Friday, September 26, 2014

Patriots and Patriotism

In barely a week away the book of my heart will be available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and more. It will be available for your Kindle, Kobo, Ipad or other compatible reading device. THE RED COCKADE will launch designed for Young Adults, but I have edited the story to focus on young and adult readers. The front page reads like this:

"This is the story of Joseph Onderdonk, a teen-aged colonist of Dutch heritage, who lived on Long Island New York during the American Revolution.
It is my hope that Joseph’s loyalty and courage will inspire young readers to develop a sense of identity with Patriots of our country’s past and that older readers will acquire a greater appreciation of our nation's freedoms at a time when patriotism is sorely needed.
You will see that I have fictionalized some of Joseph's adventures in the following  excerpt from the novel. However the historical persons and events are as true as the character, Joseph, himself.

The grey wall of the prison loomed high and forbidding. Fear for my father rose up around me like the prison walls we were approaching. Word had come to Cow Neck about prisoners being beaten and starved in the jails and aboard prison ships in the harbor. My heart gave a lurch when I saw a burly Redcoat standing guard.
The soldier stood with his feet planted wide in front of a big plank door. He gestured to Uncle with a long rifle held at an angle in front of him. “Move along, move along. No one ‘lowed in without a pass.”

“That I have.” Uncle said, withdrawing the folded paper from his coat and handing it to the guard. The soldier scanned the order quickly, returned it to Uncle Hendrick with a sneer, and motioned with his thumb to the big door.

“If it’s Capn’ Cuningham yer wantin, take the pass to the first room to yer right. You’ll find ‘im there ― that is if he’s of a mind ta see yah.”

Uncle’s grip on my arm was firm and sure. I felt myself being pulled through the door and down a dark hall. The hall looked to be as long as a man could throw a stone. The stench coming from cells on one side of the hall was the same as the smell of the dead cart that passed us at Whitehall Slip. My stomach knotted at the sound of groaning far down the passage way. Uncle turned into the first open door on the right. A high window showed scant light on a cluttered desk in the center of the room, but no one was there. He let go of my arm as we turned back into the hall. "Follow close behind me, Joseph. The captain must be about somewhere."

I was distracted by shapes in the shadows of the cells we passed and Uncle was soon several steps ahead, turning into another corridor. I hurried to make the turn and stumbled head first into a giant of a man. A huge coil of rope hung around his neck.Startled, I jumped back and looked up into the coal black face of the man towering over me. The Negro's ragged, filthy shirt smelled of sweat. He raised big hands up to adjust the coil of rope and stared mutely at me.

Uncle Hendrick stood in the middle of the passage facing a man wearing the uniform of a British officer. The man’s powdered wig was askew over his fat, red face. His eyes looked like dead fish eyes staring at Uncle.
"And what have we here?" he was saying to Uncle. "By what right do you prowl through my jail, sir?"

I moved quickly ahead to stand beside him. I could see a muscle twitch in Uncle’s jaw when he handed over the paper. "With permission of his majesty’s officer, General Robertson. We look for the provost, sir, for the release of Adrian Onderdonk. Would you be Captain Cunningham?"

"I am Provost Marshall, Captain William Cunningham," the man said, emphasizing each word. He read the paper and snorted in uncle’s face. His eyes narrowed, glaring at us for a long minute.
"Someone must have been owed a favor, then, I dare say," the Provost said, shaking the paper in front of Hendrick's face. "Just so, ‘twill be glad I am to see the last of the likes of Onderdonk. It means one less dammed rebel in here, traitor scum that he be."

"He’s not a traitor." I mumbled.My words hung there for a moment until Uncle grabbed my arm. I dared not look up, but sensed Uncle’s piercing gaze on me. He asked me to be silent.  Heat rushed up my neck as fear came with the sudden knowing that I may have put Father’s release at risk.

Captain Cunningham’s fish eyes held fire now. It seemed to me they could burn right through me. Uncle Hendrick pushed out one hand, fingers pointing straight up.

"He’s only a boy sir, and meant no disrespect. We’ve come in peace to see that your prisoner pays allegiance to the crown; that Adrian Onderdonk may be returned to his family."

The captain flung out his arm, pushing me aside. He growled at Uncle, his jowls shaking as he sputtered. "Then do so and be quick about it. It’ll be one less rebel I’ll need to hang."

