Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - October 18th 2017

In case you missed my post about it from Monday:

"Frank The Friendly Ogre" is now available in audio, read for you by narrator Fred Theodore Fadick III.

You can buy the audio version from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. See the post I just linked to for some links. There are links for the eBook and paperback editions in the post too, for those who prefer those formats.

Oh, and speaking of my books becoming available in audio: The blog tour for my degu books starts on Sunday, with posts on my own blog, as well as those of some nice people - many of whom are also authors - who have agreed to give me a spot on their blogs. I'll do a post round-up afterwards, like I did for the Toby books, so you can make sure you didn't miss anything. You especially don't want to miss the giveaway.

By the way, on the subject of giveaways, the ones for the Toby books are still open, since I haven't given away all the copies I'm offering. So, if you didn't enter and want a free set of the audiobooks, there's still time.

***

November is coming up fast, which means only one thing to many writers: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost here. Will you be participating this year? If you haven't decided yet, this post discusses why you should do NaNoWriMo.

I won't be doing NaNoWriMo - despite the good reasons to do so - and won't even be setting my own personal challenge for it this year. I have enough going on this year as it is. If you'll be participating though, I wish you the best of luck.

Also, if you're doing NaNoWriMo this year, you may want to check out Rachel's NaNoWriMo posts, since she has a lot of great posts about getting ready for NaNoWriMo.

***

Titles - how important are they, and how do you come up with them? Check out the post I just linked to for some thoughts on the matter.

Regardless of your title, does writing feel like work or play to you? Or, perhaps, it's both? If you want to be serious about going somewhere with your writing, I hope it's both, because having that balance will help you through the more difficult aspects of writing. That's my opinion, anyhow. If you aren't finding your writing fun, it could be because of your fear of being judged and feeling like you aren't good enough, in which case you may want to take a look at this advice on overcoming the fear of judgement as a writer.

The other important thing you want to consider is when the best time to write is, because if you want to get any writing done, sometimes the best time to write is when works for your schedule. Bear in mind that, no matter when you write, if you've been struggling to get your writing time in, this next article could be the answer to why you haven't been able to make time to write - and how to fix that. Or, if inspiration is your problem rather than time, you might be interested in reading this post on finding and using writing prompts, which is a great reminder that inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere.

Next, here are some tips on how to avoid some common punctuation mistakes. The article focusses on avoiding them in formal writing, but they're good things to try and avoid regardless of the type of writing you're doing.

No matter what you're writing, the age old advice about how you should write what you know is good advice. Just don't take that advice as literally as some people do.

Speaking of knowledge in writing: check out this great post on matching horses to use, climate, and character, so you can get it right in your own writing.

If there's a thief in your story, here are some things to think about when thieves have to work with others, because you often need them to do so.

Are you a self-published author who is confused about how much you should price your book at? You can use this price suggestion list as a guide. You don't have to go by those pricing rules, but it may help you to do so, and it's a good place to start if you aren't sure what price to use for your books.

Oh, and... On the subject of book sales... the CreateSpace eStore is closing. In short, links to books on the CreateSpace eStore will redirect to Amazon as from the end of October. Despite the fact I always give out my CreateSpace link for my paperbacks along with the others, people generally buy my paperbacks through Amazon rather than CreateSpace anyhow, so it's not a big deal from my point of view. I think it's the same for many authors, actually. I mean, royalties were better from the eStore, but that doesn't make much diffrence since sales rarely came from there. The issue that would be more likely to bother me would be the one mentioned in this post regarding the possibility of CreateSpace totally merging with Amazon. If they do so by offering all the options you get when publishing your paperbacks via CreateSpace, it wouldn't be so bad. But as it currently stands I don't think much of Amazon's own print book publication option. I don't mind the part about having to pay retail cost for books so much, but not being able to make sure the book is properly formatted before it goes on sale would bother me, as would not having it available to Canadian readers. Anyway, I've got the CreateSpace paperback links on my Smashwords book pages where it asks about the book being available in paperback. I'll leave those listed for now, because of the potentially better royalties until April. I suppose I'll have to change those at some point though.

Finally, here's something to think about if you've been asking yourself the question, "Should I give up writing?" Oh, and if it's because of certain writing myths you've been considering stopping writing, you might want to take a look at this list of myths about writing you need to stop believing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Of Hallways And Windows - An Update

The scaffolding is gone! YAY! We've even had a lot of rain since and the hallway has stayed dry so far. It's amazing!

You know you've had scaffolding up for a long time when the pizza delivery guy congratulates you on getting rid of it. Haha!

Anyway, they still need to finish the decorating down there, and there was an issue where the guys who removed the scaffolding left the decorating equipment quite literally everywhere - including right in front of our door and that of one of the other people who live in the building - so we had to get the landlords to send someone to clean it up. We got them to do it partially because we were annoyed the guys they sent had left it like that, and partially because we actually couldn't even open our door safely in order to get out there to do it ourselves anyhow. The landlords were as annoyed as we were that the mess had been left though, and had someone back to clean it up pretty quickly. Luckily, our neighbour was out at the time, and it was cleaned up before she got back, because there's no way she'd have managed to get herself and the kids safely inside with how things were left (she has a five and a half year old and a baby of around three months old).

