Book Review – The 2018 Author’s Journal

Author: Audrey Ann Hughey

Book Blurb

Make 2018 Your Best Author Year Ever! The 2018 Author’s Journal is a planner designed for authors, providing spaces to plan your writing and publishing goals, develop effective marketing & advertising plans, and it even contains your daily planner. This all-in-one planner is your writing, business, and productivity coach, guiding you through the year in a way that raises you up to reach your goals.
Sections in this comprehensive planner include
  • My Vision, to set your goals for the year
  • My Manuscripts, to track your works-in-progress
  • My Editing Process, to document and refine your editing process
  • My Story Ideas, to keep new story ideas all in one place
  • My Reading List, to keep your reading plans and the books you’ve finished reading all in one place
  • My 2018 Expenses: At tax time, just take your 2018 Author’s Journal to the accountant and let them sort out your claimable expenses.
  • My Marketing Plan, to develop your social media marketing, collaboration, blogging, and paid advertising plans
  • My Year: There are dedicated spaces for reflection, goal-setting, blogging, collaboration, and advertising surrounding your day planner.
+ Plus, there is a social media content plan provided for every single month!
BONUS: Purchase of the journal includes access to a digital resource page filled with additional videos about how you can adapt the journal to your unique situation, a downloadable “Authorship Tracker” spreadsheet, and videos from guests to help encourage you and guide you as you prepare to tackle the new year.

The concept:

For people who want to take their writing to the next level.  I’ve been overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to do these days to get published.  The days of just writing your book and finding a publisher have long gone – if you want to sell your book, you have to market it – whether you’re going the indie route or the more traditional route.

Publishers are looking for authors with a platform with fans, mailing lists and potential customers lined up… and if you’re going the indie route… you’re doing the full job.  The Author’s Journal helps your organize/schedule and work smart to keep everything you need in one place.

Plots, schedules, expenses, and how to make sure the important things in your life aren’t lost in the mix.

What I liked:

Audrey has been working with authors to help them increase their sales and focus on what’s important in their lives.  and the best part – you decide what is important.  This isn’t a ‘Do this, this, this and this’ type of aid – it’s a guide that you decide how to use.  It gives you something to organize your thoughts, your stories, you authorship and your marketing in order and as I said… you decide what is important

I also love the format – it is a full size workbook with a heavy duty cover.

What I didn’t like:

There is so much to do and to be done – and it can be a bit daunting at first.   The book is well put together so… it doesn’t look like I’ve been using it yet.

I’ve also noticed, that I get so interested in using the tool, that I forget that the tool is the means to an end, not the end itself.


This book is like a Swiss Army Knife.  it has all the tools you need and you decide if/when to use them.

This book is designed for writers/authors by an author and coach.  I know for a fact Audrey is using this book as she plans her publishing and going back to school for her Masters.


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Book Review – The Quest for Nightcrawler

  • Publisher: X-Men (book 1) The Quest for Nightcrawler
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • Pages: 136
  • Formats: Trade Paper, e-comic
  • Available: Amazon , Marvel (e-comic)
  • ISBN-10: 0785188215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785188216

Book Blurb

Ever since Nightcrawler’s death, the X-Men have been without their heart and soul. But after learning that their friend may not be gone after all, it’s up to Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman, Northstar and Firestar to find and bring back the fan-favorite fuzzy blue elf! But when the team finds themselves separated and split between heaven and hell, can they get to Nightcrawler’s soul before his father, the evil Azazel, does? Pushed over the edge, the Beast gives into his savage side like never before, as Nightcrawler rallies the X-Men to take on Azazel and his hellish hordes! Can the X-Men save the afterlife, or must one of the team make the ultimate sacrifice?