Cunningham rapped his knuckles against the coil of rope hanging around the Negro’s neck and pointed to a ring of keys hanging from a rope around the slaves' waist. The captain held up five fingers, then motioned with his thumb toward the front of the prison. "Take them to cell five and out of here." he said before he stalked away.

I knew I had angered Uncle. I could feel his anger like a live thing moving with us down the dark hall, but fear for myself was quickly displaced as terrible moans and cries came from the cells ahead.

The big Negro opened the narrow cell door with a key. Two men lay on straw pallets on the floor. One moaned and tried to raise himself when we entered the cell. Blood from his head had soaked his pallet and pooled on the stone floor. The other prisoner lay still as death, curled into a ball. It was father.

Look for The Red Cockade  October 1st

Friday, September 19, 2014

Putting Product in the Pipeline by Jacqueline Seewald

Big Pharma is concerned with developing new drugs. They do lots of research and testing in an effort to “put product into the pipeline”. We writers in our humble way are also attempting to place our work out there for consumers.

We worry if there is too little product in the pipeline, if publishers are not buying our new work. However, it can also be a problem if too much product appears all at once because then there appears to be a glut of our work in the pipeline. It seems to cheapen our efforts. For instance, in April, three of my books were published by three different publishers: THE BAD WIFE (4th Kim Reynolds mystery novel) in both print and e-book, THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER (a clean read YA novel) as an e-book, and TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS (a Regency romance) which was previously published in hardcover, large print and now as an e-book. Needless to say, each book deserved my top promotion efforts. However, that can prove exhausting.

One good way to make our past print work available is to sell e-book publishers our backlist titles when possible. There are many readers who have not had the opportunity to read our prior work. Right now I am very happy to announce that my romantic suspense mystery thriller DEATH LEGACY will be returning next month in a brand new digital edition.

This spy thriller was originally published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in hardcover March 2012, followed by a hardcover large print Thorndike Press edition.  The novel received excellent reviews from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and BOOKLIST among others.  In September 2013, Harlequin Worldwide Mystery published a paperback edition which sold out in just a few months. This book has never before been available as an e-book.

The Novel Fox will publish the new digital edition. You can read all about it here:

More about this novel when the new edition is published next month! I’ll post on my personal blog:

As to new work, I recently signed with Five Star/Gale/Cengage for another hardcover print novel, but the publication date is February 2016. And so my efforts continue to place more product in the pipeline. To my fellow authors, I recommend diversification—write in a variety of genres. I believe it’s the best road to continued publication and increased readership.

Your thoughts and comments are most welcome!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Importance of Book Reviews

Every Sunday our local newspaper has a Books page with reviews and articles about new books and their authors. That page always brings me pleasure and good suggestions for new stories to read. is a great place to find out what other readers like about the books they've read. Authors always hope for the magic 5 star review, every time, but that's not realistic. Not everyone will like a book. The subject matter will not resonate with everyone, the language, the plot, the setting - not everyone likes the same stories. That's why I love the Goodreads rating system.

If I recall, 3 stars is for "I liked it." Four stars "really liked it." Five stars are "It was amazing." That's the scale I use to explain my review, regardless of where I leave it. As an author, I don't mind receiving a three star rating. Now, if I get the dreaded one star (I didn't like it) or a two star review (it was okay) - well, I would like to know why. I respect reader insights and keep them in mind for the next story. But the fact is, not everyone likes the same books.

So, I read the comments. If a reader likes the characterization but not the setting, I'll probably read it anyway because I like a character driven story. If they feel the characters are one dimensional then I probably won't enjoy it. But, it's not just the character that makes a story appealing to me. If the setting is vividly described and makes me smell the salt in the air, I love it. Readers want to be a fly on the wall, they want to "be there." That also makes a good book for me. A compelling story that will hold my attention - well, I'll be missing sleep over that one., are also great places to get review information. It's a great way to share your experience with other readers. Some local bookstores post reviews, as well. With the economy being so tight, the market for books being flooded, how does the reader know what book to spend their hard earned money on? Reviews.

We writers are readers and we want to know what works in our stories. We want people to enjoy our work. Take a few moments to share your experience. Even if you're not a writer, just a short sentence that says whether you liked (i.e. I liked the characters, they seemed real to me)  I didn't like a story (i.e. the characters seemed flat, unrealistic, but I liked the descriptions). There's usually something you like, even if you don't like it overall. Let the author know what they did right and let the reader know your experience. It's hard to write a book and even harder to read the reviews, because you can't please everyone.

