Friday, 29 November 2013

Featured Friday: The Alien Mind by Virginia Lori Jennings

Featured Friday: The Alien Mind by Virginia Lori Jennings

Featured Friday

The Alien Mind by Virginia Lori Jennings

Title: The Alien Mind
Author: Virginia Lori Jennings
ISBN: 978-1480111561

Book blurb: 
Perfect for any science fiction reader in your life!

Young Rivinaig shares her adventures and trials that began on that fateful day when a group of aliens called the Aruk abducted her and several other children. Another group of aliens called the Aunantet rescue the children and raise them as their own. Their new families teach them how to harness the full capacities of their brains, enabling them to defy the laws of physics and develop special mental abilities.

The past returns to haunt them as the Aruk plot revenge and make a bid to regain their control; the fate of the entire galaxy depends on whether the children can maintain their freedom.

A 4-8 grade novel, written to be enjoyed by all age groups!

Author bio:

Virginia Jennings lives in South Carolina with her husband, three kids, and two cats. She graduated from High School at 16 and was published by the time she turned 18. She is the author of two science fiction books and has plans in the works for two fantasy books as well. Her ideal evening is spent watching Star Trek or Dr. Who with her family over dinner. She enjoys playing putt putt and watching the latest sci-fi or action adventure movie. She does most of her best writing in the car as her characters prefer to talk to her while she is driving. Finding time to write down what they tell her- now that is where the real challenge is! When she is not hanging out with her family or writing she also runs the 'Where Writers And Authors Meet' writers group online.
Author website and/or blog url:

Some reviews of the book:

I recommend "The Alien Mind" to teens, adults, and science fiction lovers. The story is interesting from beginning to end, the plot is superb, and the characters come to life within the first few chapters. "The Alien Mind" is a science fiction thriller that reveals the extraordinary battle for freedom as the children become determined to fight for their rights with an extraterrestrial army. The story is as entertaining as "Independence Day" as it fills the pages with unparalleled magic, and imagination. ~ Geraldine Ahearn

My tween daughter really enjoyed this book. It was a great read to share and read together. Love the concept. Nice work! ~ Quakid_reader

The Alien Mind is a book that is out of my normal genre of books, but after reading a review I had to give this book a try and I am very glad I did. The overall moral of the book of friendship and perseverance struck a chord with me. It is a book that I will share with my teen readers too. ~ Mary

Mini Interview:

Why did you write this book? There were numerous reasons I wrote this particular story. The first reason was that I wanted to write something that would inspire future generations to to reach for the unknown. When I was in my middle school years (12-15yrs old) I had trouble finding science fiction books that I found interesting. I wanted to show that science can be fun and I also wanted to do something different which is why we have a teenage human girl featured as the 'space visitor'.

Anything in particular you'd like to share about this book or it's creation? The publication of The Alien Mind has been a dream come true for me. This book started with some leisure research into Quantum Physics and turned into one truly wild ride. I have watched Rivi start out as a scared little girl struggling to forget her past and grow into a confident teen who is ready to protect those she cares about. The story does continue, though Rivi hasn't had a moment to finish telling it to me yet.

What can we expect to see from you in the future? Currently on the agenda for the end of this year is a reprint of Visionary From The Stars that is in production with PDMI Publishing and their sci-fi and fantasy imprint Rara Avis. Also being released soon from PDMI Publishing and their children's imprint Tari Books is a childrens picture book that I have illustrated called Wiggle Worm's Shape Adventures.

Besides those I am also working on a sci-fi/fantasy blended series with a girl who disguises herself to become a knight.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

3 Things Author Spotlights

I recently started doing a new feature on my Jo Linsdell page on Facebook, where on Sundays, I do an author spotlight called #3Things. For this feature I host guests to share 3 things about themselves and their book. 

1) Why you wrote the book (in answer can include brief book blurb) 
2) A summary of your writing career so far 
3) Your hobbies outside of writing. 

The post will include a link to your website, blog or other url of your choice and a jpeg of cover art for the book you wish to promote. 

I'm flexible about the 3 things so if you'd prefer to share about another aspect/topic you are welcome to change the 3 points covered. So if you'd rather tell us about a book signing you have coming up or all the awards you've been winning instead of sharing your hobbies, feel free to modify the 3 things in your list.