 The concept – Nightcrawler died and with him the X-men had lost their heart but its hard to keep an X-Man down.  Not when there are Pirates to be killed and Whiskey to be had

The Characters:  the usual X-men suspects

Main Character:

Nighcrawler: Swashbuckling acrobatic mutant, the Furry elft.  Father confessor to the the X-men, dashing hero and devout Catholic.  What’s not to love

What works – I am a long standing Nighcrawler fan.  I’m a fencer and I love to make people smile – sometimes he’s a role model, sometimes he’s my hero.

Least Favorite trait – The fact that they killed him off.

Why it works/doesn’t work:  Seeing Kurt (Nightcrawler) Wagner in action again is always a blast and they used just the right balance of heroic, tragic, joyful and fun loving  hero to bring him back.

What I liked: 

If you know me, you know I am a big Nightcrawler fan.  As anyone in my alliance in MCOC (Marvel Contest of Champions)… they will tell you…

My first introduction to Kurt was in a scene where the X-Men had been captured by the brood and each one was dying as a Brood Larva grew inside them (well, all except Wolverine because his mutant healing ability killed his).  Nightcrawler had just finished praying and Wolverine was surprised to find Kurt was Catholic.  They talked about loneliness and belief, and it was the first thoughtful conversation I’d ever seen in a comic book an I fell in love with Nightcrawler and his relationship with Wolverine.

This book reminded me of all the reasons I loved Kurt.  the artwork was gorgeous and it did just the right amount of pulling on  my heartstrings while taking me on a great adventure.

What I didn’t like:

Pretty much the fact that they killed him off.  For over 35 years of reading the X-men (off and on) Kurt was a constant.  They never killed him off so they had to bring him back in the first place. I originally got this book on sale and didn’t realize that the physical copy is 11.99 and the e-version is 6.99… so that too is a consideration.

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The Author Transformation Alliance – New Flash Contest


(Copied from the Blog entry on the matter)

New year, new flash.  Starting this Saturday, the ATA Flash Contest is going weekly.  Each Saturday at noon, we will post a new prompt – It could be a picture, a word or phrase, or even a link to a song.

You will then have 36 hours to write your story.

The winner will be announced the following Friday.  Winners will be determined by popular vote.

But… and there’s always a ‘but’, the last Saturday of the month we will change things up – the competition will be judged by one of our guest judges, and the winner will receive a prize which will be announced with the competition.

The rules are simple:

  1. One entry per person
  2. Be respectful
  3. Be kind.
  4. Vote for the flash of your choice
  5. Leave comments (see rules 2 and 3)
  6. Have fun.

Look for more information at :

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I am Day 6

Horror Scribes offered an interesting challenge for the end of 2017 – The 12 days of Christmas Horror Flash contest.

It was a little hard for me because Christmas is not the sort of thing I want to mess with – and with a limit of 300 words there’s only so much you can do.

I opted to go for something sweet and sentimental that went horribly wrong.

via The Sixth Day of Christmas

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Book Review – The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester

Author: Deborah Chester

  • Title: The Fantasy Fiction Formula
  • Pages: 264
  • Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook … podcast…
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press; 1 edition (February 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719097061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719097065
  • Availability: Amazon,  Barnes and Noble
  • Website: DeborahChester dot com

Book Blurb

“Listen carefully to what Debbie has to say about telling stories, aspiring writer. She knows exactly what she’s talking about.”
— Jim Butcher

There’s more to writing a successful fantasy story than building a unique world or inventing new magic. How exactly is a plot put together? How do you know if your idea will support an entire novel? How do you grab reader attention and keep it? How do you create dynamic, multi-dimensional characters? What is viewpoint and do you handle it differently in urban fantasy than in traditional epics? What should you do if you’re lost in the middle? How do you make your plot end up where you intend it to go?

From the writing of strong, action-packed scenes to the handling of emotions, let award-winning fantasy author Deborah Chester guide you through the process of putting a book together.


The concept:

You’ve read enough Fantasy to know how the stories are put together.  You have good intuition (or you don’t) and you want to take your story and move it from being a good idea to being a great book.


