It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2This week, I jumped out of my usual historical novels straight into a contemporary romance.

I read “Lovers at Heart” by Melissa Foster.

I’m familiar with Ms. Foster’s work as we travel in the same writing circles. I don’t know how she has time to do all she does, but she owns World Literary Press, runs a website, FB page, and Twitter for World Literary Cafe, mentors new writers at Fostering Success, and she releases a new book, I swear, every month. She specializes in contemporary romance. Honestly, contemporary anything is not really my favorite, so I’ve never paid much attention to the titles, but last week she had a sale at Amazon and I picked up one of her books.

915wyNuK-iL._SL1500_OMG! This was the most fun I’ve had reading in a long time. I understand why Ms. Foster is the top of her game in this genre.

Max (female) and Treat (male)…so fun and silly already!…have a love/hate relationship, and their attraction and sexual tension grabs you from the first page. It’s a romance story, so you know they’ll get together at the end, but what a fun ride watching them get there.

There were back-stories for Max and Treat, hers being abuse from an old boyfriend, his being the after-effects of the death of his mother, which needed to be faced before they could allow themselves to fall in love. Awww. Two broken people healing each other through love is sweet, but truthfully, the back-stories were a little confusing as Max and Treat do not come across as broken in the least.

On the whole, Ms. Foster is a fabulous writer, and this book is a fun ride with great characters and a satisfying ending. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a romance novel, and I couldn’t put the thing down until Max and Treat finally got together.

On a side note: Treat is one of five or six totally hot Braden brothers who each have their own book. Guess who’s going to go read Rex Braden’s story next!

Ms. Foster’s Amazon Page

Fostering Success

World Literary Cafe

Saturday Snippet – Savannah’s Bluebird

bluebird_small webI released Savannah’s Bluebird a year ago. It stemmed from a vivid dream I had, and though it didn’t take me months and months of research as with my historical novels, it still holds a place in my heart. It’s the story of a man and woman who tried desperately to get married, but everything stood in the way of their wedding day – including death. I published it on February 11, 2014.

I dreamt it and wrote it in 2012, the month before we found out my future son-in-law had cancer. In late 2013, I finally dug it out of the archives and finished writing it. My boy was getting worse by the day and the wedding was canceled only a week before it was to occur. The day after I published Savannah, I received a call from my daughter that our boy had been admitted to the hospital. Within days, he was placed in hospice, and he took his last breath on February 24, 2014. I always read my books after they’re released, but my heart is still broken, and I can’t bring myself to read this one. It’s a little too close to home, but there’s a reason I wrote it and a reason it’s out there in the world. Perhaps someday, I’ll find out what that reason is. Here is a snippet of Savannah’s Bluebird where Savannah is having a flashback to her childhood.

Dedicated to my beautiful son

Trien Duong

June 15, 1981 – February 24, 2014

You will always be the brightest star in our sky




August teased her. “If you remember correctly, I asked you to marry me twenty years ago under your dad’s apple tree.”

She sighed, closed her eyes in front of the foggy mirror, and absentmindedly began brushing her teeth. She could picture that big old apple tree like it was right in front of her. The branches spread out across the sky like an enormous umbrella shading the picnic table beneath it. At the end of a good summer, so many apples would be on the tree, the branches would almost touch the ground, burdened by the weight. The old paint-peeled table beneath the tree was a favorite place for the squirrels to sit and eat the apples, leaving half-eaten cores when they scampered off. August and Savannah spent many, many afternoons talking and playing and telling childhood secrets under that tree.

In the warmth of the late fall afternoon, Savannah sat alone at the picnic table with an array of colored silk threads spread out in front of her. The leaves had fallen a few weeks ago, leaving only a few stray apples on the ends of the branches. The sun shone through the branches, warming her hands, and the sweet smell of decaying apples and the crisp smell of dying leaves surrounded her, making her head swim with happiness. Fall was her favorite time of year. She stared at the woven fabric she was embroidering and sorted through the colored threads on the table.

An ocean inlet ran along the back of the property, and she could faintly hear the soft babble of the water splashing on the rocks, as well as the buzz of dragonflies and katydids. August appeared out of the dying brush that was only a few weeks ago thick summer bushes. He was wearing a brown button-up shirt, suspenders, and dirty trousers darkened by wetness up to the knees. Obviously, he had been playing at the inlet, probably trying to catch frogs or crawdads. He ran over to the picnic table and plopped down across from her.