This is an ongoing weekly feature, so if you want to be featured inbox me your stuff via the Facebook page to reserve your spot.

So why am I doing this feature?

There's actually a few reasons:

1) I think it's important to support other writers. As a writer I appreciate all those who offer exposure for authors and their books and so try to do my bit.

2) Whilst I would love for everyone to read my books I think spreading the word about books and encouraging reading in general is a good thing.

3) It's good karma. A lot of the people I host will step up when I need someone to host me.

4) It's good for page interaction. Guests share their posts, leave comments on the page and encourage their friends to drop by and leave comments on their posts. They therefore increase traffic to my page and help it show up better in search results and on newsfeeds.

5) It gives me easy, copy and paste content for my page that I can program in advance. Sundays tend to be family day in our house and so I often don't get near my computer. They are however one of the best days for traffic and shares. As Facebook offers the possibility to program posts it means I can still be active on my page even when I'm out having fun with my family and friends.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

How to write a book review

Book reviews are one of the things us authors love to get. They are also one of the hardest things for us to get. Whilst thousands of people have read my books only a small handful of them take the time to post a review once they're done reading them.

Posting a review only takes you a minute but can make a huge difference to the author and ultimately the success of the book. People note the books that have lots of reviews posted for them. They read the reviews when making the decision whether to buy a copy of the book or not. On a more technical level, reviews are also taken into consideration by the Amazon algorithm and they will push a book that's getting a good response in their email campaigns, etc... meaning some excellent free exposure for the book. I won't go into the details of how their algorithm works but trust me, it makes a big difference. All this makes us authors very happy people indeed.

So now you know why it's important, let's take a quick look at how to write a review. It's not as hard or time consuming as you might think.

What did you think of the book? You've just finished reading the book, what did you think about it? Was the plot amazing? Did you love the illustrations? Couldn't put it down? Kids asked to read it again as soon as you'd finished? Learnt something new? What ever genre you're reading, at the end of the book you'll have something to say about it. It doesn't have to be detailed. A sentence or two will do. Just a brief summary of what you thought/ liked about it.

You're a reader, not a professional book reviewer. What's important is to know what you thought of the book. Did you like it? Why? and would you recommend it to others?

Here's an example of a review that was left for Fairy May:

5.0 out of 5 stars enchanting story January 31, 2013
Fairy May is a story that will draw in younger children with it's colorful, playful illustrations and clever writing. Younger children will favor it as a bedtime read, while older children learning to read can choose it to practice their craft. Well produced with high quality!

This is one that was left for Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home:

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for writers September 27, 2013
By Jenny
Format:Kindle Edition
I just read Jo Linsdell's book, Virtual Book Tours, and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I've read lots of books aimed at helping writers market their books but this one stands out from all the rest. It's easy to understand and the information is useful, not just filler for a book. It will be my guide as I plan and set up my virtual book tours and I'm sure, because of this book, they will be a huge success. I will be buying the hard copy once it is available. Thank you Jo!

(She sent me a message on Facebook the day the paperback version came out telling me she'd bought one).

As you can see, neither review was particularly long. They were just both brief summaries of what the reader thought of the book.

Have you read one or more of my books? Want to give me a fabulous Christmas present? Drop by my author page on Amazon and post a review on one or more of my books. Whilst you're there you might also want to click the like button on my author page and sign up to get an email from Amazon when my new books are released (see arrow on image below).

Screenshot from my author page on Amazon
Thanks and I look forward to reading your reviews.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Supporting Authors on Goodreads

Goodreads is a social media platform for book lovers. You get your own profile where you can post about books you've read, are reading, or want to read. You can feed your blog posts directly to your profile too. Then there's all the groups available. There really is one to suit everyone's tastes... and if you can't find the right one for you, you can always start your own. Special sessions where you can interact with your favourite authors and give-away's where you can win free books.

So how can you support authors on Goodreads?

1) Add their books to your to-read lists.

2) Mark their book as "reading" so people know you're reading it.

3) Post a review once you've finished it.

4) Add the book to/vote for the book on lists.

5) Suggest the book to friends that you think might enjoy it.

6) Share the books page on your social media profiles

7) Vote for the book in the annual Goodreads Choice Awards

8) Become their fan.