Anyway, we're crossing our fingers this is the end of the hallway saga, and they can just finish the decorating and be done with it. Actually, I'm personally crossing more than just my fingers, since I really, really, REALLY don't want the scaffolding back!

In other news: the windows are fixed!

Well, sort of.

The landlords agree that what they really need to do is replace them, but enough work has been done so that we can open and close them whenever we want - properly and safely - and when we close them to keep the bad weather out, it actually does stay outside where it belongs. It's only been a few weeks, and we're already seeing a very nice decrease in the cost of our heating bill, despite the fact it's been chilly and stormy a lot of the past month. We wish they'd actually done the full replacement, since that would have been better. But what they've done is a great improvement, so we're glad of it. The plan is for the actual replacement to happen some time next year - probably in late Spring, or in the Summer. We'll see what actually ends up happening though. In the meantime, at least this Winter promises to be a warmer one in our place than last Winter was.

Monday, October 16, 2017

#KidLit #FairyTale #Book - Frank The Friendly Ogre Now In #Audio!


Frank knew he didn’t belong in the swamp. He’s never been like the other ogres. He’s clean and polite, and they... Well, they’re not. So, one day, Frank set off in to the world to find somewhere he could belong. This is the story of that time in Frank’s life; join him as he searches for a place where an ogre like him can belong. After all, there has to be somewhere in the world where he can belong, doesn’t there?

Previously only available as an eBook or paperback, "Frank The Friendly Ogre" is now also available as an audiobook, read for you by Fred Theodore Fadick III.

Here are the main places where you can buy the book, regardless of the format you'd prefer:

Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

You can also find the book on Goodreads.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Brief #History Of #Castles On The #Welsh Border

In the Middle Ages the Welsh border had the greatest concentration of castles in Europe. Hundreds of castles were built from 1066 and throughout the 12th century.

In the 13th century many of these sites were upgraded to mighty fortress homes, whilst others were abandoned. Why did this happen?

Many castles were used in the civil war and some are even lived in today. Others lie almost forgotten in the beautiful rolling landscape of the Welsh borders. Some of the greatest have become tourist destinations. Collectively they are a fascinating part of the history of the border area that the Normans, as well as later English kings, struggled to pacify. There are at least 250 castles in Herefordshire and Shropshire.

The story starts with the Norman invasion of 1066. After William’s famous victory at Hastings, he set about building castles to tighten his control over his new wealthy kingdom. He built many ‘motte and baileys’ – these castles could built quickly. The motte was a mound with a tower on it that was the home of the local lord, and the ‘bailey’ was an attached enclosure, typically with accommodation, stores, a chapel and a well. Most importantly there was also space for horses, for these Normans were mounted warriors. To build quickly, the walls on the earthen banks were generally built in wood.

Read the full article here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Mollie The #Chinchilla Celebrates Turning 2

Hi everyone. This is Mollie the chinchilla.

I had one of those birthday things yesterday. I'm now two years old. Two human years that is, of course, but we won't bother messing about with doing the maths to figure out what that would be in chinchilla years. Besides, since people disagree on the average lifespan of a chinchilla - with numbers ranging from ten to twenty human years - it would be really difficult to be sure of the numbers being correct. No matter what that is in chinchilla years though, I'm now two human years old.

Anyway...

Living with these human caretakers is great, because we always get extra nibbles when any of us have a birthday. The human caretakers also brought me a new toy for my birthday. It's a wooden ball that makes a noise when we roll it around in our cage. It's good for gnawing on too. I don't have a photo for you, because the human caretakers didn't want to just do a photo of the toy by itself, and I wasn't feeling in the mood for having the flashy thing pointing at me. I'm sure you can figure out what a wooden ball would look like though, and maybe I'll let the human caretakers get a new photo of me again soon... If I feel like it. I mean, I may love these human caretakers, but I'm really not a big fan of the flashy thing.

I am a big fan of birthdays though, and loved getting to have another one. Birthdays mean extra nibbles and often something else - like a new toy - so what's not to like? I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Squeak soon,
Mollie

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mollie Turns 2

Today is the second birthday of the eldest of our pair of chinchillas, Mollie.

Mollie is the more sensative of the chinchillas. She's more easily upset than our other chinchilla, Maizie (Maizie is three months younger than Mollie, in case you don't know and are wondering) and prone to bouts of depression for no apparent reason. She's a sweet girl most of the time though, and doesn't have her bouts of depression as often as she did when we first got her about a year and a half ago. Maizie was paired with her in hopes she would help Mollie deal with the depression issues, and it seems to have worked. She even plays quite often now, which is something she never did when we first got her.

Anyway, happy second birthday to our Miss Mollie.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - October 11th 2017

What is Steampunk? That's something you might need to know as either an author or a reader, so - if you don't already know the answer - you may like to read the post regardless of which you are.

If you're a writer, here's an interesting post you may like to read about five things learned by one author in the age of the typewriter, which still apply today.