“Watcha doin’?” He was short-winded from running.

“I’m working on a pillow covering for home economics class,” she answered.

She picked up the fabric, turned it around, and held it up for his approval.

He wrinkled his forehead and said, “It looks like a bird. I thought you liked dogs.”

“I do like dogs, but Mrs. Thompson said we have to create something that flies.” She rolled her eyes and placed it back in front of her on the table.

“Well, why don’t you sew a spaceship with a robot or something?” he asked, wrinkling his forehead.

“Only boys would make spaceships and robots.” She scowled at him. “I want to make something else. My dad told me this story about a bluebird. He said a gypsy woman told him the bluebird represents love, and if you’re with someone you love and see a bluebird, you’ll be with that person forever.” She picked up the blue thread and attempted to thread her needle. “So, I’m embroidering a bluebird.”

“Was it one of those gypsies down on the beach?”

“No, he said it was a gypsy woman in New Orleans a long time ago—before I was even born. He was working on the railroad down there when he met my mother. He said the day after the gypsy told him that story, he and momma saw a bluebird. They were married a few days later.”

When August didn’t respond, she looked up at him—and froze. Right above his head, on the lowest branch of the tree, sat a little bluebird. It was bright blue on top with a reddish-brown throat, and it was no more than a foot from them. She didn’t move, half afraid of scaring it away and half amazed that their conversation had suddenly manifested itself. August turned to follow her gaze and froze also. Neither of them dared breathe as they watched the bird—and the bird watched them.

“Will you hand me that towel?” August asked.

Savannah didn’t respond.

“Savannah, hello? Will you please hand me that towel?” August asked again, snapping Savannah’s attention back to the present.


Lori Crane Books at Amazon

I want to publish my book, too!

As with most of my author friends, I regularly get emails and messages saying, “I want to publish my book, too. Help me.”

The first question I ask is, “Have you finished writing the book?”

The answer I always hear is, “No.”

Well, if you don’t have a finished book, then you’re wasting everyone’s time asking how to publish something that doesn’t exist.

howtopublishabookNevertheless, here’s a rundown for beginners on how to publish a book.

1. Be a writer. You will never make a dollar publishing one book. If you can whip out ten, twenty, or thirty, then you have a slim chance to actually make money. Being a writer is a full-time job. It’s a calling. It’s a passion. Is that you? If so, continue reading.

2. Once your book is written, DO NOT hire a vanity publisher. Here’s how vanity publishers work. The ad says they will publish your book, including cover design, editing, layout, and distribution for the low, low price of $495.00. In return, you get to say you’re published. Such a deal! Here’s the truth. These vanity publishers prey on authors who don’t want the hassle of doing anything but writing. The price is fine until the upsell kicks in. They charge the author for a ‘premium’ cover, ‘extra’ editing, typesetting, etc., running into the thousands of dollars. There will be tons of add ons and extras and will cost you a lot of money. They will send you the cover (you paid for) with a watermark on it so you can’t use it to promote your book. They will send you the formatted PDF version of your book (you paid for) with watermarks on every page so you can’t use it for anything except to look at on your own computer. You cannot use these items to market your book, and they are certainly not going to market your book. They will not care about your ideas for the cover design; you get stuck with what they give you. They will upsell you on international distribution. That’s ridiculous. You can do this yourself for free. They will charge your customers a ridiculous price to purchase your book, setting it so high no one will buy it. You have as much say-so in pricing as you did in the cover design. They will charge YOU a ridiculous amount of money to buy copies of YOUR OWN BOOK. They will make all the profit; you will make pennies, maybe. Keep in mind, they make all their money from you, not from the reading public, so they don’t care if you sell one book.

3. There is no harm in hiring someone to do the things you don’t know how to do, as a matter of fact, a professional is often the best choice. But if you’re going to release more than one book, you should learn to do these things yourself.