And lastly, 9) suggest the book to reading groups on site.

All these things help increase the visibility that the book/authors get and therefore you play an important role in the success of the book... not to mention motivate the author to create more books for you to enjoy ;)

You can find me on Goodreads at

Can you think of any other ways readers can support their favourite authors on Goodreads? Leave a comment below.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Multiple Best Seller

Over the past week several of my books have been in the best seller lists on Amazon.

Out and About at the Zoo in "Children's eBooks > Zoo's"

A Birthday Clown for Archer made is to #1 in "Parenting Emotions & Feelings" and #4 in "Babies and Toddlers"

If you've got a copy of these, or my other books, please take a minute this week to post a review to the Amazon product page.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

November Challenges Progress Report: Week 3

Still rocking this month's challenges :D 

Progress report week 3

NaNoWriMo: Still on target! This week my characters completely took over. I reached the point of the story that I had originally planned on being the end and things took a twist. I'm now not sure what's going to happen at the end but I'm loving how things are unfolding.

PiBoIdMo: I have a total of 25 ideas on my list so far. 

NonFiWriMo: Still not much progress on this one. With Twitter going public, and having discovered certain changes already taking place on site and announcements of others in the works, I've lost steam on this one a bit. Still hoping to find my groove before the end of the month though. All hope it not lost...yet.

What I discovered this week:

1) Sometimes even when I plan things, they don't turn out like I thought they would.
2) I can pump out a heck of a lot of words when I want to.
3) Sometimes I surprise myself with what I come up with.

Are you taking part in any of these writing challenges this month? How was week 3 for you?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Featured Friday: The Huffs & The Lost Prince by Lew Su Ann

Title: The Huffs & The Lost Prince

Author: Lew Su Ann


Book Blurb:
Ever wonder what lies beyond the end of the rainbow? Follow the rainbow and plunge into a colorful mushroom field where you'll get to meet the Huffs! The Huffs is made up of three good friends; Puff the smart pink owl, Ruff the silly blue dog and Tuff the daring orange raccoon. In this first book, The Huffs & The Lost Prince, the three good friends embark on a quest when Tuff finds a mysterious golden egg hidden behind some bushes.

Authors self portrait
Author Bio:
Author and illustrator Lew Su Ann worked as a graphic designer, but has always dreamed of writing and illustrating her own children’s books. In 2013, she combined her love for cute characters and fun stories into creating children's picture book to bring children into her colorful and fun world. Su Ann is thrilled to share her book, The Huffs & The Lost Prince, with young readers worldwide.

Author Website and Facebook page:

Review comments received in Amazon:
By Mary
5 Star Review
A beautiful, cute, lovely story about The Huffs. The 3 funny friends, Puff, Ruff & Tuff found a golden egg. Each one of them wanted to keep it to himself, but the egg had other plans... Eventually they went on a magical journey to bring back the baby owl (founded in the egg...) back to his parents. They were all rewarded at the end. The drawings and colors are truly beautiful and add humor and fun to the story. I highly recommend it for young children.

By Richard A. Okun
5 Star Review
I love this book - The Characters are very likeable - the story is an adventure with friends, the illustrations are vivid and a really nice mixture of character-studies which are more fine art than cartoon. The style of drawing matches perfectly the personalities of the animal leads. I especially liked the way they handled the guards which is a life lesson on how to handle adversity. This book will be treasured by those that purchase and read it... simply delightful...

By Tattie's Christian Book Finds
5 Star Review
This is a very well made picture book for Kindle. It's about 24 fully illustrated pages with a few lines of text on each page. It's about three friends who are on a quest to return a baby owl to its parents. The Huffs & The Lost Prince is imaginative and fun! I recommend it to my blog audience.

Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book so that children can enjoy reading the story and looking at the illustration together with their parents. To let their creative imagination run free with colors and fun characters, as I still do with thanks to great authors like Roald Dahl and illustrators like Quentin Blake.