Do you write short stories? If not, here are some reasons why you should write short stories, or at least consider doing so. Also, here are some more reasons why novelists should write short stories, in case you haven't considered these benifits.

If you decide you do want to write short stories - or are already doing so - here's a post you may like to read that discusses the five elements of a short story, and another with some tips in it on how to fully develop characters in short stories. In fact, Rachel has a whole bunch of posts about writing short stories, so you should just go check them all out.

Regardless of the length of your story though, let's start a new story! These tips on getting your worldbuilding from imagination to reality are useful ones to help you get started. Oh, and remember to bear these tips on writing villain friendships in mind while you write, because even the bad guys need a friend sometimes.

However, if you feel you're more of a poet at heart, here's how to begin to write poetry, and some advice on how to write a Senryu poem in English.

No matter the kind of thing you write though, here are five tips to market your self-published book in a cost-effective manner, as well as some social media productivity tips for authors, and some ideas on how to promote your book before and during its launch.

By the way, here's a list of the top 25 grammatical terms you should know.

Finally, if you publish via Smashwords, and haven't heard yet, you might be interested to learn that they've introduced global pricing control. It's not something I'm going to worry about messing about with; I'm happy to leave it set prices based on the currency conversion like it's been doing. But it's potentially useful for those who want to be in more control of the prices of their eBooks in all countries, either just because they feel it's best for them to do so, or to take advantage of being able to adjust prices to make them look more appealing for marketing reasons.

Monday, October 09, 2017

October 2017 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

With it being Autumn, and with Halloween approaching fast, you may like to take a look at this giant pumpkin recipe roundup that Deanna posted recently. As I mention in the comments section of the post, there are also some pumpkin themed recipes among those on my website's recipe section, along with a few others that are appropriate for this time of year. So, there are plenty of fun and tasty options for you to make this Halloween, especially if you want a pumpkin themed menu.

Though it's not pumpkin related - at least, I haven't seen mention of pumpkin yet - Sally recently posted some great information on cooking from scratch with carrots. The post contains some tasty sounding recipes from her friend Carol, as well as information on the history and health benifits of carrots. I haven't personally tried carrols exact recipes yet, but I've had those things made with slightly different recipes, so I know they'll be tasty. There are several other posts along the same theme, including one for asparagus, and another for sprouts. Some of the recipes are suitable for vegetarians, some are even suitable for vegans, others are not. Either way, you can find all the posts by going to the cook from scratch recipes page. You may also be interested in Carol's recipe hunter posts.

Going back to carrots for a moment though: I recently tried carrot fries. I thought they were really tasty. Regular fries are still my favourites, but I really enjoyed the carrot fries. I'd had sweet potato fries before, but hadn't had carrot ones until a few weeks back (well, it might be longer than a few weeks by the time I actually get this posted). Anyway, if you haven't done so, you should try them.

Another carrot themed recipe I tried recently is this one for carrot dogs with mango avocado salsa. A nice option for vegetarians at BBQs, don't you think? As I said, I tried this recipe recently. I didn't have the cabbage with it like the recipe suggested, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. Anyway, they were really good. I enjoyed the carrot dog part more than the salsa though, and am considering trying it again at some point using my standard "hot dog" fixings - cheese, onions and ketchup - since I'm sure I'll love them that way. The carrot dogs are quite difficult to do on the grill really, but that's an issue you'll have with most vegetarian and vegan friendly grilling options.

Another thing I tried recently was a juice made from apple, asparagus and lime. I'd tried one with carrot in it before - I think it was carrot, apple, and orange - and really enjoyed it, so thought I'd give this one a go too. After all, I do like everything in it. The juice didn't work for me though. I finished the bottle so as not to waste it, but I wouldn't buy it again. You couldn't taste the apple and lime over the asparagus, and I didn't much care for what tasted like plain asparagus water to me. So, if you saw it recently yourself and are thinking of trying it, and want my advice as to whether or not you should do so, I have just one thing to say: Don't!

Anyway, I also recently tried making the coconut bacon mentioned in this recipe for vegetarian broccoli salad with coconut bacon, which I thought was interesting. I'm not sure it will make it in to my favourite recipes, and it didn't taste even remotely bacon-like to me - maybe it's just me? I dunno. Either way, it did taste pretty good though.

In other food related news: A new food place opened near us around the end of July, which we found out about in early September (we only know they'd been there since July because they told us so). It's called "Oscar's" and serves what they say is Southern food. I'm not familiar enough with Southern cooking to know how accurate their description is, but at least one of the people who runs the place has an accent that sounds authentically from the Southern United States, and the menu sounds like what I'd expect from somewhere bosting southern style cooking. Either way, we've tried their cheese fries - which they serve with or without fried onions - and absolutely loved them, and they make a fantastic crumble. Several of the things on their menu aren't vegetarian friendly, but there are some things on there that are, which I like the sound of. We plan to go back and try some of their other food some time in the near future. It will be easy enough to do, since they're only a short walk from our building, and they're a pet friendly place (one of the few around here who even allow dogs to be inside the building; Lilie even got offered water when our drinks were being dealt with). The hard part will be ordering something else when I know how amazing their fries and crumble are, since I have a weakness for fries, and I absolutely adore crumble.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

2017 A-Z Title #Reading Challenge

As usual, one of the groups I'm a member of over on Goodreads had an A-Z title reading challenge for the year. The aim of this challenge, if you're not familiar with this type of challenge already, is to read books that start with each of the letters of the alphabet. Yep, it really is that simple!