What I liked:

First and foremost, Deborah knows what she’s talking about.  She is an accomplished writer and teacher and she takes that knowledge and shares it.

I don’t normally review a book until I’ve finished it, but just from what I’ve learned in the first two chapters… I have to share this.  After reading the first chapter, I had enough information that after the first exercise, I had my blurb and a tag line.

The second chapter (which I just finished) has me backing up a little on my writing but only to give the world, the magic and the people the depth they need.  I’m good at designing characters, but some of the questions she tells you to ask yourself are more geared towards the audience… Oh yeah… I tend forget that I’m sharing these stories with actual people and I want to keep them in mind.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in writing fantasy fiction… heck, I’d recommend it to non fantasy fiction writers.

What I didn’t like:

When I found out about this book, the Kindle version wasn’t available and I still have a hard time bending and marking up books and I want my notes right *there*.

I also didn’t like how long it took me to get off my butt and start reading it, which was, of course, my own fault.


If you’re interested in writing and aren’t already a best selling author… get this book… put it on your wishlist,  oh, and don’t be like me… start reading it as soon as you can!

I also found out that Deborah has a series of PodCasts about the Fantasy Fiction Formula, links are on her site.


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Join us January 1st for 42 days of flash fiction prompts – on

42 Flash

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Book Review – The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

Author: Elizabeth Moon

  • Title: The Deed of Paksenarrion
  • Pages: 1044
  • Formats: Hardback, Paperback, Kindle, Audio Book
  • Availability: Amazon
  • Website: Elizabeth Moon

Book Blurb:

Paksenarrion, a simple sheepfarmer’s daughter, yearns for a life of adventure and glory, such as was known to heroes in songs and story. At age seventeen she runs away from home to join a mercenary company and begins her epic life . . . Book One: Paks is trained as a mercenary, blooded, and introduced to the life of a soldier . . . and to the followers of Gird, the soldier’s god. Book Two: Paks leaves the Duke’s company to follow the path of Gird alone—and on her lonely quests encounters the other sentient races of her world. Book Three: Paks the warrior must learn to live with Paks the human. She undertakes a holy quest for a lost elven prince that brings the gods’ wrath down on her and tests her very limits.

 The concept:

A girl from the most common of places – a sheep farmer’s daughter, with dreams of being so much more learns that it takes to become what she was born to be

The Characters:

Main Character:

Character Name: Paksenarrion (Paks)

What works – The story is about a young woman’s trial by fire,  a commoner with dreams and determination.  Paks is an old style heroine with personality… dreams and the guts to follow it through.  When you come down to it – she works because she is a person, with personality and the fact that you’re discovering the world through her eyes.

Least Favorite trait  – Paks is, at times, too good natured – always believing the best in people and seeing herself in them (It is also one of her endearing traits)  No one’s ever said  a character flaw couldn’t be ‘good’

Why it works/doesn’t work:

This story works because Paks is an ‘every man’  she’s not born into power or strength, what she gets she earns… and pays for… sometimes too dearly – but she grows and changes and learns.

She walks through hell, and it breaks my heart when she does… but when she reaches the other side… she is stronger.  It’s a heroic tale of epic proportions.

What I liked:  

The Deed of Paksenarrion is a compilation of a three book trilogy – Sheep Farmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold.  It is and epic hero’s journey, and Elizabeth Moon put so much depth into the characters and the world – The woman knows what she’s talking about and it shows.

What I didn’t like:

 I know that it’s an important part of any hero’s journey – where in the end of the second act, the hero hits their lowest point– and when you have a trilogy it usually means the ending of the second book leaves you in tears, if its done right and this story was done right.  Each dark point serves it’s purpose… but it gets dark.

I first read the series over 15 years ago – and reading it again was like seeing an old friend.  It was really good to know that the story works as well now as it did then.  It is hard to see the evil the befalls a good character – even knowing how it ends…

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