT a book review. If you've followed all of last week's posts from the blog tour for Secrets of the King's Daughter, you've seen plenty of those for now, but you may find what I observed helpful or interesting.

1. I went into it recognizing that most reviewers are honest and will tell what they did and didn't like without intentional meanness. I hoped for mostly good but expected that some would find both negative and positive elements. Opinions vary, after all.
2. Book review bloggers typically have enough experience to be diplomatic. They've learned to sandwich in a negative issue between other positives. Trust that overall, they will give a fair review.
3. That said, as a first-timer I anxiously awaited each review, keeping busy to avoid excessive focus. Still, I wondered if they would love it or find it amateurish. My confidence grew when the consensus proved positive. 
4. Use the feedback rather than fear it. If one or two reviewers point out a weakness, it's not the end of the world. You either chalk it up to a singular opinion and ignore it, or you analyze similarities in what reviewers are saying so that you can find where to fix/improve. 
I'm not sure what I would have done if the reviews were less than favorable. I love writing enough to believe that I would continue on. Some writers may need a break, but should recognize that we only get better with time and practice. Find a few cheerleaders or a support group to get you going again. Read some how-to books or go to a conference if the writing craft was the issue.
5. Picking reviewers that like the genre you write in will garner more positive reviews, so do your research. My marketer handled this.
6. Sometimes a blogger will fall through. Line up two or three reviews for each day so that your book gets more reviews, a better representation, and you don't have a day that bombs.
7. Thank the reviewer no matter how the review goes. It's not only common curtesy, we need to keep those who blog about books wanting to continue with their service.
8. Consider doing more reviewing of the books you read. Writers and readers depend on your word of mouth/pen.

What do you think about book reviews?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review #7 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book Review by LDS Women's Book Review at and Sheila Staley at

My Review:
 I love to read books where stories from scriptures are brought to life. Secrets of a King’s Daughter does a marvelous job of bringing to life the stories of Lamanite King Lamoni, and Ammon, a Nephite, who is on a mission to convert these people to God.
The Princess Karlinah’s story is where the novel starts. Her new husband, a prince in a neighboring kingdom has been murdered in his sleep. All we know is that somehow Karlinah is involved, but her secret is not divulged for a very long time. Karlinah returns to her family where she soon finds herself betrothed again now to the wicked priest Japethihah. He’s so well written as a scummy and power hungry man that he made my skin crawl. Karlinah is not happy with her father’s choice, but she hopes that he will not be abusive as her first husband was to her.
I always find it amazing how a writer can weave a scriptural story in with made- up characters and make it so believable. Renae does this so well. I was immediately caught up in this story and the mystery and intrigue that was there. This book is a wonderful combination of action, suspense and romance. The conversion of King Lamoni and his wife was beautifully done as if I was reading the scriptures. Of course there was some liberty taken in dialogue and other happenings to enhance the overall story and plot. Those not familiar with The Book of Mormon will still be able to read this story and be pulled into the stories told from several different POV’s. I liked how each of the stories were seamlessly interwoven, so nothing seemed choppy, but knitted together to make the overall story flow. I’m so impressed that this is the author’s first published book. The writing is so well done and there is a very polished feel while reading this novel.
There are many messages that readers will take away from reading this book such as having hope, showing faith in unknown things,seeking forgiveness and accepting that one can repent and truly be forgiven. My teen daughter who usually shy’s away from anything not fantasy, declared she wanted to read this next.
I recommend this book to those who love historical fiction, romance, action and political intrigue. This book is also for those wanting a novel which brings stories from The Book of Mormon into a fictional setting and teaches about gospel principles in an interesting and non-preachy way. I can’t wait to read book two in this series.
****Warnings:This book has some violence with sword fighting, some mild gore and dead bodies in the aftermath of battle. There is no profanity or sex. ****

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Book Review #6 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Review by Singing Librarian Books at

Author Renae Weight Mackley has done a fantastic job bringing one of my favorite Book of Mormon stories to life in her novel, Secrets of the King’s Daughter.  From page one I was hooked by this beautiful, rich, beloved, and enchanting story of Princess Karlinah.  This novel portrays Karlinah’s struggles, discovering her faith, repentance, baptism and falling in love.  This action packed story is filled with twists and turns, as well as inspiration.  I would recommend this novel to readers that enjoy novels based on characters from the scriptures.