For the more difficult letters, such as Q and X, all that matters is that the letter appears somewhere in the title. Also, if the book starts with the words "The" or "A" - as in "The Pineapple Loving Dragon" or "A Magical Storm" - you can choose whether to count the "A" or "The" parts, or not. Does that make sense?

To make it more difficult for myself, I added an extra rule, which was that I couldn't use more than one book from any one particular author. So, for example, if I was reading a series with titles that would count for several letters, I could only use one of those titles to fill in one of my letters, and had to wait until I was reading a book by another author to fill in the other letters. This was not an official rule, but something I threw in to make it a little more challenging for myself, due to my habit of completing this challenge before the year is half over. I guess it worked, since I only managed to complete the challenge a week ago (although, with how much I've read this year, I could have easily finished it sooner if I'd made reading the books for the letters for the A-Z challenge more of a priority).

Anyway... I've now completed the challenge for this year. So, here's what I read for it:

A ~ Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
B ~ Burning Belief by D.J. Farrington
C ~ Cloudswept (Wyvern Series, #3) by John H. Carroll
D ~ Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann
E ~ Empress Matilda of England (Legendary Women Of World History, #7) by Laurel A. Rockefeller
F ~ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
G ~ Grave Peril (The Dresden Files, #3) by Jim Butcher
H ~ Hope Everlasting: A Dystopian Sci-fi Novel (The Variant Saga #3) by J.N. Chaney
I ~ Indestructible (Vampires Through the Centuries) by Barbara G. Tarn
J ~ Judy: A Dog In A Million by Damien Lewis
K ~ Keeping Merminia (Merminia, #2) by Emm Cole
L ~ Love Bites (Argeneau, #2) by Lynsay Sands
M ~ Missing at Sea (Anna Davies Mystery Series, #2) by Rita Lee Chapman
N ~ Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two by Sue Vincent
O ~ On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House, #4) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
P ~ Psycho-analysis by Rosemary J. Peel
Q ~ Queen of Thorns (Jeggare & Radovan, #3) by Dave Gross
R ~ RENOVO Symbiosis by Geoffrey Wakeling
S ~ Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles, #1) by Intisar Khanani
T ~ Tales of the Faie: The Beginning of Days by Diana L. Wicker
U ~ Underlife by Marissa Farrar
V ~ Voyages (The Gift, #1) by Richard Sutton
W ~ Womble Stories by Elisabeth Beresford
X ~ The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack by C. S. Boyack
Y ~ Yellow Hair by Andrew Joyce
Z ~ I Zombie I (I Zombie #1) by Jack Wallen

Friday, October 06, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie's Spay And Recovery (FD)

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.



The photo above is of me sat on the Mummy human's computer chair. I was a little over five months old in that photo, which was taken almost three weeks ago now. This next photo was taken three days later:



Notice the cone thing on my head, and the bandage on my right front paw?

I woke up with the bandage on, and had the cone thing put on me soon afterwards. I'm still a bit confused as to why, and was even more confused at the time, since I was feeling weird and confused about everything that day.

Let me explain.

The humans took me to that vet place again. I didn't mind too much. I mean, some of the stuff that happens at the vet place isn't nice, but I love the ride in the taxi cab thing to get to the vet place; there's so much to see and smell out of the windows as we ride along in the car. Plus, everyone at the vet place loves me and wants to be my friend, which I think is awesome! I love friends!

People friends. Doggy friends. Any friends, really. All I care about is that they want to talk to me. If they want to play with me and give me treats too, that's totally fine by me, though I'm happy to be friends even if they don't do more than just say, "Hi," or tell me how cute I am.

Sorry, got distracted there. It happens sometimes. I'm easily distracted. Interesting smells, people I haven't said, "Hello," to in the last two minutes, food, toys... They all get me.

Erm... Where was I?

Oh, yeah... Right...

So, the humans took me to the vet place, I got poked and prodded a bit by the vet, the humans and the vet talked a bit about spades for some reason, the Daddy human got to play with the vet's pen - which I didn't think was fair, because she wouldn't let me play with it - and then the humans left me there.

Yeah, you read that right: They left me there!

I was really confused - and a little upset - as I watched them walk away, making promises about coming back for me later that I wasn't sure if they'd keep. They did keep them though, which I'm glad about, since I love my humans - especially my Daddy human!

Anyway, the vet put me in a cage, and after a bit gave me stuff that made me feel funny, and made me take a nap even though I didn't really want to take one. I woke up some time later feeling sore and confused, and with a bandage on my paw. My tummy was especially painful, but when I tried to get a good look at my tummy to see why it was hurting, they put the cone thing on me. They ket saying I had to leave my tummy alone, which doesn't seem right to me; it's my tummy, and I should be able to check it out if I want to! I was too confused and sleepy to argue though.

