I thought it was time to reintroduce my work to my new followers and readers. I am a writer. I’m also a wife, mom, friend, and therapy dog handler.
I have two book series out right now, plus a nonfiction book based on American history. It also happens to be my family history.
The Fairies of Carlow book series is for those who are able to read chapter books. The material should be appropriate for those in grades 3-6. I’ve also heard from adults who have enjoyed the stories of the fairy princes and princesses who live in the Kingdom of Carlow. While their lives are magical, danger lurks across the border. The horrible Red Caps have a kingdom the adjoins Carlow. Separated by a strong fierce field that is monitored by the Border Council, the Red Caps continually attempt to battle the fairies of Carlow.
Because of the Red Caps, the royal fairies are under strict rules. One daughter chafes under the restrictions and manages to escape. She becomes a commoner and lives as a peasant.
My second book series is about Guinness the Therapy Dog. These books are easy readers and expertly illustrated by an artist who lives in England. They tell the story of my big Bernese Mountain Dog as he brings happiness to high-risk kids and kids who like to read to dogs. Of course, we haven’t been able to do any therapy activities since the pandemic began. We both miss the kids, both at the shelter and at the library.
The nonfiction history book is called The Voyage and tells the story of John Wing as he goes to Oxford, becomes a minister, and takes his family around Europe as he searches for religious freedom. This is an easy reader and illustrated by the same artist who crafted the artwork for the Guinness the Therapy Dog series.
All my books are available on Amazon.com. If you search for my name, you’ll be able to see my entire catalog. This website has direct links to each title in the left margin.
Please leave a review on GoodReads.com and Amazon.com. Sonja
I have mentioned this Instagram account before, but I think it bears repeating. You should follow @august_musings. She is an inspirational poet and posts some amazing work.
I posted about her at the beginning of this month and dared you not to smile when you read her poetry. I still dare ya!
Also, @april.reads.and.proofreads is an exceptional proofreader. She has a manuscript of my evil twin’s and we are looking forward to her comments and critique.
And, both of these accounts came to me by way of @author_george_I_fleming, who writes thrillers set in Florida. Check out his books! I’m currently reading Bad Habits: A Tampa Bay Tropics Thriller available now on Amazon.com and through Barnes & Noble.
Of course, I need to mention my favorite military account @tigerstripedmisfits. This non-profit donates all its profits to military foundations (like the Green Beret Foundation). All monies are made with the sales off its website: tigerstripedmisfits.com.
Here’s another look at the journals I keep for each story. The photos show the journals for the Fairies of Carlow series.
I keep one journal for each book, with the pages divided into several sections: main characters, settings, events, chapter summaries.
They help keep continuity while I’m writing the book, and any books that may share characters or settings. (I’m a big fan of series’!).
By using a journal I can make sure the eye and hair colors of each character are consistent as I write. Sometimes, these things get lost inside my head and I can’t remember if I made someone a blonde, redhead, or a brunette. Also, I include height, preferences, things they hate/love, etc. Some characters get a full page, others get a half-page. It depends on how much I need to know about them.
For the Fairies of Carlow books, I found journals with covers that match each fairy’s signature color. (Confused? Now’s a good time to buy the books and find out what I’m talking about!)
I happen to love journals and tend to buy way too many of them. I have a stack of blank journals and a ton of pens that I need to find a use for. Did I mention my love of pens?
I have found that I don’t like gel pens… and try to find anything but those these days! I don’t know, the ink smears, it bleeds when you drip tea on it… But I love ballpoint pens and feel so posh when I use a fountain pen. I was given a Mont Blanc decades ago and feel so special when I use it. (But talk about wet ink and bleeding under drips of tea!)
Anyway, consistency is the key to good writing. Floor plans need to make sense. The barn needs to stay in the same place. And the sun needs to set in the same direction every evening.
I am a small business. So small, in fact, that I am the only person. Writing can be a lonely business. When I lean against the virtual water cooler to gossip, I talk to my dogs, including Guinness the Therapy Dog. They listen but don’t have any gossip of their own.
On the plus side, I am always the employee of the month!
I generally sit at the dining table to write. It is my designated writing space and gives me full access to my dogs, my tea, and my DVD player. I think my time in the newsroom made it necessary to have noise when I write. I usually stream Netflix or Amazon Prime or have one of my many movies playing. I don’t watch much, just hear the dialogue. Generally, I don’t even listen very closely, I just seem to need the noise.
Why don’t I listen to music?
It’s too distracting! Who’d have thought?