You need to know how to design two covers – one for print, one for ebook. To do this, you must understand the cover design characteristics in your genre. The first place to look is the Top 100 of your genre on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. What do they have in common? Do that. And keep your font large and simple. The postage-stamp-sized thumbnail on the web should be readable. A pretty font is not your friend. Don’t use Comic Sans, a graphic designer somewhere will hunt you down and kill you. If you would rather have a professional design your cover, call on Elite Book Design. They also create video book trailers.

You also need to know how to use Microsoft Word to format your book. Different book sellers use different formats. Check their websites at the links below for their specifications, and learn how to operate Word like you were born to do it. Start by downloading the Smashwords Style Guide. It’s a tutorial that will walk you through formatting an ebook. Set aside 4-6 hours, pack your patience and a pot of coffee, and go!

The ongoing job you need to know is how to market your book. Build a platform for your topic by creating a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Website, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest, forums about your topic, etc. Understand that marketing is another full-time job, so narrow your platform down to a few specific sites that you can maintain regularly. Create a marketing schedule and follow it like it’s the law. No one will repeatedly visit a page that does not update and change, and no one will buy your book if they don’t know it exists.

Finally, the most important thing you need is help with your story. When it’s finished, send it to an editor for a substantive edit. Then rewrite. Then send it to some beta readers. Then rewrite again. Then send it to a copy editor. No, your cousin cannot edit your book, unless she is a professional editor, but she may be a good beta reader. Find a professional copy editor and be ready to pay them a good amount of money. If someone will edit your book for $0.10 per page, double spaced, 12 font, they are probably not a professional editor. Once your book is edited, get it proofread. Nothing drives readers away faster than errors in a book, and your reviews will reflect each and every error. Don’t ask people to spend their hard-earned money on your book and give them a shoddy product in return. One of the best editors in the business is the Edit Ninja. Be warned: the editing process is more painful than the scathing one-star review.

4. Once you’ve done all these things and released your first book, congratulation! Now, start working on your next book. It’s a never-ending process.


Where can I sell my book? Here is a short list of distributors.

Amazon ebooks – – This site is for Kindles on Amazon and releases around the world on all Amazon sites.

Barnes & Noble ebooks – – This site is for Nook on Barnes & Noble.

iTunes ebooks – – This site is for iBooks on iTunes.

Smashwords ebooks – – This site distributes ebooks to nearly every online retailer, but you can opt out of individual retailers, for example, if you’ve already published on KDP, Nook, or iTunes. In my opinion, Smashwords has a few glitches that are not in its control. The Sony and Kobo sites take months to update product information. Smashwords only pays quarterly and their sales/payment spreadsheet is a bit confusing. But if you have already uploaded your book to Amazon, you might as well make it available to other retailers.

Create Space print – – This is a print-on-demand book printing company (owned by Amazon) that will put your book in print and distribute to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You may also buy copies of your book at a reduced cost.

Lulu print – – This is a print-on-demand-book printing company that will distribute your book to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBook. You may also buy copies of your book at a reduced cost.

Audible audiobooks – – This is an audiobook company (owned by Amazon) that creates (for a fee) and distributes audiobooks to Amazon and Audible.

(Personally, I use KDP for Kindle, CreateSpace for print, ACX for audiobooks, and Smashwords for the rest. Pay attention to KDP’s rules. They are very picky about your book being priced lower anywhere else online, and will unpublish your book in a heartbeat if they see that. KDP also encourages you to enroll in KDP Select. I don’t really understand KDP Select. This program demands your book be exclusive to Amazon, and in return, you can GIVE YOUR BOOK AWAY FOR FREE for 5 days per quarter. Why the hell would anyone want to do that?)

How much should I charge for my book? 

Obviously, paperbacks are more expensive than ebooks because of the material, production, and shipping involved. Personally, I think your ebook should sell for 70-80% less than your paperback. An average indie paperback sells for under $15, most under $10. Most ebooks sell between $0.99 and $9.99, with the average indie ebook selling for under $5. It depends on the length of the book and the popularity of the author. Do your homework. See what other indie authors are selling for. Do that.

Welcome to the publishing world of the indie author. If all this information hasn’t scared you off and you still want to publish that book, go back to step one and finish writing the darn thing.