I was still trying to figure out what was going on - not to mention, still feeling weird and sleepy - when the Daddy human came back to the vet place to fetch me and bring me home. He carried me all the way home, and even up the stairs to our building, and I just let him, giving him kisses from time to time - or trying to, bearing in mind I still had the stupid cone thing on my head - so he knew I was glad to see him again.

I spent all the rest of that day curled up on the bed beside the Mummy human, with the Daddy human there a lot of the time too. I did eat and drink a little, but mostly I just wanted to cuddle and sleep. I might not have bothered with the eating, but the Daddy human was offering chicken, and I couldn't refuse chicken. Anyway, I think the Mummy human was glad I just wanted to rest, since she looked like she needed some rest herself.

I was feeling much better by the next morning. Although, my tummy still hurt, and barking didn't work as well as it usually did because my throat was a little sore. I heard the humans say something about the vet putting a tube down my throat while I was sleeping. I don't understand why, but I suppose that would explain the soreness in my throat. Anyway, at least I didn't feel weird and sleepy any more, which made me much more interested in things like food. I tried to play a little too, but the humans said I wasn't allowed to be bouncy, and I didn't feel up to arguing. Plus, they kept making me wear the cone thing, and it made playing tricky anyhow. So I found a bit of rawhide and settled down to gnaw on that instead.

They took me back to the vet place after a couple of days. Something about the vet wanting to check on me after surgery. All I cared about though was that I got to have another car ride, and was going back to somewhere with lots of friends, which I thought was awesome!

Apparently I was healing well, so the vet person said I could have the stupid cone thing off when the humans were around to make sure I wasn't licking and biting at my tummy. I still had to have it for human bed time, but even not having that awful thing on so much was wonderful news as far as I was concerned. Luckily for me, my humans are home all day. Why luckily for me? Because the rules about the cone thing said the humans had to be around when I wasn't wearing it. With them being home all the time, that just meant when they went for their sleeps. If they were the kind of humans who had to go out to that "work" place instead of doing whatever it is they do from home, I'd have to wear it while they went there too. Like I said, I'm lucky! Of course, the next time they're refusing to play with me because they need to do that work thing, I might not feel quite so lucky. But when I learned the rules about the cone thing, I felt very lucky indeed.

Anyhow, a week later, I was back at the vet place again. It was a quick appointment though, since they just checked me over and said I was all healed up and didn't have to come back again for a while. Even better, no more cone!

You know the worst thing about all this though? Other than having to wear that awful cone, I mean. No walkies! I wasn't allowed to go walkies for two whole weeks! Isn't that awful? I'm allowed to go again now though, thank goodness!

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - The Toby's Tales Post Round-Up - #KidLit #SightLoss #Blindness

Not only were there several posts in this past week or so on my own blog about my "Toby's Tales" series, but some wonderful bloggers - many of them authors themselves - have taken the time to post stuff for me on their own blogs. When I sent the posts to each person, I tried to make them different enough that you can take a little something new away from each post. So, if you missed any of them, you might want to check them out. With that in mind, here's a round-up of the posts.

Posts from my blog:
#KidLit #Books - The Toby's Tales Series By @VictoriaZigler Now In #Audio! Plus A #Giveaway! #Blindness #SightLoss (LBE)
Meet The #Narrator: Joseph A. Batzel
#Writing Wednesday - A Toby's Tales Teaser - #KidLit
#KidLit #Pets - Toby's #Dog, Max. Plus A #Giveaway!
Interacting With #Blind People, And Busting #Blindness Myths

Posts from around the web:
Narrator Interview – Joseph Batzel
Launch of audio versions of “Toby’s Tales” by Victoria (Tori) Zigler
Sunday Surprise: Toby's character interview
Guest author: Victoria Zigler – Listen to Toby’s Tales
Toby's Tales
Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – D.Wallace Peach, Mary Smith and Victoria Zigler
Introducing Victoria Zigler and her new children’s books!
Toby’s Tales by Victoria Zigler: Now in Audio Book
Toby’s World – Guest Post by, Victoria (Tori) Zigler

Thank you to those wonderful bloggers who gave me a spot on their blogs, as well as to those people who took the time to share any of the posts that appeared on either my own blog or someone else's blog, or who do so after reading this.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Tori's September 2017 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

It's time to take a look at what I read in September.

As with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

OK... On to the reviews!

Just an Odd Job GirlJust an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a well-written and thoroughly enjoyable read. The main character is a believable and well-rounded character, and the stories of her jobs are entertaining.
*NOTE: I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of the book or the contents of this review.

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had trouble deciding on a rating for this book. On the one hand, this book has an important message to share, and it does do an excellent job of showing the harm racism can cause, making it easy for me to see why so many others have been quick to give it a high rating. On the other hand, there were several points in the book where I had issues with some of the comments made by some of the characters. Racism isn't OK no matter what the circumstances are. That includes comments directed at other races by people who are victims of racism themselves.

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an excellent addition to this series, with a great cast of characters, as well as an exciting and interesting plot.

