Sunday, 29 October 2017

Another back story: Redemption on Red River by Cheryl Caine

This week's blog is a revised version of a post we did in November 2014 to publicise Cheryl Cain's historical romance Redemption on Red River. It's an exciting book set in 19th century America and it has a rich setting with plenty for both history enthusiasts and those who enjoy a good love story. We talked to Cheryl to find out what prompted her to write her vivid period novel.

In brief, this is what ‘Redemption on Red River’ is about 
In 1837, at her graduation, Anna Collins has her whole life ahead – a teaching post, a handsome fiancé and a future which twinkles with promise. A week later, her life lies in tatters. Nearly destroyed by grief and despair, Anna decides to prove to both her fiancé’s family and her own, as well as to herself, that she can succeed as a teacher, and survive without a man in her life. When after a good search the only opening for her as a teacher is at Fort Towson in Indian Territory, she accepts it as an answer to her prayers.
Anna joins the Jewel Belle paddle steamer for her river journey. She promptly begins a host of adventures, including being rescued from a soldier’s drunken advances by the chivalrous Captain Nathaniel. Their friendship deepens, but when they separate at Shreve’s Town she finds herself doubting she will ever be truly loved. Throwing herself into her work, she battles with hostility from the townsfolk and a terrifying encounter with a native Indian, facing her demons again and again as she grows to understand herself and her new home. But it is not until a twist of fate brings both the men in her life back into the picture that Anna truly understands where her love lies, and that it cares not for time, but for the heart.
Over to Cheryl, who kindly answered the questions we posed to her: 

1) Can you describe ‘Redemption on the Red River’ in a short sentence?
It is the story of a young American woman who travels from Cincinnati, Ohio to Indian Territory in an endeavour to fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher and bettering the lives of children.
2) What inspired you to write the book?
An article in our local newspaper described an archaeological dig along Oklahoma’s southern border. The Red River, which is the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, served in the 1830’s as a major transportation route for delivery of supplies to American forts in the southern area of Indian Territory. A large steamboat, the Heroine, sank in the river while travelling to deliver food and other needed supplies to Fort Towson. The article piqued my interest in steamboat travel and my imagination took off with a story combining the actual event with a fictional character observing the sinking of the Heroine. 
3) What did you discover while researching for the story?
I found so much information about Oklahoma history that I didn’t know. Even though during my junior high school education, I took required classes on Oklahoma history, I never knew Oklahoma had at one time a viable waterway route. Because of the things I discovered, I’ve become more interested in other historical events in my state’s history-such as Civil War battles fought here.
4How did you begin writing the novel?  
After deciding I wanted to write a book with the events of the Heroine, I jotted down a loose outline and began writing. I wrote most of ‘Redemption of the Red River’ while participating in NaNoWriMo-National November Writing Month. The program is free and voluntary and the goal is to write 50,000 words during November. In order to stay on track during the month, I wrote in a notebook during my lunch break at work and in the evening, I took up where I left off during the day, typing on a computer. For an online writing class, I wrote a paragraph as an assignment describing an annoying mosquito and when I began writing the book, I wanted to include the paragraph. 
Many thanks to Cheryl for this interesting back story. Who knows what chance incident will inspire a writer to start a novel? For Cheryl, it was the article first and then the motivation provided by NaNoWriMo. Since November is upon us, how many others will be taking part in this motivating competition?
And here is one of the reviews of Cheryl's exciting book:

MJ Heatley writes: When I started reading Redemption on Red River I wasn’t sure if I liked Anna, I wanted to shout at her that she was better than Martin. But she surprised me and I was taken on a journey with her and was proud of the way she fought and survived everything thrown at her. Cheryl R Cain’s writing is accomplished and the historical research really brings this novel to life. An excellent debut novel. 

For those interested in reading the book, the link to the Amazon Kindle edition is here

Monday, 23 October 2017

Autumn delights

After enjoying some wonderful warm weather here in the northern hemisphere this autumn, we are now finally having proper seasonal weather, complete with gales, rain and leaves heaping up everywhere. The great outdoors starts to look less attractive, so what better time than to choose some good books to read?

As we've mentioned before, we are rather proud of the fact that Sunpenny's authors stem from far and wide over the world, so whatever your tastes, we have books that will appeal to a range of readers. If you're fed up with the rain, Stephanie Parker McKean, Sandra Peut and KC Lemmer will transport you to the sun. If the heat is getting to you, Valerie Poore and Julie McGowan will embrace you in the beauty of winter scenery. What about romance? Then Debbie Roome and Janet Purcell will bring you charming stories set in New Zealand and New England.

We have sailing adventures from Tonia Parronchi and Corinna Weyreter, and historical dramas by JS Holloway and Cheryl Cain. And for children who love reading and adventure, we have a whole series of delightful books by Sonja Anderson, Suzanne Cordatos and Elizabeth Sellers.