Saturday Snippet – Stuckey’s Gold

Here’s a snippet from my coming release:


stuckey Gold Cover smallBlurb

In 1840, Pierre Juzan was an innkeeper on the shores of Lake Juzan. His business was successful, but he wanted more. One day he got wind of a coach transporting a trunk of gold near his home, and his actions on that fateful day would spark an Indian curse that would haunt his family for four generations. Seventy years later, can Penelope Juzan break the curse, or will she suffer the same tragic fate as her forefathers?

“The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” and “Stuckey’s Legacy: The Legend Continues” told tales of the gold leaving a trail of destruction from Meridian, Mississippi to Jekyll Island, Georgia. In “Stuckey’s Gold: The Curse of Lake Juzan,” we may find the victims in the original tales were merely bit players in a story that is far darker and more sinister than one could imagine.

“Stuckey’s Gold: The Curse of Lake Juzan” is the final installment in the “Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy” and is the tale of four generations struggling to escape a curse caused by greed.


The sun had already reached its highest point and was slowly beginning its descent behind them. By the look of the shadows, Leon guessed it was around three o’clock. He knew the traveling distance from the county line, so he figured the coach would be arriving at any moment. As he recalculated its arrival time, he heard horse hooves on the road. The two sat silent and still on their horses and watched the man from last night trot past them. Their plan was to let him travel by unharmed as to not warn the drivers of impending danger. They would take care of him later.

Not more than a few minutes had passed before they heard the grinding of wagon wheels. Two men sat in the driver’s seat of the wooden coach. One was whistling a tune. Leon was feeling anxious and wanted to get on with it, so he decided to make the annoying whistler his first target. He pulled out his bow, armed it with an arrow, took aim through the trees, and let his arrow fly. It hit its intended target and the whistling abruptly stopped. The whistler slumped in his seat, an arrow through the left side of his neck. The horses didn’t flinch, but the man’s partner looked over at him and his jaw dropped. Leon quickly pulled out another arrow, aimed, and put it through the chest of the second man as he still stared at his partner in disbelief. The second man slumped in the seat.

From higher up on the hill, Pierre rode his horse out of the woods and fell in line behind the wagon. He gave Leon a nod. Leon nodded back. Leon tucked his bow away and emerged from the woods, trotting alongside the wagon. The wagon’s team kept pulling the wagon forward, oblivious to the fact they no longer had a driver. They began to pick up speed as the road began to slant downhill. Leon grabbed the side of the wagon and pulled himself onto it, abandoning his own horse on the road. He crawled across the canvas back and climbed over the rail, into the driver’s seat. He grabbed the whistler by the shirt and pushed him over the side. The man plopped onto the road like a sack of potatoes, and Leon felt the coach jostle and heard bones snap as the back wheel of the wagon ran over some part of the whistler’s body. He grimaced at the sound.

Behind him, Pierre grabbed Leon’s abandoned horse’s reins and continued down the hill, pulling Leon’s horse along with him. Leon glanced back and saw both horses neigh and rear up when they approached the whistler’s body unexpectedly sprawled in the middle of the road.

He turned his attention back to the coach’s horses. They were now nearing a gallop down the hill. He reached down on the floor of the wagon and fumbled around until he found the reins. He grabbed them and was about to pull back on them when the butt of a gun came down on top of his head. He saw stars as he fell to the floor of the coach. He turned his head and saw the whistler’s partner pointing a revolver at his face. As the driver clicked the hammer back, Leon kicked the gun out of the man’s hand. He heard it bounce off the edge of the wagon then discharge as it hit the ground. The sound echoed through the trees, startling the wagon’s horses who took off at full gallop.


STUCKEY’S GOLD is available at Amazon!

Saturday Snippet – Okatibbee Creek

okatibbee_cover frontIt’s been a while since I posted a snippet. The following is from my book Okatibbee Creek. The heroine of the story is my 3rd great grandmother. She barely survived the Civil War and typhoid running rampant through her family. In this scene, the war is over and disease has passed, she is older and having a discussion with the slave who raised her.


I look up and see Bertie slowly walking up the road toward daddy’s house. She’s wearing a dark blue dress and a floppy straw hat covering her eyes.

“Hi, Miss Bertie,” I yell to her as I wipe away my tears and put a smile on my face.

“Hi, baby girl.” She waves back.