Anything in particular you'd like to share about this book or its creation?
Before this book, I’ve illustrated an A to Z flash card about occupation for children with these 3 characters – Puff, Tuff and Ruff. I didn’t want to shove them back into my mind; instead I want to share them with children all over the world. That’s how the book was created. It was to give life to The Huffs, just like all the mascots and characters created by designers.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
At the moment, I’m revamping the current website to feature more freebies (like coloring & activity sheets and fun facts) for children. I’m also working on the second picture book of The Huffs that will have a huge dark figure lurking around the mushroom field where they lived.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

VBT Video Series: Behind the Scenes

Today I'm sharing some behind the scenes info and insight about my book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

For more video's, subscribe to my YouTube channel at

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

VBT Video Series: Top Tips for Virtual Book Tour Success

In today's video I share my "Top Tips for Virtual Book Tour Success"

Drop by tomorrow for a look behind the scenes of my latest book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

VBT Video Series: Are Virtual Book Tours Still Relevant?

In today's video I answer the question "Are virtual book tours still relevant?"

Drop by tomorrow for "Top Tips for Virtual Book Tour Success"

Monday, 18 November 2013

VBT Video Series: What are Virtual Book Tours?

All this week I'm going to be sharing a series of video's I recorded about virtual book tours. First up is this one where I answer the question "What are virtual book tours?"

Drop back tomorrow for "Are virtual book tours still relevant?"

Saturday, 16 November 2013

November Challenges Progress Report: Week 2

Another productive week. I'm loving these challenges this year and feeling positive about winning them all. 

Progress report week 2

NaNoWriMo: Still on target. So much has happened in the novel this week and I needed to regroup my ideas towards the end of the week to get my focus back. Happy to say I'm now more organised with my story line and have a clear idea for the upcoming scenes. 

At times, it was tough to stay motivated this week. I got a cold (it's now officially November). On the 14th I didn't reach my daily target for the first time. I did however let myself get an early night and made up for it on the 15th with one of my most productive days yet. I've also stocked up on fresh fruit and dried fruits like figs for healthier snacking. I may have abused the "treating myself to chocolate for words written" system and my body is clearly calling out for something with vitamins.

PiBoIdMo: I have a total of 20 ideas on my list so far. I LOVE #18 and it's taking all my will power not to jump into working on it right now. Too much going on this month though. It will just have to wait until December.

NonFiWriMo: Did some work on my outline this week and feeling like I'm back on track. 

What I discovered this week:

I learnt that it's OK to take some time off. It wasn't an easy choice to quit on the 14th before hitting my daily goal and I felt guilty for doing so, but I needed the rest. Turns out it worked in my favour as 15th went great and I made up those missing words straight away.

Also, sometimes the most simple ideas are the ones that get you most excited.

Are you taking part in any of these writing challenges this month? How was week 2 for you?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Featured Friday: The Stone Lions by Gwen Dandridge

Title: The Stone Lions
Author: Gwen Dandridge
ISBN: 0989315789
ASIN: 978-0989315784

Purchasing links: 

Book blurb: 

In the last throes of the 14th century, Islamic Spain is under pressure from Castile and Aragon. Ara, the twelve-year old daughter to the Sultan, finds herself in the center of a political intrigue when her eunuch tutor is magically transformed by the evil Wazir. Can a little girl save her friend and tutor with the help of a Sufi mathemagician.
Intertwined in a mystery of math, art and magic, Ara races to find the seven broken symmetries before time runs out? Will she succeed or will the Alhambra fall and with it all that she loves?
And will the stone lions awaken in time to help her?
This cross-cultural fantasy combines mystery and math to teach the geometry of symmetry.
Author bio: 
was born in the deep South, where many writers are grown along side the cotton and horses of that rich land, but I lived on Long Island most of my first years. It was after I moved to Berkeley, dragging along three small children, that I started to think about creating something more...
For awhile I managed to subsume most of my afterwork creativity into dance. I flitted from Scandinavian to Irish, to English step dancing, to Morris dance and sword. Having a short (or sometimes long) fling with each until finally settling on Morris and English short sword (Rapper) as my favorites.
Northern Renn faire was a hoot to participate in as was the Sidmouth International Dance festival.
After moving to Central California and marrying my love, my creativity has evolved yet again, into more tangible forms: mosaics, stained glass, and finally, writing.
Author website: www.gwendandridge  
Review comments:

By Lynn on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
How fun the world might be if mathemagic was possible! In Stone Lions, Gwen Dandridge gives us a taste of a world where magic and mathematics work together to create strength.
Twelve year old Ara, the strong-willed daughter of the Sultan, waits eagerly for the arrival of Tahirah, a Sufi mathemagician. Ara would give much to be able to study with Tahirah. But then Ara spies the Wazir, her father's most trusted advisor, performing a strange and secretive piece of magic. Along with the spilling of blood and a foul stench, the spell causes a portion of the palace wall to twist out of shape.
When Ara and her best friend Layla are given a chance to study symmetry with Tahirah, they uncover an evil plot to bring down the Alhambra, the palace where Ara has grown up. Symmetry forms the basis of much of the architecture of the Alhambra, but evil magic has greatly weakened it. The girls, with the aid of their new tutor, begin a frantic race to find and mend the broken symmetries, hoping to save their home and their way of life--to say nothing of the old tutor, Suleiman, who has managed to get caught in the middle of all the intrigue.
The author does a terrific job of bringing the exotic setting to life, sharing fascinating details of life in 15th century Spain. Her characters are appealing, the action builds, and there is much humor throughout.
Stone Lions deftly melds the fun of magic with the intrigue of math to create an original middle-grade historical fantasy that is a pleasure to read.
By Valerie Hobbs on August 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've never been to the Alhambra but it feels like I have after reading Stone Lions. I love the magical elements in this book and the girls are endearing. A really fun read! (
By J. L. Kitchel on July 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase
Spain's Alhambra, "mathemagics" and symmetry come to life in this entertaining young adult mystery about a sultan's daughter trying to save her tutor and the Alhambra itself from a wily wizard. The story is a cleverly disguised lesson about symmetry with detailed images as visuals. Not only does it make clear this intricate concept, but also gives a bird's eye view of harem life in the 1400's along with some history thrown in for good measure. A fast, fun and instructive read!
This review is from: The Stone Lions (Kindle Edition)
I wish I'd written it! I visited the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens some years ago. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. A hidden gem with a sense of sadness hanging over it. The author brings its original inhabitants to life. The story is fast moving, thrilling and teaches you something at the same time. I dislike Maths and am uninterested in symmetry but even I liked it. The book also gives a taste of the beauty of the Muslim religion, untainted by the corruption of men. This is a crossover book - adults will enjoy it and older children too. I will keep it for my granddaughter and reread it often.

Mini Interview:
Why did you write this book?
While visiting the Alhambra, my friend, Dorothy, a math professor at Dartmouth, suggested that I write a children’s story to make math engaging to kids.
It struck a chord. The thing was, I had fallen in love with the Alhambra with its walls of art, water-spraying fountains, intimate gardens—and of course, the lions. Everything about it sang to me. The bad news was that I didn’t know anything about symmetry, band or other and--I had never written much more then college papers and the occasional newsletter article.
So even though I am math phobic and never mastered the twelve times tables—the opportunity to create a children’s fantasy that would combine math with art and history was more than I could resist. I’d always wished I could write.
With my usual dismissal of difficult truths, as I sat with my two friends traveling on the bus to Seville, Spain I sketched out ten chapters blurbs that I thought would be the basis of my story. How hard could this be? Ten chapters, ten pages each. Anyone could do that.
Fifteen years later, years of reading and researching, many, many writing critiques and a whole lot of rewriting, The Stone Lions is fully fledged with forty-three chapters and 230 or so pages.
Anything in particular you'd like to share about this book or it's creation?
Thank you for asking. The Stone Lions is notable as it melds math, art and multicultural history into a readable fantasy.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m very excited about the second book of this series, The Jinn’s Jest.  The story is well underway. In addition, a YA book, tentatively titled, The Dragons’ Chosen, is almost ready for launching.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Coming Soon: Jasmine at Work

I'm very excited to announce that Jasmine at Work will be released in the very near future. Our target launch schedule is for mid-late December 2013.

This is the first book in the Jasmine DreamsTM series. The Author is +Maria Rochelle (I'm doing the illustrating). Already having so much fun with this little pup and her friends :)

Here's the cover:

Book blurb:

“What if I did that job?”
Jasmine wonders, then dreams…”

Will she go to work? Who is her boss? What job will she do?
Follow Jasmine the Schnauzer as she dreams about working…

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