Write for yourself. Read for yourself. Share your experience. You'll be glad you did. Enjoy the journey!

Bonnie Tharp’s novel, Feisty Family Values was published by Five Star Publishing in hardback and released in February 2010. Patchwork Family was released in paperback by Bell Books Publishing in March of 2014. You can find out more about Bonnie & her books at

Friday, September 12, 2014

Interview with Author Joan Reeves by Jacqueline Seewald

Joan Reeves, Bestselling e-book author of contemporary romance, began her career with traditional publishers like Five Star/Gale/Cengage. When ebook reading devices like the Amazon Kindle made ebook publishing easy, she embraced a new career path as an independent author/publisher. Most of her popular romantic comedies appeared and stayed on the Kindle Top 100 Paid List for several weeks, as well as being on various genre bestseller lists.

Joan's traditionally published novels have been published in a half dozen languages, and several of her indie published ebooks are available in France through Bragelonne, her French publisher. She also writes nonfiction for writers to motivate and inspire as well as help authors navigate the stormy sea of being a career writer.

Joan makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband. They have four kids who think they are adults and a ghost dog—all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter. She lives the philosophy that is the premise of all of her romance novels: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: My most recent work is a romantic comedy novella, April Fool Bride. I think my genre selected me. I just like humor with romance. Let's face it. Romance can be pretty darn funny.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I've always thought April Fool's Day was a peculiar kind of holiday. Several years ago, I almost bought a house on the ocean because it was located at April Fool Point. *g* Seriously though, I had an idea for a marriage of convenience story and a heroine who was not what she seemed at first glance. Since a deadline loomed prominently in the heroine's life, I thought I'd make that deadline be April Fool's Day.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer: I'm intrigued by celebrities in that the general public always has opinions about celebrities and trust fund babies who feature prominently in the tabloids. My heroine Madeline Quinn has been trying to live down her rep as Mad Maddie for the last few years. She learned some hard lessons and also learned how to accept her mistakes. Now she wants her full trust fund, but there's this pesky little clause that says she has to be married by her 25th birthday. Poor Maddie doesn't trust men as far as she could throw them. She's learned that they only see dollar signs when they look at her. But... There's one guy she thinks she can trust to marry her and not take her to the cleaners--Jake Becker, the housekeeper's son who was like a big brother to her when they were growing up together in her family's mansion.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I've published about a dozen ebooks to date. The novels are all romantic comedy. Some of the titles are Just One Look and Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones (more than 100,000 copies sold of each sold since 2011.) My most recent full-length novel is Scents and Sensuality. I've been waylaid by life in the last couple of years with my younger daughter's wedding and a few surgeries, then moving, buying a house and remodeling it, and a few other big time life stressors.

In other words, I'm behind on my writing! I have 3 series: San Antone Two Step, Texas One Night Stands, and The Good, The Bad, and The Girly.

I will be finishing the San Antone Two Step series in September with the publication of Cinderella Blue.

If my keyboard holds out--and my fingers--I'll be publishing Book 3 in the Texas series: Forever Starts Tonight, and, hopefully Book 2: Good Girl Conspiracy in The Good, The Bad, and The Girly.

I also have published 2  motivational nonfiction books for writers and will be publishing a book on blogging, Blog Ops: Search & Destroy Bad Blogging & Rescue Hostage Blogs in September.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  Cinderella Blue, Blog Ops, and outlining a Christmas short story.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I don't know if I can remember that far back. *g* Actually, I've always told stories. When I learned how to read and write--I was about five years old I--that's all I did. And continue to do I guess. It's just a joy.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: Accept your gift. I don't think God gives us the desire to do something without giving us the ability to do it. Many people say they want to write, but their journey is fraught with insecurity and lack of confidence. Embrace your desire. You can judge whether you have the narrative skills necessary to write. If you feel lacking, then study some books on writing. There are many excellent ones available. Read any of the really good blogs from authors. I've published since 2005. I also offer Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers. Many authors do. Educate yourself, and write, write, write. Practice does make perfect whether you're learning the piano or narrative skills.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: All my ebooks are available at most ebook sellers. Audiobook editions are at and iTunes. Print editions will be available, I hope, by the end of this year.

Note: Joan is available to respond to comments and questions from readers and fellow authors so ask away!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Next Mellingham by Susan Oleksiw

I've written a number of times on where stories come from. But today I'm describing a process that has led to a story I wasn't even looking for. I sketched out an idea for the seventh Joe Silva/Mellingham book, and filed it in my notebook. When I pulled it out, ready to start working on it, I knew it was the wrong story.