“What brings you out on this lovely morning?” I ask when she finally reaches the porch and plops down on the step. She takes off her hat and reveals her gray hair tied in a bun. She sets her hat next to her and wipes beads of sweat off her forehead with her handkerchief.

“I was just on my way to your house to see the babies and to see how you are doing,” she says as she tucks her handkerchief back into her sleeve.

I can tell by her demeanor that there is something more on her mind, but I figure she will tell me when she is ready.

“Well, it’s nice to see you. We are all doing fine at home,” I reply.

“That’s good to hear, baby girl.”

“Bertie, I’m forty-one years old. How long are you going to call me baby girl?” I tease her.

She laughs. “You have been my baby girl since I came to your daddy’s house when you were six years old. You will always be my baby girl.”

“Aw, you know I love you, Miss Bertie.” I reach over and pat her bony hand.

“And I love you, too, baby girl. You know, you have always been the smartest and most beautiful of your momma’s children. And with everything you have been through, you have become the strongest and most courageous woman I have ever known.”

She pauses and looks out across the yard as her mind wanders to another time and place. After a moment she adds, “Your momma and daddy would be very proud of you, but it was a blessing they were not around to witness all the pain and loss we went through.” She pauses again and looks out across the yard. “You’re also a wonderful mother.”

I can tell she’s leading up to something.

“I don’t know what I would have done without you, Bertie. You helped me through so much.”

“I know what you went through, baby girl. I witnessed it all. I have seen you stand strong in the face of disaster and death and sickness and hunger. You have faced every adversity with courage and every defeat with dignity and grace. I’m very proud of you, more than you’ll ever know.”

My eyes well up with tears as I feel a mixture of being touched by her kind words, and trepidation that she is going somewhere awful with this talk.

“Bertie, your love has been one of the reasons I have been able to be strong and steadfast. Together, we have laughed and cried through so much,” I say as I stare straight ahead at the field.

Memories come flooding back, along with the sadness and the happiness. Rice, Daddy, Momma, Monroe Franklin. I shake the memories off and look back at Bertie.

“I have the feeling you weren’t headed all the way to my house just to tell me you’re proud of me.” I stop and wait for her to speak.

“Well, baby girl, like I said, you have always been the smartest of your momma’s children.” She takes a deep breath and exhales. I wait patiently as I watch her build up her courage. “Well, I have not been feeling very well lately and I saw the doctor. He said he can’t do much for me and I may not be around much longer. You know I have raised Tony as my own since his parents died of the fever. He’s only thirteen and not quite ready to face the world on his own just yet.” She looks away. I can tell she is trying to get through this speech without crying. Finally, she turns to me and looks me straight in the eye. “I want to ask you to take care of Tony when my time comes. I can rest easy if I know you will do that for me.”

“What? Bertie, of course I will take care of Tony. But I don’t want to hear anything about you being gone. We’ve been through too much together and everything finally seems to be turning around for the better.” I pause, wondering if that is really true. Is everything going to be all right?

I continue, “We’ve walked straight through the midst of hell and we are just now starting to find our way back.”

“I hope you’re right, baby girl, but we can’t control what the good Lord wants to do. We just have to handle it the best we can when it comes.”

I nod and quietly say, “Bertie, I will do whatever you need me to do.”

“I know you will, baby girl. I just thought it would be nice to ask.” She winks at me.

Using both arms to lift herself, Bertie slowly rises from the step. I stand up, too, and she gives me a long hug. She puts her hat on and carefully steps away from the porch, heading toward the dirt road. I yell “goodbye” to her and she waves her hand behind her head without turning around. She walks very, very slowly, favoring one leg more than the other, and I watch her until she shuffles out of sight.


Lori Crane Books at Amazon and on audiobook at Audible.

5-star review for ELLY HAYS!