Genre: historical, scripture stories
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Number of pages: 248

Content Rating: PG, some violence (nothing graphic)
Book Rating: 5 stars
A review copy of this book was provided by Covenant Communications.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review #5 of Blog Tour and Giveaway


This book is a clean, historical fiction book based on scripture stories found from “The Book of Mormon” which is additional scripture along with the bible that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” use in their church.
The story starts off with Karlinah’s husband being murdered in his own bedchamber. After given a choice by the king (her father in law), Karlinah returns home to her family and her father King Lamoni in Ishmael. Unfortunately she escaped one bad arranged marriage for potentially another, when her father immediately arranges another husband for her.
A Nephite man named Ammon comes to work for her father and after a brave display of protecting the Kings sheep-Ammon starts to preach about God and heaven and life purpose. Karlinah doesn’t believe and questions Ammon’s motives and whether she can truly be forgiven for her sins.
I loved going back and forth between chapters with reading Karilinah’s experiences and thoughts, and then Ammon’s experiences. The story was very well written and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end! It made me very thankful for my modern time period and not having to be in an arranged marriage and being able to make my own choices.
I can’t wait to read book 2 and 3 of this series (its in the works according to the author’s blog)! This was a truly inspiring, engaging scripture story about love, life and forgiveness.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Covenant Communications in exchange for an honest review on my blog and social media-all opinions are my own.
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Book Review #4 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SECRETS OF ATHE KING'S DAUGHTER by Renae Weight Mackley—book review/giveaway

SECRETS OF THE KING'S DAUGHTER by Renae Weight Mackley. I always hesitate with stories that weave themselves through scriptural stories. More often than not, they fall short of a good read. This book did a good job of balancing that fine line in my opinion. Since I know the words of Ammon well I could tell what was being taken from the scriptures and what wasn't. Even if someone didn't know the words of Ammon, the story moves through those sections very smoothly.

I was drawn into the story from the beginning with Karlinah and her secret. I loved how her secret was gradually told and what she did to overcome that secret. With the introduction of Ammon, I began to hesitate in reading, but once I saw how it was going to be done, I relaxed and finished the story.
It is a good story with a couple of turns and choices and consequences for those choices. Anyone who loves a good story with a scriptural setting will love this book.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review #3 of Blog Tour and Giveaway

REVIEW from LDS and Lovin' It
Karlinah' first marriage left her with heavy secret to carry as she returns home after her husband's death.  A secret she dares not share with anyone. But things at home don't offer as much relief as she had hoped when her father betroths her to a man she distrusts so that her younger sister can wed.  The arrival of a young Nephite complicate everything.  But Ammon turns out to be different than she expected and the upheaval he brings offers hope that she may be able to choose her own path.  But she's reluctant to accept the gospel since it means confessing her secret, a secret she fears could cost her own life.  Mackley has written a compelling story that revolves around events recounted in The Book of Mormon.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Karlinah and imagining what it might have been like to be there when the incredible events surrounding Ammon's mission to the Laminates took place.  The incredible workings of the Lord have been beautifully depicted in this story which does have romantic elements in it but which come second to the changes that Karlinah and her family undergo when they listen to Ammon's message.  A truly engaging work of fiction that takes the scriptural story and adds details about what it may have been like to be there.  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.

Enter GIVEAWAWY for $25 Amazon Gift Card and Free Book here or on one of these blogs.
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*March 21st: 
*March 25th: 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review #2 of Blog Tour

This review comes from 
This is an interesting view on what could have taken place during the months before and during Ammon's interaction with King Lamoni.
Why did King Lamoni offer his eldest daughter as a wife to a Nephite? Was this daughter accepting of Ammon?
The author's development of the circumstances and of the characters offers a new insight to this Book of Mormon story. Whether or not one is familiar with the stories of the "Lamanites and Nephites" of the Book of Mormon, one will find this tale of the American Indian and the White man very entertaining. The character are created in a realistic way and the scenes are easily visualized. There is plenty of drama, action, and romance for any lover of fiction.
The only slight negative is I felt too much time was spent on the attitude of Karlinah in the earlier portion of the novel. Even then it steadily moved forward.
4.5 stars

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Book Review #1 of Blog Tour

Here is the Review:

And click on the giveaway link!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blog Tour - Secrets of the King's Daughter Review and Giveaway

About the book: It was a relationship designed to unite not two young people in love, but two powerful kingdoms. And for Princess Karlinah, eldest daughter of King Lamoni, her marriage to the haughty heir to the throne of Jersusalem has led to a life of fear and abuse. There seems to be no escape—until her husband is murdered and Karlinah is unexpectedly free to return to her father’s kingdom. She can begin again—but no one can ever know of the part she played in the prince’s demise . . . Karlinah’s relief is short-lived, for upon her return to the land of Ishmael, she is once again swept into her father’s plans for a politically powerful marriage. Then the arrival of a young missionary in her father’s court changes everything: her family is converted to a new religion, and Karlinah is free to choose her path. Yet she is not so easily convinced by the words of Ammon—especially when repentance means confessing her crime. But as her faith grows and a young stone artisan captures her heart, Karlinah realizes that she must face the consequences of her past in order to move forward with her future.

My review: I had just a bit of a hard time getting into the story line of this book. It starts out with the death of Karlinah's husband. You know that she has a secret about what has happened to him, but it takes quite a while in the book to actually learn what happened to him. 

Karlinah doesn't want to stay with the family of her dead husband, but asks instead to be sent home to her family in the land of Ishmael. This is when the book starts to show it's Book of Mormon influence. It's in the home of her father in the land of Ishmael where Ammon, one of the sons of King Mosiah, comes to be a servant and eventually an amazing missionary to the Lamanites.