Lake Miedwie near Szczecin
A couple of years ago I came across a book about a race that circled the globe. This isn't the kind of thing I usually find in the library, but the title intrigued me. Godforsaken Sea by Derek Lundy is an amazing book. I don't know what I was expecting but it certainly wasn't a report on the 1996-1997 Vendee Globe, a race around the Antarctic. I was taken with the author's description of his own sail to Bermuda, and brought the book home. But then our dog, who had just entered the household a few weeks before, took a bite out of the book. He mangled the cover and the first few pages, but left the rest intact. I took the book back to the library and offered to pay for a replacement copy. As an afterthought I asked if I could keep the mangled copy.

I read this book in one weekend and would have taken longer if the book had been longer. I didn't want it to end. I'm not one for adventure tales, but courage on the ocean, to me, is the pinnacle of character. The author, Derek Lundy, describes encounters, challenges, moments that if contained in a novel would be considered too outlandish, too absurd, too extreme to be believed.

Mooring post in harbor
I loved this book, and I told everyone who would listen to me about it. I was a sidewalk, coffee shop (not so) ancient mariner with a story to tell. I pulled out an old boating manual my parents had purchased along with their first boat, back in the late 1940s, and I took note of the dog-eared pages and the light pencil marks. I found old photos of us aboard one of the three boats we sailed while I was growing up.

And then I found myself writing a story about sailing adventures I'd had as a teenager. These outings were not even as exciting as casting off a mooring in the Bay of Biscay but the story had legs, as some say, and after a while I tried turning it into a novel. The first effort failed, but the story will not die, and it is now re-coalescing around a man teaching his stepson to sail.

Chief of Police Joe Silva discovered in his stepson Philip a longing he didn't know he had, and Philip is eager to learn everything he can from the man he worships. So, while Joe is teaching safety and wind and wave patterns, someone else in the small town of Mellingham is looking to the ocean to satisfy an ambition of a different sort.

If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing this book, I would not have believed
210s with full spinnakers
them. I would have thought my experiences with Saturday afternoon racing through Salem Sound were too far in the past. Plus, I never loved racing. I liked messing about along the shore, dropping anchor in a cove and going for a swim or hike on the island. But when I began to write (or type), I remember how it felt to approach the start line and have the wind die, as it does among a dozen boats jockeying for position. I remembered scanning the waves for signs of hidden hazards, and I remember the chill that came over us when we saw fog sneaking up on us.

I was surprised at how much I remembered, but I shouldn't have been. Sailing is like a language, or a dance step. With a little nudging, the words come back, the hands know what to do, and the skipper looks up to check the wind and waves. Chief Joe Silva learned to sail as a very young man, and now Philip will too. But not everyone else will be taking to the water for pleasure, and skill with a tiller or a line will prove crucial.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Fridays!


This blog should have been posted on the fourth Friday of the month, but I make no apologies for missing the date. There were five Fridays in August and suffice it to say I was busy on all of them, but not just on Fridays. Birthdays, funerals and doctor visits left little time for writing, but write I did, and editing too.

 A YA story which has been on and off my shelf for a decade is finally headed for publication. I have tweaked, polished and read aloud THE RED COCKADE with certainty that it is a story that needs to be told.  It should inspire young and old at a time when our nation needs to catch the fire of loyalty and the preservation of freedoms. It is as sorely needed now as it was in 1777.  Watch for more about The Red Cockade before September ends.

I believe there is no scientific way to measure the quality of a story. Some award-winning books I have read simply did not measure up to a 5* rating or even a 4, but two books I’ve read this summer definitely did qualify. They were top drawer. In fact one of them, THE ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline is now chosen as one of two finalists qualifying for my Sarasota Library System’s “One Book – One Community” read of the year. You can read my own  review of it on www. Mary F. Schoenecker Writes . Other books about The Orphan Train have been written, but Kline has a hit with this one. I highly recommend it. I also rate highly HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN. It is masterfully written.

 I wish I had more time to read. If I had a dandelion I would say “I wish I May, I wish I might, Have the time to Read tonight.” Books are in my blood. Those I write and those I read. If you haven’t read my contemporary boxed set trilogy, Maine Shore Chronicles, look for it on Amazon and, soon to be, on Barnes and Noble too. A cozy mix of romance and mystery, Finding Fiona, Moonglade and Promise Keeper have each had three editions.