Readers’ Favorite is one of my favorite sites. Click HERE to visit them. If you look down the left side of their page, you will find the genre of books you like and can spend hours and hours looking at great reviews of books. The site is a gem! One of their reviewers, Brenda Casto, gave my book ELLY HAYS a 5-star review! I’m tickled!! Here’s the LINK if you’d like to read it on their site or it is copied and pasted below. ELLY HAYS is the third book in the Okatibbee Creek series, but the books do not need to be experienced in order. Writing about Elly was very dear to me as she is my 5th great grandmother. She was one amazing woman! ♥


elly cover_webReviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers’ Favorite

Elly Hays is a story that takes place in the early 1800s. The book opens with a speech from Tecumseh urging the Creek Village that lives in the Mississippi Territory where Tafv and his son live to join forces and go to war against the white man. But many of the Creek have started adopting the white man’s ways, even marrying their women, so Tafv is torn about how to handle the problem. Meanwhile in Tennessee, James Rodgers has heard about cheap government land in Creek territory and convinces his wife Elly to move their eleven children there. When they arrive, they are faced with aggravation from the Creek, because Tafv’s plan is to run them off instead of killing them, hoping that they will go away and tell other whites how difficult it is to live on Creek land. The Rodgers are a tenacious bunch, though, and don’t go easily. But when Tafv’s only son is killed, he vows to seek revenge against the Rodgers.

Elly Hays by Lori Crane is a rare gem because it’s a fictionalized story based on a real family that lived during the 1800s. What makes it so unique is the way Ms. Crane portrayed the Indians in this story. Instead of portraying them as savages, she allows us to glimpse them as real people with real feelings, who grieve over losses just as the white man did. Tafv was a brave warrior, but more than that he was a caring individual that felt hurt and grieved deeply for those he lost. She provides insight into the plight that the Native Americans must have felt during this time period as they desperately tried to figure out a way to hold onto their way of life. Unfortunately, the Rodgers family found themselves in the middle of this struggle. Smoothly written, the chapters easily transition between Elly and her family and the issues with Tafv and his clan. Ms. Crane really did her research because she provides rich detail that truly allows the reader to feel as if they are part of the time she is describing. A historically rich tale where there are really no bad guys. Instead the author allowed me to see both sides. The epilogue and author notes added to this story in my opinion because it allowed me to learn what happened after the story. Historical fiction where there is plenty of truth woven in made Elly Hays a page-turning read for me.


Lori Crane Books at Amazon

Vote Vote Vote – I ♥ you all!

book-contest-semi-finalistTWO of my books are up for public opinion – the scariest thing in the whole world, no?

The 2013 AuthorsdB Book Cover Contest has placed the voting in your hands. I have TWO, yes, TWO books up for awards in THREE categories.

1) An Orphan’s Heart is a semi-finalist in the history category – VOTE HERE

2) and is a semi-finalist for COVER OF THE YEAR – VOTE HERE!

3) The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge is a semi-finalist in the mystery/thriller category – VOTE HERE!

I can’t thank you enough for supporting indie authors and all the crazy work we do. Today, I’m wearing my publicist hat! It looks good, huh?

I’d like to send out a HUGE thank you to my book designer ELITE BOOK DESIGN who created BOTH covers. I’ve been contributing a bunch of blogs over there as a thank you, so pop over and show them some love. If you need any indie publishing work done, from video trailers to website banners to book covers, ELITE is the company to use!

ELLY HAYS book tour – Last Stops: Reviews and Twitter Chat!

elly cover_webThe last stops of the ELLY HAYS book tour are for reviews.

One is on the other side of the pond at author Christoph Fischer’s and the other is right here in the U.S. at author PC Zick’s. They are both amazing and talented authors, and I’m thrilled they both liked Elly. I respect their opinions greatly and feel a huge sense of humility and thankfulness for their kind reviews. Pop over and tell them both Hi. Check out their books while you’re there.






twitter-chat-tree-11The very last stop of the tour will be tomorrow (Saturday, Nov 16, 4-5pm Eastern) for a LIVE Twitter chat. If you’ve ever thought about putting your own stories out into the world, come chat with us and we’ll be happy to point you in the direction. I’ll be joined by authors PC Zick, Anna Belfrage, Pat Fitzhugh, Beem Weeks, and book cover designer/formatting genius/video trailer producer/swag guru Rob Hess from Elite Book Design. Come asks us questions and hang out.

Join us through and use hashtag #ellyhays. If you’re not familiar with Tweetchat, it is a live, single-conversation Twitter feed, so you don’t have to surf through other Tweets. Also, you only have to put in the hashtag to join the conversation and don’t have to add it with every Tweet – Tweetchat will automatically do it for you. Gotta love technology!

See you tomorrow!!! ♥