As I said, I think it goes back to my days in broadcasting when three or four police and fire scanners were blaring behind me, reporters were scanning their video or talking, and there was general ‘stuff’ going on around me.
Editing is a different story, and I need quiet. But during the initial creation (the icky first draft), I need the background noise.
Lately, I have been trying to keep up on the happenings in the publishing world. What a task! Things happen so fast.
A publishing house that I admired has closed its doors. Agents come and go from agency to agency. Books are published, make lists, and then are gone.
How to keep up?
Blogs, podcasts, and articles!
I’ve also found that some agents write essays on their websites that are full of information and tips
It’s our job as writers to watch the industry and learn what’s going on. There is a lot of information on the web. Go find it.
Local indie bookstores are great sources for info and books. The owners tend to know what’s coming down the publishing pipe and are happy to recommend titles. Just ask! These fascinating and fun stores are the lifeblood of the writing game.
Near where I live, there is a large book festival that attracts approximately 135,000 people. I love attending, showing off my books, and meeting the parents and children that stroll through all the booths and tables. I have found that most want to buy a physical book and aren’t interested in downloading an ebook. I love to see people walking past my table with bags of books.
It makes me optimistic about the future of the book world.
I hope you take the time to read today. Choose the format you like and find a comfy corner. I read printed and ebooks, plus listen to audiobooks in the car. Find what works for you.
When I write longer chapter books, as opposed to the illustrated easy-to-read books, I need to keep track of characters, settings, and scenes. The ‘Fairies of Carlow’ series v. ‘The Voyage’ or the ‘Guinness the Therapy Dog’ series is a good example.
I keep a journal for each book with sections for characters, settings, chapter summaries, and events. This way I can map out rooms, homes, gardens, etc. to make sure my writing is consistent.
Since I like to write series’, I keep notes on the characters so when I revisit them in another title I can stay consistent with who they are and what they look like.
Consistency is the key when creating a world, which is what each book does.
I don’t have journals for the Guinness the Therapy Dog series since they are shorter and less complex. Also, I have the real thing laying at my feet so I don’t need to go far for inspiration or to see exactly how the white blaze goes from nose to the top of his head.
Let me know your tips and tricks for keeping track of details! Sonja
As a writer, you will spend a lot of time with your characters, so you should really like them. Most stories take multiple rewrites and if you get tired of your characters, so will your readers.
I love Guinness the Therapy Dog and it is fun to write about him during all his adventures. I equally loved each of the fairy princesses in The Fairies of Carlow series and their handsome princes (and one particularly handsome farmer).
I hope you have the chance to read all of The Fairies of Carlow books. I think you will enjoy each of them. Sonja
It’s different when you write the text for a chapter book that doesn’t include pictures and writing for an illustrated book. The illustrations help the reader visualize what you’re writing about.
I didn’t have to describe the clothing in ‘The Voyage’ because the artist did such a phenomenal job with her research to show the clothing and the colors that were true to the period.
For ‘The Fairies of Carlow’ series, I took literary license to use clothing that was suggested by the Victorian period and was able to modify it as necessary for the stories.
The ‘Guinness the Therapy Dogs’ stories will be modern-day and the dress of the people he interacts with will be easily drawn. I probably won’t mention the clothing unless it directly affects the plot of the book.
And dogs don’t wear pants! Hey, that’s a good idea for a story!
The illustrations in ‘The Voyage’ also show the world occupied by John Wing as he traveled through Europe as a preacher. It helps the reader see where he stood in The Hague, Oxfordshire, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts (for his family).
Take a look at the beautiful illustrations of ‘The Voyage’. The illustrations for the first two books of the ‘Guinness the Therapy Dog’ series are being drawn by the artist right now!
I can’t wait to show you. Keep a lookout for the logo that will appear on the front cover of every ‘Guinness the Therapy Dog’ book. It’s spectacular and I will unveil it here on this website soon!
I’ve been asked by a lot of writers about how to get their story published. I always say to take the next step and get it out there.
No story is perfect and if you wait until yours is, it will never get published. Don’t wait for years to go by, edit that story and put it out into the world. Take the plunge. Take the risk. Take whichever overused saying will get you going.
If you want to write for yourself, that’s great. Do it.
If you want to write stories that others will read and enjoy, the only way to realize that dream is to publish it.
Stories take drafts, but it shouldn’t take you years and years of scrutiny over each word. Make it the best and then publish your story. Will it take you years to make it the best? Nah.
Find some friends who will read it for you, point out slow places, where they’re bored, and misspellings–fix those and then publish it.
You will never realize your dream unless you take that step.