The best news of all is that all the e-versions of our books are set at the exceptionally reasonable price of $2.99 on Kindle until the end of the year, so take advantage of these high quality books at this very affordable price!

Click on the authors' names to view their books and reviews, and enjoy some richly rewarding autumn reads! 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Book Blogs reviews? What use are they to readers and authors

In this series of blog posts about reviews, we've seen how our authors learn from reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, from personal emails and from feedback at real time book talks, not to mention internet Q&A sessions. This week, though, as the last of these posts, we are going to look at book blogs and what they do for both the reader and the author.

Many book blogs are set up by enthusiastic readers who simply enjoy reviewing the books they have read. There are a few more professional blogs, but it is probably true that most book blogs are written by book lovers who may, or may not, have a preference for a particular type of book.

One of our author's books reviewed on the popular
Terry Tyler Book Reviews Blog

So how do book blogs help readers?

If you find a particular blogger who leans towards the type of books you like, it's very useful to follow their blog, knowing they will write regular reviews on the genres of books you as a reader enjoy. Our author, Val Poore, claims to be a voracious reader and she likes to follow certain bloggers whose book tastes match her own.

"As a reader, I love crime fiction and murder mysteries," Val says. "It's not always easy to decide which new authors to try and if you don't know a name, you might not risk it. For this reason, I follow about four different book bloggers to see what they are reviewing and I quite often base my choices on the reviews they post. The great thing about blog posts is that the reviews tend to be longer than the average review on Amazon or Goodreads, so you get more of an in-depth account. I like that very much and it really helps me to decide who to take a chance on."

For writers, book blogs are a great way to promote their books for exactly the same reasons Val has mentioned above. She says:

"As an author too, I am thrilled when a book blogger reviews one of my books. I know for sure that it helps spread the word and the advantage of a blog post is that I can share it on many different platforms. I have also noticed sales spike when a popular book blogger has reviewed my books, which is always great news, but the most important aspect of a book blog review is that it garners interest and  - if the review is good - respect. There is something about recognition from a book blogger that makes readers sit up and take notice."

From Books With Wine and Chocolate, a review of
Val Poore's Watery Ways

Most of the time, book bloggers also post their reviews on the major online bookstore sites, but the blog post itself is a more personal platform, so readers and writers alike, take note: follow a good book blog and find some great reads! And writers? Submit your books to book bloggers for a review. If they accept them, it can only do you good!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Reviews that come from word of mouth: Janet Purcell and Valerie Pooreshare their experiences

In recent weeks, we've blogged about what our authors have learnt from their readers' reviews. There are, however, other forms of feedback than reviews received on Amazon and through website response. Readers' impressions can also come via word of mouth – literally. This week, Janet Purcell and Valerie Poore tell us what they have experienced from talking to their readers.

Janet Purcell

"The biggest surprise for me came when I was meeting with a book club. They were discussing my novel Rooster Street and one person said she found a ribbon running through the entire book of mother-daughter relationships. Other readers then agreed. I had not intended that and had not even realized it was so.  But I then realized this was the case in my two novels The Long Way Home and Singer Lane also.  

Now as I'm drafting novel  number 4, I'm very much aware that it's happening again. As in the first three books, this is not the main thrust of the story, but now I see it forms a web that supports everything else that is going on. As a writer, it's very helpful to me to have had this pointed out because, knowing it, I can be sure to keep it as a subtle support and not have it become so prominent it will distract from the major story line."

This type of discussion can be very useful to the author. Valerie Poore has also learned what readers have enjoyed through online real time discussions she has had during guest days in the spotlight on the Facebook group We Love Memoirs.

Valerie Poore

"I've learned that memoir readers love a series, and what they have enjoyed about my books is the ongoing story of my watery life. It also seems my readers have felt they were with me on my travels and during the early days of my barging experiences, and that they now associate me with this lifestyle. When I asked what it was that made them feel this, part of it was explained by my use of the present tense in my books even when writing about events that took place 15 years ago, so that was a useful tip for me. Many of them said it helped them feel as if they were standing next to me on my barge.

On the negative side, others said they didn't like too much detail about the mechanics of the boat and the locks through which we travelled as they were more interested in reading about the environs of the canals and impressions I gained of the people and places I encountered. This is all great feedback for me when I write my next boating travel memoir. 

I find that this type of interactive discussion with readers is very honest and I can ask questions myself too. In many ways, it is even more useful than a written review, which can only ever be one-sided."

Many thanks to both Janet and Val for these contributions. It's always good to know how readers help writers and vice versa. Next week, we will look at book blog reviews as the last in this series of posts on reviews and what they can do for authors and readers.

For those interested in Janet and Valerie's books, the links to their Amazon author pages are below.