The Mercenary Prince (Legends of Windemere, #9)The Mercenary Prince by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent addition to the series, which provides some interesting insight in to the thoughts and motivations of some of the characters.

Tribe of the Snow Tiger (Legends of Windemere, #10)Tribe of the Snow Tiger by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Another excellent and well-written addition to the series, which has an exciting plot.

Charms of the Feykin (Legends of Windemere, #11)Charms of the Feykin by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I know I've said this with all the books in this series so far, but this book was an excellent addition to the series. It was also a fantastic read in its own right, with an exciting plot that will keep you guessing while taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. The book grabs your attention from page one, and holds it easily until the very last word.

The Spirit Well (Legends of Windemere, #12)The Spirit Well by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the most part this was the amazing read the other books in the series so far have been. Unfortunately, there is one issue that prevents me from giving this book the full five stars: The huge unanswered question at the end. I hate cliffhanger endings like that, and - though I know the answer comes quickly in the next book, since I've already started reading it at the time I'm writing this review - that unanswered question is an issue for me.

Ritual of the Lost Lamb (Legends of Windemere, #13)Ritual of the Lost Lamb by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm a little frustrated with how this one ended, but it wasn't the sudden cliffhanger ending of the previous book, so I do feel I can still give this one the full five stars. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book though!

The HopetellerThe Hopeteller by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An interesting collection of tales, each with their own excellent morals, yet woven together to tell a fascinating story of survival and the hope that makes it possible.

Bestiary of Blatherhorn ValeBestiary of Blatherhorn Vale by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A well-written and interesting collection of poems to describe a fascinating collection of creatures.

Path of the Traitors (Legends of Windemere, #14)Path of the Traitors by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I Loved this book! Trinity is one of my favourite characters from the series, and it was wonderful to get to see more of this side of her. Plus, it was another well-written and enjoyable addition to the series in general.

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3)The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was better than the previous two books in this series, but only because of the ending, which I thought was beautiful and bitter-sweet.

Queen of ThornsQueen of Thorns by Dave Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent addition to this series, and a fantastic read in general, especially for fans of the Pathfinder roleplaying system.

King of ChaosKing of Chaos by Dave Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An enjoyable read, and an excellent continuation of the series.

Lord of RunesLord of Runes by Dave Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whether you're a fan of the Pathfinder roleplaying system or not, this book makes for an excellent read. In fact, the whole series with Jeggare and Radovan - and Arnisant the dog, of course - makes for an excellent read, with a fantastic cast of characters, as well as an exciting and entertaining plot.

Fire & FrostFire & Frost by Kai O'Connal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure how I felt about this one at first, but it got better as it went on, and I was actually really enjoying it by the end. So, not an amazing read, but a pretty good one.

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OK... WOW! The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger ending - which I absolutely hate - but I loved everything else about the book: the worldbuilding and character creation/development is fantastic, as is the writing itself. The book had me hooked from the start, and even the annoying cliffhanger ending isn't enough to make me lower the rating. Can I have the next book now? PLEASE!

Quantum WanderlustQuantum Wanderlust by Staci Troilo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really good collection of unusual stories. As is typical for these sorts of anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others. There were none I strongly disliked though, and I found them all to be well-written and interesting stories - even those that weren't quite my cup of tea, so to speak.

SarahSarah by Teri Polen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was a great read. It was suitably creepy, with descriptions that were quite detailed, so isn't one for the weak stomached. The characters were mostly great too, but there were times when I found myself rolling my eyes while wondering why they were stupid enough to do certain things, or if they really just said the dumb thing they said.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Interacting With #Blind People, And Busting #Blindness Myths

While the topic of blindness is being raised, due to the current promotional posts for my "Toby's Tales" series, I thought I'd bring the conversation around to the subject of interaction between a blind person and a sighted person.

For the most part, interaction with a blind person - or someone with any other type of disability - should be exactly the same as with interacting with your average non-disabled person. Yet many people behave differently towards someone with a disability.

For example, when dealing with a blind person, many feel they need to avoid using words like "see" and "watch" in conversation. This is not the case. Most visually impaired people wouldn't be offended if you said something like, "You should have seen that dog just now; it was adorable!" In fact, it bothers most visually impaired people more if you avoid using these words. Just as nobody thinks anything is wrong with you saying you're talking to friends online when you're actually typing to them, nobody should think there's anything wrong with talking about watching something when you can't see to watch it. Sure, the only way I can see that adorable dog is in my mind after you've described it to me, and I have to read a book by using my ears rather than my eyes. But you should still use the same words you would use for a sighted person when talking to me.

Of course, there are a few situations where interaction with a blind person does need to be slightly different. For example, you need to make sure you say something to let a blind person know you're in a room, or let them know you're leaving it; it's extremely frustrating for a blind person to be talking to someone, only to find they've left the room without saying anything. Also, try not to get in the way of a blind person's cane, and ask before petting a dog with a blind person, especially if that dog is obviously wearing a guide dog harness. But other than things like that, interaction with a blind person shouldn't be any different from interaction with a sighted person.

If in doubt... Ask!