I really liked the way that the author showed things through Karlinah's eyes, as well as the eyes of her father, mother and Ammon as well. Karlinah is the main character, but this book shifts through several characters to really give a complete picture of all that is happening throughout the book.

I liked the way there is conflict shown between Karlinah's views and the views of Ammon and all of the people who converted because of him. Her family believes him easily, but Karlinah needs her own desire to gain a witness and she needs her own witness to believe and follow him.

I thought that this book was a bit slow in the beginning, but by the end, I was enjoying the story and didn't want to put it down until I was able to finish. I thought that the characters were well-written and interesting. The plot is well-written and the ending is exciting. Make sure to get your own copy!

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Blog Tour Giveaway and Book Reviews

It's my Blog Tour and Giveaway this week, set up by Covenant Communications. It's nice to see what people think of a book before you buy it, right? That's what this is all about. Look for daily reviews reposted here or use the schedule below. Consider giving your own review of books you read (on social media, Goodreads and Amazon, etc.) and get talking about them.
*March 21st: 
*March 22nd:
*March 23rd:
*March 24th:
*March 25th: 

Thanks for all the wonderful support so far! It's been a fun ride with my debut book.
Here's the giveaway information:
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Good Feedback: Don't Get Down, Get Better!

Don't let healthy feedback 
bog you down with extra baggage.
I've noticed a pattern with my current project. I'll write some new scenes, check them over, and send them off to my critique group. What happens? Those pages I liked so well will come back with many comments and tracked changes marked. Sigh. That's the norm in this business. Before I tell myself (again) that I'm no good at this new genre, it deserves closer inspection. Here's what I've discovered:
1. It comes in threes. I send the first draft, revise and send the second draft, and by the third go around, we're all pretty happy with my scene. Good feedback plays an important role in progression.
2. I'm seeing the same scenes with rewrites two and three times from my partners. This tells me that we are all in the same boat, we all struggle, and we all make improvements each time we incorporate good feedback. Revisions are a necessary part of the game.
3. This doesn't mean our writing sucks or is still on the same level as when we first formed our group. More likely, our critiques are getting more sophisticated and our editing skills are improving along with the writing. All aspects of the craft will improve with regular exercise.
4. The trick to staying positive and not taking well-intended suggestions personally is knowing we can make improvements when we recognize the reason for the comment. Who doesn't want their craft to get better? So, when a comment last week said, Boring. You can do better, and was softened by a smiley face, I checked the highlighted portion and recognized it as Telling. Okay, I can fix that. No wounded ego necessary.

All of the above is based on feedback from those who share mutual trust,  respect, and similar skill levels, of course. I don't recommend you stay in a group where neither the feedback makes sense nor they have anything positive to say. The same person who told me a few words were boring wrote this at the end of my submission: Nicely written scene! Much more realistic and fun to read!

With healthy feedback, don't let it get you down, turn it into better writing. Fear rejection? Click here for a wonderful, inspirational post by my niece, Hannah Holt, called The Art of Tumbling: How to Fail without Falling to Pieces. It goes well with today's topic.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Well Should Writers Know Their Characters?

If there was a book of writing commandments, surely this would be in the top ten: Know your characters. Two recent comments brought me face to face with this.

First, one of my critique partners stated that she liked the scenes in my current work in progress from Raychel's point of view much better than Tyler's POV. "You've got Raychel down," she said, implying, "Tyler, not so much." Yeah. It shows. Besides the fact that males are often harder for me to write than females, I didn't have deep grasp on him. I need to resolve that or those scenes will not grab the reader.

Secondly, daughter #2 confessed that she was a little nervous to read my new book, Secrets of the King's Daughter, because she didn't want to hear me tell the story, meaning she wanted to get lost in the voice of the characters and forget that her mom wrote it. I'm happy to say that she was pleasantly surprised.

So how do writer's get to know their characters well enough for readers to care about them and get lost in the story? There are many ways to choose from but all take some necessary effort. I had gotten lazy with my Tyler character. Pick what appeals to you. 
  • Writing. Jot down lots of notes or use a spread sheet. Make a Character Bible. List descriptions, traits, flaws, motivations, etc.
  • Acting. Take a day or a week to live inside your character's head. Whatever you are involved in doing, let your character also have a say. Think or pretend what he would do, how she would react. Imagine yourself/an alter ego as that person until you could be them in your sleep.
  • Visual Aids. Find pictures/photos of how your characters look, where they live and work, their favorite foods, things they like to do, etc. Post them on a board or in a notebook for easy reference.
  • People. Base a character on a real and familiar person or a cross between two people and give them a twist so it's not obvious to them. Draw on personal experiences from different sources. People-watch for ideas. Listen to how teens speak, if that is who you are writing. If it gets too complicated, you will have to implement a secondary way of remembering things about your character. Any of these methods can be combined.
Characters are fun to create. Just make sure to get well acquainted.