Oh, and here's the truth about the two most common myths about blind people:

Myth 1: Blind people's other senses are improved to compensate for their lack of sight.

Truth: No, they aren't. We just learn to rely on them in place of sight, so are more likely to take note of what they're telling us.

Myth 2: Blind people all read braille and use guide dogs.

Truth: Not all blind people can read braille. I can, but many blind people never learn how to read braille. As for the guide dogs, not everyone has one, and not everyone wants one. My brother - who has been blind since the age of two - doesn't have one, and neither do I.

If you want to learn more about what things are really like for a blind person, check out my five book "Toby's Tales" series.

Written by Victoria Zigler – and now with an audio version read by Joseph A. Batzel – the "Toby's Tales" series is a five book series designed to show children - and adults too - the struggles and challenges faced by people who are blind, or who are adjusting to sight loss, while also being useful tools to show anyone who finds themselves in Toby's situation that they aren't alone in facing those struggles and challenges.

Buy "Toby's New World" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Monsters" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Outing" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Games" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Buy "Toby's Special School" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository. The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Friday, September 29, 2017

#KidLit #Pets - Toby's #Dog, Max. Plus A #Giveaway!

I wrote the first drafts of all five Toby books one after another, before returning to revise them. It's a good thing I did, to be honest, since it was while working on the second book - Toby's Monsters - that I knew for certain what breed of dog Toby's family's dog, Max, should be.

I needed something that - to a six year old, at least - would seem large and hairy, but that was suitable to live in a family home, and potentially trustworthy with a disabled child. I also wanted one where anyone familiar with the breed wouldn't be surprised to hear it had been eager to run off and chase something while out on a walk. At first I was torn between a Golden Retriever and a Rough Collie, but the Retrievers I've known have been rather slobbery, and I didn't want too much slobbering going on. So, in the end, I decided on the Collie.

For those not familiar with the breed, here's a little about it:

The Rough Collie shares it origins with the Smooth Collie in the working sheepdogs of Scotland. The earliest Collies were smaller than today's dogs and largely black/white or tricolour or black/tan. The first sable, Old Lockie, born in 1868 caused a sensation and from that time the sable/white become the most popular colour. However, the tricolour and the blue merle are still very much evident in the breed.

It was not until 1870 that there were separate classes for “Sheepdogs Rough” and “Sheepdogs Smooth”. The founder of the Kennel Club Mr S.E. Shirley promoted the Rough Collie and Queen Victoria brought some from Balmoral to her Royal Estates including Windsor Castle.

Perhaps it is the “glamour” of the coat which attracted many people to the breed at the expenses of the Smooth Collie and for many years the Smooth was considered the poor relation.

Breed Group: Pastoral
Vulnerable Native Breed: No
Size: Medium
How much exercise? Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat: Medium
How much grooming? Every day
Supposedly sheds? : Yes
Town or Country: Either
Type of home: Small House
Minimum Garden Size: Small/Medium
Lifespan: Over 12 Years
~Above taken from this page on the Kennel Club's website.

If you want to see the part Max the dog plays in the Toby's Tales series, you can do so by grabbing your own copies of the books. They're available in multiple eBook formats, paperback, and now also in audio - read by Joseph A. Batzel.

The following links will take you to where you can buy the books in one - or sometimes more - of the above mentioned formats:

Book 1 - Toby’s New World
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 2 - Toby’s Monsters
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 3 - Toby’s Outing
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 4 - Toby’s Games
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

Book 5 - Toby’s Special School
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Want a free set of the audio versions of the books in this series?

You're in luck! I have some free copies to give away via Audible, and I'm giving you a couple of chances to win them.

Today is your last chance during the audiobook launch. So...

To get a free copy of each of the five books in my "Toby's Tales" series, simply send me an eMail with the answer to the following question in it:

When was the eBook version of "Toby's Monsters" published?

If you're one of the first six people to send an eMail to keroberous2004@gmail.com with the subject "Toby's Tales" and the correct answer to the question, I'll eMail you back with the codes to claim free copies for all five books.

The codes will be one use only codes for either Audible.com or Audible.co.uk. Please let me know whether you would prefer codes for Audible.com or Audible.co.uk in your eMail.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - A Toby's Tales Teaser - #KidLit

Toby sat down, wondering what Miss Ivy was going to show him and how to make her understand that he was blind so couldn't see writing like other people could.

"Give me your hand," Miss Ivy said.

Toby let her take his hand and place it on a piece of paper she'd put in front of him on the desk.

He gasped in amazement as his hand touched the paper. He’d expected a smooth piece of paper, but this paper wasn’t smooth.

"There are bumpy bits on this paper," said Toby.

Miss Ivy laughed. "It's called braille," she said. "Would you like me to show you how to read it?"

"Yes please," said Toby, excited for the first time since he’d learned he’d be going to this new school.

So Miss Ivy began to show Toby how to tell which letter was which. "There are six dots," she explained. "And it depends which ones are used to which letter it is."

Toby was a little confused, but excited about being able to learn writing that even blind people could read.

"I'll see you later, Toby," said his Mother after a while.

But Toby didn't pay any attention. He was much too busy learning about braille to notice anything else.

His Mother smiled, waved goodbye to Miss Ivy, and left.
~Above from "Toby's Special School" by Victoria Zigler.

Enjoy what you just read? Want to read the rest of Toby's story? Then grab your own copies of the books. They're available in multiple eBook formats, paperback, and now also in audio - read by Joseph A. Batzel.

The following links will take you to where you can buy the books in one - or sometimes more - of the above mentioned formats:

Book 1 - Toby’s New World
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 2 - Toby’s Monsters
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 3 - Toby’s Outing
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Book 4 - Toby’s Games
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

Book 5 - Toby’s Special School
Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Meet The #Narrator: Joseph A. Batzel

As I mentioned in yesterday's post - not to mention, in several of my "recent"Writing Wednesday" posts - Joseph A. Batzel is the narrator for my "Toby's Tales" series. I thought you'd like to get to know him a little, so here's a little bit about Joseph - in his own words:

Joseph Batzel has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University in Film and Theater. He is also a professional actor for stage and film for over thirty years. Joseph has over 150 voice- over credits including radio, TV, audiobooks, and animation. He has traveled extensively throughout the US teaching voice over workshops. Joseph is a dialectician and can perform most American regional dialects and most foreign accents.

Mr. Batzel has just joined Deyan audio one of the world’s largest Independent producer of Audiobooks as one of their narrators.

He is married to his wife Alice of forty-four years, she is a published playwright and working on her first novel. They have two sons and five grandchildren.

He presently lives in Brigham City, Utah where he currently works as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking. 

Joseph is excited about being involved in producing the audiobook narration for “Toby’s Tales” and working with Victoria Zigler, the author.

You can get to know Joseph a little more by checking out his recent interview on Library Of Erana.

Also, he's doing a live Facebook event in a couple of days time, which you can find details of here. He has some more copies of the audiobooks to give away during the event.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

#KidLit #Books - The Toby's Tales Series By @VictoriaZigler Now In #Audio! Plus A #Giveaway! #Blindness #SightLoss (LBE)

Thanks to the skills of narrator Joseph A. Batzel, my “Toby’s Tales” books are now available in audio!

For those who don't know: My "Toby's Tales" series is a five book series designed to show children - and adults too - the struggles and challenges faced by people who are blind, or who are adjusting to sight loss, while also being useful tools to show anyone who finds themselves in Toby's situation that they aren't alone in facing those struggles and challenges.

***~~~***

Book 1 - Toby’s New World
Toby has just learned he’ll never see again. Now he’s learning just how frustrating it can be doing even simple things when you’re blind. And it doesn’t help when his big brother Jake, and little sister Emma laugh at him when things don’t go right. But there’s always a way to make things easier… Isn’t there?

Buy "Toby's New World" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Book 2 - Toby’s Monsters
Toby’s world is scary and full of monsters his mind has created. If he wasn’t blind he could see what the monsters really are, but he is, so he can’t. Can he find a way to battle his monsters? Or will he spend the rest of his life afraid of every unexplained noise?

Buy "Toby's Monsters" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Book 3 - Toby’s Outing
Everyone is excited about the trip to the aquarium. But not Toby. Toby’s sure he won’t have fun, after all, aquariums can’t be fun for blind people… Can they?

Buy "Toby's Outing" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Book 4 - Toby’s Games
Now that he can’t see, Toby can’t play with his big brother Jake like he used to, and every time he tries to he just gets frustrated, upset or hurt. He’s starting to feel like he can’t do anything fun any more. Is he right? Or can he find a way to still do the things he enjoys?

Buy "Toby's Games" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Book 5 - Toby’s Special School
Toby’s starting to feel like he’s the only blind boy in the world, so when his first day at his new special school comes around, he’s sure the other children will tease him because he can’t see. But when he gets there he soon learns just why they call it a “special” school, and even manages to make a new friend.

Buy "Toby's Special School" as an audiobook, eBook, or paperback - in some cases two or more of these formats - from Audible, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Chapters-Indigo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada, or The Book Depository.

The book also has a page on Goodreads.

***~~~***

Want a free set of the audio versions of the books in this series?

You're in luck! I have some free copies to give away via Audible, and I'm giving you a couple of chances to win them.

Today is your first chance. So...

To get a free copy of each of the five books in my "Toby's Tales" series, simply send me an eMail with the answer to the following question in it:

What is the name of the eye condition Toby and I share?

If you're one of the first six people to send an eMail to keroberous2004@gmail.com with the subject "Toby's Tales" and the correct answer to the question, I'll eMail you back with the codes to claim free copies for all five books.

The codes will be one use only codes for either Audible.com or Audible.co.uk. Please let me know whether you would prefer codes for Audible.com or Audible.co.uk in your eMail.

Friday, September 22, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Herbal Remedies For #Pets

Here's an interesting post from my friend, Sally.

It discusses the use of some herbal remedies for pets.

Go check it out, especially if you have furkids of your own.

Sally has several other great posts under the pet health tag on her blog, so you may wish to take a look at the other posts too.